Lecture by Charles Altieri, “Toward a Secular Theory of Imagination, Two Cases: Ashbery’s ‘Instruction Manual’ and Yeats’s ‘Leda and the Swan.’”

I speculate that one reason for the demise of aesthetic attitudes toward literary experience is the lack of any workable secular theory of imagination.  The New Critics tried to provide one, but that proved too theological or romantic in orientation and too much adapted to the object rather than to a mode of activity.  So I  borrow categories from John Casey's A Phenomenology of Imagination and test their relevance to what seem the models of production basic to Ashbery's "Instruction Manual," and then, in an effort to expand the range of this phenomenological approach, to Yeats's "Leda and the Swan."  I worry about models of production because I think one can limit an aesthetic interest in imagination to speech situations where one speaks "imaginatively" or "with imagination." Professor Charles Altieri is the Rachel Stageberg Anderson Chair in the Department of English at the University of California, Berkeley.

Thursday, April 24, 2014
Presented By: 
The History and Forms of Lyric Lecture Series and the Program in Poetry and Poetics