The Literature Program


The Literature Program

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Past Events



Monday, March 5, 2018
The Seventh Wonder of the ZAD
Kristin Ross
Professor Emerita of Comparative Literature,
New York University

Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium  4:45 pm
The longest-lasting ongoing struggle in France today is the occupational attempt to block the construction of an international airport in farmland in western France, the ZAD, or “zone à defendre,” outside of Notre-Dame-des-Landes. In this talk I will consider a number of innovative practices reworked and lived by the inhabitants of the ZAD, in relation to historic examples such as the Commune de Paris of 1871. At the center of my presentation will be the notion of the territory and the logics of difference, possibility and autonomy it implies—the local, often rural construction of an autonomous zone, in secession from the state, which does not result in a closing in upon itself. What is a territory worth defending? What does it mean to defend a zone, or to work at creating—over time, and perhaps over a lifetime—a territory worthy of defense? How can a struggle whose particularity lies in being anchored in one place be extended to other territories?

Kristin Ross is professor emerita of comparative literature at New York University. The recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study, she is the author of a number of books about modern and contemporary French political culture, all of which have appeared in French translation, including The Emergence of Social Space: Rimbaud and the Paris Commune (1988); Fast Cars, Clean Bodies: Decolonization and the Reordering of French Culture (1995); and May ’68 and Its Afterlives (2002). Her most recent book, Communal Luxury (2015), was published first in France by La Fabrique.
Sponsored by: Political Studies Program; the French Studies Program
Contact: Kevin Duong  845-752-4612
Monday, February 26, 2018
A Reading by Karan Mahajan
The Bard Fiction Prize winner and National Book Award finalist Karan Mahajan reads from his work.
Campus Center, Weis Cinema  2:30 pm

On Monday, February 26, at 2:30 p.m. in Weis Cinema, Bertelsmann Campus Center, novelist Karan Mahajan reads from his work. Presented by the Innovative Contemporary Fiction Reading Series, introduced by novelist and Bard literature professor Bradford Morrow, and followed by a Q&A, the reading is free and open to the public; no tickets or reservations are required.

Karan Mahajan studied English and economics at Stanford University before earning an M.F.A. in fiction from the Michener Center for Writers. His first novel, Family Planning (2012), was a finalist for the International Dylan Thomas Prize. His second novel, The Association of Small Bombs (2016), won the Bard Fiction Prize, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Fiction, and the NYPL Young Lions Award and was a finalist for the National Book Award, in addition to being named a Best Book of the Year by the New York Times Book Review, New York Magazine, Esquire, Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, and others. In 2017, Mahajan was selected as one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists.

 “The Association of Small Bombs is wonderful. It is smart, devastating, unpredictable, and enviably adept in its handling of tragedy and its fallout. . . . Mahajan is the real deal.” —Fiona Maazel, New York Times Book Review

“A voracious approach to fiction-making . . . Mahajan has a cinematic attunement to the spectacle of disaster.” —New Yorker

“Mahajan is an incredibly assured stylist. . . . Hugely promising.” —Jay McInerney, Daily Beast

“Even when handling the darkest material or picking through confounding emotional complexities, Mahajan maintains a light touch and a clarity of vision.” —London Review of Books

“Mahajan . . . has already developed an irresistible voice with a rich sense of humor fueled by sorrow.” —Washington Post Book World
Sponsored by: Innovative Contemporary Fiction Reading Series
Contact: Nicole Nyhan  845-758-7054
Thursday, February 22, 2018
Bad Art, Its Cause and Cure
David Bromwich, Sterling Professor of English, Yale University
RKC 103  5:00 pm
Aesthetic judgment presumes that there is such a thing as bad art, and that it warrants careful description and analysis; with examples from 19th- and 20th-century poetry, didactic criticism and its opponents, and one or two recent Hollywood films.
Sponsored by: American Studies Program; Hannah Arendt Center; Historical Studies Program; Literature Program
Contact: Matthew Mutter  845-389-8618
Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Shakespeare's Aristotle:
The Poetics in Renaissance England
Micha Lazarus, Research Fellow,
Trinity College, Cambridge University

Olin, Room 102  5:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Aristotle's Poetics upended literary thought in the Renaissance, mediating classical models, stimulating generic experiment, and isolating an emergent literary field. Yet it has long been considered either unavailable in England, linguistically inaccessible to the Greekless English, or hopelessly mediated for English readers by Italian criticism. Scholars have thus resisted reading the Poetics into the literary development of sixteenth-century England even where it seems most influential, and the period has been confusingly insulated from the vibrant classical and continental traditions of poetic thought from which, at times, it clearly drew.

In fact, there is plenty of hard evidence that the Poetics was, on the contrary, a real force in Renaissance England, and the untold story of its reception casts both the Poetics and the period in a new light. In this paper I will present two methodological approaches to a restored Poetics. The first traces its arrival in 1540s England through the Byzantine trivium, the Greek pronunciation controversy, scriptural tragedy, and academic readings of classical drama, locating the Poetics within a network of intellectual affiliations now mostly forgotten. Yet restoring the Poetics to critical prominence opens new paths for literary criticism as well as literary history. My second case study will suggest how we might read the Poetics into the fabric of literary composition itself, as close comparison of Hamlet and King Lear finds Shakespeare on the trail of Aristotle's elusive notion of catharsis.
Sponsored by: Classical Studies Program; Literature Program; Medieval Studies Program
Contact: Marisa Libbon  845-758-7211
  Monday, February 19, 2018
Columbia Publishing Course Information Session


Olin Language Center, Room 115  4:40 pm
Learn about the Columbia Publishing Course (CPC), an intensive, six-week introduction to all aspects of book, magazine, and digital publishing. The CPC is now offered in both NYC and the UK.

When: Monday, Feburary 19, 2018, 4:40pm
Where: Olin Language Center (LC) Room 115
Led by: Shaye Areheart, Director, Columbia Publishing Course
The Columbia Graduate School of Journalism's Columbia Publishing Course is an intensive introduction to all aspects of book, magazine, and digital media publishing. At CPC students learn directly from leaders in the industry—writers, editors, publishers, design directors, illustrators, advertising experts, and publicists. Geared to recent college graduates and culminating in a job fair, the course also includes extensive preparation for the job market. Graduates have landed at Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, Scholastic,, Vice, Buzzfeed, and Slate.

All class years and majors welcome.
Sponsored by: Literature Program; Written Arts Program
Contact: Career Development Office  845-758-6822 x7539
Thursday, February 15, 2018
The Witness's Two Bodies: Primo Levi, Anne Frank, Jorge Semprún
a lecture by
Prof. Anna Maria Mariani (University of Chicago)

Prof. Francine Prose (Bard College)

Olin, Room 102  5:00 pm
This talk asks what became of Primo Levi’s testimonial function after his death. The first part investigates the literary objects (novels and comic books) produced in the wake of Levi’s death, when fictionalized representations of him multiplied through different media. As a means of comparison, the question will be explored by taking into account a series of fictional works that feature another quintessential emblem of the Shoah: Anne Frank. The second part will instead examine Literature or Life by Buchenwald survivor Jorge Semprún, who rewrote and rearticulated Levi’s words on the very day of the latter’s suicide. Can testimonial function migrate between mortal bodies, like the royal dignitas, thus preserving itself beyond the ephemeral lives of individuals? 
Sponsored by: Hannah Arendt Center; Italian Studies Program; Jewish Studies Program; Literature Program
Contact: Franco Baldasso  845-758-7377