“Maverick Voices and Modernity” is an international conference whose aim is to explore and reflect upon the wide range of writers that were caught up in the Modernist moment, but traditionally fall outside of what has been thought of as literary Modernism.
With a focus on the fiction, poetry, and drama of the period 1890-1939, “Maverick Voices” registers the diversity of innovation beyond the traditionally defined boundaries of literary Modernism. Famously in “Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown” (1924), Virginia Woolf distinguishes between two literary camps: the Edwardians and the Georgians. By praising the Georgians and vilifying the Edwardians, Woolf privileges an aesthetic of what later became identified as Modernism against a continuing tradition of realism. This is indicative of both continuities and discontinuities – between Modernism and, in Yeats’s phrase, those different tongues of nineteenth-century sensibilities – which have prevailed as a persistent presence in much recent literary criticism.
“Maverick Voices” contributes to current debates about where the boundaries of literary Modernism should be drawn. In so doing, the conference explores the alternative visions of those individuals who hover at the fringes of cosmopolitan artistic milieus. Relevant questions that could be explored in relation to these marginal voices are: Does a privileging of Modernism undervalue texts that are perceived to operate outside either the parameters of its understood aesthetic and/or periodization? Are there marginalised or obscure texts whose avant-garde experiments renew a sense of the plurality of types of modernisms? Can the ascription of a proto-Modernist tag expand understandings of how texts respond in distinct ways to the pressures of modernity? Indeed, do some literary texts in their own inventive ways produce an alternative poetics to the widely recognized canon of such authors as Woolf and Pound? To what extent do these texts disrupt or engage in dialogue with critical narratives of Modernism?
The Call for Papers closes on 1st March 2013, and the conference itself will run from 5th to 6th July in St. John’s College, Durham University. For more information, visit the conference website. This is one of two major conferences on Modernism that the Department of English Studies is running in 2013, with “Efface the Traces!” Modernism and Influence being held in April. For more information on Modernist studies generally at Durham, see the Modernist Studies Research Group.