Title: Inter-War Avant-Garde Discourse across National and Disciplinary Borders

Location: Cardiff University, School of Music

Date: Sunday 31st January 2016

The history of inter-war avant-garde art is often narrated in terms of seemingly ‘monolithic’, reified stylistic doctrines: Cubism, DADA, Surrealism, Constructivism, Neoclassicism, Poetism, etc. Some of these seem to apply exclusively to particular disciplinary and/or national contexts and not to others. However, when subjected to deconstructive discourse analysis, these categories typically appear as subsets of a broader international and interdisciplinary avant-garde debate, which typically puts into alignment philosophical, aesthetic and ideological categories while drawing examples from literature, visual arts, architecture, music, theatre, and cinema.

Critical analysis of inter-war avant-garde discourse serves to rediscover the meaning of the existing stylistic categories. It helps to overcome the fallacy of ‘centre v. periphery’ and to reconstruct the map of avant-garde networks. Finally, it provides clues for the reading of particular works of art by drawing attention to recurring topics and intertextual parallels. This event would provide its participants with the opportunity to explore the rich and diverse avant-garde debate, to search for new methodological approaches, and to rethink music’s relevance to other art disciplines.

The IMR Study Day takes place in conjunction with the Pavel Haas Study Day which is to take place at the same venue on the day before (Saturday 30 January 2016). Participants are encouraged to attend both events, which have in common the focus on inter-war avant-garde (Haas’s work reflects parallels between Czechoslovak and French avant-garde discourses), while being complementary in focus. Whereas the Haas Study Day will draw attention to specific works (there will be an interdisciplinary panel on Haas’s 1938 opera Charlatan and a lecture/recital presenting his string quartets), the IMR Study Day is primarily concerned with the broader theoretical and critical discourse. The conjunction of both events promises a mutually beneficial encounter between the work of a ‘marginal’ composer and a diverse audience of experts, as well as exciting networking opportunities. More information about the Pavel Haas Study Day can be accessed through the link below:



Individual 20-minute presentations are invited on themes that may include but are not limited to the following:

  • comparative analysis of avant-garde discourses across national and disciplinary borders
  • deconstructive analysis of common terms and concepts
  • contextualisation of lesser-known artists and theorists
  • mapping of avant-garde networks
  • the relevance of theoretical discourse for critical interpretation of works of art
  • the relationship between avant-garde art, culture and ideology

Potential participants are also invited to suggest texts (treatises, manifestoes, and the like) for a critical reading workshop, which will take place as part of the event. The texts should be lesser-known, available in English translation (if applicable) and relevant to the problems at hand.

 Paper proposals are particularly welcome from early career researchers. A limited number of travel bursaries are available for those within three years of completing their PhD.

Enquiries, expressions of interest, and/or abstracts (up to 250 words) are to be sent to Martin Čurda (CurdaM@cardiff.ac.uk) by Monday, 30 November 2015. Early career researchers wishing to apply for a travel bursary should also include their CV.