Amy Hungerford: Wallace Stevens and the Art of the Empty Mind

13 March 2014 (Thursday), 5pm to 6pm
Amy Hungerford

Amy Hungerford is Professor of English at Yale. She specializes in 20th- and 21st-century American literature, especially the period since 1945. Professor Hungerford is author of The Holocaust of Texts: Genocide, Literature, and Personification (Chicago, 2003) and Postmodern Belief: American Literature and Religion Since 1960 (Princeton, 2010). Her teaching is known worldwide through her popular, and free, online course, “The American Novel Since 1945.” She is a founder of Post•45 (a professional association for scholars working in post-45 literary and cultural studies), and site editor of, which publishes both peer reviewed and general interest work in the field expeditiously and without charge. This spring Professor Hungerford is completing a monograph about how literary works come to be made, distributed and received as “literature” today in both print and digital media; essays from that work have recently appeared in ALH and Contemporary Literature.  She is the incoming editor of  the Norton Anthology of American Literature, Volume E, “Literature Since 1945.” Her reviewing and public media work includes regular essays on contemporary fiction in the Yale Review and occasional contributions to the Huffington Post,, and radio programs on NPR. She serves as the Master of Morse College at Yale University, where she lives with her family.


What happens when an American poet at the start of the 20th century begins his work with the effort to empty the mind? In this lecture, Professor Hungerford tells the story of how one of American Modernism’s greatest and most philosophical poets sought to strip old beliefs away from the perceiving mind to create a new way of seeing the world. His work cleared the mind in order to make way for light, color, beauty, and imagination—all of which he borrowed liberally from the Modern sister arts of painting and music thriving in Europe and New York in his day. The result is a singularly ambitious form of poetry that claims—with a mixture of hubris and humility—to embrace all forms of human thought and making.


Please click here to register for this lecture. Registration closes on 10 March 2014.