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Monday, November 19, 2012

Hugh Ormsby-Lennon

Shopping at the Piazza Santo Spirito
food market in Florence, Italy.
Irish-blooded, Bloomsbury-born, King’s-and-Penn-educated, I bring a gallimaufry of angles and epistemologies to research, writing, and pedagogy. To teachers at the City of London School I owe a proficiency in close reading and practical criticism. As a Cambridge undergraduate, I witnessed one of the originary Anglo-American (re)births of la nouvelle critique. 

Ever since, this fascinating misbegotten Gallic creed has informed, and malformed, my own conceits and conceptions. A brace of books (Fools of Fiction, Hey Presto!), a gaggle of essays, and sundry scribbles on themes so diverse, but not discrete, as Jonathan Swift, William Trevor, metaphor and madness, Prague structuralism, Rosicrucian linguistics, secret societies and esoteric codes, early modern medicine and quackery, Quaker shibboleths and apocalypticism, seventeenth-century cargo cults, eighteenth-century pornography, popular culture and parlary, freak shows and monster-theory, medicine shows, transatlantic studies, colonial Philadelphia, London’s psychogeography, Gnosticism, universal languages, Russian Futurism, the ethnography of communication, Alan Moore, Doctor Who (two Villanova MAs dedicated their excellent book The Greatest Show in the Galaxy [2007] to me as “Time Lord Emeritus”), the starts and ends of new religions, film history and theory (once upon a time in Philadelphia, I made a movie Basic Training) have left none of my classrooms untouched. I still sweat, with savage indignation, over Jonathan Swift (fresh essays are currently moving from back- to front-burners) and I shall have more to say, world and time amenable, about eighteenth-century literature and Anglo-Irish authors. On a third book--provisionally entitled Mankind’s Epitome: Jonathan Swift and Benjamin Franklin--I continue to moil.

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