Poetics Now: In Lecture and Conversation with David Nowell Smith and Herbert F. Tucker

September 14, 2016 - 3:30pm to 6:00pm
304 EPB, Gerber Lounge

David Nowell Smith and Herbert F. Tucker—In Lecture and Conversation

As we plunge ahead toward September, here’s something midstream next month for your calendars.  In a sense, this is the final ripple effect, by way of invited lecturers, in public spill-over from last spring’s Literature as Letters seminar, where several graduate students were particularly enthralled by the work of the younger theorist David Nowell Smith from the University of East Anglia, who writes on verse style with remarkable philosophical reach and precision.  Since I learned he was to be in Chicago for a Heidegger conference anyway, I seized the moment to pair a visit from him with a “homecoming” by one of the most successful of all the Freedman Lecturers in the quarter-century life of the series:  namely, the inimitably witty and incisive Herbert F. Tucker from the University of Virginia (responding hereby to a frequent popular demand in our halls for such a return invitation).  

Tucker’s paper:  “Fretted Lines: Di-versified Animation in Augusta Webster and W.B. Yeats”
Nowell Smith’s:  “Rhythmic Articulations”

With his speciality in Victorian poetry and verse narrative, Tucker’s prolific work includes Browning’s Beginnings, Tennyson and the Doom of Romanticism, Epic, and A New Companion to Victorian Literature and Culture.  He was elected in 2011 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His focus, for us, on late Victorian/early Modernist verse form should be productively complemented by the philosophical/theoretical stress of Nowell Smith, a critic with his own previous concentration in  Victorian poetry.  About his pending lecture, Smith writes: “It will look at different phenomenological recuperations of the Greek 'rythmos,' passing through Benveniste, Blanchot, Deleuze, Derrida and Heidegger, suggesting that rhythm describes a dynamism of language more general, both as an articulated whole and as it articulates subject and world. It'll finish by asking how/whether such a conception of rhythm can speak to the 'rhythms' described by prosody and deployed in verse.” 

If anyone could be primed in advance to answer such a final question, it is our intrepid other guest and co-speaker.  The interchange should be not just ear-opening for the department at large, but of urgent interest to any student of Victorian literature, modern poetry, Continental theory, or exploratory modes of literary analysis more generally. Light refreshments will be served to accompany the tandem talks and question periods:  3:30-6:00, Wed Sept 14, Gerber Lounge (304 EPB).  I hope to see many of you there.  This does truly promise to be brilliant.