Off to CAEN in Normandy next week on the 12th Nov to talk about Susan Howe and WWII as part of the ERIBIA seminar on Women's War Writings along with talks by Amy Wells and Jennifer Kilgore-Cardec. If you happen to be around, please feel free to come along! See my abstract below, too.
"No silence before armies": Susan Howe and WWII—Historical consciousness in a poetry of archives. Jennifer K. Dick, MCF, Université de Haute-Alsace: Talk to be presented at the ERIBIA seminar on the 12th of Nov 2015 in CAEN: MRSH-Salle des Actes SH 027
Susan Howe opens her book The Europe of Trusts with the declaration “For me there was no silence before armies” (9) and closes that initial essay (entitled "There are not leaves enough to crown to cover to crown to cover") with the desire to “…tenderly lift from the dark side of history, voices that are anonymous, slighted—inarticulate” (14). Thus Howe sets her mark high as her books tackle again and again History—both her own, lived experiences of war and post-war, but also the entire accumulation of the wars that History has left to her. War embedded in her a sense that language, the bits and pieces of it that arrived in her father’s letters, the scraps relocated, unearthed among archives, were the foundations for her own historical consciousness. As she wrote “questions of assigning the cause of history dictate the sound of what is thought.” (13) What therefore makes Susan Howe a key WWII and post-WWII voice is precisely how the war—with the departure of Susan Howe's father as well as her own migration to the States—is a rupture for her which is so profound that it feeds not only into what she writes, but into how she writes it (formally, visually, as fragmented and collaged). This talk will address how the one war she is experiencing is part of how she is able to write herself into the ongoing narrative of History in the making and unmaking, in the way it unifies and divides, defines and makes narrative, Epic, drama, and her poetry. As such, we will discuss and consider Susan Howe’s proclaimed "Historical consciousness".
Jennifer K Dick,
MdC, Université de Haute Alsace, MulhouseLabo de recherche : ILLE. Member of the SAES and ENSFR.