Public Lecture Series :: Spring 2017
Rick Gray (Germanics, University of Washington)
"Ghostwriting: Sebald's Literary Séance"
This lecture explores a conception of W.G. Sebald's prose fictions as a form of ghostwriting: a narrative discourse that practices a kind of literary séance in which the narrator ventriloquizes the voices of historical others in his own speech and literary diction, in order to revitalize the readers' emotional investments in the past. It outlines those literary-aesthetic principles that distinguish Sebald's prose fictions as a poetics of history, grounded in fictional reconstructions that are tied to problems of memory, postmemory, and historical trauma, and points to the role of the text/image communion as an enabling characteristic of his works.