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Photo of Robert St. Clair, assistant professor of FrenchIn this week's edition, we speak with Robert St. Clair, assistant professor in the Department of French and Italian.  Rob is a scholar of 19th century French literature, who finds the poetry of Arthur Rimbaud an inexhaustible source of inspiration and inquiry.  The author of Poetry, Politics, and the Body in Rimbaud: Lyrical Material (Oxford University Press, 2018), Rob is also co-editor in chief of the Rimbaud-focused journal Parade Sauvage. How does Rob manage to get work done?  With post-it notes.  Lots of them.

What is your book about?

Poetry, Politics, and the Body in Rimbaud is about the social materiality of poetry in Second Empire France (1851-1870)—that is to say, the intersections of the aesthetic and the historical, of art with its social situation. It takes as an emblematic case of this materiality the role played by representations of the body in the poetry of Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891): the enfant terrible of French letters whose work transformed the literary landscape of French modernity before he ostensibly gave up on poetry altogether at the age of 20.

Where did you get your ideas for this book?

From years of reading Rimbaud's poetry and being productively puzzled.

What does research look like for you? What element of research could you not live without?

If I were to settle on one allegorical image of what research looks like for me, it would be this: post-it notes. An absolute maelstrom of post-it notes littered across piles of books. I have always found that reading is the sneakiest, most productive form of writing there is. So, in a word, the research element I couldn't live without is: books. Library books. None of my research could have been done without library books!

What do you think the library of the future will look like?

My sincere and real hope is that the library of the future persists and thrives in its material form: that is, as a real place, with real librarians, with real books among real stacks that one can wander around in - perhaps for the sheer pleasure of picking up a book out of curiosity, perhaps in only apparent aimlessness. If I did not regularly lose entire mornings leafing through the stacks in Baker-Berry - coming on occasion across invaluable texts and studies that I hadn't been looking for - I shudder to think of the state some of my work would be in.

What advice would you give to an aspiring scholar or writer?

Don't stop reading.

And finally, what do you read for fun?

It's not always easy to find time for this, but I find it's crucial. In the past week I've been reading a book by the art historian T.J. Clark called Heaven on Earth. It's a study of the idea and political problem of the utopian in Western art from the late middle ages to the contemporary period. There's a chapter in there on Bruegel's Land of Cockaigne (Shlaraffenland, Le Pays de cocagne, or something like the more recent "Big Rock Candy Mountain") for which every page was breathtaking, poignant, humorous, a little on the despondent side. Similarly in the vein of picking things up for no reason, I got through a very short novel by Georges Perec the other day, Quel petit vélo à guidon chromé au fond de la cour? It's a deeply funny, playfully complex little story about a group of friends trying to come up with a way of getting one of their pals - whose name the narrator can never quite recall or get consistently right - out of the draft during the Algerian War of Independence (like any good "joke," in other words, its implicit cultural and historical backdrop is anything but a laughing matter).



Library of Congress [Public Domain]
Happy New Year, and happy reading!  What better way to ring in the year than with a slate of new books by Dartmouth authors?  Displayed in the King Arthur Flour Café of Baker-Berry Library, the books this Winter 2019 term range from poetry and creative nonfiction, to children's books in Spanish, to a history of pedometers and other quantification devices.  Each week we publish interviews with the authors, a chance for you to learn more about their research and writing process, and what their ideal library looks like.  And on Wednesday, February 6, at 4 PM, we will host a book talk with Jacqueline Wernimont, whose book, Numbered Lives: Life and Death in Quantum Media (MIT Press, 2018).  Free and open to the public.  We hope you will join us for what promises to be a fascinating event.  In the meantime, be sure to check out all of the books on display:

Kianny N. Antigua (Spanish and Portuguese)

Greña/Crazy Hair, Mía y el regalo de Guaguau/Mía and the Gift from Guaguau, ¡Pero es que aquí no hay palmeras!

Zenghong Chen (Library)

An illustrated catalog of Chinese ancient books in Dartmouth College Library […]

William W. Fitzhugh (Anthropology and Arctic Studies)

Narwhal: Revealing an Arctic Legend

Mary Flanagan (Film and Media Studies)

Ghost Sentence

Laurence Hooper (French and Italian)

Realisms and Idealisms in Italian Culture  

Julie Hruby (Classics)

From Cooking Vessels to Cultural Practices in the Late Bronze Age Aegean

Richard Ned Lebow (Government)

Max Weber and international relations; Avoiding War, Making Peace; The Rise and Fall of Political Orders

Peter Orner (English and Creative Writing)

Lavil: Life, Love and Death in Port-au-Prince

Am I Alone Here?

Robert St. Clair (French and Italian)

Poetry, Politics, and the Body in Rimbaud: Lyrical Material

Jacqueline Wernimont (Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies)

Numbered lives : life and death in quantum media

photo of guy holding bookThe Fall 2018 term brings a fresh batch of New Books by Dartmouth Authors to the King Arthur Flour Café in Baker-Berry Library.  There are lots of ways to engage with the books on display and learn more about the research, scholarship, and creativity of our local authors.  Check out weekly interviews with the authors in Library Muse.  Attend the book talk on October 24th with Alexander Chee, in which he will present How To Write an Autobiographical Novel (2018).  Browse the titles on display while you wait in line for a coffee.  And if you want to take one home, the Dartmouth Library has a copy of each for borrowing:

Performing Trauma in Central Africa (Laura Edmondson, Theater)

Eastern Europe Unmapped (Irene Kacandes and Yuliya Komska, German)

Empire of the Senses (Paul Musselwhite, History)

Erico Verissimo, escritor do mundo : circulação literária, cosmopolitismo e relações interamericanas  (Carlos Minchillo, Spanish & Portuguese)

10 semanas, 05 gringos, 92 coxinhas : vivências, pensamentos e emoções de cinco universitários norte-americanos em viagem pelo Brasil  (Bella Jacoby ’20, Diana Quezada ’20, Elizabeth Nguyen ’20, Jarley Lopez ’19 and Paolo Juárez ’20)

Versailles meets the Taj Mahal : François Bernier, Marguerite de La Sablière, and enlightening conversations in seventeenth-century France  (Faith E. Beasley, French & Italian)

Experiencing Berlioz  (Melinda O’Neal, Music)

America, the beautiful : la presencia de Estados Unidos en la cultura española contemporánea (José M. del Pino, Spanish & Portuguese)

El impacto de la metropólis : la experiencia americana en Lorca, Dalí y Buñuel

(José M. del Pino, Spanish & Portuguese)

Naked Money (Charles Wheelan, Rockefeller Center)

How to Write an Autobiographical Novel (Alexander Chee, English & Creative Writing)