[Msa-discuss] CFP Modernism/modernity Print+ Cluster: Elemental Modernism

Michelle Rada michelle_rada at brown.edu
Fri Dec 14 10:44:06 EST 2018

Call for Papers: Elemental Modernism.

Prospective Modernism/modernity Print+ cluster.

Edited by Sean Richardson and Michelle Rada.

We seek proposals for pieces focussed on ‘Elemental Modernism’ for a
prospective Modernism/modernity Print+ cluster.

With its technical, eugenic, and urban impulses, modernism is often set
against the natural, the primordial, and the elemental. Framed in
oppositional relation, modernist discourse habitually codifies the Other
through the elements: Ezra Pound draws a dividing line between solid
masculine poetics and fluid feminine verse; E. M. Forster depicts the
inhabitants of Chandrapore as ‘mud moving’; Adolf Loos fears his ‘hunger
for simplicity’ implicates a ‘mortification of the flesh’; proponents of
primitivism index their aesthetic fantasies of colonized peoples as
timeless and ‘elementary’; and a host of artists present women as abject
bodies, porous and permeable, leaking into their surrounds. Reading
modernism, we find that colonialism, imperialism, misogyny, racism, and
homophobia are repeatedly inscribed with elemental affect.

Nonetheless, early twentieth century culture seethes and crackles with the
elements: the fluid form of Woolf’s The Waves and Joyce’s heavily embodied
snot-green sea; BLAST and Fire!!! magazines; Stravinsky's Dance of the
Earth; the thunder of The Waste Land and Finnegans Wake; the concrete of
Brutalism; the functionalist obsession with glass and total transparency;
the ravages of chemical warfare. Moreover, in generating a deeply gendered
and racialized affiliation between the elements and the Other, modernism
opens itself to pockets of resistance, with writers and artists reclaiming
the elemental as a source of power. As Mary Butts turns to the wooded shade
of the pastoral as an escape from urban modernism, H.D. looks to the stars
to find a source of comfort in astrology, and Woolf incorporates cloud-like
literary forms she describes as ‘transitory, flying, diaphanous’.
Established against modernity, the elemental constantly threatens to whirl
up and saturate modernist discourse, burning, choking, and smothering those
who seek to keep the elements at bay.

Recent planetary and ecocritical interventions within modernist studies
have drawn attention to and magnified the crossovers between modernity and
the elements, offering exciting new pathways that consider how the
elemental intersects with modernism on formal, linguistic, textual,
narrative, and thematic levels. Accordingly, this cluster invites 3,000
word pieces that reflect on the relationship between modernism and the
elements. What might modernism look like when broken down into its
constituent parts? How might an elemental framework animate discussion of
modernity? Submissions might think through, though are not limited to:


   Water, wetness, liquidity, fluidity, and the aqueous.

   Earth, sand, dirt, loam, soil, and wood.

   Electricity, undercurrents, sparks, and burnouts.

   Fire, ash, heat, blasts and explosions.

   The gelatinous, the glutinous, the formless, and the shapeless.

   Chemicals, gases, fumes, air and wind.

   Solidity, rigidity, the concrete, the structural, and the compound.

   Aether, the planetary, the meteorological, the atmospheric, and the

   Primitivism, minimalism, ornamentalism, and elementary design.

   The rise of glass and transparency as well as steel, iron, and
   mixed-metal architectures.

   Surface, depth, and other overdetermined textual topologies.

Please send 3-500 word abstracts to N0684397 at ntu.ac.uk <N0684307 at ntu.ac.uk>
and michelle_rada at brown.edu by March 1st.
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