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CFP: Word and Image – The Second Modernist Network Cymru Conference (Aberystwyth, 12-13 Sep 17)

Few texts have combined word and image in a more striking or influential manner than Alfred Barr’s timeline of modern art. The chart first appeared on the front cover of the 1936 exhibition catalogue Cubism and Abstract Art at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; through Barr’s direction, MOMA helped to establish the narrative for artistic modernism in the 1930s. This picture has since become one of the most widely-reproduced images of modern art in the western world, one which continues to shape our understanding of modernist art history today.

For its second conference, organised in conjunction with Aberystwyth University’s David Jones Centre for Word and Image, the National Library of Wales and the Aberystwyth School of Art, Modernist Network Cymru (MONC) aims to interrogate the symbiotic relationship between the visual arts and the written word, as encapsulated in Barr’s iconic image. How did modernist artists respond to literary texts? How did writers incorporate visual elements in poetry and prose? How did author and artist collaborations arise? And how did modernist texts, from collages to magazines to scrapbooks, combine word and image in radical new ways?

In Wales, figures such as David Jones, Brenda Chamberlain and Margiad Evans worked across art and literature, whether in poetry and painting or short stories and illustration. Texts such as Chamberlain and Alun Lewis’s Caseg Broadsheets juxtaposed modern poetry with experimental woodcuts; more recently, the photographer Aled Rhys Hughes and the Welsh National Opera have both produced multimedia responses to Jones’s prose poem In Parenthesis.

Over the course of two days, we aim to explore the multitudinous connections between word and image in a range of modernist texts from Wales and beyond. We invite interdisciplinary responses to any aspect of word and image in modernism, but we particularly welcome scholars working on Welsh modernist writers and artists, as well as modernist art and writing in Wales. The full story of the visual arts in Wales is only just beginning to unfold; this conference provides an opportunity to discuss future directions for research into this developing field. What should a Welsh modernist art history be, and what relationship should it have to its sister arts, especially literature?

Although we are a Welsh Network, we have an international outlook. We are interested in Welsh art and literature’s international connections, as well as how place, language and history affected experiments in word and image elsewhere, especially in other ‘small nations’.

With these histories in mind, we invite proposals on topics including but not confined to:
Literary responses to art
Artistic responses to literature
Artist-writers (and vice versa)
Radical combinations of word and image
Cross-media projects, e.g. magazines, posters, graphic novels
Book design / illustration / illustrated books
Similarities and differences between visual and verbal forms of art
Visual, film or literary adaptations
Interdisciplinary collaborations
Images and titles / captions
Film and/or intertitles
Architectural interventions
Colour in literary and visual forms
Photography and photographers’ books / travel guides
Contemporary inter-/multi-disciplinary responses to modernism
Opportunities and challenges of a visual arts practice-based PhD.
The National Library of Wales and the School of Art welcome researchers who wish to explore their extensive archives, with the aim of presenting a conference paper based on their research.

Proposals for papers (20 minutes) should include a summary of the proposed paper (300 words), the speaker’s contact details, and a short bio (100 words). Papers can be delivered in English or Welsh with simultaneous translation; please indicate the language in which you wish to deliver your paper. If you wish to submit your abstract and biography to us in Welsh please also send a copy in English.

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