Announcing Keynote Speaker Christopher Reed

We are pleased to announce that our conference will feature a keynote talk by Christopher Reed, Professor of English and Visual Culture at Penn State University. Professor Reed’s talk, “Bachelor Japanists,” will discuss the uses of Japanese aesthetics in the construction of Western masculinities, including the work of the American painter Mark Tobey.

Here is Professor Reed’s biography from Penn State University’s Department of English:


Christopher Reed holds a PhD in the History of Art. In the English Department, his courses focus on the relationship between literature and visual culture. Specific courses deal with the Bloomsbury group, with Japanist aesthetics, and with the emerging scholarly field of Visual Culture. He also teaches courses for the Minor in Sexuality and Gender Studies.

Reed’s interdisciplinary scholarship explores a wide range of topics in visual culture. He has published on topics as diverse as mass-produced paintings for interior decoration, street furniture designed to mark a gay neighborhood in Chicago, the relationship of BritishVogue to emerging forms of queer culture in the 1920s, and (with Christopher Castiglia) the television show Will & Grace.

Reed’s primary scholarly focus has been on the Bloomsbury group. He has published on Roger Fry’s aesthetic theories of formalism, on their relationship to Viriginia Woolf’s textual experimentation, on Bloomsbury’s relationship to its Victorian forebears, and, most extensively, in his book Bloomsbury Rooms (Yale, 2004), on how the domestic spaces created by the Bloomsbury artists relate to the lives and work they contained.

With Nancy Green, Reed organized the exhibition A Room of Their Own: The Bloomsbury Artists in American Collections, which is accompanied by a catalog he co-edited (Cornell 2008). Reed’s other edited volumes include A Roger Fry Reader(Chicago, 1996) and Not at Home: The Suppression of Domesticity in Modern Art and Architecture (Thames and Hudson, 1996).

Reed is also the author of Art and Homosexuality: A History of Ideas (Oxford 2011), wide-ranging history of the relationship between ideas about sexual identity and the identity of the artist. 2012 will see the publication of another book on history and sexual identity, If Memory Serves: Gay Men, AIDS, and the Promise of the Queer Past (Minnesota 2012), co-authored with Christopher Castiglia.

Reed is currently researching a new project concerning the use of Japanese aesthetics in constructions of Occidental forms of masculinity. He  published his translation of a novella by the illustrator Félix Régamey as The Chrysanthème Papers: The Pink Notebook of Madame Chrysanthème and other Documents of French Japonisme (Hawai’i 2010).

Call for Papers

The Rutgers University Modernist Studies Group and the Americanist Colloquium announce “Modernism and the Folk: Beyond Primitivism,” a transatlantic and interdisciplinary graduate student conference.  This day-long event will take place at Rutgers – New Brunswick on March 23, 2012.  Christopher Reed, Professor of English and Visual Studies at Penn State, will deliver the keynote lecture, “Bachelor Japanists.”

We invite papers from across disciplines that examine the intersection of literary and artistic modernism and the seemingly opposed discourse of the folk.  As modernism is increasingly subdivided into “many modernisms,” is a similar subdivision happening with its folk or primitivist offshoots?  How does a changing definition of modernism or an expanded canon alter our definition of such categories as the folk, the “primitive,” and the avant-garde? How does it alter or expand our view of modernism and its others?

While we envision the conference as centering on the early twentieth century, we welcome proposals that challenge or expand the temporal boundaries of modernism. We also welcome papers that consider work written in languages other than English.

Specific areas of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • The folk/avant-garde dialectic in literature, art, performance, and music
  • Primtivism in its relationship to colonialism and imperialism
  • Primitivism in an American context
  • Theories of creole degeneracy and the “New World primitive”
  • “Inner primitivism” and the “thin veneer” of civilization
  • The power or potential of the folk
  • The folk and the modernist project of renewal or revitalization
  • The circulation of images, books, periodicals, films, radio
  • The postcolonial critique of “primitivist” appropriation and problems with this critique
  • The relationship between animism, vitalism, and “the new materialism”
  • Fascism and the folk
  • Ethnography, auto-ethnography, counter-ethnography
  • Folklore and alternative histories
  • The history of anthropology and folklore studies

Please submit a 250-word abstract to modernistfolk@gmail.com by Wednesday, November 30.

Sponsored by the following Rutgers groups: Center for Cultural Analysis, Modernism and Globalization Seminar Series, Americanist Seminar, the African-American and African Diaspora Studies Group, the Americanist Colloquium and the Modernist Studies Group, the Rutgers Graduate Student Association.