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Past Events

A collection of Comparative Literature's past events.

"Marginocentric Afterlives of Bruno Schulz and the Migration of Forms," Adam Zachary Newton, Yeshiva University

When Feb 29, 2016
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern Building
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Abstract: The third millennium dawned for Polish modernist Bruno Schulz (1898-1942) with a remarkable instance of scission and damaged contiguity. Almost certainly his last creative works, nursery murals that Schulz had painted for a Gestapo officer’s villa were discovered and then spirited out of Drohobycz in several fragments.  Transported to Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem with a portion left in situ in Ukraine, they now endure an uncannily ruptured afterlife in unintended echo of what Schulz celebrated mythopoeically as 'the migration of forms.' That this fate also echoes a series of transpositions and appropriations undergone by the biographical figure of Schulz himself across the border of the late 20th and early 21st century prose fiction makes the episode especially uncanny. In this talk, we will consider an unlikely epilogue of artist/artifact transit across the boundaries of nation, language, and cultural heritage.

Bio: Dr. Adam Zachary Newton is University Professor and Ronald P. Stanton Chair in Literature and the Humanities at Yeshiva University and former chair of the Yeshiva College English department. He did his graduate work in literature and philosophy at Harvard University, and in addition to his many articles, essays, and plenary talks, has published five books under the general rubric of the ethics of reading in the areas of Narrative Theory, American Studies, Modern Jewish Thought, Comparative Literature, and Jewish Studies. He is now at work on a sixth monograph on the subject of Jewish Studies and the academic Humanities.

"Enlightened Exoticism? Lady Anne Barnard at the Cape of Good Hope, 1797-1802," Greg Clingham, Bucknell University/Bucknell University Press

When Feb 22, 2016
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern Building
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Abstract: Lady Anne Lindsay Barnard (1750-1825) was the wife of a colonial administrator at the Cape of Good Hope, 1797-1802, under the governorship of Sir George Macartney and Sir George Yonge. The object of merely sentimental interest till the 1990s, critical attention to her letters, diaries and watercolours reveals the engagement of a subtle, sceptical, and creative mind whose work and wit offer remarkable insights into life in the colony – standing at the crossroads of East and West at a crucial historical moment – and that raise questions about the relations between history, fiction and politics that continue to be relevant today.

Bio: Greg Clingham is the John P. Crozer Chair of English Literature and the Director of the University Press at Bucknell University, Pennsylvania, where he teaches courses on literature 1650-1850, and on a wide range of texts in their relations with law, history, East-West relations, the exotic, memory, translation, and landscape. He is the author of Johnson, Writing, and Memory (Cambridge, 2002) and also of many other books and essays on Johnson, Boswell, Dryden, and issues in historiography and translation.

"Beyond the Color Curtain: Cold War Networks and the Global South Imaginary," Anne Garland Mahler, University of Arizona

When Feb 15, 2016
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern Building
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Abstract: The networked nature of politics today has led to a divergence from postcolonial and ethnic studies rubrics towards horizontalist approaches to cultural criticism like the Global South.  This talk details the cultural history of this horizontal turn through tracing the roots of the contemporary notion of the Global South to the ideology of a profoundly influential but largely elided cold war movement called the Tricontinental.  Mahler argues that this ideology, which was disseminated among the international Left through the Tricontinental’s expansive cultural production, revised a black Atlantic resistant subjectivity into a global vision of subaltern resistance that is resurfacing today.

Bio: Dr. Anne Garland Mahler is an assistant professor of Latin American cultural studies at the University of Arizona.  Her research interests include global south studies, black internationalism, and cold war politics, and her book manuscript is entitled The Color of Resistance: Race and Solidarity from the Tricontinental to the Global South.  Her second project, Men with Guns: Cultures of Paramilitarism in the Modern Americas, was awarded a 2015 Ford-LASA Special Projects Grant.  Mahler’s articles have appeared in Latin American Research Review; Small Axe: A Caribbean Platform for Criticism; Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies; and U.S. Latino(a) Studies.  

"Revolutionary Indians: Ramón Emerterio Betances & the Specters of 19th Century Caribbean Patriotism," Kahlil Chaar-Pérez, University of Pittsburgh

When Feb 08, 2016
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern Building
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Abstract: This lecture will examine the revolutionary aesthetics and politics of the late-nineteenth-century Puerto Rican intellectual Ramón Emeterio Betances.  An under examined figure in Caribbean history, Betances stood out among the contemporary Hispanic Caribbean elite for his singular experiences of dislocation: he lived most of his life in France; he included Haiti within his vision of a Caribbean federation; and he was of African descent.   Focusing on his early romantic novella The Two Indians (1853) and his texts on Haiti, we will ask how Betances’s resignification of indigeneity and patriotism offer alternate routes to understanding the emergence of nationalist traditions in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. 

Bio: Kahlil Chaar-Pérez is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Pittsburgh through the Department of Hispanic Languages and Literatures. He specializes in Caribbean and Latin American modern and contemporary literatures and culture, recently co-edited a special issue of Discourse journal dedicated to Édouard Glissant, and is currently working on a book project about creole intellectuals, anticolonial politics, and visions of colonial crisis in nineteenth-century Cuba and Puerto Rico.

"Temporalities of Emergency: Literary Form and Counter-Insurgency in Twentieth-Century Jamacian Fiction," Nicole Rizzuto, Georgetown University

When Feb 01, 2016
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
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Abstract: The last decade has witnessed ongoing debates about the implementation of Emergency law in response to insurgency and terrorism. A question world powers confront post 9/11 is, “what is the temporality of Emergency; what justifies its extension through time?” Colonial novels of Jamaica demonstrate that this question has a history and a literary history.  In their formal stagings of the Morant Bay rebellion of 1865 and the brutal counter-insurgency that ensued, forgotten works by Herbert George de Lisser and Victor Stafford Reid alternately elaborate and challenge a rhetoric of “necessity” that governs arguments for the temporal extension of Emergency law during the colonial era, a rhetoric that has returned anew today.

Bio: Nicole Rizzuto is Assistant Professor of English at Georgetown University. She is author of Insurgent Testimonies: Witnessing Colonial Trauma in Modern and Anglophone Literature (Fordham University Press, December 2015). Her work appears in Comparative Literature, College Literature, Twentieth-Century Literature, Contemporary French and Francophone Studies, World Picture, and Contemporary Literature.

 

"When Liberation Coincides with Total Destruction: Walt Whitman's Biopolitics in Post-Katrina New Orleans and the Second Gulf War," Christian Haines, Dartmouth College

When Jan 25, 2016
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern Building
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Abstract: This paper argues for a biopolitical approach to Walt Whitman’s poetry, one that considers how Whitman locates utopian possibility in a poetics of the flesh. I examine two adaptations of Whitman’s poetry, a 2009 Levi’s Jeans commercial directed by Cary Fukunaga and Rob Halpern’s 2012 collection of poetry Music for Porn. The former stages Whitman’s utopian aspirations in post-Katrina New Orleans, the latter revises Whitman’s Civil War poetry in response to the second Gulf War. In both cases, the historical wounds borne by bodies become sites for reimagining social futures. Whitman’s name, I propose, becomes a crossroads in which the long disaster of American exceptionalism converges with struggles to construct a world beyond the constraints of capitalist and state formations.

Bio: Christian Haines is Assistant Professor of English at Dartmouth College. He is completing his first book, A Desire Called America: Biopolitics, Utopia, and the Literary Commons, which examines utopian figurations of corporeality in nineteenth-century and contemporary U.S. literature. He has published essays in journals including Criticism, Genre, and Angelaki: A Journal of the Theoretical Humanities. He is co-editor and a contributor to a forthcoming special issue of Cultural Critique entitled “What Comes After the Subject?” His current research examines the relationship between contemporary cultural production and finance capital.

2015 Marathon Reading

When Sep 24, 2015 12:00 PM to
Sep 25, 2015 01:00 PM
Where Pattee/Paterno Library lawn
Contact Name
Contact Phone 814-863-4288
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Marathon Reading 2015

Marathon of Madness

During this annual event, volunteers take turns reading over a 24-hour period. This year's event, Marathon of Madness, focuses on literature surrounding madness and psychological themes, by authors from around the world. Each title will be available in English and the original language in which it was published.

Questions? Want to sign up to read in advance?
Want to read in Want to read in Spanish, French, Japanese, German, Chinese, Portuguese or Russian?
We’ve got you covered. Email .

Thursday, Sept 24 at 12pm
Continuing overnight (Sleeping bags and downy-soft pillows recommended for overnighters) and finishing Friday afternoon

Pizza at 7pm on Thursday
Donuts, coffee and orange juice at 8am on Friday

To read or listen, just show up. Alums welcome! 

More information about this event…

“The Strength of Weak Links in the Sinophone System,” Jing Tsu, Yale University

When Apr 27, 2015
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern
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In the Chinese-language literary system, writers’ relations to one another are being reshuffled across time and space. Distant parallels are drawn into ever closer proximities, and the implicit comradeship once presumed between fellow exiles outside of mainland China can be repolarized due to this change. In the ocean that is the world literary space, intimacy can be uncomfortable. The compression of the global literary space is opening new doors and backchannels for loosening and tightening the grip of national literary geographies. New internal horizons and platforms are opening up, each eager to become a new site of comparisons—and perhaps to invite or disinvite renewed relations. For the first time—and never so evident—global, regional, national, and local interests are simultaneously in play. Approaching large-scale literary studies from the perspective of local and regional alliances, my talk explicates these dynamics in terms of the weak, and how margins forge their own margins. I highlight Taiwan in a dynamic triangulation with Hong Kong and Macau that is largely unseen on the world stage, and analyze, at the same time, the proliferation of new internal peripheries in Taiwan literature and how it manages such diversity. What would normally be distinguished as local and transregional accounts, then, works in tandem to animate what I have called “literary governance,” a decentralized but generative process in language-literature systems that is mobilized around hard and soft thresholds of language access, where combinations of affective attachments and institutional, or material, power are reproduced to uneven effects.

“Asian American Poetry and the Politics of Form,” Dorothy Wang, Williams College

When Apr 20, 2015
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern
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Poetry studies—and literary studies more generally—have relegated Asian American poetry to tertiary status: as minority writing that lacks the pizazz of “real” minority literature and as poetic work that cannot be countenanced as “real” poetry. Asian American poetry functions as “identity” poetry, a side dish offering at a multicultural literary food court. The long history (over 130 years old) and wide formal spectrum of this body of writing are simply unknown to the great majority of poetry critics. To what extent does this ignorance reflect an unwillingness to think about the racial occlusions at the heart of our study of American poetry? How do insights into critical attitudes towards Asian American poetry—a category that links the most exalted literary genre and the most non-native of American English speakers—yield a glimpse into unexamined assumptions about English-language poetry and about fundamental poetic categories and concepts?

“A Group Interview with Nathaniel Mackey,” Nathaniel Mackey, Duke University

When Apr 13, 2015
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern
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Nathaniel Mackey, winner of the National Book Award for poetry and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize for Lifetime Achievement, will discuss his work with a small panel of Penn State scholars. After a brief introduction to Mackey’s work by a Penn State faculty member, the panel will interview Mackey about his “discrepant engagements” as an author, editor, professor, and radio DJ. Following the interview, the panel will open the floor to questions from the audience. This event should be of interest to those seeking an introduction to Mackey’s writing as well as to those already familiar with it. It will also precede Professor Mackey’s second engagement at Penn State: a poetry reading on the evening of Tuesday, April 14, in the Palmer Lipcon Auditorium.

Nathaniel Mackey works in the areas of modern and postmodern literature in the U.S. and the Caribbean, creative writing, poetry and poetics, and the intersection of literature and music. He is the author of several books of poetry, fiction and criticism, most recently Nod House (New Directions, 2011), Bass Cathedral (New Directions, 2008), and Paracritical Hinge: Essays, Talks, Notes, Interviews (University of Wisconsin Press, 2005), respectively. Strick: Song of the Andoumboulou 16-25, a compact disc recording of poems read with musical accompaniment (Royal Hartigan, percussion; Hafez Modirzadeh, reeds and flutes), was released in 1995 by Spoken Engine Company. He is editor of the literary magazine Hambone and coeditor, with Art Lange, of the anthology Moment's Notice: Jazz in Poetry and Prose (Coffee House Press, 1993).

“The World Unspoken: Kleist, Kafka, McCarthy,” Ian Fleishman, University of Pennsylvania

When Apr 06, 2015
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern
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This talk will interrogate the tension between the spoken, or the written, word and the world of the ineffable through three brief and enigmatic visions of horses in the works of Heinrich von Kleist, Franz Kafka and Cormac McCarthy. Exposing and exploding the limits of language and the limits of the human, these three authors long for a world unspoken: not merely an unspoken world or a world unspeakable, but rather an imagined paradise that is urgently and actively unspoken, undone by the very language that would otherwise describe it. It is through this unspeaking, through the casting off of the constraints of language, that Kleist, Kafka and McCarthy attempt an opening unto the noumenal, that the necessity of saying transcends itself and is transformed into an ecstasy of being.

Ian Thomas Fleishman is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures at the University of Pennsylvania. He completed his PhD in French and German Literature at Harvard in 2013. His first book manuscript is titled An Aesthetics of Injury: The Narrative Wound from Baudelaire to Tarantino. He has published in The German Quarterly, French Studies, The Journal of Austrian Studies and elsewhere on subjects ranging from the Baroque to contemporary cinema.

"Fine Illuminations: A visual essay on refinement, finesse, and global Cuba," Jacqueline Loss, University of Connecticut

When Mar 30, 2015
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern
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Fino,” is a term frequently used by Cubans to evoke anything from refined, fine, educated, picky and glamorous, to elegant, delicate, gay, sexually repressed, and even whiter. Jacqueline Loss will consider how Cubans’ perception of this category reveals their racial, class, and gender anxieties, alluded to in the citation above. Building on diverse discussions on aesthetic judgment, Bourdieu’s Distinction and Sianne Ngai’s analysis of the zany, cute, and interesting for late capitalism, Loss seeks to theorize and historicize another category, “lo fino” (that which is fino), through which Cubans delineate their complex relationships toward capitalist and socialist consumption as well as contrasting modes of comportment that have been affected by distinct ideologies and historical encounters.  Wedding artistic practice to cultural studies scholarship, Loss seeks to not only trace the lineage and repercussions of this term for Cubans, but also to show how this aesthetic category is conditioned by place and circumstance. The resulting tapestry composed of interviewees’ words, archival research, and photographs by the internationally acclaimed Cuban photographer, Juan Carlos Alom, begins to tell a story about how a seemingly small, apparently aesthetic category elucidates the intersections among race, gender, and aesthetic theories. 

Jacqueline Loss is a professor of Latin American and Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of Connecticut. Her publications include Dreaming in Russian: The Cuban Soviet Imaginary (University of Texas Press, 2013), Cosmopolitanisms and Latin America: Against the Destiny of Place (Palgrave, 2005) and the co-edited volumes, Caviar with Rum: Cuba-USSR and the Post-Soviet Experience (Palgrave, 2012, Ed. with Jose Manuel Prieto) and New Short Fiction from Cuba (Northwestern University Press, 2007, Ed. with Esther Whitfield). She has published numerous articles and translated Cuban authors, including Antonio Álvarez Gil, Armando Suárez Cobián, Ernesto René Rodríguez, Jorge Miralles, Anna Lidia Vega Serova, Antonio Álvarez Gil, and Víctor Fowler Calzada.

“Threshold to the Kingdom: The Airport is a Border and the Border is a Volume,” Matthew Hart, Columbia University

When Mar 23, 2015
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern
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This talk considers the airport as an international border area. Its analysis is based on three linked premises: (1) in airports, legal and political practices of sovereignty, jurisdiction, and control become disaggregated; (2) borders between territories do not represent the edges of Euclidean geopolitical planes but ought, rather, to be considered as a three-dimensional volumes; and (3) the airport exemplifies and dramatizes a broader historical trend in which the space of the border has proliferated and become distended, appearing not merely at the edges of territories but within and throughout. Though its premises are rooted in social scientific research, the talk considers three main examples. First up is the defection scene in the opening chapter of Rudolf Nureyev's autobiography, Nureyev (1963), in which the great Bashkiri dancer stages his “leap to freedom” in a Paris airport. Second and third are two works by the British artist Mark Wallinger: his Turner Prize-winning installation, State Britain (2007), and Threshold to the Kingdom (2000), a video installation from which the talk takes its title and inspiration.

Matthew Hart teaches in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. His book, Nations of Nothing But Poetry, was published by Oxford UP in 2010. He is founding co-editor of the Columbia UP book series, Literature Now, and associate editor of Contemporary Literature. He is currently Past President of ASAP: the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present.

“The Labours of Tovarisch: Ezra Pound’s Slavic Worlds,” Mykola Polyuha, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania

When Mar 16, 2015
from 12:15 PM to 01:25 PM
Where 102 Kern
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While Ezra Pound’s biography and works seem to have been thoroughly examined, his heritage contains aspects that remain overlooked. The presence of Eastern European motifs constitutes one of such neglected areas. Although critics occasionally make cursory comments, a detailed elaboration of the topic is non-existent. Typically, Poundian scholars tend to believe that the poet was little concerned with Eastern Europe and his knowledge of the region is by default regarded as insignificant. Pound’s writings, however, testify the opposite. Leonard Doob’s quantitative analysis of Pound’s war speeches, for example, demonstrates that sixty-two percent of Pound’s radio broadcasts contain references to the Soviet Union. Indeed, one can hardly claim that Pound did not know anything at all about Eastern European countries. Many figures whom Pound admired and many friends whose works he often revised either traveled to Eastern Europe, or wrote about the region, or were of Eastern European origin. Eastern European countries were additionally the arenas for the 20th century major historical events (the Bolshevik revolution, both world wars, etc.), i.e., the events that left no one, including Pound, indifferent.

My talk considers Pound’s acquaintance with Eastern European (primarily Russian) cultural and politico-economical realm. By analyzing Pound’s literary heritage, I attempt to determine the broadness and accuracy of his expertise in Russia. In the talk, I will examine both common stereotypes about Eastern Europe that Pound shared with his contemporaries and his own unique views of the region. 

"Mirrored Resonance: Writing English in Chinese Characters," Jonathan Stalling, University of Oklahoma

When Mar 02, 2015
from 12:15 PM to 01:25 PM
Where 102 Kern
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Letters are not the building blocks of words—they merely represent the sounds that are, and Chinese characters can do this just as well, if not better.

Roughly 170 years ago, Chinese merchants in Hong Kong invented a system for writing English speech sounds in Chinese characters (morphosyllabic transliteration) still widely employed today to learn English pronunciation and to transcribe foreign words and proper names into Chinese (see Names of the World's Peoples: a Comprehensive Dictionary of Names in Roman-Chinese (世界人名翻译大辞典).  While this syllabic method of transcription reaches all the way back to writing on oracle bones, its more widespread use to transcribe English has helped consolidate, disseminate, and maintain pervasive phonotactic rules specific to so-called “China-English” (including systematic deletions, substitutions, additions, and stress-time “syllabification”). In fact, one can argue that the fate Chinese characters and the English language are now deeply intertwined as these phonotactic rules now govern the speech behaviors of more English speakers than there are Americans alive.

In this lecture Dr. Jonathan Stalling will explore several permutations of Chinese-English interlangauges as they lead into his Sinophonic English opera (Yingelishi) before turning to a new work he is calling Mirrored Resonance: The SinoEnglish Rime Tables. In this new project, Stalling draws upon Classical Chinese phonetics to imagine a new digraphic foundation for Chinese-English interlanguages structured within the epistemological framework of traditional rime tables. However, at the center of this new work lies a novel algorithm, which has now transcribed over 130,000 English words into “Sinographic English” along with new 3D digital learning environments created to accurately teach English pronunciation through Chinese characters in new ways.

 Jonathan Stalling is an Associate Professor of English specializing in cross-cultural poetics, comparative literature, and translation studies at the University of Oklahoma, where he is the founding editor of Chinese Literature Today magazine and book series and the curator of the Chinese Literature Translation Archive at the University of Oklahoma Library. His books include Poetics of Emptiness (Fordham) (recently published in Chinese as 虚无诗学), Grotto Heaven, Yingelishi(吟歌丽诗), and Lost Wax: Translation through the Void (TinFish early 2015). He is also an editor of The Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry: a Critical Edition (Fordham) and the translator of Winter Sun: The Poetry of Shi Zhi (1966-2007) (University of Oklahoma Press).

"Towards an Aesthetics of Stigmata: From Van Gogh's Paintings to Claire Denis's Films," Sabine Doran, Penn State

When Feb 23, 2015
from 12:15 PM to 01:25 PM
Where 102 Kern
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This talk explores an aesthetics of stigmata, as framed by Claire Denis’s recent films, The Intruder and Trouble Every Day, and in dialogue with Van Gogh’s painterly engagement with stigmatic inscriptions at the turn of the century. Van Gogh’s emphasis on the stigmatic role of yellow in his late work, expressed through forms of “kinetic aggressivity,” will be shown to parallel the transgressive nature of Denis’s films, transgressive in both the formal and the affective senses, as thematized, for example, in sacrificial rituals (the Christ-like figure of the son in L’Intrus). At stake in both Van Gogh’s and Denis’s work is an insistence on the corporeal within networks of forces. 

Sabine Doran is Associate Professor in the Department of German and Slavic Languages and Literatures. She is the author of The Culture of Yellow, or, The Visual Politics of Late Modernity (London: Bloomsbury, 2013) and is currently working on a book on synaesthesia.

"The First Hebrew Shakespeare Translations," Lily Kahn, University College London

When Feb 16, 2015
from 12:15 PM to 01:25 PM
Where 102 Kern
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"The Disintegration of Civil War Memory in Brown v. Board Literature," Michael LeMahieu, Clemson University

When Feb 09, 2015
from 12:15 PM to 01:25 PM
Where 102 Kern
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In 1963, as the Civil War centennial commemoration unfolded in the midst of the Civil Rights movement, James Baldwin declared that “the country is celebrating one hundred years of freedom one hundred years too soon.” In the decade leading up to Baldwin’s declaration, Flannery O’Connor, Carson McCullers, and Gwendolyn Brooks staged the aesthetic disintegration of Civil War memory even as they represented racial integration in public education. O’Connor’s “A Late Encounter with the Enemy” (1953) and McCullers’s Clock Without Hands (1961) counter the lost cause mythology of Gone with the Wind by irreverently converting Civil War memory from lived experience to cultural narrative. Brooks’s 1960 Emmett Till poems explicitly represent the generic disintegration of Civil War memory as chivalric romance.

Comp Lit Lunch Flyer Feb 9.jpgMichael LeMahieu is Associate Professor of English and Director of the Pearce Center for Professional Communication at Clemson University. He is the author of Fictions of Fact and Value: The Erasure of Logical Positivism in American Literature, 1945-1975 (Oxford, 2013) and co-editor of the journal Contemporary Literature. His articles and reviews have appeared in African American Review, American Studies, Modernism/Modernity, and Twentieth-Century Literature. During the Spring 2015 term, he is Visiting Faculty Fellow at the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale.

 

"Resuming Maurice: Maeterlinck and Literary Celebrity," Philip Mosley, Penn State, Worthington Scranton

When Feb 02, 2015
from 12:15 PM to 01:25 PM
Where 102 Kern
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However one chooses to define a literary celebrity, there is no doubt that Maurice Maeterlinck was one. For much of the first half of the twentieth century, the Nobel prizewinning Belgian was one of the most famous authors in the world, his books translated into many languages and selling in huge numbers. On his first visit to the United States in 1919 people clamored to meet him and hear him speak. Along Fifth Avenue in New York City bunting was hung in his honor. Yet since his death in 1949 his oeuvre--mainly poetry, plays, and essays--has been largely neglected. His translated works with very few exceptions exist only in reprints of those early versions that had poured from the printing presses in the first quarter of the century when he was at the peak of his fame. In a media-saturated age, one in which the line increasingly blurs between being a celebrity for what you have accomplished and being one for who you happen to be, it is unsurprising that celebrity studies has already become a fully-fledged academic discipline. An offshoot of cultural studies, its main interest is in contemporary celebrity, but it has also begun to historicize the phenomenon. As far as it concerns literary celebrity, most work so far suggests that the modern idea begins in the Romantic period, gathers pace through the nineteenth century, and evolves to the point of producing a primary celebrity figure in Maeterlinck by the beginning of the twentieth century. Such an idea of modern literary celebrity involves the post-Rousseau cult of individual subjectivity, and the key factor in separating it from, for instance, the renown of an Enlightenment figure such as Samuel Johnson is the commercialization of literature as a result of industrial production of books and magazines. This revolutionary turn in literary culture brings with it an increase in critics and reviewers, a vast readership (due also in no small measure to the extension of education), and a wide dissemination of corresponding images made possible by the art of photography. By the time of Maeterlinck’s career as an author, we may add to this cumulative process the elaboration of promotion and publicity via motion pictures and radio, and the emergence of modern techniques of advertising, marketing, and public relations.

Comp Lit Lunch Flyer Feb 2.jpgPhilip Mosley is Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the Worthington Scranton campus of the Pennsylvania State University, USA. He is an Associate Editor of Comparative Literature Studies and has served on the board of the Pennsylvania Humanities Council. His book publications include Ingmar Bergman: The Cinema as Mistress (1982); Georges Rodenbach: Critical Essays (1996); Split Screen: Belgian Cinema and Cultural Identity (2001); Anthracite! An Anthology of Pennsylvania Coal Region Plays (2006); The Cinema of the Dardenne Brothers: Responsible Realism (2014). Additionally, he has translated a number of Belgian authors from French to English including Guy Vaes (October Long Sunday, 1997), Georges Rodenbach (Bruges-la-Morte, 2007), Maurice Maeterlinck (The Intelligence of Flowers, 2008), and François Jacqmin (The Book of the Snow, 2010, shortlisted for the international Griffin Poetry Prize). He was awarded the 2008 Literary Translation Prize by the French Community of Belgium in recognition of his contribution to the dissemination of Belgian francophone literature. A native of England who immigrated to the USA in 1988, he holds a BA in English from the University of Leeds, an MA in European Literature and a PhD in Comparative Literature, both from the University of East Anglia. In 2000 he was Visiting Professor at the University of Toulouse, France; in 2003-04 was Fulbright Visiting Professor at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium; and in 2013 was Visiting Professor at the University College of Sint-Lukas, Brussels, Belgium.

"Plastic: The Desire for a Container," Heather Davis, Penn State

When Jan 26, 2015
from 12:15 PM to 01:25 PM
Where 102 Kern
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From take-out containers to water bottles to hazmat suits, the practically ubiquitous material of plastic seals objects and bodies from their surrounding environment. But it does not do so benignly; it is one of the foremost causes of pollution in the oceans amongst other environmental problems. As an agent of containment and contamination, plastic is bound to new ecological realities, creating new aesthetic surfaces as it coats the earth. This paper will reconsider the world of plastic containers, asking how this material contains life.

Comp Lit Lunch Flyer Jan 26.jpgHeather Davis is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for the Arts and Humanities at Pennsylvania State University. She is the author of numerous articles and the editor of Art in the Anthropocene: Encounters Among Aesthetics, Politics, Environment and Epistemology (Open Humanities Press, forthcoming 2015) and Desire/Change: Contemporary Canadian Feminist Art (McGill-Queen's Press, forthcoming 2016).