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Pound and World Cultures

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Organizer: Jim Cocola

Co-Organizer: Vincent Yang

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Few writers have exerted as much influence upon modern poetry and yet have concurrently caused so much controversy as Ezra Pound. Even fewer poets devoted as much time and effort as Pound did to the translation of world classics including Confucian texts, Anglo-Saxon laments, Medieval troubadour lyrics, and Japanese Noh plays. Just over fifty years ago, on the eve of Pound's death, Hugh Kenner published The Pound Era (1971), in a moment when American scholars were re-evaluating Pound's relationship to and impact on American literature and modernist literature. Twenty years ago, in issuing a volume of Pound's Poems and Translations (2003), The Library of America claimed that "American literature's modernist revolution is inconceivable without the catalyzing presence of Ezra Pound."


More recently, literary studies has shifted more decisively toward the paradigm of world literature. How, then, should Pound's influence be re-assessed in light of this emergence? In the twenty-first century, as the study of world literatures continues to mature, and as world cultures come into clearer view through increasingly robust technological affordances, how might we better understand Pound's relationship to the world? And how have the paradigms of world literature and world culture been informed by the catalyzing presence of Ezra Pound? These are questions that might be addressed through attention to Pound's briefest lyrics, such as "In a Station of the Metro," to Pound's inimitable epic, The Cantos, or to work at any scale in between.


We welcome examinations of Pound in relationship to a variety of local, national, and transnational literatures and cultures, looking at and among his investments in the American, British, Chinese, French, Italian, and Japanese traditions among others. We also encourage readings keyed to aesthetic questions of counterpoint, heteroglossia, influence, polyphony, and translation, as well as to multidisciplinary engagements with economics, history, philosophy, and politics. Pound's varied commitments across the arts—ranging not only among the literary arts but also among the musical and the visual arts—might also be considered in these connections. Due consideration could also be given to Pound's roles as a reader, a correspondent, a teacher, an anthologist, a reviewer, a raconteur, an activist, a theorist, a broadcaster, a prisoner, a patient, and a mentor, particularly as they inform his relationship to the world stage.

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