MSA Brooklyn 2020

MSA Annual Conference: “Streets”

Hosted by the Modernist Studies Association

22-25 October 2020 | Brooklyn, New York

New York City has long been a stage for what Marshall Berman called “modernism in the streets,” a modernism that encompasses not only the speed and scale of modernity at large, but also the democratic energies of diasporas, migrant communities, and social movements that stake their claims at street level. MSA 2020 will consider the modernist street as a site of movement where the demand for new worlds has become legible in countless creative ways.

MSA 2020 will be held in downtown Brooklyn, at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge, itself an inspiration for the painter Joseph Stella, photographer Walker Evans, and poets ranging from Hart Crane and Marianne Moore to Vladimir Mayakovsky and Federico García Lorca. A separate city until 1898, Brooklyn’s relations with the other four New York boroughs invite renewed reflection on questions of development at street level. In particular, Brooklyn, whose “ample hills” Walt Whitman extolled, has undergone a dramatic population shift in the new millennium. Though people of color still make up the majority of Brooklyn’s residents, gentrification has not only made parts of the borough financially out of reach for many, it has also turned a borough famous for its working class and ethnic neighborhoods into an international brand.

“Streets” is a capacious rubric, inviting new perspectives on modernist cultural production at a local and global scale. Streets can be imagined as a way of thinking; as sites of overlapping temporalities; as networks; and as material, populated places.

As part of the MSA’s initiative to promote a more diverse Association, the 2020 conference will feature five streams of interrelated interdisciplinary panels, more than any previous MSA conference. Each stream solicits proposals for individual papers and aims to draw speakers and audience members from constituencies historically underrepresented within MSA.

Keynote events will include a presentation by novelist Zadie Smith and a plenary roundtable on “The New York Sound,” featuring Daphne Brooks (Yale), Brent Edwards (Columbia), Sara Marcus (USC), and Elena Martinez (Bronx Music Heritage Center).

Proposal deadlines:

Individual Paper Proposals: due 20 March, 2020.

Seminar Proposals: due 7 February, 2020.

Workshop Proposals: due 24 April, 2020.

Panel Proposals: due 20 March, 2020.

Roundtable Proposals: due 20 March, 2020.

Digital Exhibits and Posters: due 24 April, 2020.

Full information: MSA Brooklyn 2020