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Susanna Hill

Susanna Hill

Department: English

Supervisor: Dr Anne Stillman / Dr Deborah Bowman

College: Clare

AHRC Subject Area: English

Title of Thesis: Close Reading as Performance


Biography:

I graduated from my BA in English at Clare College, Cambridge, in 2013, with a Class I with Distinction and the Austin Dobson Prize for distinguished performance in the compulsory elements of Tripos, having written undergraduate dissertations on Ezra Pound’s Cantos as experiments in the interrelation between text and voice and John Cage’s writings as unpredictable, singular events, responsive to contingency and open to alterity. I then continued to the English MPhil in Modern and Contemporary Literature (also at Clare, with a Le Bas CHESS Scholarship), graduating with a Distinction in 2014. For the last two years I have been teaching English in various secondary schools in the south of France.

My MPhil dissertation, on ‘Long Poems and Time’, was prompted by the challenge of accounting critically for the experimental process of reading long poems, and turned to the verse textures of Pound’s Cantos, Rachel Blau DuPlessis’s Drafts and Susan Howe’s The Liberties to consider the (sometimes contradictory or subversive) strategies by which these poems document their own happening as poetic events.

My PhD investigates close reading as performance, principally in the work written and composed by John Cage from the early 1950s to the mid 1970s (passing, en route, by ideas of scores and notations, literary criticisms and readers, theories and practices, musicians and visual artists).

 

Other academic interests

I am interested in how questions of contingency, memory, company, documentation, and the temporal / embodied ‘reading’ experience play out across different media, such as visual art, installation, long-durational performance, or film (for instance, in the works of Agnes Martin, Louise Bourgeois, Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Beuys, John Cage, Marina Abramović, Christian Marclay, Chris Marker). I have a curiosity, too, for the ways in which the grammars of different languages, like French, might offer different spaces and structures for thinking, or bring distinctive ambiguities into play (& some French writers who particularly interest me in this context are Jean Racine, Georges Perec, Marguerite Duras).