CFP: Cosmopolis: Ford Madox Ford and the Cultures of Paris

Robert Delaunat, 'Eiffel Tower', c.1910

Robert Delaunay, ‘Eiffel Tower’, c.1910

Edwardian scholars may be interested in the following CFP:

Cosmopolis: Ford Madox Ford and the Cultures of Paris

An International Conference organised in association with the Ford Madox Ford Society, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3, and Università degli Studi, Milano

Paris, France
11-13 September 2014

As in the case of many Anglo-American modernist and avant-garde writers, Paris features substantially in Ford’s narratives, criticism and recollections after having for many years offered him the familiarity of a home. But beyond the transnational encounter – experienced by quite a few of his colleagues – there is something exceptional, indeed unique, in Ford’s engagement with the French capital. A singularity due in the first place to the span of years which saw Ford busy exploring and enjoying the most exciting chapters of the lively and multiple cultures deployed in the city, from the late nineteenth century to the late 1930s.

Rooted simultaneously in the long nineteenth century and in post-war effervescence, Ford’s Paris thus resonates on one hand with the voices of Flaubert and Maupassant and the colours of impressionism, featuring visitors such as Henry James, Whistler or George Moore but also exhibiting its scars and wounds with the Affaire Dreyfus; and on the other, it is the energetic and exuberant post-war capital of a new-born and often subversive artistic life experimenting with the diverse tools of words, images, music or the movies and struggling as well with the looming anxieties of crisis and depression. A bridge-builder between two crucial seasons in the cultures of Paris, Ford also acted as go-between and passeur, importing them in the dozing world of ‘Anglosaxondom’ and conversely introducing often reluctant French intellectuals to cross-Channel and cross-Atlantic artistic lives. As the extraordinary and short-lived adventure of the transatlantic review shows, Paris was both a fulcrum and the engine where new forms and languages were generated even if Ford was almost prophetically aware that the role of the city as a capital of culture would soon be on the wane.

Ford’s Paris has been largely explored through and in connection with the transatlantic review or the Left Bank culture. Many aspects of his transactions with the city, however, are still unchartered and this conference aims at stimulating new discoveries and analyses around the following topics:

    • Ford and the Flaubert/Maupassant inheritance
    • Ford and the Affaire Dreyfus
    • Paris intellectuals and Ford/transatlantic review: appreciation, reception, interaction
    • Ford and the literary press: the NRF, the Revue de France
    • Ford and Proust
    • Cosmopolis: H. D., Ezra Pound, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, Djuna Barnes, Basil Bunting, Mina Loy, Jean Rhys, Jacob Epstein, Pablo Picasso, Stella Bowen, Henri Matisse…
    • Paris memoirs: It Was the Nightingale vs other expatriate reminiscences
    • Ford in/and the avant-gardes: Dada, Surrealism…
    • Music hall and theatrical culture in and around Ford
    • Women, gender and genre: how conventions were reconfigured in Paris
    • Dance, music and cinema
    • Special ‘interlocutors’ and fellow-artists: Fernand Léger, Erik Satie, George Antheil
    • Literary geographies and psycho-geographies: Right Bank, Left Bank, l’Ile Saint-Louis, Montparnasse and Montsouris, cafés, bookshops and restaurants.

Proposals (250 words) from graduates, independent researchers and established scholars are welcome. Please send them by 15th April 2014 to, along with a short biography (50 words).

The two-day conference will start on Thursday 11th September 2014 and end on Saturday 13th September 2014. There will be a guided tour of Fordian and related locations in Paris (either Friday afternoon or Saturday morning). An information pack on accommodation will be made available in February/March 2014.

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