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Literature | Graduate Speaker Series


  • Literature
    Fax: 202-885-2938
    Battelle Tompkins, Room 237

    Rangel-Mullin, Rebecca
    Sr. Administrative Assistant

Mailing Address

The Graduate Speaker Series brings two to three outside scholars to speak to students and faculty in the Literature Department each semester. The series has attracted diverse dynamic intellectuals of national and international standing to speak about their work. We attempt to key the speakers to graduate classes offered each semester in order to highlight the scholarly debates occurring in the academy around a particular subject. Topics such as aesthetics, philosophy, history, biography, historiography, and critical history have found a place alongside critical and theoretical readings of texts, performances, and films.

Students are strongly encouraged to attend all talks since the discussion after each presentation offers invaluable opportunities for an exchange of questions and ideas between scholars and students.

Past Speakers

Chih-ming Wang
"Transpacific Crossings:
Study Abroad and Asian American Literature"

Daniel Shore
"The Lonely God, or How Milton Thinks about Secularization"

Timothy Yu
"Diasporic Poetics"

Gerrard Passanante
"Little Big World: Disaster and the Materialist Imagination"

Tanya Agathocleous
"Choosing between Country and Friend: Modernism, Syncretism and Disaffection in the Imperial Encounter"

Vincent Carretta
"Strangers in Strange Lands: Figures in the Eighteenth-Century African Diaspora"

Laura Rosenthal
"Georgian Gender Trouble"

Negar Mottahedeh
"Circulating Photographs:
Iranian Women in Revolt 1953, 1979 and 2009"

Amanda Anderson
“The Liberal Aesthetic”

Reid Barbour
“Faith, Reason, and Monstrosity:
Thomas Browne’s Religio Medici

Elizabeth Barnes
“’Bloody Instructions’:
John Brown and the Radical Reproduction of Sensibility”

David Crystal
"Pronouncing Shakespeare"

Lee Edelman
“Anechronology: Why The Birds Is Still Coming”
"Queer Theory Degree Zero: Almodóvar’s Bad Education"

Lisa Gitelman
“A Short History of [Blank]”

Stephen Guy-Bray
“Against Reproduction”

Jonathan Gil Harris
“H4: Henry, History, Histrionics, Hegel”

Joan Tasker Grimbert
"Romantic(Mis)readings of the Medieval Legend of Tristan and Iseult: Richard Wagner, Joseph Bedier, and Denis de Rougemont"

Kathryn Hume
“The Grotesque as Fantasy”

Theodore Leinwand
“Shakespeare: To the Great Variety of Readers”

Ruth Leys
"The Turn to Affect: A Critique"

Michael McKeon
“Scientific Experiment, Drama, and the Origins of the Novel”

Negar Mottahedeh
"Circulating Photographs:
Iranian Women in Revolt 1953, 1979 and 2009"

Martin Puchner
“Plato’s Shadows: Shaw and the Comedy of Ideas”

John Rogers
“Milton’s Paradise Lost and the Heresy of Individualism”

Laura Rosenthal
"Georgian Gender Trouble"

George S. Rousseau,
"Modernity and the Two Paranoias:
The Neurology of Persecution?"

Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick
“The Difference Affect Makes:
Melanie Klein and Others”

Jonah Siegel
“Wonders Taken for Signs:
The Institution of the Museum in Nineteenth-Century Britain”

Susan R. Suleiman,
"Moments of Self-Consciousness in Holocaust Memoirs"

Paul C. Taylor
"Blackness after the End of History; or,
Who You Calling Post-Racial?"

Clara Tuite
“Rank Thing:
Dandy Glamour, Ruination, and Ephemeral Endurance”

2013-2014 Series

Spring 2014

Derrick Higginbotham
University of Cape Town, South Africa

Batelle-Tompkins Atrium
April 7, 4:00

Derrick Higginbotham is a Lecturer in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Cape Town, South Africa as well as a co-director of the graduate program. He publishes chiefly on late medieval and early modern theatre, including a recent article on the representation of rape in Cardenio. Currently, he is finishing a book entitled Commercial Passions: Economic Practice and Self-Control on Late Medieval and Early Modern English Stages, which examines dramatic depictions of economic activity from the fifteenth to early seventeenth centuries. His research interests include literary history, the ‘new’ economic criticism, as well as gender and sexuality studies. This paper on the depiction of Isaac in the York cycle is a part of the groundwork for a second book project on representations of queerness in premodern theater.

In my paper, I show that the York cycle’s dramatization of Isaac’s potential sacrifice expresses a distinctive investment in reproductive sexuality within marriage and its implied connection to the future. The socio-symbolic power that Lee Edelman identifies with the figure of ‘the Child’ in his book No Future, in a way, echoes this link between reproduction and the future that the York cycles dramatizes. Nevertheless, given that child sacrifice is an essential element of all Christologies, it and the York plays, I contend, turn Edelman’s theory on its head: God and Abraham both act in the name of the future but at the expense of the child, a loss that the cycle insists must not be forgotten. By combining a philological approach with queer theory, I argue that the York cycle queers Isaac through his resistance to both reproduction and the future; moreover, via typological association, it also queers Christ, which reveals how this foundational narrative is already marked by a constitutive queerness. In other words, I propose that the religious instantiation of reproductive futurity against which Edelman’s notion of queerness emerges, paradoxically, is itself queer.


Fall 2013

Chih-ming Wang
Academia Sinica, Taiwan

Hughes Formal Lounge
October 25, 5pm

In 1854 Yung Wing, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Yale University, returned to a poverty-stricken China, where domestic revolt and foreign invasion were shaking the Chinese empire. Inspired by the U.S. and its liberal education, Yung believed that having more Chinese students educated there was the only way to bring reform to China. Since then, generations of students from China have embarked on this transpacific voyage in search of modernity. What forces have shaped Chinese student migration to the U.S.? And what impact do they have on the formation of Asian America?

Based on Dr. Wang’s book, Transpacific Articulations: Student Migration and the Remaking of Asian America (University of Hawai’i Press, 2013), this talk will focus on the genealogy of study abroad narratives from the 1900s to the 1990s and the representation of foreign students in Asian American literary and cultural production — to provide a transpacific perspective into the study of Asian American literature.