The British Modernities Group

The Virtual Home of the BMG @ UIUC

Past Topics

2014-15 > Bad Books

Our 2014-15 theme, “Bad Books,” explores critical work on the continuing impact of “low-brow,” pulp, and genre literature. In our monthly meetings we will discuss topics such as production practices, literary “borrowing,” and theories of aesthetic valuation in an attempt to reevaluate the significance of so-called “bad” books.

2013-14 > Satire & Parody

Our 2013-2014 theme, “Satire & Parody,” explores critical work on these distinct but related comedic modes. In addition to a couple of film screenings, we will meet monthly to discuss topics including pastiche, genre parody, satire/censorship, and parodic performance.

[Conference Schedule]

2012-13 > Digital Humanties

Our 2012-2013 theme, “Digital Humanities,” explores recent technology-driven changes in scholarly communication, computational approaches to texts and archives, and new media. Issues of copyright, data-driven research, national literary boundaries, and the global scholarly community will also be addressed.

[Working Bibliography]

[Useful Links]

2011-12 > British Brains

Our topic for 2011-12 is “British Brains,” and in the spirit of this theme, we focus on current scholarship in literary studies that integrates research from the cognitive sciences.  Scholars applying these approaches include Alan Richardson (Boston College), Anne Stiles (St. Louis University), and Nicholas Dames (Columbia University), among others. As we explore this emerging subfield, the BMG fosters a dialogue between English and the cognitive sciences, particularly with the new IPRH Contemporary Mind-Science reading group and the University of Illinois’s Beckman Institute. Topics of discussion include mind reading, memory, anxiety, and imagination. [Bibliography]

2010-11 > New ‘British’ Geographies

Our 2010-11 theme, “British Geographies,” examines the intersections between literary texts and social, political and economic geographies. We will read the works of David Harvey, Doreen Massey, Christopher GoGwilt, Frederic Jameson, Franco Moretti, Andrew Thacker, among others, and study such topics as relational geography, colonial and postcolonial spaces, oceanographic studies, maps, and extranational spaces. [Call for Papers] [Conference Schedule]

2009-10 > Politics, Ethics, and the New Formalisms

“Politics, Ethics, and the New Formalisms,” explores a recent critical trend in cultural and literary studies. We will begin by defining “form” and “formalism,” and the different uses of these terms across disciplinary boundaries.  We will also study the degree to which a “return” to formalism implies a corresponding political and/or ethical judgment. [Read More…] [Call for Papers] [Conference Schedule]

2008-09 > Religion, Secularism, and British Nationhood

In response to the changing articulations of religious subjectivity and religious communities in the so-called post-secular world, it is emphatically important to heed the double aspect of religion, as a “scrupulous observance” in Jean-Luc Nancy’s words, or reading over again, and as “establishing a bond”, or the means of social cohesion. Edward Said’s “secularism” as an epistemological category to critique nationalism, and Benedict Anderson’s comparison of national ceremonies and religious rituals emphasize ties between religion and nationhood. We will investigate how religious controversies circumscribe British national identity in textual cultural production. We will also focus on religion’s central role in colonial expansion and in establishing and questioning cultural difference. [Conference Schedule]

2007-08 > British Bodies

The body has become an innovative cornerstone of new trends in theory, literary scholarship, and historiography.  “British Bodies” will allow scholars to explore the problems and potential of foregrounding material bodies in British studies.  We’ll examine how notions of “being-in-the-world” operate across historical periods and political and aesthetic fields ranging from the 18th through 21st centuries.  We’ll also evaluate the politics of which “bodies” are and are not imagined as “British.”

2006-07 > Competing Modernities

From “alternative modernities” to “a singular modernity,” concepts of modernity have acquired crucial relevance in recent scholarship. With careful attention to temporal and geopolitical contingencies, we hope to encourage cross-disciplinary debate over the stakes of constructing modernities. Together, we’ll investigate how each era articulates its own relation to the concept of modernity and registers its own specific claim or resistance to being “modern.”

2005-06 > British Studies


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July 19, 2010 at 2:30 pm


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