Friday, October 26th, 4-6 pm, Room 4406, Jed Esty (University of Pennsylvania) – “Occidentalism Revisited: Conrad, Nabokov, and the Pornography of the West”

Twentieth Century studies field related talk – 10/26 Friday Forum:

Friday, October 26, 2012
4:00 PM, Room 4406

 Professor Jed Esty

University of Pennsylvania

Occidentalism Revisited: Conrad, Nabokov, and the Pornography of the West

Despite Nabokov’s root-and-branch rejection of any serious comparison between himself and Conrad (“I differ from Joseph Conradically”), the two writers share an unusual distinction as modern masters of English style for whom English was a third language. More to the point, both left the absolutist political worlds of greater Russia in order to discover the democratic West — Conrad as a mariner-gentleman drydocked in the heart of the British empire, Nabokov as a puckish Old World aesthete marooned in Eisenhower’s America. In this paper, I read The Secret Agent (1907) and Lolita (1955) as resonant parables of a continental agent burrowing into the folds of the so-called open society and exposing its points of ideological vulnerability. Conrad’s Verloc and Nabokov’s Humbert prey on and parody the domestic security of the English/American family, victimizing women and children, but also exposing the fetish of youth as it perversely defines the political, commercial, and sexual freedoms of two twentieth-century liberal superpowers.

Reception to Follow

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Friday, September 14th, 2-4pm, Room 5409 – Joe Cleary (Yale) – London Bridge is Falling Down: Irish and American Modernisms, Empire, and World Literature

 

The CUNY Graduate Center 20th/21st-Century Area Studies Group Speaker Series Fall 2012

 Joe Cleary

London Bridge is Falling Down: Irish and American Modernisms, Empire, and World Literature

Friday, September 14th

CUNY Graduate Center

Room 5409

2-4pm

 All are welcome

 Joe Cleary is a Visiting Professor at Yale University and a Professor in English at NUI Maynooth. He was educated in NUI Maynooth and in Columbia University, New York, where he studied with Edward W. Said. He is the author of Literature, Partition and the Nation-State: Culture and Conflict in Ireland, Israel and Palestine (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002) and Outrageous Fortune: Capital and Culture in Modern Ireland (Dublin: Field Day Publications, 2007). He has co-edited (with Claire Connolly) The Cambridge Companion to Modern Irish Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), and (with Michael de Nie) a special issue of Éire-Ireland on ‘Empire Studies’ (Summer 2007).

 

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Friday, April 27th, 12-2pm, Room 5409 – Terry Rowden (College of Staten Island, CUNY) – “Metablackness”

The CUNY Graduate Center Twentieth Century Area Studies Group Speaker Series Spring 2012

Terry Rowden (College of Staten Island, CUNY)

Friday, April 27th, 12-2pm, Room 5409

“Metablackness”

Looking beyond concepts like post-Civil Rights, post-Negritude, postrace, and postblack, in this paper I will conceptualize the term “Metablackness” as a way of considering the emergence of a new type of aesthetic and performative double-consciousness that, I believe, is rapidly becoming the dominant mode in African American creative culture. I will argue that in the U.S. the eradication of the last vestiges of de jure racism in the 1960s introduced the “play” into the structure that has enabled more existentially and representationally self-conscious types of black self-fashioning and artistic production.  Tracing a line from the essentially metablack work of Ishmael Reed to the generatively metablack dynamics of hip-hop, I will consider the ways in which a growing number of contemporary black artists ground their texts or performances in referential, intertextual, or satirical engagements with key tropes of African American culture in ways that fundamentally destabilize the notions of authenticity that have historically bedeviled African American creative artists in their movement beyond folk or assimilationist expressivity. In closing, I will posit that because, historically, calcified enactments of stereotyped notions of blackness have rendered blacks such easy targets for racist practices, African American social subjectivity has always been a much more motile and hybridized construct than fetishizations of Africanity, authenticity, and/or monoculturalism have lead us to believe.

Terry Rowden is associate professor of English at The College of Staten Island where he teaches and does research in the fields of African American literature and popular culture, continental philosophy and cultural theory, and global cinema. He is the author of The Songs of Blind Folk: African American Musicians and the Cultures of Blindness (University of Michigan Press, 2009) and co-editor of Transnational Cinema: The Film Reader (Routledge, 2006). His work has appeared in the collections Postcolonial Diasporas (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), Shifting Landscapes: Film and Media in European Context (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2008) and in the journals Southern Review, MELUS, English Language Notes, College Literature, Scope: An Online Journal of Film and TV Studies, and Black Camera: An International Film Journal.

Lunch will be provided.

Sponsored by the 20th Century Studies Student Area Group and The Africana Studies Group (DSC Chartered Organizations)

 

 

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Thursday, April 26th, 3-5 pm, Room 5409 – Laura Frost (New School) – “The Problem of Pleasure: Stein’s Tickle”

The CUNY Graduate Center Twentieth Century Area Studies Group Speaker Series Spring 2012

Laura Frost at the CUNY Graduate Center

Thursday, April 26th, 3-5 pm, Room 5409

The Problem of Pleasure: Stein’s Tickle

This talk will consider the nature of Steinian pleasure:  that is, whether and how her works give pleasure, and what kind of pleasure it is they might give.  Even Stein’s greatest admirers concede that much of her work is insurmountably obscure or unduly demanding.  Yet there has been a strong turn in recent Stein criticism toward interpreting her as a purveyor of sensuous pleasure that is secured by her abstraction and indeterminacy.  The same formal features that were deemed annoying or confusing have increasingly been read as the source of Stein’s appeal.  Looking at Stein’s experimental work from 1914 to her interwar lectures of the mid-1930s, and comparing her complex pleasures to high modernists such as Joyce and Eliot, Frost offers a new model for approaching the delights and difficulties of her texts: tickling.   Both infantile and erotic, delight-inducing and irritating, intersubjective and automatic, tickling is a social and neurobiological peculiarity whose character illuminates Stein’s methods and her reading effects as well as our notions of modernist difficulty.

Laura Frost is associate professor of literature at The New School.  The author of Sex Drives:  Fantasies of Fascism in Literary Modernism (Cornell University Press), she has also published articles on James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, D. H. Lawrence, Aldous Huxley, and Anita Loos, and essays on the cultural impact of 9/11.  Her most recent book, The Problem of Pleasure:  Modernism and Its Discontents, is under contract with Columbia University Press.

Sponsored by the 20th Century Studies Student Area Group (A DSC Chartered Organization)

CUNY Graduate Center

365 Fifth Avenue (at 34th Street, diagonally across from Empire State Building), Room 5409.

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Monday, April 23, 4:00-6:00 pm, Room 5409 – A Conversation about Contemporary Literary Biography with Adam Begley and D.T. Max

The CUNY Graduate Center Twentieth Century Area Studies Group Speaker Series Spring 2012

A Conversation about Contemporary Literary Biography with Adam Begley and D.T. Max

Monday, April 23, 4:00-6:00 pm, Room 5409

Please join Leon Levy Center for Biography fellows D.T. Max and Adam Begley for a discussion of the role of biography in the academic study of literature, moderated by English department doctoral candidate Judd Staley.

Adam Begley, currently working on a biography of John Updike, was books editor of The New York Observer from 1996 to 2009. D.T. Max is a writer for The New Yorker, and is at work on the first major biography of David Foster Wallace.

Graduate students and faculty, especially those interested in contemporary American literature and the role of biography in literary criticism, are encouraged to attend. The authors would like this event to be an interactive, seminar-style discussion, so attendees are encouraged to bring their own thoughts and questions about biography, Updike, Wallace, and other issues. If you are interested in attending, please email off-list:  literarybiography@gmail.com.

Sponsored by the 20th Century Studies Student Area Group (A DSC Chartered Organization) and the Leon Levy Center for Biography.

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March 2, 2012 – Andrew Parker (Amherst College) – “The Theorist’s Mother”

Notice of field related talk – Friday Forum:

Friday, March 2, 2012 

4:00 PM, Room 4406

Andrew C. Parker

Amherst College

The Theorist’s Mother

Noting how the mother is made to disappear perennially both as the object of theory and as its subject, Andrew Parker focuses in his forthcoming book on the legacies of Marx and Freud, who uniquely constrain their would-be heirs to “return to the origin” of each founding figure’s texts. Analyzing the effects of these constraints in the work of Lukács, Lacan, and Derrida, among others, Parker suggests that the injunction to return transforms the history of theory into a form of genealogy, meaning that the mother must somehow be involved in this process, even if, as in Marxism, she seems wholly absent, or if her contributions are generally discounted, as in psychoanalysis. Far from simply being marginalized, the mother shows herself throughout The Theorist’s Mother to be inherently multiple, always more than one, and therefore never simply who or what theory may want her to be.

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Friday, March 2, 2012 – Paul K. Saint-Amour (University of Pennsylvania) – “On the Partiality of Total War: From Charlton to Joyce”

Notice of field related talk – Friday Forum:

Friday, March 2, 2012 

2:00PM, Room 4406

Paul K. Saint-Amour

University of Pennsylvania

On the Partiality of Total War: From Charlton to Joyce

An RAF officer traveling to Iraq in late 1922 takes Joyce’s Ulysses along to read, describing the novel as an “official handbook” to the region. Later, that same officer protests the RAF’s bombing of Iraqi civilians—part of its experiment in “imperial air control”—and resigns his post, only to become a writer of imperial adventure novels and a prophet of the necessary killing of civilians in the next world war. This talk trails Air Commodore L.E.O. Charlton through a series of disparate spaces and genres in order to trace how the emergent concept of “total war” effaced the connections between them—between imperial romance and the modernist day-book, interwar British mandates and the metropole, and narratives of threat and reassurance in military spectacle.

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February 24, 2012 – Allison Pease (John Jay, CUNY) – “Boredom in/and Feminist Modernist Fiction”

The CUNY Graduate Center Twentieth Century Area Studies Group Speaker Series Spring 2012

 Allison Pease

John Jay, CUNY

Boredom in/and Feminist Modernist Fiction

Boredom has no essential character; it functions as a stance toward, or a gauge of, not only what is valued and meaningful, but one’s access to that meaning and value at any given point in time.  Boredom emerges in British modernist fiction as an important register of British women’s experiences as they become aware of their lack of agency.  This talk will explore how modern understandings of boredom are involved in the notion of the individual as producer of his or her own meaning, why it is a relevant gauge of early twentieth-century feminism and feminist fiction, and why contemporary feminist criticism has avoided the category of boredom despite its obvious place in modernist literature.

 February 24th at 4 p.m.

CUNY Graduate Center, English Program Lounge, Room 4406

Allison Pease is the Chair of the English Department at John Jay, CUNY. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. in English Literature from New York University. She specializes in nineteenth and twentieth-century British literature and culture, gender and sexuality, and aesthetic theory. She is the author of Modernism, Mass Culture, and the Aesthetics of Obscenity (Cambridge University Press, 2000) and a forthcoming book, also from Cambridge UP, Modernism, Feminism, and the Culture of Boredom. In addition, her work has appeared in a number of venues, including Modernism/Modernity, English Literature in Transition Victorian Poetry, Criticism, Journal of Gender Studies, Nineteenth-Century Literature, Palgrave Advances in Oscar Wilde, Reading Wilde/Querying Spaces, The Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century Fiction and the Oxford Encyclopedia of British Literature. For seven years she served as an editor of the journal Victorian Literature and Culture.

 

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February 3, 2012 – Rebecca L. Walkowitz (Rutgers University) – “Where is Summertime?”

Notice of field related talk – Friday Forum:

Friday, February 3, 2012
4:00 PM, Room 4406

 Rebecca L. Walkowitz

Rutgers University

Where is Summertime?

In a global novel – a novel that aspires to planetary circulation, distributes its plot across distant time zones, and calculates the relationship among actions at a transcontinental scale – it is never the same season everywhere. By asking us to think about the global in this way, J.M. Coetzee’s fictional memoir, Summertime draws our attention to the local, regional, continental, and transcontinental histories of the state. This paper associates Summertime with a new genre of world literature: novels that do not simply appear in translation but have been written for translation from the start. These texts engage formally, thematically, and sometimes typographically in the theory and practice of translation. Born-translated novels ask us to imagine new strategies of reading and new approaches to literary and political collectivity. Coetzee’s work solicits what I call “close reading at a distance.”

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