Robert Lowell Unbound

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NEMLA 2013 at Tufts University
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This panel will explore aspects of Robert Lowell's poetry that may be repressed in analyses of his work that "bind" Lowell to terms of tradition or to biography, as key aspects of Lowell's work from Life Studies (1959) on may be repressed in such analyses, reasonable as they may be. But often unconsidered in such analyses are Lowell's antitraditional stylistic and formal features, as well as ways that Lowell's identities within his verse may be shaped by fantasy rather than being reflections of literal biography. Aspects of Lowell's work that panelists may analyze: criticism of Lowell's career at large is often bound to biography at the expense of a consideration of many formal and stylistic matters; Lowell has often been bound to New Critical genealogies with T.S. Eliot as a patriarch, but Lowell (post-1959, especially) has an obvious and under-explored stylistic affinity to William Carlos Williams; Lowell has been bound to terms of literal history at the expense of a consideration of Lowell's interest (as he put it in his afterthought to Notebook 1967-68) in "surrealism" or "unrealism;" Lowell has been bound to terms of masculine grandiosity, often on a sublime or mythic scale, at the expense of a consideration in his interest in the antiheroic, the pragmatic, the ordinary, or aspects of identity conventionally regarded as feminine. This panel thus affords openings for explorations of the unconventional, antitraditional, or overlooked aspects of one the major American poets of the twentieth century. Send 1000-word abstracts to and to by 30 Sept 2012.

Dr. Phillip Beard