Mina Loy is a bold avant-garde poet and visual artist, whose under-examined work is being recognized with a 2017 National Endowment for the Humanities grant of nearly $75,000 for the project Mina Loy: Navigating the Avant-Garde. The project is directed by Suzanne Churchill of Davidson College, Linda Kinnahan of Duquesne University, Susan Rosenbaum of the University of Georgia. It also involves a large international team of advisory board participants.
“This is an exciting project that contributes to humanities and feminist scholarship in various, novel ways,” explains Dr. Irene Gammel, a member of the advisory board for this project. “Mina Loy is a daring and intellectual artist who thoroughly collapses boundaries between textual, visual and performative. I am delighted to be involved in this project as is my team here at Ryerson University where we are dedicated to exploring the work of avant-garde women artists and writers.
Mina Loy offers a case study for understanding the marginalized position of women in the historical avant-garde and for challenging its reigning theoretical paradigms. As a kind of “turning,” the en dehors garde activated by Loy’s text underlies and complicates her linguistic “turns” from the verbal to the visual, which is manifest in her constructions of the visual page but also in her engagement with modern visual culture. Working collaboratively with a larger group of scholars and writers, this project links Loy’s investigations of these systems of power to a new, flexible, inclusive theory of the en dehors garde, one that accounts for the contributions of women and people of colour to the historical avant-garde and to modernist art and literature more broadly.
Specifically, this project highlights and charts Loy’s multiple avant-garde affiliations and boundary crossings among the arts, embedding her work within scholarly interpretations. Anyone that has encountered Loy’s work will know that conventional print scholarship cannot accommodate the mixture of text, visual art, film, performance and sound that bring Loy’s work and career to vivid life. As a result, this project transforms humanities scholarship from the traditional model of a lone scholar writing a monograph to a team of researchers collaborating on a “multigraph”—an interactive, multi-authored, multimodal resource that sets user experience design standards for digital humanities scholarship.
Even more compelling is the endeavour to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the publication of Loy’s “Songs to Joannes” in Others. Using social media to orchestrate a “flash mob” in July 2018, they will invite Loy scholars, feminist poetry scholars, MSA members, students, poets and visual artists to register on the website and submit digital posts of varying lengths, media, and format to a shifting, nonhierarchical array. Readers will interact with these posts in “view mode,” “build mode, or “compare mode,” selecting and arranging an elastic theory of the en dehors garde. Everyone will be invited to “think with” them and participate in the ongoing work of reimagining the historical avant-garde as more of an inclusive en dehors garde.
We encourage you to visit Mina-Loy.com for more information on this novel, transformative project.