ALSC VP to Give Clark Lectures

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ALSC Vice-President Susan Wolfson has been invited to give the Clark Lectures at Cambridge University in the spring of 2011.

The Clark Lectures are on aspects of English literature. Past Clark Lecturers have included T.S. Eliot (1926, published as The Varieties of Metaphysical Poetry), E.M. Forster (1927, Aspects of the Novel), C.S. Lewis (1944, English Literature in the Sixteenth Century), Dame Helen Darbishire (1949, The Poet Wordsworth), F.R. Leavis (1967, English Literature in Our Time and the University), Richard Rorty (1987, Contingency, Irony and Solidarity), Toni Morrison (1990), Rowan Williams (2005), Seamus Heaney (2006), Elaine Scarry (2007) and Frank Kermode (2007).   Two distinguished ALSC members, former president John Hollander (1999) and our immediate past president, Christopher Ricks (1991) have previously been invited to speak in this renowned series.  Susan thus continues an illustrious ALSC sub-tradition within the larger tradition.

Susan has also recently been featured in the Princeton Weekly Bulletin (in the April 6th volume). She has been teaching at Princeton since 1991. Her courses focus mainly on the romantic poets and their contemporaries.

The article highlights Wolfson’s emphasis on close reading, upon which her study of literature rests. Despite the wariness of some of her students when approaching the poetry of another century, Wolfson maintains that romanticism is accessible to anyone, given a willingness to spend time with the work. The article also showcases Wolfson’s desire to apply the skills of literary criticism to the world at large by instructing her students to analyze political language in the same way that they would analyze the language of a poem by Yeats or Wordsworth. Wolfson feels that such an approach allows students to gain insight into how language works in everyday situations as well as in literature.

In addition to her courses at Princeton, Wolfson has works forthcoming in Johns Hopkins University’s ELH, Literature Compass, entries in The Cambridge Companion To British Poets and The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics. Her new work Romantic Interactions: Social Being & the Turns of Literary Action will be published in 2010 by Johns Hopkins University Press. Borderlines: The Shaping of Gender in British Romanticism has also been recently reprinted in a paperback edition by Stanford University Press.

– Thom Plasse