Outside the Western Box - In Search of the Primary

deadline for submissions: 
June 29, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
The Charles Olson Society
contact email: 

The Charles Olson Society will sponsor a session at the upcoming Re-Viewing Black Mountain College Conference, to be held in Asheville, October 7-9, 2022.

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.

In keeping with the conference’s thematic focus on submerged histories of abstraction, race, and/or gender, we are interested in papers on any aspect of Olson's work that address his interests in cultures that do not fall into the category of “the West.” Papers could address his work on the Pleistocene, the Mayans, Norse mythology, and so on. We are also very interested in papers on 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 Clayton Eshleman, Nathaniel Tarn, Jerome Rothenberg, and Nathaniel Mackey have all acknowledged the influence of non-western cultures on their poetics.

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 June 29th. Please include your academic affiliation (if any) and a brief biographical note with your abstract.