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Gastvortrag | Julius Greve (University of Oldenburg)

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Poster | Gastvortrag Julius Greve

Whitmaniac Julius Greve from the University of Oldenburg talks about poetic ventriloquism in Bob Dylan's interpretation of Walt Whitman's poetry.


From the first version of Leaves of Grass (1855) to the work’s “Deathbed Edition” (1892), Walt Whitman’s poetry is notable for the author’s self-proclaimed stylistic trait to have the people and environments depicted in the work “speak through him.”

The act of containing multitudes is effectuated by the expression of poetic voice, the disappearance of the self in the work, and so, arguably, the construction of the Whitmanian persona becomes possible by that very disappearance of the one in the many.

The same is true for Bob Dylan and the characteristic modulation of his voice. The conceptual metaphor of ventriloquism seems useful to describe how this iconic poet-singer constructs his persona both lyrically and musically.

In reading selected works by Whitman and Dylan (as well as the latter’s recent lyrical nods toward the former), Julius Greve’s talk traces their respective forms of masked representation of self and society, along the lines of what Mladen Dolar (2006) conceptualizes as the surplus of voice itself: “a surplus of authority on the one hand and a surplus of exposure on the other.”


Biography (excerpt):

Julius Greve is a postdoctoral research associate at the Institute for English and American Studies, University of Oldenburg, Germany.

He is the author of Shreds of Matter: Cormac McCarthy and the Concept of Nature (2018), and of numerous essays on contemporary fiction and poetry, media studies, and critical theory.

Greve has co-edited volumes such as America and the Musical Unconscious (2015), Spaces and Fictions of the Weird and the Fantastic: Ecologies, Geographies, Oddities (2019), and, most recently, “Poetic Voice and Materiality” (2023), a cluster of ASAP/J. His co-edited book Rethinking the North American Long Poem is forthcoming from the University of New Mexico Press.

Currently, Greve is working on a monograph that delineates the relation between modern poetics and ventriloquism.