Forthcoming events

Recent events

Previous events organised by the Centre for Modernist Studies include:

  • Blackening Surrealism: Ted Joans’s Ethnographic Surrealist Historiography

    Blackening Surrealism: Ted Joans’s Ethnographic Surrealist Historiography 

    Joanna Pawlik

    3 March 2021

    This paper explores the significant interventions made by Black artists, writers, and activists into Surrealism’s postwar currency in the US. Foremost among them was Ted Joans, who collaborated with the Parisian circle of Surrealists during the 1960s, and later joined the Chicago group of Surrealists. Joans is better known as a writer from the Beat generation, but this paper explores his visual practice as a space through which he worked out multiple, and often competing allegiances to Surrealism, the Beats, and the Black Arts Movement. It focusses on his collage novel The Hipsters in particular which draws on the collage practice of Max Ernst to depict a satirical, pseudo-ethnographic account of the everyday life of beatniks and hipsters in Greenwich village, New York, in the early 1960s. I argue that in Joans’ collage work, surrealism itself might function, and indeed be regenerated, as an ethnographic object itself, out of place and out of time in postwar North America. 

    Dr Joanna Pawlik is lecturer in the department of Art History at the University of Sussex (2014-). From 2008 to 2011 she taught in the Department of Art History and Visual Studies at the University of Manchester, collaborating with the AHRC Centre for the Study of Surrealism and its Legacies and contributing to its three-year project Surrealism and Queer Sexualities in particular. She received a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship in 2011 and the resulting monograph, Remade in America: Surrealist Art, Activism and Politics 1940-1978 will be published by University of California Press in Summer 2021. She received a Leverhulme Research Fellowship in 2020/21 for her new project 'Figuring fascism in American art, 1945–1980'. She has published widely on surrealism, postwar American art and visual culture, transnationalism, regionalism, and little magazines.  

  • Dirty Windowpanes and Portholes: Orwell, Zola, Hanley, and the Lumpenproletariat

    Dirty Windowpanes and Portholes: Orwell, Zola, Hanley, and the Lumpenproletariat

    Glyn Salton-Cox

    3 February 2021

    It is well known that Zola was one of Orwell’s favorite writers. From the road from Germinal to Wigan Pier, the sights, sounds and smells of Parisian poverty and drunkenness in The Dram Shop and Down and Out in Paris and London, to the depictions of revolutionary failure in The Debacle and Homage to Catalonia, the parallels between the two writers’ work are manifold and obvious, and on more than one occasion, Orwell unsuccessfully pitched translations of Zola’s novels to publishers. However, there has been very little scholarly discussion of the relationship between these two obsessively somatic observers.

    Rather than tracing a narrative of what we might call mere influence, my paper takes the congruences between Zola and Orwell as a point of departure for an examination of the production of normative working-class subjectivities in Orwell. Central to this discussion is the question of the lumpenproletariat. Marx’s infamous term – part mere slur, part descriptor of individuals and communities choosing to live outside the dominant relations of production – forms the abject remainder in Marx and Engels’s construction of the proletariat as a normative category. I argue that Orwell’s turn towards a rigid, parochial sense of working-class identity in The Road to Wigan Pier and away from the lumpen cast of Down and Out involves an explicit rejection of his earlier, Zolerian naturalist mode. In so doing, I also investigate the marked allergy to Zola and Orwell in much Marxist literary criticism, contending that this is as much to do with the problematic of the lumpenproletariat as it is a rejection of these writes’ literary epistemologies and narrative praxes. The lumpenproletariat thus emerges as a vital pivot point not only in Orwell’s authorship, but also in the development of Marxist literary culture in the midcentury and beyond.

    In conclusion, I then briefly explore what I call James Hanley’s “naturalism at sea.” Today largely overlooked, Hanley was a major figure in the 1930s proletarian literature movement – much more so than Orwell, who was, as is well known, rather a peripheral figure for much of the decade. Despite being heralded by many as the typical proletarian novelist, the former sailor’s narratives, actually take the atypical proletarian figure of the sailor as their central focus. Focusing on his infamous 1930 novel, Boy, I argue that seafaring provides Hanley with the means of both continuing the naturalist tradition and of articulating non-normative working-class identities, which we might profitably call lumpen. If Orwell ultimate represents what David Trotter has called English writing’s “avoidance of naturalism,” Hanley represents its final, despairing gasp in the determinist folds of sea writing.

    Glyn Salton-Cox is Associate Professor of English and Affiliate of History and Feminist Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research interests include Marxism, queer theory and its relation to social history, 1930s literature, Weimar Berlin, Soviet aesthetics, twentieth-century British comedy, and comparative urbanisms. His monograph, Queer Communism and the Ministry of Love: Sexual Revolution in British Writing of the 1930s (Edinburgh UP, 2018) examines queer writers of the 1930s who engaged with Communism, including Christopher Isherwood, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Valentine Ackland, and Katharine Burdekin. With Leo Mellor, he guest edited a special edition of Critical Quarterly on "The Long 1930s" (October 2015). He is currently working on book projects on the intellectual, literary, and cultural history of the lumpenproletariat as an alternative genealogy of the revolutionary subject, and on British comedy's compensatory responses to decolonization.

  • Virus of Hate: Responses to Fascism in Psychoanalysis, Surrealism and Modernism

    Virus of Hate: Responses to Fascism in Psychoanalysis, Surrealism and Modernism

    A symposium exploring the relationship between creativity, psychic life and politics in the first half of the twentieth century

    12 January 2019

    De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill

     Reuben Mednikoff, 10 September 1936 (The Flying Pig), Collection of Michel and Susie Remy, Nice, Courtesy of De La Warr Pavilion

    Reuben Mednikoff, 10 September 1936 (The Flying Pig), Collection of Michel and Susie Remy, Nice, Courtesy of De La Warr Pavilion

    Read a report and review of this day by Shalini Segupta

    This symposium explored the relationship between creativity, psychic life and politics in the first half of the twentieth century. It included papers on how psychoanalytic theory was used to diagnose the extraordinary hatred that accompanied the rise of fascism in the 1930s, and on how modernist and surrealist techniques were marshalled to the task of finding ways of preventing it. Modernist and surrealist writing that both resisted and promoted fascist ideology were examined, and questions were asked about how responses to political hatred in the 1930s bore upon discussions of today’s political contexts. The symposium concluded with a tour of the exhibition, ‘A Tale of Mother’s Bones: Grace Pailthorpe, Reuben Mednikoff and the Birth of Psychorealism’. The work of Pailthorpe and Mednikoff brought together many of the themes of the day: they developed a method combining psychoanalytic theory with surrealist art and writing, which they believed would provide society with a cure for what they called ‘the virus of hate’. The De La Warr Pavilion was a fitting venue for both the exhibition and the symposium. It was co-designed by German Jewish architect Erich Mendelsohn, who fled Nazi Germany in 1933, and was commissioned to build the Pavilion with Serge Chermayeff in 1934. Their work was completed in 1935, the year that Pailthorpe and Mednikoff met. 

    Download the programme

    This symposium was organised by the Centre for Modernist Studies at the University of Sussex in partnership with the De La Warr Pavilion; it was also supported by the Centre for Life History and Life Writing Research.

  • Craft Modernism

    Craft Modernism

    15 June 2017

    Craft Modernism explored instances and representations of craft in modernist writing, visual art, and sound.

    Organisers: Annabel Haynes and Hope Wolf


    The Place of Craft in Rural/Urban Modernity

    Michael McCluskey

    Stephen Knott

    Linda Sandino

    Stephen Ryan


    Craft and Modern Things

    Harriet Barratt Dorling

    Simon Bliss

    Tanya Harrod

    Hannah Field


    Craft and Psychoanalysis

    Laura Salisbury

    Helen Tyson

    Hope Wolf


    Craft, Writing and Printing, Late and Later Modernism

    Alistair Davies

    Annabel Haynes

    Natalie Ferris        

    Richard  Parker

    Craig Jordan-Baker

  • Sussex Modernists: Transformations in the Twentieth-Century Landscape

    Sussex Modernists: Transformations in the Twentieth-Century Landscape

    7 June 2017

    This interdisciplinary conference explored the ways in which modernist writers, visual artists, composers, photographers and architects, living or working in Sussex in the twentieth century, re-conceived and represented nature, landscape and the coast in an era of the radical transformation of the built and natural environment.

    Conference organiser: Alistair Davies

    Download the programme

    Sussex Modernists: Transformations in the Twentieth-Century Landscape poster

  • Violence, Cruelty, Avant-garde

    Violence, Cruelty, Avant-garde

    Friday 21 April 2017

    This conference considered the historical association between violence and the avant-garde, looking in particular at the Modernist moment in Europe and its legacy. It was especially interested in how this historical association intersects with and is problematised by contemporary discourses around sexual, gendered and racialised violence and the deployment of narratives of terror for political purposes. Participants were invited to reflect on how the question of violence is framed in critical discussions of avant-garde texts. Crucially, it asked questions about the historical configurations of violence and the avant-garde that are pertinent to our increasingly violent present. How are different forms of violence and cruelty addressed by the Modernist avant-garde? How has the avant-garde’s engagement with violence changed in the wake of Modernism? How can we understand violence as an avant-garde strategy that has been adopted by both right-wing and left-wing writers? In what ways can cultural avant-gardes contest systemic forms of violence such as capitalism, sexism, racism and colonialism? What would an avant-garde of empathy or compassion as opposed to cruelty look like?


    Professor David Marriott– Stiffs: Blackness, Cruelty and the Avant-Garde

    Dr Sarah Hayden - I pick up the apples’: Europe’s Ejected Avant-Garde

    Panel 1: Beyond Violence

    Dr Sophie Seita – ‘At Least Do Not Do Harm’: Reading the Avant-Garde Beyond Militancy

    Matt Martin – After Reading ‘Not Reading ‘After’’: Tony Lopez and the Ethics of Holocaust Poetry

    Eleanor Careless -‘Bomb Bomb Thrust Thrust’: Violence and Gender in the Poetry of Anna Mendelssohn

    Panel 2: Contemporary Cultures of Violence

    Laurel Uziell – TBC

    Verity Spott – Letters From/To The Void – Demands of Revolutionary Despair

    Panel 3: Sex and the Avant-Garde: Sadism, Cruelty and Desire

    Kris Beaghton – ‘The typist’s day-dream’; ‘Wanted, smart lady typist’

    Tom Allen – Salò, Marianne: Pasolini and the Aesthetic of Repudiation

    Simon Tilbury – ‘A death to be born into’: Desire, Suicide, Dialectic; or how Laura Riding turned abjection into apotheosis

  • Marine Court Rendezvous

    Marine Court Rendezvous: Concrete Modernism in St Leonards-on-Sea and the Colonisation of the World’s Oceans by Cruise Liners

    A Talk by Iain Sinclair

    15 March 15 2017

    Image Credit: Anonymous Bosch 

    Image Credit: Anonymous Bosch

    Iain Sinclair is a poet, writer and filmmaker. He has documented his travels around the M25, through the streets of Hackney, and towards the 2012 Olympic Park on a swan-shaped pedalo. But his books have also taken his readers to Sussex. He has embarked upon writerly voyages from Marine Court in St Leonards, Hastings. Completed in 1938, the building is a striking example of modernist architecture, inspired by the sleek shape of a cruise liner. A discussion of the 1930s utopianism that constructed such a building was blended together in this talk with reflections on the invasion of monster cruise-cities in Barcelona and Palermo. The talk also featured a screening of the film, Marine Court Rendezvous.

    The event was organised by the Centre for Modernist Studies and the Centre for Creative and Critical Thought both at the University of Sussex. It is also related to the Sussex Modernism project.

  • Anna Mendelssohn Symposium

    Anna Mendelssohn Symposium

    Poster for Anna Mendelssohn symposium4 February 2017

    The Anna Mendelssohn Symposium brought together students, academics, friends, poets and supporters of the poet, activist and artist Anna Mendelssohn to discuss her legacy and its implications for the poetics and praxis of resistance. The symposium was supported by Sussex’s Centre for Modernist Studies and Birkbeck’s Contemporary Poetics Research Centre.

    Panels comprised of post-graduate students, early career researchers, thinkers outside academia and established scholars provoked an engaged and wide-ranging discussion of Mendelssohn’s work. Topics of discussion included the work of resistance; the other; and the politics of reading and performance.

    Dr Sara Crangle’s keynote discussed the figure of the accursed poet, and gender politics.

    The symposium culminated in a series of poetry readings by Eleanor Careless and Vicky Sparrow, Verity Spott, Jennifer Cooke and Rod Mengham.

    These readings were followed by an original performance of Mendelssohn’s play ‘There Was A Great Ripping Up Of Romance Occurring’ by Lisa Jeschke and Lucy Beynon, who deftly transported the text into contemporary contexts with an extraordinary backdrop featuring the faces of controversial political figures.


    Keynote: Dr Sara Crangle, ‘ Anna Mendelssohn, la poétesse maudite’

    Papers given:

    Lotta Thießen
    ‘Incarcerated Subjectivity and Revolutionary Imaginary: Anna Mendelssohn’s Implacable Art and the relation between transgressions of the poetic and the juridical subject

    Jo Borden
    ‘LA LUTTE CONTINUE // the struggle continues’

    Albinia Stanley
    ‘Anna Mendelssohn’s Affective Labours’

    Dr Luke Roberts
    ‘Fear of Retribution’

    Dr Calum Gardner
    ‘‘Posies for sophists’: Anna Mendelssohn, Veronica Forrest-Thomson, and Poetry as Anti-Knowledge’ 

    Dr Jon Clay
    ‘The Vital Delirium of Anna Mendelssohn’s Poetry’

    Florence Uniacke
    ‘Controlling Trauma: Writing, drawing and the location of  ‘elsewhere’’

    Dr Joe Luna
    ‘Poetry and Despair – On “1:3ng”’ 

    Verity Spott
    ‘Abjection & the Horrific Subject in Anna Mendelssohn’s Poetry’ 

    Prof William Rowe
    ‘Reference and resistance in the work of Anna Mendelssohn’

    Andrew Duncan
    ‘Blank Measures’

    Prof Keston Sutherland
    ‘Free Dissociation’

  • David Jones: Engraver, Soldier, Painter Poet

    David Jones: Engraver, Soldier, Painter Poet

    Wednesday 26 April 2017

    Fulton A Lecture Theatre

    This was a rare opportunity to listen to Thomas Dilworth discuss the gifted character at the heart of his long-awaited biography, published by Jonathan Cape.

    Presented by The Centre for Modernist Studies at the University of Sussex and Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft

    Poster for David Jones: Engraver, Soldier, Painter, Poet event

  • Bloomsbury in Sussex

    Bloomsbury in Sussex

    Tuesday 19 July

    Bloomsbury in Sussex posterKeynote: Victoria Rosner

    Speakers: Alistair Davies, Laura Marcus, Theodore Koulouris, Peter Blee, Darren Clarke, David Herbert, Justine Shaw, Nanette O’Brien, Anna Fewster, Bárbara Gallego Larrarte, Frank Brouwer, Harriet Barratt Dorling, Hana Leaper, Nuala Hancock, Maggie Humm, Carolyn Trant.

    Charleston at Firle was the Sussex home of the Bloomsbury Group. It was a place where artists, writers, and intellectuals conversed and created new work. Living nearby were Virginia and Leonard Woolf at Monk’s House, and also economist John Maynard Keynes and ballerina Lydia Lopokova at Tilton House. Visitors to Charleston included authors E.M. Forster, T.S. Eliot, Roger Fry, David Garnett, and Lytton Strachey. This one-day conference marked the centenary anniversary of the arrival of artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant to Charleston.

    The first part of the day took place at the University of Sussex. Papers explored how Charleston, and the Bloomsbury set in Sussex, have been represented (in the house museum, in exhibitions, literature, film and online). What myths and memories have grown up around Charleston? What representations of the Bloomsbury set have been preserved by the heritage industry? Why has the Bloomsbury version of modernism remained popular?

    Bloomsbury in Sussex posterWe also thought about how different spatial contexts impacted on the work of the Bloomsbury group, and about the local and domestic dimensions of modernism (contrasting everyday encounters with art and craft with the display of artworks in museum contexts). How important was place to the Bloomsbury group? How does the rural setting transform ideas about modernism? What does the house tell us about the ways in which experimental creative practices intersected with the practice of everyday life?

    At lunchtime we went to Berwick Church, the location of the Bell and Grant murals. We will then went on to Charleston itself. Speakers chose a room of the house each and gave short talks in their chosen room, interpreting objects and art works, reading spaces biographically, and exploring how their research might link with stories told about inhabitants and visitors.

    Key to discussions in the morning and the afternoon were consideration of the significance for researchers of visiting the sites their subjects once inhabited, and of following in their footsteps. Why might the house museum, and its environs, be significant research resources?

    Event organiser: Dr Hope Wolf. 


  • Late and Later James/James at Lamb House Colloquium

    Late and Later James/James at Lamb House Colloquium

    A colloquium in honour of the Centenary Year of Henry James’s Death

    Monday 17 October 2016

    Lamb House, Rye, England

    Co-sponsored by The National Trust and the Centre for Modernist Studies, University of Sussex

    Featured Speakers included Professor Adrian Poole (University of Cambridge) and

    Tessa Hadley, reading from a new short story inspired by James’s Notebooks


    A Review of Late and Later James/James at Lamb House

    By Katherine Kruger (University of Sussex) and Leah Edens (University of Sussex)

    Held at Lamb House in the idyllic village of Rye, where James moved in 1897 and lived until his death in 1916, the Late and Later James colloquium was an intimate gathering of James scholars which marked the centenary of the author’s death. The location of the colloquium generated a sense of proximity to James, described by some, in accordance with William James’s work on the subject, as a sort of ‘religious experience’. As a result of the colloquium’s compelling location, speakers grappled with negotiating the significance of the author’s biography in relation to his late style.

    Denis Flannery’s paper entitled ‘Colour and Late Style’ addressed this question of the relationship between biography and late style by bringing James’s story ‘The Bench of Desolation’ (1910) into conversation with Derek Jarman’s Chroma: A Book of Colour (1994), which Jarman wrote in 1993 while suffering from blindness and facing his imminent death. At first sight an unlikely coupling, Flannery adeptly brought these late works together through analysing the ways in which both texts foreground bright primary colours in order to explore the relationship between colour and blankness. Flannery discussed the preoccupation, which both texts share, with the way that ‘flushes’ of colour become magnified in intensity against the blankness of loss and grieving. Proposing that colour has a less functional role in James’s late works than in his earlier works, Flannery’s paper examined James’s construction of a network of intensities and shades of reds and blues which shift in texture and tone like the blue of Jarman’s final 1993 film, Blue. Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s seminal book Touching Feeling also fleetingly identifies a network of vivid hues throughout James’s fiction, relating his contagious red blushes to the affect shame. Influenced by this work, Flannery suggested that in James’s late works colour no longer alludes to latent meanings or symbolises motive and mood; instead, colour, still just as evocatively positioned, appears as a pocket of intensity, as a fantasy in and of itself – a manifestation of a desire for sensuous experience.

    With the morning and early afternoon of scholarly papers behind us, convincingly exploring everything from benches to the auditory imagination to the effect of Henry’s brother William’s death, attendees were treated to a glimpse of James’s continuing creative legacy. After years of highly-regarded scholarly work on Henry James, Philip Horne of UCL has taken on a compendium project based on dozens of story ideas left by James in various states of development, but never turned into fictions.  This collection will consist of short stories from various contemporary writers who have taken on the task of basing their creative writing on the bits of brainstorming James had lodged in his notebooks for future use. Well-established as a novelist, Tessa Hadley, professor of creative writing at Bath Spa, rose to the challenge and read a short story of her own based on an outline left by James at its most embryonic stage. While contemporary, her piece explored James-like character development and conveyed a universality of human experience and emotion. Hadley combined Jamesian undertones with her own sense of voice, leaving the reader – or listener – to negotiate a literary space which was somehow both highly-alert to contemporary conditions while authenticating James’s profound effect on the literary landscape. The act of listening to Hadley, also a James scholar, read her own contemporary work, based on a concept from James himself in his house where he composed so many of his texts offered a connection to both an author and a conference subject beyond the conventional scope of an academic assembly. The compelling experience of listening to Hadley’s work was a thought-provoking way to connect James to the act of writing and to remind us of the origins of our own work.

    Late and Later James at Lamb House Schedule

    Welcome and Introduction to Lamb House (Claire Reed and Pam Thurschwell)

    James Lello (Cambridge)  Henry James and the Auditory Imagination

    Ross Wilson (Cambridge) James and the Prefatory Voice

    Phil Horne (UCL): Henry James on the Bench

    Michael Jonik (Sussex) Abysses of Association: On Henry James after William James’s Death

    Oliver Herford (Birmingham) “Going behind” the New York Edition Prefaces

    Denis Flannery (Leeds)  Colour and Late Style

    Bethany Layne (Reading) Better Never than Late: The Absence and Origins of the Major Phase in David Lodge’s Author, Author and Colm Toibin’s The Master

    Susan Griffin (University of Louisville) Pinning Henry James

    Adrian Poole (Cambridge)  Last Judgments

    Claire Reed – tour of house/James’s books and objects

     Tessa Hadley reading of a short story inspired by James’s notebooks

    “Speed dating Henry James”: A Wrap-up discussion on What makes Late James, Late James?

    Hazel Hutchison (on Rebecca West and the Wells-James quarrel), Tim Lustig, Neil Reeve, Rebekah Scott (on the sounds of age in “The Tone of Time”), Pam Thurschwell

  • Radical America Conference: Revolutionary, Dissident and Extremist Magazines

    Radical America Conference: Revolutionary, Dissident and Extremist Magazines

    2nd Network of American Periodical Studies Symposium

    Friday 20 May 2016

    The Keep, Brighton

    Co-sponsored by the Centre for Modernist Studies

    Radical America Conference: Revolutionary, Dissident and Extremist Magazines poster

  • Hospitable Modernism

    Hospitable Modernism posterHospitable Modernism

    Panel One: Local and National: Hosting at Home and Abroad

    “German Hospitality in Christopher Isherwood’s Goodbye to Berlin”

    Ewa Błasiak, University of Wrocław

    “Houses, Hosts and Hostile Empire in Jean Rhys’s Voyage in the Dark

    Yan Lin, Shanghai International Studies University 


    Panel Two: Hosting in Theory 

    “Hostpitality’ in Harold Pinter’s The Caretaker”

    Ghadeer Alhasan, University of Lancaster

    “How to Make Friends and Influence People’: Hospitality as a Feminist Weapon”

    Alexandra Chiriac, University of St. Andrews


    Panel Three: Living Through the Modernist Party 

    “Cocktail shakers rattled, gramophones discoursed jazz’: Parties, ‘Late’ Style, and Social Acceleration in Evelyn Waugh’s Early Fiction”

    Allan Johnson, University of Surrey

    A Party Without a Hostess: Presence and Absence in Mina Loy’s Poetry

    Emily Van Houten, University of Durham

    “The Art of Hosting: Analyzing the Salon-Inspired Works of Florine Stettheimer”

    Chelsea Olsen, University of Sussex

    Keynote Speech: 

    “Prufrock, Party-Goer, Tongue-Tied at Tea”

    Dr. Kate McLoughlin (delivered by Justine Shaw), University of Oxford

  • Book Launch – Mayakovsky

    Book Launch – Mayakovsky

     Book Launch – Mayakovsky poster

  • Vanguard Women

    Vanguard Women

    Vanguard Women poster

  • Modernism’s Child

    Modernism’s Child

    Modernism's Child posterModernism’s Child was a one-day graduate student led, interdisciplinary conference supported by the Sussex Centre for Modernist Studies and held at the University of Sussex on 20 April 2015. Inspired by the philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s attempt to view childhood from different theoretical standpoints, Modernism’s Child focused on reading modernist children through multiple disciplines. The writers discussed include James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield, Elizabeth Bowen, and Henry Green amongst others. The topics of discussion were equally diverse and international; from the child of children’s Arthuriana to idealised conceptions of the Soviet child, the semi-colonial child to the young adolescents of “Le Grand Jeu”, all culminating in talks on children at play and children in space.

    The conference was opened by Dr. Natalia Cecire’s (Sussex) keynote, entitled “Overthinking it in the Hundred Acre Wood”, the insight and intellectual breadth of which (From Pooh Bear to Ezra Pound via temporality and Learning to Read) was matched only by its charm. Professor Douglas Mao (Johns Hopkins University) closed the conference with a highly anticipated keynote on “Childhoods Ends”. Seamlessly weaving together the work of Margaret Mead, Aldous Huxley, and Arthur C. Clarke to provide a lively and provoking discussion of utopia and pedagogy which exemplified the event’s interdisciplinary and intertextual approach.

    Keynote Speakers:

    Prof. Douglas Mao (John Hopkins) “Childhood’s Ends”

    Dr. Natalia Cecire (University of Sussex): “Overthinking It in the Hundred Acre Wood”

    Papers Given:

    Dr. Ben Nicholls (King’s College London): Reproduction Line: Making Children in the Work of Charlotte Perkins Gilman

    Elly McCausland (York): ‘The Ill-Made Knight’: Childhood Trauma and Daydreams of Chivalry in Modernist Arthuriana for Children

    Dr. Dennis Duncan (Oxford): “Eat the Aged”: ‘Le Grand Jeu’ and the Infant as Revolutionary

    Dr. Beryl Pong (Cambridge University): Semicolonial Filiation: Katherine Mansfield and the Short Fictions of Childhood

    Dr. Veronica Barnsley (Sheffield University): ‘As sweet as can be’: Modifications of the Child and Mother in Anti-colonial Women’s Writing

    Hannah Proctor (Birkbeck University): Children of the Revolution: The Soviet Child and the Modernism of Reality                         

    Dr. Daniela Caselli (University of Manchester): Fluffy Bunny Modernism: The Child in Modernist Experimental Fiction (Woolf, Joyce and Beckett)

    Katherine Kruger (University of Sussex): Games and Play in the Work of Elizabeth Bowen

    Dr. Joe Kennedy (University of Sussex): ‘He spoke simply, and without innuendo, as one stating a fact’: Henry Green and John Wyndham’s Affectless Children


    Event Director – Justine Shaw (Sussex graduate student).

  • Sussex Modernism Lecture Series

    Sussex Modernism Lecture Series

    In 2015 Dr Alistair Davies ran a lecture series on Sussex Modernism at the Towner Gallery, Eastbourne, including talks by Martin Ryle, Theodore Koulouris and Sam Cooper. The following year he and Dr Hope Wolf ran a second series at the Towner and at the De La Warr Pavilion; this included talks on Charleston, Ditchling, Farley Farm, Keith Vaughan and Keith Douglas, and a talk by Nigel Foxcroft on Malcolm Lowry and Edward Burra.

  • Quadrophenia

    This conference led to the publication of a book: Quadrophenia and (Mod)ern Culture (Palgrave: Macmillian, 2017), edited by Dr Pamela Thurschwell.

    Further information on the conference

    Quadrophenia event poster

  • Everydayness and the Event (15th annual Modernist Studies Association conference)

    Everydayness and the Event

    The 15th annual Modernist Studies Association (MSA) conference took place at the University of Sussex between 28th August and 1st September 2013. Co-sponsored by the Centre for Modernist Studies and Queen Mary’s University London, the conference attracted over 600 delegates from around the world. We believe that this makes MSA15 the largest event dedicated to modernism held in the UK to date. Tributes have poured in from cities including Amiens, Baltimore, Berlin, Cardiff, Columbus, Glasgow, Halifax, Phoenix, Poznan, and Tripoli—to name just a few.

    While the majority of delegates were waged academics, roughly one-third of attendees were postgraduate students, and many undergraduates made up a team of 30 volunteers. The conference included 100 panels, 24 seminars, and 14 roundtables. There were also 6 pre-conference workshops on matters of publishing, public outreach, the digital humanities, and copyrighting. Most of the extensive range of special events was fully booked; particularly popular were the visits to local sites of modernist interest. Two different poetry readings and a screening at the oldest continuously operating purpose built cinema in Britain were also well received by delegates.

    Over 400 delegates attended each of the three plenary events, which featured Griselda Pollock, Gillian Beer, Rachel Bowlby, Ben Highmore, Esther Leslie, Gabriel Josipovici, Michael Sheringham, and Terry Eagleton. 11 publishers, many of whose authors were present as delegates, held exhibitions and meetings at the conference.

    You can see the full  MSA 15 programme here and download the final report for the event here

    Highlights from MSA 15:

    Thursday Plenary – Griselda Pollock

    Friday Plenary – Gillian Beer, Michael Sheringham, Esther Leslie, Gabriel Josipovici, Rachel Bowlby, and Ben Highmore

    Saturday Plenary – Terry Eagleton


    “A marvellous affair from start to finish” (Baltimore, Maryland)

    “Enormous and yet personal” (Cambridge, U.K.)

    “A great MSA, memorable on all accounts” (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

    “A superb conference!” (York, U.K.)

    “Brilliant, absorbing, flawless” (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

    “A great conference” (Amiens, France)

    “Enjoyable and substantive” (Tulsa, Oklahoma)


    The event was organised by the centre’s director Dr. Sara Crangle and received additional sponsorship from Johns Hopkins University Press, Edinburgh University Press, the Leo Baeck Institute, the British Association of Modernist Studies (BAMS) and the Katherine Mansfield Society,with generous contributions from the Schools of English and Media at the University of Sussex.

  • Hi Zero

    Hi Zero

    Hi Zero is a series of avant-garde experimental poetry readings and performances. The brain child of Brighton poet Joe Luna, Hi Zero is run by Joe and occurs throughout the year at The Hope Tavern in Brighton. Now into its fourth year and with an average audience of 45, Hi Zero is a popular feature on the underground poetry scene.

    You can see the Hi Zero Tumblr here.