Call for Papers

The 20th Annual Robinson Jeffers Association Conference

February 14-16, 2014, The Carmel Woman’s Club, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA

“‘The Old Granite Stones, Those Are My People’: Robinson Jeffers in Context”

Keynote Panel: Albert Gelpi, Tim Hunt, James Karman, Norris Pope, and Robert Zaller

In his “Introduction” to William Thesing’s 1995 essay collection, Robinson Jeffers and a Galaxy of Writers, Tim Hunt notes that “earlier readers tended to treat Jeffers as a monolithic figure — a poet aloof, austere, and self-assured who had dismissed humankind and history.” The essays in Thesing’s collection, which trace affinities within the work of Jeffers and his contemporaries, as well as writers who preceded and followed him, illustrate, according to Hunt, that Jeffers “is not the isolated figure we once imagined.  He is, instead, poetically situated, a writer who shaped himself in part by engaging the projects of poets preceding him and who has proven in turn to have the power to compel recent poets.”

The 20th Annual RJA Conference seeks papers that help situate Jeffers into an aesthetic and ideological context.  Recent conferences have featured papers exploring connections among Jeffers and a variety of writers, artists, and thinkers such as Charles Baudelaire, Willa Cather, B.H. Fairchild, Langston Hughes, Pablo Neruda, Edna St. Vincent Millay, John Steinbeck, and George Sterling. The philosophers Lucretius, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche, have been the focus of early Jeffers criticism, most notably by Radcliffe Squires and Arthur Coffin.  Robert Brophy connected Jeffers work to ancient myths, while William Nolte traced the Romantic strain in the poems. William Everson explored Jeffers in light of thinkers such as Rudolph Otto and C.G. Jung and through the lens of Western archetypes. Jeffers has been called a Modernist and an Anti-Modernist.  Most recently, Robert Zaller, who in an earlier study viewed Jeffers in a Freudian context,  situates the poet in an American literary tradition preoccupied with the sublime, a legacy handed down by Jonathan Edwards and the Puritans, Zaller explains, modified by the Transcendentalists, and enriched in the twentieth century by Jeffers and others. James Karman’s Collected Letters has allowed for a much more thorough investigation into Jeffers’s personal, ideological, and artistic connections. Finally, contemporary writers as diverse as the American poet Mark Jarman and the British economist John Gray have founded much of their work on Jeffersian principles, and, of course, Jeffers’s work has been embraced by eco-critics.

Given the substantial role played by Stanford University Press over the past quarter century in helping to facilitate and augment the study of Jeffers, RJA is honored to present an esteemed keynote panel featuring Norris Pope, editor at Stanford for thirty-five years, Albert Gelpi, editor of The Wild God of the World: An Anthology of Robinson Jeffers; Tim Hunt, editor of The Collected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers and The Selected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers; James Karman, editor of The Collected Letters of Robinson Jeffers; and Robert Zaller, author of Robinson Jeffers and the American Sublime; all of whom completed these projects under Norris Pope’s direction. The panelists will reflect on Stanford’s role in defining Jeffers’ life and legacy.

In connection with the conference theme and keynote panel, RJA invites interested members to be part of a small informal panel discussion of Robert Zaller’s fascinating recent critical study, Robinson Jeffers and the American Sublime. Please contact John Cusatis at the e-mail address below if you are willing to participate in this proposed panel discussion.

Paper proposals should be brief and e-mailed by 1 December 2013 to John_Cusatis@charleston.k12.sc.us.  Papers should not exceed twenty minutes.

You may visit www.robinsonjeffersassociation.org for more information and updates. Presenters must be members of the Robinson Jeffers Association.  Membership information is available on the website.

Small blocks of rooms are being held at the Carmel Mission Inn in Carmel (831-624-1841) and The Hofsas House Hotel in Carmel-by-the-Sea (831-624-2746).  If you contact either of these locations, be sure to mention that you are with the Robinson Jeffers Association. Wherever you choose to stay, please reserve soon, as space will be limited and probably more costly due to Valentine’s Day and President’s Day Weekend.

Click here to download the program as a pdf