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The 2017 MLA Annual Convention will be held in Philadelphia from 5 to 8 January.

The presidential theme for the convention is Boundary Conditions.


Sessions will be held in the Pennsylvania Convention Center and Philadelphia Marriott Downtown. Sessions will begin at 12:00 noon on 5 January, and there are workshops at 8:30 and 11:45 a.m. The last sessions will end at 3:00 p.m. on 8 January.


Ezra Pound Society Panel: Guaranteed Session



Chair: Demetres Tryphonopoulos, Dean of Arts & Graduate Studies, Brandon University, Manitoba, Canada


Panel titles and abstracts:


Susan McCabe, Professor of English, University of Southern California

“Aesthetics, Money & Sex: The H.D., Pound, and Bryher Triangle”


In her paper, Susan McCabe pivots upon H.D.’s numerous aesthetic and erotic triangles.  Nowhere is this more apparent than in her early representation of her “rival” patrons, the poetic impresario Pound, and Bryher (a British industrialist’s queer daughter).  Both supported and advanced H.D.’s career, with Bryher taking ascendancy after 1919.  However, throughout their communications (which this paper will trace), H.D. acts as a mediator for their different styles of patronage and politics.  The paper begins with H.D.’s roman à clef, Paint it Today, in order to explore their variable positions as H.D. embarks on a life with Bryher.  Pound is portrayed as her “closest nearest relative” when she married Aldington, but by the time Bryher meets H.D., he becomes a “blundering youth,” “an irreverent male youth,” while Bryher is portrayed as one of the “sacred virgins of Artemis.”  Despite this early opposition, the role of Pound continues to enter into apparitional dialogue with the two women. The paper will explore H.D.’s poetic mediation of these two powerful, often dialectical voices. 


Sara Dunton, University of New Brunswick

“‘True Students of Aesthetics’: H.D. and Pound Define Beauty in ‘concrete terms’”


Sara Dunton considers how reading Walter Pater together in their youth instigated Pound’s and H.D.’s formulations of aesthetic theories, particularly their understandings of beauty in the “concrete terms” of visual artworks. Focusing on their prose of the 1910s and 1920s, Dunton cites Rebecca Beasley, who claims Pound “draws on the discourse of aestheticism” exemplified by Pater. In Pound’s advocacy of a new modernity, he formalizes theories about literary techniques in visual terms using sculptors and their artworks as exemplars of new manifestations of beauty. In H.D.’s early fiction, she too strives to reconcile the concept of beauty with the potent force of the objective, modern intellect. But while Pound looks to the sculptural works of contemporaries Henri Gaudier-Brzeska and Jacob Epstein, H.D. turns her gaze back to ancient Greek sculptures and Leonardo da Vinci’s paintings. Dunton argues that Pound and H.D. indirectly deploy the ekphrastic process—verbal representation of visual objects—to facilitate their thinking about modern aesthetics. 


Matte Robinson, Associate Professor, St. Thomas University

“‘You know Ezra Pound, don’t you?’: Ezra Pound’s Return in H.D.’s Late Work.”


Ezra Pound was the first of H.D.’s “initiators” (Compassionate Friendship 96), the one she credits with her “first awakening” (95). The last person to hold such a position is her analyst Erich Heydt. In one of their first meetings, without ceremony, he jabs her with a hypodermic needle and opens with “you know Ezra Pound, don’t you?” (96). She asks herself in response, “Is this White Magic, Black Magic, psychiatry, psycho-analysis, psycho-therapy, thought-reading—or what?” The sisters at the clinic compare Heydt to the Flying Dutchman, a reference with a very personal meaning for H.D. (it was her name for another of her initiators). These were signs of something. She returned to recording her coincidences, dreams, and visions, redoubling her occult researches. New prose and poetry proliferated. Something was starting again, as it first had with Pound. But along with the excitement comes the fear: she suspects that Heydt is part of a ring commanded by an occultist spy with a suspicious interest in Pound: “There is something going on. I do not think that I have been involved but evidently, I am looked upon as interesting, due partly to my early romance and my broken engagement with Ezra” (143). Occult forces are certainly at work, but H.D. has learned to be cautious of “black magic,” so something about Pound in her life is to remain guarded, secret. Drawing material from H.D.’s late prose and correspondence, this paper traces these enigmatic echoes of Pound in H.D.’s late writing.


Jason Coats, Assistant Professor, University College, Virginia Commonwealth University

“H.D., Pound, and Archival Shibboleths”


Jason Coats proposes that closer attention should be paid to H.D. and Pound’s evolving attitudes toward curating and representing the archival materials that contextualize their poetry’s often cryptic figures. Extant studies, Coats observes, have generally investigated each poet’s allusivity in isolation. He cites Tim Redman and John Whittier-Ferguson, who argued that Pound’s practice of fitfully glossing his references in his 1930s poetry and prose was aimed at obscuring rather than exposing the process by which he taught himself world history and economics. Coats also considers how Adalaide Morris and Helen Sword’s studies of H.D.’s mysticism explored the curiously hermetic knowledge that undergirds Trilogy. Their early-career intimacy and Pound’s patronizing aesthetic appropriation of H.D.’s might lead many to assume the embedded glyphs in both poets’ work to be markers of autodidactic expansiveness. While the allusive tropes of both H.D. and Pound rebuff a poetic reconnaissance too easily attained, Coats argues that they may eventually be demonstrated to serve disparate purposes. Pound’s gestures toward “Kulchur,” his idiosyncratic term for the totality of elite cultural production, were designed to provide only enough historical record and aesthetic capaciousness to reassure readers of his rhetorical authority. Pound’s shibboleths facilitate fuller acquaintance with his fascist desire for authority. H.D.’s occult but more welcoming shibboleths are difficult to decipher, but promise protection-in-secrecy and access to enabling counter-normative discourses for those who take time to initiate themselves into the syncretic alternative space from which H.D.’s symbols are derived.


Biographical Notes:


Susan McCabe  

Formerly Director of the PhD in Literature and Creative Writing, Susan McCabe is a professor of English at USC, teaching modernist poetics, creative writing, and film.  Her publications include many essays, poems and reviews, two critical books: Elizabeth Bishop: Her Poetics of Loss in 1994, and Cinematic Modernism: Modern Poetry and Film (Cambridge University Press, 2005); two books of poetry: SwirlDescartes’ Nightmare won the Agha Shahid Ali Prize and was published by Utah University Press.  She was awarded a Fulbright to Lund, Sweden. She was the President of the Modernist Studies Association and held the H.D. fellowship at Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Room, and in 2011 was a fellow at the American Academy in Berlin.  She delivered a keynote in Paris at the “H.D. & Modernity” conference.  Currently, she is writing a dual biography, H.D. and Bryher: The Love Story of Modernism, due out from Oxford in 2018, as well as a collection of poems called Unhuman. 


Sara Dunton

Sara Dunton received her PhD in May 2016 from the University of New Brunswick. Her doctoral dissertation examines H.D.’s writing to determine H.D.’s engagement with visual art, identify her use of ekphrasis, and explicate her fascination with Pre-Raphaelite artists.  She is the recipient of a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Canada Graduate Scholarship for Doctoral studies, has presented papers on both Mina Loy and H.D. at several international conferences, and has published articles in Paideuma (2013) and H.D. and Modernity (2014).


Matte Robinson

Matte Robinson is Associate Professor of English at St. Thomas University, Fredericton, where he teaches American Literature and Modernism. His recent work includes The Astral H.D. (Bloomsbury 2016) and H.D.’s Hirslanden Notebooks: An Annotated Scholarly Edition, co-edited with Demetres Tryphonopoulos (ELA Editions 2015).


Jason Coats

Jason M. Coats is Assistant Professor in the University College at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he teaches modernist literature and composition. He has published articles on Pound, H.D., Eliot, Conrad, Yeats, and Auden. His current book project surveys modernist poetic sequences by Eliot, H.D., and Stevens that responded to the sudden terror of the London Blitz and the bombing of Pearl Harbor during World War II.


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