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Local Americanists: Christopher Looby

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Local Americanists: Christopher Looby

English Wednesday, February 17, 2021 4:00 pm-5:15 pm

Join the next Local Americanists talk, featuring Professor Christopher Looby (UCLA). Local Americanists is a longstanding lecture series on all aspects of American literary studies, typically featuring 4-6 speakers each year. This pandemic year we're doing a Works-in-Progress series via Zoom.

For the Zoom link, access to the paper, and additional information contact Local Americanists Lecture Series Chair Robert Levine (rlevine@umd.edu).

An abstract to the paper “Not to Mention (the marmorean unconscious).”

This essay began as a 2017 MLA talk on a panel concerning what the organizer, Dana Luciano, called “defunct sexualities.” In the erotic world we have lost, the world before the durable installation of the homo/hetero dyad, there were many unlabeled varieties of erotic experience, many forgotten ways of experiencing bodies and pleasures. Here I attempt to recall one of them, which I call “marmoreanism,” and define as “an erotic disposition in which desires are organized around, mediated through, secretly channeled by, or directly attached to the cold indifference embodied by white marble statuary.” I discuss a variety of literary representations of marmoreanism—and some actual marble statues—but devote much of the essay to a reading of a short story by a once popular writer, Octave Thanet (real name: Alice French), entitled “My Lorelei” (1880). This tale recounts a brief passionate attachment between two women, one of them named Undine—and undines (soulless water spirits) were a popular subject for marble sculpture in the nineteenth century—who is erotically captivating to the narrator, Constance, not in spite of her marmorean coldness but because of it.

Image credit: A Manuscript Map of Maryland, circa 1677. Special Collections and University Archives, University of Maryland. Call number: MD Map Collection: MD/VA 034. Circa 1677.

Add to Calendar 02/17/21 4:00 PM 02/17/21 5:15 PM America/New_York Local Americanists: Christopher Looby

Join the next Local Americanists talk, featuring Professor Christopher Looby (UCLA). Local Americanists is a longstanding lecture series on all aspects of American literary studies, typically featuring 4-6 speakers each year. This pandemic year we're doing a Works-in-Progress series via Zoom.

For the Zoom link, access to the paper, and additional information contact Local Americanists Lecture Series Chair Robert Levine (rlevine@umd.edu).

An abstract to the paper “Not to Mention (the marmorean unconscious).”

This essay began as a 2017 MLA talk on a panel concerning what the organizer, Dana Luciano, called “defunct sexualities.” In the erotic world we have lost, the world before the durable installation of the homo/hetero dyad, there were many unlabeled varieties of erotic experience, many forgotten ways of experiencing bodies and pleasures. Here I attempt to recall one of them, which I call “marmoreanism,” and define as “an erotic disposition in which desires are organized around, mediated through, secretly channeled by, or directly attached to the cold indifference embodied by white marble statuary.” I discuss a variety of literary representations of marmoreanism—and some actual marble statues—but devote much of the essay to a reading of a short story by a once popular writer, Octave Thanet (real name: Alice French), entitled “My Lorelei” (1880). This tale recounts a brief passionate attachment between two women, one of them named Undine—and undines (soulless water spirits) were a popular subject for marble sculpture in the nineteenth century—who is erotically captivating to the narrator, Constance, not in spite of her marmorean coldness but because of it.

Image credit: A Manuscript Map of Maryland, circa 1677. Special Collections and University Archives, University of Maryland. Call number: MD Map Collection: MD/VA 034. Circa 1677.