Figure 1. Stanley Spencer, Love Letters (1950)
by EILEEN JOY
[Be sure to note below the call for submissions from Cary Howie for the special issue of L'Esprit Créateur on "sanctity"]
Let's gather firewood. We'll light a fire on the mountain.
--Pablo Neruda, from "Love Sonnet LXXVIII"
As promised, I am going to share here my talk from the GWU Symposium on "Touching the Past," and I want to thank everyone who was there for such a stimulating set of conversations just after the papers were presented and beyond, well into the evening. I also want to thank the other presenters--Peggy McCracken, Julian Yates, and Carolyn Dinshaw--for their beautiful and thought-provoking papers. I found it almost frightening how much our four papers collectively paced and fretted around certain subjects: the inter-penetration of bodies and times, the pastoral (English landscapes, especially), affective/ghostly presences, the animal and animality, queer loves/affections, anachronistic "after"-lives, and resurrections. I never really got to the "poethics" part of my presentation (not enough time to if I didn't want to shirk my attention to the images of the paintings of Stanley Spencer, and I didn't), and so I have included it here in the more full version of my paper. My conclusion draws upon some of Joan Retallack's ideas in her book The Poethical Wager, but also upon the various manifestos written by the members of Oulipo, a literary collective formed in Paris in 1960 (and still going); members have included such figures as Italo Calvino and Raymond Queneau, and I'm wondering if any of our poet-medievalists are familiar with their work (I am thankful to the wonderful R.D. Morgan for giving me as a gift their "primer of potential literature"). If you want to understand the title of this post, you will find it in the paper itself (in which I have also included the images of Spencer's paintings):
The Faded Silvery Imprints of the Bare Feet of Angels: Notes Toward an Historical Poethics
NOTE: And it goes without saying, I hope, that any constructive questions that might be lobbed my way would be considered most useful by me since this forms part of the Introduction to a book that I am trying to complete this coming semester, when I will be on a leave from teaching (and that also means "hint hint Dan and Mary Kate: can you re-articulate here some of the questions and elaborations you had for me in DC?).