Call for Papers | III International CEMS Conference – The Materiality of Modernisms | until 31 Aug. 2022


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Call for Papers

The Materiality of Modernisms

Centre for European Modernism Studies (CEMS) III International Conference

Lisbon, 15-17 December, 2022

The medial and material turn have radically transformed, in the last decades, the way we perceive,  describe, and understand literary codes, their form of production and transmission, and their relations to technology and the other arts. If this statement, in a broader sense, applies to every research into the literary forms of the past and of the present, it could not be more accurate when we think about how much it impacted modernist studies as well as the definition of “modernism” itself, within both the literary and artistic field.
The focus on the media, artefacts and connection between formal and cultural context allowed us to rethink the dichotomy between mimetic and non-mimetic practices, historicist and cultural approaches, ontological and epistemological paradigms. This produced a temporal and spatial expansion of the concept, challenging the univocal definition of “modernism” as an immutable literary canon, or as a specific formal project. Instead, this shift of paradigm contributed to broadening the concept of modernism by focusing on all the different ways in which modernity presented itself, thus providing the twentieth century with several complementary and contradictory modernisms.
Research dedicated to the medial and material aspects of literary and artistic productions was able to broaden the focus of academic studies towards objects and topics previously considered “minor” or “popular”.  The role of small press, magazines, design, publicity and decorative arts, has been considered more and more prominent in the development of the historical avant-gardes. This led to understanding how artists and authors of the so-called “high arts” were in fact involved with the processes of production of the more popular forms of culture, sometimes used as the vehicle for disrupting aesthetic and political statements, but also as the means for engaging the hegemonic forces of modern progress and political propaganda.
Modernisms, in literary, visual, and performing arts, arose and produced a significant social and public impact particularly within the avant-garde movements of the beginning of the twentieth century, i.e., during a period when the world experienced one of the most radical technological and epistemological revolutions in history. Plus, the development of photography, cinema, radio and performance introduced different key factors, such as sound and movement, into the forms of production and reception, and led to approaches that underline the importance of the humans’ medial condition and the related cognitive dimensions.
At this moment – also thanks to this technological shift – arts and literature started questioning and manipulating their means of production in a more radical way than in the past, switching attention from their prominent representational role into an increasingly self-referential quest. This “oneness of purpose” served different aesthetic processes combining into the same quest all the new possibilities offered by technology and media. The importance of the media’s self-referential operations within the creative processes has been stressed in several studies devoted to exploring visual, literary and bibliographical materiality. For this reason, we would like this conference to address how both artists and writers – some of whom are late admissions into the modernist studies field – were not «concerned with the form for its own sake», but how they were  «fundamentally engaged with a persistent investigation of the process of signification» and of the  «relations between formal manipulation and content» (Drucker 1994), which opened up the referential process and consequently the hermeneutical possibilities.
Furthermore, media studies during the digital era, and the concept of the interface, raised new possibilities for describing media features and agencies. Recently, new research practices started focusing more on approaches not based on a static differentiation between technologies and symbolic work. The objects operating the articulation between matter and form are considered parts of a heterogeneous system of relations mediated by social and technological aspects of transmission, storage and procedural practices, therefore amplifying and complexifying the focus of the so-called “media’s studies”. This angle could help to develop new views into topics and works already analyzed in the past, and also into the practical and methodological aspects connected to digital remediation.
Within the framework of intertwining multiple approaches to the material and medial dimensions through which modernisms have been – and are being – studied, the conference will also offer an opportunity to revisit through this angle three events whose 100th  anniversary takes place in 2022. The publication of Joyce’s Ulysses, the organization of The Week of  Modern Art in São Paulo and the premiére of the Triadisches Ballett by Oskar Schlemmer, can be in fact set as clear examples of a broader and heterogeneous «discourse of the legitimation of change» (Osborne 2013), that only much later became known as “Modernism”. Round tables with guests and experts will be dedicated to these three topics as part of the conference program.
Given these premises, we welcome proposals that focus on the following topics but are not limited to:
– The material and medial turn
– Media theory and Philosophy
– Materiality of Communication
– Typography and book design
– Publishing and author/artist self-publishing
– Artists books and journals
– Archival and librarian studies
– Performance art and theory
– Body and embodiment
– Sound and voice in literature
– Cinema and Photography
– Media, intermedia, and transmedia studies
– Modernisms in the digital era
– The impact of technology and science in literature and visual arts
– Cartography and map-making
– Visual and material artistic practices
– Artists’ writings
– Translations and appropriations
– Networking and transnational circulation of artists and art practices
Send your proposal to:
Abstract proposals should be in English (max. 300  words) for 20-minute papers, followed by a short biographical note (max. 150 words).  
The deadline for the submission of proposals is 30 June, 2022.
Extended deadline: 31 August, 2022.
For more information see the conference website:


Chamada de trabalhos

A Materialidade dos Modernismos

III Conferência Internacional do CEMS – Centre for European Modernism Studies

Lisboa, 15-17 dezembro de 2022

Encontra-se aberta a chamada para comunicações no âmbito da III Conferência Internacional CEMS 2022 – “A Materialidade dos Modernismos”. A conferência CEMS 2022 terá lugar no Colégio Almada Negreiros (NOVA FCSH), de 15 a 17 de dezembro de 2022.
O evento pretende estimular a reflexão sobre uma mudança de paradigma, verificada nas últimas décadas, na qual a atenção maior dedicada ao estudo dos media e ao conceito de materialidade modificou as maneiras através das quais analisamos os códigos e os artefactos literários e artísticos, bem como as suas formas de produção e transmissão. Esta mudança tem tido um impacto especial sobre os estudos modernistas, produzindo uma abertura do conceito ao nível espaço-temporal e também ao nível das obras e dos autores incluídos no “cânone”, proporcionando uma cada vez maior afirmação do termo “modernismos” em lugar de “modernismo”.
Email para contacto e envio de propostas:
Deadline para submissão de propostas: 30 de junho, 2022
Extensão do prazo para envio de propostas: 31 de agosto, 2022
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