CFP: MSA panel: Interiors/Interiorities: Modern Design and Literary Form

This is a CFP for a panel proposal to the Modernist Studies Association (MSA) conference in Amsterdam, August 10-13, 2017. Please send abstracts to Michelle Rada at the e-mail address indicated below.

About the proposed panel

 Modernism’s preoccupation with form is no secret. While modernist texts are often characterized by their formal opacity, density, and increasing demands on readerly attention, modernist design and architecture tends toward simplicity of form, functionality, sleekness, and transparency. Examining these two distinct and often mutually exclusive versions of form alongside one another sets up an encounter not just between two disciplines or discourses, but between alternative models for imagining the subject’s encounter with an aesthetic object—be it through reading, viewing, or inhabiting. This panel will explore the interpretative pathways opened up by situating a discussion of modernist literary form alongside modern design in its various tenets and iterations.

What theoretical, historical, and discursive linkages and/or rifts emerge when we examine modernist texts with design and architecture? What are the relationships between textual versions of interiority and the structures or interiors subjects inhabit, frequent, and transgress? How might we think of aesthetic experience in the modernist novel through theories of spatial design and setting, instead of paying heed only to its formal innovations in temporality? Can modern design’s careful attention to the surface tell us something about how to read textual surfaces? Does the novel as a technology for storing, converting, and transmitting information undergo significant changes alongside technological advancements and their uses for/as aesthetic practices and objects? Building on recent work by authors such as Anne Cheng, Caroline Levine, and David Alworth, this panel seeks to enter conversations on “new” formalism and forms of reading by asking how, in modernist studies, we might think literature and design together.

Among other topics, proposals might address: the role of emerging media and technology across design practices and literary works; the relationship between free indirect discourse, stream of consciousness, and different ways of understanding interiority in modernist texts and the interiors, spaces, settings, and sites subjects inhabit; how new models for reading can engage with spatial concerns in literary form; how specific works or authors converse with aesthetic practices and design principles; the ways that subjective experience is affectively, phenomenologically, or cognitively theorized by modern authors, designers, and architects.

How to submit

Please send abstracts of 200—300 words along with a brief bio to michelle_rada@brown.edu no later than January 10th, 2017.