[Msa-discuss] French Society for Modernist Studies CFP for MSA 2020 Panel

Stamatina Dimakopoulou sdimakop at enl.uoa.gr
Thu Mar 5 09:47:03 EST 2020

Société d'études modernistes
(SEM) CFP for MSA 2020 panel 
Taking to the Streets: Modernism
and Homelessness
For several decades, our understanding of
modernism as a predominantly metropolitan and urban phenomenon has been
entwined with the notion of a modern consciousness adrift in and out of
private spheres and public spaces. The movement and the mobility of the
modernist subject, literal, metaphorical, or imagined, fictional or
autobiographical, has unfolded in streets in many major and iconic
modernist works. From Baudelaire’s dandy to Walter Benjamin; from Lola
Ridge’s immigrants and Djuna Barnes’s repulsive women to Claude MacKay’s
Harlem dancers; from Charles Henri Ford’s ‘fairies’ in The Young and
the Evil to the socially marginal figures of Nightwood; and,
back again to Eliot, Proust, Joyce, Woolf, Kafka, Breton, Crane and Lorca,
city streets are not only sites for chance encounters, or spaces where the
subject experiences a liberating or alienating anonymity, but also spaces
where people find themselves confronted with risk, exposure, and/or live
stealthy, marginalized, deprived, vulnerable lives.
Such views on and of the subjects of
modernism adrift in an urban modernity at large are also entwined with a
view of the human subject as not being at home in the world; the
racialised, gendered and subaltern subjects, the outcasts and orphans of
an ever-expanding transnational modernity foreground the human as a
profoundly alienated and non-transparent subject. Toni Morrison recognises
this unevenly shared condition of alienation as the defining
characteristic of our present and enables the aesthetic tongues of
modernism to speak the stories of those who have been dispossessed because
of race, class and gender. The orphan also features in J. M. Coetzee’s
late trilogy that critically fabulates the history of the migrant, tinging
the landscape of modernist reverie with the brush strokes of harsh
realism. These writers, among others like Karen Tei Yamashita, in whose
Tropic of Orange the homeless reclaim the freeway, or Teju Cole
who integrates the modernist wanderlust in his Open City,
exemplify the condition and the experience of homelessness as both
tropological and intractably literal. The setting is the streets of
modernist cities and the routes of uneven modernities which were then and
are still now sites of revolt, unrest, and discontent on a global and
local scale.
This panel is taking the street as a
prompt and as a point of departure, to probe events and experiences that
the streets host and that expose us to, such as poverty, homelessness,
vulnerability. Concurrently, this panel invites reflection on modernisms
and discrepant modernities, texts and experiences that
have been rendered or still are without a home in established modernist
temporalities, as well as on how the condition of homelessness invites
reflection on modernism’s legacies.
Send 150-200 word abstracts, and a short
bio note to Stamatina Dimakopoulou and Mina Karavanta at sdimakop at enl.uoa.gr and akarav at enl.uoa.gr by 15 March.
Stamatina Dimakopoulou
--Stamatina Dimakopoulou--
of English Language and Literature
National and Kapodistrian University
of Athens
157 84 Athens, Greece
Tel.: (+30) 210 727 7382
(+30) 210 727


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