The Double Dream of Things:

John Ashbery as a Poet and Collector in his Hudson Home

Wednesday 27 February, 2013
6 - 8pm, $0/Rsvp

Bard Graduate Center
38 West 86 Street

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Karin Roffman will be coming to speak at the Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation Seminar in New York and American Material Culture on Wednesday, February 27, 2013. Her talk is entitled “The Double Dream of Things: John Ashbery as a Poet and Collector in his Hudson Home.”

Karin Roffman is Associate Professor of English at The United States Military Academy at West Point. She received her B.A. in English from Stanford University, M.A. in Creative Writing from The Johns Hopkins University, and Ph.D. in English from Yale University. Roffman is the author of From the Modernist Annex: American Women Writers in Museums and Libraries, published by the University of Alabama Press in 2008. Winner of the Elizabeth Agee Manuscript Prize, her study reveals how four important modernist women writers—Edith Wharton, Nella Larsen, Marianne Moore, and Ruth Benedict—were simultaneously critical of and shaped by these institutions as they pursued self-education and professional achievement. Roffman is also the recipient of numerous research grants and fellowships, most recently from the American Council of Learned Societies, the University of Minnesota, and the American Philosophical Society. In connection with her current research on the poet John Ashbery, she has published two articles on his early life and work, “Self-Education in John Ashbery’s Childhood Diaries” (2011) and “Building Houses in John Ashbery’s Early Poetry” (2012), both in Raritan: A Quarterly Review. Roffman addresses this topic at greater length in her forthcoming book, Young John Ashbery: A Biography of John Ashbery’s Early Life and Art (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux).

Roffman’s talk at the BGC will explore how John Ashbery’s life as a poet and a collector began simultaneously at the age of thirteen when Ashbery declared in a childhood journal that he would become an artist and when Ashbery, motivated by the recent loss of a favorite childhood home, began to study new ways to decorate an old house. In her talk, Roffman will discuss the ways in which Ashbery’s interests in poetry and collecting strongly influenced one another, informing how he has created his written work and domestic interiors. Manifestations of this mutual influence can be observed in the attention toward things and houses in Ashbery’s poetry and plays, and in his eventual purchase and decoration of an 1894 Victorian home in upstate New York.

Light refreshments will be served at 5:45 pm. The presentation will begin at 6:00 pm.
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