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THE 27th ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF THE AMERICAN LITERATURE ASSOCIATION

 

San Francisco, 26-29 May 2016

Hyatt Regency San Francisco in Embarcadero Center 5 Embarcadero Center
San Francisco CA 94111

415-788-1234 

THE SOCIETY PANEL

 

 

Saturday, May 28, 2016.12.40 - 2.00pm

Bay Level Seacliff A

 

Eurocentric Historiography, Temporality, and Distant Reading in Ezra Pound Poetry and Prose 

 

Organized by the Ezra Pound Society

 

Chair: Demetres P. Tryphonopoulos, Brandon University, Manitoba, Canada

 

1.     Hoo Fasa: Ezra Pound’s Use of African Myth to Critique Eurocentric Historiography. Christian Bancroft, University of Houston

2.     Authority, Agency, and the Question of Continuity: Troubling Identity in Ezra Pound’s The Cantos. Phillip Crymble, University of New Brunswick, Canada

3.     Ezra Pound and Distant Reading. Youngmin Kim, Dongguk University, Seoul, Korea

 

 

ABSTRACTS

 

Hooo Fasa: Ezra Pound’s Use of African Myth to Critique Eurocentric Historiography 

by Christian Bancroft

 

Pound’s fascination and correspondence with Leo Frobenius has long been documented by Guy Davenport, Eva Hessa, Hugh Kenner, Mary de Rachewiltz, and many others; furthermore, the awaited collection of letters between Pound and the Frobenius Institute, edited by Ronald Bush and Erik Tonning will serve to open up the conversation surrounding Pound and Frobenius even more. Among Pound’s interest in Frobenius’s work, the notion of paideuma receives the most attention in Poundian studies, and despite this important work, the poet’s attraction to African culture and his active—though irregular—engagement with African-Americans tends to get abstracted. This paper seeks to avoid that by utilizing Pound’s research of Frobenius as a foundation to explore the poet’s interest in African myth, the ways in which Pound integrates legends such as “Gassire’s Lute” in Canto LXXIV, as well as his admiration for ur-African blackness and its correlation to African-Americans, all of which enable Pound to critique Eurocentric historiography. I argue that Pound’s critique manifests itself not only through his correspondence with Langston Hughes and others, but also through his use of the ideogrammic method in The Cantos, which functions as a way for him to unite his interests in African myth and culture with Confucian doctrines as well as a way for him to insert himself into these other cultural spaces. By doing so, Pound tries to move beyond multiculturalism, towards his earthly perfections of a paradiso terrestre.

 

 

 
Authority, Agency, and the Question of Continuity: Troubling Identity in Ezra Pound’s The Cantos
by Phillip Crymble
 
For decades, scholars of Ezra Pound’s literary output have tried to reach a consensus concerning the alleged deterioration of his mental faculties. In most instances, the focus is on whether or not it was fair or reasonable that Pound should have been assessed as mentally incompetent by the justice system, and whether or not his detention at St. Elizabeths Hospital was motivated by a conspiracy against him, or was, in fact, an appropriate action. What tends to be disregarded in all this tumult is the effect that Pound’s compromised mental and physical health may have had on his agency and efficacy as author of the Drafts & Fragments section of The Cantos. In the critical rush to celebrate the arrival of a contrite and unmediated confessional voice in Drafts & Fragments, what often gets overlooked is the fact that Pound had spent the better part of forty years painstakingly evading and avoiding lyrical affect and direct personal interactions in his epic. Non sequitur, arcane parataxis, disjunctive intertextuality, hate-mongering, and heavily mediated approaches to narrative are part of the warp and woof of the poem’s fabric, and as such, our chief objection, on the level of cohesion or continuity, should be raised when they are eliminated and replaced. That these methodological characteristics are excised by an author so compromised by anxiety, ill-health, temporal dislocation, and the passage of time that he can no longer be considered to be acting in the best interests of his former self is of no minor significance. By concentrating on notions of unity and consistency in Drafts & Fragments, I argue that an alien agency operating under the auspices of legitimate authority infiltrates the poem as it moves to close, and that this intrusion causes a irremediable rupture in the text that compromises its foundational directives.

 

 

Ezra Pound and Distant Reading
                     by Youngmin Kim

 

We are living in the age of globalization. Until now, we have been dealing with the micro aspects of literature, reading closely the cases of individual texts, while the theory and practice of “distant reading” has been challenging against the hermeneutic authority of “close reading,” and in so doing, has created a new space for macro literatures. When literatures and cultures encounter those of the other in terms of a new geographic, ontological, and epistemological reconfiguration, the contacting points of the two or multiple entities in the world will turn out to be a vast region of interstitial zone of “intersections, competition, and exclusions.”

 

When one reflects upon one’s confronting the “other” literatures and cultures in the moments of self-awareness and self-identity, one recalls the disturbing vortex of enriching inbound authenticity and threatening outbound hybridization. This dynamic vortex will construct the glocal, translocal, and transnational space of world literature which will cover the hybrid convergence of the linguistic, literary, ethnic, religious, social, cultural, and new media intermixtures. This space can be defined in terms of the perspective from which one can look and gaze at the objects of the investigation. This presentation, after being provided with the new visual entity which will be composed of the deceiving “close” gaze and/or the tamed or laid down “distant” gaze, will give a case study in relation to the convergent aspects of Ezra Pound’s poetry and poetics in the context of modernism.