April 20th 2015
Modernism’s Child was a one-day graduate student led, interdisciplinary conference supported by the Sussex Centre for Modernist Studies and held at the University of Sussex on 20 April 2015. Inspired by the philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s attempt to view childhood from different theoretical standpoints, Modernism’s Child focused on reading modernist children through multiple disciplines. The writers discussed include James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield, Elizabeth Bowen, and Henry Green amongst others. The topics of discussion were equally diverse and international; from the child of children’s Arthuriana to idealised conceptions of the Soviet child, the semi-colonial child to the young adolescents of “Le Grand Jeu”, all culminating in talks on children at play and children in space.
The conference was opened by Dr. Natalia Cecire’s (Sussex) keynote, entitled “Overthinking it in the Hundred Acre Wood”, the insight and intellectual breadth of which (From Pooh Bear to Ezra Pound via temporality and Learning to Read) was matched only by its charm. Professor Douglas Mao (Johns Hopkins University) closed the conference with a highly anticipated keynote on “Childhoods Ends”. Seamlessly weaving together the work of Margaret Mead, Aldous Huxley, and Arthur C. Clarke to provide a lively and provoking discussion of utopia and pedagogy which exemplified the event’s interdisciplinary and intertextual approach.
Prof. Douglas Mao (John Hopkins) “Childhood’s Ends”
Dr. Natalia Cecire (University of Sussex): “Overthinking It in the Hundred Acre Wood”
Dr. Ben Nicholls (King’s College London): Reproduction Line: Making Children in the Work of Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Elly McCausland (York): ‘The Ill-Made Knight’: Childhood Trauma and Daydreams of Chivalry in Modernist Arthuriana for Children
Dr. Dennis Duncan (Oxford): “Eat the Aged”: ‘Le Grand Jeu’ and the Infant as Revolutionary
Dr. Beryl Pong (Cambridge University): Semicolonial Filiation: Katherine Mansfield and the Short Fictions of Childhood
Dr. Veronica Barnsley (Sheffield University): ‘As sweet as can be’: Modifications of the Child and Mother in Anti-colonial Women’s Writing
Hannah Proctor (Birkbeck University): Children of the Revolution: The Soviet Child and the Modernism of Reality
Dr. Daniela Caselli (University of Manchester): Fluffy Bunny Modernism: The Child in Modernist Experimental Fiction (Woolf, Joyce and Beckett)
Katherine Kruger (University of Sussex): Games and Play in the Work of Elizabeth Bowen
Dr. Joe Kennedy (University of Sussex): ‘He spoke simply, and without innuendo, as one stating a fact’: Henry Green and John Wyndham’s Affectless Children
Event Director – Justine Shaw (Sussex graduate student).