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“American Exceptionalism and the American Condition” – Talk with Jerome McGann
2018-2019 Packer Series
When: Tuesday, April 16 & Thursday, April 18, 2019 4:00pm
Where: 193 Kaplan Hall
Jerome McGann from the University of Virginia will be the Barbara L Packer guest this year. On April 16th he will speak on “American Exceptionalism and the American Condition,” and on April 18th he will speak on “A Sacred American Text: Fact, Truth, and Method.”
Jerome McGann is the John Stewart Bryan University Professor, University of Virginia, and Visiting Research Professor, University of California, Berkeley. Until recently his work focused on Romantic and Post-Romantic British and European literature and culture, with special attention to poetry and poetics from 1780-present. Since 2012 he has been investigating the American Scene from the colonial founding forward, as his most recent works show: a critical edition of Martin Delany’s Blake; or The Huts of America; a study of Poe’s poetry and poetics, The Poet Edgar Allan Poe. Alien Angel, and an interpretation of the colonial writings through the lens of colonial and native American relations, which is now in press (American Literature before American Literature). He is the author of more than twenty monographs, a dozen editions including major scholarly editions of Byron and D. G. Rossetti, and four books of poetry. Born and raised in New York City, his kids and microkids are all rooted in California and the West Coast.
This series was established in memory of our beloved Emeritus Professor, Barbara Packer. Barbara was not only the most distinguished scholar of Emerson to emerge since the Emersonian revival of the mid-1960s, but she also was a most generous colleague and teacher whose vivid intelligence, warm humor, and true grace were daily gifts to all who knew her. While Barbara’s path-breaking scholarship on Emerson and other nineteenth-century American authors was marked, in the words of her teacher, Harold Bloom, by “a warmth and generosity … unmatched elsewhere,” in Barbara we all encountered “a mind that startled us by its large scope,” to use Emerson’s words. One of a small band of scholars who edited Emerson’s works for Harvard, she wrote the historical introduction to his late work, The Conduct of Life (2007). Her account of the Transcendentalist movement in the Cambridge History of American Literature (1995) was later published as The Transcendentalists (2007), which Joel Myerson has called “the best extended study of Transcendentalism available.” She held a Visiting Professorship at Columbia in 1987 and was a Fellow of the Stanford Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in 1989-90.