Criticism and Poetry Related to Poetry-Criticism and Cultural Studies
Stephen Miller, Department of English, St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Abstract: In criticism, I am working on Liquid Totems: Computer, Holocaust, Suburb. This critical manuscript identifies a relation between the New Deal and pre-computer national mindset. As Alan Turing conceives the mathematical model of the “Turing Machine” to disproof the notion of a unified logical basis for mathematics and Turing Machines facilitate functional computers that are able to interrelate seemingly unrelated logarithms and apply that interaction onto seemingly total and open fields or databases, so Franklin Roosevelt proposes ad hoc programs that posit the American economy and nation as cohesive and completely interactive entity. For various many in the upper class view this “new deal” as a metaphoric holocaust foisted against their leadership and, in a sense, the poet-World War II rise of suburbs “launders” a pre-New Deal sense of reality by reestablishing the dominance of private space. In poetry, Fort Dad continues much of the critical and poetic work of Being with a Bullet. My first draft of the title poem “triangulates” contemporaneous phenomena of Freud’s work, American poetry of the thirties by Stevens and Williams, and New Deal politics. “Fort Dad” refers to Lego construction that my young son builds. I use it as part of complicated conceit for Freudian defense mechanisms and the ambivalence with which Americans view conflicting national constructs of the New Deal and opposition to it. I strengthen the connections it makes, and perhaps make it a book length poem. In editing, I am seeing through to publication a collection of criticism about experimental Jewish American poetry, Secular Jewish Culture/Radical Poetic Practice, under contract with the University of Alabama, in addition to editing Critiphoria, an online literary journal at www.critiphoria.org devoted to interactions between poetry and criticism and featuring prominent writers that St. John’s students help edit and write and thus assisting my teaching.