Brendan, one of our TAs, sends along a notice of the following event this coming Saturday, sponsored by n+1 and the New School:
“What Was the Hipster?”
An Afternoon Panel, Symposium, and Historical Investigation
–Saturday, April 11, 2009–
Mark Greif (n+1)
Jace Clayton (dj/Rupture)
Christian Lorentzen (Harper’s)
+ Special Guests TBA
Free and Open to the Public
Who was the turn-of-the-century hipster? Who is free enough of the hipster taint to write the hipster’s history without contempt or nostalgia? Why do we declare the hipster moment over–that, in fact, it had ended by 2003–when the hipster’s “global brand” has just reached its apotheosis?
A panel of n+1 writers invites n+1 subscribers and the public to join a collective investigation. Short presentations will be followed by audience debate, comment, and recollection, to be transcribed and published in book form this year.
Saturday, April 11, 2009, 2 pm – 4 pm.
The New School University, Theresa Lang Center, Arnhold Hall
55 West 13th Street, 2nd floor.
Admission: No tickets or reservations required; seating is first-come first-served.
I’ll be on a walking tour in Chinatown that afternoon, but perhaps someone else will avail himself or herself of the invitation and report back. The announcement has relevance to our Writing New York course material this week, especially today’s discussion of Howl. In parsing the poem’s invocation of “angelheaded hipsters” “dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,” I wondered aloud in lecture what relation Ginsberg’s imagery had to Norman Mailer’s infamous essay “The White Negro: Superficial Reflections on the Hipster,” which appeared in Dissent the year after Howl was published and was collected in Mailer’s 1959 book Advertisements for Myself. (The essay used to be on Dissent’s website in full, but it looks like it’s been removed; here’s a meditation on it that followed Mailer’s death a few years ago — written by one of the n+1 panelists, it turns out.)
The quote I put on the screen contained Mailer’s formulation of the idea that white and black outsider cultures had come together, in the Village, to form a new type: the hipster, which Mailer considered synonymous with “the white negro.” Here’s the quote:
“In such places as Greenwich Village, a m