Greil Marcus and Werner Sollors, co-editors of the anthology A New Literary History of America, will present “1508 to 2008: Re-envisioning the Literary History of America” at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30, in the 3M Auditorium, Owens Science Hall.
Audiences are invited to participate and share in the conversation with Marcus and Sollors, along with contributors Lindsay Waters, James Dawes, Michael Gaudio and Paula Rabinowitz. Discussions among panelists will explore specific themes and issues raised by the content and design of the overall project of A New Literary History of America. They also will explore how the essays in the book trace the way genres grew out of a need for expression of what it means to be an American, and if there is an American philosophy that shapes an American intellectual identity.
Comprised of more than 200 original essays, A New Literary History of America brings together the nation’s many varicolored voices by examining the adaptation of American literacies through the visual arts, collage and photomontage, letters, cartoons, social networks, hip-hop, ballads, film and the language of campaign speeches and inaugural addresses.
As Marcus and Sollors write in their introduction: “The goal of the book is not to smash a canon or create a new one, but to set many forms of American speech in motion, so that different forms, and people speaking at different times in sometimes radically different ways, can be heard speaking to each other.” These ongoing conversations, both old and new, have been embraced by reviewers across the United States in publications such as Salon, Publishers Weekly, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Fortune, New York Review of Books, and on the air on National Public Radio.
About the panelists
When Marcus published Mystery Train in 1975, Bruce Springsteen said that it “Gets as close to the heart and soul of America and American music as the best of rock’n’roll.” Marcus has been a rock critic and columnist for Rolling Stone, Creem, The Village Voice and Artforum. He is co-editor of A New Literary History of America. He is also the author of Lipstick Traces, The Shape of Things to Come, Dead Elvis, Invisible Republic: Bob Dylan’s Basement Tapes, When That Rough God Goes Riding: Listening to Van Morrison and other books. He has been a professor in residence at the University of Minnesota, Berkeley, Princeton and the New School.
Sollors is the Henry B. and Anne M. Cabot Professor of English Literature and professor of African-American studies at Harvard University. Much of Sollors work explores the ethnic mix that makes up society, how ethnic consciousness is a feature of modernism, and how racial, ethnic and familial heritage accounts for much of America’s vitality. He is co-editor of A New Literary History of America. He also is the author of Ethnic Modernism; An Anthology of Interracial Literature: Black-White Contacts in the Old World and the New; The Multilingual Anthology of American Literature; Nei; and Beyond Ethnicity: Consent and Descent in American Culture.
Waters, who wrote about the movie “From Here to Eternity,” is the executive editor for the Humanities at Harvard University Press. His main areas of acquisition are philosophy, literary studies, film, Asian cultural studies, pop culture and conflicting relations among the races in the United States and around the world.
Gaudio, who described the influence of John White’s 1585 paintings of Virginia, most recently published Engraving the Savage: The New World and Techniques of Civilization. He is associate professor of art history at the University of Minnesota.
Dawes, who explored the impact of Ulysses S. Grant’s memoirs, is a professor of English at Macalester College. His latest book, That the World May Know: Bearing Witness to Atrocity, is a story of the successes and failures of the modern human rights movement. He is also the author of The Language of War: Literature and Culture in the U.S. from the Civil War through World War II. Dawes has also published articles on a variety of subjects, including human rights law, literature and medical studies, Shakespeare, gender and sexuality.
Rabinowitz, who wrote about FDR’s “Fireside Chats,” is professor of English at the University of Minnesota and author of They Must Be Represented: The Politics of Documentary and Black & White & Noir: America’s Pulp Modernism.