Rachel Galvin - "News of War" - Maud Ellmann

Monday, October 8, 2018 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Rachel Galvin

"A 'must-read,' News of War is a veritable tour de force for its exposition, breadth and depth of scholarship, and sheer elegance."––Christine Arkinstall, University of Auckland

"The international and multilingual scope of the book will present challenges for readers not already deeply conversant with modernist poetics, but the rewards for following Galvin's excursions are plentiful. ... Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty."––D. C. Maus, CHOICE

Rachel Galvin discusses News of War: Civilian Poetry 1936-1945. She will be joined in conversation by Maud Ellmann. A Q&A and signing will follow the discussion.

At the Co-op

RSVP HERE (Please note that your RSVP is requested, not required.)

About the book: News of War: Civilian Poetry 1936-1945 is a powerful account of how civilian poets confront the urgent problem of writing about war. The six poets Rachel Galvin discusses––W. H. Auden, Marianne Moore, Raymond Queneau, Gertrude Stein, Wallace Stevens, and César Vallejo––all wrote memorably about war, but still they felt they did not have authority to write about what they had not experienced firsthand. Consequently, these writers developed a wartime poetics engaging with both classical rhetoric and the daily news in texts that encourage readers to take critical distance from war culture.

News of War is the first book to address the complex relationship between poetry and journalism. In two chapters on civilian literatures of the Spanish Civil War, five chapters on World War II, and an epilogue on contemporary poetry about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Galvin combines analysis of poetic form with attention to socio-historical context, drawing on rare archival sources and furnishing new translations. In comparing how poets wrestled with the limits of bodily experience, and with the ethical, political, and aesthetic problems they faced, Galvin theorizes the concept of meta-rhetoric, a type of ethical self-interference. She argues that civilian writers employed strategies drawn from journalism precisely to question the objectivity and facticity of war reporting. Civilian poetics of the 1930s and 1940s was born from writers' desire to acknowledge their own socio-historical position and to write poems that responded ethically to the gravest events of their day.

About the author: Rachel Galvin is assistant professor of English at the University of Chicago. She is the author of News of War: Civilian Poetry 1936-1945 (Oxford UP, 2018) and co-editor, with Bonnie Costello, of Auden at Work (2015). She has published a poetry collection, Pulleys & Locomotion (2009), and translated Raymond Queneau’s Hitting the Streets (2013), which won the Scott Moncrieff Prize for Translation. Her collection of poems Elevated Threat Level (Green Lantern Books, 2018) was a finalist for the National Poetry Series and Alice James Books’ Kinereth Gensler Award. She is co-translator, with Harris Feinsod, of Decals: Complete Early Poetry of Oliverio Girondo (Open Letter Books, 2018). Galvin’s poems and translations appear in journals such as The Boston Review, Colorado Review, Drunken Boat, Gulf Coast, MAKE, McSweeney’s, The New Yorker, PN Review, and Poetry.

About the interlocutor: Maud Ellmann is Randy L. & Melvin R. Berlin Professor of the Development of the Novel in English in the Department of English at the University of Chicago. Her research and teaching interests focus on British and European modernism and literary theory, particularly psychoanalysis and feminism. She has published several books, including The Poetics of Impersonality: T. S. Eliot and Ezra PoundThe Hunger Artists: Starving, Writing, and Imprisonment, and Elizabeth Bowen: The Shadow across the Page. Her most recent book, The Nets of Modernism: Henry James, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, and Sigmund Freud, is a study of modernist fiction and psychoanalysis. Major awards she has received include the Mellon Fellowship at Harvard and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the National Humanities Center.

Event Location: 
The Seminary Co-op Bookstore
5751 S. Woodlawn Ave.
Chicago, IL 60637