Susan M. Schultz recently posted on her blog (Tinfish Editor's Blog) a postmortem of some recent panel proposals for the AWP (Association of Writers and Writing Programs) convention next year. She laments the conservative nature of the AWP, when it comes to innovative writing, and she's issuing a call for "guerilla poetry action," a la the kind of thing described in Jules Boykoff's and Kaia Sand's Landscapes of Dissent: Guerrilla Poetry and the Public Sphere.
I'm reminded of the account, in Paul Lauter's and Louis Kampf's The Politics of Literature: Dissenting Essays on the Teaching of English (Pantheon, 1972), of the left radical takeover of the MLA in 1968. I wonder how many young scholars realize the role that civil disobedience (and just plain "talking back") played in opening up that organization to feminist, historicist, political literary criticism, not to mention study of "ethnic" literatures. And before that, the New Critics took it over from the philologists. Perhaps the AWP is ripe for this kind of thing, just at the moment when a new avant-garde is ascendent in the literary world - and when it is provoking a reaction by the conservators of the style of 50 years ago.
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