[Msa-discuss] CFP: Modernism and Trust at MSA 11

Leonard Diepeveen Leonard.Diepeveen at dal.ca
Tue Mar 31 13:58:42 EDT 2009

CFP: Modernism and Trust at MSA 11, Nov 5-8, 2009

The aesthetic innovations of modernist art and literature radically  =

changed the role of trust in the relationship between artists and  =

their publics. The novelty and difficulty of much modernist writing  =

left critics and readers with no reliable measure of authenticity,  =

creating the permanent possibility of hoaxes like Witter Bynner=92s  =

fictitious =93Spectra=94 school of poetry. This condition of doubt was  =

exacerbated by a crisis of critical authority: as Virginia Woolf  =

observed in 1923, there was no longer any =93centralising influence=94 to  =

counter the =93ungenerous distrust of contemporary genius.=94 In the face  =

of radical novelty and in the absence of unified canons of taste, such  =

distrust was a common response. Some early readers of Ulysses, for  =

example, were prone to conclude that =93a gigantic effort has been made  =

to fool the world of readers,=94 while Judge John M. Woolsey=92s ruling on  =

the novel=92s decency insisted, on the contrary, on Joyce=92s honesty and  =

sincerity: =93I hold that =91Ulysses=92 is a sincere and honest book.=94 Th=
e  =

very necessity of affirming such an opinion puts us in the realm of  =

trust: Joyce=92s sincerity could be the object of more or less judicious  =

belief, but not of apodictic knowledge.

             Lawrence Rainey has recently described the =93deep, =91quasi- =

religious=92 or systemic trust requisite both to melodrama and  =

modernity, trust independent of immediacies of context and inductive  =

knowledge,=94 but such direct considerations of the topic are rare in  =

modernist studies. On the other hand, the territory demarcated by  =

=93trust=94 abuts several of the discipline=92s key concepts, such as  =

sincerity, authority, cultural capital, advertising, professionalism  =

and mass culture. Trust also articulates such concepts with recent  =

work in modernist reception studies, by foregrounding the suspicious  =

responses that modernism aroused, and the mechanisms by which  =

modernist authors sought to authenticate their writings. And, turning  =

to the content and concerns of modernist texts, the theme of trust  =

also seems particularly pertinent to a literary movement so marked by  =

existential isolation and epistemological doubt. Trust, then, suggests  =

itself as a neglected tool in modernist scholarship and one that will  =

shed light on some of the central concerns of the field.

             For MSA 11 in Montreal (November 5-8, 2009), we are  =

looking for paper proposals that address the issue of modernism and  =

trust. Possible topics include:

=B7      distrust and suspicion in the reception of modernism

=B7      the circulation of trust in modernist periodicals and other  =


=B7      honesty, sincerity, authenticity

=B7      strategies of authentication; the modernist =93imprimatur=94

=B7      hoaxes

=B7      expertise and certification

=B7      the rhetorical notion of ethos

=B7      trust and advertising

=B7      trust and the crisis of critical authority

=B7      trust and censorship

=B7      trust and distrust within artistic groups and networks

=B7      trust as theme: solipsism, scepticism, jealousy, doubt, etc.

300-word abstracts should be sent to leonard.diepeveen at dal.ca and attridge.=
j at gmail.com =

  by 1 May.

Len Diepeveen
Department of English
Dalhousie University
(902) 494-3331
Fax (902) 494-2176

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