Daniel Tiffany (Professor of English and Comparative Literature, University of Southern California) is the author of six books of poetry and literary theory. He has several new books coming out in 2013, including chapbooks from Capsule Editions and Oystercatcher Press (both in Great Britain), along with full-length books from Johns Hopkins University Press and Omnidawn. His essays have appeared in Critical Inquiry, PMLA, Modernism/Modernity, and Critical Quarterly, his poems in Tin House, Paris Review, Fence and other magazines. In addition, he has published translations of writing from French, Greek and Italian. He was a recipient of the Berlin Prize in 2012 from the American Academy.
Professor Tiffany's talk, "Poetry and Kitsch: A Secret History," is related to his forthcoming book, My Silver Planet, about which he writes: My Silver Planet contends that the seemingly insoluble problem of elite poetry’s relation to popular culture bears the indelible stamp of its turbulent incorporation of vernacular poetry--a legacy deformed by nostalgia, contempt, and fraudulence. The study reactivates and fundamentally redefines the moribund concept of kitsch—freeing it from modernist misapprehension and ridicule—by excavating the forgotten history of poetry’s relation to kitsch, beginning with the exuberant revival of archaic ballads in Britain in the early eighteenth century. The book further argues that this earliest formulation of what we now call popular culture spawned a controversial but seemingly irresistible preoccupation with poetic imposture in elite society that endures in the ambiguity of the kitsch artifact: is it real or fake, art or kitsch? By exposing and elaborating the historical poetics of kitsch, My Silver Planet transforms our sense of kitsch as a category of material culture.
Mary Kim (English) will be responding.