We are pleased to announce an online lecture by
Edyta Frelik
(Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin)

Why Write If You Can Paint? Thoughts on Thoughts and Feelings in American Artists’ Writings

This lecture is going to be the a part
of the 2021/2022 Fall Edition of the
American Studies Colloquium Series.

Thursday, January 13, 2022
at 5:15 p.m.

You can get 2 OZN points for participating in this event.
Check how to collect OZN points online here.

poster by Joanna Bębenek


This lecture will be streamed online. To attend, click the button below or enter https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85476130234 into your browser, and join the meeting.


The theme of this talk was prompted by an exchange I recently had with an American artist, who, having answered positively my question regarding whether she also wrote, immediately qualified her admission by saying: “But I’m not a good writer.” The disclaimer did not surprise me as there are many examples of artists who, on the one hand, openly acknowledge they feel an irresistible urge to write and, at the same time, admit they often experience unease, self-doubt, even impropriety or shame, feeling like trespassers on premises reserved for writers. And yet, the history of artists’ writings is long and rich—in fact richer than one might think based solely on who and what gets published or publicized. The spectrum ranges from those who enthusiastically and confidently, and sometimes audaciously, embrace writing as their second, but by no means secondary, profession to those who not only are much more ambivalent about their writing skills but, perhaps more importantly, are also doubtful about the legitimacy, purposefulness and efficacy of their literary efforts. One thus has to pose the question: Why write at all (if you can paint)?

In this talk I will cite a number of American artists whose texts offer clues about their motivations and goals as writers. My main point regarding the evolution of artists’ and critics’ ideas about the relation between the plastic arts and literature is that poetry played a key role in the course of the development of avant-garde art because for many leading modernists it provided a way to overcome the historical split between thought and feeling.


Edyta Frelik is assistant professor in the Department of British and American Studies at Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin, Poland. She teaches American art, history, popular culture, mass media, and film. Her essay “Ad Reinhardt: Painter-as-Writer” won the 2013 Terra Foundation for American Art International Essay Prize. As part of the award, she lectured at the Archives of American Art (operated by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.) and her prize-winning essay was published in the Fall 2014 issue of the Smithsonian journal American Art. She was also invited by art critic and historian Barbara Rose to contribute an essay on Ad Reinhardt to the special Reinhardt issue of the magazine The Brooklyn Rail celebrating the artists centenary in 2013. In 2015, in collaboration with professor Jerzy Kutnik, her academic mentor, she organized “Wordstruck: American Artists as Readers, Writers and Literati,” an international conference made possible by a major grant from the Terra Foundation for American Art. In 2019 she was invited to contribute to a catalogue accompanying the first European retrospective exhibition of Marsden Hartley’s work at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark. She is the author of Painter’s Word: Thomas Hart Benton, Marsden Hartley, and Ad Reinhardt as Writers (Peter Lang 2016) and Kiedy malarz pisze (jak się patrzy). Wstęp do badań nad pisarstwem artystów (UMCS Press 2021). Her current research focuses on the persistence of anti-intellectualism in American public discourse, especially as related to the perception (including self-perception) and status of artists in the United States from the early 20th century to the present. She is the recipient of the 2021 NCN Miniatura5 grant funding for her project “Intellectualism and Anti-intellectualism in American Modernists’ Statements and Writings.”

Year 2021/2022

May 30: The (Early) Literature of COVID-19. Session V

May 24, 2022

This open seminar will explore initial literary responses to the ongoing SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, offering participants opportunities to talk through this world-changing event. By the end of the seminar, participants should be able to not only identify but also to interpret and evaluate common features of early COVID literature within and beyond the United States.

American Studies Colloquium Series

June 2: Eat, Migrate, Love: Gastronomic and Sexual Desire as Identity

May 24, 2022

This talk, whose title plays off the Julia Robert’s film “Eat, Pray, Love,” will explore queer films and queer immigrants’ relationships to food as part of the cultural identity, and how the rituals around food preparation and consumption informs their negotiations in the US.

Year 2021/2022

June 8: Sounds of Dune(s): Music-landscaping in Cinema

May 24, 2022

In this workshop we’ll talk about Frank Herbert’s “Dune” and its many adaptations (both real and unrealized), in order to see how music and sound are used to bridge sensory gaps in cinematic experiences, and how to write about such synaesthetic encounters in our research.

Year 2021/2022

May 23: Gender/Sexuality Conference ASC

May 23, 2022

ASC’s Gender/Sexuality Research Group invites all students and faculty members to the first ASC’s Student Conference on gender and sexuality in American studies. We have an exciting day planned, with a keynote by Dr. Richard Reitsma and four panels of student presentations, on everything from feminist theories to representation of trans characters on TV and challenging the norms of masculinity.

American Studies Colloquium Series

May 19: ‘bits of agitation on the body of the whole’: Animals in COVID-19 Literature

May 19, 2022

Given its origins in horseshoe bat populations, the SARS-CoV-2 virus offers many opportunities to re-think our relationships with the nonhuman world around us. In this talk, Raymond Malewitz will explore emerging cultural narratives embodied in COVID poetry and fiction, which tend to reinforce the stiff differences between the human and the nonhuman as physically and conceptually separate from one another.