President of the American Philosophical Association
and a recipient
of the MacArthur Fellowship, Cavell is the Walter
M. Cabot Professor Emeritus of Aesthetics and the General
Theory of Value at Harvard. In his Mount Holyoke address,
Cavell, discussed poets Wallace Stevens and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
spoke about the conflicts that emerged in the literary works
of both Stevens and Emerson. He connected the two poets with
critique of their works and offered insights into issues
raised by their writings Cavell paid close attention to
Stevens' The Figure of the Youth as Virile Youth
Angel: Essays on Reality and the Imagination (1951),
a literary work that Stevens read at the Pontigny-en-Amerique
encounters in 1943.
to some of the questions Stevens posed at
the original Pontigny colloquia regarding poetry
as a form of resistance, the role of the imagination, and the relationship
between philosophy and poetry.
In his 1943 Pontigny-en-Amerique presentation Stevens posed a question
to the gathering about the role of art. Christopher
of the Weissman Center for Leadership and the Liberal Arts, observed that
60 years later, Stevens finally received an answer to this question "in
a wonderfully eloquent response from the Harvard philosopher Stanley Cavell."