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ModHome 2019 : Modernism in the Home


When Jul 1, 2019 - Jul 2, 2019
Where University of Birmingham
Submission Deadline Dec 14, 2018
Categories    modernism   interdisciplinary   domestic studies   twentieth century

Call For Papers

We are excited to announce the Call for Papers for Modernism in the Home. The conference is set to be held on Monday 1st and Tuesday 2nd July 2019 at the University of Birmingham in collaboration with the Centre for Modernist Cultures. Studies of modernism and the home are wide-ranging; this international conference will reflect the broad scope of research, fostering interdisciplinary dialogue between literary, arts and cultural sectors. The conference invites scholars to interrogate the historical, theoretical and thematic intersections occurring in the domestic sphere in the early twentieth century. Panellists are invited to reconsider and discuss the aesthetic, social, political, technological, artistic, scientific, cultural and textual relationship between modernism and the home, in a global context.

We are delighted to announce that our keynote speakers will be Professor Morag Shiach (Queen Mary University) and Professor Barbara Penner (The Bartlett School of Architecture). Professor Shiach’s work focuses on the changing nature of domestic interiors in the early twentieth century, challenging traditional associations of modernity with public space. Professor Penner’s current research focuses on ‘cardiac kitchens’ in the post-war period, and more broadly looks at themes of domestic technologies, domestic labour and domestic bodies.

We anticipate the conference programme will include a guided tour of Winterbourne House and Gardens in Birmingham.

The CFP closes December 14th 2018. Decisions will be made in early January.

Classic anti-domestic rhetorics of modernity have often aligned the domestic with the private, designating it a lesser to the democratic, masculine and thoroughly ‘modern’ public sphere. With its cries of ‘Make it New!’, modernism staged a bold protest against the constraints of Victorian domesticity. Yet as contemporary re-evaluations by scholars such as Chiara Briganti, Barbara Penner, Morag Shiach, Kathy Mezei, Clair Wills and Victoria Rosner suggest, the home remains a crucial space for the interrogation of our cultural relationships with technology, class, race, sexuality, and gender. The early years of the twentieth century saw this ubiquitous space evolve. No longer an emblem of Victorian patriarchy, the house became a more boundless entity whose shifting boundaries and notions of propriety were tied up with the rapidly changing cultures of consumerism and technology.

Modernism in the Home invites discussion that critiques, questions, and offers new readings of the home, challenging stereotypes surrounding the historical binary that posits the domestic realm as private, feminine, and anti-modern. We want to explore the symbiosis between architecture and literature, public and private, the house and the novel. By engaging with artists, architects and authors whose work intersects with the domestic, we hope to examine the evolving nature of the home and its inhabitants in the early twentieth century.

We welcome papers that examine the relationship between modernism and the domestic sphere. Topics may include, but are not limited to:

Domestic life
Domestic material cultures
Home beyond the domestic
Food and the kitchen
Household technologies
Home, garden and horticulture
Items in the home (radio, kitchen sink, washstand)
Domestic interior design (Omega workshop, Heals)
Modernist homes (Charleston, Hayford Hall, 2 Willow Road)
Domestic architecture (Le Corbusier)
Domestic modernism (and the Middlebrow)
Bodies in the home (human, pets, children, servants, lodgers)
Childhood and the home
Women’s place in the home
Different types of homes (lodging house, boarding house, ‘digs’, country houses)
Changing domestic spaces and the wars
Utopian living
Rest cures and illness
Suburbia vs metropolis

Papers should be fifteen minutes in length. To apply, please send an abstract of no more than 300 words, as well as a brief biography of no more than 200 words, to

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