6月29日讲座:Empson the Space Man: Literary Modernism Makes the Scalar Turn

1

英语学院学术论坛系列
SEIS Academic Forum Series
1
Forum on English and American Literature
1

 “Empson the Space Man: Literary Modernism Makes the Scalar Turn”
1

讲授者:Prof Stuart CHRISTIE, (Hong Kong Baptist University)
时间: 16:00-17:30
日期: 2017年6月29日 (周四)
地点:英语学院115会议室
1

Abstract: In my essay, I document how the literary modernist critic and poet, William Empson (1906-1984), modeled his theoretical positions in the decades following the Second World War upon precedents found in the English Renaissance poetry of John Donne. After 1955, Empson emerged as a leading skeptic of literary “high” modernism by means of the novel analogy argued in his essay, “Donne the Space Man” (1957): namely, that literary depictions of space in Donne’s early poetry, athwart high Church doctrine, paralleled contemporary skepticism, in Empson’s own time, about interpretive orthodoxies within Eliotic criticism and among the American New Critics. With its focus upon what he calls “space travel”, Empson’s exegesis in “Donne the Space Man” (1957) pioneered what today one may call the scalar turn in literary modernist criticism. In Empson’s case, a scalar criticism endorsed Donne’s search for a more generous plurality of critical worlds and embraced cosmological scale irreducible to the more dogmatic worldview of Christian-inspired theorizations then prevailing. Re-reading the “Donne the Space Man” essay today—and when applying approaches inspired by the phenomenology of the contemporary built environment, object-oriented-ontology, and unseen “life worlds”—allows for a more meaningful treatment of Empson’s criticism in its historical context, and when using scale as an heuristic to broaden our understandings of cosmologies, near and far, vastly different from our own.
1

Key Words:  William Empson, space travel, scale, John Donne, cosmology
1

Stuart Christie is Head and Professor of the Department of English Language and Literature at Hong Kong Baptist University. He is the author of Worlding Forster: The Passage from Pastoral (Routledge, 2005; paperback ed., 2013), Plural Sovereignties and Contemporary Indigenous Literature (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), and the co-editor, along with Zhang Yuejun, of Modern American Poetry and the Chinese Encounter (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012). He has published over fifty refereed outputs in venues such as Modern Fiction Studies, College Literature, PMLA, Foreign Literature Studies (外國文學研究), The American Indian Quarterly, and Modernism/modernity Print+. During 2016-2019, he is serving as the Editor-in- Chief of Literature Compass, an on-line consortium of literary scholarship published under the Wiley (Oxford) imprint, which produces quality, peer-reviewed articles across diverse subfields from scholars around the world.
1