Two distinguished emeritus professors from Kansas University will be speaking at Cal State L.A. on Monday, February 29 in the Los Angeles Room of the University Student Union. At 2pm poet William J. Harris will offer selections from his poetry and conversation on the topic "Plant, Animal, Robots, Mr. Spock and Me: a poetic exploration of the human and nonhuman." At 3:15pm, literary critic and cultural commentator Susan K. Harris will be speaking on “Searching for the Ornithorhynchus: Mark Twain, the Wild, and Me.” Both events are free and open to the public and refreshments will be served. The two presentations are co-sponsored by the Center for Contemporary Poetry and Poetics, American Communities Program, the Department of English, Statement Magazine, Associated Students Inc., and the College of Arts and Letters.
About the Speakers
Susan K. Harris has recently retired from a position as the Joyce and Elizabeth Hall Distinguished Professor of American Literature and Culture at the University of Kansas. She is a specialist in American literature and culture of the 19th Century, with special focus on Mark Twain. Additionally, she has taught and written about American women writers, 19th & 20th-century immigrant writing, and issues of national identity, citizenship, religion, & race. Special awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship in 1992-93 and the Henry Nash Smith Award for scholars in Mark Twain Studies in 2005. Her writings include the monographs Mark Twain’s Escape from Time: A study of Patterns and Images (1982), 19th-Century American Women’s Novels: Interpretive Strategies (1990), The Courtship of Olivia Langdon and Mark Twain (1996), The Cultural Work of the late 19th-Century Hostess: Annie Adams Fields and Mary Gladstone Drew (2002), and God’s Arbiters: Americans and the Philippines, 1898-1902 (2011). She has edited the Library of America’s volume of Twain’s historical romances and a Houghton Mifflin pedagogical edition of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. For Penguin Publishers she has edited novels by Harriet Beecher Stowe, Catharine Maria Sedgwick, and Kate Wiggin. Additionally she has contributed articles and chapters on Twain and on women writers to numerous journals and essay collections. Currently, she is working on a project that follows Mark Twain’s 1895-1896 lecture tour around the world.
William J. Harris is the former director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Kansas and now lives and writes in Brooklyn, New York. His most recent poetry collections are Domande Personali and Crooners (both bilingual, in English and Italian) and he has essays and poems included in “The Boston Review,” “Art Forum,” “African American Review,” “Callaloo,” and “Catamaran.” He is the author of The Poetry and Poetics of Amiri Baraka and editor of The LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka Reader. Beginning in April he will write a column on the "New American Poetry/Poetics and Black Aesthetic(s)" for the online magazine Jacket2. A poetry reading from 2015 by Harris can be found on PennSound, an online audio poetry archive (William J. Harris on PennSound).