In this special episode of Money on the Left, the MotL Collective shares an audio recording from a conference panel titled, “Monetary Modernism.” Featuring papers by Scott Ferguson (University of South Florida), Rob Hawkes (Teesside University), and Maxximilian Seijo (University of California, Santa Barbara), the panel was presented at the Hopeful Modernisms conference organized by the British Association for Modernist Studies (BAMS) at University of Bristol, June 22 - 25, 2022.
The conference sought to revive hopeful and more generative impulses in modernist art and literature, challenging a persistent view of modernism as relentlessly bleak and angst-ridden. It did so, moreover, for a present moment similarly burdened by dead-end accelerationist and pessimist imaginaries.
The panel begins with Rob Hawkes. He introduces the BAMS audience to the wide-ranging contributions of the Money on the Left Editorial Collective. He also makes the case for reading Georg Friedrich Knapp’s early twentieth-century chartalist approach to money as a modernist project deeply entwined with myriad other aesthetic modernisms.
In the first presentation, Scott Ferguson explores how Len Lye’s Rainbow Dance (1936), a short experimental promotional film for British public postal banking,embraces the abstractness, publicness, and heterogeneous plentitude of both money mediation and avant-garde cinema.
In the second talk, Rob Hawkes uncovers how tensions between fixed and fluid understandings of identity formation and history inform John Maynard Keynes’ chartalist-inspired writings on money as much as Nella Larsen’s 1929 novella Passing and Ford Madox Ford’s 1933 novel The Rash Act.
Lastly, Maximilian Seijo’s presentation carefully works through metaphors for money in Virginia Woolf’s book-length feminist essay, A Room of One’s Own (1929), complicating the text’s appeals to monetary substances and fluids by teasing out its experimental approach to imagining non-patriarchal infrastructures for provisioning aesthetic work.
If you are interested in the texts and images that accompany some of the presentations, see here for Rob Hawkes’ slides and here for Scott Ferguson’s PowerPoint deck.