Yeats in America

On Friday, July 23rd at 3:00pm EST, the NYC Irish Studies Consortium will be hosting a discussion of Robert Volpicelli’s new book, Transatlantic Modernism and the US Lecture Tour. We will be joined by Dr. Volpicelli for a conversation about W.B. Yeats’s US lecture tours, moderated by Anna Teekell. To join this group discussion via Zoom register here by July 22nd. All registrants will receive a chapter of the book to read in advance of the discussion. This event is co-sponsored by the W.B. Yeats Society of New York.

Many Americans’ first encounter with international modernism came, not on the page, but in person—through the widespread phenomenon of the US lecture tour. Attending to these encounters, Transatlantic Modernism and the US Lecture Tour reroutes our understanding of modernism away from the magazines and other mass media that have so far characterized its circulation and toward the unique form of cultural distribution that coalesced around the tour.

Offering many new and compelling archival insights, this volume works across an admirably broad cultural landscape to reveal the US lecture tour as a primary mover of modernism. The study highlights the role this circuit played in the formation of transatlantic modernism by following a diverse group of authors—Oscar Wilde, W. B. Yeats, Rabindranath Tagore, Gertrude Stein, and W. H. Auden—on their whistle-stop tours across America, illuminating in the process how this extremely physical form of circulation transformed authors into object-like commodities to be sold in a variety of performance venues. Moreover, it shows how these writers responded to such wide-ranging distribution by stretching their own ideas about modernist authorship. In doing so, Transatlantic Modernism and the US Lecture Tour adds to a critical tradition of exposing those popular dimensions of modernism that far exceeded its standard coterie definition while also uncovering something else: how the circuit’s particular diversity of social contexts forced modernists to take on a new authorial flexibility that would allow them to make in-roads with practically any audience—elite, popular, and everything in between.

Robert Volpicelli is an Associate Professor of English at Randolph-Macon College. His book, Transatlantic Modernism & the U.S. Lecture Tour (Oxford UP, 2021), is the first comprehensive study of how international modernism traveled along the routes of the lecture circuit. His articles on modernist literature and culture have appeared in journals such as NOVELTextual PracticeTwentieth-Century Literature, and New Hibernia Review, among others. With Kamran Javadizadeh, he also edited a recent special issue of College Literature on “Poetry Networks.” He is currently working on two projects, one on decadent genealogies and another on bad eyesight in art, literature, and philosophy.

Anna Teekell is Associate Professor of English at Christopher Newport University. Her first book, Emergency Writing: Irish Literature, Neutrality and the Second World War, was published by Northwestern University Press in May 2018. She is currently co-editing a critical edition of John McGahern’s novel The Dark (with Ellen Scheible; under contract with Syracuse University Press). Her other scholarly projects include a special issue of the Irish University Review dedicated to the novelist Elizabeth Bowen (co-edited with Tina O’Toole ) and an MLA-contracted book on Teaching Modern Irish Literature (co-edited with Guinn Batten).

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