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"Recipes for Wildness" | Panel Presentation on Ronald Johnson @ ALA 2019
May
23
to May 26

"Recipes for Wildness" | Panel Presentation on Ronald Johnson @ ALA 2019

I’ll be presenting a paper titled “Recipes for Wildness: Taste in Ronald Johnson’s A Line of Poetry a Row of Trees and The American Table” at the 30th Annual American Literature Association Conference this year. The panel includes Mark Scroggins, Devin King, and Sally Connolly. The abstract is included below. Hope to see you there!

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Recipes for Wildness: Taste in Ronald Johnson’s A Line of Poetry a Row of Trees and The American Table

Although Ronald Johnson’s early poetry is filled with Early American discoveries of wild apples, Indian Corn and Floridian oranges, and his later work includes prize winning cookbooks, his gastrophilosophy remains largely unexplored. This dearth is in part due to the nature/culture dualism that haunts the Transcendentalist lens typically used to theorize Johnson’s poetry. However, I argue that Johnson developed a theory of taste from encounters with matter’s dynamism that intervenes in this historical division of nature and culture. Beginning with his 1964 collection of poetry A Line of Poetry a Row of Trees, and culminating in his popular cookbook from the 1980s, The American Table, Johnson’s performative notion of taste suggests that “wild” metamorphoses in the unique phenomena emerging at the inseparability of word and world are analogous to gustatory experiences. Like poetic practice, taste is the embodied participation in the specific material (re)configuration of nature/culture relations through which boundaries, properties, and meanings are enacted. Taste, for Johnson, acknowledges matter’s role in food’s becoming, and therefore provides an understanding of how discursive practices make meaning. In addition, Johnson’s performative practice has a critical facet; it savors “wildness,” the disruption of boundary making practices that assume the separation of discursive and physical matter. This paper proposes that only by juxtaposing the recipes of representation, which linger in Johnson’s early collection, with the culinary practices of his later cookbooks, can we fully understand how his performative taste productively mixes a volatile American culinary past into a wild future.

While you’re waiting on the panel, check out Sam Amadon’s great essay on Ronald Johnson’s Cookbooks.

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Me Is Not Me In the Machine: The Precarity of Online Creative Writing Collaboration
Mar
23
to Mar 26

Me Is Not Me In the Machine: The Precarity of Online Creative Writing Collaboration

Although Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter sustain a constant and seemingly stable feed of our psychological maneuvers in a variety of media, what happens when the words, photos, or sounds you just posted are subject to commentary, reframing, and sometimes deletion? This is precisely what occurs in online creative writing collaboration. This panel investigates the unpredictability inherent to online collaboration, ultimately asserting that the improvisation, adaptation, and necessity to reconfigure one’s creative framework in the interface of digital variability is a process that invents the collaborator as the much as the collaborator invents it.

 

 

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Panel Presentation: Society For Literature, Science, & the Arts
Nov
3
to Nov 6

Panel Presentation: Society For Literature, Science, & the Arts

I'll be presenting at the SLSA conference in a panel on Appetite and Creativity with Stacey Balkan and Iemanja Brown. The panel reconsiders various forms of consumption as creative acts. My paper examines Ronald Johnson's late cookbooks and early poetry. It's titled "Wild Enchantment: Taste in Ronald Johnson's The American Table and A Line of Poetry a Row of Trees."

ABSTRACT

At mid-century American gastronomy was defined by exploration. Chefs and cookbook authors, such as James Beard, were encouraging home cooks to discover and experiment with the globalized influx of international foodstuffs. During this rich period, New American poet Ronald Johnson wrote award winning cookbooks. However, existing scholarship rarely addresses the ways in which they nuance the many relationships to food that he investigates in his poetry. My paper intervenes in this oversight by examining key alimentary motifs in his gastrophilosophy, namely how he translates the wildness of natural ingredients into performative rhetoric, how his notion of appetite creatively recombines regional and nationalist ideologies of the past, and how he practices taste as a process of embodied discovery. By reassessing the alimentary metaphors in his first book of poetry, A Line of Poetry a Row of Trees (1964), through his late cookbook, The American Table (1984), I argue that Johnson critiques the destructive tastes of early American colonization and replaces them with an appetite for the differential material relations common to enchantment. Food in Johnson’s poetry is a vehicle for sharing the vital substance of material relations across temporal and cultural limits. Food in Johnson’s cookbooks performs the ethical relationship to materiality Johnson’s poetry evokes by imbricating the cook in the shared unpredictability of culinary practice. In sum, reading Johnson’s work as a gastrophilosophy shows how taste can revitalize an essential and ethical dimension of enchantment in the American ethos of expansion.

Hope to see you there!

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