Unpublished America

Friday, September 16, 2022, 10AM-5PM
209 Illini Union

Unpublished America is a Trowbridge symposium that brings together ongoing research projects exploring the hidden archives of American literary history. Our participants will be engaging in a lively discussion of the epistemology of the unpublished. Symposiasts will give short talks, after which the other panelists and audience members will have the opportunity to exchange ideas and raise questions.

Admission is free and open to the public.  Refreshments will be served.

Gordon Hutner, at 10:00AM: Welcome

Anita Huizar-Hernández headshot

Anita Huizar-Hernández (Arizona State University), at 10:15AM: “Unpublished Saints: Making Mexican Martyrs in American Archives”

In the early twentieth century in the aftermath of the Mexican Revolution, a group of conservative Mexican Catholics known as Cristeros led an armed uprising against the secularist government of President Plutarco Elías Calles. Like their revolutionary predecessors, many Cristeros sought exile across the border with the United States where they continued to support their cause. This paper considers the role unpublished writing played in that support, examining the archives of María de la Torre, a Cristera whose family relocated to Nogales, Arizona during the conflict. Among other documents, De la Torre meticulously recorded the martyrdom of her Cristero suitor, Fidel Muro, writing multiple drafts of a biographical sketch about his life that she corroborated through supporting correspondence with key witnesses, all of which she then kept in her own personal archives. De la Torre, however, never published her carefully researched work. Through De la Torre’s archive, this paper explores the relationship among publication, memory, and migration, asking how writing both connects and interrupts movements across borders.

John Fagg (University of Birmingham), at 11:00AM: “Towards a Taxonomy of the Unpublished

This overview paper identifies various kinds of unpublishedness and opens up some of the intriguing questions that unpublished materials raise. It explores early-twentieth-century magazine editors’ explanation of the process of rejection, the terms in which critics frame and respond to recent literary ‘finds,’ writers’ reflections on lost material, and the role of library Special Collections in shaping what is lost and found, unpublished and published.

Lunch Break

Joshua Kotin (Princeton University), at 2:00PM: “On Rejection: History, Theory, Practice”

“On Rejection” begins by presenting five episodes in the history of rejecting books and individual stories and poems in the United States. The paper then discusses how these episodes address important theoretical questions about American literary history, aesthetics, justification, and relation between first person experience and the impersonal forces that shape our lives. The paper ends with an experiment in practical criticism, offering two poems, one accepted by Poetry magazine and one rejected.

Rona Cran (University of Birmingham), at 3:00PM: “Making Scars into Things of Beauty: Black queer poetry and the recovery of ‘beloved poet hero[es]’”

This is a talk about Black queer poetic kinship and the neglected American texts of the HIV/AIDS crisis. It suggests that in the contemporary poetry of Pamela Sneed, Jericho Brown, and Danez Smith, and the scholarship of Darius Bost and Martin Duberman, a counter-canon of unpublished or de-published works by Black queer poets who did not survive the AIDS pandemic is being remembered, recuperated, and, in some ways, republished.

Roundtable Discussion at 3:45PM

Posted in Past Americanist Events, Past Trowbridge Events