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Jerome McGann

Appearing on Close Listening with Charles Bernstein, Kelly Writers House, April 4, 2011

Program One: Reading

Jerome McGann reads from Are the Humanities Inconsequent? Interpreting Marx's Riddle of the Dog (Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press, 2009).

  • complete reading (27:18): MP3

Program Two: Conversation

  • complete conversation (59:08): MP3


"Philology in a New Key: Poe, Decentered Culture, and Critical Method": Lecture at the Kelly Writers House, introduced by Danny Snelson, April 4, 2011

  • complete lecture (1:16:59): MP3

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excerpt, discussing the spectacle of social relations in Poe's work (7:31): YouTube

Reading selected poems by Edgar Allan Poe, recorded in Charlottesville, VA, February 2011

The recordings here.

Performance of 'Dialogue on Dialogue' at SUNY-Buffalo, April 3, 1991

  • Introduction (4:57): (4:57)
  • Dialogue on Dialogue (51:34): (51:34)

  • Cast:
    • Jerome McGann - Printer's Devil (and, later, himself)
    • Charles Bernstein - J.J. Rome
    • Elizabeth Burns - Anne Mack
    • Marten Clibbens - Georg Mannejc
    • Elizabeth Willis - Joanne McGrem

First published in book form as 'The Poetry of Truth. A Dialogue (on Dialogue)', in Black Riders: The Visible Language of Modernism, Princeton University Press, 1993. Inititally published in Postmodern Culture, 1991

The PMC version is available on the web in plain text: part one and part two or via Project Muse in styled text.

Author's note on the work
I became seriously interested in the dialogue as a “form of critical discourse” around 1970, when I wrote the first – and longest – of my critical dialogues, Swinburne. An Experiment in Criticism. It seemed to me – and still seems – a useful method for investigating a subject when uncertainties and contradictions pervade your field of interest. The dialogue form allows you to expose and play out those uncertainties and contradictions. The form also encourages one to seek out lines of thought that the traditional critical essay, with its commitment to argument and exposition, discourages.

Later I learned – from Lucan and Wilde – that one could sharpen the critical edge by running a ludic strain through the dialogic exchanges. Comic interventions turned out particularly useful for critical enlightenment if the dialogue was consciously turned upon its author (i.e., myself), producing what Arnold disparaged as a “dialogue of the mind with itself.” Arnold had a somewhat undeveloped sense of humor.

The “Dialogue on Dialogue” given here was the first of two whose specific aim was to investigate the nature of dialogue itself. The other was the last sustained dialogue I wrote, "The Alice Fallacy; or, Only God Can Make a Tree. A Dialogue of Pleasure and Instruction" (1997). These are the only two of my dialogues that have actually been performed. “The Alice Fallacy” was given dramatic readings at University of Virginia and Stanford University in 1997, and in 1998 it was performed as a play at University of North Carolina.

Several of my recent books and essays break into unannounced dialogical moments, like unruly Printer’s Devils or Footnotes. These are usually brief events, but in a few cases the dialogical interludes are more extensive. In any case, the following is a list of the completely dialogical works, all of which – except for the Swinburne book -- were written between 1987 and 1996.

—Jerome McGann, July 2006

Politics of Poetic Form, October 28, 1988

  • complete recording (2:07:54): MP3

Jerome McGann on PennSound Daily

These sound recordings are being made available for noncommercial and educational use only. All rights to this recorded material belong to the author. ©2006 Jerome McGann. Used with permission of Jerome McGann. Distributed by PennSound.