Juliana Spahr - "Du Bois’s Telegram" - Christopher Taylor

Friday, November 30, 2018 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Juliana Spahr

Du Bois’s Telegram is a brilliant inquiry into the institutions—from the CIA to the foundations and literary magazines it funded—that inform and shape literary production. The promoted, the funded and heralded, from Richard Wright to Gertrude Stein to James Baldwin, do the work of the nation state under the umbrella of culture. Our complicit freedoms are brought out in the open in this thought-provoking and erudite book. This is not a book to agree or disagree with, but rather a compelling argument that brings relevant facts forward for clear-eyed consideration. One would be remiss to pass on such essential research and analysis.” —Claudia Rankine

Juliana Spahr discusses Du Bois's Telegram: Literary Resistance and State Containment. She will be joined in conversation by Christopher Taylor. A Q&A and signing will follow the discussion.

At 57th Street Books

RSVP HERE (Please note that your RSVP is requested, not required.)

About the Book: Du Bois’s Telegram brings together a wide range of institutional forces implicated in literary production, paying special attention to three eras of writing that sought to defy political orthodoxies by contesting linguistic conventions: avant-garde modernism of the early twentieth century; social-movement writing of the 1960s and 1970s; and, in the twenty-first century, the profusion of English-language works incorporating languages other than English. Spahr shows how these literatures attempted to assert their autonomy, only to be shut down by FBI harassment or coopted by CIA and State Department propagandists. Liberal state allies such as the Ford and Rockefeller foundations made writers complicit by funding multiculturalist works that celebrated diversity and assimilation while starving radical anti-imperial, anti-racist, anti-capitalist efforts. Spahr does not deny the exhilarations of politically engaged art. But her study affirms a sobering reality: aesthetic resistance is easily domesticated.

About the Author: Juliana Spahr edits the book series Chain Links with Jena Osman, the collectively funded Subpress with nineteen other people, and Commune Editions with Joshua Clover and Jasper Bernes. She is a contributing editor to Commune magazine. With David Buuck, she wrote Army of Lovers. She has edited with Stephanie Young, A Megaphone: Some Enactments, Some Numbers, and Some Essays about the Continued Usefulness of Crotchless-pants-and-a-machine-gun Feminism (Chain Links, 2011), with Joan Retallack, Poetry & Pedagogy: the Challenge of the Contemporary (Palgrave, 2006), and with Claudia Rankine, American Women Poets in the 21st Century (Wesleyan University Press, 2002).

About the interlocutor: Christopher Taylor is an assistant professor of English and the College at the University of Chicago. His first book, Empire of Neglect: The West Indies in the Wake of British Liberalism, was published by Duke University Press in 2018. He is currently working on a new book project, entitled The Voluntary Slave: Atlantic Modernity’s Impossible Subject. Chris holds a PhD in English from the University of Pennsylvania and a BA in English from New York University.

Event Location: 
57th Street Books
1301 E 57th St
Chicago, IL 60637