Organizer: Stephanie Anderson
Co-Organizer: Alice XiangContact the Seminar Organizers
The avant-garde has often been defined by its asserted antagonism towards existing norms, and, in turn, critiqued for its ultimate co-option or complicity in those norms. Building on this rich tradition of reflection on the significance and role of the avant-garde, this seminar is interested in shifting the focus to its collaborative dimensions: its networks and communities of production and consumption, including editors and publishers, distributors and readers, and literary networks and communities, alongside the more-studied figure of the individual artist/author. Robert Darnton has influentially referred to this as a “communications circuit”; Mark S. Morrison has argued for the importance of the public sphere to modernist avant-garde publications; Eric Bulson has explored the 'little magazine' and its international networks as pivotal to the development of literary movements across Africa, the West Indies, the Pacific Rim, and South America; most recently, Sophie Seita has discussed little magazines as “laboratories of the avant-garde,” each its small ecosystem of “provisional communities of practice.”
The circulating and collaborative aspects of text have been especially apparent in serial, ephemeral, and collective modes of publishing. From modernist magazines to left-wing poetry anthologies, multilingual periodicals to feminist zines, radical experimentation with the written word has often been self-consciously collaborative in nature. By casting a comparative and transnational lens on these collaborative genres and formats—and on their attendant literary formations, alliances, and communities—what can we learn (or un-learn) about terms such as ‘avant-garde’ or ‘mainstream,’ about networks of literary production, circulation, and consumption? How can we enlarge or even relocate the ‘avant-garde’ in our histories of innovative literary production? In what ways do collaborative literary publications cross and reimagine geographic and aesthetic boundaries?
This seminar welcomes papers relating to any aspect of the avant-garde as a collaborative practice or network; as well as papers that explore anthologies, zines, or magazines (broadly defined) as sites of literary experimentation and/or world literature.
Possible topics include, but are not limited to:
- Feminist magazines
- Publications by collectives
- Anthologies of/against national literatures
- Zines and DIY publication
- Material technologies of small press publications
- Transnational periodicals and anthologies
- Comparative book histories
- The role of editors and publishers in literary innovation