Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Thursday, April 2: Trish Loughran, "The Grave at the End of the Poem: Whitman Printed, Photographed, and Waxed"

The American Studies Consortium,
with support from the Nineteenth Century Forum
and the Poetry and Poetics Workshop
presents a lecture by

Trish Loughran
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

“The Grave at the End of the Poem:
Whitman Printed, Photographed, and Waxed”

Thursday, April 2
3222 Angell Hall
4 PM

Reception to follow. Everyone is welcome!

ABSTRACT: Recent shifts in communications technologies have made pre-digital print culture come into view as a discrete object of historical study—a five hundred-year-old fossil that, because its time has largely passed, is now subject to the monumentalizing archival impulse to define, to classify, to contain—to name and know fully.  In this talk, I will think about what it means to look back on 19C print culture from the other side of the great digital divide.  In particular, I consider a range of Walt Whitman’s work in the context of the nineteenth century’s ceaseless technological innovations across a number of materials forms, printed and otherwise—from handpress printing to photography and (early) voice recording—all forms Whitman explored and experimented with between around 1840 and 1892. Using the example of Whitman to produce both a “reading” of his corpus and a meditation on historicist method, I want to think about both the “ontology” of print—its irreducible ‘printedness’—and how that squares with a more materialist approach that takes the micro-fissures of historical detail into account.

Trish Loughran is Associate Professor of English & History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research focuses on the connections between art, history, politics, and communications technology from the early Enlightenment to the present. She is the author of The Republic in Print: Print Culture in the Age of U.S. Nation Building, 1770-1870 (Columbia UP, 2007), which was awarded the Oscar Kenshur Book Prize in Eighteenth-Century Studies.