British Association for Modernist Studies International Conference 2019

Troublesome Modernisms

Thursday 20 - Saturday 22 June 2019

Register here

There is an extra £10 charge for tickets to the Modernist Revue on Friday, 21 June (see bottom of page for further information). The Revue is also open to non-conference attendees.



Abstracts and Bios


Food and Drink Options around BAMS Conference

*Places marked in red are ONLY open on Thursday and Friday. Places marked in green are open Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Keynote speakers:

Douglas Mao (Johns Hopkins)

Title: Troubled

Douglas Mao is Russ Professor in the Humanities at Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of Solid Objects: Modernism and the Test of Production (Princeton, 1998) and Fateful Beauty: Aesthetic Environments, Juvenile Development, and Literature 1860-1960 (Princeton, 2008). He is also the co-editor, with Rebecca Walkowitz, of Bad Modernisms (Duke, 2006) and the editor of the Longman Cultural Edition of E. M. Forster's Howards End (2009). A former president of the Modernist Studies Association, he currently serves as Series Editor of Hopkins Studies in Modernism, as Senior Editor of ELH, and as a member of the editorial boards of Modernism/modernityTextual PracticeEnglish: the Journal of the English Association, and The Journal of Wyndham Lewis Studies. His current projects -- a study of utopia and justice and a collection on modernist studies -- should see print in 2020. 

Dr Isabel Waidner (Roehampton​)

Title: We Are Made Of Diamond Stuff: Class, Queers, and the Avant-garde

Dr Isabel Waidner is a writer and critical theorist. Their books include We Are Made Of Diamond Stuff (2019), Gaudy Bauble (2017) and Liberating the Canon: An Anthology of Innovative Literature (ed., 2018), published by Dostoyevsky Wannabe. Waidner's articles, essays and short fictions have appeared in international journals including 3:AM, Cambridge Literary Review, Configurations, Gorse, The Happy Hypocrite, Tank Magazine and Tripwire. They are the co-curator of the event series Queers Read This at the Institute of Contemporary Art (with Richard Porter), and a lecturer at University of Roehampton, London.


‘What effects of synergy or friction result when the many, sometimes contradictory, criteria of high modernism are tested against less evidently experimental texts by principal figures; against principal works by less well known or non-European artists; against texts that seem neither to be art or about art?’ - Douglas Mao and Rebecca Walkowitz

In troubled times, the BAMS International Conference 2019 proposes the theme of ‘Troublesome Modernisms’. The conference aims to take a fresh look at modernism’s capacity to, and for, trouble, to examine anew the multiple modes of modernist argumentation, contestation and dissent. What can we draw for the present from modernism’s troubled relationship with its own pasts, presents and futures, and how might we address our troubles with those aspects of the modernist project that sit uncomfortably with us today? 

Inevitably this will include the troubling or scrutiny of the field of modernism from within. In particular, the conference is eager to mark and reflect on the reverberations of Douglas Mao’s and Rebecca Walkowitz’s groundbreaking Bad Modernisms (2006), a volume that questioned the limits of modernist studies, illuminating new avenues of critique by pressuring us to consider what and when we believe modernity to be, and whose creative and critical disruption continues to energise our field.

‘Troublesome Modernisms’ is interested in the notion of disorder, so central to our conceptions of modernity, but also in art that troubles our idea of modernism itself. The conference seeks to spark debate about how modernisms might have troubled contemporary writers, political thinkers, philosophers, artists and consumers; about how modernisms might not fit with themes or ideals prescribed by modernist studies; and about how works not immediately identifiable as modernist might afford new analyses of the relationship between art, culture and modernity. In all, ‘Troublesome Modernisms’ invites discussion of the ways in which modernisms might embody negativity, disorder, commotion, interruption, intrusion, insurgency and difficulty. How does modernism, in and through the lens of modernist studies, continue both to address trouble and to behave badly?

How to Submit

Proposals are invited for individual 20-minute papers, panels (3–4 speakers), roundtables, dialogues or other discussions on the broad theme of ‘Troublesome Modernisms’. These will be drawn from a range of disciplinary fields and may or may not include the following kinds of emphasis:

  • Misrepresentation, manipulation and unreliability
  • Noise, distortion and warping
  • Weak and strong modernisms
  • War and peace
  • Anachronism
  • Pedagogical difficulties
  • Perversion and deviance
  • Heretics and the unorthodox
  • Conflicting feelings, emotions and affects
  • Violence, abuse and power
  • The inhuman and the posthuman
  • Revolution, rebellion and revolt
  • Critique and deconstruction
  • Awkwardness, boredom, obsolescence and the inane
  • Illogical, unreasonable and irrational approaches
  • Disobedience, resistance and subversion
  • Outrage, prejudice and intolerance
  • Injustice and lawlessness
  • Modernism and the culture wars
  • Activist modernisms
  • Decorative modernisms
  • Markets and modernism
  • Modernism and fundamentalism
  • Temporal and spatial disruption

Abstracts for individual papers should be no more than 250 words. Abstracts for other proposed formats should be no more than 500 words, and should include abstracts of proposed contributions and brief details of their organisers and contributors. We aim to showcase the work not only of individuals but of groups, societies, institutions and research projects, so strongly encourage proposals from, for example, author societies, research projects and departmental research centres. All proposals should be sent to by:

Deadline for individual paper proposals: 28 February 2019

Deadline for other format proposals: 28 February 2019

Decisions on proposals will be communicated within 4 weeks of the later deadline (28 February).

Attendance and Fees

The conference is open to anyone, in any discipline, working on modernism. 

There is a reduced registration rate for BAMS members.

Current annual membership rates, which include a subscription to Modernist Cultures, are £50 standard; £40 student and unwaged; online-only standard £35; online-only student and unwaged £30.

For more information about BAMS membership, see:

We will be offering some bursaries to enable postgraduate members of BAMS to attend the conference.

BAMS Member

  • BAMS Member Standard One-Day Registration £50
  • BAMS Member Standard Three-Day Registration £135
  • BAMS Member Concession One-Day Registration £40
  • BAMS Member Concession Three-Day Registration £95


  • Non-BAMS Standard One-Day Registration £60
  • Non-BAMS Standard Three-Day Registration £150
  • Non-BAMS Concession One-Day Registration £45
  • Non-BAMS Concession Three-Day Registration £105

Workshops for Postgraduate and Early Career Researchers, Thursday 20 June, AM

On the morning of Thursday 20 June, there will be two workshops for PG and EC researchers on routes to non-academic careers and teaching troublesome texts. 

The first workshop is a practical session that will allow PGRs to work together on the task of distilling the outputs and skills from their PhD into a smart, presentable, flexible CV. 

The second workshop will encourage participants to think about the teaching challenges posed by emotionally difficult modernist texts. PGRs will have the opportunity to work in groups on specific passages engaging with themes such as sexism, violence and mental illness. This will enable them to share strategies to design a productive teaching session, creating the right conditions for students to approach these texts.

Modernist Revue, Friday 21 June, 6.30-8pm

 Revue Programme

Join us in the glorious 19th century Chapel of King’s College London for an evening of music, dance and poetry. This ‘Modernist Revue’ will include a set from Amit Chaudhuri, the premiere of live artist Deborah Pearson’s rendition of Hope Mirrlees’s 1919 ‘Paris: A Poem’, music from Elena Langer's suffragette opera, Rhondda Rips it Up! performed by Stacey Wheeler and Kate Woolveridge, a response to the Ballets Russes performed by Isabella McGuire Mayes and music by Germaine Tailleferre and Claude Debussy performed by Lana Bode of the Virginia Woolf & Music project. The evening will be compèred by BBC Radio 4's own Zeb Soanes. 

The Revue will be followed by a drinks reception generously funded by the Department of English, King’s College London.

Organised by Clara Jones (KCL), Natasha Periyan (Kent) and Anna Snaith (KCL)