"I am 3/4ths Canadian, and one 4th New Englander - I had ancestors on both sides in the Revolutionary war." - Elizabeth Bishop

Monday, June 12, 2017

NEH Summer Seminar "Elizabeth Bishop and the Literary Archive" Begins Today (June 12, 2017)

The complete syllabus and reading list for the seminar, from which this excerpt has been taken, may be found here.

"Elizabeth Bishop and the Literary Archive 
NEH Summer Seminar June 12-30, 2017 
Vassar College 
Project Director: Dr. Bethany Hicok

 “…alone in the Archive, in the counting house of dreams, 
the historian opens the bundles…” 
--Steedman, Dust: The Archive and Cultural History 

“The revised poem had been typed out on very thin paper 
and folded into a small square, sealed with a gold star sticker
 and signed on the outside, ‘Lovingly, Rose Peebles.’” 
--Elizabeth Bishop, “Efforts of Affection” 

“I am writing a poem about a litter of objects in a museum 
whose uses the spectator can’t make out.” 
--Bishop to Ruth Foster, 1947 

“How can anyone want such things?” 
--Bishop, “Crusoe in England” 

"Seminar Description: In Dust, Carolyn Steedman defines the Archives “as a name for the many places in which the past (which does not now exist, but which once did actually happen; which cannot be retrieved, but which may be represented) has deposited some traces and fragments.” More poetically, it is “also a place of dreams”—a place “where the past lives, where ink on parchment can be made to speak.” Steedman reminds us that archives and the stories we tell about them are necessarily narrative reconstructions of the shards we have excavated from them. At the same time, the archive is a place where we bring our own desires, our “general fever,” as it were, “to know and to have the past.” Will the archive yield its secrets to us? For Elizabeth Bishop, there is no question that archival documents can be made to speak. But what do they say? This seminar positions us at the intersection of archival theory and literary study in order to explore the relationship between the poet and her archive, aesthetics and ethics, texts and avanttextes. The seminar will be organized around “case studies” in order to provide a model of integrative teaching and scholarship, helping us work through questions of ethics and aesthetics and to better understand the complex dimensions of authorship. As Iain Bailey has argued, we should think of the archive “as a place of work, rather than as a cache from which to draw certainties.” With this caveat in mind, we will act over the course of these three weeks as investigators, curators, collaborators, and inquirers in the workshop of literary production and its aesthetic products. "

No comments:

Post a Comment