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Modernism, Religion, and Empire

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Organizer: Apala Das

Co-Organizer: Suzanne Hobson

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Traditionally, modernism has been thought of as a cluster of aesthetic movements emerging out of a declared crisis of faith. An expanded notion of modernism should therefore take into consideration the myriad manifestations of such a crisis or approach the topic of religion as a complex issue in global modernisms. However, as Susan Stanford Friedman notes in her chapter on “Religion and Modernism” in The New Modernist Studies (Cambridge UP, 2021), a thorough interrogation of religion is still largely missing from the field of global or transnational modernisms.

This panel invites submissions on the interrelations between literary form and genre, world religions, and imperial and decolonial politics in global and transnational modernisms. It seeks to explore some of the following questions – how was the modernist crisis of faith related to global politics in the fin de siècle and later? What are the different shapes of such a crisis of faith? How might we redefine secularism within the disciplinary framework of global or transnational modernisms? How is secularist thinking related to imaginaries of the globe and the world? How might we connect the inner-worldly or the this-worldly and the other-worldly? How do transcendental and imperial notions influence one another and appear entangled, if they do so? Finally, how might the concept of world religions offer a contextual framework for the study of world literatures?

Panelists are encouraged to consider contributing on topics related to modern literature's relation to secularism/post-secularism, mysticism and the occult, global spiritualities, religious or ethno-nationalisms, transnationalisms, and cosmopolitanisms within the framework of the global twentieth century. Interdisciplinary approaches that address literary-aesthetic or formal concerns are also welcome.


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