On Tuesday 7th May, I'll be speaking at the 20th Century & Contemporary Literature Graduate Seminar.
Insect Traffic: Notes on Poetry and Swarm Activity
With reference to work by John Kinsella and Nick Flynn, this paper will discuss the image and concept of 'the swarm'. The word describes insect, animal and human processes of active accumulation, signifying by extension a state of diffuse uniformity: identity as constellation. Although it carries an extensive etymology, 'swarm' has acquired a persistent currency in late 20th and early 21st century critical, cultural and literary theory. From ecocriticism to web politics; from the Occupy movement to slime dynamics, 'swarm' has been employed as a marker of a de-centralised, non-hierarchical and yet intentional entity of thought, movement and particularly activism. With this discursive context in mind, this paper will look at some recent poetic appearances of the term. Taking a speculative viewpoint, the aim will be to assess the efficacy of the word 'swarm' as a tool of poetic activism.
Jesus College Seminar Room, 4.30-6pm.