American Literature

at Cambridge



The Day Before O’Hara Died: Frank O’Hara and Friends

A Celebration of the Life and Legacy of the New York Poet, 50 years on


When: Sunday, July 24th, 2016; 11.00am – 8.00pm

Where: The Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), The Mall, London, SW1Y 5AH

What: This one-day colloquium will bring together poets, academics and members of the public to celebrate the life, work and artistic connections of Frank O’Hara, the New York poet, art critic, film maker and curator (at MoMA) who died 50 years ago on July 25th, 1966.

The event is being organised by the North American Poetics Network of CHASE (Consortium for the Humanities and Arts South-East England) and will consist of 3 panels which will examine and discuss O’Hara’s legacy with members of the audience.  Keynote speakers include: Geoff Ward (Cambridge University), Daniel Kane (Sussex) and (TBC) Redell Olsen (Royal Holloway)

There will be evening performances by contemporary poets whose work has been influenced and inspired by O’Hara: Andrea Brady, Prue Chamberlain, Kayo Chingonyi, Caitlin Docherty, Jeff Hilson, Sophie Robinson. Peter Gizzi and Anne Waldman will also contribute via Skype / Video.

Papers: Abstracts (~200 words) of papers (15 minutes) are now being sought.  We are especially keen for contributions that place and examine O’Hara’s work and legacy in the contexts of his myriad friendships, connections and artistic interests.  O’Hara was so much more than just a New York poet and we want the discussion of his life and work at this event to reflect this. So, although we are looking for informed and informative academic papers for the panel sessions, we would like these contributions to be pitched so as to encourage discussion and engagement with the audience (which will include members of the public as well as academics).  In keeping with O’Hara’s style and poetics, we are hoping for a colloquium that is open and generous, serious and witty, conversational in the best sense.  This will be the best way of celebrating O’Hara’s work and his legacy, 50 years on from the day before he died.

Note: A limited number of bursaries to help graduate students attend and / or contribute are available due to a grant from the British Association for American Studies. These will be distributed on a first come first served basis.

Deadline for submission of abstracts: Friday, May 27th, 2016

Please email abstracts to:

(Organising committee: Ben Hickman (Kent); Jordan Savage (Essex); Nick Selby (UEA); Steve Willey (Birkbeck))

American Literature Symposium: “American Stuff”

Saturday 14 May, 2016
GR06/7, Faculty of English, 9 West Road, Cambridge

Keynotes: David Brauner (Reading), Pamela Thurschwell (Sussex)

Defending his unadorned, realist style, William Dean Howells remarked in a 1903 letter to Charles Norton: ‘I am not sorry for having wrought in common, crude material so much; that is the right American stuff.’ Bringing together graduate students and faculty from the University of Cambridge and beyond, this one-day symposium examines the kinds of ‘stuff’ that constitute American life, asking what role ‘common, crude material’ might play in literary and cultural history.

Twitter: @AmericanLitCam / #camamstuff

Registration is free, but places are limited. To register, please email


08:30 – 09:15 Registration

09:15 – 10:30 Panel 1: Miniature Connections

Chair: Fiona Green (Cambridge)

Brendan Gillott (Cambridge)
American in Miniature: Models as Mereology in Charles Olson

Wen Li Toh (Cambridge)
James Merrill’s poetics of surface

Alexander Spencer (Cambridge)
Evocations of Walt Whitman in the Contemporary American Novel

10:30 – 10:45 Break

10:45 – 12:00 Panel 2: American Collections

Chair: Kristen Treen (Cambridge)

Gabrielle Linnell (Cambridge)
The ‘mazed minds’ of Anne Bradstreet

Christy Wensley (Cambridge)
From Daisy Miller to Milly Theale: the American Girl as the Stuff for James

Diarmuid Hester (Sussex)
The Stuff of Fiction: Hoarding Manhattan

12:00 – 13:00 Lunch

13:00 – 14:00 Keynote 1

David Brauner (Reading)
‘Speaking of himself in the third person’: Self-Reflexivity and Subjectivity in Saul Bellow’s Short Fiction

14:15 – 15:30 Panel 3: Grammars of Affect

Chair: Edward Allen (Cambridge)

Ryan McRae Arnold (Cambridge)
Life at the Yam Level: Race, Stuff, and the Cruelty of Optimism in Ellison’s Invisible Man

Mathilde Sergent (Cambridge)
‘Fuzzy Football’: Material Jokes in Lorrie Moore’s ‘You’re Ugly Too’

Lola Boorman (Cambridge)
The Grammatical Exercise in Lydia Davis’s Stories

15:30 – 15.45 Break

15:45 – 17:00 Panel 4: Virtually Contemporary Stuff

Chair: Kasia Boddy (Cambridge)

George Cox (Oxford)
‘…Since these were only words, they tasted like excellent dark chocolate’: Scatology, Sex, and Superficiality in the novels of Jonathan Franzen

Penny Cartwright (Cambridge)
A vast undefined anarchism: Politicizing Thomas Pynchon’s Internets in Bleeding Edge

Jurrit Daalder (Oxford)
Rough Stuff: Authorial Cruelty in the work of George Saunders

17:15 – 18:15 Keynote 2:

Pamela Thurschwell (Sussex)
The Writing on the Wall: Adolescent Futures at Centuries’ Ends (Jude the Obscure (1895), The Awkward Age (1899) and Ghost World (1997))

Migration to New Worlds Database

Mapping Migration

A collection of materials on the ‘Century of Immigration’ is now available. Collection materials include unique primary source material on the ‘Century of Immigration’ (1800-1924): a period when hundreds of thousands of migrants left their homelands in Great Britain, Ireland,mainland Europe, India, China, Japan and other Asian countries to start new lives in the United States, Canada and Australasia.Materials include unique diaries, personal letters, oral histories and journals; each narrating the intimate journeys and challenges immigrants faced when settling in foreign countries.

Gary Younge on ‘the fact that every day, on average, 7 children or teens, are shot dead in America’

‘… there are things that happen with such regularity and predictability that journalists have simply ceased to recognise their news value – not least if those things are least likely to happen to the people most likely to be journalists. That much of what we have come to accept as commonplace has dulled our curiosity to why so much of what is commonplace is unacceptable; that given the prevailing and escalating inequalities and inequities we simply do not occupy the same worlds we portend to cover – even when those worlds are right on our door step. That there is value in asking:”Why do dogs keep biting people” “Who owns these dogs?” And “Why do the same people keep getting bitten.” I’m going to make the case for why this matters primarily with reference to the United States, since that is where I have been reporting for the past 12 years.’


Gary Younge on why journalists should not ignore the daily murder of young black men on the streets of America.



Bob Dylan’s Archive Going to Tulsa

Bob Dylan working in a room above the Cafe Espresso in Woodstock, N.Y., in 1964. 

Read the full New York Times article.

3 March: Nicholas Gaskill on ‘The Color Sense’

Nicholas Gaskill American Seminar-1

I’m here to celebrate black history: Virginia McLaurin at the White House

Virginia McLaurin at the White House


25 Feb: Günter Leypoldt on ‘Literary Economics & the Question of Cultural Relevance’

Gunter poster-1

ProQuest Sources for American Literature: 15th March at Faculty Library

The full programme is described below: the session on American Studies is on 15th March at 11.50am.

Helping humanities scholars achieve better research outcomes is at the
heart of our work at ProQuest. Come and learn about the research value
of our historical, art and film collections, how we work with partners
such as The British Library, the Bibliothèque nationale de France, and
Condé Nast to create rich archival collections of magazines,
manuscripts, rare books, periodical archives, official documents, and
ebooks and how ProQuest provides an efficient and productive discovery
experience for researchers and librarians.

*14th March, Monday - Room GR06/07* – Register here
12:00 – Lunch and Refreshments
13:20 – Welcome & Introduction – Jessica Porter, Account Manager and
James Caudwell, Electronic Subscriptions, University Library
13:40 – Bringing rare, faraway collections to arts and humanities
scholars – Hugh Chatterton, History Sales Specialist
14:40 – Break
15:00 – Current ebook trends and usage case studies – Jackie Stringer,
ebook Specialist
16:00 – Close and Drinks

*15th March, Tuesday - Room GR06/07* – Register here

10:00 – Refreshments
10:20 – Welcome and Introduction – Jessica Porter, Account Manager and
Libby Tilley, Faculty Librarian
10:30 – How digitized content can support teaching and research in Film
studies – John Pegum, Senior Product Manager Humanities
11:30 – Break
11:50 – Improving research outcomes with content diversity: American
studies – Hugh Chatterton, History Sales Specialist
13:00 – Close and Lunch

These events present a great opportunity to catch-up with researchers
and library professionals, and build on the shared knowledge of the
community. Together we aim to help you to better meet the demands of
students at the university.

Come and find out how ProQuest is supporting Humanities scholarship.
Lunch and refreshments will be provided. Please feel free to forward
this invitation to your colleagues. Registration for each event is required.

Best wishes,
the ProQuest and Faculty of English Teams

Transatlantic Early American Literature: 23 and 24 Feb

Americanists are warmly invited to two events with Valerie Forman (NYU)
who is currently working on a book project about trade and cultural
relations in the Caribbean, entitled 'Developing New Worlds: Property,
Freedom, and the Economics of Representation in Early Modern England and
the Caribbean.'

1) On Tues 23rd Feb at the Renaissance research workshop, Dr Forman will
be talking informally about doing interdisciplinary and trans-Atlantic
work in the 17th Century. 1-2pm , GR-03. (You are welcome to bring your

2) On Wednesday the 24th Feb, she will be leading a reading group from
12.30-2pm at the Meeting Room in CRASSH (part of the Crossroads of
Knowledge series). The reading will consist of Thomas Southerne's
'Oroonoko' (1695) and Richard Ligon's 'A True and Exact History of the
Island of Barbados' (1657). See below for further notes on the reading
from the seminar coordinator, Rebecca Tomlin.

Notes on the Seminar Reading

The Southerne text is widely available in collections but if you can
obtain the Regents edition ed. by Novak and Rodes (1976) that would be
I have also put a copy of the 1695 text from ECCO in to Dropbox (Warning
before printing: this document is 92 pages long).

I have put a pdf of the original Ligon text from EEBO into Dropbox
(Warning before printing: this document is 85 pages long).
There is also a modern edition edited by Karen Kupperman (Hackett,

Professor Forman would like us to look in particular at :

1) The Dedication (I have put this in Dropbox)
2) Pages from Karen Kupperman edition (2011) based on 1673 edition.
--Introduction: 1-7, 16-19
--Pages 40-1; up until the end of the paragraph started on p. 40
--Pages 51-62; (Cape Verde section); end at middle of page at St Iago
--Page 93-110 (The number and nature of the inhabitants)
--140-69 (Plantain, Banana, Pineapple, and SUGAR)

I have also put scans of these selected extracts in the Dropbox.

Please follow this link to reach the Dropbox folder:
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