English Department Lecture Series
This presentation will analyze why it was possible for readers in the early eighteenth century to embrace rather swiftly the newly "invented" genre of the novel. In order to understand this seemingly sudden adoption of a narrative form, which like all genres relies on its own set of readerly techniques, it is necessary to ask how the literary audience was able to change its habits of textual decoding so quickly. The answer lies, at least in part, in the process of formal experimentation that marked the late seventeenth century. During the Restoration, readers were gradually and explicitly prepared for the types of writing to come. In extensive paratexts that framed and explicated innovative texts, authors created new readerly expectations for the act of reading. Paratexts accompanying prose fictions by writers such as Aphra Behn, William Congreve, and John Dunton frequently oscillate between questions of form and issues of reception. Growing from these at times elaborate deliberations in Restoration paratexts, prose fiction as a genre – understood predominantly as a strategy of reading – communicated to readers new receptive skills that, some fifty years later, would allow for the consolidation of the novel.
Gerd Bayer is a tenured faculty member in the English department at Erlangen University, Germany, where he also got his PhD in 2003. He previously taught at the University of Toronto, Case Western Reserve University, and the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater. He has published a monograph (in German) on John Fowles and nature, Greener, More Mysterious Processes of Mind": Natur als Dichtungsprinzip bei John Fowles (2004), and edited or co-edited four books on pop culture and holocaust studies. Having published essays on postmodern fiction, postcolonial literature, documentary film, pop culture, and early modern prose, he is currently working on a co-edited volume entitled Narrative Developments from Chaucer to Defoe (under contract with Routledge) and writing a book on Restoration prose fiction and genre making, funded through a five-semester research grant awarded by the DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, the German NEH equivalent).
Jahan Ramazani, "Poetry Among Its Others"
Co-sponsored by the Temple-Penn Poetics Group
Literature from the Caribbean, Africa, South Asia, the Pacific Islands, and black Britain—also known as postcolonial literature—has often been understood primarily in terms of its anticolonial content. This lecture tries to get at postcolonial poetry's specificities as poetry by exploring it among its generic others: that is, it teases out its intersections with and differences from extraliterary genres such as postcolonial theory, law, song, and prayer. Closely examining some powerful examples, this talk asks what distinguishes postcolonial poetry from these kindred discourses even as it draws on them. In short, not merely what is postcolonial poetry, but what is postcolonial poetry?
Jahan Ramazani is Edgar F. Shannon Professor of English at the University of Virginia. He is the author of A Transnational Poetics (2009); The Hybrid Muse: Postcolonial Poetry in English (2001); Poetry of Mourning: The Modern Elegy from Hardy to Heaney (1994), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and Yeats and the Poetry of Death (1990). He edited the most recent edition of The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry (2003) and, with Jon Stallworthy, The Twentieth Century and After, in The Norton Anthology of English Literature (2006). He is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, an NEH Fellowship, a Rhodes Scholarship, and the MLA's William Riley Parker Prize.
Masha Raskolnikov, "'The Soul is the Prison of the Body': Pedagogy and Punishment in Allegorical Debates Between Body and Soul"
Professor Masha Raskolnikov will be presenting "'The Soul is the Prison of the Body': Pedagogy and Punishment in Allegorical Debates Between Body and Soul" on Thursday, February 18th at 4:00 pm in the Women’s Studies Lounge, 821 Anderson Hall. Reception to follow in 1006 Anderson Hall.
Raskolnikov's talk examines the queer dimensions of medieval allegory through a reading that rethinks the legacy of Foucault in relation to psychoanalysis and contemporary feminist and queer theory. Debates between the body and the soul were part of a medieval tradition of representing the self as split, multiple, and engaged in a constant struggle with itself. This talk examines one of the first debates to feature a body that talks back to its soul, rejecting the belief that they are doomed to conflict, and that all sin is the fault of the flesh. By critically engaging Foucault’s work on the production of the soul in terms specific to the history of English literature, Professor Raskolnikov illuminates the ways that this poem models a same-sex economy of the self.
Masha Raskolnikov is Associate Professor of English at Cornell University. She is the author of Body Against Soul: Gender and Sowlehele in Middle English Allegory (Ohio State University Press: 2009) and has published in journals ranging from postmedieval: a journal of medieval cultural studies to GLQ: A Journal of Gay and Lesbian Studies.
Trauma theory has been and continues to be important to critical work in every period of literary study. This essay argues that the subtle literary strategies of one fourteenth-century poem can help to address a blockage about representation current in that theory. Geoffrey Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde meditates upon trauma by rendering visible the formal properties of its representation. I will argue here that Chaucer's poetics-his use of trope, ambiguity, and voicing-direct us to the mobility of trauma in culture, an issue crucial to the complex politics of traumatic witness.
Patricia Clare Ingham is Associate Professor of English and Medieval Studies at Indiana University, Bloomington. She is the author of Sovereign Fantasies: Arthurian Romance and the Making of Britain (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001), co-editor of Postcolonial Moves, Medieval Through Modern (New York: Palgrave, 2003) and author of a number of articles on Chaucer, medieval romance, and on methodological issues in Medieval Studies. She current serves as one of the editors for Exemplaria: A Journal of Theory in Medieval and Early Modern Studies.
Dorothy Stringer, "To Glorify the Negro": Photographic Shock and Blackness in Carl Van Vechten's Portraiture"
Dorothy Stringer is a psychoanalytic critic working on US and African American fiction of the mid-twentieth century. Her monograph, "Not Even Past": Race, Historical Trauma and Subjectivity in Faulkner, Larsen, and Van Vechten is forthcoming in January 2010 from Fordham University Press. Her article “Psychology and Black Liberation in Richard Wright’s Black Power” appears in the Summer 2009 issue of JML: Journal of Modern Literature.
“This talk explores the politics of minority subject formation in the United States by reconsidering our twentieth-century wartime enemies, from World War II to Vietnam. My analysis aims to revise our understanding of immigrant subjectivity through a transnational frame, in which distant wars divide and shape Asian American subjects.”
Josephine Park is Assistant Professor of English and Asian American Studies. She received her PhD from UC Berkeley, and she specializes in twentieth-century American literature and culture, with an emphasis on American Orientalism and Asian American literature. Her book Apparitions of Asia: ModernistForm and Asian American Poetics (Oxford 2008) reads a history of American literary alliances with East Asia, from Walt Whitman to Myung Mi Kim. Her present research examines Asian American subjectivities shaped by twentieth-century conflicts between the United States and East Asia.
David Kazanjian, "Liberia's Speculative Freedom"
"My talk looks to an archive from colonial Liberia(1816-1847) that bears the traces of an equivocal, uncodified, yet vigorously lived freedom: the hundreds of letters written by formerly enslaved black settlers in colonial Liberia to their family, friends, and former masters in the U.S. I argue that these letters need to be read not only as documents bearing empirical information, but also as theoretical texts that think speculatively about the very meaning of freedom. This talk about the epistolary archive of colonial Liberia is thus also a talk about method in American Studies, in that it makes the case for thinking beyond the limits of historicism."
Patty White, “Women’s Cinema as Global Cinema”
Patty White is Chair of Film and Media Studies at Swarthmore College. She has authored Uninvited: Classical Hollywood Cinema and Lesbian Representability and, with Tim Corrigan, The Film Experience. A member of the editorial collective of Camera Obscura, she also sits on the board of Women Make Movies.
Brent Hayes Edwards
Brent Edwards is presently Visiting Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. He is the author of The Practice of Diaspora: Literature, Translation, and the Rise of Black Internationalism and co-editor, with Robert G. O'Meally and Farah Jasmine Griffin, of Uptown Conversation: The New Jazz Studies. His next book project is a study of the interplay between jazz and literature in African American culture.
Laura McGrane, "Bewitching Politics: Performing Mother Shipton in Eighteenth-Century Print Culture"
Laura McGrane is Assistant Professor of English and American Literature and co-editor of the Stanford Humanities Review volume, Critical History: The Career of Ian Watt (2000). She is currently finishing a book manuscript entitled Hollowed Voices: Reformulations of the Classical Oracle in Eighteenth-Century British Print Culture.
Claire Culleton, “J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI, and American Print Culture”
Claire Culleton is Professor of English with interests in 20th century Irish, British, and American literature and culture. She has published Joyce and the G-Men: J. Edgar Hoover’s Manipulation of Modernism; Working-Class Culture, Women, and Britain, 1914-1921; Names and Naming in Joyce, and has forthcoming Extorting Henry Holt, and Co: J. Edgar Hoover and American Print Culture. She is the series editor for Palgrave Macmillan’s Irish Studies Series, New Directions in Irish and Irish-American Literature, 1920-1950.