Comparative Literature and English

Ian Svenonius In Conversation


On Wednesday, September 26, 2018, a full house of AUP students, faculty and external guests took seats in the David T. McGovern Grand Salon to listen to the legendary underground musician Ian F. Svenonius in conversation with AUP Professors Russell Williams and Eugene Brennan of the Department of Comparative Literature and English.

As frontman of music groups such as The Nation of Ulysses, The Make-Up and Chain and The Gang, Svenonius has developed a reputation as a remarkable performer of contemporary music. He has also worked extensively as an interviewer and talk show host while publishing three provocative books of cultural critique: The Psychic Soviet (2006), Supernatural Strategies for Making a Rock’n’Roll Group (2012) and Censorship Now!! (2015).

Svenious, Williams and Brennan discussed a range of topics, largely focusing on the relationship between music and writing. Topics ranged from folk music as a version of Stalin’s social realism to the needs for “popular censorship” in the digital era. “Music is not for everyone,” Svenonius declared at one point, giving rise to further discussion about modern music history particularly the origins of rock and roll from African American gospel music. After his fleeting visit to AUP, Svenonius, in the form of his current solo project, ESCAPE-ism, headed to the Céline fashion brand party at the Bus Palladium, where he performed to a range of illustrious Paris Fashion Week guests, including Lady Gaga.

The event was organized around Professor Williams’s Comparative Literature class, CL3020 Production, Translation, Creation, Publication, and students contributed fully to the conversation. The AUP Music Club also lent its enthusiastic support.