Poet and cultural critic Wayne Koestenbaum consistently filters cultural icons through an incisively quirky, highly personal filter. His latest book, The Anatomy of Harpo Marx (UC Press, 2012), is a luxuriant, detailed play-by-play account of Harpo Marx's physical movements as captured on screen. In the book, Koestenbaum addresses the thirteen Marx Brothers films, from The Cocoanuts in 1929 to Love Happy in 1950, to focus on Harpo's chief and yet heretofore unexplored attribute—his profound and contradictory corporeality. Koestenbaum celebrates the astonishing range of Harpo's body—its kinks, sexual multiplicities, somnolence, Jewishness, "cute" pathos, and more. Koestenbaum's text moves gracefully from insightful analysis to cultural critique to autobiographical musing, and provides Harpo with a host of odd bedfellows, including Walter Benjamin and Barbra Streisand.
Wayne Koestenbaum has published numerous books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, including Humiliation (Picador, 2011); Hotel Theory (Soft Skull Press, 2007); Best-Selling Jewish Porn Films (Turtle Point Press, 2006); and The Queen's Throat: Opera, Homosexuality, and the Mystery of Desire (Poseidon, 1993). A graduate of Harvard and Princeton, he is a distinguished professor of English at the CUNY Graduate Center and also a visiting professor in the painting department of the Yale School of Art.
This lecture will be followed by a book signing.