Monday, July 7, 2014
July 7, 2014: ALA Follow Ups: Contemporary Literature and Culture
[In late May, I had the chance to make a quick trip to Washington, DC, to attend a portion of the American Literature Association’s annual conference. I wasn’t able to stay as long as I would have liked, but did have a chance to attend some very interesting panels while I was there. So this week I’ll highlight a few of them, as well as a couple other contexts for the conference. If you were there, I’d love to hear your takeaways for a crowd-sourced weekend post!]
I attended ALA to chair a panel on “Contemporary Literature and Cultural Movements,” for Karen Weekes and the Society for Contemporary Literature. I look forward to hearing a lot more from the three impressive young scholars who presented on the panel:
1) Agnieszka Herra: Agnes recently completed her dissertation in Comparative Literature at Ontario’s Western University, where she studied post-Civil Rights and -Polish resistance literature. For her paper she provocatively extended these analyses to a complex recent novel about protest movements, Jonathan Lethem’s Dissident Gardens (2013), arguing for how Lethem uses his multi-generational, multi-perspectival, non-chronological structure and frame to engage with much of 20th and 21st century American history. I look forward to seeing the next places to which Agnes takes these interests!
2) Joseph Darda: Joe is working on his PhD in English at the University of Connecticut, where he also just finished a two-year stint editing LIT (look for their special issue on literary counter-histories of US exceptionalism!). His ALA paper was drawn from the larger dissertation project, which connects historical fictions of the Korean War (such as Toni Morrison’s Home , on which his talk focused) to a broader argument about the rise of the military complex and establishment since World War II. Joe’s dissertation promises to challenge and enrich our literary, historical, and political conversations substantially, and I look forward to it!
3) Amy Robbins: Amy’s an Assistant Professor of English at Hunter College (CUNY), where she focuses on 20th and 21st century poetry, multicultural literature, and feminist theory. Her ALA talk was drawn from her forthcoming first book, American Hybrid Poetics: Gender, Mass Culture, and Form (Rutgers), which reads a handful of 20th and 21st century American women poets through the lens of their hybrid styles and voices and their engagements with mass media and culture. As her talk illustrated, Amy’s book will add significantly to our understandings not only of these poets, but of hybridity, gender, and culture in contemporary America. Keep an eye out for it, and for the work of all three of these scholars!
Next follow up tomorrow,
BenPS. Were you at ALA? If so, what stood out to you?