We are proud to open a call for papers for Irish Modernisms: Gaps, Conjectures, Possibilities, an international conference dedicated to testing the borders of Irish Modernism to be hosted by the Dept. of English and American Studies, University of Vienna, 29 Sept–1 Oct 2016.
The deadline for submission of abstracts is August 1st.
About the conference
Over the course of the past two decades, the coordinates of Irish studies and modernist studies have shifted dramatically. Where once the critic may have nodded in agreement with Ezra Pound’s estimation that Joyce “writes as a European, not as a provincial” and approved of Pound’s implication of an oxymoronic quality to the notion of an Irish Modernism, the ongoing historicising turn has irrevocably problematised these critical commonplaces. Significant studies re-positioning Yeats, Joyce, and Beckett’s modernist impulses in their Irish contexts have traced their sustained, if often contentious engagements with overlapping debates regarding Irish aesthetics, politics, and identities. At the same time, the previously assured binaries of Revivalist and Modernist creative modes have been profoundly complicated and disrupted.
The rise of New Modernist studies, with its insistence upon a plurality of modernisms, has also refocused the critical lens to look to marginal modernisms and previously neglected genres, forms, and sites of publication or expression. Casting a critical eye across this transformed landscape, Edwina Keown and Carol Taaffe observe that if “the incompatability of modernism and Ireland gradually became a critical staple, juxtaposing an enlightened internationalism with an insular and conservative nationalist culture,” recent critical work has revealed “not only the importance of modernism to Ireland, but also of Ireland to modernism”.
The Cambridge Companion to Irish Modernism, published in 2014, presents an ideal occasion to take stock of this critical turn, to evaluate its past and future influence in the field and investigate it for gaps, oversights, and unfulfilled potential. Boasting contributions by leading figures in the field, the volume aims both to stabilise and push the ground upon which Irish Modernism can be conceived. A note by the editor Joe Cleary impresses that this volume “serves as an incisive and accessible overview of that brilliant period in which Irish artists not only helped create a distinctive national literature but also changed the face of European and Anglophone culture”.
This vantage encourages us to complicate and nuance our historical view in a dual direction, noting the anti-realist experimentation of the Revivalist turn away from the modern alongside Jean-Michel Rabaté’s insistence that “in most recently produced histories of the concept of modernity, the return of the past is too often overlooked because the declaration of the ‘new’ is taken at face value”. A vista of new critical considerations thus comes into view, incorporating Irish modernism’s roots in, and debts to, the 19th century as well as residual or belated modernisms in mid-century and (post-)Celtic Tiger Ireland; the too often marginalised importance of women’s writing to the Irish avant-garde; the interventions of Irish-language, bilingual, and diglossic modes; the exchanges and clashes of mass culture and rural modernisms.
Patricia Couglan (University College Cork)
Barry Sheils (University College Dublin)
The conference invites critical, scholarly, and creative responses to the question of Irish Modernism as characterised in this Cambridge Companion. Rather than restating past gains, we propose to initiate a conversation that treats the field’s borders, coordinates, and key texts as fluid and open to further investigation.
As we mean to foster dialogue, debate and exchange on this focused topic, in addition to the submission of papers (15–20 minutes in length) and themed panels (maximum 3 speakers), the organisers particularly welcome alternative forms of presentation and dialogue, such as roundtables, workshops, debate motions (and debaters), creative responses, etc. which tackle the question of Irish Modernism and engage with the parameters of the Cambridge Companion project.
Topics for presentation & discussion include:
- Direct responses to The Cambridge Companion to Irish Modernism
- Unearthing omissions, oversights; proposing expansions, additions
- Its value and place beside previous engagements with the concept; e.g. Kearney, Transitions: Narratives in Modern Irish Culture (1987), Booth and Rigby, Modernism and Empire (2000), Keown and Taaffe, Irish Modernism: Origin, Contexts, Publics (2009),
- Reviewing the European, American, and Imperial modes, communities, and geographies that shape Irish modernism (and vice versa)
- Mediating between traditional and modern scripts, local and international perspectives, mass and minority cultures, and between avant-garde and conservative approaches to science, history, religion, and literary tradition
- Marginal modernisms, neglected forms
- Testing and revising the relationship between the Anglo-Irish Literary Revival, Irish-language writing, Romanticism, Realism, Modernism, Late Modernism, Postmodernism, New Modernist Studies etc.
- Neglected genres and forms, such as journals, newspaper columns, autobiography, oral history, westerns, sci-fi, fantasy, performance, visual arts, ‘political theatre’.
If you wish to propose a paper, panel, roundtable, workshop, debate motion (and debaters), creative response, etc. please submit a 250-word abstract, together with a short biographical note, to email@example.com by 1 August 2016.