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James Merrill Symposium

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Washington University Libraries Department of Special Collections is proud to include the James Merrill Papers, one of the first collections in the Modern Literature Collection, founded over 50 years ago. For more on the Merrill resources at WUSTL SC, go to For more on the biography, James Merrill: Life and Art, go to 


This free symposium is a celebration of James Merrill--his writing, his life, his friendships, his literary papers, his recently-published biography, and more--at Washington University in St. Louis.  


James Merrill Symposium Schedule


Thursday, October 22, Ann W. Olin Women’s Building, Formal Lounge


5:00 p.m. —  Keynote Address: The Biographical Container, presented by Langdon Hammer, author of James Merrill: Life and Art, and professor of English and department chair at Yale University. Introduction by J. D. McClatchy. Reception and book sales follow the address.


Friday, October 23—Ann W. Women’s Building, Formal Lounge


9:00 a.m. —  Session 1:“Eyes Raised in Ecstasy”: The Analog Merrill

  • Thomas Brennan, associate professor, Saint Joseph’s University — Ecstasy Edited? Merrill’s “Days of 1971”                   
  • Tamara Taylor, lecturer, WU — “Thinking Light” Between Spaces: Reflective Metaphor
  • Steven Meyer, associate professor, WU — Eye’s Mind: The Poetry of the World


10:30 a.m. — Session 2: Remembering Jimmy

  • Judith Moffett, adjunct professor emerita of English, University of Pennsylvania — Mixed Messages, an excerpt from Unlikely Friends: A Memoir      
  • Rachel Hadas, professor of English, Rutgers University — Video of her reading Merrill and recollecting their friendship
  • Stephen Yenser, distinguished professor of English, UCLA — Reading an essay about his friendship with Merrill
  • Randy Bean, board member, James Merrill House Committee — Presenting on the history and initiatives of the James Merrill House


11:45 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. — Lunch, on your own


1:15 p.m. —  Session 3: Digital Merrill 

  • Shannon Davis, digital library services manager, WU: The James Merrill Digital Archive: Process and Product 
  • Annelise Duerden, PhD candidate in English, WU — “Admit It Arguably A priori Admittedly I have failed”: Re-vision in the Merrill Archive
  • Heidi Lim, PhD candidate in English, WU — To Tag or Not to Tag: The Digital Markup Process as a Form of Reading
  • Timothy Materer, professor emeritus, University of Missouri — The Poem as a Netscape


Friday, October 23, John M. Olin Library, Ginkgo Reading Room & Special Collections Classroom


2:45 p.m. —  Session 4: James Merrill: Life and Archive 

Tour an exhibit of the James Merrill Papers and get an introduction to Merrill audio/video resources. 

  • Joel Minor, curator of Modern Literature Collection & Manuscripts, WU
  • Langdon Hammer, professor of English & department chair, Yale University
  • Justin Reed, junior writer in residence, WU


4:00 p.m. — Session 5: Readings of James Merrill Poems and Letters. Reception follows.

  • Mary Jo Bang, professor of English, WU
  • Joseph Loewenstein, professor of English, WU 
  • J. D. McClatchy, professor of English, Yale University 
  • Carl Phillips, professor of English, WU 
  • Stephen Yenser, distinguished professor of English, UCLA

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Hotel rooms have been blocked at a discounted rate at the Parkway Hotel. Follow this link to reserve a room: IF YOU PREFER TO CALL THE HOTEL FOR YOUR RESERVATION DIAL 314-256-7777 AND ASK FOR GROUP ID#6351.


Olin LIbrary Washington University, One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, 63130, United States Get Directions


Special Collections is in Olin Library on the Danforth Campus of Washington University, where the James Merrill Symposium will be held. This event is FREE and open to the public. Hotel rooms have been blocked at a discounted rate at the Parkway Hotel. Follow this link to reserve a room: IF YOU PREFER TO CALL THE HOTEL FOR YOUR RESERVATION DIAL 314- 256-7777 AND ASK FOR GROUP ID#6351