Call for Papers

20th and 21st Century Cultures Workshop



Workshop Coordinators: Zachary Hope and Zoe Hughes

Faculty Sponsors: Adrienne Brown and Maud Ellmann


The 20th and 21st Century Cultures Workshop is seeking papers that engage with 20th- and 21st-century cultural and aesthetic objects for presentation in the 2020-2021 academic year. While the workshop is open to a range of disciplinary approaches, it is primarily organized around conceptual questions specific to this historical period. Given that our period encompasses the contemporary, we feel uniquely equipped and responsible for facilitating discussions that address the current events with which our thought (and so also our research) is preoccupied. We know that the coming year will not be business as usual. Rather than pretending otherwise, we hope to center discussions about race, institutional violence, global precarity, new austerity, resistance, and more, and to raise questions about research and pedagogical practice.


Of course, this mandate does not invalidate, nor make us less interested in, research on other areas, fields, histories, or points in 20th- or 21st-century time. We encourage you to apply if you are working on anything that has a stake in our historical period, however you define it in your work. The workshop is conducted in English, but we welcome submissions from scholars working in all national, cultural, and geographic contexts. In past years, discussions have centered on:

  • Modernism and its strengths/weaknesses/alternatives
  • The difficulty of interpreting the contemporary
  • Colonialism and its afterlives
  • Histories of the disciplines and other knowledge formations
  • The changing position of the arts in relation to mass culture


As in years past, the workshop will provide a venue for participants to discuss academic work from graduate students, early career researchers, and invited faculty, including papers for academic publication, dissertation or book chapters, and conference presentations. We understand that, in the midst of the COVID crisis, many of our colleagues are imagining non-academic futures for their writing. For this reason, we want to encourage the proposal of para-academic projects in addition to formal research.


This Fall, the workshop will meet on alternate Mondays from 3:00 to 4:20 pm on Zoom. Links will be distributed to our listserv a week before the meeting; they will also be available on our website. Proposals should include a provisional title, an indication of the project type (dissertation chapter, conference presentation, etc.), a short description of the content and/or argument (this can but does not have to be a formal paper abstract), and the quarter in which you would prefer to present.


Please email your proposals to Zach Hope ( and Zoe Hughes ( by September 1st, 2020. In the interim, do not hesitate to be in touch with questions or concerns. We look forward to hearing from you and hopefully seeing you in Fall!