CFP: Word and Image

The Second Modernist Network Cymru Conference
The Drwm, National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth &
The School of Art, Aberystwyth University
September 12 - 13, 2017
Stichtag: 24.02.2017

Few texts have combined word and image in a more striking or influential manner than Alfred Barr’s timeline of modern art. The chart first appeared on the front cover of the 1936 exhibition catalogue Cubism and Abstract Art at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; through Barr’s direction, MOMA helped to establish the narrative for artistic modernism in the 1930s. This picture has since become one of the most widely-reproduced images of modern art in the western world, one which continues to shape our understanding of modernist art history today.

For its second conference, organised in conjunction with Aberystwyth University’s David Jones Centre for Word and Image, the National Library of Wales and the Aberystwyth School of Art, Modernist Network Cymru (MONC) aims to interrogate the symbiotic relationship between the visual arts and the written word, as encapsulated in Barr’s iconic image. How did modernist artists respond to literary texts? How did writers incorporate visual elements in poetry and prose? How did author and artist collaborations arise? And how did modernist texts, from collages to magazines to scrapbooks, combine word and image in radical new ways?

In Wales, figures such as David Jones, Brenda Chamberlain and Margiad Evans worked across art and literature, whether in poetry and painting or short stories and illustration. Texts such as Chamberlain and Alun Lewis’s Caseg Broadsheets juxtaposed modern poetry with experimental woodcuts; more recently, the photographer Aled Rhys Hughes and the Welsh National Opera have both produced multimedia responses to Jones’s prose poem In Parenthesis.

Over the course of two days, we aim to explore the multitudinous connections between word and image in a range of modernist texts from Wales and beyond. We invite interdisciplinary responses to any aspect of word and image in modernism, but we particularly welcome scholars working on Welsh modernist writers and artists, as well as modernist art and writing in Wales. The full story of the visual arts in Wales is only just beginning to unfold; this conference provides an opportunity to discuss future directions for research into this developing field. What should a Welsh modernist art history be, and what relationship should it have to its sister arts, especially literature?

Keynote speaker: Professor Laura Marcus (University of Oxford)

Although we are a Welsh Network, we have an international outlook. We are interested in Welsh art and literature’s international connections, as well as how place, language and history affected experiments in word and image elsewhere, especially in other ‘small nations’.

With these histories in mind, we invite proposals on topics including but not confined to:

  • Literary responses to art
  • Artistic responses to literature
  • Artist-writers (and vice versa)
  • Radical combinations of word and image
  • Cross-media projects, e.g. magazines, posters, graphic novels
  • Book design / illustration / illustrated books
  • Similarities and differences between visual and verbal forms of art
  • Visual, film or literary adaptations
  • Interdisciplinary collaborations
  • Images and titles / captions
  • Film and/or intertitles
  • Architectural interventions
  • Colour in literary and visual forms
  • Photography and photographers’ books / travel guides
  • Contemporary inter-/multi-disciplinary responses to modernism
  • Opportunities and challenges of a visual arts practice-based PhD.

The National Library of Wales and the School of Art welcome researchers who wish to explore their extensive archives, with the aim of presenting a conference paper based on their research.

Proposals for papers (20 minutes) should include a summary of the proposed paper (300 words), the speaker’s contact details, and a short bio (100 words). Papers can be delivered in English or Welsh with simultaneous translation; please indicate the language in which you wish to deliver your paper. If you wish to submit your abstract and biography to us in Welsh please also send a copy in English.

Proposals should be sent to by 24 February 2017.

Since 2014, MONC has aimed to showcase the range and diversity of research into modernism happening in Wales today. Through its website, mailing list and conferences, it brings together scholars and professionals working on modernism in Wales and beyond to encourage collaboration and communication. For more information, please visit

Please click here for a PDF copy of the call for papers; please share widely among interested friends and colleagues. Cliciwch yma am fersiwn Cymraeg. Many thanks to Nathan Munday (Cardiff University) for providing the Welsh translation.

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