Thursday, November 29, 2018

Wendelmoot Symposium: The CRISIS Crisis! Featuring Mark Dery on Edward Gorey

 (All images on this page expand to full size when clicked!)

MALAS is proud to be co-sponsoring this lecture with SDSU English and Comparative Literature and SDSU Press:


@ 11AM IN GMCS 333

“The Screams We Make In 
Other People’s Dreams”
Edward Gorey, the Gay Gothic, 
and the Camp Macabre

Mark Dery

Edward Gorey (1925-2000)—the incomparably eccentric author and illustrator of more than a hundred-odd little picture books with titles like The Loathsome Couple, The Beastly Baby, and Neglected Murderesses—always claimed to be asexual. (“Reasonably undersexed,” is how he put it.) Yet his mauve-ish aesthetic is steeped in the pre-Stonewall gay sensibility of camp, the Aestheticism of 19th-century gay writers such as Oscar Wilde and the Decadent artist Aubrey Beardsley, the nonsense verse of the gay writer of limericks Edward Lear, and the cutting irony of ‘20s queer novelists such as Ronald Firbank and Ivy Compton-Burnett. At the same time, Gorey’s “hand-drawn engravings” and darkly droll writing are indebted to gothic literature, Victorian penny dreadfuls, and true crime—genres whose literary conventions and artistic clichés Gorey uses to hint not only at his buried sexuality but to problematize allnotions of identity and normalcy. In this lecture, cultural critic Mark Dery will draw on queer theory, literary criticism, art history, and cultural studies to explore the Freudian shadows lurking in the corners of Gorey’s whimsically macabre art and writing. As well, he’ll reveal the seminal role played by Gorey in the postwar mainstreaming of the gay aesthetic and, together with children’s authors like Maurice Sendak, the transformation of American visions of childhood and the popularization of the darker, queerer children’s literature familiar from Lemony Snicket’s YA novels the twee-goth movies of Tim Burton.

click to enlarge!

Mark Dery is a cultural critic, essayist, and book author. He coined the term “Afrofuturism,” popularized the concept of “culture jamming,” has been a member of the faculty at New York University and the Yale School of Art, and was a Chancellor’s Distinguished Fellow at UC Irvine and a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome. He has published widely, in the academic as well as the popular press, on American mythologies and pathologies. His books include Flame Wars (1994), a seminal anthology of writings on digital culture; Escape Velocity: Cyberculture at the End of the Century (1996), which has been translated into eight languages; The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium: American Culture on the Brink (1999), a study of cultural chaos in millennial America; and the essay collection, I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts: Drive-by Essays on American Dread, American Dreams (2012). His biography of Edward Gorey, Born to Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey, will be published by Little, Brown this November.

Check out the October 30, 2018 review of Dery's New Gorey Biography in The New York Times.

Sponsored by the Department of English and Comparative Literature @ SDSU—additional support provided by MALAS, the Master of Arts in Liberal Arts and Sciences; San Diego State University Press; and the students of Robotic Erotic Electric, English 220, Fall 2019

About the Origins of the Wendelmoot Symposium Series
An Interview with William Nericcio, Wendelmoot Curator, 2018-19

• What are your plans for the series (e.g., what events do you envision)?
I am planning to coordinate a series of lectures/presentations/performances entitled “The Crisis Crisis: Interdisciplinary Reactions to a World in Transition/Translation.” Drawing on a shortlist of international scholars and performers, both new and established, I hope to fashion a lecture series/events catalogue that will be a gathering site for exchange, dialogue, discovery and debate. I envision a series of at least 4 lectures and events. I want to maintain maximum flexibility so that the best speakers might be sought, but also so that the Wendelmoot Symposia will be woven into the fabric of the department, augmenting and complementing the Humanities in Action series as well as, if we are lucky enough to get a hire, the new faculty searches we will be running.
• What organizes your vision for the series (e.g., what are your motivating interests and reasons; how does this series strengthen or steer the department as a whole)?
Never before has fear and loathing, crisis and crisis management, been so near and dear to the hearts and minds of our faculty and our students. The realities of our current context— political and economic—coupled with the tenuousness of the entire academy (especially the Humanities) means that the subject of crisis is right at hand for ourselves and our colleagues. Developing a lecture series focused on “Crisis” allows us to convert a negative anxiety filled with the unknown, into an intellectual project that will assuage as it enlightens, relieve pressure as it illuminates the current cultural conundrums roiling Literature, to be sure, but a host of disciplines across the humanities and sciences. I envision the lecture series as serving to further allow for the evolution and strengthening of English and Comparative Literature ties to the Digital Humanities Initiative.

Department of English and Comparative Literature
Wendelmoot Symposium Author Makes PBS Great Reads List, 2018

Meet Mark Dery at 11am, Thursday, November 29, 2018
GMCS 333 at 11am--free and open to the SDSU Community!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018