Department Calendar

February 2017

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" World Without Us: The Problem of the Nonhuman in the Fantasy of William Morris," John Plotz

" World Without Us: The Problem of the Nonhuman in the Fantasy of William Morris," John Plotz

Friday, February 10, 2017 - 3:00pm
Location: 
302 Philosophy
Event Category: 
Talks

Feb 10 - The Nineteenth Century Colloquium will be hosting a talk from John Plotz (Brandeis University) titled "World Without Us: The Problem of the Nonhuman in the Fantasy of William Morris." All are welcome.

Recent scholarly debates on the question of the nonhuman have sparked productive reconsideration of many 19th and early 20th century American texts. Works on vitalism, Naturalism and horror have proposed new ways to think about what Eugene Thacker labels the “planetary”: the world that exists “without us.” Though scholars of British literature have been less quick to look beyond animal studies to think through the unsettling legacy of Darwinian natural materialism, this paper argues that the question of the nonhuman is at the heart of William Morris’s profoundly influential reinvention of fantasy genre during the 1890’s. It takes as its point of departure recent work by Eugene Thacker and Kate Marshall that focuses on the genre of horror as the locus classicus of ways of thinking the planetary while arguing for a different way of understanding how aesthetic works might approach the “without us” quality of the planetary. If horror presumes the disquieting uncanny abyss that opens up in and around the everyday, fantasy offers instead quietude and junction, the totally cognizable world that is present and available—only, away from us. Faced with a nonhuman world that surrounds and encompasses all human activity, the prose romances Morris wrote after News from Nowhere conceive of a planetary space in which human activity accommodates and responds to its worldliness, rather than instrumentalizing and appropriating nature as “for use.” Though Morris’s contemporaries and later scholars have excoriated the “epoch of rest” or “anemic” qualities of such removed worlds, this paper reassesses these qualities’ purpose. The vision he offers is not for humanity as it now is, or the world around humanity as it now is, but instead poses an entirely disjunct realm, in accessible from the human present: a world without us that is the formal and conceptual antithesis of horror.

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02/10/2017 - 3:00pm
 
 
 
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Brent Hayes Edwards and Jean-Christophe Cloutier on Claude McKay

Brent Hayes Edwards and Jean-Christophe Cloutier on Claude McKay

Thursday, February 16, 2017 - 7:00pm
Location: 
Book Culture - 536 W 112th St
Event Category: 
Talks

Feb 15 - Join us at 7pm for a reading and discussion of Amiable with Big Teeth, a newly discovered novel by Claude McKay, edited with an introduction by Jean-Christophe Cloutier and Brent Hayes Edwards.
 
A monumental literary event: the newly discovered final novel by seminal Harlem Renaissance writer Claude McKay, a rich and multilayered portrayal of life in 1930s Harlem and a historical protest
for black freedom.
 
The unexpected discovery in 2009 of a completed manuscript of Claude McKay's final novel was celebrated as one of the most significant literary events in recent years. Building on the already extraordinary legacy of McKay's life and work, this colorful, dramatic novel centers on the efforts by Harlem intelligentsia to organize support for the liberation of fascist-controlled Ethiopia, a crucial but largely forgotten event in American history. At once a penetrating satire of political machinations in Depression-era Harlem and a far-reaching story of global intrigue and romance, Amiable with Big Teeth plunges into the concerns, anxieties, hopes, and dreams of African-Americans at a moment of crisis for the soul of Harlem and America.
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02/16/2017 - 7:00pm
 
"'This Moment of Manumission': Representing Exceptional Blackness in Claudia Rankine's Citizen and Marvel Comics' Captain America," Dr. Jonathan Gray

"'This Moment of Manumission': Representing Exceptional Blackness in Claudia Rankine's Citizen and Marvel Comics' Captain America," Dr. Jonathan Gray

Friday, February 17, 2017 - 4:00pm
Location: 
Butler 203
Event Category: 
Talks

Feb 17 - This talk considers Claudia Rankine's depictions of Serena Williams and Zinedine Zidane in her latest poetry collection, Citizen: An American Lyric alongside Marvel Comics recent reconceptualization of Captain America to illuminate the ways that exceptional citizenship extends to those racial minorities that purportedly represent the noblest ideals of the state. Both Rankine and the creative teams at Marvel that produce Captain America want their readers to question the iconicity of these figures, to trouble their positioning in popular culture in order to grapple with how exceptional Black citizenship exposes the contradictions of race in post post-Civil Rights, post- 9/11 America.

Bio: Jonathan W. Gray, Associate Professor of English at John Jay College-CUNY and the CUNY Graduate Center, works on post-WWII American culture, specifically African American literary production, popular culture, comic books and graphic novels, and narratives of visual culture. His first book, Civil Rights in the White Literary Imagination (Mississippi) traces changes in white literary production during the period between the Brown case and the death of Martin Luther King. His forthcoming project, Illustrating the Race (Columbia), investigates how the twin understandings of illustration—the creative act of depiction and the political act of bringing forth for public consideration—function in the representation of African Americans in comics and graphic narratives published since 1966. Prof. Gray co-edited Disability in Comics and Graphic Novels for Palgrave McMillian and founded the Journal of Comics and Culture (Pace). Prof. Gray’s journalism on popular culture has appeared in The New Republic, Entertainment Weekly, Salon.com, Medium, and the New Inquiry.

Free and open to the public.

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02/17/2017 - 4:00pm
 
 
 
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"Networked Solitude," Amy Hungerford (Yale)

"Networked Solitude," Amy Hungerford (Yale)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017 - 4:00pm
Location: 
CSER Seminar Room, 420 Hamilton Hall
Event Category: 
Talks

Feb 22 - Laying out large-scale framing questions for a new project, “Networked Solitude” asks what relevance acts of solitude in American literature and culture from the 19th century to the present—with their ancient and modern tributaries, from Buddhist, Christian, psychological, poetic, disciplinary, and social-theoretical sources—have for our conception of social life. The talk proposes that in transforming our understanding of what it at stake in the archives of solitude that we may reopen older questions about exactly how and to what end human acts of imagination have their effects. Points of reference in the talk include Viet Nguyen, Harriet Jacobs, Sojourner Truth, Henry Thoreau, Milarepa, Benedict Anderson, Michel Foucault, and contemporary network science.

Amy Hungerford is Professor of English and Dean of the Humanities Division at Yale University. She is author of The Holocaust of Texts: Genocide, Literature, and Personification (Chicago, 2003) and Postmodern Belief: American Literature and Religion Since 1960 (Princeton, 2010). Her new monograph, Making Literature Now (Stanford University Press, 2016) is about the social networks within which contemporary literature—in both digital and traditional media—comes to be written and read. She is the editor of the Norton Anthology of American Literature, 9th ed., Volume E, “Literature Since 1945.”

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02/22/2017 - 4:00pm
 
 
 
 
 
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