Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Please join the American Studies Consortium for two events with

David Alworth (Harvard)

Public Lecture: "Henry James: Media Archaeologist"
Thursday, April 14 at 4pm, 3154 Angell Hall

Grad Seminar: Discussion of pre-circulated excerpt from
Alworth's Site Reading

Friday, April 15 at 3pm, 3184 Angell Hall 

Thursday's talk is adapted from Alworth's Art Novels book project. Prevailing accounts of the "art novel," the genre of literary fiction after James, define it as a repository of "cultural capital" and a bid for "distinction" in what Pierre Bourdieu calls "the game of culture." But this definition, however important and useful, actually sidesteps art––or more precisely, media relations: the technical and historical interplay between the visual arts (variously construed) and literature (particularly the novel). Focusing precisely on such relations, by contrast, Alworth seeks to reconceptualize the art novel as a feat of "media archaeology." An emerging subfield of media studies, media archaeology examines the interactions among different media, both new and old, as well as the material, technical, formal, historical, and social conditions of any given medium: from painting, sculpture, and photography to performance, installation, and digital design. Understanding the art novel in this sense not only allows us to see U.S. fiction as a vibrant component of modern art history; it also provides an apt critical language for analyzing the turn toward the arts in very recent novels by Tom McCarthy, Teju Cole, Rachel Kushner, and Ben Lerner, among others.

Friday's workshop will explore an excerpt from Alworth's first book, Site Reading.  Through an engagement with the sociologies of Bruno Latour and Erving Goffman, Site Reading offers a new method for interpreting narrative setting. Examining five sites (supermarkets, dumps, roads, ruins, and asylums) that have been crucial to American literature and visual art since the mid-twentieth century, Alworth demonstrates that setting is not merely a static background for narrative action and characterization. Instead, he argues, sites figure in novels as determinants of sociality that raise complex questions about the experience of collective life.
The American Studies Consortium invites you to two events with:

Florence Dore (UNC-Chapel Hill)

Public Lecture: 
"Novel Sounds: The Ballad Novel in the Age of Rock and Roll"
Thursday, March 24th at 4pm, 3154 Angell Hall

Lunch Workshop:
Discussion of Dore's "The Rock Novel and Jonathan Lethem's The Fortress of Solitude"
Friday, March 25th at 1pm, 3154 Angell Hall 
RSVP kindly requested

Florence Dore is associate professor of American Literature at UNC-Chapel Hill, where she has been on the faculty for five years. She has been a member of the Steering Committee of Post45 since 2007 and was one of the founding co-editors of the "Post 45" Book Series at Stanford University Press. She is the author of The Novel and the Obscene: Sexual Subjects in American Modernism (2005), and she is currently planning a public conference and concert series called "Novel Sounds" for the National Humanities Center and Carolina Performing Arts. She is at this very moment completing the first in a two-monograph series with the same title as her talk: ""Novel Sounds: The American Novel in the Age of Rock and Roll"  The talk is taken from the first book in the series, Ballad Novels: Reverberations of Rock in 1950s Southern Fiction; the article you'll read for Friday is taken from the second, The Rock Novel in Contemporary American Fiction.
The American Studies Consortium invites you to workshop a dissertation chapter by:

Kathryne Bevilacqua

“A Reading Army as No Army Ever Was Before”: The American Library Association’s Campaign for Books and Reading in World War I

Friday, March 11th at 1pm, Angell 3241
Lunch from Jerusalem Garden will be provided.
Please RSVP to request a copy of the pre-circulated draft

Over the course of the United States’ involvement in World War I, the Library War Service of the American Library Association (ALA) collected and distributed over ten million books and magazines to U.S. soldiers and sailors at home and overseas. To organize the library profession, the military brass, and the general public behind these efforts, the ALA ran what is arguably the first ever mass-mediated, institutionally-backed publicity campaign for books and reading. This chapter examines the materials that attempted to convince the nation to support its new “reading army”: special bulletins and internal memoranda meant to mobilize local libraries, press releases and human interest stories aimed to win over the general public, and posters and pamphlets designed to lure soldiers into special ALA-operated camp libraries. In these varied textual and material spaces, the ALA circulated images of the “soldier-reader,” an idiosyncratic figure, notably distinct from other wartime depictions of U.S. troops, whose reading serves as an index of emerging ideals of American masculinity, modernity, and, surprisingly, tolerance. By recovering this forgotten campaign, I show how the ALA not only publicized its services to a specific set of readers, but also publicized a broader vision of how reading—and being a nation of readers—might help mediate the physical, psychological, and rhetorical ruptures of modern war.

Kathryne Bevilacqua is a graduate student in the department of English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan. 
Please join the American Studies Consortium and the Nineteenth-Century Forum for a lecture by Hester Blum!

What happens to messages left in bottles? Or in cairns, or in copper cylinders, or with passing ships? Hester Blum's paper "Polar Ecomedia" discusses the history of Anglo-American polar exploration -- as well as the literature produced by expedition members -- by considering how letters and other forms of knowledge circulate in the ecological spaces of the polar regions. What forms of writing and recording practices are sustainable in the Arctic or Antarctica? We might say that polar expeditions functioned as a mechanism for generating narratives, but in the anthropocene, writing on ice may be scarcely more legible than writing on water.

Thursday, November 12
3154 Angell | 4:00pm

Hester Blum is Associate Professor of English at Penn State University and co-founder of C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists. She is the author of The View from the Masthead: Maritime Imagination andAntebellum American Sea Narratives (2008), which received the John Gardner Maritime Research Award. Her edited volumes include Horrors of Slavery (2008), William Ray's 1808 Barbary captivity narrative, and the forthcoming essay collection Turns of Event: American Literary Studies in Motion (2016). She is completing a book entitled The News at the Ends of the Earth: Oceanic Studies and the Ecomedia of Polar Exploration.