In continuation of the society’s inaugural conference on Modernist communities, we now propose to explore the debate over emotions in the Modernist era.

du 22 juin 2016 au 24 juin 2016

Despite famous claims of impersonality and the suppression of the “I” from the literary work, beginning with Ezra Pound’s merciless editing of T.S. Eliot’s Waste Land, the transparency and objectivity of an emotion-free subject has remained an ever-receding horizon. Even Ezra Pound’s image is “an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time,” which combines the rush of “primary” conception and emotion with the impulse to create the new forms of a new aesthetics (Blast 1914). Rationality and the irrational collide in the vortex, as emotions are in fact viewed in an ambivalent manner by Modernists, both as the sentimentalist rubbish assigned to a schematic revision of late Romanticism, thus to be eradicated, and as the very matter for the work of art, for aesthetic experimentation, and for the education of the public, in the context of an unnerving historical modernity.

Emotions create webs of interaction, or, conversely, isolate the individual in the labyrinth of intimacy. Language emerges as the mode of expression of emotions, or as the very obstacle separating us from a fantasized experience of pure emotion. We hope to foster reflection and discussion that will go beyond the paradox of a passionately anti-emotional Modernism towards a reconsideration of the large extent to which Modernism attempts to channel, remotivate, and revalue the power of emotion.

As the conference is organized by the French Society of Modernist Studies—Société d’Etudes Modernistes—, we seek to bring together scholars from all countries and hope to strengthen collaborations between French and international researchers.