American Literature Association Conference, May 24-27, 2018 (San Francisco): “Stevens’ Americana”
Robert Frost intended to insult Stevens’ poetry when he called it mere “bric-a-brac,” verses loaded with pretty ornaments of ultimately little concrete value beyond themselves. In the context of American studies, however, “bric-a-brac” (or “Americana,” in our national tradition) often appreciates in critical value over time. This panel proposes to look at items, objects, or elements of Americana in Stevens’ poetry, essays, letters, and/or life. It welcomes presentations that consider the way Stevens uses or abuses American artifacts or lore in his work, as well as those that establish links between Stevens and other writings, cultural products, or ephemera idealized as unique to (or representative of) the American experience. Is there anything about Stevens’ style that qualifies as Americana? Is there a Stevensian notion of kitsch? What is the relationship between his poetry and cultural artifacts that posit a hegemonic American life? How might one teach Stevens in the context of American popular culture? And how has Stevens been taken up by subsequent poets, artists, and commentators as an example of Americana?
Please submit your 300-500 word abstract along with a short bio by December 1, 2017 to Zachary Tavlin at firstname.lastname@example.org.