What is modernist studies today? This question has doggedly plagued the field since the ‘New Modernist Studies’ announced itself in PMLA over a decade ago. And yet the answer might no longer be found bound within journals – instead, the accurate response may be the number of bodies squashed into a room at the Modernist Studies Association in Toronto. These attendants gathered to hear a roundtable on precarity, a subject matter that has become the watchword for not just modernism, but all fields of literary study. As the professoriate, like a perennial pop star, seeks to continually radicalise their object of discussion, an ever-growing chasm is apparent: there is no point in reinventing the wheel if you do not have a car to drive. This point was underscored by the roundtable organiser, Alix Beeston (Cardiff University), noting that modernist studies is not currently a hiring field: ‘What does it mean to speak of the future of modernist studies in a year where there are no TT [tenure track] jobs in modernist studies?’
Upheaval & Reconstruction: The Modernist Studies Association (MSA) 2019 Annual Conference, 17-20 October, Ryerson University, Toronto
Aoiffe Walsh, Yan (Amy) Tang, Farah Nada, and Sean A. McPhail
With 7 pre- and post-conference workshops, 26 seminars, 22 roundtable discussions, parallel sessions boasting an incredible 96 panels, museum and gallery tours, 2 plenaries, performances, film screenings, book launches and awards and a poetry evening, the Modernist Studies Association (MSA) 2019 Conference was a jam-packed 4 days, to say the very least. Below, 4 PhD students report on their experience of the conference, providing you with different threads of thoughts and highlights to reflect on what’s been at stake.