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Robert St. Clair - Lecture and Workshop

A Poetics of the Common: Baudelaire ‘with’ Rimbaud
November 16, 2017 - 11:45am to November 17, 2017 - 11:45am

Lecture: Lind Hall 320

Workshop: Folwell Hall 307-B

Lecture - Thursday, November 16, 4:00-5:30pm, Lind Hall 320

Workshop - Friday, November 17 1:00-2:30pm, Folwell Hall 307-B

If it is the case, as Jonathan Culler has recently suggested, that we can think of the lyric as an epideictic (rather than a merely mimetic) literary mode; that is, a mode of producing value or presenting truth-claims, then perhaps we need to evaluate the kind of ontological and epistemological claims the ecopoetic in the 19th-century lyric allows us to advance: what kind of insights it may or may not entail about what it is to be rooted in shared worlds and narratives, in an oikos or web-of-life. Such is perhaps one of the core stakes of thinking the ecopoetic from any perspective: namely, it enjoins us to attend to interweaving problems and forms of materiality; to a ecology of the linguistic, corporeal, social and historical whose intersections in literary texts often resist easy synopsis and legibility.

For this talk, I propose to explore some avenues into the materiality of the lyric that the ecological – that is, the relation of poetry to worldliness, to relationality and embodiment – might signpost. For we find in Baudelaire and Rimbaud different iterations of something we might theoretically put under the rubric of a lyrical materialism, or a poetics of the common that Rimbaud formally derives yet epistemologically distances himself from in Baudelaire: a writing and a thinking that is attentive to and scrutinizes the multifarious, strange, creative, and estranging ways that human beings are incorporated into an ici-bas, into worlds that we inspect, interrogate, produce and transform in ways both wild and mild.


Robert St. Clair received his PhD from the University of Minnesota and is currently assistant professor of French at Dartmouth College. He has authored numerous studies on nineteenth- century French poetry, literature and culture and is particularly interested in the theoretical stakes involved in thinking the socio-cultural and historical materiality of aesthetic forms and practices. He is the co-editor-in-chief of Parade sauvage (Paris: Garnier), the international journal of  Rimbaud studies and is the author of a book-length study on the utopian politics of the body in the works of Arthur Rimbaud.

Refreshments will be served at both events