Literary Ethics: Poetic Humour and Narrative Affect

Wednesday 23 April 2014, 5.15PM

Speaker(s): Doug Battersby and Alex Alonso

Centre for Modern Studies Postgraduate Forum seminar

  • Doug Battersby: ‘The mental rimmed the sensuous’: Eroticism, Apprehension, and Reality in Vladimir Nabokov’s Ada or Ardor
  • Alex Alonso: Humour in the Poetry of Paul Muldoon

Doug Battersby’s paper explores how Nabokov’s late masterpiece, Ada or Ardor, evokes the mind’s apprehension of reality. In its stress on the erotic, the novel presents lived experience as bound up with sensuality and imagination, problematising the dualistic paradigm current in Nabokov studies. His talk will focus on the ways in which the eroticism of the text affects readers, generating a complicity between protagonist and reader which has ethical implications.

In his talk, Alex Alonso will discuss Paul Muldoon’s use of humour as a self-reflexive procedure. By exploring how Muldoon’s layering and re-layering of irony, his uses of narrative frames, renovated clichés and ventriloquized voices all court randomness and arbitrariness, he will consider the relationship of Muldoon’s poetry to an absurdist tradition of humour.

Location: The Treehouse, Berrick Saul Building