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The Trouble with Modernism: a Dialogue Continued

15 September 2020

In 2019, the Modernist Review published a dialogue on the state of Modernist Studies in several instalments, taking as its namesake the title of BAMS’ own conference: Troublesome Modernisms. It began (as so many things do) with a series of tweets in 2018 from Luke Seaber (UCL) who conjectured that ‘current Modernist Studies has something of an academic Ponzi scheme about it’. This sparked a dialogue between he and an independent researcher, Michael Shallcross, about the ‘New Modernist Studies’ and the professional demands of the modern academy. We published responses to this dialogue by Nick Hubble (Brunel University), who believed that ‘it’s time to move…to more democratic conceptions of modernity that lie beyond modernism’, and Emma West (University of Birmingham), whose own encounters with troublesome modernism found her ‘draw[ing] up a pros and cons list for including the word “modernist” in the title of [her] first monograph’. Naomi Milthorpe, Robbie Moore and Eliza Murphy intervened with their own reflections on being Modernism-Adjacent at the University of Tasmania, where ‘the spatial politics of the New Modernist Studies are particularly acute’. Luke and Michael reflected on both of these thoughtful interventions in their own final responses.

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Conference Review: MSA 2019

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.

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