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Call for papers “Writing in Crisis: The Literature of the 1920s


March 11-14, 2021, Philadelphia, PA, Marriott Downtown. Deadline: 20th September, 2020


The 1920s was a decade of widespread crisis. In the aftermath of the First World War, the Western World saw the rise of nativism and protectionism, the fissuring and crumbling of colonial empires, violent clashes between labor and capital, communists and fascists, and changes in traditional authority and governmental structures. Benjamin Ziemann has noted that, despite this turmoil––and because of it––contemporary observers believed that the interwar years were bound to become a “threshold to a new era.” This panel will focus on the 1920s as a period in which the very pervasiveness and permanence of crisis in every sphere of life challenged literature to develop new modes of representation and action across political, social, aesthetic, and communicative systems.

Drawing on Reinhardt Koselleck’s notion of crisis as a moment of judgment or decision, we will focus on the role that literature in this decade across national and aesthetic traditions played in diagnosing crises and envisioning alternative futures. Are, for instance, newly innovated formal techniques (like montage, journalistic reportage, or stream of consciousness) better suited to encountering certain types or aspects of crisis? Is it more productive to grasp crisis by analogy, by stressing its continuity with the problems of the past, or by insisting on its singularity? And how do textual depictions of crisis addressed to a mass audience transform reception and response? We invite submissions across language disciplines, with the goal of reinvigorating our understanding of the crises of the 1920s, as well as examine their relevance and relation to the present.



Please, submit your abstract (from 200 to 300 words) by September 30, at NeMla website.

 Michael Lipkin (University of Maryland)

Leonie Ettinger (New York University)

Funding opportunities:


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