Autonomy and the Avant-Garde

Autonomy and the Avant-garde

NB! Extended Deadline for CFP: January 5, 2016


Autonomy and the Avant-garde


The first of the conference’s thematic streams pertains to the potential power of art and literature to disrupt the perceptions of its audience as foregrounded in the critical discourse of the modernists and the historical avant-garde. This possibility continues to animate critical debates, particularly those organized around some understanding of autonomy. Ultimately, modernist abstractions became an integral part of modernist disruptive styles, a formal manifestation of aesthetic autonomy. The far reaching effects of modernism’s concern with aesthetic autonomy continue to contribute to our contemporary understanding of the cultural dynamics and aesthetic negotiations of the modern in terms of new evolving social, technological, and geopolitical temporalities. In aesthetic terms, modernism’s formalism could be seen as a negative response to modernity by way of reasserting the humanistic myth of artistic creation. To properly historicize modernism’s self-styled critical discourse on autonomy, it is therefore productive to ask whether or not modernism’s obsession with formal freedom constituted the period’s tangled and contradictory coding and mythologizing of the modern. By placing the concept of autonomy at the heart of the tensions between nostalgic images of the past and historical imagination, between contemporary technological pessimism and technophilia, between understanding of art’s disinterestedness and a new interest in materiality, this conference will provide a historical and cultural perspective on how the conceptualization of art as part of life practices, radically redefined and repurposed the notion of art’s autonomy to approach the question of autonomy in terms of the particularities of individual temporal experiences captured in aesthetic form.



The conference organizers invite contributions that address the issues included in the brief description above. You can choose either to earmark your abstract for this stream, or send it in for general consideration (see CFP).


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