Christopher Kempf will discuss "What Though the Field Be Lost." He will be joined for a reading and conversation by Philip Metres.
Virtual event, link TBD
About the book: Based on two years living and researching in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, "What Though the Field Be Lost" uses the battlefield there as a way to engage ongoing issues involving race, regional identity, and the ethics of memory. With empathy and humility, Kempf reveals the overlapping planes of historical past and public present, integrating archival material—language from monuments, soldiers' letters, eyewitness accounts of the battle—with reflection on present-day social and political unrest. Here monument protests, police shootings, and heated battle reenactments expose the ambivalences and evasions involved in the consolidation of national (and nationalist) identity. In "What Though the Field Be Lost," Kempf shows that, though the Civil War may be over, the field at Gettysburg and all that it stands for remain sharply contested. Shuttling between past and present, the personal and the public, "What Though the Field Be Lost" examines the many pasts that inhere, now and forever, in the places we occupy.
About the author: Christopher Kempf is the author of "What Though the Field Be Lost" (LSU, 2021) and "Late in the Empire of Men" (Four Way, 2017). His scholarly book, "Writing Craft: The Workshop in American Culture," is forthcoming from Johns Hopkins University Press. Recipient of a Pushcart Prize, National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and a Wallace Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University, he holds a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Chicago and teaches in the MFA program at the University of Illinois.
About the interlocutor: Philip Metres has written numerous books, including "Shrapnel Maps" (2020), "Sand Opera," and "The Sound of Listening." Awarded fellowships from the Guggenheim and Lannan Foundations, and three Arab American Book Awards, he is professor of English and director of the Peace, Justice, and Human Rights program at John Carroll University.