Call for papers – Popmodernism

In Dialectic of Enlightenment Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer describe a modernism where the avant-garde and the “entertainment industry” simultaneously are two very different entities and each other’s counterparts. Still, the thinking of a “great divide” between modernism and mass culture had a long life, and while Andreas Huyssen in 1986 published his After the Great Divide, and despite all kinds of postmodernist thinking that we had left the high/low-dichotomy and hierarchy behind, much discourse still seem colored by different kinds of oppositions when it comes to dealing with the whole history of modernism and the places for what has come to be called “pop” (popular culture, mass culture, culture industry – and other terms – all functioning more or less synonymous).

Discussing postmodernism as “modernism’s democratic other,” however, it soon became clear that the inherited dichotomy still was functional. Still, continuous re-readings of modernism – its history, its practices – put forward what can only be called multiple modernisms. One of the more interesting is Miriam Bratu Hansen’s suggestion that popular culture in modernity already was a form of “vernacular modernism,” given diverse sensibilities where the same questions, so to speak, were asked within the vernacular as in the circles of so-called “high art.” As Juan A. Suárez writes in his book Pop Modernism: Noise and the Reinvention of the Everyday (2007):

Popular practice was one of modernism’s structuring influences, and experimental artists frequently drew on, recycled, or simply captured and captioned ready-made users’ tactics and languages.

With this as one – of many – backgrounds, the Nordic Summer University’s study-circle “Popmodernism” invites contributions to its first seminar, in Copenhagen, March 16-18, 2012. Taking as well the circle’s project description (“manchet” in NSU-lingo) as a point of departure we invite papers exploring what “popmodernism” might signify. Topics include, but are not limited to, intersections of popular culture and art across time and space in the 2oth century; modernism as a popular strategy; historical genealogies of contemporary cultural expressions; mediated cultures.

Please send title and abstract (maximum 300 words) to the coordinators. Deadline, November 28th.

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