CFP: Historical Modernisms, London, December 12

The call for papers is announced for Historical Modernisms, a one-day symposium to be held at the Institute of English Studies, London on the 12 December 2016.

Proposals are invited until September the 20th.

About the conference

Counter to the conventional perception of modernism as ahistorical, there have been recent academic and critical efforts to historicise it. The Historical Modernism Symposium seeks to contribute to this  trend by inviting readings of modern/ist literature and avant-garde art movements in the historical contexts of their production and reception, while assessing their entanglement with history and modernity transnationally.

The symposium aims to look at the history of modernism and the avant-gardes in relation to and their place in (literary and art) History, addressing questions of their relation with modern times, raised, for example, by colonialism; nationalism; globalisation; economics; politics; tradition; technology; urbanism, classicism; mythology; mysticism; religion; psychology/psychoanalysis.

Moreover, and importantly, it will examine pertinent philosophies of time, historiographical practices and representations of local and world historical events, such as the two World Wars, the Russian  Revolution and the rise of Fascism.

Finally, it will also investigate modernist concepts of the spirit of the times as well as new notions of and approaches to literary history.

A core question posed by the symposium topic is how a modernist aesthetics of  innovation transformed history in ways that make modernism not just a history of the present moment but also the history of our present.

Confirmed Featured Speakers:

Jean-Michel Rabaté, University of Pennsylvania

Laura Marcus, University of Oxford

More featured speakers and plenary events to be announced soon.


Possible topics for proposals include:

  • Modernism/Avant-garde, Time and Memory
  • Modern Technologies, Modernism/Avant-garde and New Temporalities
  • History/ies of Modernism and Modern Times
  • Modernism Making History
  • Modern/ist Philosophies of History
  • Modernists as Historians
  • Modern Historiography and Literature/Culture
  • Modernist Historiographical Theories and Practices (Subjects/Objects, Methods, Sources)
  • Modernism and Bio-Historiographical Canons
  • The Everyday and the Historic
  • Issues of Periodisation
  • Novelty and Tradition
  • The Classic and the Modern
  • The Modernist Event

Please send abstracts of  approximately 200 words and a short paragraph of biographical information to Dr Angeliki Spiropoulou at  by 20 September 2016.

Proposals for special panels and workshops, accompanied by topic description and full list of participants, are  also welcome by the same date.

Further information

The  Historical Modernisms Symposium  will be held at the Senate House, School of Advanced Studies, University of London and is part of the Comparative Modernisms seminar series at the Institute of English Studies, convened by Dr Angeliki Spiropoulou, IES/SAS Visiting Research Fellow and Assist. Professor at Peloponnese University.

For general enquiries, please send email to the above-mentioned address.