[Msa-discuss] CFP for MSA Toronto: "Modernism, Disaster, and Nothingness"

Elysia Balavage ecbalava at uncg.edu
Thu Feb 21 23:11:35 EST 2019


CFP for MSA Toronto
Title: "Modernism, Disaster, and Nothingness"

In his essay “The Literature of Nihilism” (1966), Paul de Man observes that
“A literature of nihilism is not necessarily nihilistic.” While this idea
may seem like a contradiction—indeed, what is nihilism if not nihilistic?
—it raises an important issue. Even though a text calls to mind themes or
images that are usually associated with nihilism—nothingness, despair,
empty space—it does not mean that the text falls prey to an utterly empty
conception of the idea. Furthermore, in *The Writing of the Disaster *(1980),
Maurice Blanchot states that “the disaster ruins everything, all the while
leaving everything intact.” Drawing upon these concepts, this panel invokes
the conference theme of “Upheaval and Reconstruction” by interrogating
modernism’s interaction with the generative capacity of the ultimate
“nihil.” How do we approach nothingness through disaster, and once we
arrive at that point, what do we do? How do modernists use images of
nothingness as spaces for creation? What clues are left not only in
authors’ works but also in historical/biographical accounts that support
modernity’s generative proclivity in the face of such turmoil? How do
modernists talk about “nothing”?

This panel welcomes interdisciplinary conversation, including papers that
investigate modernist literature, art, history and/or philosophy, to
further contextually examine the influences that might otherwise challenge
contemporary notions of modernism’s complex struggle with conflict,
anguish, and renewal. Some possible approaches include destruction as a
mode for creation, modernism and nihilism, annihilation and sublime
existence, and accidental versus deliberate destruction and creation.

Please send a brief paper proposal (250-300 words) and bio to Elysia
Balavage (ecbalava at uncg.edu) by March 4, 2019.
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