The aim of this two-day conference is to foster discussion on communities in the modernist period. As discursive constructs and historical practices, communities constitute a privileged phenomenon from which to understand the political and ethical regime of modernist texts, as well as the actual forms of collective experience in which writers and readers were involved. More than a decade after Jessica Berman’s landmark work on "the politics of community" in modernist fiction, we seek to explore the various ways in which communities were configured across genres and artistic media, but also to acknowledge the grounds of their historical and cultural specificity. We hope that this will lead us to distinguish various versions of the communal, from the ideal to the empirical, from the utopian to the everyday, from consensus to dissensus.
Communities can be recorded at a symbolic as well as a material level, both inside and outside modernist texts themselves. We therefore encourage a variety of critical approaches, ranging from historicist and sociological, to aesthetic and philosophical. Through this critical diversity, we are particularly interested in investigating the historicity of modernist communities: how can we identify the historical singularity of modernist communal forms? How can we account for the changing scales, spaces and media of communal thinking in the modernist period? This emphasis on a historical being-in-common—what Jean-Luc Nancy defined as the community of the contemporary—can fruitfully be coupled with a critical reading of various later theories of community, from Benedict Anderson’s "imagined communities" to Jacques Rancière’s aesthetic conception of "the common". To what extent do modernist texts lead us to understand or challenge such theories? By taking a far-ranging approach to the concepts, forms, and historical practices of community, we hope to map out the plurality of this phenomenon, while recording its persisting elusiveness.
As the conference will inaugurate the creation of the French Society of Modernist Studies—Société d’Etudes Modernistes—, we seek to bring together scholars from all countries and hope to strengthen collaborations between French and international researchers.
Possible paper topics may include, but are not limited to:
- Communities across genres and literary forms
- Communities across artistic forms (painting, music, etc.)
- Writing, reading, and printing communities
- Academic communities and the institutional construction of modernisms
- Cultural communities and the ‘battle of the brows’
- Modernism and the discourses on community (international relations, sociology, anthropology, history, philosophy, psychology, sciences, etc.)
- Modernism and later theories of community (Benedict Anderson, Jean-Luc Nancy, Giorgio Agamben, Jacques Rancière, etc.)
Scientific Committee: Isabelle Alfandary (University of Paris 3), Jessica Berman (University of Maryland, Baltimore County), Catherine Bernard (University of Paris 7), Vincent Bucher (University of Grenoble 3), Antoine Cazé (University of Paris 7), Claire Davison-Pégon (University of Paris 3), Catherine Lanone (University of Paris 3), Laura Marcus (University of Oxford), Axel Nesme (University of Lyon 2), Caroline Pollentier (University of Paris 3), Linnell Secomb (University of Greenwich).
Papers will be delivered in English.
Please submit abstracts of no more than 300 words and a short bio-bibliography to both organisers by 31 October 2013.
Venue University of the Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3 Institut du Monde Anglophone 5 rue de l'Ecole de Médecine 75006 Paris France
Registration and rates To be announced soon.
Contact For any enquiries, please email both organisers: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com