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H.D. Fellow's Lecture


Museums, Materials and Myths: H.D.’s Anthropoetics
By Lisa Simon, current Beinecke H.D. Fellow
Thursday, April 22, 2010 at 2:00
Room 38, Beinecke Library, 121 Wall Street
Free and open to the public
Modernist poet H.D. is best known as the perfect Imagist; this talk explores the way those “chiseled” and “gem-like” poems of her early career derive from a study of ancient artifacts and direct contact with the field of archaeology. H.D.’s artistic focus on the sociological vitality of the ancient past—a strain Lisa Simon calls H.D.’s “anthropoetics”—fundamentally shaped her emerging poetics and ambitions as an artist. What have been repeatedly read in H.D.'s work strictly as conventional literary allusions or biographical masks are also in fact allusions to material antiquity—to actual identifiable vases, friezes and historical sites. The duality is important; it signals H.D.'s attempt to break from a largely aesthetic literary tradition; it makes legible critically ignored or disparaged early poems, and illuminates unrecognized aspects of her feminist and pacifist critiques of dominant culture. By privileging materiality over literary invention, H.D.'s work operates within and alongside other Modernist discourses of surrealism and anthropology that, as cultural critic George Marcus has shown, work toward "destabilizing foundational knowledge" of cultures past and present. This multi-media presentation utilizes many images from both the Beinecke archives and from the British Museum.

Visiting H. D. Fellow Lisa Simon is an adjunct assistant professor at University of Montana, Missoula and is part of the Humanities Montana Speakers Bureau. She works on a host of digital humanities projects, integrating the substance of a humanities education with innovative and accessible technologies.

Image: H. D. in Egypt

Related materials and collections: H.D. Papers Finding Aid; H.D. Image Guide; Bryher Papers Finding Aid

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