ALSCW member and MLA President Russell Berman has an important column in Inside Higher Education, responding to a keynote address by Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations and a fixture of the foreign policy establishment, delivered to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages Annual Convention in Boston on November 19. Berman addresses Haass’ proposal to turn foreign language instruction into a merely instrumental education, with the entailment, as at SUNY Albany, of dismantling the degree programs. Which as you may imagine, would be accompanied by the dismantling of the professoriate, and using part-time, low-paid, benefit impoverished, transient adjuncts to manage this instruction.
I’ve commented at this site on Russell’s article, as have other Association members, including past president James Engell, and I urge you all to read this and add a comment if you like, and to forward the link.
The ALSC is exceptionally well-represented in this week’s issue of The New Republic (July 1, 2009). Please turn to page 51 to read Literary Imagination editor Peter Campion’s poem “Gile Mountain,” and flip to the following page to read councilor Rosanna Warren’s review of Songbook: The Selected Poems of Umberto Saba. We congratulate both of our gifted poet-critics for yet another exceptional set of achievements.
Rosanna Warren’s Fables of the Self (Norton, 2008) is a richly idiosyncratic work, blending what Warren calls “occult autobiography” and a set of interpretative readings from her canon of Golden Oldies, as well as from 20th century poets. Warren confronts, and is affronted by, what she calls a culture of literalism and crude confession in recent American poetry. To it, she opposes her memoir of childhood in the South of France, in which the adventures of learning Latin and French and connecting imaginatively to an ancient world become a foundation for life, and for literature experienced as a complex, symbolic realm. Her studies of poetry from Ancient Greece and Rome, and from 19th and 20th century France, England, and the United States, establish still other models of rebuke to literalist poetics, and her “Coda,” a section of a Poet’s Journal, is a tissue of quotations from other writers rather than a diary of so-called personal life. Not surprisingly for a writer whose ethos is anti-Romantic and un-self-centering, the practice of translation assumes a key role in her thinking: for Warren, translation is an extension of, and an intensification of, other acts of reading and writing. Over and over, she reminds us, reading and writing are acts both solitary and intensely collective. Her book probes illusions of literary originality, as well as other fiction-making by which we live (and without which we would die, benumbed and stupefied). This brilliant study is a must-read for anyone concerned with the fate of poetry, past and present, in the modern age.
For 2008-2009, Rosanna Warren is a fellow at the Cullman Center at the New York Public Library. She has recently published poems in The New Yorker, American Scholar, The New York Review of Books and The Yale Review, and a short essay in Threepenny Review.
– Clare Cavanagh
cover of Imaginative Transcripts by Willard Spiegelman
A reprint of a press release of interest.
Oxford University Press is thrilled to announce the release of Imaginative Transcripts by Willard Spiegelman.
Considered one of the finest critics of poetry writing today, Willard Spiegelman brings his trademark engaging and stylish prose to this collection of his best work on the subject. Spiegelman takes readers on a tour of the rich and diverse landscape of British and American poetry, providing nuanced, insightful readings of works by William Wordsworth, John Keats, Robert Lowell, and others, and offering essays that span his entire career and chart his changing relationship to the elusive form.
Click here to order the book.