Jonathan Culler (Cornell): "Narrative Theory and the Lyric"

September 12, 2017
Monday, October 9, 2017 - 4:00pm to 5:30pm
311 Denney Hall
Photo of the speaker, Jonathan Culler

Although lyric poems frequently contain narrative elements, narratology and narrative theory have generally neglected the lyric, although both students of narrative and students of the lyric would benefit from well-thought-out accounts of how narrative operates in lyric.  This talk addresses two very different enterprises that draw upon narrative models for the discussion of lyric: a a German project centered at the University of Hamburg, which explicitly advocates the application of narratological thinking to the lyric, and an American pedagogical practice which encourages readers to locate narrators in lyric poems, implicitly privileging a narrative model.  Can such models and practices illuminate lyric poems without neglecting their distinctiveness?

Jonathan Culler came to Cornell in 1977 as Professor of English and Comparative Literature. His Structuralist Poetics: Structuralism, Linguistics, and the Study of Literature, won MLA’s Lowell Prize and established his reputation as analyst and expositor of critical theory. Now known especially for On Deconstruction and Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction (which has been translated into some 26 languages), he published Theory of the Lyric (Harvard University Press) in the spring of 2015.

Professor Culler has been President of the American Comparative Literature Association and chair of the departments of English, Comparative Literature, and Romance Studies at Cornell, as well as Senior Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2001 and to the American Philosophical Society in 2006. He currently serves as Secretary of the American Council of Learned Societies and as the Chair of the New York Council for the Humanities.

 

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