EVENT Jun 20
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Troublesome Modernisms BAMS International Conference 2019

Senate House, University of London
Organization: BAMS
Categories: Postcolonial, Digital Humanities, American, Hispanic & Latino, Comparative, Interdisciplinary, British, Genre & Form, Popular Culture, Gender & Sexuality, Literary Theory, World Literatures, African-American, Colonial, Revolution & Early National, Transcendentalists, 1865-1914, 20th & 21st Century, Medieval, Early Modern & Renaissance, Long 18th Century, Romantics, Victorian, 20th & 21st Century, Adventure & Travel Writing, Children's Literature, Comics & Graphic Novels, Drama, Narratology, Poetry, Aesthetics, Anthropology/Sociology, Classical Studies, Cultural Studies, Environmental Studies, Film, TV, & Media, Food Studies, History, Philosophy, African & African Diasporas, Asian & Asian Diasporas, Australian Literature, Canadian Literature, Caribbean & Caribbean Diasporas, Indian Subcontinent, Eastern European, Mediterranean, Middle East, Native American, Scandinavian, Pacific Literature
Event Date: 2019-06-20 to 2019-06-22 Abstract Due: 2019-01-31

‘What effects of synergy or friction result when the many, sometimes contradictory, criteria of high modernism are tested against less evidently experimental texts by principal figures; against principal works by less well known or non-European artists; against texts that seem neither to be art or about art?’

—    Douglas Mao and Rebecca Walkowitz


In troubled times, the BAMS International Conference 2019 proposes the theme of ‘Troublesome Modernisms’. The conference aims to take a fresh look at modernism’s capacity to, and for, trouble, to examine anew the multiple modes of modernist argumentation, contestation and dissent. What can we draw for the present from modernism’s troubled relationship with its own pasts, presents and futures, and how might we address our troubles with those aspects of the modernist project that sit uncomfortably with us today? 

Inevitably this will include the troubling or scrutiny of the field of modernism from within. In particular, the conference is eager to mark and reflect on the reverberations of Douglas Mao’s and Rebecca Walkowitz’s groundbreaking Bad Modernisms (2006), a volume that questioned the limits of modernist studies, illuminating new avenues of critique by pressuring us to consider what and when we believe modernity to be, and whose creative and critical disruption continues to energise our field.

‘Troublesome Modernisms’ is interested in the notion of disorder, so central to our conceptions of modernity, but also in art that troubles our idea of modernism itself. The conference seeks to spark debate about how modernisms might have troubled contemporary writers, political thinkers, philosophers, artists and consumers; about how modernisms might not fit with themes or ideals prescribed by modernist studies; and about how works not immediately identifiable as modernist might afford new analyses of the relationship between art, culture and modernity. In all, ‘Troublesome Modernisms’ invites discussion of the ways in which modernisms might embody negativity, disorder, commotion, interruption, intrusion, insurgency and difficulty. How does modernism, in and through the lens of modernist studies, continue both to address trouble and to behave badly?

Confirmed keynote: Douglas Mao (Johns Hopkins)

How to submit

Proposals are invited for individual 20-minute papers, panels (3–4 speakers), roundtables, dialogues or other discussions on the broad theme of ‘Troublesome Modernisms’. These will be drawn from a range of disciplinary fields and may or may not include the following kinds of emphasis:

·      Misrepresentation, manipulation and unreliability

·      Noise, distortion and warping

·      Weak and strong modernisms

·      War and peace

·      Anachronism

·      Pedagogical difficulties

·      Perversion and deviance

·      Heretics and the unorthodox

·      Conflicting feelings, emotions and affects

·      Violence, abuse and power

·      The inhuman and the posthuman

·      Revolution, rebellion and revolt

·      Critique and deconstruction

·      Awkwardness, boredom, obsolescence and the inane

·      Illogical, unreasonable and irrational approaches

·      Disobedience, resistance and subversion

·      Outrage, prejudice and intolerance

·      Injustice and lawlessness

·      Modernism and the culture wars

·      Activist modernisms

·      Decorative modernisms

·      Markets and modernism

·      Modernism and fundamentalism

·      Temporal and spatial disruption

Abstracts for individual papers should be no more than 250 words. Abstracts for other proposed formats should be no more than 500 words, and should include abstracts of proposed contributions and brief details of their organisers and contributors. We aim to showcase the work not only of individuals but of groups, societies, institutions and research projects, so strongly encourage proposals from, for example, author societies, research projects and departmental research centres. All proposals should be sent to troublesomemodernisms@bams.ac.uk by:

Deadline for individual paper proposals: 31 January 2019

Deadline for other format proposals: 28 February 2019

Decisions on proposals will be communicated within 4 weeks of the later deadline (28 February).



Suzanne Hobson