Past Conferences

2016 (18th annual conference) Under Surveillance in the Space Between, 19141945, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, June 2-4, 2016, 

The 18th annual conference of the Space Between Society focused on the concept of surveillance—watching, listening, recording—as it relates to literature, art, history, music, theatre, media, and spatial or material culture between 1914 and 1945. From the rise of totalitarianism to the dwindling borders of the British Empire, global citizens were under constant scrutiny as governments, artists, and documentarians developed new ways of listening in. The establishment of intelligence agencies such as the FBI and MI5 just prior to WWI; the standardization of the passport and increased policing of borders; the formation of Mass Observation, with its trained observers who “may be watching you”; the mass production of the 35mm camera and other technologies of information gathering: all reveal a widespread concern with observation. People looked both forward and back, documenting traditions and making plans for the future.

This conference asked not only how tropes of surveillance and documentation shaped culture in the years spanning the First and Second World Wars, but also how artists, writers, filmmakers, and activists resisted surveillance, whether by going underground or by watching the watchers. From the nightmare world of Franz Kafka’s The Trial to the panoptic dystopia of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, from the spy film’s impetus to track the “foreigner” to Ministry of Information ads encouraging civilian policing, the culture and politics of surveillance proliferate across this tumultuous period.

2015 (17th annual conference): At Home in the Space Between, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana, June 19-21, 2015

The 2015 conference of The Space Between society, “At Home in the Space Between,” focused on the concept of home during the period 1914-1945. “Home” as a space invited discussions of interiority, belonging, and family. It also conjured alternate conceptions of haunting, anxiety, and alienation. From notions of the Great War’s “home front” to the interwar period’s “back to home and duty,” politicized notions of home were especially rich during this period. The innovative design and lifestyle experimentation of this period also invited studies of a domestic modernity. The conference “At Home in the Space Between” requested papers from all disciplines that consider “home” in the broadest sense as both space and concept.

2014 (16th annual conference): Crossing the Space Between, Institute of English Studies, University of London, July 17-19 2014

The 16th annual conference of the Space Between society explored the notion of ‘crossing’ − whether of oceans, borders, classes, genders, disciplines or genres − as it relates to literature, art, history, music, theatre, media, and spatial or material culture in any country between 1914 and 1945. From 1930s writers and intellectuals crossing the class divide to the surrealist crossing of a sewing machine with an umbrella, from Virginia Woolf’s Orlando to Michael Curtiz’s Casablanca, from crossing the dance floor to spying and wartime betrayal, tropes and examples of crossing proliferate across the culture of the period.

2013 (15th annual conference): At Play in the Space Between, 1914-1945, DePaul University, Chicago, IL, June 20-22, 2013.

The 15th annual conference of the Space Between society explored the multifaceted subject of play as it relates to literature, art, history, music, theatre, media, and spatial or material culture in any country between 1914 and 1945. From surrealist games to improvisational jazz, from Mrs Dalloway’s party to Archibald Motley’s Nightlife, from the exploits of the “Bright Young People” to the political games of wartime, play figures prominently in the arts and culture of this period.

2012 (14th annual conference): Material Cultures in the Space Between, 1914-1945, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, June 14-16, 2012.

The 14th annual Space Between Society Conference invited proposals that considered questions and problems related to the study of material cultures in the years 1914-1945.

In the Space Between Society scholars studying literature, media, art, society, and culture between 1914 and 1945 exchange ideas about their approaches and their objects of study. This year’s conference addressed the varied material cultures that shape the world within which people live, work, and make art. Researchers asked:

• Which material practices shape this period and our knowledge about it?
• What methods and assumptions must we bring to bear on the objects of our study?
• What are the challenges of working on material culture and bringing such work into conversation with scholars in a range of fields?

2011 (13th annual conference): The Battle of the Brows: Cultural Distinctions in the Space Between, 1914-1945, McGill University, Montreal, Canada, June 16-18, 2011 (in cooperation with the Middlebrow Network)

With the massive growth in the production and consumption of literature, music and art in the period 1914-1945 came powerful anxieties about cultural authority and transmission. As audiences and artists increasingly came from middle or lower classes, critics tried to distinguish between the “serious” and the “popular.” Cultural distinctions that relied, directly or indirectly, on attitudes toward hierarchies of gender, class, and race came under increasing scrutiny. It was a time of debate and radical change: new media and materials (radio, film, jazz, paperback novels) gained ground over traditional forms and venues (classical music, poetry, theatre); many arts became professionalized, rather than relying on inherited incomes; institutions such as the Book of the Month Club and the BBC formed new communities of cultural consumption. How does recognition of these social and cultural conflicts impact our work as scholars of the space between the wars? Conversely, how does our work impact the vocabularies and values through which we access and understand the societies and cultures of this time period?

2010 (12th annual conference): Belief and Disbelief in the Space Between, 1914-1945, University of Portland, Portland, Oregon, June 17-19, 2010

The interwar years have often been regarded as a period of secularization, disillusionment, and disenchantment, yet many of the period’s cultural productions engage questions of faith, Belief, and spirituality. This interdisciplinary conference invited literary and cultural critics, historians, and scholars of modern religion and philosophy to explore a range of topics relating to the collision of belief and disbelief in the years between 1914 and 1945.

2009 (11th annual conference): Sound and Silence in the Space Between, 1914-1945, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, June 11-13.

From the growl of automobile and airplane engines and the whir of electric appliances to fascism’s oppressive silences, the years between 1914 and 1945 witnessed a variety of new sounds and silences. This interdisciplinary conference invited historians and critics of literaure, art, music, film, dance, and popular culture to explore the myriad sounds and silences of the interwar period.

2008 (tenth annual conference): Discovering, Constructing, and Imagining the Other in the Space Between, 1914-1945, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, 13-14 June.

This conference addressed the history, representation or self-representation, and interpretations of those exiled, refugee, and migrant “Others” created between 1914-1945 by two world wars and the reformation of national, ethnic, racial, classed, and gendered identities and cultures.

Papers addressed national and exile literatures, and other art forms such as film, photography, architecture, painting and sculpture, dissident political and sexual expression, cultural and ethnic mythologies, environmental and geographical interventions, and revivals and interpretations of such cultural artifacts as ancient languages, national dress, dance, folklore, music, and oral traditions.

2007 (ninth annual conference): The Experience of War in the Space Between, 1914-1945, Annapolis, MD, 7-10 June.

This interdisciplinary conference explored the cultural contexts, manifestations, representations, and effects of war, as a four-decade state of combat, mobilization, upheaval, dislocation, anxiety, devastation, and unquiet aftermath between 1914 and 1945. The experience of war generated creativity and innovation as much as it did destruction and reactionary responses.

2006 (eighth annual conference): Mobility/Stasis/Modernity in the Space Between, 1914-1945, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA, June 8-10.

Acceleration, terminal velocity, downward-spiral, displacement, paralysis, collision, modernity. The years 1914-1945 were marked by wars colliding with peace movements, by the formation of new nations, the dissolution of old empires, and the voluntary and forced movement of people from ancient homelands to modern and nascent nation-states. Mobility, exile, migration, diaspora, and expulsion produced expatriates and immigrants, the return of the soldier, the lost generation, the exile of surplus women, and the liberation of others. Speed and slow-motion, fragmentation and revolution transformed people, technology, and art.

From army “mobilization” in August 1914 to the liberation of death camps and nuclear annihilation in 1945, the interwar and war years witnessed political, economic, and cultural upheavals that in concert with technological revolutions in transport and warfare revolutionized the movement of masses and the creation of art, literature, film, and other media. Planes, underground shelters, tanks, and skyscraper elevators altered social relations and destabilized class, cultural, and racial barriers—as did, in far more dire ways, trench warfare, air raids, and transport to concentration and death camps. New media such as the cinema, the newsreel, and the wireless enlarged viewers’ perceptions and eradicated distances, confronting audiences with the excitement and terror of far-away places. Such physical, political, and cultural eruptions, confinements and displacements produced new forms of literature and art.

This interdisciplinary conference explored the contexts, manifestations, effects, and representations of motion and stasis during the years 1914-1945. What did it mean to live, work, create, and be killed at the center of these turbulent times?

2005 (seventh annual conference): Technology, Media, Culture in the Space Between, 1914-1945, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, May 27-29.

Beginning with the mass mechanization of the Great War, the period through World War II catapulted people into a new kind of modernity. New technologies and media conjured up both awesome and frightful fantasies and realities in the creative and critical imaginations of artists, scientists, producers, consumers, and critics. Technology and media excited and threatened domestic and international politics and challenged members of popular and elite cultures to reconfigure relationships between selfhood, society, and the object world.

This interdisciplinary conference explored the manifestations, effects, and representations of the new technologies of the 1914-1945 period. Considering this distinct period in twentieth-century history will offer crucial perspectives and insights on the significance of visual and auditory technologies, designed and built technologies, technologies of the body, technologies of flight, speed and simultaneity, technologies of production, technologies of social engineering. We are particularly interested in exploring the cultural relationships that emerge as the roles of the media and technology shape each other in our Space Between.

2004 (sixth annual conference): Metropolis in the Space Between, 1914-1945, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, June 3-5.

The conference explored the myriad and often conflicting meanings of “the city” as expressed in literature, film, photography, theater, creative reportage, history, and art history. Inspired by Fritz Lang’s film, papers examine relationships between the many written and pictorial forms that represent the city and its artistic, rhetorical, and symbolic meanings, in a given moment or as reflecting cultural and historical change and crisis.

From Lang’s Weimar to Mina Loy’s Paris, from the Harlem Renaissance to Leni Reifenstahl’s Berlin, and from Martha Gellhorn’s Barcelona to Elizabeth Bowen’s Blitz and Marguerite Duras’ Hiroshima Mon Amour, and beyond, papers examined the construction and deconstruction of such terms as habitat, haven, ghetto, and muse as well as Metropolis as the center and periphery of civilization, as the inspiration for an idealized Rural, and even as anti-Metropolis.

2003 (fifth annual conference): The Work of Art in the Space Between, 1914-1945, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, May 29-31.

Framed by the devastations of total war, the years 1914-1945 were marked by global social, political, economic and cultural upheaval. Amidst the on-going geo-political contestations and conflicts were the skirmishes—sometimes serious, sometimes playful—fought in the domain of art itself. Advocates for tradition and innovation clashed not only in and over the traditional arts of literature, threatre, painting, sculpture, dance and music, but also in and over the problematic valorization of new forms of art, many, such as advertising, fashion, film and photography, enabled by developments in techniques of “mechanical reproduction.”

2001 (fourth annual meeting): Representing Regionalism, Nationalism, and Internationalism in the Space Between 1914-1945, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, May 17-19.

2000 (third annual meeting): Constructing Literature and Culture, 1914-1945, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, May 18-20.

1998 (second annual meeting): Border Crossings in The Space Between: Literature and Culture, 1914-1945, SUNY New Paltz, New Paltz, New York, October 29-31.

1997 (first annual meeting): Bang, Boom, Bust, and Bang (Again), The Space Between: Literature and Culture, 1914-1945, University of Nevada, Reno, NV, October 2-4.


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