Colloquium: Mark McGurl

Date(s) - 04/05/2019
11:00 am - 12:30 pm

3108 JKB


The Humanities Center welcomes Mark McGurl, Albert Guérard Professor of Literature at Stanford University. He will give our colloquium presentation on Friday, April 5th at 11:00 AM in 4010 JFSB.

Title: “Wastelands”

The genre of post-apocalyptic fiction sits near the center of the contemporary U.S. literary field, with instances appearing everywhere on the spectrum from high to popular culture. It has many variants comprising different accounts of what went wrong—nuclear war, climate catastrophe, zombie plague most common among them—as well as starkly different political valences from left to right. All are however characterized by an imagination of total negation: not something, but (almost) everything has gone wrong in these represented worlds, which have the quality of inverted or negative epics. In this colloquium I will present some notes toward a genealogy and anatomy of wasteland discourse in U.S. literary history, beginning with T.S. Eliot’s foundational poem by that name, laying out some basic concepts and structures through which we might trace its ebb and flow across the 20th and  21st centuries.

Lunch will be served.

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