Monday, July 19, 2010

New Virtual Home for the BMG

The British Modernities Group homepage and blog will both be migrating over to one consolidated site on Wordpress.

The new BMG website is located at

Please be sure to update your bookmarks, feeds, and subscriptions. Thanks!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Politics, Ethics, and the New Formalisms: Conference Schedule

Politics, Ethics, and the New Formalisms

April 23-24, 2010

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

IPRH building, 805 W. Pennsylvania, Urbana, IL

Co-sponsored by the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory and the departments of English, Philosophy, and Art History, and with support from the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities.

Friday, April 23

6 pm. The Body and Brutality

Ben Bascom, UIUC, “Killing a Lobster/Killing a Man: Animality, Absurdity, and the Ethics of Form”
Paul Hartley, UIUC, “How the Discourse Over Death Metal Aesthetics Reveals a Link Between Consumption, the Development of Genres, and the Definition of Musical Affect”
Elaine Wood, UIUC, “Beckett’s Play of Adulterous Forms: ‘To what will love not stoop!’”
Joseph Valente, UIUC, Respondent

8 pm. Featured speaker

Marilyn Reizbaum, Bowdoin College, "Muriel Spark's Ridiculous Style"
Introduction: Joseph Valente, UIUC

Saturday, April 24

9:15 am. Coffee reception and introductions

9:30 am. Ethics and Didactic Form

Elizabeth Hoiem , UIUC, “ ‘Morals and Mechanics are here analogous’: Exemplarity in the Necessitarian Novels of Mary Hays and William Godwin”
Bryan Mangano, University of Iowa, “Epistolary Friendship and the Ethics of Form in Richardson's Clarissa"
Annie Murphy, Georgetown University, “Participation and Performativity: The Ethics of Form in Toni Morrison’s Fiction”
Ted Underwood, UIUC, Respondent

11:00 am. Coffee break

11:15 am Paranoid Politics

Carrie Dickison, UIUC, “‘A Domestic Drama’: The Greenwich Bombing and Conrad's Secret Agent
Victor Lenthe, University of Wisconsin-Madison, “Paranoid Politics and Narrative Form: The Case of Jack London”
James Liner, University of Florida, “The Multitude and the Politics of Form: Political Interpretation and the Dialectic of Form and Content”
Robert Dale Parker, UIUC, Respondent

12:45 pm. Lunch

2 pm. Keynote Address

Marjorie Levinson, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, "Of Being Numerous"
Introduction: Vicki Mahaffey, UIUC

3:30 pm. Coffee break

3:45 pm. Playing with Aesthetics

Patrick Fessenbecker, Johns Hopkins University, “Meta-Ethics and Meta-Aesthetics”
John Lee Moore, UIUC, “Restraining Form(s) / Ambivalent Judgment: Playing Chess with a Madman in Samuel Beckett's Murphy
Seth Reno, Ohio State University, “New Formalisms, the Frankfurt School, and Percy Shelley”
Jim Hansen, UIUC, Respondent

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Roundtable with Laura Heffernan and Rachel Buurma (Mar 18)

Our next meeting is this Thursday, March 18th, at 8 pm. The meeting will be in the form of a roundtable with Prof. Laura Heffernan of Tulane and Prof. Rachel Buurma of Swarthmore. Their presentation of a short paper, "The Rift in Reading and the Mid-Century Classroom: A Reparative Disciplinary History" will be followed by a response by Prof. Jim Hansen and a large group discussion. The essay can be found in the BMG folder in EB 211.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Discussion with Caroline Levine (Feb 18)

Our first meeting of the semester is a special one: Prof. Caroline Levine of Wisconsin-Madison will be joining us and sharing some of her most recent work. The meeting will be held on Thursday, Feb. 18, starting at 8 pm. We will be discussing the following readings (available on e-reserves, attached to this email, or in the folder in EB 211).


In addition to the readings, we will also be discussing our upcoming April grad conference.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

CFP: Politics, Ethics, and the New Formalisms

Call for Papers

Politics, Ethics, and the New Formalisms

April 23-24, 2010

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The British Modernities Group, in conjunction with the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory and the departments of English, Philosophy, and Art History, and with support from the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities, invites submissions from diverse disciplinary backgrounds and methodological orientations for our annual graduate student conference, this year themed “Politics, Ethics, and the New Formalisms.”

The conference will open with a keynote address by Marjorie Levinson, professor at University of Michigan–Ann Arbor, who specializes in the areas of critical theory, and in poetry and poetics. She not only theorizes the rise of the “New Formalist” movement, but enacts these tensions in her own scholarship, including a contribution to a collection of essays entitled Rethinking Historicism: Critical Readings in Romantic History in 1989, and a recent publication in Studies in Romanticism entitled “A Motion and a Spirit: Romancing Spinoza.”

New Formalism is a recent trend—a “movement,” according to Marjorie Levinson’s 2007 essay “What is New Formalism?” in the PMLA—in critical theory, cultural studies, and literary scholarship that challenges some of academia’s established methods and critical approaches.

The term “New Formalism” seemingly implies a “return” to formal qualities such as genre or aesthetics in approaching literary and cultural studies. New Formalism itself is hardly a unitary concept, hence the plural reference in our title to New Formalisms; the term itself is open to debate and definition. The graduate conference will engage this critical trend by exploring the ways in which New Formalism reflects attentiveness to political and ethical issues. What does a turn or ‘return’ to formalism in the first decade of the twenty-first century mean? How does New Formalism impact disciplinary, pedagogical, or theoretical positions or methodologies? How can form be political? How can form be ethical?

Possible topics for consideration include but are not limited to:

  • Genre, narrative, structure
  • Seriality
  • Poetics
  • Aesthetics and beauty
  • Cognition and embodiment
  • Affect and feeling
  • Ethics and justice
  • Politics of figurative and narrative form
  • Formalism after New Criticism and New Historicism
This plenary-style conference is designed to facilitate dialogue between panels, participants, and attendees. To that end, panelists are strongly encouraged to attend the full conference, scheduled late Friday and all day Saturday. Presenters will be expected to submit their papers to their panel’s faculty respondent by April 9.

Please send 300-word abstracts for individual 15-minute papers to The deadline for abstract submissions is March 10, 2010. Accepted applicants will be notified by March 17. In the body of the e-mail, please include the following information: name, university and departmental affiliation(s), level of graduate study, and title of paper.

Monday, November 9, 2009

What I've Been Reading: This Thursday (11/12)

Our next meeting is this Thursday, November 12th, at 8:00 pm. We'll have a relaxed "What I've been reading" discussion.

Liz Hoeim will tell us about "The English Jacobin Novel on Rights, Property and the Law: Critiquing the Contract" by Nancy Johnson. Tania Lown-Hecht will discuss Galt-Harpham’s “Shadow of Ethics,” and Cecily Garber will talk about Scarry’s “On Beauty and Being Just.”

Select extracts from these works will be available in the BMG folder in room 211 and on e-reserves within the next few days.
If you're reading anything interesting, feel free to share or circulate books at the meeting.

Please email the organizers for directions.

pic by MorBCN

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

New Formalism: October Discussion

Just a reminder that our next meeting will be this Thursday, October 8, at 8 PM. We will be discussing the following readings, available online, on e-reserves, and in our folder in room 211.

If you have not already received the location and directions by email, please contact us.

Also, please remember to send us any suggestions you may have for keynote speakers for the spring conference (thanks for those we've received); we'll discuss these at the meeting.