This Week in English | October 18-23, 2021

King Chair Hosts Susan Choi this Thursday and Friday

On Thursday, October 21st, 5:30pm-6:30pm, National Book Award-winning novelist Susan Choi will be giving a talk and reading from her novel Trust Exercise as part of the Stephen E. King Chair Lecture Series. This event will take place in the Minsky Recital Hall (adjacent to the Collins Center for the Arts), and is free and open to the public (masks required). Books will be available for purchase and signing.

On Friday, October 22, 10am-12:00pm in the Writing Center, Choi will be running a fiction-writing workshop for a limited number of students. Students interested in this opportunity, contact Professor Bicks as soon as possible to reserve a spot. (And yes, this is an acceptable excuse for not attending English 271: The Act of Interpretation that day.)

An Update from Professor Emerita Naomi Jacobs

Naomi Jacobs retired at the end of the 2019-2020 academic year and was awarded the title Professor Emerita of English effective September 1, 2020. She writes in with this welcome update:

Pandemic restrictions have kept me mostly around home, except for day hikes around Maine and a visit to family in Minnesota when case numbers were low. I’m keeping my garden well tended and my old house standing, learning a few new tricks in the kitchen, brushing up my French, writing and editing for the Master Gardeners newsletter, and reading whatever my fancy or my book club dictates. Recently Nate and I watched The Big Sleep (still remarkably fresh at 75 years old!), which sent me to Raymond Chandler’s novels for the first time. Having so much leisure makes me feel like a character out of Jane Austen, minus the servants and the marriage market of course. My essay on “The Posthuman” is scheduled to appear in the New Palgrave Handbook of Utopia and Dystopia (2022).

English Major and Associate Professor to Present on Undergraduate Research in the Eighteenth Century at National Conference

Elizabeth Neiman, Associate Professor of English and WGS, and Molly Glueck, an English major, will participate in a roundtable at the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies’s next annual conference in Baltimore in the spring. Here is the abstract for their accepted presentation on “Annotation and Redaction: Undergraduate Research in Black Studies and Romanticism”:

In spring 2021, Professor Elizabeth Neiman drew Christina Sharpe’s In the Wake (2016) and Saidiya Hartman’s Lose Your Mother (2006) to the center of a British Romanticism course otherwise centered by Wordsworth’s 1805 Prelude. Molly Glueck, a standout first-year student, used Sharpe’s methods of Black annotation and redaction to question what she then perceived as a dichotomy between imaginative freedom and constraint—a view she has since recognized as shaped by Romanticism’s legacy.

Neiman and Glueck co-authored a paper about this course at the virtual Black Studies & Romanticism conference at Mount Holyoke last June—an exceptional conference electric with the sense of possibility. Contributors of color spoke passionately of the continued appeal but also painful failure of the radical Romantic promise for freedom (both as a politics and aesthetics) and presented Black Studies as a site that may provide tools to better actualize this promise than Romantic studies as currently practiced. A Romanticism revised would be as centered on Black voices and experiences as now-canonical voices—and would retain (albeit in new ways) an emphasis on freedom and the imagination.

As participants in this roundtable, Neiman and Glueck will reflect together on their collaboration for this conference (from what it was like to collaborate together to how the conference experience itself has sparked their continued dialogue about the 2021 course and Glueck’s continued interest in Romanticism and its legacy). Neiman will serve as Glueck’s faculty advisor as she begins new research on how for at least some Romantic writers constraint appears to have been a necessary component of the sublime, since redacted.

The Agony of Time: A Remembrance of Marie Uguay on October 28 

Forty years ago, on October 26, 1981, the phenomenal Quebec poet Marie Uguay’s life and writing were cut short by bone cancer. She was twenty-six years old. Associated with Les intimistes (The Intimists), a group of Québécois poets who emerged in the 1980s and 90s, Uguay left behind three remarkable volumes of poetry and a searing personal journal. Hers is a poetry of luminous image in which words become characters that speak the complexity of desire, the beauty of the material world, and the agony of time.

This bi-lingual (French and English) program will include film clips of Jean-Claude Labrecque’s documentary Marie Uguay, as well as readings from her poems and her personal journal (which Jennifer Moxley is in the process of translating). Please join us for a remembrance of this remarkable poet.

The event takes place on Thursday, October 28, 2021 from 4:30-6PM in the Allen and Sally Fernald APPE Space in the IMRC (Stewart Commons 104; where NWS events are held). It is co-sponsored by the Canadian American Center, the Modern Languages and Classics, and the English Department.

A Glimpse into the First-Year Composition Program

Keaton Studebaker is one of the two Wicks Fellows this academic year. The Ulrich Wicks Teaching Assistantship provides a third year of funding for MA students, “during which [they] continue to teach, to pursue scholarly, creative, and/or professional development activities, and to work under the direction of a faculty member to develop and teach a course in their area of specialization.” At the end of this year, Studebaker will receive an M.A. in English with a Graduate Certificate in Teaching in his field. For his Wicks Fellowship, Studebaker is working on an article that calls attention to the role of judgment in the ethics of psychoanalysis and aesthetics. He is also putting together a first year seminar (ENG 129) for the spring that will explore the topics of media and anxiety (which first-year students are encouraged to take).

Studebaker offers the following update of his students’ work in ENG 101 this week:

We recently finished reading Pierre Bourdieu’s essay “Authorized Language: The Social Conditions for the Effectiveness of Ritual Discourse.” Bourdieu’s essay is a response to J. L. Austin’s “Doing Things with Words,” which we read from earlier in the semester. Much of our class discussion has focused on how Bourdieu’s conditions for symbolic efficacy extend and complicate Austin’s ideas about how language does things. To help us consider the differences between Austin and Bourdieu, we looked at the coin toss scene from the film No Country for Old Men. The scene shows how, in Austin’s sense, language does things (for example, the bet changes the coin from a regular coin into the gas station attendant’s lucky coin); we can also see how, as Bourdieu puts it, “authority never governs without the collaboration of those it governs” (hence Chigurh’s insistence that the attendant call the coin toss). As part of our evaluation and response to Bourdieu, we contrasted this earlier coin toss with the coin toss from the end of the film to ask what the consequences of not collaborating with authority might be. Having now written two essays, we’ve additionally been thinking about revising for an outside audience. Our thinking about framing our essays for readers who are not members of our class has included discussion and writing about how the people Austin and Bourdieu each respond to informs the points they choose to emphasize.

Rimbaud Live Stream on Sunday

Jennifer Moxley wrote the introduction for Brian Kim Stefans’s new translations of the verse poems of Arthur Rimbaud, Festivals of Patience. This Sunday, October 24, at 5pm EST, Small Press Traffic and Kenning Editions will host a celebration of the book live streamed on YouTube.

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