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Knowledge of Nothing: On Apocalyptic Ekphrasis in The Flowers of Evil

Nathan Brown
115 Gilbert Hall
Guest Lecture
Nathan Brown
Department of English
Concordia University, Montreal

Nathan Brown, Associate Professor of French and Canada Research Chair in Poetics of Concordia University, Montreal will give a guest lecture on Baudelaire.

In one of the key sonnets of Les Fleurs du mal, "Obsession," Baudelaire's speaker declares a resolute orientation toward the void:

How you would please me, o night! without these stars

Whose light speaks a language we know!

For I seek the void, and the black, and the bare! 


Framing this orientation as the subtractive limit of spatial imagination in Baudelaire's work, this talk will consider the implications of such spatial negativity for the operation of ekphrasis. In particular, we will ask how certain works of apocalyptic ekphrasis enable Baudelaire to engage poetic impasses attendant upon figuring the void, and how ekphrastic representation might help us think through, from a literary perspective, the logic of negation. 

This talk is sponsored by the Willson Center and the Departments of English and Romance Languages

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