Surrealist poets, painters, photographers, and filmmakers not only blurred the distinctions between the rational and irrational, the conscious and the unconscious, dream and waking reality, life and death, but they also subverted the bright line of categorical difference separating humans from animals. The more bizarre, hybridized, and monstrous the animal kingdom appeared, the better as, “the Surrealist bestiary,” Breton held, “gives pride of place, above all other species, to animals that are sui generis and have an aberrant or decadent appearance such as the platypus, the praying mantis or the anteater.” The “Surrealist Bestiary,” provides a current overview of the diverse roles and representations animals occupied within the major transitions of the Surrealist canon from 1920-1947 and beyond, with particular attention to representative figures such as Bataille, Breton, Carrington, Dalí, Ernst, and Varo. Professor Kalaidjian’s discussion will include the aesthetic politics of Surrealists’ representations of animals and animal-human hybrids, including artists such as Varo and Carrington who emerge as forerunners to the kind of sophisticated attention to animal philosophy later found in such contemporary theorists as Carol Adams, Jacques Derrida, Donna Haraway, and Cary Wolfe, among many others.
Walter Kalaidjian (B.A. Kenyon College; Ph.D. University of Illinois) is Professor of English and former Chair of the English Department at Emory University. He has authored four books on 20th-Century American literature, and he is the editor of the Cambridge Companion to American Modernism and the Cambridge Companion to Modern American Poetry. His research and teaching focus on transnational modern and contemporary literature and culture specializing in poetics, critical theory, and psychoanalysis. A recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, and Andrew Mellon Foundation, Professor Kalaidjian in his forthcoming research explores textual linkages among globalization, terrorism, and extraordinary experience.
Dr. Kalaidjian will discuss his pre-circulated essay and his larger project on Surrealism with workshop attendees: to receive a copy of the essay please contact Susan Rosenbaum firstname.lastname@example.org or Nell Andrew email@example.com
Sponsored by the Willson Center for the Humanities and by the English Department Ballew Fund.