CfP: Ethical Crossroads in Literary Modernism (book; abstract 1 March; essays 3 Aug 2021)

Discontent with the prevailing culture, modernist artists sought to break the world apart in order to remake it, calling into question long-held assumptions about ethics and consciousness, identity, religion, responsibility and accountability. Further, the scientific discoveries and technological innovations that took place during this period resulted in a culture that was in need of near constant redefinition. This edited collection seeks to reexamine these ethical questions in light of the present  moment by engaging with recent scholarship and the extended canon of the new modernist studies. The current COVID-19 outbreak and its similarities with the Pandemic of 1918 have brought these questions to the fore once again, exposing the tensions between our ethical responsibilities and the deep-seated racial/class divisions and political schisms ingrained in modern societies. Our primary objective is to draw attention to the ethical dimensions that mediate the human, non-human, and posthuman crossroads that form integral aspects of literary modernism, thus expanding the scope of discussion beyond the realm of interpersonal and intercultural relationships. 

In addition to welcoming proposals that foreground the ethical dynamics in canonical modernist texts, the editors especially invite proposals which expand the boundaries of modernist studies horizontally—to writers working outside the metropolitan epicentres most closely associated with aesthetic modernism and to writers working outside of the 1890-1945 time period—as well as vertically—blurring the boundaries between high modernism and alternative modes of written expression, such as travel writing, journalism, non-fiction essays, graphic novels, etc. We are open to interventions which hold modernism to account for its ethical and political failings and blindspots, as well as reflections on its radical and positive influence.

Possible subjects might include, but are not limited to:

  • Biopolitics and the Medical Humanities
  • Gender, Ethnicity, and Sexuality
  • Gerontology and Youth Studies
  • Environmental and Ecological Concerns
  • Animals and the Anthropocene 
  • Energy and Consumption
  • Narration, Dramaturgy, and the Ethics of Alterity
  • Utilitarianism, Deontology, Perspectivism, and Moral Relativism
  • Colonialism and Postcolonialism
  • Crime and Punishment
  • Institutions and Infrastructures 
  • Science and Technologies 
  • Mapping and Cartography
  • Human Migration, Cultural Diversity, and Acculturation 

Please send bios and abstracts of no more than 500 words to Katherine Ebury, Matthew Fogarty and Bridget English at ethicalcrossroads@gmail.com by March 1st. Essays will be 6,000 words and due by August 3rd.