Local Americanists: Katharina Luther, When Poetry Speaks Back: Producing Material Resonance and Relationality in Denise Riley’s Say Something Back

November 13, 2019
3:30 - 5:00 PM
2115 Tawes Hall

Katharina Luther is our Fall 2019 Visiting Professor from the University of Tübingen, where she is affiliated with the Departments of English Literature and Gender Studies. Her fields of interest and research include, New Materialism(s), Object & Thing Theory, Philosophy of Science, Nature Writing, Environmental Criticism, Body Studies, and Contemporary Poetry, Modern & Contemporary English Literature. 

Katharina's lecture is entitled, "When Poetry Speaks Back: Producing Material Resonance and Relationality in Denise Riley’s Say Something Back," and it will take place on Wednesday, November 13 in 2115 Tawes from 3:30-5pm. 

An abstract of the talk is provided below:

"In her latest poetry collection Say Something Back (2016), the poet and scholar Denise Riley writes “A Part Song” into being – a heartfelt auto-biographical piece on the loss and grief of her son Jacob.  What is astonishing, though, is that Riley’s poems do not just represent narratives on the loss of loved ones, but they actually do something: they speak back – correspond.

It is specifically this doing of a poetic text, a material artefact, which fundamentally challenges our conception of the Hegelian object/subject dualism. Even more so, Riley’s thing-corresponders radically challenge the deeply rooted anti-vitalist, Cartesian (Descartes 1627-28), and Baconian (1620) belief in Western science and culture that matter is inert and stable, and thus hierarchically below rational, conscious, intentional, and responsive human beings. In this talk, we will explore how Riley’s poetry can translate the materiality of sound intowriting and outagain by creating echo chambers that quantum-entangle space, time, meaning, words, and matter. 

In the end, we will have to discuss what happens to our Western conception of poetry if poems can, in fact, speak back and not just be read."

For more information contact: Edlie Wong (edlie@umd.edu)