Section XII: The Transformative Power of Art

Tragic Beauty: Poetry, Fiction and Creative Non-fiction in an Irreplaceable World

Linking imagination, memory, and the multifaceted power of language can move the world. For Whitehead, the aesthetic cannot be torn from the ethical. Some sessions will include fiction, but primary focus will be on poetry as elegy: lamenting losses while celebrating natural diversities of life and environment. To proceed responsibly in creative change, we must grieve. Literature’s felt aspects, human, natural, numinous, offer not just pleasure and refreshment, but preserve causal efficacy. Particularly poetry’s images, music, and crafted, complex associations deepen the Sea of Feeling. Because language determines how futures unfold between us, literature is primary in expanding rather than shrinking language in the public realm. Sessions: readings by local and international poets and writers; fiction/poetics/theory (propositions and causal efficacy; Whitehead and Transcendentalists); experience/discussion of literary creative processes.

Track Heads


Brandon Ecks

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Suggested Reading List

Links to Section-related books and media for pre-conference preparation include:

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