‘How does one go about getting an introduction to a fictional character?’
― Richard Bruce Nugent
After the resounding success of the Queer Modernism(s) conferences in 2017 and 2018, we are excited to announce the CfP for the third Queer Modernism(s) conference, Queer Networks, set to be held on April 25th and 26th 2019 at the University of Oxford. Queer Networks is an interdisciplinary, international conference exploring the place of queer identity in modernist art, literature and culture, with an emphasis on the connections, grids, relationships, systems and societies that underpinned modernity. Panelists are invited to question, discuss and interrogate the intersectional social, sexual, romantic, artistic, affective, legal and textual relationship between queerness and modernism.
We are further delighted to announce that our first keynote will be delivered by Anjalie Dalal-Clayton. Anjalie Dalal-Clayton is an art historian, specialising in black British art histories and the art of the African and Asian diasporas. She is currently a Paul Mellon Fellow based at University of the Arts London (UAL), where she is researching the archive of the Institute of International Visual Art and preparing her forthcoming monograph, Curating Black British Art: Exhibition Cultures since the 1980s (Bloomsbury). Most recently she was a core member of the Black Artists & Modernism research project (UAL), for which she undertook post-doctoral research on work by artists including Keith Piper and Sonia Boyce, and led the first national audit of work by black artists in UK public collections. She was awarded a PhD from Liverpool John Moores University for a thesis that examined black British exhibition histories and contemporary approaches to curating work by black artists.
The CfP closes December 18th 2018. Decisions will be made in early January.
The early Twentieth Century saw sweeping changes in legislature, politics and lifestyle for queer people. More than ever, LGBTQ+ citizens faced penal repercussions for their behaviour, as well as public scrutiny. In 1895, art collided with the judicial system as the trial of Oscar Wilde scandalised the press, succeeded by censorship against the likes of Radclyffe Hall and Federico García Lorca. At the same time, queerness became a political issue. Throughout the 1900s, governments legislated queer relationships and women’s reproductive rights, while eugenicist thinking codified racialized bodies and disabled subjects.
In the same period however, LGBTQ+ citizens established networks that allowed them to flourish. Magnus Hirschfeld set up the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft as a means of studying sexual behaviour and gender identity, while providing a welcoming home to many who had been previously outcast. Around the corner notoriously outrageous boy-bars flourished in Berlin, cherished by silver screen stars like Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo, who sharpened their talents in the underbelly of the metropolis. In Paris, Gertrude Stein and Natalie Clifford Barney set up influential salons, whilst Sam Wooding toured Europe with his big band company. Across the pond, the ball scene began to lay its roots in Harlem as influential critics W. E. B. Du Bois and Alain Locke fostered the voices of growing talents Wallace Thurman, Nella Larsen, Claude McKay and Angelina Weld Grimké. So too did philanthropy and activism play an important role for many modernists, with Josephine Baker working with the NAACP to protest segregation and Peggy Guggenheim sponsoring a multitude of important artists.
Such queer networks were not wholly positive, however, but open to nepotism, favouritism, bias and fetishism. As Langston Hughes ironically noted, for a while ‘the Negro Was in Vogue’, yet black citizens were still often barred from clubs unless they were performing for white audiences. In a similar vein, patronage was often the preserve of an elitist upper crust, stifling the voices of many emerging artists. And this is not a historical issue. Activism and pedagogy have just as scintillating a relationship as ever before. Today, in the forms of campaigns such as Rhodes Must Fall and Why Is My Curriculum White? we see vital pushes for sweeping changes to an educational system that still priorities the literature, histories, creativity and voices of a certain groups, whilst pushing others to the margins. Just as networks can uplift those within them, so too can they provide an old boys club that maintains a status quo.
The conference invites discussion of the ways in which modernists negotiate the concept of queerness within their work, with particular attention to the place of networks. Topics may include, but are not limited to:
- Friendships, Camaraderie and Alliances
- Romances, Flirtations and Relationships
- Nepotism, Favours, Bias
- Patronage and Sponsorship
- Coterie, Exclusivity and Societies
- Charity and Philanthropy
- Editorships, Readerships, Fan Culture and Audiences
- Camp, Drag and Performance
- Rumours, Gossip, Slander and Shame
- Life-writing and Biography
- Early / Late / New Modernisms
- Sex Work, Kink, Pornography and BDSM
- Religions and Spirituality
- Femininities / Masculinities
- Formal, Aesthetic and Textual Queerness
- Civil Rights and Legal Standing
- Club Culture and Ball Culture
- The Death Drive and Pleasure Principle
- Trans and Non-Binary Identities
- Psychology, Sexology, Sexual Deviance and Inversion
- (B)identities, Sapphisms and Homosocialities
- Activism and Pedagogy
Individual papers should be fifteen minutes in length. To apply, please send an abstract of no more than 500 words to firstname.lastname@example.org as well as a brief biography of no more than 200 words.
Panel presentations should be forty-five minutes in length. To apply, please send an abstract of no more than 800 words to email@example.com as well as a brief biography of no more than 200 words per person.
Submissions are open to all: activists, creatives, artists, curators, students, PhDs, ECRs and academics. We especially welcome submissions from those not traditionally included in the academy.