L'Esprit Créateur Old and New, Avant-garde and "Arrière-garde", in French Modernist literature
Call for papers
In an attempt to nuance traditional literary historiography, both in its general emphasis on innovation and its particular account of the early twentieth century, French scholars (Marx 2004, Compagnon 2005) have recently introduced the notions of the “arrière-garde” and the “anti-modern”. At first sight, this concept refers to an anti-avant-garde, designating either a literary movement that is unable to keep in touch with the present or a movement that explicitly turns to the past. In practice, however, the sense of belatedness vis-à-vis revolutionary changes as well as the sense of nostalgia vis-à-vis outdated models is not incompatible with innovative, and in certain cases even revolutionary tendencies, for instance when arrière-gardes try to preserve the heritage of previous avant-gardes or when they reuse older forms in order to build experimental new programs. The awareness that innovative literary language cannot be invented from scratch but can only be transformed by reengaging with pre-existing forms of language has proven to be instrumental in redefining the traditional relationships between the avant-garde and the arrière-garde. Thus, the first half of the twentieth century does not show a confrontation between two clear and distinct groups of authors and texts (modernists and anti-moderns, avant-garde and arrière-garde) but a series of literary and linguistic practices in which the divergent tendencies of innovation and tradition intermingle and intersect in unexpected and productive ways. In this issue of L’Esprit créateur, we aim to show that these innovative and traditional tendencies (which may be explicitly invoked by authors and works themselves but can also be assigned to authors and works by critics) intermingle in canonical as well as non-canonical writings, registering their different attempts to grapple with the contemporary social and literary crisis.
Please send completed papers in English or in French to both guest editors before January 15, 2013 to the addresses above. Maximal length: 6000 words. Preliminary enquiries are encouraged as only a few additional contributions can be selected.
Guest editors: Jan Baetens (KU Leven), Jan.Baetens@arts.kuleuven.be
& Éric Trudel (Bard College), firstname.lastname@example.org