Summer Scholars: Botanical Modernisms / Black Lives Matter Literature

NYC action in solidarity with Ferguson. Mo, encouraging a boycott of Black Friday Consumerism, 2014 (via WikiCommons)

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Explore the garden in American modernist poetry and the catalogue in Black Lives Matter literature

The Summer Scholars season of free lunchtime talks explores the broad and exciting range of research being conducted in the North American collections at the British Library by Eccles Centre Fellows and Award winners. Tea and coffee will be served and attendees are welcome to bring their lunch.

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Botanical Modernisms: The Garden in American Modernist Poetry
Jasmine McCrory’s research investigates the relationship between botanical spaces, particularly the private garden space, and American modernism. She challenges the dominant critical paradigm which treats modernism as a product of industrial and urban modernity. In this talk she investigates the garden as presented in the work of American modernist poet Wallace Stevens, and explores how Stevens uses the tropes of soil cultures, vermiculture and photosynthesis to explore the complex relationship between fascism, agri-myth and organicism. She showcases the vast array of primary material held in the British Library's Americas collections which documents the early twentieth century relationship with political horticultures.

‘In Memory of…’: The Catalogue in Black Lives Matter Literature
When the list of victims of racial violence gets ever longer, how do we prevent any one name from fading into the background? How do we do the ethical work of memorialisation without losing sight of the individuality of the person we mourn? How do we #SayHerName without becoming jaded or hopeless? Since 2012, African American poets including Jericho Brown, Ross Gay, Claudia Rankine and Danez Smith, and novelists including Angie Thomas and Jesmyn Ward, have confronted these challenging ethical questions. In this talk, Gavan Lennon suggests that they answer them by turning to a surprising and very old formal technique: the catalogue. Going back at least as far as Homer, the catalogue might seem at odds with the contemporary, politically engaged writing listed above. In innovative and experimental reimaginings of the form, however, these writers put the catalogue to work, articulating new and compelling means of literary protest. 

Jasmine McCrory is an AHRC funded PhD candidate at Queen's University Belfast. She is also a lecturer and public engagement officer for the National Trust based in Monk's House, East Sussex and a 2019 Eccles Centre Visiting Fellow.

Gavan Lennon is Lecturer in American Studies and Faculty Director of Learning and Teaching at Canterbury Christ Church University. His research explores the aesthetics of literary protest in the 20th and 21st centuries. His first monograph, Living Jim Crow: The Segregated Town in Mid-Century Southern Fiction is forthcoming with Edinburgh University Press in 2020. He is a 2019 Eccles Centre Visiting Fellow.

Image: NYC action in solidarity with Ferguson. Mo, encouraging a boycott of Black Friday Consumerism, 2014 (via WikiCommons)


Name: Summer Scholars: Botanical Modernisms / Black Lives Matter Literature
Where: Knowledge Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
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When: -
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