Events Postgraduate Registration open Seminars

Modern Literature, Institutions and Organisations: A Symposium at UEA, March 18

Modern Literature, Institutions and Organisations: A Symposium will be held at the University of East Anglia on March 18. View the program now, and contact the organisers if you wish to attend.

About the symposium

Modern literature’s engagements with institutions and organisations are highly various, fundamentally important, and undertheorized. From free speech advocacy groups to environmental campaigning organisations, from schools to the institutions of the welfare state, from political parties to museums, from churches to trade unions, literary writers have often been prominent figures within organisations, while organisations and institutions have been central to the ways in which modern literature has been funded, produced, read and debated. In return such institutions have formed a vital subject for modern literature.

An early work in this area is Lawrence Rainey’s Institutions of Modernism (1998), which argued that modernist literary texts, far from scorning the marketplace, were part of an ‘economic circuit of patronage, collecting, speculation and investment’. This symposium seeks to extend the account of modern literature’s vital entanglements with institutions and organisations beyond Rainey’s ‘economic circuit’, focusing on institutions and organisations whose aims—whether political, educational, environmental, etc.—were not reducible to the profit motive. The symposium shows that modern writing cannot be reduced to an oppositional or anti-institutional stance by exploring literature’s entanglement and engagement with the affective attachments which organisations and institutions foster, the habits which they help to ingrain, and the moral values they are seen to uphold.

Please email Matt Taunton on if you would like to attend – you will need a link to the pre-circulated papers.


Julian Study Centre, Rooms 3.01 and 3.02

11am               Welcome, Tea and Coffee

11.30am          Panel 1: Political Advocacy and the State

Respondent: Ben Harker (Manchester)

Benjamin Kohlmann (Freiburg/UEA):
‘Modernism, Reform, and the Idea of the Welfare State’

Matt Stratton (UC Davis): ‘”almost a dictator by consent”: Long Modernism and the Perilous Promise of Executive Authority’

Ashley Maher (Oxford): ‘Population Studies: Angus Wilson, the Zoo, and UNESCO’

Jos Smith (UEA): ‘Vibrant Localism: The Lure of Common Ground’

1pm                 Lunch

1.45pm            Panel 2: Culture and Civil Society

Respondent: Anna Snaith (KCL)

Petra Rau (UEA):  ‘From Testaments to Heresies: Literature and the Museum of the Holocaust’

Suzanne Hobson (QMUL): ‘Modernism and Christian Biofiction’

Matthew Taunton (UEA): ‘Literature and Educational Institutions in the 1930s’

Nick Hubble (Brunel): ‘MASS POETRY CENTRAL: The Parton Street Bookshop’

3.15pm            Tea and Coffee

3.30pm            Panel 3: International Organisations

Respondent: Rod Rosenquist (Northampton)

Rachel Potter (UEA): ‘Literature, Organisations and Internationalism: International PEN 1921-1948’

John Connor (Colgate): ‘Writers’ Organisations between the Wars’

Peter McDonald (Oxford): ‘Tangled Relations: Ideas/Institutions/Literary Writing’

Marina McKay (Oxford):‘Practical Criticism: Poetry and the Emergency English Department’

5pm                 Wine and Crisps

7pm                 Conference Dinner                  Woolf and Social, Nelson St., Norwich