"Lampedusa: Migrant Tragedy" a Lecture with John Kerrigan

Lecture | November 12 | 5-7 p.m. | Wheeler Hall, Maude Fife Room 315 Wheeler Hall | Note change in date

 Department of English

Lecture by John Kerrigan, Professor of English at Cambridge University

Over the last few years, the ‘migrant crisis’ in Europe has generated a great deal of extreme, ill-informed coverage in the media but also a significant output of thoughtful and inventive verse, some of it written by migrants, much of it by well-established British poets. This talk will investigate an array of such material, organising interpretation by testing the claim so often made, by journalists and poets alike—whether to win sympathy for the migrants, or to distance their experiences—that the afflictions of those in transit, at sea in unsafe boats or trapped in camps, constitute a ‘tragedy’. Historically the argument will range between Aeschylus and 2019, and geographically between Libya and Calais with a particular focus on the island of Lampedusa which has become iconic as landing-ground and processing centre. Among the poets discussed will be Warshan Shire, Ribka Sibhatu, Caroline Bergvall, J.H. Prynne, James Byrne and Jeff Hilson.