23 November 2020

Dear Everyone:

I’m glad so many of you were able to attend Professor Abdulhamit Arvas’s really super great Friday Forum lecture last week — special thanks to Rob Yates for organizing, and Mario DiGangi and Tanya Pollard for remarks that super generatively extended the lecture – it was a full house! I was reminded yet again of the deep pleasure, intellectual and otherwise, of experiencing richly complex work that resonates across multiple fields and discourses — here, across the realms of early modern studies and critiques of orientalism, the geographies of the early modern and study of affect, desire, and embodiment.  Thank you for the labor that gives rise to such pleasures, Rob, Tanya, and Mario, and the engagement, everyone who attended!

Our next Friday Forum is our final for the semester and year!  At 4p on 4 December, we’ll hold our usual open Executive Committee meeting – fyi for newbies, that’s a session that allows us to report on program affairs, and identify needs-attention items collectively. That will be followed also per usual by the ESA-produced Revels!  Details and links will follow next week. I hope you’ll be able to join us for both!

As we begin this week marked in the U.S. by Thanksgiving and the National Day of Mourning – perhaps in part because I’ve found myself distinctly preoccupied with ancestors (past and future) over the past while – Muscogee poet Joy Harjo’s lecture from several years ago returned to mind. How she speaks and writes of English – of the language and its histories and participation in dispossession and/but also how it is “renewed by use, especially by poets who have one of the most intimate relationships with it,” referring focusedly but not only to the work of Indigenous poets, Harjo helps us understand that caretaking of the language and its potency – its histories of violence and of world-making – is part of what it means to remember our ancestors, to be accountable to them, to all those who make us possible. Our literary ancestors are manifold and varied, all part of the intricate web of existence within which we are enmeshed. Understood in this way, we may perceive our work as scholars and teachers and writers as bearing the remit of holding up the world! And of doing so in a way that furthers the creation of conditions wherein dispossession/colonialism are unimaginable as rationalized activities and ideologies. So big a project as that requires all of us!  Enormous thanks to the so many of you pulling in the directions Harjo enunciates.

Along those lines, a poem with which to end this note – “Manhattan is a Lenape Word” by Natalie Diaz, from her most recent collection Postcolonial Love Poem – filled with history and fury and love and longing and deeply and complexly beloved Manhattan.

Abundant well wishes – and many thanks, as ever, too.


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