‘Risk Anything!’: Modernist Women between Centre and Periphery

Bay Brits's picture
April 6, 2018
Subject Fields: 
Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Cultural History / Studies, Humanities, Literature, Women's & Gender History / Studies


‘Risk Anything!’: Modernist Women between Centre and Periphery

A symposium presented by the Australasian Modernist Studies Network


Friday 6 April 2018

University of New South Wales Sydney, Australia


Keynote: A/Prof Natalya Lusty (The University of Sydney)


“Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for the opinions of others, for those voices. Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself. Face the truth.”

    Katherine Mansfield, journal entry 14 October 1922


The peripatetic New Zealand modernist Katherine Mansfield wrote these words towards the end of her life, urging herself to be courageous, to pursue her creative convictions. Mansfield’s approach to life and work is an example of the countless creative women who embraced, employed and drove the modernist cultural experiment.


Nearly a century later, our own era is equally defined by contingency and risk, offering a unique opportunity to reflect on the history and legacies of creative behaviour that defines itself in terms of risk. We invite proposals from scholars on topics relating to risk, women and modernist culture, and from female-identifying artists, writers and performers whose practice engages with the legacies of modernist women. We especially welcome contributions focusing on women who have traversed the ‘risky’ division between centres of modernism – Britain, Europe, and the United States – and so-called ‘peripheries’. These may take the form of a 20-minute presentation/10-minute question format or a team-led 90 minute roundtable discussion or workshop format.


Risk may be interpreted in relation to:

     Creative experimentation and the avant-garde

     Cultural and gender norms




     Personal motivation


     Danger – personal, political, social

     Political struggle


Please send 250-word proposals for papers, roundtables or workshops, along with a 50-word bio to l.mayhew@griffith.edu.au by 31 January 2018. Responses will be distributed in early February.


Event organisers: Dr Baylee Brits (UNSW), Dr Louise R Mayhew (Griffith University) & Dr Helen Rydstrand (UNSW).