[Msa-discuss] CFP: Interiors/Interiorities: Modern Design and Literary Form (MSA 19, Amsterdam)

Michelle Rada michelle_rada at brown.edu
Mon Jan 9 12:02:52 EST 2017

Interiors/Interiorities: Modern Design and Literary Form

This is a CFP for a panel proposal to the Modernist Studies Association
(MSA) conference in Amsterdam, August 10-13, 2017 (

 Modernism’s preoccupation with form is no secret. While modernist texts
are often characterized by their formal opacity, density, and increasing
demands on readerly attention, modernist design and architecture tends toward
simplicity of form, functionality, sleekness, and transparency. Examining
these two distinct and often mutually exclusive versions of form alongside
one another sets up an encounter not just between two disciplines or
discourses, but between alternative models for imagining the subject’s
encounter with an aesthetic object—be it through reading, viewing, or
inhabiting. This panel will explore the interpretative pathways opened up
by situating a discussion of modernist literary form alongside modern
design in its various tenets and iterations.

What theoretical, historical, and discursive linkages and/or rifts emerge
when we examine modernist texts with design and architecture? What are the
relationships between textual versions of interiority and the structures or
interiors subjects inhabit, frequent, and transgress? How might we think of
aesthetic experience in the modernist novel through theories of spatial
design and setting, instead of paying heed only to its formal innovations
in temporality? Can modern design’s careful attention to the surface tell
us something about how to read textual surfaces? Does the novel as a
technology for storing, converting, and transmitting information undergo
significant changes alongside technological advancements and their uses
for/as aesthetic practices and objects? Building on recent work by authors
such as Anne Cheng, Caroline Levine, and David Alworth, this panel seeks to
enter conversations on “new” formalism and forms of reading by asking how,
in modernist studies, we might think literature and design together.

Among other topics, proposals might address: the role of emerging media and
technology across design practices and literary works; the relationship
between free indirect discourse, stream of consciousness, and different
ways of understanding interiority in modernist texts and the interiors,
spaces, settings, and sites subjects inhabit; how new models for reading
can engage with spatial concerns in literary form; how specific works or
authors converse with aesthetic practices and design principles; the ways
that subjective experience is affectively, phenomenologically, or
cognitively theorized by modern authors, designers, and architects.

Please send abstracts of 200 to 300 words along with a brief bio to
michelle_rada at brown.edu no later than January 10th, 2017.
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