Workshop ""When Rural Meets Urban". Networks of ‘Regional’ Modernisms"

Du 29/09 au 30/09/2022

Workshop funded by Fondation Wiener-Anspach, in collaboration with Oxford University

Research Project “When Rural Meets Urban: Towards a Cultural History of Modernisms in Bohemia” (2022-2024)

Are you interested in challenging the narrative of predominantly urban, ideological and utilitarian aspects of European modernisms and avant-gardes and in exploring the dynamics of the urban and rural spaces and imagery in art and literature of regional modernisms? Come and join us for discussions on the place of nature, the rural and the countryside in Scandinavian, Welsh, Russian, Czech, Polish, French Canadian, Georgian modernisms and avant-garde artistic production.

The workshop wishes to challenge the narrative of predominantly urban, ideological and utilitarian aspects of European modernisms and to explore the dynamics of the urban and rural spaces and imagery in art and literature of regional modernisms. Could we argue, as our keynote speaker Isabel Wünsche (Jacobs University, Bremen, Germany) does in the case of Saint-Petersburg avant-garde (Organic School of the Russian Avant-Garde: Nature's Creative Principal, 2015, 2018), that the urban aspects of “regional” modernisms “have generally been emphasized and references to nature and the natural world largely ignored or overlooked” (Wünsche 2018: 1)? Do the case studies of regional modernisms and avant-gardes help to re-evaluate this topic, key to the understanding of the global modernist movement? The workshop wishes to be a steppingstone towards future research collaboration, which has for its aim the reshaping of academic approach to and understanding of regional modernisms in Europe, ultimately – we hope – comparable and complementary to the work achieved by the authors of A Cultural History of the Avant-garde in the Nordic Countries (Brill, 2012). Together with researchers in other perceived ‘peripheral’ modernisms, we consider inadequate the prevailing perception of a small number of true ‘centres’ of modernism (notably Paris) surrounded by epigones, which reflects outdated hierarchical models of European culture and, when perpetuated in the Czech context at least, a desire to conform to an international narrative. Instead, like Marie Rakušanová, one of the keynote speakers of the workshop, who critiques this othering of non-Western European peripheries in art history in her ground-breaking study Degrees of Separation: Bohumil Kubišta and the European Avant-Garde (Czech version 2020, in English 2022) of the Czech modernist artist, Bohumil Kubišta (1884-1918), we favor a cultural-historical approach that combines examination of how modernism is shaped by local social, political, economic and cultural contexts with archive-led study of transnational artistic interactions and networks not only with the perceived center, but with other “regions” such as Scandinavia, regional Germany, Wales, cultures of East-Central Europe or regional francophone modernisms (Belgium, Québec etc.) The current state of the art of Modernist and Avant-Garde studies allows for fundamental reconsideration of the entire field. Since 2010, there have been substantial research output in this academic field both dedicated to global modernisms and the avant-garde as well as to several aspects of East-Central European Avant-gardes. The following works are our starting point: The Oxford Handbook of Modernism (2010); The Cambridge Companion to Modernisms (2011), The Oxford Handbook of Global Modernisms (2012); Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism (London-New York, 2017). They are complemented by recent major contributions to the knowledge of “regional modernisms”, such as the authoritative Cultural History of Scandinavian Avant-Gardes (Brill/ Rodopi, 2012).

Thursday 29th September

12.30PM - 2.00PM: Welcome of participants, light lunch, and coffee
2.00PM - 3.30PM:

  • Angharad Price, Bangor University, UK (online): Welsh Modernism – KC16 by T. H. Parry-Williams
  • Petra James, ULB: Emile Verhaeren and Maurice Maeterlinck in Bohemia and Moravia: Between the Countryside and the City

3.30PM - 3.45PM: Coffee Break
3.45PM - 5.15PM:

  • Patrick McGuinness, Oxford University, UK: Home-Made Worlds: Lynette Roberts, Wales and coastal modernism
  • Tamar Koplatadze, Oxford University, UK: Nature in Georgian Modernist Art: Between Mysticism, Conformity and Dissidence

5.15PM - 5.30PM: Coffee Break
5.30PM - 6.30PM:

  • Rajendra Chitnis, Oxford University, UK: Modernism’s Moral Compass: North and East in Czech Ruralism

7.00PM Dinner (La Mirabelle Restaurant, Ixelles)

Friday 30th September

9.30AM - 11.00AM:

  • Petr Kyloušek, Masaryk University Brno, Czech Republic: La campagne, la ville et la vie sauvage dans le modernisme québécois
  • Agnieszka Karpowicz, University of Warsaw, Poland: Metropolis, Mass... Nature. Paradoxes of the Polish avant-garde

11.00AM - 11.15AM: Coffee Break 11.15AM - 12.30PM :

  • Harri Veivo, Université de Caen, France: Life in the outdoors, the experience of nature and nationalism in literature at the turn of the 19th century: preliminary hypotheses

12.30PM - 1.30PM: Lunch
1.30PM - 2.30PM: ROOM A.Z4.103
Keynote speaker: Isabel Wünsche, Jacobs University, Bremen, Germany
2.30PM - 3.00PM: Coffee break
3.00PM - 4.00PM: Round-table Discussion: The perspectives for the study of peripheral modernisms

In their Wiener-Anspach Foundation-funded project, Petra James (ULB) and Rajendra Chitnis (FWA) are developing a major grant proposal for a comparative study of regionally specific modernisms in Europe. To gather thoughts - we hope - have emerged from individual contributions, we would like to close our workshop with a discussion of the topic and the design of future research. We hope this might inspire some of you to continue working with us as we develop our plans!

Among the questions we might discuss: • In what ways is the centre-periphery model changing or disappearing in the study of modernism? To what extent does it still need challenging or replacing? • What defines a “peripheral” and “central” modernism? To what extent is the rural/urban tension central to that definition? • Is there scope and a need for an alternative, more inclusive narrative of modernism in Europe? • Can a study of regional modernisms in Europe coexist with and contribute to notions of global modernisms? • How coherent is a comparative project incorporating a variety of art forms, disciplines and regional/national cultures and experiences?

Thursday 29th & Friday 30th September 2022

Salle des réceptions (MSH)
Building DE1 - Level 3 - Room R.3.105
Rue Antoine Depage 1
1000 Bruxelles

Free entrance

Contact: Petra James

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