25 January 2021

Dear Everyone:

I’m a near fervent admirer of Yoko Ono, not least because of Grapefruit, first published in 1964 and comprised of a series of “scores” – prompts, directions, guides, suggestions. As much as anything else, it’s a regular source of pedagogical inspiration for me. Recently, though, and perhaps especially through this weekend’s shared celebration and mourning of the passages of Gerhard Joseph and Donald Stone, her “Shadow Piece” floated up. I think perhaps this is what mourning is, what makes mourning possible – a convergence of shadows, where our selves dissolve into one another…

It is in any event in times like the immediate present when I most acutely feel a sense of us-ness.  And, oh, there’s been and continues to be just so much reason to grieve!  So, I open this first chatty message of the new semester by offering thanks to you for sharing shadow, and, by way also of acknowledging – as Yoko Ono does seemingly always – how doing so allows art and life come of darkness.

I don’t know what the zoom version of a shadow is!  But, as Nancy Silverman’s message sent earlier noted, we’ll have occasion to converge at the Recommendations Friday Forum this week!  4p, 29 January!

What are you reading or watching or listening to these days? Come join faculty colleagues — including Michael Gillespie (just confirmed!), David Reynolds, Wayne Koestenbaum, Nancy K. Miller, Eric Lott, Duncan Faherty, Tanya Pollard, Caroline Reitz, and Talia Schaffer — to give and get a recommendation or two! Academic, popular, indie, obscure, blockbuster, short, long, silly, horrifying — suggestions for any and all of it are most welcome!  Please register in advance for this event. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the event. Not to worry if you’re unable to attend; we’ll compile a list to share, with thanks to Kelly Josephs for the suggestion to do so. And bring a glass to toast or a hat to doff or whatever equivalent gestures makes best sense to you, as we invoke our absent colleagues, friends, beloveds.

We have a busy semester ahead, what with the usual work of the program – classes and committees – as well as faculty appointments and admissions and the ESA conference.  I’ll write next week with a more detailed sketch of the semester to come. For now, will close with warmest welcome back, and deepest sympathies to you on all the losses you’re living; I hope condolence finds its shape as laughter and dwells in overflowing joy!

Abundant well wishes,


p.s. my zoom office hours this spring – starting next week – will be Tuesdays, 2-4p and Wednesdays, 10a-12p, and by appointment, of course – please see the bottom of my signature line for a link to appointlet.

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