CFP: AMSN4 – Modernist Comedy & Humour, updated with bursary info

The Australasian Modernist Studies Network Conference

University of Melbourne, 26-28 October 2018

Jandaschewsky Clowns, 1903. Image by Talma & Co. Collection: Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney.

Is modernism funny? During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries Sigmund Freud theorized jokes and their relation to the unconscious, while Henri Bergson argued that laughter is produced by “something mechanical encrusted on the living.” English literary modernists held Victorian earnestness in contempt, often while taking themselves extremely seriously. Early twentieth-century Dadaists committed themselves to nonsense and irrationality and, in 1940, the surrealist André Breton edited and published an anthology of “black humour.” The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries also saw the rise of popular and parodic forms of comedy and humour such as the comic strip, vaudeville, camp, and Buster Keaton’s deadpan acting style. These comic forms and styles were bound up with histories of immigration, gender and sexuality, race, technology, and culture industries.

Humanities scholars are devoting new attention to the aesthetics, politics, and social significance of comedy and humour. For instance, in their 2017 special issue of Critical Inquiry on comedy, Lauren Berlant and Sianne Ngai note competing trajectories of modern social life: on the one hand, “people are increasingly supposed to be funny all the time,” and on the other, “humourlessness is on the rise.” In the same issue, Ngai opposes the labor-saving operations of the “gimmick” to Victor Shklovsky and Bertolt Brecht’s practices of making methods of production visible. These tensions and oppositions suggest the usefulness of attending to comedy and humour in the field of modernist studies, which in recent years has rethought traditional oppositions among popular, high modernist, and avant-garde cultural forms.

We invite papers that engage with comedy and humour across the interdisciplinary field of modernist studies. How do comedy and humour reflect and affect the geographical, temporal, and cultural expansiveness of contemporary modernist studies, and what might Australasian scholarship contribute to this expansion? When are comic genres and styles normative, subversive, or ambivalent? When is laughter a mode of detachment, and when is it a way of being in relation? Who is in on the joke, and why does it matter?

Possible topics might include:

  • Camp, kitsch, taste, judgment
  • Comic performance genres and styles: vaudeville, music hall, variety,
  • minstrelsy, burlesque, standup, the deadpan, slapstick, shtick, gimmicks
  • Humourlessness, earnestness, seriousness, the unfunny
  • Jokes, comic timing, comic tones
  • Comic strips, political cartoons, caricature
  • The ridiculous, the absurd
  • Humour and/of the avant-garde
  • Laughter and audience behavior
  • Ways and theories of reading
  • The mechanical, grotesque, or nonhuman; humourous objects
  • Pleasure, play, fun
  • Comedy as and at work
  • Commodity culture, advertisements
  • Affect and emotion
  • Ethnic, national, or cosmopolitan comic perspectives
  • Queer humour, sexual parody
  • Overstatement and understatement
  • The epigram, the bon mot, the cutting remark
  • Normative and subversive humour, harmlessness, vulgarity, offensiveness
  • Theories and histories of comedy and humour

Please send an abstract of no more than 300 words and a bio of no more than 150 words to modernistcomedy@gmail.com as an attachment by March 30th 2018.

Confirmed keynote speaker: Professor Nick Salvato (Cornell). This speaker is supported by the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions.

Bursaries of up to $200 will be awarded on a competitive basis. Bursary recipients will also receive free conference registration. Candidates should be enrolled in, or recently graduated from a higher degree research program and have had an abstract accepted for the conference. Expressions of interest will be solicited after acceptances have been announced.

Conference committee:
Dr Sarah Balkin, University of Melbourne
Professor Ronan McDonald, University of Melbourne
Elizabeth McLean, University of Melbourne
Jessica Marian, University of Melbourne

Questions may be directed to sarah.balkin@unimelb.edu.au.

Call for Panel Proposals: AMSN sponsored panel at MSA 2018 ‘Graphic Modernisms’

As part of our ongoing collaboration with the Modernist Studies Association, in 2018 the AMSN will sponsor a panel at this year’s MSA ‘Graphic Modernisms’ conference in Columbus, Ohio. If you would like to submit a proposal for consideration for this AMSN sponsored panel, please send a 500 word panel proposal and a brief bio (150 words) for each of the three presenters to Lorraine Sim by Friday 16 February 2018.

Please consult the CFP for ‘Graphic Modernisms’ for further information about this year’s conference theme: https://msa.press.jhu.edu/conferences/msa2018/conf/CFP.html

If you have any questions about the sponsored panel or the process, please email Lorraine Sim: Lorraine.sim@westernsydney.edu.au

Reduced subscription rate to Feminist Modernist Studies for AMSN members

The AMSN is very pleased to announce that members receive a discounted subscription rate of AUD$55 to the exciting new journal Feminist Modernist Studies. This reduced rate includes both print copies and online access. To subscribe at this rate AMSN members need to telephone +44 (0) 20 7017 5543 or email societies@tandf.co.uk, quote this deal, and provide evidence of their current AMSN membership (e.g. a copy of their tax receipt upon registering as a member of the AMSN).

We thank Routledge for this generous offer and encourage all AMSN members to subscribe to this important new journal in the field!

CFP: ‘Risk Anything!’: Modernist Women between Centre and Periphery

A symposium presented by the Australasian Modernist Studies Network

Friday 6 April 2018

University of New South Wales

Keynote: A/Prof Natalya Lusty (The University of Sydney)

“Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for the opinions of others, for those voices. Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself. Face the truth.”

The peripatetic New Zealand modernist Katherine Mansfield wrote these words towards the end of her life, urging herself to be courageous, to pursue her creative convictions. Mansfield’s approach to life and work is an example of the countless creative women who embraced, employed and drove the modernist cultural experiment.

Nearly a century later, our own era is equally defined by contingency and risk, offering a unique opportunity to reflect on the history and legacies of creative behaviour that defines itself in terms of risk. We invite proposals from scholars on topics relating to risk, women and modernist culture, and from female-identifying artists, writers and performers whose practice engages with the legacies of modernist women. We especially welcome contributions focusing on women who have traversed the ‘risky’ division between centres of modernism – Britain, Europe, and the United States – and so-called ‘peripheries’. These may take the form of a 20-minute presentation/10-minute question format or a team-led 90 minute roundtable discussion or workshop format.

Risk may be interpreted in relation to:

  •   Creative experimentation and the avant-garde
  •   Cultural and gender norms
  •   Sexuality
  •   Reputation
  •   Failure
  •   Personal motivation
  •   Finance/business
  •   Danger – personal, political, social
  •   Political struggle

Selected papers will be published as a special journal issue.

Please send 250-word proposals for papers, roundtables or workshops, along with a 50-word bio, to l.mayhew@griffith.edu.au by 31 January 2018. Responses will be distributed in early February.

Event organisers: Dr Baylee Brits (UNSW), Dr Louise R Mayhew (Griffith University) & Dr Helen Rydstrand (UNSW).

CFP: AMSN4 – Modernist Comedy & Humour

The Australasian Modernist Studies Network Conference

University of Melbourne, 26-28 October 2018

Jandaschewsky Clowns, 1903. Image by Talma & Co. Collection: Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney.

Is modernism funny? During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries Sigmund Freud theorized jokes and their relation to the unconscious, while Henri Bergson argued that laughter is produced by “something mechanical encrusted on the living.” English literary modernists held Victorian earnestness in contempt, often while taking themselves extremely seriously. Early twentieth-century Dadaists committed themselves to nonsense and irrationality and, in 1940, the surrealist André Breton edited and published an anthology of “black humour.” The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries also saw the rise of popular and parodic forms of comedy and humour such as the comic strip, vaudeville, camp, and Buster Keaton’s deadpan acting style. These comic forms and styles were bound up with histories of immigration, gender and sexuality, race, technology, and culture industries.

Humanities scholars are devoting new attention to the aesthetics, politics, and social significance of comedy and humour. For instance, in their 2017 special issue of Critical Inquiry on comedy, Lauren Berlant and Sianne Ngai note competing trajectories of modern social life: on the one hand, “people are increasingly supposed to be funny all the time,” and on the other, “humourlessness is on the rise.” In the same issue, Ngai opposes the labor-saving operations of the “gimmick” to Victor Shklovsky and Bertolt Brecht’s practices of making methods of production visible. These tensions and oppositions suggest the usefulness of attending to comedy and humour in the field of modernist studies, which in recent years has rethought traditional oppositions among popular, high modernist, and avant-garde cultural forms.

We invite papers that engage with comedy and humour across the interdisciplinary field of modernist studies. How do comedy and humour reflect and affect the geographical, temporal, and cultural expansiveness of contemporary modernist studies, and what might Australasian scholarship contribute to this expansion? When are comic genres and styles normative, subversive, or ambivalent? When is laughter a mode of detachment, and when is it a way of being in relation? Who is in on the joke, and why does it matter?

Possible topics might include:

  • Camp, kitsch, taste, judgment
  • Comic performance genres and styles: vaudeville, music hall, variety,
  • minstrelsy, burlesque, standup, the deadpan, slapstick, shtick, gimmicks
  • Humourlessness, earnestness, seriousness, the unfunny
  • Jokes, comic timing, comic tones
  • Comic strips, political cartoons, caricature
  • The ridiculous, the absurd
  • Humour and/of the avant-garde
  • Laughter and audience behavior
  • Ways and theories of reading
  • The mechanical, grotesque, or nonhuman; humourous objects
  • Pleasure, play, fun
  • Comedy as and at work
  • Commodity culture, advertisements
  • Affect and emotion
  • Ethnic, national, or cosmopolitan comic perspectives
  • Queer humour, sexual parody
  • Overstatement and understatement
  • The epigram, the bon mot, the cutting remark
  • Normative and subversive humour, harmlessness, vulgarity, offensiveness
  • Theories and histories of comedy and humour

Please send an abstract of no more than 300 words and a bio of no more than 150 words to modernistcomedy@gmail.com as an attachment by March 30th 2018.

Confirmed keynote speaker: Professor Nick Salvato (Cornell). This speaker is supported by the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions.

Conference committee:
Dr Sarah Balkin, University of Melbourne
Professor Ronan McDonald, University of Melbourne Elizabeth McLean, University of Melbourne
Jessica Marian, University of Melbourne

Questions may be directed to sarah.balkin@unimelb.edu.au.

New series for Fairleigh Dickinson UP: “Modernism & the Avant-Garde”

Modernism & the Avant-Garde” approaches the new modernist studies broadly and asks what modernism means in relation to the unstable contingencies of race, class, culture, community, capital, nationality, and so forth. The series welcomes cross-disciplinary projects in which modernism & the avant-garde are important, including but not limited to literature, the visual & plastic arts, drama, and music. The series also considers the different timelines, locations, and cultural sites of modernist production.

Series Editors:

Stephen Ross (Professor of English, University of Victoria)
James Gifford (Associate Professor, School of the Humanities,
Fairleigh Dickinson University)

Send queries and proposals to fdupress@fdu.edu or to both series editors, saross@uvic.ca and gifford@fdu.edu. All submissions will undergo rigorous peer review.

Established in 1967 in Madison, NJ, with editorial offices now in Vancouver, BC, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press publishes scholarly books for the academic community through a co-publishing partnership with Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, MD.

CFP: The Idea of Prose Style, December 2017, Sydney

University of Sydney and University of New South Wales

Confirmed Keynote Speakers:
Garrett Stewart (University of Iowa)
Daniel Tyler (Oxford University)
Rebecca Walkowitz (Rutgers University)

Historically, the academic study of style has referred mainly to poetic style—a situation that was challenged only briefly by the prominence of “stylistics” in the 1960s. But the recent “return to form” within literary studies suggests that the idea of prose style is ripe for re-investigation. This symposium aims to approach the problem of prose style anew. In particular, we welcome proposals for papers which examine the idea of prose style from the following angles:

  • The relation between the categories of fictional prose style and style in poetry or non-fictional genres such as history and oratory.
  • The history of the idea of prose style, both in modern literary theory and the longer history of rhetoric.
  • The methodological challenges which confront the analysis of style in prose, particular in relation to available hermeneutic paradigms such as close reading, computational stylistics, and syntactic analysis.
  • The problem of stylistic identity, and the various categories which are often used to determine stylistic identity, from the period (e.g. Baroque style) to the genre (e.g. realist novel style) to the author (e.g. Dickensian style) to the linguistic structure or effect (e.g. additive style).

In total, the symposium aims to contribute to the burgeoning field of stylistic studies in prose by helping to establish the theoretical and methodological frameworks within which the analysis of prose style must proceed.

Submission Information:
We invite papers on the idea of prose style in any period and from any place, as well as proposals for panels. Please send your proposal, including a title and brief abstract (300 words), to both Matthew Sussman (matthew.sussman@sydney.edu.au) and Sean Pryor (s.pryor@unsw.edu.au) by 15 June, 2017.

Reading Group: Left Modernisms (UNSW)

In 2017, the Modernist Network (formerly the Centre for Modernism Studies in Australia) will be hosting a year-long reading group dedicated to the idea of Left Modernisms at UNSW.

Our goals will be to map some of the distinct revolutionary currents surging through modernism; to collectively reimagine modernism as the cultural impress left by a multi-dimensional politics of anti-capitalism; and to affirm as modernism a canon of artworks, ideas, events, and experiences with which to envisage another, better modernity.

We propose to meet every three weeks (or thereabouts) on Thursday afternoons, from 3pm until 4.30pm, beginning late March and running until the end of October. In October, we will mark the Centenary of the Russian Revolution by holding a symposium on the topic of Left Modernisms, with the objective of publishing the papers as a special dossier with a journal or as an edited collection.

Postgraduate and Honours students are especially encouraged to attend. Please follow the link below to view a flyer and draft schedule, and contact Mark Steven (m.steven@unsw.edu.au) if you are interested in attending.

Left Modernisms_Reading Goup