A Research Day with
Susan Stanford Friedman

Northern Modernism Seminar

Monday 16 May 2016

University of Manchester

Hosted by the Arts and Humanities Research Council

North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership


A Research Day with

Susan Stanford Friedman


Masterclass (open to all MA and PhD students)

11am-1pm, Seminar Room 1, Graduate School, Ellen Wilkinson Building


OPEN LECTURE (everyone welcome)

4-6pm, C1.18 (Graduate School Conference Room)

‘A Manifesto for Planetarity and Its Discontents’

Suggested Reading (e-mail for pdfs):  “Planetarity,” Chapter 2 of Planetary Modernisms; “A Debate with Myself,” Conclusion of Planetary Modernisms. The focus of the seminar will be debates about the “transnational turn” in modernist studies. What do the expansions of the field mean for doctoral students wanting to enter the field? How can they design planetary projects that participate in expansive approaches and yet are focused enough to complete? Does a planetary approach open doors for new kinds of comparative work not centered in the conventional canons of “high modernism”? Or Is this planetarity an imperialist gesture that sidelines postcolonial studies or ignores the “postmodern” or “contemporary”? Chapter 2 of Planetary Modernisms is a slightly modified version of “Planetarity: Musing Modernist Studies,” first an MSA keynote (2009) and then an article in Modernism/modernity (2010). “A Debate with Myself” was written in an experimentally dialogic form to reflect the ongoing debates I have about the new expansiveness of the field and the range of problems such planetarity raises.

Susan Stanford Friedman is a leading scholar in modernist studies. She played a key role in the New Modernist Studies, which introduced feminism, ethnic studies, and queer studies into the study of modernisms. More recently she has opened up a new field with her monograph Planetary Modernisms: Provocations on Modernity Across Time. True to its title the book has proved provocative and controversial. On her visit to the University of Manchester, sponsored by the Northern Modernism Seminar and the AHRC North West Consortium DTP, she will give a lecture about its ideas, followed by a discussion with modernist scholars from the Consortium and then a master class for postgraduate students. The occasion will be an unparalleled opportunity for literary scholars and students to engage with some of the latest arguments and debates in literary studies.

Planetary Modernisms draws on a vast archive of world history, anthropology, geography, cultural theory, postcolonial studies, gender studies, literature, and art, recasting modernity as a networked, circulating, and recurrent phenomenon producing multiple aesthetic innovations across millennia. Considering cosmopolitan as well as nomadic and oceanic worlds, it radically revises the scope of modernist critique and opens the practice to more integrated study.

Friedman moves from large-scale instances of pre-1500 modernities, such as Tang Dynasty China and the Mongol Empire, to small-scale instances of modernisms, including the poetry of Du Fu and Kabir and Abbasid ceramic art. She maps the interconnected modernisms of the long twentieth century, pairing Joseph Conrad with Tayeb Salih, E. M. Forster with Arundhati Roy, Virginia Woolf with the Tagores, and Aimé Césaire with Theresa Hak Kyung Cha. She reads postcolonial works from Sudan and India and engages with the idea of Négritude. Rejecting the modernist concepts of marginality, othering, and major/minor, Friedman instead favours rupture, mobility, speed, networks, and divergence, elevating the agencies and creative capacities of all cultures not only in the past and present but also in the century to come.

Susan Stanford Friedman is the Virginia Woolf Professor of English and Women’s Studies, the Hilldale Professor of the Humanities, and director for the Institute for Research in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She is the author of Psyche Reborn: The Emergence of H.D.; Penelope’s Web: Gender, Modernity; H.D.’s Fiction; and Mappings: Feminism and the Cultural Geographies of Encounter, which won the Perkins Prize for Best Book in Narrative Studies. She has edited Analyzing Freud: Letters of H.D., Bryher, and Their Circle and coedited Signets—Reading H.D.; Joyce: The Return of the Repressed; and Comparison: Theories, Approaches, Uses. Her work has been translated into Chinese, German, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Serbian, and Spanish.