Skip to content

Surrealist Symposium Brings Renowned Authors, Art, Films and More to Knoxville from April 4-7

According to the painter Salvador Dalí, Surrealism sought to help us break free from the “shackles limiting our vision.” The spirit of this movement will be alive and well on the campus of the University of Tennessee this spring, through a Surrealist Symposium featuring world-class authors, scholars, translators, and poets from April 4–7.

The key day of the symposium is Monday, April 7, when a series of talks and readings on such topics as “Why Surrealism Matters” will be free and open to the public. Other events on Monday include a reception and book signing with authors and a Hodges Library display of rare surrealist works—along with a Dadaist field trip to UT’s well-loved Europa and the Bull fountain sculpture (that may or may not be a mock-academic hoax), and a surprise “reappearance” of the 19th-century poet Arthur Rimbaud. Note: Jackets and ties for men, hats for the women required for the field trip.

“Anyone with an interest in the wonderfully strange should attend,” said Marilyn Kallet, director of the Creative Writing Program at UT and organizer of the event.  The event is sponsored by the UT Creative Writing Program in association with the John C. Hodges Better English Fund, the UT Office of Research and Engagement, and University Libraries.

Highlights of the Symposium include:

  • Talks by some of the world’s foremost experts on Surrealist literature and art, including Mary Ann Caws and Mark Polizzotti, publications director at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and author of Revolution of the Mind: The Life of André Breton.
  • A Surrealist poetry reading featuring Marilyn Kallet, director of the UT Creative Writing Program, and Bill Zavatsky, former Guggenheim Fellow and translator of French poetry.
  • A special display of Surrealist art and rare books
  • A three-day Surrealist Film Fest featuring a wide range of films, from pioneering short films, animated and hard-to-find foreign films, and contemporary classics

For a full schedule of events and list of participants, see below.



All events are free and open to the public.

Friday, April 4
Surrealist Film Festival (All screenings in the John C. Hodges Library Auditorium)

  • 4:30: Two short films: Un Chien Andalou. 1929. Written by Salvidor Dalí and Luis Buñuel, directed by Luis Buñuel. 16 min.), followed by Meshes of the Afternoon. 1943. Directed by Maya Deren & Alexander Hamid. 14 min.
  • 5:20: Last Year at Marienbad. 1961. “L’année dernière à Marienbad” (original title). Written by Alain Robbe-Grillet, directed by Alain Resnais. 94 min. French with English subtitles
  • 7:10: The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie. 1972. “Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie” (original title) Directed by Luis Buñuel. 102 min. French with English subtitles.

Saturday, April 5

  • 4:30: Alice. 1988. “Neco z Alenky” (original title) Directed by Jan Svankmajer. 86 min. Czech with English subtitles.)
  • 6:10: Cat Soup. 2001. “Nekojiru-so” (original title). Directed by Tatsuo Sato. 34 min. Japanese with English subtitles.
  • 7:00: Synechdoche, NY. 2008. Written and directed by Charlie Kaufman. Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman. 124 min.

Sunday, April 6

  • 4:30: Naked Lunch. 1991. Directed by David Cronenberg, based on the novel by William S. Burroughs. 115 min.
  • 6:40: Symbol. 2009. “Shinboru” (original title). Directed by Hitoshi Matsumoto. 93 min. Japanese with English subtitles.
  • 8:30 Mulholland Drive. 2001. Directed by David Lynch. 147 min.

Monday, April 7

12:00 p.m.: Surrealist Talks by Jonathan Eburne and Kristi Maxwell (1210 McClung Tower)

1:30 p.m.    Dadaist Field Trip to the Fountain of Europa and the Bull (near McClung Tower)

3:00 p.m.:   Surrealist Poetry Reading by Marilyn Kallet and Bill Zavatsky (Hodges Library Auditorium)

7:00 p.m.:   Keynote Panel: “Why Surrealism Matters,” by Mary Ann Caws and Mark Polizzotti (Hodges Library Auditorium)

All Week

Surrealist books and art on display, including Salvador Dali’s St. Anthony in the Desert and prints by Byron McKeeby (Special Collections, 121 Hodges Library)


Mary Ann Caws is the Distinguished Professor of English, French, and Comparative Literature at the Graduate Center of CUNY. She is the author and editor of over 50 books on art and literature, including The Surrealist Look; Picasso’s Weeping Woman: The Life and Art of Dora Maar;  Virginia Woolf;  Marcel Proust;  To the Boathouse: A Memoir; Salvador Dalí; and in another vein, Provençal Cooking: Savoring the Simple Life in France, and the Modern Art Cookbook. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and past president of the Modern Language Association, the American Comparative Literature Association, the Association for the Study of Dada and Surrealism, and the Academy of Literary Studies. She lives in New York with her husband, Dr. Boyce Bennett.

Jonathan P. Eburne is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and English at the Pennsylvania State University. He is the author of Surrealism and the Art of Crime, and co-editor, with Jeremy Braddock, of Paris, Capital of the Black Atlantic. He is co-president of the Association for the Study of Dada and Surrealism, as well a Second Vice-President of ASAP: the
Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present.

Darren Jackson has translated Life in the Folds by Henri Michaux and  A Free Air by Albane Gellé. He also collaborated with Marilyn Kallet and J. Bradford Anderson on the translation of Chantal Bizzini’s Disenchanted City, forthcoming in September 2014.

Marilyn Kallet is the author of 16 books including The Love That Moves Me, poetry by Black Widow Press, 2013. She has also translated Paul Eluard’s Last Love Poems (Derniers poèmes d’amour) and Benjamin Péret’s The Big Game (Le grand jeu).  Kallet directs the Creative Writing Program at the University of Tennessee, where she is Nancy Moore Goslee Professor of English.  Each spring she leads poetry workshops for the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in Auvillar, France.  She has been awarded the Tennessee Arts Commission Literary Fellowship in Poetry, and was inducted into the East Tennessee Literary Hall of Fame in Poetry in 2005.  She has performed her poems in theaters and on campuses across the United States, as well as in France and Poland, as a guest of the United States Embassy’s “America Presents” program.

Beauvais Lyons is Chancellor’s Professor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where he has taught printmaking since 1985. An expert hoaxer, he is the creator of numerous mock-academic projects through the Hokes Archives (See for information). Lyons’ one-person exhibitions have been presented at over 60 museums and galleries in the United States and abroad. His prints are in numerous public collections including the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington, DC; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia. PA.

Kristi Maxwell is the author of three books of poetry: Realm Sixty-four , Hush Sessions, and Re- . She is a lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Tennessee, an adjunct faculty member for National University’s MFA program, and the 2013 Visiting Writer-in-Residence at Nebraska Wesleyan University. With Elizabeth Wright, she recently co-founded KnowHow, an emerging arts organization in Knoxville that seeks to empower youth through the arts.

Mark Polizzotti’s books include the collaborative novel S., Revolution of the Mind: The Life of André Breton, Luis Buñuel’s Los Olvidados, and Bob Dylan: Highway 61 Revisited. His articles and reviews have appeared in The New Republic, The Wall Street Journal, ARTnews, The Nation, Bookforum, and elsewhere. The translator of over forty books from the French, including works by Gustave Flaubert, Marguerite Duras, and  André Breton, he directs the publications program at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Bill Zavatsky taught at the Trinity School in Manhattan and most recently at Poets House. His books of poems include Where X Marks the Spot and Theories of Rain and Other Poems. His translation (with Zack Rogow) of André Breton’s Earthlight won the PEN/Book-of-the Month Translation Prize. He also translated (with Ron Padgett) The Poems of A.O. Barnabooth by Valery Larbaud. In 2008 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry.

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.