Novelists, poets read works
Evenings in the presence of world famous writers are very much a part of life at Bryn Mawr this semester," wrote Shubha Sudner '05 of the Bi-Co staff.

Scholar-novelist Umberto Eco, Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer, MacArthur Fellow Sandra Cisneros, Irish poet Michael O'Saidhail, and former U.S. poet laureate Stanley Kunitz read from their work, drawing capacity audiences from the campus and local community.

All were sponsored by a variety of BrynMawr programs and funds, including the Creative Writing Program's Readers Series and the Lucy Martin Donnelly Women Writers Creative Writing Program's Readers Series.

Eco read selections from his new book, Baudolino, including a passage from the original Italian edition. Although Eco felt as though he had a good relationships with his translators and that each had stayed faithful to the prose of the original, the passage, which described a dry riverbed of stones and its movement over time, incorporated alliteration and syncopation that could be appreciated only in the original Italian.

Gordimer met with creative writing majors from Bryn Mawr and Haverford before reading from her new novel, The Pickup. Gordimer, who often writes about the personal and political costs of racism, said that the meaning of conflict and change in the lives of South Africans is not likely to change post-apartheid.

Cisneros read from her new novel, Caramelo, which draws on her experiences as one of seven children in a migrant family that traveled back to Mexico City from Chicago each summer.

Kunitz visited BrynMawr's Writing Poetry I class before his reading, answering questions from students about his work and writing habits and how he got started as an artist.

MacArthur Fellow Octavia Butler, a science fiction writer and winner of awards including the Hugo and Nebula, said her inspiration for Parable of the Sower, her 1999 novel which was a New York Times "Notable Book of the Year," came from listening to and reading news.

"This is a very uncomfortable thing sometimes because you don't have the power to make things better, or even make things sensible," Butler said, whose lecture was sponsored by the Center for Science in Society and the Feminist and Gender Studies Program. "There's nothing you can do but listen or read. ..."

Parable of the Sower, about a young woman in the near future who tries to start a new religion, concerns the "problems of today becoming the disasters of tomorrow," Butler said. Some of those problems include the widening gap between rich and poor, throw-away labor, illiteracy, "the funding of prisons being so much more popular than the funding of schools and libraries," global warming, and drugs; science fiction doesn't require only looking ahead to the future, Butler said, but also "looking arou nd."

Butler also finds inspiration in popular science writing. A story that recently caught her attention was about a common herbicide that is helping to kill off frogs and other amphibians by turning the males into females. "Now there's a science fiction idea for you-except that it's true!" she said.



U.S. foreign policy and Iraq
A year-long series on U.S. foreign policy and Iraq was organized in the fall by an ad-hoc group of faculty from a number of departments including history, political science, sociology and English. "Speakers have been invited as experts in their fields who can contribute both reliable information and their informed interpretation of current and past U.S. foreign policy and the situation in Iraq," said Marjorie Walter Goodhart Professor of Euro-pean History, one of the organizers.

The series began on October 7 with the 1902 Fund Lecture, "Inside Iraq: U.S. Policy and Iraq's Humanitarian Crisis," by Gulf War veteran Erik Gustafson, Executive Director of the Education for Peace in Iraq Center.

Scott Ritter, former chief weapons inspector for the U.N. Special Commission in Iraq and an outspoken critic of the proposed U.S. military action there, detailed his opposition to the practice of "regime removal" in a October 23 lecture sponsored by the centers for International Studies and Science in Society, and the President's Office.



Science in Society center activities
Throughout the fall semester, The Center for Science in Society involved faculty, students, staff and visiting speakers in thinking about science and science education in broader contexts. Events have included lectures and symposia; weekly "brown bag" lunch discussions of relations between the disciplines; a mental health forum; and the Work and Family project. Extensive notes and discussions are
on-line.



Visual Culture lectures
Four Bryn Mawr faculty gave lectures for The Center for Visual Culture's fall colloquium series. Professor of English Michael Tratner spoke on "Working the Crowd: Movies and Mass Politics." Tratner, who grew up in Hollywood, studies how its movies borrowed the innovations of Fascist and Communist filmmakers while struggling against the politics of those innovations.

Professor of History of Art David Cast discussed George Orwell and his essay on the postcards of Donald McGill, published in the September 1941 issue of the magazine Horizon. These postcards, which appeared from about 1900 to 1950, poked fun of politics, social movements such as feminism or nudism, and conventions of sex and drunkenness. They also depicted children and scenes of patriotism.

Orwell bemoaned the postcards' "crude drawing and unbearable colors," their "low humor," "overpowering vulgarity," and "ever-present obscenity," and their "mother-in-law, babies' nappies, policemen's boots-types of jokes." Orwell wrote that it was "mere dilettantism to pretend that they have any direct aesthetic value."

And yet they had a deep interest for Orwell, especially in his ideas about what he called the common populace:

"What they are doing is giving expression to the Sancho Panza view of life. … The Don Quixote/ Sancho Panza combination, which of course is simply the ancient dualism of body and soul in fiction form, recurs more frequently in the literature of the last 400 years than can be explained by mere imitation. It comes up again year after year in endless variation. … Evidently it corresponds to something enduring in our civilization. Not in the sense that either character is to be found in a pure state in real li fe, but in the sense that the two principles-noble folly and base wisdom-exist side by side in nearly every human being. … There is one part of you that wishes to be a hero or a saint and another part of you that is a little fat man who … is raw unofficial self, the voice of the belly protesting against the soul. His tastes lie towards safety, soft beds, no work, pots of beer and women with voluptuous figures. …

In the past the mood of the comic postcard could enter into the central stream of literature, and jokes barely different from McGill's could casually be uttered between the murders of Shakespeare's tragedies. That is no longer possible, and a whole category of humor integral to our literature until 1800 or thereabouts is dwindled down to these ill-drawn postcards leading a barely legal existence in cheap stationers' windows. The corner of the human heart that they speak for might easily manifest itself in worse forms, and I for one would be sorry to see them vanish."

What can be seen as a somewhat conflicted attitude toward these postcards, and what Orwell himself spoke of as his need to defend himself against too much attraction for them, suggests his insecurities about his own social class and nationality. Orwell was born in Burma to English parents who spent most of their early lives abroad. Thus he always felt an outsider in his own country, and these feelings led him to identify with and then romanticize the English working class. Furthermore, Cast said, "Orwell w as much moved in his life by what he determined as being 'aesthetic pretentiousness.' … He saw no opposition between democracy and the ideal of culture."

Orwell viewed the postcards' vulgarity as "being redemptive in some ways," Cast said. This attitude aligns with Orwell's nostalgia for "the older ways in England. … For Orwell, all the modern inventions-film, the radio, the airplane-weakened man's consciousness and drove him nearer the animals." Cast added that "it is difficult to reformulate this activity of Orwell's into modern terms that make sense in 2002."



Ownership of body photos
In 1898, Otto von Bismarck, ex-chancellor of Germany, died in his home. That night, against the explicit wishes of his family, two freelance photographers gained access to his private chambers and took photographs of Bismarck on his deathbed. His family prosecuted the photographers to prevent the publication of the photographs in the Berlin press.

Marjorie Walter Goodhart Profess-or of History Jane Caplan investigated these legal proceedings-and their repercussions on authorship, ownership, creativity, and personality rights. The juridical status of photographic depictions of the human body is Caplan's current interest as part of her ongoing research into the codings of individual identification in 19th-century European civil and legal practices.

The photographer posed new challenges to 19th-century aesthetics, Caplan explained. "It was hard to see the photographer as owner or creator of the pictures he made," Caplan said, "because what they depicted was either in the public domain or already belonged to somebody else." This was especially so when a person was depicted in a photograph. "Thinking about these two questions of property-the property status of the photograph, and the property status of the body which it may represent-led me to the legal story which is the subject of this paper."

The Bismarck case was followed closely by German legal experts because it turned on an issue that had only arisen since the development of photography: the question of whether there existed a legal right to one's own image.

German photography law was established in 1876, and its principal objective was to protect artistic creative rights. The 1876 law vested the exclusive right to make copies of a photograph by the person who manufactures it. However the law also provided that in the case of a portrait photograph, the commissioner of that photograph has a right over its reproduction or copyright. "The commissioner was thus regarded as the author of the portrait in the legal sense," Caplan said, "and the photographer was legal ly presented as merely the agency by which his will was accomplished. Thus in German law, reproducing a portrait photograph without the permission of the person who had commissioned it was illegal."

In the eyes of German photographers, therefore, the 1876 law offered insufficient protection against unauthorized copies or counterfeit. "For jurists," Caplan added, "another principal defect of the law was that … it offered no protection to the subject of a portrait photograph, for the person depicted."

The Bismarck case wound its way through the German courts over the next year, reaching a conclusion in the Reich Supreme Court in 1899 that was not entirely satisfactory as the legal scholars were concerned. However, both to them and to the historian, the notoriety of the Bismarck case "is gratifying because it throws into the limelight a bundle of legal principles that were only beginning to be asserted in Germany, including author's right and copyright." But the most far-reaching implication drawn by leg al commentary around the turn of the century was the question of the rights of personality. Personality rights are the fundamental rights attaching to humans other than their property rights, including the right to life, integrity of the physical body, freedom, honor, and the right to a permanent name. Rights of personality were barely established in Germany until after World War II.

One of the objections faced by the proponents of rights of personality was that they created a contradiction or anomaly in German law. "The argument here is that a legal subject cannot make his own personality an object in law. It was surely no coincidence that the lawyers seized on photography as a means of dismissing this objection, furthering the agenda of the law of personality. The portrait photograph, after all, created an object's implication of subjectivity that was difficult to discount. It presen ted, therefore, welcoming space for advancing the principle of the right to one's own image as a right inherent in human subjectivity as such."

Caplan said the story of photography typically is analyzed as an interplay between subjectivity, creativity and property rights, the purpose being to understand how the legal subjects are identified through ownership, how artistic creation is demarcated from imitation, and the limits of authorship. "But by rotating the angle of analysis gently, another way of framing this question seems to me to emerge. In other words, the capacity of the photograph to seize individual human subjects, and replicate or disi ntegrate them, in defiance of such claims to integral uniqueness as they might legally or materially embody."



Virtue and the poet
At the Palace of Jove, the new volume of poetry by Karl Kirchwey, Director of Creative Writing and Senior Lecturer in the Arts at Bryn Mawr, takes its title from his leading sonnet but omits the first word: "Virtue." In an October 30 lecture for the Center for Visual Culture's symposium series, Kirchwey said that "Virtue at the Palace of Jove," a meditation on Jupiter, Mercury and Virtue by 15th-century Italian artist Dosso Dossi, lays bare his "own cynical enthusiasm" for the painting's message: "The artist will always pander to fortune instead of tending to virtue; that is what makes him an artist."

In Dossi's painting, Virtue waits outside the palace through all weathers to complain of her shabby treatment by men and gods but is finally sent packing while Jove practices his brushwork. The moral questions that nevertheless trail the artist bring edge and wit to Kirchwey's poetry as he explores the ramifications of the classical past for the 21st century.

Kirchwey read and discussed a number of poems drawn from his four published books that are ekphrastic, or inspired by visual art. "Ekphrasis seems to me one of those words, like synecdoche or oxymoron, that are clumsy but useful and can stop conversation dead at cocktail parties," he deadpanned. "From the Greek prefix, 'ex', out of, and 'phrasein', to speak, 'ekphrasis' means in rhetoric the plain declaration or interpretation of a thing, but more generally, it has come to refer to those works of literatur e, in particular poems, which address works of visual art.

" 'Ut pictura, poesis' " goes the tag from Horace's poem, Ars Poetica (The Art of Poetry). 'As is painting, so is poetry,' as if to suggest that there must always be an affinity between these sister arts, but the affinity is not an easy one. 'Narrative is linear; action is solid,' writes Thomas Carlyle, and this perhaps summarizes the sister arts' different approaches to the representation of reality. Poetry must follow the line of narrative, even in creating the aura of lyric. The visual arts create the i llusion of a three-dimensional, sensory moment. In any case, while poetry speaks, visual art maintains an enigmatic silence. It is poetry which likens itself to painting, not the other way around, as poet and scholar John Hollander, Sterling Professor of English at Yale, points out."

Kirchwey received his B.A. from Yale in 1979 and studied with Hollander, the author of The Gazer's Spirit,in which he identifies at last three kinds of ekphrasis: poems inspired by imaginary works of art, the greatest example of which is Achilles' shield in Homer's Iliad; poems, such as Keat's "Ode on a Grecian Urn," inspired by an art object that may have once existed but cannot now be located with confidence; and poems inspired by a work of art that can be identified.

"Ekphrastic poems can be found in almost any little magazine today, and I attribute their proliferation to the dominance of visual culture in our society,"Kirchwey said. "To cold medium types like myself, the ascendancy of visual culture is by no means an unalloyed triumph, but that is matter for another colloquium on another day, perhaps. Suffice it to say that my own interest in ekphrasis is driven partly by a sense of responsibility, in teaching verse writing to college undergraduates, that they should be familiar with the resources of so popular a literary genre."

Three of the 44 poems in At the Palace of Jove are ekphrastic. "Dialogue," originally written for an anthology, tested Kirchwey's belief in the "sensual and moral education" he had drawn from years of contemplating works of art. In a project begun by Hollander, 22 poets educated at Yale each wrote a poem about a work of 20th century visual art in Yale's Art Gallery. Kirchwey was paired with a plaster version of Alberto Giacometti's 1934 surrealist work, "The Invisible Object: Hands Holding the Voi d."

"At first, I felt no affinity for this sculpture whatsoever, even as the elongated human figures, for which Giacometti became famous after his breakthrough in 1947, had also never particularly interested me," Kirchwey said. He remained unmoved by his fictive spouse, until his friend, the scholar Mary Ann Rorison Caws '54, directed him to her translation of Andre Breton's memoir of Paris and the Surrealist movement, L'Amour Fou (Mad Love). "It contained a remarkable anecdote describing a trip to a Paris flea market by Breton and Giacometti when each was stymied by a particular artistic problem," he said. "For Giacometti, it was how to depict the face of his sculpture and at what height to position the hands and the arms. In the best Surrealist fashion, he found an aleatoric solution to his problem in a frightening iron mask with louvers for eyes, which had apparently been issued to the troops at the Argonne in World War I, and which he bought at the flea market.

"Somehow this anecdote broke the ice for me, both with Giacometti and with his plaster maiden. The more I read about his life and work, the more moved I became about the heroism of his quest, which was to represent reality not as he saw it but as it actually was, a quest, which he concluded was hopeless but nonetheless pursued with untiring discipline. He would make clay models 30 times over, and at one agonizing point in his career, ever smaller so that his entries for public spaces in the Venice Biennale fit into a matchbox. It provided to me the magnificent parable of the life of the artist in the 20th century, an existential model on the same magnitude as that of Beckett. As someone who doesn't have the guts to look at it the way Giacometti did—who'd like to find some success in

life, I found myself hesitating as I contemplated his example. In the dialogue which became my poem, I presumed both to speak to the sculpture and for it, but what the sculpture said to the idiot questioner, who seemed to be speaking for me, was hardly reassuring and seemed at best to confirm the high seriousness of the single undertaking represented by both poetry and the visual arts and the ekphrastic genre that attempts to connect them." See the books section for more on At the Palace of Jove and read another colloquia lecture. See a photo of the sculpture.

DIALOGUE
(Alberto Giacometti, Hands Holding the Void, 1934)

What is the tablet at your feet?
     —The mirror where imitation dies.

What bird's head, what ka, what escaped spirit
sleeps by your loins on the angled seat,
mute in its prophecy and sly?

     —It dreams of the pure idolatry
       of imagination, its consummate solitude

What have your breasts nourished, pale with dread?
What grew in your belly after maidenhead?
What have your knees, sharp as new flints, grappled?

     —There is only the silence of my body,
       an emanation of desire itself,
       in its ignorance, to be loved and love.
       The prints of his hands are on me nowhere.

What is the mote that swims in your eye?
     —A sentimental uncertainty.
       Metastatis. The twinkling of the atom.
       Five barley loaves. Two fish. Capernaum.
       The broken Catherine wheel of thought.

What is the frame to which you are bound
on heavy casts, without a sound?

     —The three dimensions of loneliness:
       exile; memory; dread of the future.
       The velvet dark of infinite space.

What cry does your mouth form itself to utter?
     —An iron mask, each eye a louver,
       whether of knowledge or appearance;
       something distracting and awkward
       the troops wore at Argonne in the mud.
       That war and its eight million dead.

What, after all, then are you like?
     —Iefface the void with breasts, belly, knees.
       A metaphor finds its way through the darkness.
       Reality awakens the eye,
       but cannot be known except as detail
       which makes the space its own betrayal.
       I live between obsession and will.

What do your hands shape, finally?
The ashes of some ancient story?
A predator fended off? Applause?

     —On a stage, I compose myself to speak
       for once to summon from hopelessness
       a human object. To summon this.


(Reprinted by permission of Karl Kirchwey. "Dialogue" was reprinted in At the Palace of Jove from Words for Images: A Gallery of Poems, Yale: 2001.)



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