“Absolute Contingency: The Political Work of WWI Popular Poetry”

Thursday, April 14, 3:00 PM
The Welcome Center Auditorium
Woodward & Warren Avenues, WSU

“Honor & Solidarity: Can the Legacy of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Inspire the Contemporary University’s Unions?”

Friday, April 15, 7:30 PM
The African-American Room, 91 Manoogian Hall
Warren Avenue & Anthony Wayne Drive, WSU

Flyer: click here

PROF. CARY NELSON, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana; President, National AAUP, is the author of No University Is an Island, Will Teach for Food, Manifesto of a Tenured Radical, Repression & Recovery: Modern American Poetry and the Politics of Cultural Memory, 1910–1945; and editor of The Oxford Anthology of Modern American Poetry.

A major critic and anthologist of American modernist and contemporary poetry, a historian of the cultures of the Depression Era and Popular Front, and current president of the national American Association for University Professors, Nelson has been a tireless advocate for academic freedom, shared faculty governance, collective bargaining, and the rights of tenured and nontenured faculty.  At Wayne State, he will give two lectures that represent his dual areas of expertise and engagement.

On Thursday, April 14, he presents a slide lecture of his work on “vernacular poetry,” poetry produced outside mainstream publishing and literary institutions, during World War I. As part of his current book project, Nelson has collected thousands of examples of vernacular poetry from a succession of wartime contexts, from WWI to the Spanish Civil War, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. His work on such “material texts” has had a major revisionist impact on how 20th-century American poetry is taught.

On Friday, April 15, Nelson invokes the spirit of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, the volunteer American internationalists who fought fascism during the Spanish Civil War, in reflecting on contemporary academic unionism. He sees a university system faced with multiple threats from corporatization, union-busting legislation, funding cuts, and unfair labor practices, particularly for the contingent  teachers who perform a major share of academic labor but affecting all faculty and students. 

On No University Is an Island: Saving Academic Freedom

“A report from the front lines, from the most influential president of the AAUP in the past fifty years.” —Jeffrey Williams

“Nelson’s nuanced analysis of academic freedom is a wake-up call for all who seek a vibrant alternative to the corporate university.” —Lillian Tatz

On Manifesto of a Tenured Radical

“Cary Nelson joins moral passion to clear thinking. Read him on the job crisis, hate speech, the canon,   engaged pedagogy, cultural studies—and be reinvigorated for hard work to be done in mean times.” —Richard Ohmann

“Whether on the topic of the future of literary studies or the unionization of graduate students, Manifesto of a Tenured Radical presents a devastating case for the correction of the profession.” —Andrew Ross

On Revolutionary Memory: Recovering the Poetry of the American Left

“Revolutionary Memory bravely seeks to remember a truly lost generation of modernists—partisan poets who protested working conditions in the 1920s, the rise of fascism in Spain, the McCarthyite witch hunts.” —Michael Davidson

“Like an ace reporter, searching archives, attics, and used bookstores for evidence, Nelson locates the material culture of this tradition in the objects, life stories, and collective struggles of the poets.” —Paula Rabinowitz

On Repression and Recovery: Modern American Poetry and the Politics of Cultural Memory, 1910–1945

“Cary Nelson’s book brings to light a remarkable set of poetic texts and a critical-political moment which have been repressed in the conventional account of modern American poetry.” —Stuart Hall

“He shows us for the first time what we have to gain from a way into the poem that is not grounded in a principle of exclusion.” —Ron Silliman

All titles now available at Marwil Bookstore and on sale at events.


Events sponsored by Regions of Practice Working Group & the DeRoy Chair, Department of English; and the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Scholarship Fund, Department of History.

Regions of Practice: Poetics Across Languages is a Working Group of the Humanities Center, Wayne State University. Contact: Barrett Watten / b.watten@wayne.edu

Flyer: click here

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