British Association of Modernist Studies: The Futures of Modernist Studies “beyond Britain”
Alex ThomsonOpera Theatre
Organisers: Suzanne Hobson (Queen Mary University London) and Alex Thomson (University of Edinburgh)
The Futures of Modernist Studies “beyond Britain”
The tensions between centre and periphery have long been central to the study of modernist writing, and the expansion of modernist studies in the last two decades has been predicated on ever-widening modernism’s temporal and geographical boundaries. Recent attention to cosmopolitanism and transnationalism reminds us that modernist writing was itself involved in complex debates over the local, the regional, the national and the international and that this involvement took place in the context of the twentieth century crisis of the nation state and the historical processes of decolonisation and globalisation.
Given the contemporary crisis of the British state and of its internal and external territorial politics, this panel proposes to explore the resources that these debates might offer for thinking modernist studies ‘beyond Britain’. We understand this to entail several types of question:
• The place of the national within the context of ‘British’ modernism: and the challenges of decentralizing or decolonizing our understanding of ‘British modernism’.
• The importance of the regional to British modernism.
• The lessons of modernist studies in the era of Brexit and the return of nationalism as a political force within the constituent nations of the UK: what might modernist studies in Britain look like ‘after Britain’?
• Cultural and intellectual relations with Europe, the Americas, Australasia and the rest of the world.
Each of these theoretical questions has a practical corollary in thinking about the disciplinary structures that foster and support the study of modernism:
• What is the relationship between BAMS as a national organisation and the various ‘regional’ and ‘national’ modernist networks SNoMS, MONC, Northern Modernism seminar, London Modernism Seminar and Irish Modernist Network? What does it mean for BAMS to ‘represent’ ‘British’ modernism?
• How might we best conceive the relationship between BAMS and other associations in Europe, North America and Australasia? To what extent is the dominance in the field of the Modernist Studies Association problematic?
• How might BAMS grow and better serve a geographically dispersed membership against a background of climate emergency and increased precarity in the profession?
• What is BAMS relationship to the UK Higher Education sector? What problems or opportunities arise from being beyond national frameworks?
LEARNED SOCIETIES STRAND: British Association of Modernist Studies