The Edith Wharton Society

CFP: Edith Wharton panels at SAMLA

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FROM TABLEUX VIVANT TO FLASH MOB: CULTURAL CONTINUUMS FROM EDITH WHARTON TO SPENCER TUNICK

 

The Edith Wharton Society invites proposals for a panel at the South Atlantic Modern Language Association Conference (SAMLA 89) to be held in Atlanta, Georgia, November 3-5, 2017.  The conference topic is High Art / Low Art: Borders and Boundaries in Popular Culture. 

Edith Wharton produced a range of cultural products, including canonical novels and short stories, fund-raising anthologies for wartime France, guides to interior design, and travel books. Current popular culture suggests a continuing interest in Wharton, her writings, and those decades that are the focus of her work. Julian Fellows, creator of Downton Abbey, admits that “It is quite true that Edith Wharton has been a tremendous influence on me. . . . I decided, largely because of her work, that it was time I wrote something.” On Wharton’s 150th birthday, Vogue magazine offered an 18-pages to celebrate, including photos by Annie Leibovitz. The Gossip Girl series draws on Whartonian inspiration.  What has driven the renewed attention being paid to the Edwardian and WWI eras in contemporary pop culture?

The Wharton society invites papers that explore a broad range of responses to how Wharton’s art contributes to a continuum of cultural inquiry and commentary that persists to this day in high / low cultural expressions. One might consider such topics as how modern flash mobs reflect or rewrite the tableau vivants of The House of Mirth. How do Wharton’s texts and practices reflect a generational difference (or not) in attitudes toward privacy in (social) media?  How might contemporary short forms or serializations (blog posts, film and music reviews, opinion pieces, etc.) draw on the form and content of her essays, cultural commentaries, letters, or short stories? Does Wharton’s art bear narrative, formal, or thematic similarities to other forms of popular culture, such as soap operas or online TV dramas? Wharton’s travel writing about excursions via automobile might be compared to modern travel blogs, television programming, or websites.  We hope to receive a range of submissions to create lively, even surprising, insights and conversation.

Please submit a 300-500 word abstract, one page CV, and AV requirements via email to Mary Carney, University of North Georgia, at mary.carney@ung.edu by May 12, 2017. 

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