Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Professor to discuss Marx brother

Wayne Koestenbaum, distinguished professor of English at the Graduate Center for the City University of New York, will present a lecture for the College of Arts and Sciences’ Hudson Strode Lecture Series in Theory and Criticism tonight in Morgan Hall.

Sharon O’Dair, UA professor of English, started the lecture series in 2006.

“When I took over as director of the program of Renaissance studies, I wanted to start a series that would appeal to my colleagues and students who weren’t as interested in the Renaissance as I am, or as my colleagues in Renaissance studies are,” she said in an e-mail. “Plus, my colleagues and I in Renaissance studies are also interested in other periods of literary history and in literary theory more generally.”

O’Dair said the lecture series is vital for the UA community, including faculty, graduate and undergraduate students who are interested in thinking about how and why people read and study literature.

Koestenbaum holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Harvard College, a master’s degree in creative writing from Johns Hopkins University and a doctorate degree in English from Princeton University.

He has authored multiple volumes of poetry in addition to both nonfiction and fiction books focusing on theory and criticism.

In tonight’s lecture, “The Anatomy of Harpo Marx,” Koestenbaum will examine the life of the mostly mute Marx brother who was also a prodigy on the harp. Despite his continuing fame years after his death, this talented musician and entertainer often took the backseat to his more outspoken brothers.

“What seems to excite me about this is that Harpo wants to see his inner lunacy rendered outward to become the norm,” Koestenbaum wrote in an e-mail.

Koestenbaum said the lecture would also discuss Marx’s work in detail, dissecting how the actor carried himself in his films and why his performances are still highly regarded today.

“The lecture will be about muteness, men’s bodies, brotherliness, Jewishness, playfulness, compulsive speech, ostracization, and humiliation–all through the onscreen antics of Harpo Marx, the unspeaking Marx Brother,” Koestenbaum said. “I will show still images from Harpo’s performances and give an idiosyncratic set of commentaries by way of explanation, all in the name of four cardinal principles: bulge, glaze, pause, shock.”

Koestenbaum said he is excited to be coming to the University for both the company and the scenery.

“My former student, Nikhil Bilwakesh, teaches here in the English department, and I’ve never been to Alabama before,” Koestenbaum said. “I love flowering trees.”

The lecture will be held at 5 p.m. in Room 301 of Morgan Hall. Admission is free and open to the public.

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