Conference Review: New Work in Modernist Studies 2018

The Gothic turrets and daunting granite buildings of the University of Glasgow looked slightly ominous to a first-time paper presenter such as myself, walking up University Lane on a chilly Saturday in December last year. However, as soon I arrived at the New Work in Modernist Studies Conference (NWiMS), all thoughts of clammy hands and nerves dissipated immediately. NWiMS 2018 was a friendly, relaxed and inspiring one-day conference, hosted by the Scottish Network of Modernist Studies in conjunction with the Modernist Network Cymru the London Modernism Seminar, Modernism Studies Ireland, the Northern Modernist Seminar, the Midlands Modernist Network and the British Association of Modernism, attracting new researchers working on or around modernist studies from all over the UK.

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Conference Review: Innovation and Experiment in Contemporary Irish Fiction, KU Leuven

Aran Ward Sell, University of Edinburgh

As I walk into the old quarter of Leuven centre, where the Katholieke Universiteit is found, I encounter a small, strangely proportioned creature made of grey bronze, standing nimbly on its toes. It reads from an open book in one hand, while the other pours water over its own head from a beaker. The inscription informs me that this is Fons Sapiente – the source of wisdom. It’s an auspicious encounter en route to a literary conference – even if I am later to learn that the water which ‘Fonske’ pours into his cranium is variously interpreted either as representing wisdom itself, or, more mischievously, as beer, reflecting the boozy student culture which surrounds our seats of learning. I pause to take a photo of Fonske and move on, looking for the Irish College.

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Conference Review: Inaugral Conference of the International Society for the Study of Surrealism

November 1-3, 2018, Bucknell University, Pennsylvania, USA.

Diane Drouin, Sorbonne Université, Paris

The International Society for the Study of Surrealism (ISSS) held its inaugural conference at Bucknell University, in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, between November 1st and November 3rd, 2018. Diane Drouin, a Ph.D. candidate at Sorbonne Université in Paris, reflects on this groundbreaking conference.

The International Society for the Study of Surrealism (ISSS) is a new society dedicated to the study of Surrealism and of its legacies. The three day inaugural conference ‘Surrealisms,’ held at Bucknell University, Pennsylvania, was brilliantly organised by Roger Rothman (Bucknell University), Jonathan Eburne (Pennsylvania State University), Effie Rentzou (Princeton University), Abigail Susik (Willamette University), and Kathi Venios (Bucknell University), and brought together 150 international scholars and artists. Poets, painters, photographers, art collectors, filmmakers, Ph.D. students, and seasoned academics, with a common passion for Surrealism, gathered at Bucknell University.

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Conference Review: Modernist Archives In Context: Periodicals and Performance

Liam Harrison, University of Birmingham

From November 22nd– 23rd 2018 the University of Reading held a conference exploring Modernist Archives, supported by the Samuel Beckett Research Centre. The conference was split into two days – the first exploring periodicals, the second exploring performances – both engaging with how the ‘archival turn’ has enabled new understandings of Modernism as a cultural and historical phenomenon. Here Liam Harrison (University of Birmingham) gives an overview of the conference.

A major theme across the Modernist Archives in Context conference was the relationship between interiority and exteriority. With the spotlight on periodicals and performances – this relationship did not always take the path expected. The expansive range of research covered the complexity of various forms and thespaces in which they function, from the interiority of new theatrete chnologies, to the transnational reach of 20th century periodicals.

The first day focused on periodicals, delving into the minutiae of publishing histories, questioning how the original contexts of publication can disrupt our monolithic portrayals of writers and their works as a singular body.

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Conference Review: Realism(s) of the Avant Garde and Modernism

September 5-7, 2018, University of Münster

Joseph Owen, University of Southampton

Conferences tend more to emotion than intellect. This held true at the 6th International EAM Conference,situated at the University of Münster, where most days I awoke feeling a lot and thinking very little. To manage these three-day events is a skill apparently beyond my disposition, one of naive blundering, untraceable genetics and forlorn alcohol intake. One piece of advice offered: take a session off per day, so to recuperate, to sharpen your faculties. As a thoroughly blunted instrument, I could testify come the end.

According to the EAM mission statement, the conference mainly sought to ‘discuss the different concepts of realism formulated by and against the avant-gardes and the different relations to reality generated in arts and media’. Essentially, how do we square realism—practically and theoretically—with diverse aesthetic modes and philosophies, these which renounce and transform classical and conventional procedures of art? Can classicism incite chaos? Can new avant-garde realisms reorder intellectual and cultural life? Can theories of sovereignty produce decisiveness within indeterminacy, effervescence within conformity? It fel tantagonistic, paradoxical, exciting.

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Symposium Review: Making, Place, and Protest with Decorating Dissidence

Frith Taylor & Jenni Råback, Queen Mary, University of London

Decorating Dissidence is an interdisciplinary platform looking at craft and decorative art practices in their political, conceptual and aesthetic contexts in the modernist longue durée. This symposium featured a range of academics, artists, and creative practitioners examining the political powers of craft. Brilliantly coordinated, the panels were cohesive without being narrow in scope, allowing room for some fascinating conversation. Continue reading “Symposium Review: Making, Place, and Protest with Decorating Dissidence”

Review for Modern Couples at the Barbican Art Gallery

Hannah Hutchings-Georgiou, UCL

In 1887, art critic Paul Leroi warned the sculptor Camille Claudel about her mentor, Auguste Rodin. ‘One must beware of being absorbed by his fascinating influence,’ he cautioned in his article for the Parisian magazine, L’Art.i ‘The young artist must be Mademoiselle Claudel exclusively, not just a reflection.’ Leroi’s words, uttered in what was an enthusiastic review of her work, touched on issues that went beyond Rodin’s role as teacher and employer. For in the great sculptor’s atelier the professional had become the personal, the pupil the lover, the model the muse. Rodin’s ‘powerful personality’ had already made an impression on ‘Mademoiselle’ Claudel’s heart and was fast shaping her stylistic sensibilities. Even after a gruelling 12-hour day in the studio, his ‘mastery’ still held sway in private letters and through clandestine liaisons. In light of their relationship – an unequal one except when it came to artistic skill and vision – how was she to be ‘Mademoiselle Claudel exclusively’? How could Claudel avoid becoming Rodin’s ‘reflection’, the lesser moon to his ‘superior’ sun, the dwindling Echo to his self-regarding Narcissus?

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Event Review: British Association for Modernist Studies Postgraduate Networking Day 2018

12th October 2018, University of Birmingham
William Bateman, University of Birmingham

In October, the British Association for Modernist Studies held its first Postgraduate Networking Event to welcome new and returning students working within the diverse field of modernist studies. The day included a range of talks and panels, as well as multiple social sessions. Here, William Bateman reflects on the day itself. Continue reading “Event Review: British Association for Modernist Studies Postgraduate Networking Day 2018”

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