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English professor addresses annual Frost Symposium
Thursday, October 09, 2014

English professor addresses annual Frost Symposium

Dr. Natalie Gerber

Associate Professor Natalie Gerber of the Department of English spoke at the recent annual Frost Symposium at Dartmouth College.

Dr. Gerber, officially appointed to the Executive Committee of the Robert Frost Society in March, presented her scholarly knowledge of Frost to an invitation-only audience of Frost scholars, speaking on topics such as parallels in versification between Frost and William Carlos Williams, as well as narratives that present Frost as a conventional metrist and Williams as a modernist innovator.

Gerber’s interest in Frost first began in 2005 at an American Literature Association (ALA) Symposium on Poetic Form. There, she gave a talk on William Carlos Williams and Wallace Stevens, prompting an audience member to suggest that she look at Robert Frost, as well. Since then, she has read and reread his poems, also taking time to carefully read his notebooks, prose, plays and letters.

“This interest in Frost is tied to my broader interest in the role of intonation in poetic prosody or versification and to how free-verse intuitively utilizes the structure of our ordinary speech to give shape to the verse line,” said Gerber.

According to Gerber, while many individuals outside of the academic community regard Frost as their favorite poet, many teachers and critics of modern poetry marginalize him and his work, “in part because they see him as being conservative, both politically and prosidocally.”

“I believe that his prosodic theories are, in fact, innovative and hope to challenge received notions of modernist American poetry in Frost's favor,” said Gerber.

The symposium saw Gerber’s first presentation at this particular event, although she has presented on Frost in other arenas, such as the Modern Languages Association.

The Frost Symposium is organized by the Frost Society. The annual event convenes scholars, special collections directors, organizers of Frost-related venues and friends of Frost to discuss new work and directions in Frost scholarship. Frost was a student at Dartmouth and it is where a significant collection of his papers are held.

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