Daily Archives: October 6, 2010

Calling all Romantic Frygians

Eric Murphy Selinger of DePaul University is organizing a panel at the American Comparative Literature Association’s annual meeting to take place in Vancouver in the spring.  The panel deals with romance in its widest sense.  To his credit, I have never heard a lecture by Selinger in which he doesn’t cite Northrop Frye’s The Secular Scripture or Anatomy of Criticism.  So, if you are working on romance, please consider submitting an abstract.  Instructions for submitting an abstract are available at http://www.acla.org/acla2011/

Foreign Affairs: Romance at the Boundaries

•  Seminar Organizer: Eric Murphy Selinger, DePaul U

The 2011 ACLA conference theme invokes “the freshness, excitement, and, yes, fear of experiencing the ‘foreign.’”  In the experience of love, that mix of emotions is also on display, not least when the “foreign” other turns out to be ourselves, “shattered” (in Jean-Luc Nancy’s terms) by the impact of desire.  This seminar will explore how literary and popular texts represent the transformative encounter of self and other, mind and body, old self and new, in romantic love.

How do texts enact encounter aesthetically, through contrapuntal discourses, genres, allusions, or traditions?  From Ottoman lyric to Harlequin novel, the literature of love is often highly conventionalized.  How have such texts incorporated the freshness of the “foreign,” renewed within—or slipping past—the boundaries of genre?

What are the politics of xenophilia, within or outside of texts? What ethics (and erotics) shape our acknowledgement, violation, or fetishizing of alterity? How does power shift when texts and tropes of love move from language to language, medium to medium, period to period, audience to audience?

Is scholarship also a “foreign affair”? What pleasures and shames shape academic encounters with popular romance, the abjected Other of “literature”? What happens when men study (and write) texts commonly construed to be “by women, for women,” or when women study (and write) male romance? As queer readers study heteronormative texts, and straight readers, queer ones—when East meets West, and South, North—might love of the “foreign” be read as a critical practice, or criticism, a practice of love?

Sir Thomas Wyatt


“They Flee from Me”

On this date Sir Thomas Wyatt died (1503-1549).

Frye in Rencontre: “The General Editor’s Introduction”:

It used to be said of Wyatt, being older and further down on the evolutionary scale, was a cruder pioneer than Surrey, who the same kind of thing much better.  This view of them resulted from a historical accident.  They both belonged to the courtly class of amateur poets who did not publish their poetry, and were first introduced in Tottel’s Miscellany (1557), on the eve of Elizabeth’s reign.  By that time the new conservatism was in full swing, and the editor of Tottel made many alterations in Wyatt’s work to bring it inl line with Surrey’s, under the impression, so common among editors, that he was improving it.  Fortunately Wyatt’s manuscripts have survived, and we can see from them that he is a poet of older radicalism of Skelton and Dunbar as well as the of the new age, and one of the finest experimental poets of any age:

They flee from me, that sometime did me seek
With naked foot stalking in my chamber.
I have seen them gentle, tame, and meek
That now are wild, and do not remember
That sometime they put themself in danger
To take bread at my hand: and now they range,
Busily seeking with a continual change.

[They Flee from Me, ll. 1-7]  (CW 10, 17-18)