[Msa-discuss] CFP: Indigenous Modernisms (MSA 2018, Ohio)

Stephen Ross saross at uvic.ca
Fri Mar 2 18:08:26 EST 2018


CFP: Indigenous Modernisms (MSA 2018)

As Kirby Brown has recently put it, modernist studies has an Indian problem. The expansion of our field along multiple axes, with an outsized emphasis on the global, has largely managed to overlook indigeneity, especially the indigeneity that underwrites and co-exists American, Canadian, Latin American, Mexican, and Luso-Pacific modernisms. How have and do the cultural, oral, and literary practices of First Peoples, Indigenous Peoples, American Indians, Hawai’ians, oceanic indigenous peoples, Maōri, and Aborigines participate in, enable, contest, or inflect modernism? Michael Tavel Clarke has argued that N. Scott Momaday’s modernism must at least partially be understood in terms of long-standing Kiowa narrative and historical practices. Likewise, a handful of other critics have put Native American writers such as Mourning Dove, D’Arcy McNickle, and John Joseph Mathews on the modernist map. But so much remains to be done. There’s a long history of primitivism in relation to modernist studies, but this is something else, something decidedly different. Instead, it’s a new angle of approach that asks what was already modernist about indigenous practices.

Questions:

  1.  How might modernist narrative experimentation replicate or echo pre-existing models long in use among indigenous populations?
  2.  What would this mean for our understanding of modernism writ large?
  3.  How do indigenous modernisms engage with the hegemonic European-Enlightenment pattern of the nation-state as the cornerstone political structure?
  4.  How might addressing Indigenous modernisms force us to revisit the “it” of Pound’s infamous “Make it new”?
  5.  What is Indigenous or American Indian modernism? What are its forms, themes, geographies, and politics?
  6.  What are the benefits and risks, for both canonical modernism and indigenous literature and art, of expanding modernist studies beyond its conventional temporal and geographic framework and assimilating indigenous culture within the field?
  7.  How does our understanding of modernism change when/if we expand the canon to include Indigenous and postcolonial materials?
  8.  How does our understanding of indigenous literature and art change when/if we designate it as modernist?
  9.  Is there an Indigenous primitivism? What are its politics? How do its politics resemble and differ from modernist primitivism?
  10. How do indigenous artists reconcile tradition and modernity, and how do their efforts resemble and differ from (other) modernists?

This series of panels will approach some configuration of these questions in terms of widening circles.

Panel One will take its lead from Kirby Brown’s assertion that “American Indian literary and cultural production from the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century stands as perhaps one of the more important underexplored archives in American literary history as well as in New Modernist Studies” (310). It will focus on these archives, extending to include Canadian as well as Mexican modernisms.

Panel Two will address indigenous modernisms/modernismos in the Americas. In addition to considering archives (broadly construed), it will engage with a wider network of imperialisms, race and racialization, and lines of flight. How did indigenous modernisms in Latin and South America come to determine and shape modernist literature, visual arts, architecture and design, music, dance, etc.?

Panel Three will go global. Meeting calls for global modernist studies, or even for planetarity, head-on, this panel will ask how such visions collide with existing indigenous practices. Is it possible to conceive of a global modernism that is not already compromised by imperialism? How does global modernism link to petro-capitalist exploitations of traditional lands and peoples?

Please send 250-word abstracts to Stephen Ross (saross at uvic.ca<mailto:saross at uvic.ca>) and Michael Tavel Clarke (michael.t.clarke at ucalgary.ca)<mailto:michael.t.clarke at ucalgary.ca)> by 1 April, indicating which of the three panels you are applying to.

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