Our beloved and clearly in-over-his-head director, professor Joseph Thomas, will be spending next week getting the National Center for the Study of Children’s Literature’s metaphoric house in order before he leaves the country for about ten days.
No, Professor Thomas isn’t fleeing the country for his usual reasons; this time, he’s off to present a paper at a conference sponsored by the European Science Foundation. Held in Norrköping, Sweden, this conference focuses on JT’s two primary research areas: children’s literature and the avant-garde. More precisely, children’s literature and the European avant-garde. So, despite the soul-crushing cost, he’s packing his bindle bag, gathering his works, and heading to the land of smorgasbords and Borgstroms.
His paper has the rather prosaic and tediously descriptive title Shel Silverstein, the Calligramme, and the Legacy of the European Avant-Garde. [If you scan the program online—linked below—just silently and knowingly make the appropriate edits: the colon is such a supermassive star of an academic cliché that editors seem determined to insert the thing whether it’s supposed to be there or not.]
Anyway, his paper discusses Silverstein in light of pioneering visiopoetical work of folks like Guillaume Apollinaire & Stéphane Mallarmé and the literary critical insights of Dick Higgins (primarily his notion of “intermedial” art) and Samuel “Chip” Delany (one of Joseph’s favorite writers—in any genre—and who is recognized the world over as the author whose name, despite its apparent simplicity, is misspelled about as often as it's gotten right).
Which is all to say: lay off old Joseph this week and next. He’s a little stressed out, but also plenty excited by the prospect of heading back to Europe, where he spent his formative years in the early to mid-80s. And expect a full report on the conference upon his return (one probably written in the first person: this tradition of writing about yourself in the third person is insanely awkward. I feel like Bob Dole. That is, Joseph feels, reports suggest, like Bob Dole).
Until then, excelsior!
(Oh, and here’s the link promised somewhere above in that sea of text, and by here, I mean, after a few more letters and a punctuation mark or two, one of which is the colon at the end of this needlessly long final clause):