SSHRC IDG-funded Project, 2015-2018
Project Title: Modernism’s Agile Crowds
Please visit our facebook page! The Agile Crowds Lab…
This project focuses on two areas of social concern: the crowd as a ground of identity, and the crowd as agent. The first area raises questions around how one constructs a sense of the self in a crowd and what kinds of attachments that process brings into play, such as nationality, shared history, or other competing forms of imaginary community, the second, of what extreme behaviors crowds are capable, such as their potential for enthusiastic fanaticism. In respect to the second problematic in particular, that of collective autonomy and agency, the crowd appears to some as an uncomfortable threat. I believe it is important to recognize that determined crowds may also endow their historical moment with a democratic vector. Moreover, this is an appropriate moment to rethink theories of the crowd, as crowds actively seek new powers of agency around the world and strategically combine real-life and virtual existences to attain renewed durability and mobility.
The project will explore the centrality of collective experience to modernist style, analyze how literary figurations of crowds, groups and masses intervene in cultural theorizations of agency, identity and political operation, and draw new connections between aesthetic production and cultural change during the period.
In the first year of the grant, participants conducted research and began building a digital architecture to attract and support a community of scholarship. In the second year, we will organize shared research activities such as roundtables or symposia, and continue to expand the project’s digital resources and publications. By the end of its term, the project will have become a seedbed for future work around the larger interdisciplinary focus of crowd performativity across geographical and temporal boundaries.
I am a proud member of the steering committee of UBC’s Critical Studies in Sexuality program, and from 2017-2018 I was co-chair of that program. From 2014-2016 I was affiliated with Green College, UBC, as a member of the first cohort in the Leading Scholars Program. I continue my association with the College as a member of Common Room, including as a Dinner Group member in 2018-2019, and attend College lectures and events as often as I can.
MLA, Joseph Conrad Society of America (member of the Board of Trustees), International James Joyce Foundation, Modernist Studies Association, PAMLA