/ Cultural Studies and Media Studies
Michelle Rada (Brown University)
“It is at the level of style,” Anne Anlin Cheng writes in Second Skin, “—the most apparent of styles (though hidden in its very transparency)—that we can witness the profound contact between Modernism and its others.” Locating the precarious and often invisible (perhaps transparent) margins designated by the term “Modernism,” this panel examines the methods and texts through which we either affirm or reject such boundaries. If, as Cheng argues, we encounter the porous outlines of Modernism “at the level of style,” then: what does this style look, read, sound, and feel like? How do we identify and interpret its points of transgression? Can frameworks such as the global, planetary, and transatlantic help us understand a term as politically and geographically ambivalent as Modernism?
From its dreams of an ever-accelerating, technologically saturated future to its fetishistic obsession with the regressive aesthetics of childhood and the “primitive,” Modernism—the style, the period, the set of ideological commitments and aesthetic techniques—is wrought with frictions and mutually exclusive contradictions. While scholars have worked to locate within the “Modernist” certain styles (whether sleekly functionalist or experimentally obfuscated by clutter), temporalities (whether forward-bound or stuck in a traumatic loop of repetition), and affective dispositions (from wartime melancholia to futurist euphoria), this panel addresses the formal affordances and historical markers through which we arrive at the Modernist and designate its supposed antinomies. “Marginally Modernist” searches not only for what “barely” qualifies as Modernist but for works and theoretical approaches explicitly or invisibly marginalized by Modernism. This panel inhabits the fragile boundaries of an overdetermined term, examining the particular historical, formal, geographical, and ideological contours invoked by Modernism and its resultant exclusions.
Papers might address (but are not limited to): functionalism and primitivism in architecture and design, psychoanalysis and aesthetics, geographical markers of exclusion or exception, transatlantic studies, “planetary” and/or global modernity, experimental forms and queer temporalities, affect, meta-critical accounts of contemporary Modernist studies.
From its dreams of a
technologically saturated future to its obsession with the regressive
aesthetics of childhood and primitivism, Modernism is wrought with frictions
and contradictions. This panel locates the precarious and often invisible
margins marked by the term, searching not only for what “barely” qualifies as
Modernist but for works (visual, textual, architectural) and theoretical
approaches that Modernism marginalizes. By inhabiting the fragile boundaries of
an overdetermined term, this panel will examine the historical, formal,
geographical, and ideological contours invoked by Modernism and its resultant exclusions.