You have the option of registering for one seminar if you are interested. You may select up to three of your top choices (but you’re required to select at least two.) If your first choice is already full, you will be placed in your second choice seminar; if your second choice seminar is full, you will be placed in your third choice. Seminars are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. You can register for seminars through the Registration form; please follow instructions outlined on the Registration Information page. Please do not register for “closed” seminars.
Megan Quigley - Villanova University
Anne Fernald - Fordham University
How have reading and teaching early 20th-century texts changed in light of the #MeToo movement? How might our scholarship need to think more carefully about sex, gender, and power? Feminist scholarship has a rich history in literary modernism building on influential works such as Hazel Carby’s Reconstructing Womanhood (1989), Bonnie Kime Scott’s The Gender of Modernism (1990), Rita Felski’s The Gender of Modernity (1995), Sianne Ngai’s Ugly Feelings (2005), and Sara Ahmed’s The Promise of Happiness (2010). In the #MeToo Era, feminism has been revitalized, even as it interrogates its own historical shortcomings and theoretical limitations. Post-structuralism, complicity in the neo-liberal ravaging of global economies and the environment, racism, classism, and homo / transphobia, have all challenged feminism’s reputation, and, often rightly, complicated its effectiveness while divorcing feminist scholarship from pragmatic applications. “But,” as Jessica Bennett declares in The New York Times, “the #MeToo moment has become something larger: a lens through which we view the world, a sense of blinders being taken off.” In what ways does our modernist scholarship still have on blinders that the energies of Tarana Burke’s intersectional and empathetic feminism may remove? We ask for papers that consider: Whose voices do we believe in texts and why? How has our scholarship silently condoned scenes of assault (such as Rachel Vinrace’s kiss in The Voyage Out, Leda’s rape in “Leda and the Swan,” Fern’s “easy” sex in Cane) by focusing on modernism’s celebrated difficulty, experimentalism, and desire to make it new? How are our professional and academic institutions (in everything from mentoring through peer review and promotion) similarly imbricated in gendered power relations? From the recent scandal in James Joyce circles to the article in chronical of higher education which asks, “Should we still cite the scholarship of serial sexual harassers?” the #MeToo movement makes us question our research and our profession—our seminar seeks papers examining its ramifications. We are particularly interested in papers that examine the complex and confounding ways in which institutional structures and deep-seated patriarchal patterns of thought collide with our scholarship.
Rebecca Kastleman - College of the Holy Cross
Pardis Dabashi - Boston University
Prevailing critical narratives assert that modernism emerged by shedding the trappings of imperial, monarchic, and religious authority. However, these consolidated systems of power still haunt many modernist works performed on stage and screen. Modernist dramas from Jarry’s Ubu Roi to Beckett’s Endgame revel in the absolute authority of the monarch, while works such as Djuna Barnes’s Passion Play restage the Christian Passion for modernism’s coterie audiences. Meanwhile, cultures of aristocracy—be they explicit, as in the cinema of Luchino Visconti, or repressed and redirected, as in the cinema of Orson Welles—persist throughout cinematic history, well into its properly “modernist” period in the midcentury. Such works seem to critique consolidated systems of social and political power while also revealing an ongoing fascination with these systems. What political, cultural, and aesthetic work, we ask, do these forms of authority perform in modernist theater and cinema—media whose production depends on the diffusion of creative authority, and whose material realization always already compromises autocratic leadership? We also take a particular interest in the forms of authority represented in modernist cinema and performance originating outside the US and Europe. The global turn in modernist studies demands that we confront how modernisms outside Western urban centers coexisted with supposedly “pre-modern” structures of authority. How do works of modernist cinema and performance represent and confront systems of consolidated authority as these forms migrate across borders? We welcome projects on all varieties of modernist film and performance, including theater, dance, music, and other live art.
Andrew Thacker - Nottingham Trent University
Faye Hammill - Glasgow University
Celia Marshik - Stony Brook University
Since the publication of George Bornstein’s Material Modernism in 2001 the scholarship of “modernist things” has expanded far beyond the “material textuality” that was Bornstein’s focus. For example, in 2008 Stacy Alaimo and Susan Hekman's collection Material Feminisms, brought together many of the thinkers and ideas that now constitute the New Materialisms. Only last year, the French Society for Modernist Studies held the Modernist Objects conference in Paris, testifying to the increasing international interest in the materiality of modernism’s many productions. This seminar seeks papers that discuss the impact of these New Materialisms for the field of modernist studies, focusing upon the material conditions and contexts that set the stage for, and often inspired, aesthetic innovation. The New Materialisms, broadly construed, focus on the agency of matter, positing a politics of the nonhuman as well as of the relationship between humans and the physical world around them. Whether scholars work on fashion, food, modes of transport, paper ephemera, or other types of objects and materials, they are united in arguing that writers and artists not only imbued their works with references to the physical world but also thought out major questions of politics, ethics, and philosophy through things.
This seminar will bring together scholars who focus on modern literature and its relationships to, among other topics, contemporary print culture, technology, media, fashion, art and design, and of course, objects and material culture. In the spirit of Bornstein’s original book, we also invite papers on the work of editing and revision, on the design, manufacture, advertising and circulation of modern texts, and also on the re-presentation of the modernist print object through digital textualities. Addressing the conference theme of “Upheaval and Reconstruction,” the seminar will be particularly interested in papers that explore the following: how materiality is reconstructed in specific textual and aesthetic representations; how material things from home or abroad are reimagined or reassembled by modernist writers, artists, and thinkers; and how material objects are remade in specific historical circumstances.
The seminar is linked to a new book series commissioned by Palgrave and edited by the organisers of the seminar (Faye Hammill, Celia Marshik, and Andrew Thacker). Though the Material Modernism series will be based in literary studies, the seminar welcomes other disciplinary approaches, including art and design history, music, architecture, cultural studies, anthropology, or digital humanities.
Alix Beeston - Cardiff University
Cliff Mak - Queens College, City University of New York
Mark Goble - University of California, Berkeley
This seminar will explore what we can know about modernism and modernity—and how we can know it—through the life of its objects. Each participant will contribute a paper that starts with and meditates on a specific modernist object: a mass-produced doll, a handcrafted tapestry, a light bulb, a photograph, a billboard poster, a trinket, a piece of clothing, a piece of junk, or any other commercial or art object. We will open up this grab bag of objects in discussing modernist aesthetics and politics, as well as the uses of new materialist studies and thing theory for modernist studies today.
Sarah Copland - MacEwan University
Illya Nokhrin - University of Toronto
This seminar invites scholars to consider paratexts produced, circulated, and received alongside modernist texts either in the modernist period or subsequently. We welcome work on any paratexts that travelled or travel with texts (e.g., prefaces, epigraphs, dust jackets, footnotes, illustrations, concert programs, artist bios, and film credits), with the term “texts” intended to encompass various media and formats (e.g., print, visual, filmic, and performance). We hope to create a forum of exchange for scholars working on paratexts from diverse methodological and theoretical approaches such as book history and print culture, narrative theory, media studies, cultural studies, and digital humanities. How might attention to paratexts prompt re-examination of individual texts and artists, of specific groups of artists or movements, of paratext-text relationships in the modernist period, and of historical and contemporary conceptions of modernism and modernity? What do different methodologies or approaches contribute to the study of modernist paratexts? While we are primarily interested in papers on paratexts produced, circulated, and received in the modernist period, we also welcome papers on paratexts that accompany modernist texts but were produced more recently (e.g., a preface by a contemporary writer, accompanying a reprint of a modernist novel), insofar as attention to contemporary paratexts might inform discussions about individual modernist texts and artists, specific groups of artists or movements, paratext-text relationships, and/or historical and contemporary conceptions of modernism and modernity.
Catherine Clay - Nottingham Trent University
Maria DiCenzo – Wilfrid Laurier University
Motivated by recent developments in Europe, including the rise of nationalist movements and tensions between the EU and the UK following Brexit, this seminar aims to recover and examine the contributions of women to a conversation about Europe and internationalism that remains vital today. Writing in his quarterly review the New Criterion in April 1926 T. S. Eliot invoked ‘the idea of a common culture of Western Europe’ in an effort to reconstruct an ideal of European unity shattered by the events of the First World War. As Jeroen Vanheste (following Jason Harding) has shown in a recent issue of the Journal of European Periodical Studies Eliot’s magazine was part of a network of European periodicals (including La Nouvelle Revue Française and the German Europaïsche Revue) forming what he later described as ‘“an international fraternity of men of letters’” who cooperated in a shared European spirit’ (Vanheste 2018: 30). Noting the ways in which the Criterion network both reinforces a masculinist version of intellectual culture and narrowly limits an idea of Europe to the more affluent and powerful Western European countries (excluding Central and Eastern Europe), this seminar asks: what part did transnational feminist networks play in the processes of reconstruction after the First World War? And how did female writers and activists conceptualise ‘the idea of Europe’ in the interwar decades?
The seminar seeks to bring together scholars with an interest in women as writers, activists, and culture-makers in the modernist era and invites participants from a variety of fields including periodical studies, book and publishing history, and translation studies as well as women’s political and cultural history, literary geographies, and European Studies. Women played a prominent part in peace and internationalist movements in this period, forming and joining such organisations as the International Woman Suffrage Alliance (1902), Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (1915), the International Federation of University Women (1919), and PEN (1921). And the work of leading women writers of the period – for example, Storm Jameson, Rebecca West, Virginia Woolf – was profoundly shaped by internationalist commitments. Focusing on the European dimension of the transnational networks that female writers and activists established in their contribution to the processes of peace and reconstruction, the seminar will also explore the potentially diverse and conflicting ways in which women artists and intellectuals understood and configured Europe and European identity.
Topics or themes that the seminar might address include: the interface between modernism and international women’s organisations and/or the peace movement; the role of translators and publishers networks in the transnational travel of texts and/or in the development of the (unstable) category of ‘European literature’; women’s contribution to periodicals or groups of periodicals as ‘European spaces’; the use of new electronic forms of data collection and analysis to map transnational networks; feminist cooperation across linguistic barriers in Europe (commonly referred to at the time as ‘the language problem’); the impact or influence of transnational feminist networks on the aesthetics of literary texts and/or other forms of modern/ist cultural production; ‘writing back’/displacing Europe from the colonial or semi-colonial periphery or from a transatlantic perspective.
Jennifer Nesbitt - Penn State University - York
Sonita Sarker - Macalester College
Literary modernist studies in English has developed fertile fields of analyses on race in which whiteness, in remaining un-addressed, becomes the absent normative. This seminar invites participants to interpellate whiteness directly and explicitly as a concept and as lived experience in Modernist identities and production. It offers three overlapping frames: firstly, to the extent that racialization is constructed in particular ways in early twentieth-century modernity, whiteness is co-constitutive with its ‘others.’ The seminar asks contributors to consider how white identities are produced dialectically with its racialized and ethnicized ‘others’ such as indigenous, black, or brown subjects. For instance, how would we read William Faulkner and his writings when juxtaposed with his contemporary Zitkala Ša and her works?
Secondly, whiteness, like its ‘others,’ is historically contingent: The seminar encourages participants to scrutinize the particularities of Modernism in any given era and to consider how whiteness emerges in the contexts of war and colonialism in which nation and capitalism imbricate in new ways. How might one approach differently an Elsie Holloway or Oodgeroo Noonuccal? Thirdly, the seminar is intended to create an opportunity in which the heterogeneity of whiteness is addressed, that is, if we consider how it intersects with gender (including masculinity and transgender identity), sexuality, ethnicity, class, nationality, and dis/ability. For instance, how is a Virginia Woolf similar to or distinct from a Katherine Mansfield, or a T.S. Eliot from a Hugh MacDiarmid?
The seminar seeks to engage colleagues working in and across various media and disciplines who are interested in (re)constructing whiteness from within and without. In its focus, the seminar picks up the emphasis on Indigeneity and on the theme of Reconstruction in MSA 2019. It is situated in relation to, and encourages connections with, Feminist and Cultural Studies in which there have already been fruitful explorations of whiteness (see George Lipsitz, Ruth Frankenberg, Toni Morrison, and Sara Ahmed, to name only some). The first part of the title of the seminar glances at Ta’Nehisi Coates’s The First White President that explicitly invokes what has remained latent and hegemonically formative in national histories, and in its larger intentions, summons links between Modernisms and our current discourses of racializations and nationalisms.
Rebecca Cameron - DePaul University
Nicole Flynn - South Dakota State University
Performances require the assembly (and often nightly re-assembly) of many diverse elements involving the collaboration of many individuals and groups—writers and composers, performers and directors, producers and designers, publicists and audience members. Modernist performances often combined elements of past and future, tradition and innovation, the expected and the extraordinary. Artists from dance, theatre, ballet, film, music, art, literature, and fashion collaborated, crossing boundaries of media, geography, and genre. In so doing, they forged new networks and developed new performance techniques. Collaborations also sometimes produced tensions or rifts with political, ethical, or aesthetic implications. Attending to the collaborative, ephemeral, and temporal aspects of modernist performances encourages us to interrogate modernist configurations of authorship, audience, and archive. This seminar invites papers that consider the elements of modernist performance in any of their intersections, divergences, upheavals, and reconstructions. We welcome papers on avant-garde performances as well as more popular forms of performance such as pageants, revues, or cabarets. We also welcome papers that consider the methodologies used by scholars or practitioners to reconstruct modernist performances.
Gabriel Hankins - Clemson University
Adam Hammond - University of Toronto
Shawna Ross - Texas A&M University
What are the most productive methods and practices for digital modernist studies now? How should we situate digital interventions within our scholarly field, and how would we demonstrate their contribution to modernist studies? After the development of major platforms and tools designed for modernist objects, and after the expansion of digital work into the scholarly mainstream, we have now reached a phase where digital interventions must demonstrate their profits as well as their potential. We seek contributions that employ established techniques, platforms, and models to articulate specific contributions to the study of modernists and modernism. We will also aim to think together about the shape of a proposed series of short monographs in digital literary and cultural studies.
Note: auditors allowed.
Adam McKible - John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Robert Jackson - University of Tulsa
Michael Soto – Trinity University
Leigh Anne Duck – University of Mississippi
The “problem of the twentieth century” was one of the most important factors in the development of American modernism. W. E. B. Du Bois, of course, identifies the problem as “the color line,” a portmanteau phrase for the broad array of laws and practices that promulgated legal segregation, cultural separation, and racial antagonism in the US from the end of Reconstruction through the Civil Rights era. Indeed, Jim Crow’s power and tenacity have derived in very large measure from its interdisciplinary shape-shifting, its ability to animate so many areas of life and culture over a long period of time. To be sure, it was a product of what the author of the first great history of Jim Crow, C. Vann Woodward, would have called “political economy,” that matrix of business, politics, law, and social institutions that constituted many historians’ sense of the past for much of the twentieth century. But Jim Crow was also deeply grooved in the minds of millions of people who had little knowledge of politics or law. It shaped everyday life pervasively, often invisibly. Jim Crow was omnipresent in art and culture, in popular media such as motion pictures, radio, theater, and music, as well as literature and other forms of print culture. The ambiguity surrounding Jay Gatsby, for example, hinges on his racial identity and the suspicion that a “Mr. Nobody from Nowhere” might in fact have crossed the color line when he reinvented himself. Likewise, Nella Larsen's subtle attention in Passing to interracial marriage reflects the exigencies of a society in which African Americans generated an enormous range of creative and pragmatic responses to the arbitrary constraints of segregation.
This seminar takes as its starting point the contemporaneity of the Jim Crow era and the modernist era in art and culture, exploring how these movements reinforced one another, and how artists and thinkers on both sides of the color line worked in and against the “separate but equal” landscape and the organizing logic of Jim Crow. We organized a very well attended roundtable on “Jim Crow Modernism” for MSA 2018 in Columbus, featuring work on Irvin S. Cobb’s Saturday Evening Post writings, the transnational performance circuits of black performers, Langston Hughes’s forceful responses to Jim Crow caricatures, African American “specialty” performers in film musicals, James Baldwin’s challenge to William Faulkner the 1956 essay "Faulkner and Desegregation," and the “canonization” of Jim Crow in modernist poetry and scholarship. We received numerous requests to organize a follow-up event in the wake of the 2018 roundtable, and we believe a seminar on this topic will generate significant intellectual energy among established and burgeoning scholars alike, opening up modernist studies to the topic in interdisciplinarily broad and diverse ways.
Laura Fisher - Ryerson University
Shirley Lau Wong - Westfield State University
Jennifer Spitzer - Ithaca College
Paul Saint-Amour – University of Pennsylvania
Aarthi Vadde – Duke University
This seminar will examine “the minor” as a keyword in modernist studies. In recent years, multiple senses of minorness have informed a wide range of critical theory. Sianne Ngai analyzes how minor aesthetic categories such as the zany, the interesting, and the cute are crucial to indexing the transformation of aesthetics in the era of late capitalism. Alex Woloch, in his study of nineteenth-century realism, examines how minor or “flat” (as opposed to “round”) characters can teach us new ways of understanding the asymmetries of character-spaces and character-systems that constitute the novel more broadly. Françoise Lionnet and Shu-mei Shih, in their anthology Minor Transnationalism, challenge the assumption that the “minor is always mediated by the major in both its social and psychic means of identification”; they instead call for scholarship that reads how minority subjects identify themselves horizontally in complex relation to other minority groups. And in her recent Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments, Saidiya Hartman devises a new critical and archival method for excavating the rich subjectivity of young black women “deemed unfit for history and destined to be minor figures” (xv). From literary questions of genre, character, and aesthetics to social categories of race, citizenship, and age, “the minor” is a capacious and wildly wide-ranging keyword, one that has much to offer a field whose traditional modernist canon has itself been transformed in recent years by once-marginal texts and authors.
Our seminar will flow from a series of related questions. If one dictionary definition of “minor” hinges on relative smallness or unimportance, how might “the minor” reshape how we talk about value in studies of genre, author, form, and discipline? For instance, how does a “minor” designation compel us to reexamine what kinds of literary and cultural texts we consider valuable, and which ones we disregard as “niche” or inessential? How might an investigation of “minor” archives, aesthetic movements, or writers force us to rethink the geographic or period boundaries of modernism? What are the critical affordances of “the minor” as distinct from the marginal or the non-canonical? In other words, what does “the minor” help us to say and do in modernist studies?
We wish to use this seminar as an opportunity to develop a new critical vocabulary around the category of the minor. To that end, we invite papers that explore the following topics, broadly construed:
- “Minority” as racial, ethnic, religious, gender, and sexual designation
- Minor aesthetic categories, genres, and methods
- Minor languages (e.g. creolization, dialect, slang)
- Minor forms and figures (e.g. minor characters, minor literary spaces, minor details)
- Minorness in relation to canons and other literary and cultural institutions
Ann Martin - University of Saskatchewan
Justin Pfefferle - Bishop's University
If, as Daniel McCarthy has argued, the instability of modernity brings about not just experimentation but also a return to tradition, how do we read conservative modernisms that engage with both? What is the place of the middlebrow, as well as of satire, religion, Tory politics, or a turn away from or partial embrace of experimental form? Where do such modernist impulses emerge most powerfully and achieve their greatest cultural impact? This seminar invites participants to consider how figures who are either firmly entrenched in, or on the margins of, three primary categories—conservatism, the middlebrow, and modernism—respond to manifold upheavals and reconstructions, with potential emphasis on late modernist and postwar visual, literary, and material texts. Was the middlebrow turn away from high modernist difficulty necessarily motivated by the kinds of democratic ideals that characterize wartime and postwar rhetoric about social and architectural rebuilding (the Welfare State, the rise of suburbia)? Or are there artists of these or earlier periods whose conservatism, broadly conceived, reveals the ambivalences at the heart of the modernist project?
Joseph Rosenberg - University of Notre Dame
Sean Pryor - University of New South Wales
Sara Crangle - University of Sussex
On the boulevards of modernism, the major edifices have, by and large, been well cared for: Woolf, Eliot, Joyce, Stein, Imagism, primitivism, etc. Some of the grander piles have had new wings added; some no longer quite shine with their former glory; and some, having fallen into disrepair, have been lovingly reconstructed. But as the boulevards fray into little streets on the fringes of the city, there are houses which seem now beyond reconstruction, or whose construction was never in the first place completed. Why is this, and what can contemporary criticism do with modernism’s dead ends, its movements and works that seem to have gone nowhere, and defy reconstruction? Is it that such movements and works never aimed to outlive gilded monuments, but only to live in the passing event of construction? How do we place figures such as Ronald Firbank, Ivy Compton Burnett, W.S. Graham, or Anna Mendelssohn, so clearly modernists, yet seemingly without influence or peer? And how can thinking about the work of reconstruction – its capacities and its limitations – help us to think again about persistent questions of canon, genealogy, and field? We welcome papers that shine light on modernism’s dark corners, and help us rethink scholarly processes of recovery and reconstruction.
Timothy DeJong - Baylor University
The wide variety of lyric poetry being produced today demonstrates an understanding and usage of the lyric “I” that might seem, at first glance, at odds with the self’s construction in modernist poetics. Lyric poetry today is often at once intimate and political in ways that appear far removed from the more withdrawn lyric self of the modernist era, the prototypical poem of which is famous for its difficulty and for its resistance to straightforward appeals to the subjective “I.”. T.S. Eliot, who may have shaped the consensus view of the modernist poem more than any other writer, insists in his essay “Tradition and the Individual Talent” that artistic progress requires the “continual extinction of personality,” since “the emotion of art is impersonal.” But Eliot’s principle that poetry serves as an escape from selfhood is often radically challenged not only following the modernist era, but by poets during it. Hence, this panel asks contributors to consider the ways in which the complexity of modernist lyric poetry might belie or work against standard critical assumptions regarding the impersonality, difficulty, or even disappearance of the lyric self. For while many valuable critical contributions have been already been made, much work yet remains to be done to more fully apprise three broad aspects of the modernist lyrical self, any of which contributors are invited to consider:
- Can the modernist lyric self be historicized? How should we understand the self’s creation and presentation in modernist lyric as a product of the particular social, cultural, and technological pressures of the early 20th century? What through lines can be discerned, if any, across lyric voice in poets as distinct as William Carlos Williams, Mina Loy, and Hart Crane?
- Many distinct schools emerged from modernist poetics – the “raw” lines of the Beat poets, the “cooked” verse of the formalists, the avant-gardism of the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E school, and the domestic intimacy of the confessional writers, to name only a few. All these movements bear some causal or tangential relation to modernist writers’ considerations regarding self, other, and voice in lyric poetry. How should we understand the historical progression from the modernist lyric self to the expansive complexity of the lyric self as it proliferates in more recent and contemporary poetry? For instance, was the confessional moment in American poetry a natural outgrowth of modernist attention to lyric form, a repudiation of it, or neither? Do we oversimplify matters in observing, in the lyric energies of 20th-century poetry, a movement from world to self and from an impersonal to a personal aesthetic? How are minority discourses and movements energized through the use of lyric voice?
- How might modernist lyric be profitably attached to other disciplines or lines of thought, as Gillian White has recently done by thinking of contemporary and recent lyric through the lens of shame? Through which theoretical frameworks – formalist, affective, queer, and so forth – can or should the lyric poem of the modernist era be profitably read?
Tram Nguyen - CUNY Hostos CC
Cat Keyser – University of South Carolina
Soon in print in 2019, Modernism and Food Studies, edited by Jessica Martell, Adam Fajardo, and Philip Keel Geheber, and Gastro-Modernism by Derek Gladwin signal the emergence of a prominent dialogue between modernist literature and gastro-culinary production. In as much as modernists seek to render through formal aesthetics their disillusionment with their industrialized, bourgeois world, alimentary hunger or plenitude impacted literary ambitions. The varying ecstasy, agony, and ennui modernists felt about food and drink molded their form and aesthetics in fundamental ways. Wallace Stevens’s poetry manufactured aesthetic feasts, where beauty is “a service, a food” (24). Hemingway found a link between hunger and heightened senses. As synecdochic experiences, food and drink express interior and exterior relational significance. From Proust’s madeleines to Woolf’s academic luncheon, Beckett’s turnips and carrots, Joyce’s fried kidneys and potted meat, and Stein’s perfect omelette temperature, comestibles form sensual, libidinal extensions as well as ambiguation of the self. Gustatory experiences are also marked by cultural, class, and religious preferences and orthodoxies. Culinary crudity, snobbery, minimalism, and maximalism in modernist literature showcase shifting alimentary and socio-political conventions. Victorian prandial events are decorous while bohemian café scenes articulate modernism’s rejection of the claustrophobic rigidity of past culinary and social relations. Woolf uses meat to render sexual, gender, and anthropocentric horror in her female characters. Barthes, meanwhile, argues that wine is a “totem” for the French, embodying the capacity to equalize the proletariate and the intellectual through the pleasure of consumption (58-9). Pasteurization, canning, and globalization mark the first half of the twentieth century as a vibrant era of culinary innovations. Food diversity and comestible circulation were simultaneously puzzling and delightful; culturally and individually significant in modernist literature. This seminar seeks to square the intersection between literary representations and food and drink. Short seminar papers from all disciplinary and theoretical lenses on gastronomy, comestibles, culinary practices and science, and gustatory poetics in modernist literatures and cultures are welcomed.
Topics may include but are not limited to:
- the textual, the edible, and the carnal
- gustatory pleasure and aestheticism
- embodiment, interiority, intimacy
- deprivation, hunger, poverty
- café and salon culture
- intoxication, addiction
- wealth, abundance, status
- wartime austerity and luxury
- material production, authenticity
- globalized food pathways
- cultural signification and cultural divides
- culinary science, canned foods
- cooking, cookbooks, and recipes
Genevieve Brassard - University of Portland
Jay Dickson - Reed College
Paula Derdiger - University of Minnesota-Duluth
The violence and destruction of the modernist period culminated in the events of World War II and its aftermath. At the same time, the War marked a turning point for the re-imagination and reconfiguration of international relations, human rights, national identity, urban planning and land use, architectural space, domestic relations, and the very foundations of self and subjectivity. This seminar will explore cultural representations of the aftermath of World War II in terms of the renegotiation of public and private space. Possible questions to investigate include: How do literature and culture represent or mediate the spatial relation between public and private postwar reconstruction? When and where are borders between private and public blurred? How do identities and selves get re-negotiated in spatial terms following radical wartime experiences? How are traumatic experiences represented and healing processes dramatized? What happens to the home once it is no longer a Front? How do authors, artists, filmmakers and others explore reconfigured roles within the family, nation, or international community? How long do aftermaths really last and what changing shapes do they take as they manifest in spatial, architectural, and geographic ways?
This seminar invites scholars who study the mid-century modern period through a range of lenses and approaches, including, but not limited to: spatial, geographic, and architectural approaches to literature and culture; domesticity and the middlebrow; war, trauma, and Holocaust studies; transnational and global studies; archival, periodical, and publication studies; autobiography and life writing; feeling, affect, and the body. This seminar encourages papers interested in underrepresented perspectives often marginalized in modernist studies.
Sarah Fedirka - The University of Findlay
Zulfqar Awan - University College of the North
Rebecca Walsh – North Carolina State University
This seminar explores the figure of the terrorist in modernism. The organizers invite projects that consider the role the figure of the terrorist plays in modernist studies and its relationship to our understanding of modernist disruption and upheaval. Also welcome are projects that examine networks of terrorist activity. Conceptions/definitions of the terrorist/terrorism have evolved and transformed and continue to haunt our perceptions of modernism in a global context. While the figure of the terrorist can be read as symbolic of—and even a constituent part of—modernist disruption, little attention has been paid to this figure in modernist studies. The salience of terrorism in the current age invites (demands) an evaluation of this figure within modernism. The convergence of issues related to race, class, religion, identity, nationalism, capitalism, socialism, decolonization, justice, and freedom in the figure of the terrorist lends it significance and challenges our understanding of modernism.
This figure finds representation in film/literature/the visual arts, propaganda, government reports, and the mainstream press. These representations range from freedom fighters to mutineers, revolutionaries to insurrectionists, warriors to anarchists, and rebels to loyalists. The seminar considers the potency that this figure has, in a modernist context, to disrupt binaries of self/other, settler/native, center/periphery, justice/injustice as well as challenge the legacy of Western humanism. The seminar thus aims to engage discussion of how far the concept of global modernism can be stretched and how the figure of the terrorist tests global modernism’s “utopian aspirations.”
In relation to the networks of terrorist activity, this seminar explores the global transmission of idea(l)s, material, personnel, and/or capital, especially across empire. It invites participants to consider the figure of the terrorist or terrorism as a response to imperial oppression, geopolitical expansion, and/or decolonization.
Jeanne Scheper - University of California, Irvine
Madelyn Detloff - Miami University
Next year will mark the 20th anniversary of Siobhan Somerville's Queering the Color Line: Race and the Invention of Homosexuality in American Culture (Duke UP 2000). Somerville’s work demonstrated through examinations of literature, film, and culture how early 20th century discourses on race became the model for discourses on sex and examined how the logics of racialization and sexualization were deeply linked to national ideologies. W.E.B. Du Bois presciently declared in 1903 that “The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line—the relation of the darker to the lighter races of men in Asia and Africa, in America and the islands of the sea.” Somerville’s work was groundbreaking in its careful analysis of how miscegenation and homosexuality were deeply entwined in that modern problem of the color-line. “Jim Crow,” Somerville wrote, “policed not only racial boundaries but also those of sexuality and gender.” (68) The interracial and the same-sex couple were both seen as expressions of unnatural desires, as perversions. Jim Crow not only constructed the lie of omnipresent white female vulnerability in the face of innate Black male aggression, but constructed such narratives as an alibi for the pervasive sexual violence, rape, forced reproduction perpetrated by white men against Black women under plantation slavery. Further, as Somerville reminds us, “sexologists,” drawing on 19th century theories of scientific racism “reproduced not only the methodologies of comparative anatomy of race, but also its iconography” (27). It is out of social and political fields of struggle such as these that modernism’s aesthetics are generated, and it is within this social architecture that modernism’s productions circulate and are enjoyed, and it is out of this continuing contestation that we also “make sense” of modernism/modernity. In anticipation of its twentieth anniversary, we invite seminar participants to join us in a robust discussion of the legacy of Queering the Color Line, further directions for scholarship that proceed from the provocations of Queering the Color Line twenty years after publication, and concomitant analysis of how of gender, sexuality, race, and racism evolved in the late nineteenth and early 20th century. In keeping with the conference theme of Upheaval and Reconstruction, we especially welcome participation by scholars whose work develops the premises of Queering the Color Line to consider questions of indigeneity, global whiteness and local iterations of the color line in global contexts, colonial, decolonial, and commonwealth iterations of the color-line and/or non U.S. based notions of gender, sexuality, and gender identity that complicate the largely U.S. based focus of Queering the Color Line.
Jamie Callison - Nord University
Lisa Hollenbach - Oklahoma State University
Peter Howarth - Queen Mary University of London
This seminar explores new approaches to the audio archive and modernist poetry performance, twenty years after Charles Bernstein in Close Listening: Poetry and the Performed Word (1998) called on scholars to develop “‘close listenings,’ not only to the printed text of poems but also to tapes and performances.” The subsequent emergence of large digital archives of poetry performance has made their use commonplace in poetry scholarship, while also transforming how writers and readers interact with poetry from the present and past. But the contemporary significance of performance and media to literary culture is not new; we could look back, for example, to the founding of the Poetry Recital Society at the turn of the twentieth century, which sought to use recitals as a way of reaching a mass audience.
This seminar attempts to use the conference theme of renewal and reconstruction to think through not only the ways that performance contributed to the propagation of modernist poetics, but also the ways in which we listen to the modernist audio archive today. We seek papers on new approaches to and uses of audio archives in modernist and 20th-century poetry studies, and welcome papers on subjects such as building a more inclusive archive of modernist literary performance; methods of listening (close, distant, formalist, historicist, critical, phenomenological, etc.); revisionist histories of the poetry reading; institutions of literary performance, recording, broadcasting, and archiving; teaching with recordings; curation and multimedia publishing; “lost” performances and analog archives; and transnational approaches and networks.
Tara Thomson - Edinburgh Napier University
Andrew Frayn - Edinburgh Napier University
As we enter a lull between the First World War centenaries and modernist commemorations likely to come in 2022, we invite critiques of the relationship between current trends in modernist studies and commemoration.
‘Finished, it’s finished, nearly finished, it must be nearly finished’, Clov pleads at the beginning of Samuel Beckett’s Endgame, capturing a sense of weariness at the end of a long and momentous conflict. One would be forgiven for a not dissimilar feeling at the wave of commemorative activity from 2014 to 2018, a centenary fever that took a dramatic hold of public and scholarly activity. Alongside a continuous series of public events in the UK commemorating the First World War, Modernist Cultures produced two special issues on the topic. Concurrently, a range of other commemorative programmes emerged, from the centenary of the Representation of the People Act, to the full-year celebration in Scotland of the centenary of Muriel Spark’s birth, to the Stream of Consciousness Centenary Conference in 2018 at Sheffield Hallam University, and more. Beyond modernist studies, a flurry of activity around the bicentenary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein attests to the commemorative imperative. The prominence of the tercentenary of Shakespeare’s death in 1916 (Hendley 2012) indicates both that this is nothing new, and that such endeavours can be bound up with asserting particular, historically contingent forms of national identity. 2019 should see the dying embers of this moment at the intersection between modernist studies and First World War studies, as we reach the centenary of the Versailles Peace Conference and treaty, although the potential for another commemorative burst seems always just around the corner.
As this particular set of centenaries tails off, we can reflect on the politics and practice of memorialisation. In this seminar, we invite papers that consider the problematics of allowing commemorative constructs, both temporal and spatial, to shape scholarly work in modernist studies. As Todman (2014) argues, the First World War centenary was bound up in ‘traditions of commemoration, commercialism, and controversy that stretch back to the war itself,’ raising questions about the significance of such events to various publics and to scholarly frameworks. These traditions are, by definition, uneven, which is evident in the limited engagement with First World War centenary events in the US, in stark contrast to Canada, the UK and Europe. We are interested in paper topics along the following lines: whether commemorative events and constructs necessarily reinscribe canonical narratives of history and literary history, potentially in tension with the New Modernist Studies' broadening/inclusive rhetoric and current trends in First World War Studies (e.g. Das, 2018; Madigan and Reuveni eds, 2019); elisions produced by the insistence on anniversaries; reframings of canonical and marginalised works; the ‘centenary’ event or landmark as a value-laden construct; new perspectives on how commemorative events shaped modernist literature and culture; the relationship between commemorative urgency, nostalgia, and modernist/contemporary political discourse; and whether/how we can abstract scholarly curiosity from institutional pressures to ‘market’ our work in the public sphere and in our own scholarly networks.
Note: Please list any disability accommodations.
Glenn Willmott - Queen's University
Lauren Benjamin - University of Michigan
Relatability is a millennial cliché, and it is peculiar one, which seems to flaunt both judgment and ambiguity. It surfaces in the contemporary classroom as a scourge of the literary instructor, when students relegate their engagement with a work of art to a pat discussion of the relatable. Writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Kit Nichols goes so far as to declare the word “dangerous,” reflecting as it does a generation of students “alienated from their experiences, strangers to themselves and the immediate surroundings… they think they’re supposed to find relatable.” Rebecca Mead has argued that resistance to the word stems from the fact that relatability is at heart a question of identification, of demanding “that the work itself be somehow accommodating to, or reflective of, the experience of the reader or viewer.” But what lives or experiences get to be judged relatable in this way, and why? Can one “relate” to a slave narrative if relatability is merely a synonym for identification? Questions of relatability have undoubtedly amplified some voices at the expense of others, exposing the extent to which the “relatable” may be defined by a particular (white, straight, male) subject position. However, the bare relationality indicated by the word in practice masks a variety of experiences of identification, familiarity, recognition, empathy, or understanding that, while remaining unspoken, nevertheless work to imply the value or very possibility of engagement. It may signal engagement with another that is partial, evasive, or fluid. Hence the uneasy role for relatability in the critical turn to affects of engagement, such as Suzanne Keen’s and Martha Nussbaum’s work on empathy, or Rita Felski’s and Jane Bennett’s work on enchantment and immersion. Hence, too, the simultaneous interest for and challenge of relatability to modernists. Modernism has a long history of wariness toward the readily relatable and an affection for disrupting it. Estrangements and idiolects permeate its pleasures and revelations. To every “I’ve been there!” or “I understand that!” or “I sympathize with that!”—whether about people, things, or the reading experience itself—the modernist is disposed to retort, “But do you, really? Have you, really? Should you, really?” Arguably, though, modernism is just as committed to producing new aesthetic experiences of relatability, of calling before us a world of strange bedfellows. Is the job of modernist criticism then, in Brian Glavey’s provocative words, “to discover that everything is in fact relatable”? How does this paradox of a modernist relatability work?
This seminar invites participants to share perspectives on how modernism negotiates the value of experiences such as identification, recognition, empathy, immersion, and other “relatable” affects with the value of experiences of inaccessibility, difference, defamiliarization, and difficulty. How do these work in modernist texts or among modernists themselves? How do they work in the teaching of modernism? How are such relatabilities shaped by differences in social power and history—among human or nonhuman lives? Is relatability a site of upheaval in modernism, or of reconstruction?
Brad Evans - Rutgers University
This seminar takes the contested notion of “relational aesthetics” in contemporary art as a frame for thinking through relations and relationality in modernist studies. Relationality can refer to the between spaces structuring subject-object dualisms, the connections in social networks, the vibrant oscillations animating matter in the new materialism. We are interested in any manner of art that takes such relationality as its object.
In 1997 Nicolas Bourriaud coined "relational aesthetics" to describe a new turn in art exhibits of the 1990s emphasizing “the community effect in contemporary art.” As Bourriaud explains, it describes “an art taking as its theoretical horizon the realm of human interactions and its social context, rather than the assertion of an independent and private symbolic space.” A famous example is Felix González-Torres’s Untitled (Portrait of Ross in L.A.) (1991), which consisted of a pile of hard candies in colorful, cellophane wrappers that viewers were invited to share, a pile whose ideal weight was 175 pounds, the same as the artist’s lover before he contracted AIDS. Exhibit visitors, who might have questioned whether or not to take a candy, were thus brought into relation with the Ross and the artist, with each other, and with the space of the exhibit, those evolving and ephemeral relations becoming the object of art.
Relational aesthetics has been characterized as participatory not contemplative; intersubjective not private; contingent not portable; collective not personal; part of service-based economies not goods-based economies; politically provisional and pragmatic not utopian; collaborative not confrontational; millennial not postmodern; a theory of recognition not otherness; and open-ended not whole or complete. It often refers to institutional art exhibits from the 1990s to the present.
And yet, similar notions of relationality are familiar across a broad historical spectrum of thinking about art and literature. A similar aesthetics of community took shape beginning in the 1890s in the international fad for little magazines, then called “ephemeral bibelots,” many of which were dependent for their aesthetic charge upon the dynamics of circulation and community, redistributing and cross-referencing particular optic and linguistic cues to produce coterie publics. Relations were central to Claude Debussy’s assertion that “music is the space between the notes,” William James’s radical empiricism, and Eadweard Muybridge’s sequential photographs of movement. Decadence has been framed by some critics as depending on a relational modality that gave way to autonomy in twentieth-century modernism. More broadly, modes of relationality could structure classic distinctions between sentimental literature like Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a modernist novel like Manhattan Transfer, and a postmodern political work like Beloved.
We aim to address the history, politics, and theoretical implications of relational aesthetics in this broader sense. Any form of engagement with the problem is welcome, for example: modes of representing relations in the past and present; relationality as a frame for understanding the art of group movements; the formation of movements for the rights of women and indigenous populations; the destruction of international relations in times of war; or the aesthetics of networks in digital information studies.
Sara Dunton - University of New Brunswick
Demetres Tryphonopoulos - Brandon University
Matte Robinson – St. Thomas University
While it is unfathomable today to imagine tackling Pound’s The Cantos or Eliot’s The Waste Land without scholarly annotated editions at hand, reading equally difficult modernist women poets remains largely unaccompanied: few such indispensable guides are available for major poetic works by H.D., to name but one. This seminar invites participants to consider how these poets would become far more accessible to students and general readers with the aid of what might be overlooked as traditional tools. What are the merits of scholarly editions in modernist studies today? How might scholarship itself benefit from the efforts of collaborative editorial teams dedicated to such projects? We also welcome broader reflections on the role of exegesis and archival work in scholarship of modernist women in general.
Our invited participant, Matte Robinson, St. Thomas University, is the author of The Astral H.D.: Occult and Religious Sources and Contexts for H.D.'s Poetry and Prose (2016) and co-editor (with Demetres Tryphonopoulos) of H.D.'s Hirslanden Notebooks: An Annotated Scholarly Edition (2015). In addition to his ongoing work on H.D.’s poetry and the archive, Robinson is part of a project on aging, narrative and resilience with St. Thomas’ Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Narrative.
Stephen Ross - University of Victoria
Fabio Ackelrud Durão - Unicamp University, Brazil
As the recent prominence of post-critique has brought home to modernist studies, the fates of theory and modernism are intimately bound up together. We cannot, it seems, think one without simultaneously thinking the other. The turn to weakness, itself a belated turning again to Vattimo's pensiero debole, is a case in point, linked inextricably to the fate of modernism as a term. Whether we are talking about reading that is close but not deep (Love), surface reading (Marcus and Best), microsociological reading (Dimock, Latour), mere reading (Brann), or reading for affect (Sedgwick), theory in any deep sense appears to be on the wane. Of course, theory -- like modernism -- appears in some ways always to have been on the wane, and critique is unlikely to disappear any time soon. To borrow a phrase, we may forget about critique, but it won’t forget about us.
What, then, is the nature of the relationship between modernism and theory? How can we understand it today when the strong is in increasingly ill-odour? Is there surreptitious strength in proclamations of weakness? Do modernism and theory have a PR problem rather than an inherent problem? And what has become of the descriptor “high” in all this? Has it simply been replaced by “strong,” or are there salient differences? How have such terminological shifts informed how we understand our field(s)? Participants may wish to focus on the recent surge in post-critique and/or affect studies, or they may wish to explore deeper histories of theory, modernism, and critique. Links between emerging theoretical models and concerns —the Anthropocene, the post-human, eco-theory, etc. — are encouraged. We also welcome contributions that introduce new ways of understanding modernism as theory and theory as modernism (what genres of theory are there, for example, and how does modernism enable/experiment with/undermine them?).
Nadine Attewell - McMaster University
Alice Te Punga Somerville - University of Waikato
Andrew Leong – University of California, Berkeley
This seminar asks how periodization, genre, and the archive matter to, and are getting rethought by, scholars interested in early-twentieth-century histories of Indigenous, Pacific, African, Asian, and Black and Asian diasporic cultural production. On the one hand, scholars invested in postcolonial and other countercanonical approaches to modernist studies have often sought push the field’s temporal boundaries forward, into the second half of the twentieth century and beyond. On the other hand, modernism has not consistently figured as a useful aesthetic or historical analytic in the scholarship that is changing how we conceive of, for example, pre-Second World War Indigenous or Asian American cultural production and history. In this seminar, we aim neither to replace narratives of lack and belatedness with narratives of abundance and precocity; nor to offer definitive conclusions about the utility of modernism as a framework. Rather, we invite scholars working in and with a variety of kinds of archives, both literary and not, to participate in an transdisciplinary conversation about how and under what sign(s) the first half of the twentieth century matters to the study of Indigenous, Pacific, African, and Asian (diasporic) cultural production. Early-career (and) BIPOC scholars especially welcome.
Elizabeth Anderson - University of Aberdeen
Mimi Winick - Virginia Commonwealth University
Jenny Hyest - University of Cincinnati
Critics have long defined both modernist literature and western feminism by their rejections of religion. On this view, art becomes modern when it excludes matters of faith, and women’s liberation requires emancipation not only from patriarchy but also from patriarchal religion.
Informed by recent work on modernist women writers and religion by scholars including Susan Stanford Friedman, Suzanne Hobson, and the seminar leaders, as well as writings on religion, women, and feminisms by critics beyond literary studies including Lucy Delap, Tracy Fessenden, Saba Mahmood, and Joan Scott, this seminar aims to question these familiar narratives by attending to modernist writers’ engagement with religion and spirituality.
We invite papers on any aspect of the intersections of religion, secularism, feminism, womanism, and women’s writing. Papers addressing any religion or religious movement, including but not limited to Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Indigenous Traditions, Judaism, Neopaganism, Spiritualism, and Theosophy, are welcome. Papers might address questions such as: Why did so many modernist women turn to religion with such intensity at a moment when, by prevailing accounts, religion ought to have been disappearing? How might the writings of famous as well as less familiar women writers help us conceive a different relation among religion, literature, and varieties of feminism? How might the writing of non-metropolitan writers inform such a conception? How might modernist writers’ aesthetic practices help us formulate ideas of modern life beyond the binary of religious and secular? How might such ideas intersect with literature that pushes beyond gender binaries? How did modernist writers’ engagements with religion inform both their aesthetic and political practices? How did such engagements intersect with imperialism, colonialism, and racism? What relationships might we trace between new literary practices and new religious movements?
Alyson Brickey - University of Winnipeg
Daniel Newman - University of Toronto
The early twentieth century saw the concurrent rise of modernist aesthetics and fascist political extremism. While this literary-political connection has been examined by many (localized around figures like F.T. Marinetti and Ezra Pound), what remains less discussed is the modernist push against totalitarian regimes. This seminar focuses on the many writers who worked in diverse aesthetic modes to oppose fascist paradigms. This includes explicit commitments to alternative politics (Mina Loy’s feminism, Langston Hughes’s communism), deliberate anti-fascist publishing strategies (John Lehmann’s New Writing magazine), and narratives that are suspicious of dictatorial control (Jean Rhys’s Good Morning, Midnight, Virginia Woolf’s Between the Acts). We hope to explore whether these and other versions of modernist anti-fascism can reveal new possibilities for thinking about art’s political potential in the face of authoritarianism.
Christopher Bush - Northwestern University
Sarah Ann Wells – University of Wisconsin-Madison
Although we all know better, scholars of the historical avant-gardes nonetheless still tend to emphasize origins and early days. While this might be a fine point for short-lived movements, it presents a genuine problem to the study of surrealism, which lasted for decades and has had a number of revivals. And the stakes are considerable because it is precisely during the “late” period that we find the greatest global spread of the movement as well as a much greater proportion of women artists and writers.
This seminar asks participants to address, through a specific case, the challenges and potentially benefits of the formulation “late surrealism.” On one level, this is an historiographical problem of periodization: how are surrealist works emplotted in different media and genres? What forms of inclusion or exclusion are promoted by shorter or longer timelines? However, we also wish to consider whether there is a “politics of time” (Peter Osborne) specific to surrealism and what the relationship of that politics is to national context and/or geopolitical position.
In addition to reading each other’s short papers (5-7 pp), participants will also read in preparation a few articles on the topic of belatedness, lateness, and related topics.
Information and recommended procedures
Seminar information (seminar title, description, and names of seminar leaders and any invited participants) is typically made available to MSA members in the late spring. MSA members sign up for seminars during conference registration by selecting up to three seminars (ranked in order of preference); members are placed in a seminar according to their ranking and available space. Most seminars have a cap (usually 12) and unless otherwise indicated they are set to have no auditors by default. The seminar registration period typically closes about a month after registration opens.
In advance of the seminar meeting at MSA, participants produce short papers in response to the seminar topic description and share them with the entire group through whatever mechanism the seminar leaders devise. All participants are to read all of the participants’ papers—a process that aims to ensure careful and significant dialogue on the topic. Seminars take place at MSA in blocks of two hours and thirty minutes. Typically, the first two hours are devoted to specific discussion of the topic by seminar participants and the final thirty minutes typically allow room for questions, general discussion, and/or participation of auditors if relevant.
Roles: Seminar Leaders and Invited Participants
Seminars are typically led by anywhere between one and three leaders who have some experience or knowledge foundational to the seminar topic, and who can represent different professional stages or institutional statuses (given that MSA discourages panel and roundtable proposals that are comprised of all graduate students, seminars with all graduate student leaders are accordingly not encouraged).
Some seminar leaders choose to invite a few people to join a seminar in some special role—usually scholars with special interest or expertise in the topic. It is entirely up to seminar leaders whether to exercise this option or not. All seminar leaders are welcome to invite up to two invited participants and can determine their precise role. Seminar organizers are, however, strongly urged to require invited participants to produce papers or prepare responses for the seminar in order to feed the dialogue of the seminar and to make the best use of everyone’s time.
Seminars function best when they foster considered, sustained intellectual dialogue anchored in the work that seminar participants circulate in advance and a lively conversation among peers during the seminar itself. Repeated experience suggests that seminars also function best when all participants, with the exception of the seminar leader(s), produce fresh, written work for the occasion.
The MSA encourages seminar leaders to discuss with invited participants the role they will play in the seminar in the earliest stages of the planning process.
Seminars are limited to a set number of participants (usually 12). By default, auditors are NOT permitted; seminar leaders may, however, choose to allow auditors but must inform the conference organizers.
Guidelines Established Before MSA
Seminar leaders should set firm guidelines for each seminar from their first or second contact with seminar participants. These should include, at a minimum:
- A deadline for submission of written work (preferably about six weeks before the conference). It is MSA’s policy that participants who do not submit written work will not be listed in the conference program for a seminar. It is perfectly appropriate to be tough: More than one seminar has suffered because participants did not have sufficient time to read all of the papers carefully.
- A recommended length for seminar papers (typically 5 to 7 pages).
- The procedure for sharing of written work.
Other guidelines are up to individual leaders and can lend seminars their unique styles. In the past, some leaders have provided a list of recommended readings and/or a list of questions the group should consider. Some have assigned participants to generate detailed critiques of each other’s work in pairs or small groups, in addition to all of the participants reading each other’s work. Leaders have also given specific paper guidelines guiding content (e.g., encouraging or discouraging textual, theoretical, or methodological analysis).
The seminar leader acts as a facilitator, rather than an instructor, in conducting this discussion among peers. It is the seminar leader’s job to ensure that the dialogue is inclusive; a leader must not allow one or two participants to dominate and should exercise the chair’s prerogative to steer discussion in a way that includes everyone. No responsibility is more important than making sure that everyone gets to participate fully, and that everyone’s submission gets attention.