Review: Russia in American Literature

British Library

Marking the first centenary of the Russian Revolution, both the ‘Russian Revolution: Hope, Tragedy, Myths’ exhibition and the one-day symposium demonstrated painstaking research and showcased the most arresting highlights of that turbulent era. Continue reading

Review: Special Relationships: Poetry Across the Atlantic Since 2000

The one-day symposium held at the Rothermere American Institute (RAI) at the University of Oxford on ‘Poetry Across the Atlantic Since 2000’ featured an arresting array of speakers from both sides of the Atlantic. Ultimately, the conference served to highlight not only the multifariousness of poetic production since the year 2000, but more importantly, how poets and literary critics from the U.S.A., Europe, the Caribbean, Asia, and Africa conceive of their evolving literary concerns and cultural relationships in a rapidly globalizing world. Continue reading

Review: ‘Homeland Insecurities’, the Canadian Association for American Studies Annual Conference

Thinking of the Patriot Act, the extrajudicial killing of Black people by American police, or Donald Trump’s demand for a border wall, anxiety appears to permeate American society. With this in mind, the annual Canadian Association of American Studies conference could not have come together under a better heading than ‘Homeland Insecurities’. Continue reading

Review: ‘American Communities: Between the Popular and the Political’

Since the early 1980s, before which, according to Jean-Luc Nancy, ‘the word community was unknown to the discourse of thought’, the concept of ‘community’ has experienced a meteoric rise in politics, cultural discourse and academia. While the OED defines community as a group of people ‘shar[ing] the same interests, pursuits, or occupation’ and ‘distinguished by shared circumstances of nationality, race, religion, sexuality, etc.; esp. such a group living within a larger society from which it is distinct’, this notion of community is too simplistic and in fact ‘colored by romantic nostalgia for homogeneity, closeness, and sameness’. Continue reading

Emily Dickinson and the Nineteenth-Century Women Poets: The Poetics and Politics of Reticence

When discussing nineteenth-century American women poets, the term ‘reticence’ has been used, almost exclusively, by critics since the 1980s, to refer to poetic strategies that resulted from ‘psychic conflict and anxiety’[1]: women’s literary articulation was suppressed by the patriarchal system, and society demanded reticence in writing by women (e.g. elimination of anger, sexual feelings, and ambition in their work). Continue reading

Book Review: Against Self-Reliance: The Arts of Dependence in the Early United States by William Huntting Howell

Stressing in his introduction that his concern is the ‘facts on the ground’ (11) in American history, Howell draws on quotidian and largely overlooked aesthetic projects such as the design of coins and schoolgirl samplers to offer some genuinely original work on how creative work in America was consanguineous with the processes of state-building. Continue reading

Review: ‘Poetry and Collaboration in the Age of Modernism’ Conference

Because the word “collaboration” can contain so much, ‘Poetry and Collaboration’ brought together scholars with wildly different interpretations of what it means to work together. The opening keynote by Peter Howarth (Queen Mary) set the tone by being generally definitional. For Howarth, the word could potentially replace “context” in discussions of historical environment, in order to give us a more active way to talk about the interactions between artists and their surroundings. Continue reading