Speaker Bios and Abstracts
Annette Becker (Paris 10-Nanterre), "Chagall’s ‘Homage to Apollinaire’ and European Avant-Garde: 1913 Between Peace and War"
The "Homage to Apollinaire" painted by the Russian artist Marc Chagall in 1912-1913 synthesized clearly the links, real, virtual and occult, tying together the European avant-garde, as what Apollinaire termed in March 1913 the "extreme schools." This painting is one of the most imposing of those voluntarily addressing artistic innovations of these years, by its wish to theorize, by its call to the spiritual, to the mystical and to the primitive. Herewith Apollinaire: "Above all, artists are those human beings who want to become inhuman. […] The new artists seek an ideal beauty which is no longer the vain figuration of space, but rather the figuration of the universe, to the extent it is rendered human in light." The Russian painter aimed at illustrating Apollinaire’s Méditations, reprinted in part in an article in Der Strum at this time: innovation and the universal were in the air, discussed, disputed. The avant-garde practiced internationalism: each artist residing in his own country, as well as in other countries. But we should avoid exaggerating the intellectual and artistic harmony of the avant-garde in the year 1913. If the arguments among them are primarily artistic, intellectual, and religious, national tonalities never fade away fully. Here we deal with the chiasmus between the impulse to create and promote universal and human art, and the persistence and progressive resurgence of national sentiments and identities.
Annette Becker is Professor of Contemporary History at Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense and a senior member of the Institut Universitaire de France. She has written extensively on the two World Wars, with an emphasis on military occupations and the two genocides, against the Armenians and the Holocaust. She has devoted research to religion, humanitarian politics, trauma and memories, particularly among intellectuals and artists. Last books: Guillaume Apollinaire. Une biographie de guerre, 1914-1918-2009 (Tallandier, 2009) and Les Cicatrices rouges, 14-18, France et Belgique occupées (Fayard, 2010). She is a co-editor of the Cambridge History of the Great War (2014, General Editor Jay Winter), where she has contributed the chapters "Arts" and "Imprisoned Populations" and is the editor of the French edition (Fayard, 2014).
Christopher Bush (Northwestern University), "A Modernism that Has Not Yet Been: Untimely Segalen"
First published in Beijing, the opening prose poem of Victor Segalen’s 1912/1914 "Chinese" collection Stèles announces its refusal to be of a particular historical moment: "Let this, therefore, be marked with no reign […] with no date and no end." The poem’s speaker vows to be "attentive to what has not been said; obedient to what has not been promulgated; bowed down before what has not yet been." And indeed, this once forgotten work, whose double publication straddles our annus mirabilis, has proven difficult to situate historically. Although contemporary with Apollinaire’s "lyrical ideograms" or Pound’s "invention" of Chinese, Segalen’s singular work fits poorly with histories of modernism oriented by Western capitals, familiar masterpieces, urban shocks, or avant-garde networks. This talk will take the untimely and displaced character of Segalen’s work as a point of departure for thinking French modernism in global terms. In addition to situating French modernism in a global context, it will argue, we also need to reconstruct the originally global character of "French modernism" that has not yet been.
Christopher Bush is Associate Professor of French and Comparative Literary Studies at Northwestern University. His publications include Ideographic Modernism: China, Writing, Media (Oxford, 2010) and a critical edition of Victor Segalen’s Stèles (Wesleyan 2007). He is currently completing The Floating World: Japoniste Aesthetics and Global Modernity for Columbia University Press. During the 2012-13 academic year, he is on leave pursuing training in the field of modern Japanese literary studies, with support from a Mellon New Directions Fellowship.
Jonathan P. Eburne (Pennsylvania State University), "Fantômas and the Shudder of History"
The Fantômas serials are exemplary rather than exceptional. This presentation seeks to extricate Fantômas from its reception as an artifact, as the retrospectively constituted object of fascination for the interwar avant-garde; it proposes instead to situate the serial among contemporary thinking about the problem of recording and assessing historical experience. Viewed in this light, Fantômas becomes less an object for Benjaminian or surrealist analysis alone than a project contemporary with other ongoing efforts to comprehend the special resonance of historical truth, from the work of Nietzsche, Freud, and Bergson, to the work of that other great serial writer of the Belle Époque, Marcel Proust. While still heeding the surrealist recognition of Alain’s and Souvestre’s kinship with automatic writing, the paper contends that the corporate, nearly mechanical authorship of the serials finds its complement in an alternative historiographic function through which the novels and films give involuntary expression to the radical otherness of historical experience: the shudder of history.
Jonathan P. Eburne teaches at the Pennsylvania State University, where he is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and English and Director of Graduate Studies in Comparative Literature. He is the author of Surrealism and the Art of Crime (Cornell, 2008), and co-editor of the forthcoming volumes Paris, Capital of the Black Atlantic (Johns Hopkins, 2012) and Oddball Archives (Indiana, 2013). He is currently working on a book entitled Outsider Theory.
David R. Ellison (University of Miami), "On Situating French Modernism: The Strange Location(s) of Le Grand Meaulnes"
In a colloquium on the topic "1913: The Year of French Modernism," Alain-Fournier’s Le Grand Meaulnes might seem to occupy an eccentric ("ex-centric") or strange position. Widely read and appreciated in its time, it has been relegated to the status of a "roman d’adolescence" and has been condemned by a number of writers and critics for its adherence to a late-Romantic aesthetic and for its lack of formal inventiveness, suffering considerably when compared to Proust’s Du côté de chez Swann, which also appeared in 1913, but which is generally regarded as a masterpiece of European Modernism.
The first question which arises, and which this paper proposes to address is: in what way or ways does Alain-Fournier’s novel not cross the threshold from Romanticism to Modernism which Proust’s novel seems to manage so successfully? Put succinctly: on the one hand, Le Grand Meaulnes remains firmly attached to a Romantic aesthetic and poetic imagery (das Bild) covers up and stifles moral progress (die Bildung). On the other hand, however, this paper shall suggest that Le Grand Meaulnes is also a sosie or Doppelgänger of the Recherche, which it resembles in quite strange and aesthetically unsettling ways. One of these resemblances involves the purported "Frenchness" (francité) of both works, which in fact coexists, somewhat uncomfortably, with references to locations and cultures outside of France. In the case of Le Grand Meaulnes, these references take the reader back in time, to the very origins of what we call Romanticism.
Analyses of passages from Le Grand Meaulnes, both in their relation to uncannily similar passages in the Recherche, and to the texts which form its own intertextual substratum, will have as their goal to suggest that the "break" between Romanticism and Modernism might not be quite as categorical and definitive as it seems, and that an attempt to define a specifically "French" Modernism needs to go hand-in-hand with the situating of French Modernism within a broader European context.
David R. Ellison is Distinguished Professor in the Humanities at the University of Miami. His publications include: The Reading of Proust (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1984), Understanding Albert Camus (The University of South Carolina Press, 1990), Of Words and the World: Referential Anxiety in Contemporary French Fiction (Princeton University Press, 1993), Ethics and Aesthetics in European Modernist Literature: From the Sublime to the Uncanny (Cambridge University Press, hardcover 2001, paperback 2006), A Reader’s Guide to Proust’s ‘In Search of Lost Time’ (Cambridge University Press, 2010), and Proust et la tradition littéraire européenne (to appear with Classiques Garnier in Spring 2013). He has written articles and essays on French prose and poetry of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, on narrative theory, on literature and philosophy, and on Franco-German literary relations.
Lisa Florman (Ohio State University), "Behind Picasso’s Pins"
In a number of Picasso’s papiers collés from 1913, we find, in addition to the pasted papers that are the main component of the work, a rather unexpected element: a lone straight pin, which passes underneath the collage’s surface only to re-emerge a short distance away. The aim of this talk is to understand what lies behind those pins’ appearance in Picasso’s work. As industrially produced "found" objects, the pins might plausibly be regarded as predecessors to Duchamp’s readymades, effectively signaling the end of painting, at least as it had previously been practiced. Alternatively, we might see the pins as pointedly addressed to the issue of the decorative, which had taken on rather different connotations ever since Matisse and other modern artists had begun producing high-end wallpaper and fabric designs in the years immediately prior. Given the pin’s literal, "sculptural" three-dimensionality and its insertion into a work that was already markedly heterogeneous, Picasso’s papiers épinglés might also be productively considered against the background of an emerging discourse championing abstraction in the name of "pure painting." Through an exploration of each of these possibilities in turn (and in the context of specific works), this talk will attempt not only to grasp Picasso’s particular attachment to the pin, but also to mark out some of the important differences or ruptures around which, in 1913, the field of modern French art was beginning to take shape.
Lisa Florman is Associate Professor in the History of Art Department at Ohio State University. Her primary interests are in modernism, the history of art history and, especially, the intersection of the two. Her first book, Myth and Metamorphosis (MIT Press, 2000), examined Picasso’s classicizing prints of the 1930s in the context of both surrealism and contemporaneous understandings of classical antiquity (especially as handed down from Lessing and Hegel). Her second book, Concerning the Spiritual—and the Concrete—in Kandinsky’s Art, forthcoming from Stanford University Press, explores the philosophical justifications underlying painting’s turn toward non-representation in the early twentieth century. Other significant publications have addressed Clement Greenberg’s 1959 essay, "Collage," and "The Philosophical Brothel," Leo Steinberg’s seminal work on Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.
Hannah Freed-Thall (Princeton University, Society of Fellows), "Inestimable Objects: Proust, Modernism, Aesthetics"
This paper examines Proust's In Search of Lost Time (1913-1927) as a case study in modernist value-production. I argue that Proust invites us to conceptualize aesthetic value in two ways: as a source of pleasure and as an object of critique. In other words, Proust’s take on aesthetics is both philosophical (Kantian) and sociological (Bourdieusian). On the one hand, in Kant’s Third Critique, beauty is both utterly singular and nothing special. It is commonplace—a this-ness available to all—and yet radically open, or "disinterested"—a perception without pregiven concepts, laws, or norms. On the other hand, Bourdieu's sociology of culture draws heavily on Proust in order to offer another way of thinking about aesthetic pleasure: Bourdieu attacks Kant's theory of beauty by exposing the "interest" (or desire for cultural capital) that aesthetic "disinterest" occludes. Modernism is the exploration of this paradox, this paper will argue, and the Recherche its most spectacular staging-ground. Rather than taking sides in the battle, Proust exploits the tension between aesthetic idealization and its demystifying critique. With Kant, he attends to perceptions that are both commonplace and singular; with Bourdieu, he exposes the social norms that shape seemingly norm-less perceptions. Ultimately, however, he pushes beyond the limitations of both philosophy and sociology. Valorizing the unsophisticated, everyday side of aesthetic experience, Proust highlights scenes of infelicitous judgment—occasions when characters fail to sort or classify objects so as to demonstrate their superior refinement. The Recherche explores the inestimable worth of objects that appear at once invaluable and valueless, "rarissime" and "vulgaire." The paper thus locates the modernism of Proust’s novel neither in its psychological interiority nor in its heroic telos of "time regained," but in the centrality it affords to unruly, disorienting signs of distinction. In Search of Lost Time is not, as Deleuze famously contended, a book about the "true signs of art," but a book about the volatility of aesthetic value in modernity.
Hannah Freed-Thall (Ph.D. UC-Berkeley) is a Cotsen Postdoctoral Fellow in the Princeton Society of Fellows. Her current book project, Spoiled Distinctions: The Afterlife of Beauty in 20th-Century France, examines the problem of aesthetic judgment in French modernism. Freed-Thall’s articles on Proust have appeared in New Literary History and Modern Language Notes.
Laurent Jenny (University of Geneva), "Apollinaire’s Farewell to Oral Lyricism"
Apollinaire’s decision in 1913 to suppress all punctuation marks in his Alcools poems is not only an acknowledgment of the logic of free verse, it also announces a radical shift in concept of lyricism. Whereas, even for Apollinaire, lyricism had always previously referred to song and voice, it now found a model and an inspiration in the visual arts. Just one year later, Apollinaire declared this explicitly, with his project for a first collection of calligrammes, entitled "Et moi aussi je suis peintre". This discovery results not only from a meditation on cubist painting, but also from an understanding of free verse’s fundamental visual essence. And it explains the retrospective definition of the Calligrammes as "an idealization of poetry of free verse." Nevertheless, these new ideas come into conflict both with previous representations of poetry as a continuation of Orpheus singing and with the ephemeral ambition, inspired by futurism, to create a new language and even new sounds. Through this contradiction, the Calligrammes can be read as a nostalgic farewell to oral lyricism and the conversion to a verbal-visual form of lyricism. And this ambivalence often tears apart the poems. Apollinaire’s Calligrammes did not found a new tradition nor did they ever constitute a true poetic genre, but they did contribute to a decisive reorientation of French poetry into a form of mute lyricism which was to become one of its most lasting trends.
Laurent Jenny is professor at University of Geneva, in the department of Langue et littérature française modernes. Among other publications, he is the author of La Parole singulière (Belin, 1990), La Fin de l’intériorité (PUF, 2002), La Vie esthétique, stases et flux (Verdier, 2013).
Guillaume Le Gall (Université Paris 4–La Sorbonne), "‘Les fortifications de Paris’ (1913) by Eugène Atget: A Landmark in the Photographic Modernity"
In 1913, Eugène Atget photographed "Les fortifications de Paris." Collected in an album, these 60 photographs show a location and an architecture condemned by an imminent demolition. The images make visible the tension of a desert place combining military organization (defense architecture) and disorder (due to abandonment). In this sense, the album should be compared to the album "Zoniers" which focuses on Parisian housing rejected at the city limits and located between the fortifications and the suburbs. These albums should be seen in opposition and in complementarity. One of them shows an empty place, while the other is full of activities taking place at the margins of the economy of a big city like Paris.
Far from picturesque or globalizing representations, these two albums inaugurate a new photographic approach of the city. They show how Atget invented new photographic motifs and new objects for history. Considering these new places, new faces, new objects, this paper will argue that Atget created a huge historical shift in photographic representation and that he has been a model for many photographers.
We will see that the album "Les fortifications de Paris" itself is one of the great landmarks of modernity. First, large voids and close-ups face the viewer with unprecedented photographic constructions. Second, Atget does not photograph randomly. He defines a specific project that guides all his work: collecting visual traces of the old Paris. Atget’s modernity lies in the creation of a large project built through a specific and systematic method.
Guillaume Le Gall is Assistant Professor in history of contemporary art at the University of Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV) and former resident of the Villa Medici in Rome (2002-2004). He submitted a PhD on Eugène Atget in 2002 and has published books and articles on photography in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He was curator of several exhibitions. On contemporary photography: Fabbrica dell'immagine, Villa Medici (Rome) in 2004 and Learning Photography, FRAC Haute-Normandie in 2012. On Eugène Atget: Eugène Atget, a retrospective, Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris) in 2007; Martin-Gropius Bau (Berlin) in 2007-2008; Fotomuseum Winterthur (Winterthur) in 2008. On surrealist photography: The Subversion of images, Centre Pompidou (Paris) 2009; Fotomuseum Winterthur (Winterthur), 2010; Institute de Cultura / Fundacion Mapfre (Madrid), 2010. He has just finished a manuscript on the diorama of Daguerre.
William Marx (Université Paris 10–Nanterre), "1913, Year of the Arrière-Garde?"
There is much more to 1913 than The Rite of Spring and Swann’s Way or Apollinaire’s Alcools, those impressive landmarks of European modernism. The history of art and literature is not just about going forward: what about those who not only are left behind, but even want to go backwards? Let us not forget that 1913 is also the year when the critic Henri Clouard published his landmark synthesis of the Classical Renaissance (Renaissance classique), a neoclassical movement that started around 1907: Les Disciplines: nécessité littéraire et sociale d'une renaissance classique (Disciplines: The Literary and Social Necessity of a Classical Renaissance). This will give us an opportunity to reflect in a general way upon the complex relationship, more ambiguous and consanguineous than one usually believes, of avant-gardes and arrière-gardes (rearguards) in the French literature of the beginning of the twentieth century.
William Marx is Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense. He has published many books on criticism and the history of the idea of literature, most of them translated in several languages: Naissance de la critique moderne (Artois Presses Université, 2002), Les Arrière-gardes au XXe siècle (ed., PUF, 2nd ed. 2008), L’Adieu à la littérature (Minuit, 2005), Vie du lettré (Minuit, 2009) and Le Tombeau d’Œdipe: pour une tragédie sans tragique (Minuit, 2012). He also edits Paul Valéry’s Cahiers 1894-1914 (Gallimard), and was awarded in 2010 the Montyon Prize for literature and philosophy by the French Academy.
Simon Morrison (Princeton University), "The Chosen One: The Politics of The Rite of Spring, Then and Now"
At 1:30 a.m. on January 17, the artistic director of the Bolshoi Theater Ballet in Moscow, Sergei Filin, was attacked outside his apartment building. An unknown assailant threw a vial of sulfuric acid into his face, severely damaging his vision. Filin is now being treated in Germany, and has put out a series of statements to the press -- in Russia and the West -- claiming that he knows who is behind the attack; he refuses to name names, however, until after the formal police investigation. Shady financial dealings, factionalism within the Bolshoi corps (even among the lead dancers), and lingering resentment over Finin’s appointment as director have all been cited as motives for the attack. While rumors swirl and accusations fly, the prima ballerina of the Bolshoi and Finin’s long-time partner, Svetlana Lunkina, has taken a leave of absence, citing death threats to her and her husband, a prominent Russian businessman.
Lunkina, named “Ballerina of the Decade” in 2010, was set to perform the role of the Chosen One in a centennial production of Igor Stravinsky’s ballet The Rite of Spring - part of an effort to return Stravinsky and his 1913 masterpiece to Russia from Paris, France. That production, which had riveted the attention of the Russian ballet community around the world, has been postponed by the Bolshoi in light of the attack on Finin.
The politics of the Bolshoi Theater have always been fraught, but the climate of fear within the theater has never been worse. The present attack stands out not only for its seemingly irrational violence, but also for its brazenness. In Putin’s Russia, the perpetrators of such crimes are almost never caught or prosecuted. This paper places the attack on Sergei Finin within the broader context of Russian cultural politics, exploring the bizarre part that The Rite of Spring had in it. In the words of Katerina Novikova, the Bolshoi’s press agent, “I never thought that a war over roles would reach this level of violence.”
Simon Morrison is Professor of Music at Princeton University, with specialization in Russian and French modernism. In 2008 he restored the original version of the ballet Romeo and Juliet for the Mark Morris Dance Group. A 2011-12 Guggenheim recipient, he is the author of Russian Opera and the Symbolist Movement and The People’s Artist as well as the co-editor of a forthcoming collection of essays on Arthur Lourié. He has written for the New York Times, New York Review of Books, and the London Review of Books. His 2013 biography of Lina Prokofiev (Harcourt Mifflin Harcourt/Random House) is being serialized in Vanity Fair.
Carrie Noland (University of California–Irvine), "Marcel Duchamp, Merce Cunningham, and the Temporality of the Avant-Garde"
The linear model of cultural history—Postmodernism follows Modernism, which follows Realism, which follows Romanticism, etc., etc.—has infected models of avant-garde inheritance as well. The dominant histories of avant-garde cultural production in the West, those of Theodor Adorno, Renato Poggioli, and Peter Bürger, presuppose an agonistic rhythm in which one avant-garde movement arises to negate, critique, and supercede the former one. In "What’s Neo About the Neo-Avant-Garde?" Hal Foster introduces an important twist on this narrative of contest and substitution, offering instead a paradigm based on Nachtraglichkeit, the interpenetration—rather than succession—of one historical moment by another.
This notion of Nachtraglichkeit has come to inform a number of recent works in performance studies, from Joseph Roach’s writings on the "live" as a form of re-living and Fred Moten’s work on "inter(in)animation" to Rebecca Schneider’s 2012 Performance Remains. Together, these scholars are building an alternative to the model inherited from Bürger that, this paper will claim, goes a long way toward illuminating the curiously predominant role played by Marcel Duchamp in forming the art world of mid-century North America. Duchamp’s ground-breaking interventions in 1913—most notably, his 3 Stoppages étalon, but also his American premiere at the Armory Show in New York—require a different model of avant-garde temporality, one that does not pose him as an avant-garde precursor to be deposed.
This paper focuses primarily on Duchamp’s influence on Merce Cunningham—and on the possibilities provided by the performance studies model of avant-garde legacy—however, the cases of John Cage, Jasper Johns, and Robert Rauschenberg also indicate the salience of a recursive, non-combative model of repetitive resurgence. It will attempt, then, to flesh out a model based on a recursive temporality of avant-garde practice, the recurrence of the other as the production of the self. This model relies not on the traditional dialectical models associated with modernist historiography but rather on Deleuze’s non-synthetic model of inheritance as adumbrated in Repetition and Difference. The Merce Cunningham Dance Company Legacy Tour (especially its final Event) will be discussed in relation to Duchamp and his self-archiving works.
Carrie Noland is Professor of French and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine. She is the author of three books, Poetry at Stake: Lyric Aesthetics and the Challenge of Technology (Princeton, 1999); Agency and Embodiment (Harvard, 2009); and Aesthetic Subjectivity: Voices of Negritude in Modernist Print (Columbia, forthcoming). Along with co-editing two collections of essays, Migrations of Gesture (with Sally Ann Ness) and Diasporic Avant-Gardes (with Barrett Watten), she has published numerous essays on avant-garde literature and art. She is currently working on a book project entitled After the Arbitrary that studies chance operations in the choreographic practice of Merce Cunningham and the artists who influenced him (Mallarmé, Duchamp, Cage, Joyce, and Jackson Mac Low).
Marjorie Perloff (University of Southern California), "The Contradictions of ‘Simultaneity’: The Delaunay/Cendrars Collaboration on La Prose du Transsibérien"
Sonia Delaunay and Blaise Cendrars’s La Prose du Transsibérien et de la petite Jehanne de France (1913)—the pochoir is prominently featured in the current MOMA exhibition Inventing Abstraction 1910-25—is regularly praised as the first livre simultané, a remarkable fusion of the verbal and the visual that set the standards for the avant-garde artist’s book. But however charming and ingenious the color composition and typographic layout of La Prose, the fact is that Delaunay’s painting has little in common with what is in fact a very dark poem. The youthful energy of La Prose, its Utopian celebration of speed and freedom, of voyage into the unknown, is finally short-circuited, as its hallucinatory war imagery, referring literally to the Russo-Japanese War of 1905 but prefiguring, in uncanny ways, the European war about to come, culminates in the image, not of Delaunay’s pretty little red tower, placed inside an orange wheel against a green backdrop, but with Paris as the "carrefour des inquiétudes," "Ville de la Tour unique du Grand Gibet et de la Roue."
Given what is thus almost an opposition in tone and mood, why has Delaunay’s visual representation been held to be so appropriate for Cendrars’ poetic narrative? And what does this tell us about the ethos of 1913? These questions form the subject of this paper.
Marjorie Perloff is both Sadie D. Patek Professor Emerita of Humanities at Stanford University and Florence Scott Professor Emerita at the University of Southern California. She teaches courses and writes on twentieth—and now twenty-first—century poetry and poetics, both Anglo-American and from a Comparatist perspective, as well as on intermedia and the visual arts. Her first three books dealt with individual poets—Yeats, Robert Lowell, and Frank O’Hara; she then published The Poetics of Indeterminacy: Rimbaud to Cage (1981), a book that has gone through a number of editions, and led to her extensive exploration of avant-garde art movements in The Futurist Moment: Avant-Garde, Avant-Guerre, and the Language of Rupture (1986, new edition, 1994), and subsequent books (13 in all), the most recent of which is Differentials: Poetry, Poetics, Pedagogy (2005). Radical Artifice: Writing Poetry in the Age of Media (1992) has been
used in classrooms studying the "new" digital poetics, and 21st Century Modernism (Blackwell 2002) is a manifesto of Modernist Survival. Wittgenstein’s Ladder brought philosophy into the mix.. Perloff has published a cultural memoir, The Vienna Paradox (2004), which has been widely discussed. The Sound of Poetry / The Poetry of Sound, co-edited with Craig Dworkin was published by Chicago in 2009, and UNORIGINAL GENIUS: Poetry by Other Means in the Twenty-First Century was published by U of Chicago Press, 2010 and in paperback in 2011. She is currently under contract with the U of Chicago Press for a book on Austrian Modernism between the two World Wars.
Marjorie Perloff has been a frequent reviewer for periodicals from TLS and The Washington Post to all the major scholarly journals. In 2009, she was the Weidenfeld Professor of European Literature at Oxford University. Perloff is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society and recently was named Honorary Foreign Professor at the Beijing Modern Languages University.
Virginie Pouzet-Duzer (Pomona College), "1913: Point(s) Mallarmé!"
If Mallarmé often purposely avoids points in his poems, the ironic "point" of our title constitutes at the same time the re-situation of the poet, and a possibility of his negation. Born in 1842, Mallarmé was commemorated in 1912 (see, for example, Thibaudet’s book dedicated to him that year). And 1914 would see the first re-edition of 1897’s Un coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hasard. Set between a year that focused mostly on biography—to the extent that a plaque was added on Rue de Rome—and the renewed publication of an innovative visual poem that reenacted Mallarmé’s "disparition élocutoire," 1913 was above all poetical, with the publication of the Poesies by the NRF.
Since his poetry was again at the forefront of the Parisian literary scene, as in Gourmont’s 1913 Promenades littéraires, claiming Mallarmé represented a way for many writers who evolved around the NRF to make their marks. In September of 1913, Dujardin briefly recreated the famous "Mardis de Mallarmé," while that same autumn, Ghéon organized some "Matinées poétiques" at the Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier. And it was in such a setting that Gide gave a conference entitled "Verlaine et Mallarmé" on November 22.
Yet 1913 is also a year when both Ravel and Debussy attempted musical adaptations of some of Mallarmé’s poems, a year when Nijinsky’s 1912 Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune was danced at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées. That is to say that Mallarmé’s presence was at the same time poetical, musical and visual. But was the poet really then on the threshold of modernism? It is by going back to the literary and musical discourses of the year 1913 that we will trace the genealogy of Mallarmé’s peculiar avant-gardism.
Virginie Pouzet-Duzer is Assistant Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures at Pomona College. Her research mainly deals with the relation between texts and images in the avant-gardes. She has published articles about Stéphane Mallarmé, Benjamin Péret, Unica Zürn and the 1947 surrealist exhibitions. Her first book, L’Impressionnisme littéraire, will be published in March 2013 by the Presses Universitaires de Vincennes.
Gerald Prince (University of Pennsylvania), "Les Caves du Vatican and the Real Novel"
André Gide does not publish much in the annus mirabilis 1913. But he does finish Les Caves du Vatican, which he starts to think about at the end of the nineteenth century and to discuss seriously as early as 1903, which he begins to work on in earnest in 1911, and which appears in 1914. Gide wants to write a novel, a roman, a work that would turn its back not only on realism and symbolism but on also on narratives—récits—like L’Immoraliste or La Porte étroite. He wants to write a real novel, of which, according to him, there are only a few in the French tradition, a text that would emulate Dostoevsky and Stevenson, would exploit romanesque (novelistic) elements, and would constitute something novel. He ends up publishing a sotie, a work whose genre he has illustrated years earlier with Paludes (1895) and Le Prométhée mal enchaîné (1899). The relative "failure" that Les Caves du Vatican thus represents for him can be explained through the study of (the limits of) that text’s modernity and through the assessment of the distance separating it from his "only novel," Les Faux-Monnayeurs.
Gerald Prince is Professor of Romance Languages, Associate Faculty at the Annenberg School of Communication, and a member of the graduate groups in Linguistics and in Comparative Literature at the University of Pennsylvania. The author of several books (including Métaphysique et technique dans l’œuvre romanesque de Sartre; A Grammar of Stories; Narratology: The Form and Functioning of Narrative; A Dictionary of Narratology; Narrative as Theme; Guide du roman de langue française: 1901-1950) and many articles and reviews in the fields of (narrative) theory and of modern (French) literature, Prince is working on the second volume of his guide to the twentieth-century novel in French (1951-2000).
Mary Shaw (Rutgers University), "Poetry Displaced: Nijinsky, Delaunay, Duchamp"
Certainly, 1913 marks spectacular beginnings for twentieth-century French poetry and fiction with the publication of Apollinaire’s Alcools and the first volume of Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu. But near this time we also see emerging in Paris, in works not primarily literary, a fundamentally new aesthetic that defies all genre and art boundaries—groundbreaking innovations within other art forms, which come to embody for many the era’s "Esprit Nouveau." This paper will, however, propose that many of these innovations effectively enacted a displacement of what had already happened within French poetry, particularly in the late nineteenth-century experimentations of Stéphane Mallarmé. It is paradoxical that notions first elaborated within the allegedly "closed," "purist" framework of Mallarmé’s arcane writings are crucial to defining the radically open, revolutionary nature of multimedia artworks around 1913. Simultaneity, supplementarity, identity-in-difference, chance determinism, the disappearance of the author within the collectivity: though my talk will draw the articulation of these principles from Mallarmé’s theoretical prose and point to their realization in Un coup de dés , the Notes en vue du "Livre," and elsewhere, it will focus less on analyzing these texts than on demonstrating how central their salient features are to the conception, structure and style of three landmark visual and performed works: Nijinsky’s ballet L’après-midi d’un faune (1912), Delaunay/Cendrars’ Prose du Transsibérien (1913), and Duchamp’s "Large Glass," La mariée mise à nu par ses célibataires, même (also first designed in 1913).
Mary Shaw is a professor of French at Rutgers University. She is the author and editor of several books, among them The Cambridge Introduction to French Poetry (2003) and Performance in the Texts of Mallarmé: The Passage from Art to Ritual (1993), as well as Visible Writings: Cultures, Forms, Readings (2011, co-edited with Marija Dalbello) and The Spirit of Montmartre: Cabarets, Humor, and the Avant-Garde 1875-1905 (1996, co-edited with Phillip Dennis Cate).
Christophe Wall-Romana (University of Minnesota), "The New Medium of Film in French Thought, 1900-1914"
Critical, artistic and philosophical reflections about cinema before WWI remain very much marginal to modernist studies. By and large, Henri Bergson’s 1907 dismissal of cinema as falsified duration, with its prismatic reinterpretation by Deleuze, stands as a stark isolate, and as such distorts the more polymorphous reception of moving images by thinkers and artists. Though Apollinaire, Jacob and Raynal founded the Société des Amis de Fantômas in 1913, the emergence of cinematic thought in modernist aesthetics is generally set at and around the armistice with Apollinaire’s 1917 talk "L’Esprit nouveau et les poètes."
This paper probes the prior continent of philosophical and aesthetic thinking about cinema that emerged over the years 1900 to 1914. Film historians have identified a few authors and texts addressing cinema outside of the purview of the budding industry (De Gourmont 1907, Romains 1911). However, on the one hand, major texts are left unanalyzed, such as Blaise Cendrars’s "New York in Flashlight," or Gaston de Pawlowski’s Voyage au pays de la quatrième dimension, both from 1912. On the other hand, what may be most crucial to gauge and recover are the rippling effects of the new medium upon philosophical and aesthetic debates during the period. The paper identifies several such debates, about Bovarysme (Jules de Gaultier) and especially mobilisme (Chide and Ortega y Gasset vs. Boutroux and Benda) in which central intersecting issues concerned with point of view, panoramic vision, spectatorship, image-production, imagination, obscenity and/or movement suggest a strong inherence of the film medium within the new philosophemes of late Third Republic French thought.
Christophe Wall-Romana is associate professor of French and director of graduate studies in the department of French and Italian at the University of Minnesota. His research interests span early cinema, intermedial questions of film and literature, and contemporary poetry, literature and theory. His has published two very recent books, Cinepoetry: Imaginary Cinemas in French Poetry (Fordham UP, 2013), and Jean Epstein (Manchester UP, 2013). He is working on a new book from which this paper is a part, provisionally titled Disastronomy: Literature and Philosophy under the Penumbra of Affect and the Eclipse of Cinema.
Roundtable Participant Bios
Hal Foster is Townsend Martin Class of 1917 Professor of Art and Archaeology, a faculty member of the School of Architecture, and an associate member of the Department of German; he also works with the Ph.D. Program in the Humanities, Media and Modernity, and European Cultural Studies. His most recent books are The Art-Architecture Complex (Verso, 2011) and The First Pop Age: Painting and Subjectivity in the Art of Hamilton, Lichtenstein, Warhol, Richter, and Ruscha (Princeton University Press, 2012). He is presently at work on a theory of modernism as a way (in the words of Walter Benjamin) "to outlive culture, if need be." A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Foster writes regularly for October (which he co-edits), Artforum, and The London Review of Books.
Susan Stanford Friedman is the Virginia Woolf Professor of English and Women’s Studies and Director of the Institute for Research in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was awarded the Wayne C. Booth Lifetime Award in Narrative Studies in 2010, and she is the founding co-editor of the journal Contemporary Women’s Writing. She has published extensively on modernist studies, narrative studies, feminist theory and criticism, diaspora studies, and postcolonial and world literature. She is the author of Psyche Reborn: The Emergence of H.D (1981); Penelope’s Web: Gender, Modernity, H.D.’s Fiction (1990); and Mappings: Feminism and the Cultural Geographies of Encounter (1998). Edited volumes include Signets—Reading H.D. (1990); Joyce: The Return of the Repressed (1991); Analyzing Freud: Letters of H.D., Bryher, and their Circle (2001); and Comparison: Theories, Approaches, Uses (2013). Her work has been translated into Chinese, Japanese, German, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, Hungarian, and Serbian. She is currently completing Provocations: Modernist Studies for the Twenty-first Century and is at work on Sisters of Scheherazade: Muslim Feminisms and Women’s Diasporic Writing.
Jean-Michel Rabaté is the Vartan Gregorian Professor in the Humanities at the University of Pennsylvania, curator of Slought Foundation, co-editor of the Journal of Modern Literature, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has authored or edited thirty books on modernism, psychoanalysis, philosophy and writers like Beckett, Pound and Joyce. He is currently editing a collection of essays on modernism and literary theory.