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February 4, 2013   Columns Articles | Inside UGA | Literary scholar to discuss ‘tropical sublime’…
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John Lowe Photo by Jim Zietz/LSU

Literary scholar to discuss ‘tropical sublime’ in Global Georgia lecture

Dave Marr

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By Dave Marr | February 4, 2013
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John Lowe, an internationally recognized scholar in ethnic American and Southern literature, will lecture on "The Tropical Sublime in the 19th-Century Circum-Caribbean" on Feb. 12 at 5:30 p.m. at Ciné, located at 234 W. Hancock Ave. Lowe's talk is the third installment in the six-part Global Georgia Initiative, a series of lectures and conversations organized by the Jane and Harry Willson Center for Humanities and Arts.

Lowe, who joined the UGA faculty prior to the 2012-2013 academic year, is the Barbara Lester Methvin Distinguished Professor of Southern Literature in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences' English department. From 1997-2000, he was president of the Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States and is the recipient of a MELUS Lifetime Achievement Award for Distinguished Contributions to American Ethnic Literature. He received a National Endowment for the Humanities Research Fellowship in 2008-2009.

Lowe has authored and edited numerous books in ethnic American and Southern literature, published dozens of essays and presented more than 80 papers in North America, Europe and Asia.

In his recently completed book, Calypso Magnolia: The Caribbean Side of the South, to be published by the University of North Carolina Press, he suggests that writers of the circumCaribbean often employ what he has termed "the tropical sublime." Lowe describes the tropical sublime as "a rhetorical device that helps writers work through the inexpressible, awe-inspiring aspects of nature."

However, Lowe stressed, "it has also been employed to limn cultural vectors: the ‘racial sublime,' colonized ‘tropic' peoples and the vast natural resources of the hemisphere that have inspired both awe and greed."

A future volume, The Tropical Sublime in the Atlantic World, will focus entirely on this concept, Lowe said, using texts from the U.S. South, the Caribbean and Latin America.

Recent scholarship related to the circum-Caribbean is focused on "expanding ideas of cultural contact beyond the traditional boundaries of national history," said Nicholas Allen, Franklin Professor of English in the Franklin College and director of the Willson Center. "Professor Lowe is at the forefront of that scholarship."

The lecture will take place in the Ciné Lab and is free to the public.

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