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.