Pastoral and race

Ann Seaton at the Writers House

Ann Seaton of Bard College speaks about pastoral and race during a Q&A session after her presentation on "Pastoral Origins" at the Kelly Writers House on September 26, 2011. Here is a link to more information, including links to both the full audio and video recordings of the program. 

Since Theocritus, the pastoral has been about origin, loss, and difference. This stands against the cliched image of the pastoral as idealized nature scenes of frolicking, hyper-sexual shepherds. In fact, those cliches, along with the dryly canonical nature of much of the secondary literature on the pastoral, have encouraged the neglect of some important and interesting themes. Quietly influential, the pastoral affect is, in fact, one of the dominant cultural modes by which the West represents itself — and it may even, in fact, be one of the earliest sources of the mythopoetic fashioning of cultural nationalism, considered broadly. This talk considered passages from Theocritus to Heidegger, to read the pastoral as a search for lost origins vs. a clash with "difference."

Ann Seaton worked with Mary Lefkowitz and Frank Bidart at Wellesley, where she was a two-time undergraduate Academy of American Poets Prize winner and a Mellon Fellow. At Harvard, she studied American, French, and English literature and literary theory with Barbara Johnson. Subsequently, Annie was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Brown, and has taught at Skidmore, CUNY, and Bard College, where she is presently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Humanities. Annie is working on a book-length project, Pastoral Origins. Her main interests are in Ancient Greek, English Renaissance, French 18th and 19th century, and American 18th-20th century literature.