Lo-Fi Modernism:
CFP for MSA 2019

Lo-Fi Modernism
CFP, Proposed Roundtable for MSA 2019

Keyword + 200-word abstracts due Friday, March 1 to Shawna Ross and Erin Templeton
via shawnaross1 at gmail dot com

Modernism is expensive—so we assume. We take for granted high modernism’s elitism, particularly as an object of study in the contemporary academy. And indeed, many of the methods associated with the rise of the New Modernist Studies are resource-intensive, while the temporal and spatial expansion of modernism call attention to problems of resource inequality. Transnational, global, and planetary approaches to modernism call for including students, faculties, and institutions who may not have reliable access to some of the research resources typical of modernist scholarship. The field’s renewed interest in archives threatens to exclude scholars without a generous travel budget, while expansions into Digital Humanities and New Media Studies (particularly sound studies and game studies) often require investments in specialized equipment and software. Meanwhile, for US-based scholars, the Great Divide that separates public domain and copyrighted materials poses restrictions on what, where, how we can pursue our research projects.

In short, as the New Modernist Studies matures, and its promises of new avenues of research and teaching materialize, so too are materializing many barriers of access. But as scholarly and pedagogical labor is increasingly casualized, who has the time and money to visit far-flung archives, collate dozens of copies of Cane to create a new edition, lavish a semester’s worth of classroom time to Ulysses, purchase a fleet of iPads for digital pedagogy activities, or hire squadrons of students to digitize rare materials? And with dwindling resources, how do we outfit our students with a rich range of experiences that will prepare them for careers inside or outside the academy? For faculty members whose service demands increase over the course of their career, rendering them and ineligible for early-career and pre-tenure funding opportunities, how do we continue to take advantage of research opportunities that seem to require resources we cannot source?

This proposed roundtable for MSA 2019 will attempt to offer “lo-fi” solutions to these problems. By doing so, we hope to eschew the rarified, the expensive, and the institutionally bound, as they are slow and tend to privilege those who are already resource-rich. We privilege instead the quick, the cheap, and the ad-hoc, seeking strategies for redirecting resources we may have in new ways. Each roundtable participant will organize their comments around a single keyword—focused on one aspect of our scholarly lives—to reveal how graduate students, contingent faculty members, and tenure-line faculty members can help one another do our jobs more easily and more equitably.

Sample keywords might include, but are not limited to:

  • Archive
  • Citation
  • Peer Review
  • Digital Project
  • Dissertation
  • Access to Scholarship
  • Institutional Service

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