Linda Gregerson, Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar

Oct 10, 2019

06:00 PM - 07:00 PM

English-Philosophy Building, Gerber Lounge, 304 EPB

251 West Iowa Avenue, Iowa City, IA 52242

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Linda Gregerson

Can We Talk to One Another? Poetry in an Era of Social Division

Civil conversation – the thoughtful, exploratory engagement of heart and mind, collective attention to issues of collective urgency – has taken a terrible hit in recent years in the United States. Put simply, we don’t seem to be very good at talking to one another anymore or at listening to those whose experience, hopes, and fears are different than our own. Where can we turn? Many in recent years, of all races and walks of life, have turned to lyric poetry, with a resultant burgeoning of diverse voices, perspectives, and forms. Lyric poetry has long been identified as the genre of personal expression, and that is surely one of its strengths, but as poetry written to be read by others, it has always occupied a complicated terrain of private/public. Its subjects are not always easily consoling, but its premise, the written-to-be-read part, is by nature a hopeful one. In this lecture, I will discuss a sampling of recent American poems that seem to me to suggest new possibilities for fostering both critical and compassionate engagement.

Linda Gregerson is the Caroline Walker Bynum Distinguished University Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Michigan. She is co-editor of Empires of God: Religious Encounters in the Early Modern Atlantic and author of The Reformation of the Subject: Spenser, Milton, and the English Protestant Epic, as well as six books of poetry and a volume of essays on the contemporary American lyric. Her essays on Milton, Spenser, Shakespeare, Wyatt, and Jonson appear in numerous journals and anthologies. She has received awards and fellowships from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Poetry Society of America, the Modern Poetry Association, the Institute for Advanced Study, the National Humanities Center, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim, Mellon, and Rockefeller Foundations. She is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

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