Versəs: An Experiment in Evaluative Criticism

Thu 21 Mar 2024, 18:30 - 19:30

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Baby changing facilities
Hearing loop
Live subtitling
Online and in person
Online event
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Emmanuel Lansyer painting of the white cliffs of Dover and people by the sea
Venue
The Enterprise Centre, University of East Anglia Research Park, University Drive, Norwich, NR4 7TJ
Price
Free, booking required

Delivered by the most outstanding academics in the UK and beyond, the British Academy’s flagship Lecture programme showcases the very best scholarship in the humanities and social sciences.

This lecture takes seriously the possibility that a literary critic might declare one poem to be demonstrably better than another. It stages a reading of Matthew Arnold’s Dover Beach against Anthony Hecht’s parody The Dover Bitch in order to declare a winner. Pitting Arnold's poem versus Hecht's raises several questions: how subjective, or prescriptive, can a critic be in defining her standards for poetry? Could a parody ever outshine the original? What ethical, political, or philosophical values necessarily factor into a reader’s aesthetic criteria, and how do these values work with, or against, the formal, thematic, and ethical freedoms poets require? Could interpretation ever exist without evaluation? And finally, who did Dover best—and what might 'best' mean in the context of these particular poems?

Erica McAlpine
Dr Erica McAlpine

Speaker: Dr Erica McAlpine, University of Oxford

Erica McAlpine is Associate Professor of English at Oxford University and the A. C. Cooper Fellow in English at St Edmund Hall. Her most recent book, The Poet’s Mistake (Princeton, 2020), catalogues the various mistakes poets have made in poems over the past several centuries well as the complicated ways that literary critics have responded to such mistakes over time. It was a Times Literary Supplement 'Book of the Year' and won the British Academy’s Rose Mary Crawshay Prize. She has also published a collection of poems, The Country Gambler (Shearsman, 2016), and her poems regularly appear in magazines including the Atlantic, New York Review of Books, New Statesman, The American Scholar, and the Times Literary Supplement.

Chair: Professor Anshuman Mondal, University of East Anglia

Free, booking required

This event includes a reception for all attendees after the lecture.

This event will take place in person in partnership with the University of East Anglia. If you have any questions about this event, please email [email protected]. Blue badge parking is available in the university's main car park, with limited parking adjacent to The Enterprise Centre. Please contact [email protected] if parking is required. Live subtitling and subtitles will be available on the YouTube broadcast, but not at the venue.

Image: Emmanuel Lansyer, Dover, 1875. Musee Lansyer, Loches. Source: Print Collector / Contributor / Hulton Archive / Getty Images.

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