SMU Department of English

English Department News & Updates at Southern Methodist University. Visit our blog, here: http://blo Welcome to the SMU English Facebook Group!

Join this group to hear about upcoming events and news from the English Department. Students who major in English at SMU explore the richness of literary expression, as well as the relationships between literature and its cultural and historical contexts. English majors have the opportunity to work with renowned scholars in a wide variety of fields. With a range of courses in literary history, lit

Operating as usual


Today, we are hosting a conversation on craft with Samyak Shertok and Valzhyna Mort. Join us for this riveting talk! The conversation will be held at 5pm in the Texana Room of Fondren Library. A reception will follow. We hope to see you there!


Join us next Wednesday for an exciting conversation between two seasoned poets about their craft! On Wednesday, April 3rd, Valzhyna Mort and Samyak Shertok, a Hughes Creative Writing Fellow in Poetry, will be in conversation. We hope to see you there!


Join us tonight for the last Hughes Postdoctoral lecture of the semester! This evening, Dr. Cole Ryberg will be giving a talk entitled "'So Careful of the Type': The Elaboration of Character and Life in Nineteenth-Century British Literature." There will be a reception at 5pm, with the lecture beginning at 5:30pm in Hyer Hall 100. We hope to see you there!

In this presentation, I consider how texts make fictional characters individuals in nineteenth-century British literature. I begin with a literary-historical examination of character types through Theophrastus's *Characters* and *Characters of Virtues and Vices* by Joseph Hall. Then, with character types in mind, I briefly discuss characters' appearances in Gothic fiction, which dramatize the reader's process of coming to know characters. Lastly, I present readings of two novels by Charles Dickens, *Oliver Twist* and *Our Mutual Friend,* both of which exemplify the tension between characters' individualities and the things with which they are associated. By the end of the talk, I hope to broaden our conception of "types" and further demonstrate how they function in the production of lifelike characters. This topic will lead us more generally into a conversation on realism; the relationship between characters and objects; and my concerns in last semester's talk regarding language, space, and the reader's role in filling textual gaps.

Photos from SMU Department of English's post 03/04/2024

Here are some photos from our Gilbert lecture last week. Thank you to Dr. John Guillory!


Tonight we'll be hosting our second Hughes Postdoctoral lecture of the semester. Join us to hear Hughes Fellow Dr. Will Roudabush speak tonight in Hyer Hall 100. There will be a reception starting at 5pm and the lecture will follow at 5:30pm. We hope to see you there!

This presentation examines how the invention of visual perspective occasioned a new understanding of artistic invention itself by the end of the sixteenth century. Drawing attention to the surprising number of references to “invention” and “perspective” in Elizabethan epyllia, their paratexts, and Elizabethan poetic theory, it argues that the short-lived yet influential genre was a prominent proving ground for new ideas surrounding artistic creation and aesthetic meaning. Situating invention alongside its synonym, “conceit,” it shows how contemporary developments in visual perspective and Elizabethan poetics displaced invention from its previously privileged humanist position — a quality inherent within a work of art to be extracted — to be viewed instead as an unstable meaning contingent upon the individual perspective and subjective opinion of readers. After charting the development of perspective, invention, and conceit across the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the remainder of the presentation discusses John Marston’s Metamorphosis of Pigmalion’s Image as a poetic adaptation of perspective’s eccentric offshoot, anamorphosis. Declaring “All’s conceit” of his poem’s substance, Marston returns his readers’ gazes and turns them into active participants in the production of its meaning. Marston reveals how invention has become anamorphic, etymologically “formed again” depending upon readers’ own individual, embodied perspectives.


Join us tonight for our rescheduled Gilbert Lecture, “On Close Reading” with John Guillory, Julius Silver Emeritus Professor of English at New York University, at 5:00 in the Texana Room, Fondren Library. There will be a reception at 5:00 pm and the lecture will start at 5:30 pm. See his abstract below. We hope to see you there!

The past two decades have seen a burgeoning commentary on the subject of “close reading,” now widely regarded as the core practice of literary study. In the previous decades—from the later 1960s to the first years of the new century—close reading was seldom remarked, or dismissed as a formalist practice incompatible with the new historicist paradigm. In this lecture, I take a step back from recent developments to consider the long history of close reading. I aim to solve two large puzzles in this history: The first is the question of why the term “close reading” was so infrequently invoked in the decades after its initial mention in I. A. Richards’s Practical Criticism. In fact, the term did not achieve consensus recognition in literary study until the 1960s, on the threshold of New Criticism’s decline. The second puzzle concerns the inability of scholars to define the procedure of close reading in any but the most uncertain terms, usually not much more than is implied by the spatial figure “close.” These two puzzles are intertwined. The premise of my argument is that the literary critics of the interwar period—both the representatives of “practical criticism” and the American New Critics—were not aiming at first to devise a method of reading at all. Following the lead of T. S. Eliot, these critics were most urgently concerned to establish the judgment of literature on more rigorous grounds than previously obtained in criticism. In the course of forming a conception of literature that would function as the basis for judgment, they developed a corollary technique of reading that confirmed the value of the literary work of art in an environment of new media and mass forms of writing. I read close reading as a specialization of reading as a cultural technique, a particular kind of methodical procedure that can be described but not proscribed, and that is transmitted largely by demonstration and imitation.

Photos from SMU Department of English's post 02/08/2024

SAVE THE DATE! The Southwest Review Fest is coming this April!!👀🌏


Welcome Back Mustangs! 🐎

It’s time to get back into the groove of things and complete another amazing semester here at SMU! Us here at the SMU English Department are proud, honored and ready to give you great semester here on the Hiltop!

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