Digital recordings of the following lectures from the July 2014 residency are now available for download at the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson website:
CHARLES BAXTER: Fugitive Subjectivity
What happens within a story when there may be no one to whom a story can be told, or the story itself is somehow unspeakable? Baxter explores “fugitive subjectivity”—subjectivity without an outlet—in the toxic narratives that result, focusing on John Cheever’s “The Country Husband.”
DAISY FRIED: Why Burn: An Exhortation in Eight Proposals
Jeers, rants, outbursts, abrasions, invective—Fried’s lecture investigates varieties and effects of “heat” in poems by Robert Bly, John Donne, Les Murray, and others, and in the fiction of Charles Dickens.
LAUREN GROFF: Horror Vacui: On Gaps, Spaces, and Silences
The gaps in a text may be empty of words, but full of resonance, the vacuum filled instantly by the reader’s swift comprehension. Groff’s lecture questions and explores varieties of white space in a text—pauses, rests, caesurae, silences—in works by Perec, Levi, Duras, Beckett, and others.
MAURICE MANNING: Nature and the Possibility of a Moral Imagination
What does Nature have to teach us in 21st century, and how can Nature instruct human imagination? Can our deep intimacy with Nature make us better artists? Manning’s lecture seeks answers through a discussion of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the work of and the correspondence between Robert Frost and Edward Thomas.
HEATHER McHUGH: The Unwary Angel: Inquiry and Empathy
“The role of art,” says faculty member Heather McHugh, “is to remind a mind that thinks it has made itself up.” Mc Hugh’s lecture takes on inquiry and empathy—and inquiry as empathy–through discussions of the poetry of Miroslav Holub, the writings of physicist Richard Feynman, and others.
DEBRA SPARK: Surprise Me
How do we think of surprise in fiction? As an antidote to boredom, a gift of the subconscious, or welcome strangeness? Spark’s lecture considers how even the quotidian can shock us through plot twists, formal invention, character revelation, or language that distills the nature of the real.
SARAH STONE: Strategic Opacity
An imaginative work needs to embody, rather than explain, its world and its people. Stephen Greenblatt uses the term “Strategic Opacity” in discussing Shakespeare’s approach to character motivation. Stone adopts this idea as her jumping-off point to explore character and plot mysteries in Jamaica Kinkaid’s At the Bottom of the River, Joy Williams’ The Quick and the Dead, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
DAN TOBIN: John Donne at the Odeon
Associative, architectural, sexy, saintly, and immoderately wrought, John Donne’s poetry epitomizes the need to embody conflicting temperaments in the astonishing vital contraption that would be a poem. Tobin’s lecture focuses on how Donne’s creative action shapes two of his great poems, “The Canonization” and “Holy Sonnet 14.”
All proceeds from these digital downloads goes to scholarship support for students in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.