Robert Markley, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
on Friday from12:30-1:30 p.m. there will be
in the Standish Room:
“Contaminations”—A Performance Piece
With Pierre Joris, Tomás Urayoán Noel, Michael Peters, Chris Rizzo, Jackie Roberts
* * *
The threat of biological catastrophe—including that by AIDS, ebola, avian influenza, and species extinction—may seem the specific and daunting provenance of late 20th- and early 21st –century life, but it has in fact been a crucial part of history since ancient times. It is important to remember, for instance, that starting in the 14th century and extending well into the 18th, the bubonic plague (as the Black Death) ultimately took the lives of at least 35% of the entire population in Europe, as well as nearly that much in central Asia, killing an estimated total of 75 million people. Given these numbers, it could be argued that premodern and early modern cultures had even more at stake in articulating the role of plague—not to mention the related phenomena of cholera, syphilis, small pox, the so-called English Sweating Sickness, or extensive urban infestations, which are only a few of the shockwaves that preceded our own anxiety about spectacular biological disaster. This symposium therefore proposes rethinking the connections among recent models, representations, or biocultures of biological threat and their counterparts in the pre- and early modern eras.
A focus on the “rhetorics” of plague highlights the ways in which biological danger becomes conceptually organized, ethically ordered, or socio-politically oriented by the discourses that represent it. It also underscores the crossing or hybridization of discourses, such as the ways in which early views of medical pandemic, in the absence of a theory of germ contagion, could be linked to models of ecological or environmental dysfunction, or the manner in which disease of the body natural could metaphorize the maladies of the body politic. Furthermore, in addition to accounting for the interrelated scientific, literary, or philosophical conventions invoked by such discourses, it is important to acknowledge that, like the biological volatility they describe, discourses about plague can undergo their own kind of exponential proliferation, producing a potential plague of rhetorics. While such discourses may have predominantly originated in the metropolitan centers of Europe, there is also the need to account for their transformation or mutation when applied in non-Western or colonial contexts, as well as for the emergence of counter-discourses from non-European sources—such as China or the Middle East—that may have challenged European models of pandemic explanation, particularly as they have undergirded imperial ambitions.
"Interglacial Narrows: Readings by Pierre Joris” (details to be announced)
Wednesday, November 29, 4PM
Lecture: Witnessing for the Witness: The Ferryman’s Labor in Translating Paul Celan.
Thursday, November 30, 5:30PM
Brown University Bookshop
Thursday, January 4, 2024
Segue (Artists Space, 11 Cortlandt Alley, NYC)
Pierre Joris, born in Strasbourg, France in 1946, was raised in Luxembourg. Since age 18, he has moved between Europe, the Maghreb & the US & holds both Luxembourg & American citizenship. He has published over 80 books of poetry, essays, translations & anthologies — most recently Interglacial Narrows (Poems 1915-2021) & Always the Many, Never the One: Conversations In-between, with Florent Toniello, both from Contra Mundum Press. In 2020 his two final Paul Celan translations came out: Microliths They Are, Little Stones (Posthumous prose, from CMP) & The Collected Earlier Poetry (FSG). Forthcoming are: Paul Celan’s “Todesfuge” (Small Orange Import, 2023) & Diwan of Exiles: A Pierre Joris Reader (edited with Ariel Reznikoff, 2024). For a full list see the right column on this blog.
In 2011 Litteraria Pragensia, Charles University, Prague, published Pierre Joris: Cartographies of the In-between, edited by Peter Cockelbergh, with essays on Joris’ work by, among others, Mohammed Bennis, Charles Bernstein, Nicole Brossard, Clayton Eshleman, Allen Fisher, Christine Hume, Robert Kelly, Abdelwahab Meddeb, Jennifer Moxley, Jean Portante, Carrie Noland, Alice Notley, Marjorie Perloff & Nicole Peyrafitte (2011).
Other work includes the CD Routes, not Roots (with Munir Beken, oud; Mike Bisio, bass; Ben Chadabe, percussion; Mitch Elrod, guitar; Ta’wil Productions). With Jerome Rothenberg he edited Poems for the Millennium, vol. 1 & 2: The University of California Book of Modern & Postmodern Poetry, and with Habib. Tengour Poems for the Millennium, vol. 3: The University of California Book of North African Literature.
When not on the road, he lives in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, with his wife, multimedia praticienne Nicole Peyrafitte. A volume of their collaborative work, to be called Domopoetics, will be published in the near future.