João Paulo Guimarães

My research concentrates on contemporary American poetry and science studies. I received a Ph.D. in English from SUNY Buffalo in 2017. In my dissertation, “Life Lines: Experimental American Poetry and the Concept of Living Form”, I explored the relation between poetic language and the so-called “languages of nature” (the divine word, the genetic code, cybernetic information, biosemiotics, etc). I argued that the nineteenth century concept of “living form” (the idea that, like an organism, a poem develops itself from within, according to an unpredictable internal logic) is not, as some critics have argued, anathema to avant-garde writing, reportedly anti-organic in its uncompromising disjointedness. By contrast, I contend that the concept survived and flourished, under different guises, in the work of a number of contemporary experimental poets. Indebted to nineteenth century science, the notion of a “living form” endured throughout the twentieth century, going through a number of transformations that mirrored the mutations undergone by the ideas of “organism” and “life” in the scientific and philosophical communities. Poets: Ed Dorn, P. Inman, Chris Vitiello, A.M.J. Crawford and Christian Bök.
I was an Irish Research Council postdoctoral fellow at University College Dublin from 2018-2020. My project, “The Old Garde”, investigated how older experimental American poets challenge the notion that vanguardism is a caprice of youth and the idea that old age is a time of recapitulation, reconciliation and resignation. I surveyed the recent work of Charles Bernstein, Susan Howe, Lyn Hejinian, Ron Silliman and Rae Armantrout. These poets position themselves against a poetics of summation, sobriety and depth, highlighting instead the importance of discontinuity, disbelief, immaturity, forgetfulness and humour for literary prospection and late life well-being.

At the Comparative Literature Institute, I work as a Junior Researcher (CEEC Individual 2017) and will be doing research on the late work of Djuna Barnes, Marianne Moore, Keith Waldrop, among others.
In 2020, I ran a colloquium titled “Aging Experiments: Futures and Fantasies of Old Age” about representations of aging in the avant-garde, science fiction and fantasy. I am currently editing an essay collection about this topic. In 2021, I hosted a colloquium about aging and horror titled “Fear of Aging: Old Age in Horror Fiction and Film”. I have written articles about Ed Dorn (Western American Literature), Kate Colby (Nordic Journal of English Studies), Bruce Andrews (CounterText), Kazim Ali (Revista de Estudios Norteamericanos), Leslie Scalapino (Anglo Saxonica) and the avant-rock musician Captain Beefheart (Interdisciplinary Literary Studies). Finally, I have written and done talks about academic writing. In 2019, the Politécnico de Coimbra published a short textbook I wrote about the topic and, in 2021, I co-hosted, with Marinela Freitas, a series of talks entitled “Plano D: o que Fazer Depois do Doutoramento?”.

Research Areas

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