Dear ALSCW members and friends:
We are delighted to announce the ALSCW's spring Zoom series. These virtual events will help to keep our membership connected and to advance our organization's mission to advance the study and creation of literature. We are deeply grateful to our participants—it’s an incredibly talented lineup—and to all of you for your support of the ALSCW (information on memberships and renewals can be found at ALSCW.org). We will send out a link a week to ten days before each event.
Walt Hunter, Katie Peterson, and Noah Warren: "Louise Glück's Lyric Forensics"
January 13th, 6 pm EST
Walt, Katie, and Noah will discuss the Nobel-Prize-winning poet’s oeuvre. The conversation will focus on the relationship she develops between poetry, investigation, and truth, exploring how these values link poems that range from the domestic to the cosmic.
Walt Hunter is author of Forms of a World: Contemporary Literature and the Making of Globalization (Fordham UP, 2019) and co-translator, with Lindsay Turner, of Atopias: Manifesto for a Radical Existentialism (Fordham UP, 2017). He is Associate Professor of World Literature at Clemson University.
Katie Peterson is the author of A Piece of Good News and Life in a Field, forthcoming in 2021. She is Professor of English and directs the Creative Writing program at the University of California at Davis.
Noah Warren is the author of The Complete Stories (Copper Canyon, 2021) and The Destroyer in the Glass (2016), winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets. The recipient of a Wallace Stegner Fellowship, he is currently pursuing a PhD in English at the University of California, Berkeley.
"Literature and Religion: Some Test Cases"
January 27th, 6 PM EST
An exchange of ideas about the relation between literature and religion, with emphasis on Walt Whitman, Song of Myself; Emily Dickinson, selected poems; Countee Cullen, The Black Christ; Wallace Stevens, Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction; and Louise Glück, The Wild Iris.
Mark Bauerlein is an editor at First Things and Emeritus Professor of English at Emory University, where he taught after earning his PhD in English at UCLA in 1989. He served as Director of the Office of Research and Analysis at the National Endowment for the Arts 2003-05. He is the author of several books, including Whitman and the American Idiom (1991), The Pragmatic Mind: Explorations in the Psychology of Belief (1997), Literary Criticism: An Autopsy (1997), Negrophobia: A Race Riot in Atlanta, 1906 (2001), and The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (2008). His scholarly essays and reviews have appeared in PMLA, Philosophy and Literature, Wilson Quarterly, Partisan Review, and Yale Review. He has published reviews and commentaries in New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Weekly Standard, The Guardian, Chronicle of Higher Education, New Criterion, and other national periodicals. He has appeared on CNN, CBS News, Fox and Friends, BBC World News, All Things Considered, C-SPAN, ABC's Nightline, PBS Frontline, and other national media outlets. He hosts The Conversation podcast at www.firstthings.com.
Danielle Chapman is a poet and essayist. Her collection of poems, Delinquent Palaces, was published by Northwestern University Press in 2015. Recent poems appear in The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and Poetry. Her essays can be found in The Oxford American and Commonweal. She teaches literature and creative writing at Yale.
Anthony Domestico is an associate professor of literature at Purchase College, SUNY and the book critic for Commonweal. He is the author of Poetry and Theology in the Modernist Period (2017) and frequently writes for Book Post, the Boston Globe, and other publications
Lee Oser's most recent work includes several Shakespeare articles and the novel Oregon Confetti (Wiseblood Books, 2017). He is the author of The Return of Christian Humanism: Chesterton, Eliot, Tolkien and the Romance of History (2007), The Ethics of Modernism: Moral Ideas in Yeats, Eliot, Joyce, Woolf, and Beckett (2007), and T. S. Eliot and American Poetry (1998. 2nd printing, 2000). He is Professor of English at the College of the Holy Cross and the President of the ALSCW.
Rosanna Warren and Phillis Levin host a session on the sonnet
February 10th, 6 PM EST
The Penguin Book of the Sonnet, edited and introduced by Phillis Levin, will be the springboard for a conversation—with readings—about the ongoing life of the sonnet in English.
Phillis Levin is the author of five collections of poetry, most recently May Day (2008) and Mr. Memory & Other Poems (2016), a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She is the editor of The Penguin Book of the Sonnet: 500 Years of a Classic Tradition in English (Penguin Books USA, 2001; Allen Lane/The Penguin Press, 2001). Her honors include the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award, a Fulbright Scholar Award to Slovenia, the Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship, and fellowships from the Ingram Merrill Foundation, the Bogliasco Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She is professor of English and the poet-in-residence at Hofstra University.
Rosanna Warren is Hanna Holborn Gray Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago. She is the author of five books of poetry, most recently Ghost in a Red Hat (2011) and So Forth (2020).She has published a book of literary criticism and edited a volume of essays about translation, and has received awards from the Academy of American Poets, The American Academy of Arts & Letters, the Lila Wallace Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the New England Poetry Club, among others. Her biography of Max Jacob was published in October 2020.
From Szolnok, Hungary: Zsolt Bajnai and Marcell Bajnai in Interview, Story, and Song
March 10th, 3 pm EST
ALSCW Council member Diana Senechal hosts an interview with the journalist, blogger, and story writer Zsolt Bajnai, whose work she has been translating, and his son, Marcell Bajnai, a musician, songwriter, and university student. This will be followed by a short performance, where the father will read several of his stories and the son will play his own songs between them.
According to Zsolt Bajnai's credentials, he is a secondary-school teacher (of history and geography) and a journalist. The former career never materialized; the latter he has been cultivating slowly over thirty years. He has worked for several newspapers and edited magazines and books. In his civil life — when not writing — he works in public administration of pop music. Over time he gathered the courage to publish his prose. He is the creator and author of blogSzolnok, which examines the history of Szolnok, Hungary, through postcards, photographs, maps, and other artifacts. After the appearance in 2016 and 2018, respectively, of his first two volumes of short stories — A megmozdult világ (The Shifted World) and Visszaköszönés (Return Greeting) — his third, Az eltűnt városháza (The Vanished City Hall), was published in the spring of 2020.
Marcell Bajnai, a singer-guitarist and songwriter, is the frontman of the band Idea (formerly 1LIFE). He launched his solo project (Bajnai Marcell) in early 2020. His songs and style are simultaneously influenced by the leading performers of Anglo-Saxon-rooted rock music and the trends of the Hungarian alternative scene; his lyrics, by the works of Hungarian and world literary authors. The aim of his solo project is to present his text-centered songs to the audience with simple instrumentation. He was born on June 23, 2000, in Budapest, and later moved to Szolnok with his family. In 2019, he graduated from the Varga Katalin Gimnázium in Szolnok; he is currently a student of Hungarian at the Faculty of Arts of the Eötvös Loránd University, where he studies literature and linguistics.
Diana Senechal is the 2011 winner of the Hiett Prize in the Humanities and the author of Mind over Memes: Passive Listening, Toxic Talk, and Other Modern Language Follies (2018) and Republic of Noise: The Loss of Solitude in Schools and Culture (2011), as well as numerous stories, poems, essays, satirical pieces, and translations. Her translations of the poems of Tomas Venclova have been featured in two books; her translations of Gyula Jenei's poetry have appeared in Literary Matters and will be published in book form by Deep Vellum in 2021. Since November 2017 she has been teaching English and Civilization at the Varga Katalin Gimnázium in Szolnok. When not teaching or writing, she often bikes through the Hungarian countryside.
J. Chester Johnson discusses his book, Damaged Heritage: The Elaine Race Massacre
April 7th, 6 pm EST
The 1919 Elaine Race Massacre, arguably the worst in our country’s history, has been widely unknown for the better part of a century, thanks to the whitewashing of history. In 2008, Johnson was asked to write the Litany of Offense and Apology for a National Day of Repentance, where the Episcopal Church formally apologized for its role in transatlantic slavery and related evils. In his research, Johnson happened upon a treatise by historian and anti-lynching advocate Ida B. Wells on the Elaine Massacre, where more than a hundred and possibly hundreds of African-American men, women, and children perished at the hands of white posses, vigilantes, and federal troops in rural Phillips County, Arkansas. Johnson would discover that his beloved grandfather had been a member of the KKK and participated in the massacre. The discovery shook him to his core. Thereafter, he met Sheila L. Walker, a descendant of African-American victims of the massacre, and she and Johnson committed themselves to reconciliation. Damaged Heritage brings to light a deliberately erased chapter in American history, and offers a blueprint for how our pluralistic society can at last acknowledge—and repudiate—our collective damaged heritage and begin a path towards true healing.
J. Chester Johnson is an acclaimed poet, essayist, and translator, and the author of Damaged Heritage: The Elaine Race Massacre and A Story of Reconciliation. He is also the author of several celebrated poetry collections and non-fiction work and was one of two poets (the other being W. H. Auden) on the drafting committee for the retranslated Psalms in The Book of Common Prayer. Johnson also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U. S. Treasury Department under Jimmy Carter and lives in New York City with his wife.
Crisis, History, and Representation: New Work by Russ Castronovo and Robert S. Levine
May 12th, 6 pm EST
Russ Castronovo and Robert Levine will discuss their new work: Castronovo's book manuscript, Insecure: Information and Terror before 9/11, and Levine's The Failed Promise: Reconstruction, Frederick Douglass, and the Impeachment of Andrew Johnson (W. W. Norton, forthcoming August 2021). Their conversation will examine the role of literary and historical representation at moments of crisis. They will also explore how the methods and objects of literary study can address political conflict, state power, and racial inequities.
Russ Castrovovo is Director of the Center for the Humanities and Tom Paine Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His books include Propaganda 1776: Secrets, Leaks, and Revolutionary Communications in Early America; Beautiful Democracy: Aesthetics and Anarchy in a Global Era; Necro Citizenship: Death, Eroticism, and the Public Sphere in the Nineteenth-Century United States; and Fathering the Nation: American Genealogies of Slavery and Freedom.
Robert S. Levine is Professor of English and Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland-College Park. His recent books include The Lives of Frederick Douglass (2016), and Race, Transnationalism, and Nineteenth-Century American Literary Studies (2018). He has edited a number of volumes, including Frederick Douglass and Herman Melville: Essays in Relation (2008) and the Norton Critical Edition of Melville’s Pierre (2017). He is the General Editor of The Norton Anthology of American Literature. He is a member of the ALSCW Council.
David M. O'Connell Professor of English
Executive Director, Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers
Chair, Department of English