[Msa-discuss] CFP: MSA 2021 Chicago, "Make It Hot: Global Warming and the Modernist Moment" (Ryan Tracy)

Ryan Tracy rtracy at gradcenter.cuny.edu
Tue Mar 16 17:11:54 EDT 2021

CFP: MSA 2021 Chicago - Make It Hot: Global Warming and the Modernist Moment

Session proposal for the Modernist Studies Association (MSA) Conference, Chicago, November 4-7, 2021.

Climate historians and scholars working in environmental literary criticism contend that the period in which literary modernism unfolded witnessed anomalous and extreme climatic changes that can now be attributed in part to anthropogenic global warming (Ghosh, Schuster, Weart). These claims, which are supported by climate science research over the past two decades, place unique pressure on the modernist moment to evidence traces, not only of anomalous climatic shifts, but of a consciousness, among “modernists,” that these changes were unusual and potentially alarming. Yet environmentally-minded modernist scholars working within the canon of “high” modernism have strained to find evidence of major historical alterations in the climate, the environmental sciences that emerged to confront (and control) these changes, and fossil fuels that, though ubiquitous during the period, remain conspicuously absent from modernist texts (Joshua Schuster, The Ecology of Modernism, 2015). Despite the difficulty of salvaging modernism for ecocritical studies, there remains room, following Anne Raine, to “look for evidence that modernist writers were more engaged with nature, ecology, [and] environmentalism than critics have assumed” (“Ecocriticism and Modernism”). This panel holds out hope that traces of both a warming climate and an emergent ecological consciousness among modernist writers do exist in the canon, as well as within literary archives from the early twentieth century. By turning our attention to these traces, we might help shed light on the impact of anthropogenic climate change on a modernist movement that blossomed in the early hothouse of a warming planet.

Papers might address (but need not be limited to) the following:

  *   Traces of historically significant climatic events in the modernist canon; fiction, poetry, and non-fiction.

  *   Susan Stanford Friedman’s call for a consideration of “planetary modernisms” newly attuned to global climatic shifts during the modernist era.

  *   Dissymmetry between the global geographies and evidence of the uneven geopolitical distribution of climatic distress among racialized, classed, and gendered groups, especially regarding deteriorating quality of life and forced migration.

  *   Records of technoscientific breakthroughs in meteorology, geology, and biochemistry during the 1930s and 40s, as well as the political instrumentalization of climate science by state governments, especially with regard to the emerging promise of weather control.

  *   Direct and indirect representations of fossil fuels and the carbon-based fuel infrastructure, including anxieties about fuel shortages and the development of fuel alternatives.

  *   New climate science research that might ask us to rethink the historical contexts in which modernist writing was produced and disseminated.

  *   Revised approaches to aesthetic experimentation as a grammar for representing the “unrepresentable” phenomenon of extreme anthropogenic climate change.

  *   Archival research on first and second-hand accounts of abnormal and erratic weather in the 1920s and 30s, especially in periodicals, journals, diaries, and correspondence.

  *   Suggestions for new directions in environmental modernist studies with a view to understanding the impact of climate change on the modernist imagination generally.

  *   Cross-disciplinary approaches to any of the above, and beyond.

Please submit a 250-word abstract to rtracy at gradcenter.cuny.edu<mailto:rtracy at gradcenter.cuny.edu>, along with a short bio, by March 31, 2021. Accepted abstracts will be sent for evaluation by the MSA program committee.

Ryan Tracy
PhD Candidate, CUNY Graduate Center
Adjunct Professor, Baruch College

Read: "Writing in Cars with Gertrude Stein and Jacques Derrida, or, The Age of Autotheory," Arizona Quarterly, Volume 76, Number 1, Spring 2020.<https://muse.jhu.edu/article/754795>
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