To foster communal intellectual vitality and conviviality, the English Program sponsors Friday Forums weekly. Friday Forums bring to the GC internationally recognized scholars, writers, and publishers to discuss a wide variety of literary and cultural topics. This series of lectures and readings is followed by a reception with food and wine. Forums generally take place at 4 p.m. on Fridays, but many occur in conjunction with all-day conferences and interdisciplinary events. Some Forums are devoted to special issues of student/faculty concern, such as financial aid, adjunct teaching, curricular changes, and the education job market. The first Forum of the Fall Semester is generally an orientation session for new students in the Program, and the last one in each semester, the Winter/Spring Revels, is a party not to be missed.
Unless otherwise noted, all events occur on Friday at 4 p.m. in the English Program lounge (room 4406). Please check back regularly for updates.
Lauren Goodlad (U Illinois), "The Way We Historize Now"
This lecture draws on a forthcoming study, The Victorian Geopolitical Aesthetic: Realism, Sovereignty and Transnational Experience, to reflect on the emergence of neoformalist, “descriptive,” and “surface” approaches, inspired partly by Bruno Latour’s ontological turn to actor-network theory. As a study of realism, The Victorian Geopolitical Aesthetic is itself a species of neoformalism but one that resists the idea that contextualization is a fatal distraction from “what is in plain view” (Felski). Both deeply synchronic and invested in the importance of elucidating globalization’s longue durée, The Victorian Geopolitical Aesthetic looks at serialized realism in its nineteenth-century as well as present-day instantiations. Although Victorian liberalism and today’s neoliberalism differ substantially, both share a fascination with the trope of the racialized alien within, a figure conducive to the realist narratives of capitalist globalization of Gustave Flaubert, Anthony Trollope, George Eliot, and today’s “quality” television. The call for an ethically and aesthetically attentive critical practice is most welcome; but, like a swing of the pendulum, a too adamant rejection of “suspicious reading” reproduces a new "paranoia" without attending the substance of Eve Sedgwick’s judicious mid-90s critique. By helping both to form histories and historicize forms across spatial networks and long and short durations of time, the notion of the geopolitical aesthetic works against the critical stalemate that pits a surface-focused ethics of reading against a depth-focused politics of reading.
Workshop for English Program students preparing for their 2nd Exam.
Jonathan Sachs (Concordia U), "On Wordsworth: Romantic Ruins and the Unevenness of Time"
Ruins are well-trodden critical territory, and a range of distinct but complementary theories have been put forward seeking to explain their fascination. Using Wordsworth's "The Ruined Cottage" as its main point of reference, this paper argues that the Romantic cult of ruins is not about assigning a specific meaning to the temporality of ruin, nor about insisting that the ruin reveals a specific relationship to time. Instead, the Romantic ruin is about experiencing the incommensurability of multiple temporalities; it serves as an index for a series of new relationships to the future that emerge in the later eighteenth-century.
Noel Jackson (MIT), “Pleasure Problems”
I will try to account for the current revival of pleasure and positive affect as topics of interest in humanities scholarship, and will ask what it meant for some Romantic period authors to "problematize" the category of pleasure or think of pleasure as a problematic field of experience, as well as what it might mean for us to do so now.
Ivy Wilson (Northwestern University), "Hieroglyphs of the African Diaspora: Black Popular Culture and Nonce Transnationalism"
While important strands of black diaspora theory privilege notions of translation or syncretism as an effort to locate the analogous points of convergence to correlate disparate experiences, this talk examines key moments in black cultural production where the correlative link between the U.S. and Africa can only be rendered legible through what might be called an associative ambience. More specifically, by tracing the traffic of Egyptian iconography from Frederick Douglass (in the nineteenth century) to Erykah Badu (in the early twentieth-first century), this talk seeks to limn the meanings of an ambient subjectivity as a form of a black transnational identification.
All Day, Concourse Level
2013 English Student Association Conference: Minding the Body: Dualism and Its Discontents
An interdisciplinary conference hosted by the English Student Association. This conference will include work by graduate students that considers theoretical perspectives and scholarship that explores the mind-body problem via a wide range of disciplines, including the humanities (literary studies, philosophy, visual arts, and performance studies), the social sciences, technology and media studies, neuroscience, medicine, psychology, and cognitive science. Intersections between recent theoretical currents, including theories of mind and consciousness, ideas about emotions and affect, and the relationship between neuroscientific findings and understandings of embodiment, will be explored.
Sex, Race, Gender and Representation in the Spanish Civil War
A conference co-sponsored by Women's Studies and chaired by Distinguished Professor Jane Marcus. Speakers include Anne Donlan, Rowena Kennedy-Epstein, Ashley Foster, Magda Bogacka, Mariana Soto, Conor Tomas Reed and Professor Page Delano, BMCC.
David M. Earle (University of West Florida), “The Popular Front: Pulp Magazines as Anti-Fascist Propaganda”
The pulp form is traditionally labeled as simplistic and ephemeral fiction. Contemporary critics often accused the pulps as contributing to the degeneration of American intellect. David M. Earle's talk will discuss how pulp magazines offered an outlet for political criticism and activity, often socialist and always proletariat, that because of its wide populist distribution was effective in ways that traditional political and little magazines were not. As means to illustrate this, Earle will concentrate on how anti-fascist sentiment was implemented in pulp fiction during and directly after the Spanish Civil War.
Open House for Admitted and Finalist Students
This admissions event is an opportunity for students newly admitted or finalists into the PhD Program in English to learn more about the Program; meet faculty, administrators and current student; and to ask questions in order to assist them in their decisions whether to accept the English Program’s offer.
Lisa Zunshine (U Kentucky), "Minds at Work"
This talk will provide a brief overview of the rapidly growing interdisciplinary field known as “cognitive cultural studies” and then offer several case studies of integrating research from cognitive science into literary criticism.
Celebration of Recent Books by English Program Faculty and Students
Although we often write our books in isolation, there is no reason not to celebrate their publication collectively! In that spirit, please join us for a collective book party, in which faculty and students of the Ph.D. Program in English will present brief accounts of the academic and creative books that they have published during the past year. Following the presentations, we will have a wine and cheese party to honor the accomplishments of our colleagues, students, professors, and friends.
Matthew Gold (NYC College of Technology & Graduate Center), "Reading and Writing at Scale: Digital Humanities and the Future of Scholarly Communication" This is a Faculty Membership Talk
From data-driven explorations of digitized texts to networked pedagogical experiments that connect classrooms across institutions and countries, the digital humanities is fostering new possibilities for academic work. Limning the broad contours of this emerging field and exploring particular areas of interest to scholars of literature, language, and writing, this talk will explore key issues and tensions that surround the digital humanities.
Margreta DeGrazia (U Penn), "What Happened to Secular Shakespeare?"
Traditionally Shakespeare has been regarded as a secular dramatist writing for a professional and commercial stage. In the past few decades, however, issues of faith have come to saturate Shakespeare studies. What accounts for this fundamental and radical shift? More specifically, what do we stand to lose when Shakespeare and his stage cease to be secular?
Suvir Kual (U Penn), "Cosmopolitanism, Nationalism, and Empire: British Literature in the Eighteenth-century"
Talk one of Mentoring Future Faculty of Color Project. This paper will explore the idea that "Cosmopolitanism," as a term, an idealized state of being, and a cultural and political idea, comes into vogue in historical circumstances where the putative attributes of cosmopolitanism—tolerance of, even ease with, people of different nationalities, cultures, religions, and races—are disabled in practice.
Symposium on the Lyric in the Early Modern Period featuring Richard McCoy (Graduate Center); James Saslow (Graduate Center); and Steven Monte (College of Staten Island, CUNY)
Co-sponsored by the Early Modern Interest Group
2:00PM, Room C201
Daphne Brooks (Princeton), "One of these mornings, you're gonna rise up singing': Black Women (Un)Doing Gershwinian Time"
Talk two of Mentoring Future Faculty of Color Project.This talk considers the ways in which a range of black women musicians--from jazz musicians and opera legends to pop divas and avant-garde experimentalists--have traversed the music of the Gershwins' folk opera Porgy and Bess, and it explores the ways that these artists have transformed this unlikely musical vehicle into black feminist temporal insurgencies.
Celebration of Anne Humpherys on the Occasion of Her Retirement featuring Laurel Brake (Birkbeck University of London) with tributes by colleagues, students and friends.
Nicole Fleetwood (Rutgers), "Carceral Aesthetics: Art and Visuality in the Era of Mass Incarceration"
Talk three of Mentoring Future Faculty of Color Project. In this talk I examine carceral aesthetics to refer to how visual lenses operate and artistic practices emerge in relationship to the modern prison industrial complex. The talk examines late twentieth century documentary studies and artistic projects by incarcerated and non-incarcerated subjects. These works are composed and staged in ways that speak to, work through, or incorporate the ever-looming and multiple lenses of carceral optics. The works of Deborah Luster, Dread Scott, Duron Jackson, and others will be considered.
All Day, Segal Theater
Inventing Victorian Race: CUNY Victorian Conference with keynote by Patrick Brantlinger (Indiana)
Open Executive Committee Meeting, Poetry & Revels