In the UW-L English Department's first colloquium presentation of the 2016-2017 academic year, Dr. Natalie Eschenbaum will present "Playing with Sensation in A Midsummer Night's Dream." In Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the characters, whether human or faerie, attempt to distinguish their realities from their imaginations by using their physical senses. Of course, in the topsy-turvy world of Athens’ forest, the characters’ senses are disconnected from reason, and nothing actually is what it looks, sounds, smells, tastes, or feels like. In this paper, Dr. Eschenbaum is particularly interested in Bottom, a figure both animal and human, and his ability to see through his current reality, and to reconnect sense with reason. To inform her readings of Shakespearean sensation, Dr. Eschenbaum examines a few early modern tracts that describe the senses that are most closely linked with human reason. Stephen Gosson, for instance, in his anti-theatricals, argues that one of the problems with theatre is that it is digested with hearing, and thus affects both the stomach and reason. Shakespeare’s Bottom, somewhat ironically, helps us to make sense of the most human of the early modern sensations, as they are described by characters, experienced by playgoers, and understood by readers. The presentation runs from 2:30-3:30 p.m. on Friday, September 23, in 112 Wimberly Hall. The event is free and open to the public. To arrange for disability accommodations, contact email@example.com or call 785-8295.
Although modernism has traditionally been considered an art of cities, Ecocriticism in the Modernist Imagination claims a significant role for modernist texts in shaping environmental consciousness. Analyzing both canonical and lesser-known works of three key figures - E. M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, and W. H. Auden - Sultzbach suggests how the signal techniques of modernism encourage readers to become more responsive to the animate world and non-human minds. Understanding the way these writers represent nature's agency becomes central to interpreting the power dynamics of empire and gender, as well as experiments with language and creativity. The book acknowledges the longer pastoral tradition in literature, but also introduces readers to the newly expanding field of ecocriticism, including philosophies of embodiment and matter, queer ecocriticism, and animal studies. What emerges is a picture of green modernism that reifies our burgeoning awareness of what it means to be human within a larger living community.
The contemporary has marked itself off from modernity by questioning its humanism that centers the world around the human as the moral subject of free will and self-determination, the bearer of universal essence that is the basis of human rights. Modernism normalizes humanism through language as referential, a set of interrelated signs that correspond to the empirical reality outside it. Humanist modernity, in other words, is seen in the contemporary as a regime that, by separating the human from the non-human and insisting on language as correspondence, not only fails to engage the emerging forms of social relations in which the boundaries of human and machine are fading but is also indifferent to the difference between the “other”’s life and other lives. Human, All Too (Post)Human: The Humanities after Humanism argues that the Nietzschean tendencies that provide the philosophical boundaries of post-humanism do not undo humanism but reform it, constructing a parallel discourse that saves humanism from itself.
Grounded in materialist analysis of social life, Human, All Too (Post)Human argues that humanism and post-humanism are cultural discourses that normalize different stages of capitalism—analog and digital capitalism. They are different orders of property relations. The question, the writers argue, is not humanism or post-humanism, namely cultural representations, but the material relations of production that are centered on wage labor. Language, free will, or human rights are not the issues since “Right can never be higher than the economic structure of society and its cultural development conditioned thereby.” The question that shapes all questions, in Human, All Too (Post)Human is freedom from (wage) labor.
A grant from the National Endowment of the Arts will support a community-wide conversation about the Ernest J. Gaines novel “A Lesson Before Dying” during the coming school year.
The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse English Department received a $14,000 Big Read grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. It will be used to bring nationally recognized speakers to La Crosse and generate community-wide conversations around the book.
“We want it to be a community, grass-roots read,” said assistant professor Kate Parker, one of the grant’s co-authors. She hopes up to 3,000 area readers take part.
Partners in the project include the La Crosse Public Library; libraries at UW-L, Viterbo University and Western Technical College; area schools; and several local businesses and nonprofit organizations.
UW-L is one of only 77 organizations nationwide that received grants totaling more than $1 million for Big Read projects running September 2016 June 2017. The goal of Big Reads, according to the NEH, is “to broaden our understanding of our world, our communities and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book.”
Another grant co-author, assistant professor of English Bryan Kopp, expects the Big Read to build community. “Slowing down and reading a book is a great way to connect with one another,” he said.
Community events planned for the Big Read include a kick-off event featuring Sister Helen Prejean, a social justice activist featured in the film “Dead Man Walking.” Other workshops and speaker presentations will be held this winter. Smaller groups will be encouraged to hold their own events while reading the book.
Parker, Kopp and the third grant co-writer, assistant professor of English Heidi Jones, worked with the public library to select the book from a list of 38 titles. “A Lesson Before Dying,” Gaines’ eighth novel, published in 1993, is a story about a young teacher pairing up with an uneducated young adult after he is wrongfully convicted of robbery and murder and sentenced to death in a small, fictional Cajun town.
“This is a book that invites us to think in unexpected ways about pressing social issues,” Parker said.
The faculty authors say there will be more formal and informal opportunities for students interested in promoting literacy — or just reading a good book — to become involved throughout the year. A full schedule of Big Read events will be announced in fall.
What is the role of disgust or revulsion in early modern English literature? How did early modern English subjects experience revulsion and how did writers represent it in poetry, plays, and prose? What does it mean when literature instructs, delights, and disgusts? This collection of essays looks at the treatment of disgust in texts by Spenser, Shakespeare, Donne, Jonson, Herrick, and others to demonstrate how disgust, perhaps more than other affects, gives us a more complex understanding of early modern culture. Dealing with descriptions of coagulated eye drainage, stinky leeks, and blood-filled fleas, among other sensational things, the essays focus on three kinds of disgusting encounters: sexual, cultural, and textual. Early modern English writers used disgust to explore sexual mores, describe encounters with foreign cultures, and manipulate their readers' responses. The essays in this collection show how writers deployed disgust to draw, and sometimes to upset, the boundaries that had previously defined acceptable and unacceptable behaviors, people, and literatures. Together they present the compelling argument that a critical understanding of early modern cultural perspectives requires careful attention to disgust.
In his overview of theories of space and place titled Spatiality, Robert T. Tally, Jr. writes, “In the attempt to think critically about the spaces and places of our own world, we are frequently encouraged to imagine other spaces.” In this presentation, Professor Fowler discusses what it means to “imagine space” in the literary works of Geoffrey Chaucer and William Shakespeare while also “thinking critically” about the historical London that each of these authors inhabited and the contemporary London that one might encounter today. This talk represents the theoretical and pedagogical approaches underpinning Fowler’s Literary London: Chaucer and Shakespeare course being taught through the UWLondon study abroad program this summer.