Outside the Western Box—In Search of the Primary

deadline for submissions: 
January 16, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Charles Olson Society

Outside the Western Box—In Search of the Primary

Organized by the Charles Olson Society

American Literature Association, 31st Annual Conference, May 21-24, 2020

The Charles Olson Society will sponsor a session at the American Literature Association Conference, to be held in San Diego, May 21-24, 2020:


In Olson's Mayan Letters, his correspondence with Robert Creeley during the years he was in the Yucatan researching Mayan sites and the Mayan culture, Olson described Ezra Pound's work as staying inside "the Western Box." By contrast, Olson sought to get outside that box: in addition to the Mayan Letters, his seeking is articulated in works from his Black Mountain College lectures "The Chiasma, or Lectures in the New Sciences of Man" (1953) to a late Maximus Poem (1968) in which he writes of a Beothuk Indian woman's memories of traveling in a canoe in 1828 as "an instance of the Pleistocene... in Gloucester."

Works such as Clayton Eshleman's "Notes on Charles Olson and the Archaic" (2004) and George Hutchinson's "The Pleistocene in the Projective" (1982) have addressed aspects of Olson's search outside the Western box.

We are interested in papers on any aspect of Olson's work on this topic (papers could address his work on the Pleistocene, the Mayans, Norse mythology, and so on). We are also interested in papers on any poets who have extended Olson's work or could be seen as part of this movement to reach outside the Western box. Poets such as Eshleman, Jerome Rothenberg, and Nathaniel Mackey.

Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words for presentations at the annual conference to Jeff Gardiner (jeffreyjgardiner@gmail.com) and Joshua Hoeynck (jsh115@case.edu) no later than January 16, 2020. Please include your academic affiliation (if any) and a brief biographical note with your abstract.