For years I've been wanting to attend the annual meeting of the Modernism Studies Association, but had always been prevented by schedule conflicts. This year, the claendar free at last, I headed for Long Beach and the convening of the Modernists. One highlight, of which I have no photos, was the gala reception on the Queen Mary, docked there at Long Beach and shown in suitably abstract form in the above illustration.
The panel I spoke on was organized by Michael Bibby to address questions of the racial formation of modernist studies. My own paper, titled "White Mischief," examined efforts by white scholars to recuperate the racism of major modernist poets. Grant Jenkins spoke from his work in progress on ethics and and innovative African American poets, with a careful study of Nathaniel Mackey and the ethical formation of modernism. Michael Bibby's own talk, "An Aristocracy of Culture: The Disciplinarity of Modernist Whiteness," was a long overdue anatomy of the field. We were ably chaired by Tenley Gwen, who I was meeting for the first time.
On the final morning of the conference, I took my turn chairing, on a session that musician/scholar Rob Wallace put together, "Journeys through Modernist Geography in Jazz, Poetry and Architecture," featuring papers by Robert Bennett, Derek Katz, Evan Willner and Rob Wallace.
The keynotes were a great success this year: one by Marjorie Perloff featuring her work and friendships with Brazil's major concrete poets, and another by Thadious Davis, who spoke on technologies of representing the black body in modernism, a talk that included rare footage filmed by Zora Neale Hurston as part of her anthropology field work.