Call for Papers: Rethinking the Avant-Garde: Radical Politics and Culture in Europe and the World

Molly Pucci's picture

The interwar avant-garde transformed the modern understanding of painting, sculpture, architecture, music, and literature, as well as the contours of politics and philosophy. Prominent in Russia, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Czechoslovakia, and France, members of the avant-garde also traveled widely, visiting North and South America for inspiration, exploring the Mediterranean and Africa, and seeking to establish links with anti-imperial movements in Asia. These artists, poets, writers, intellectuals, and thinkers often became involved in the radical politics of their day—anarchism, communism, socialism, and fascism—and in many ways helped to define and radicalize European and global politics after the First World War. Later associated with Italian communist Antonio Gramsci (a contemporary of the period), the idea of cultural revolution they forged in the 1920s and 1930s—the indivisible link between culture and politics—saw the fusion of Marxism and the radical left with artistic experimentation, ethnic and national diversity, internationalism, anti-imperialism, and anti-fascism.


This workshop, hosted by Trinity College Dublin and the University of St Andrews, will bring together new research on the avant-garde and its global diffusion, to challenge the perception that there is one, single ‘European’ avant-garde. It aims to better understand links between culture and politics, philosophy and activism, art and language, the similarities between the ideologies of the radical left and those of the radical right, and to explore the avant-garde from a multi-national, multi-lingual perspective in the fields of arts, culture, and ideas in the twentieth century. For the workshop, we welcome papers that examine any aspect of the avant-garde in the 19th or 20th centuries, including in the fields of history, literature, art, film, cultural studies, or language.


Workshop participants will be asked to submit a 20-30 page work-in-progress two weeks in advance of the conference, whether an article, book or dissertation chapter. All participants will be required to read the contributions in advance of the conference.


The workshop will take place on 11th and 12th November 2021 at Trinity College Dublin, Dublin Ireland. Participants will be reimbursed up to 150 euros in travel costs, a single night hotel stay, and a conference dinner. No other expenses will be covered. The workshop is sponsored by the Royal Irish Academy.


To apply, please send a short abstract of the proposed paper and a cv to the conveners, Molly Pucci ( and Valerie McGuire (, by June 15, 2021.