Abusing Literature with Marjorie Garber


CJ and I had the pleasure of seeing Marjorie Garber speak at the Harvard Bookstore last week. This was our second reading in five days–my, aren’t we cultured?

Total disclosure here: Professor Garber is one of my nerd-girl heroes. Girlfriend can arch an eyebrow during a lecture and it can speak volumes. However, what I’ve always appreciated about MargGarb is the way she handles difficult questions and textual frustrations from students with a firm sort of practicality that would make Mary Poppins proud. She always manages to make the questioner feel empowered yet accountable.

This sense of patience and confidence translated well from the lecture hall to the bookstore. Rather than read directly from her new book on literary criticism and reappropriation, The Use and Abuse of Literature, she told us the story of when she first knew she was interested in literary criticism as a teen. Her description of  hearing TS Eliot speak wove nicely in and out with her reflections on academia, her favorite types of literature, and some specifics from her new work. She was immensely personable and smart during the Q&A as well, ably shouldering some pretty sigh-worthy questions about Deconstructionism from an over-zealous audience member (only in Cambridge are we overzealous about Deconstructionism, I guess).

This reading made me even more of a MargGarb fangirl. It was nice to experience a writer whose literary persona and whose physical presence nicely match up.

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