Dictators and Degenerates: Modernism, Fascism and the Pursuit of Culture

Dictators and Degenerates: Modernism, Fascism and the Pursuit of Culture

School  of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics,
University College Dublin, Ireland.

Event: 15-16 September 2017
Abstract due date: 1 March 2017
Keynote Speaker: Prof. Sascha Bru (Dept. of Literary Theory & Cultural Studies, KU Leuven)
This conference explores the interstices between fascism and the avant-gardes in Europe and beyond through the lens of cultural production. The relationship between avant-garde movements and authoritarian regimes is a multi-faceted one. On the one hand, it is often considered as a clash of ideologies, characterised by events such as the Nazi book burnings of 1933 and the Degenerate Art Exhibition (1937) or the unveiling of Picasso’s harrowing anti-war painting, Guernica (1937). However, on the other hand, the nature of the relationship between Futurism and Mussolini’s regime in Italy cannot be so clearly delineated and is still contested. We welcome papers that examine the interaction between avant-garde movements and authoritarian regimes in Europe, including Russia, during the period 1922-1975. Cultural production may include poetry, prose, painting, sculpture, film, theatre, architecture, and photography. Through this focus on cultural production, we aim to highlight the significant role that culture plays in the development of societal power dynamics.

Contributions are invited from across the disciplines of Modern Languages, History, Art History and Architecture, Film, and Drama. We particularly welcome contributions in the following areas:

·     Close textual/visual analysis of avant-garde cultural production created under fascist regimes, both in support and in opposition to them;

·     Analyses of individual members of avant-garde movements that exemplify the tensions/links between modernism and fascism;

·     Theoretical approaches to modernist and fascist ideologies;

·     Personality cults and the avant-gardes;

·     Avant-garde group dynamics under fascist regimes;

·     Avant-garde artists and writers in exile from fascist regimes;

·     Analyses of the lasting impact and legacies of fascism on modernist cultural production.

 Abstracts of 200-250 words, with a short bio (max. 200 words) should be sent by email to: by March 1st, 2017

The conference is supported by funding from the UCD School of Languages, Cultures, and Linguistics and Seed Funding from the UCD College of Arts and Humanities.

The conference organizers are: Dr Selena Daly (Italian Studies), Dr Tara Plunkett (Spanish Studies), and Dr Gillian Pye (German Studies).