Arts and Humanities Colloquium speaker focuses on Irish poet W. B. Yeats

March 29, 2010 - 2:29am

Dr. Clay Armstrong of VIU’s English Department unravels the persistently

complex work of W. B. Yeats and the tension between politics and poetry Friday, April 9, 10 to 11:30 am in the 5th floor boardroom of

the Nanaimo campus Library.

W. B. Yeats (1865-1939) is among the most influential poets of the

twentieth century. Born in Ireland during a period of cultural, political, and

religious divisions, Yeats published numerous volumes of poetry and essay

collections. He edited and interpreted the works of William Blake; he helped to

create the revolutionary Abbey Theater; and he associated with nearly every

significant Modernist author. He was an Irish Senator and Nobel Prize winner;

he translated the Upanishads; and he believed in magic.

The immensity of Yeats's experience as an artist has led to a fragmented

critical tradition, which influences how the poet is anthologized and taught.

Scholars still struggle to establish meaningful points of contact between his

many thematic and stylistic turns, and often separate Yeats the hardened nationalist

from Yeats the abstract philosopher. Adding to the scattered criticisms, Yeats

routinely published multiple versions of the same work.  

In this presentation, Armstrong will focus on Yeats’s quarrel over

the cultural significance of literature in a time of violence. He

will also talk about how his experience as a student of Yeats has

influenced his teaching.    


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