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MemberMichael Leong

My current book project, Contested Records: The Turn to Documents in Contemporary North American Poetry (University of Iowa Press, forthcoming), accounts for why so many contemporary poets have turned to source material, from newspapers to governmental records, as inspiration for their poetry. Synthesizing research in social ontology, cultural memory studies, art history, public sphere theory, and the history of the humanities, Contested Records argues that poems driven by the remixing and reframing of found texts powerfully engage with the collective ways we remember, forget, and remember again. Going well beyond Wordsworthian recollections in tranquility, authors of such research-driven and mnemotechnic work use previous inscriptions as a springboard into public intellectualism and social engagement. This is the first book-length study to examine conceptual writing and documentary poetry under the same cover, showing how diverse writers associated with different poetry communities have a common interest in documentation. Putting into provocative conversation writers such as Amiri Baraka, Kenneth Goldsmith, R.B. Kitaj, Mark Nowak, M. NourbeSe Philip, Vanessa Place, and Claudia Rankine, I analyze a range of twenty-first-century poems that have been reviled, celebrated, or in some cases met with equally telling indifference. In doing so, I offer nuanced and non-polemical treatments of some of the most controversial debates about race and ethnicity in twenty-first century literary culture.

MemberJames Gritton

Until two years ago, I was Deputy Head of Psychology, Social Work and Counselling at the University of Greenwich, a role I combined with my teaching duties as Principal Lecturer in Leadership and Management in Health and Social Care. I took early retirement in January 2016 in order to complete an MLitt in Viking Studies at the University of the Highlands and Islands. I originally studied German before retraining as a probation officer. After a long career in criminal justice and completion of an MBA, I co-founded a leadership development consultancy in 2004. I have been published on a number of occasions in fields as varied as criminal justice, public health, the use of cinema in the classroom, and leadership development in virtual worlds.

MemberAnthony Alessandrini

I am a Professor of English at Kingsborough Community College-CUNY and of Middle Eastern Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center. I’m also on the faculty of the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research. My areas of specialization include postcolonial literature and theory, the culture and politics of the Middle East and North Africa, literary and cultural theory, critical race studies, and poetry and poetics. My publications include the book Frantz Fanon and the Future of Cultural Politics: Finding Something Different; the edited collection Frantz Fanon: Critical Perspectives; and the co-edited volume “Resistance Everywhere”: The Gezi Protests and Dissident Visions of Turkey (with Nazan Üstündağ and Emrah Yildiz). Last but not least, I am a Co-Editor of Jadaliyya, an e-zine dedicated to the politics and culture of the Middle East and North Africa.

MemberJames S. Finley

I am Assistant Professor of English at Texas A&M University – San Antonio. My scholarship includes the edited collection Henry David Thoreau in Context (Cambridge University Press, 2017) and articles in ESQ: A Journal of Nineteenth-Century American Literature and Culture, ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, and The Concord Saunterer: A Journal of Thoreau Studies. I have received fellowships from the American Antiquarian Society and the Thoreau Society and was part of the faculty for the 2017 NEH seminar “Living and Writing Deliberately: The Concord Landscapes and Legacy of Henry David Thoreau.” I am currently at work on a book manuscript that addresses the literary production of radical abolitionists affiliated with the Free-Soil movement. “Free Soil Abolition: Slavery, Race, and Ecology in Antebellum America” presents a dramatically different portrait of the Free-Soil movement, one that foregrounds Black abolitionists and their critique of plantation slavery as ecologically destructive. In particular, I argue that figures such as Henry Bibb, Frederick Douglass, Lydia Maria Child, Martin Delany, and others, do not seek to simply restrict the Slave Power’s extension, as did white Free-Soilers, but instead to abolish anti-Black and anti-ecological structures that permeate antebellum society. Truly free soil, according to these figures, requires environmental justice and anti-racism. Attending to this archive, I suggest, significantly shifts contemporary understandings of both the Free-Soil movement and early American nature writing.

MemberStephen A. Fredman

20C and 21C American poetry. Relations of poetry to the arts, to religion, to transcultural movement. Author of Poet’s Prose: The Crisis in American Verse, The Grounding of American Poetry: Charles Olson and the Emersonian Tradition, A Menorah for Athena: Charles Reznikoff and the Jewish Dilemmas of Objectivist Poetry, and Contextual Practice: Assemblage and the Erotic in Postwar Poetry and Art. Editor of A Concise Companion to Twentieth-Century American Poetry and, with Steve McCaffery, of Form, Power, and Person in Robert Creeley’s Life and Work.