100 episodios

Interviews with Scholars of Literature about their New Books

New Books in Literary Studies New Books Network

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Interviews with Scholars of Literature about their New Books

    Michael E. Pregill, "The Golden Calf Between Bible and Qur'an: Scripture, Polemic, and Exegesis from Late Antiquity to Islam" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    Michael E. Pregill, "The Golden Calf Between Bible and Qur'an: Scripture, Polemic, and Exegesis from Late Antiquity to Islam" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    In his exciting and thorough book, The Golden Calf between Bible and Qur'an: Scripture, Polemic, and Exegesis from Late Antiquity to Islam (Oxford, 2020), Michael Pregill explores the biblical and Qur'anic episode of the golden calf as understood by various Jewish, Christian, and Muslim sources. The incident refers, of course, to when the Israelites created a golden calf in the absence of the Prophet Musa. Pregill shows that the episode's various interpretations across time reflect the cultural, religious, ideological, social, textual, and other contexts in which the issue was being discussed. Each community sought to legitimate its own existence, theology, and tradition through its interpretation. So, for instance, the episode is central to Jewish and Christian arguments over the inheritance of the covenantal legacy of Israel. Each community also appropriates and subverts the apologetic renderings and tropes of the other communities, not passively accepting or rejecting but strategically negotiating with it to adapt to new contexts. The episode therefore becomes crucial for the community’s self-identification. More specific to Islam is a key component of his argument that while western academic scholars draw heavily from the tafsir tradition, they fail to situate the episode in its historical context in the late antique milieu.
    In our discussion today, Pregill describes the golden calf episode at length from biblical and Qur’anic perspectives. He summarizes some of the major arguments and contributions of the book, identifies scholars with whom he is in conversation, discusses the status of Qur’anic studies today, reflects on the identity of the mysterious Samiri in the Qur’anic version, emphasizes the recent diminished importance and the dire need of exploring tafsir (Qur’anic exegesis) in the study of Islam, explains the relationship between western scholars of Islam (or the Qur’an specifically) and classical Muslim exegetes, and a lot more.

    Shehnaz Haqqani is an Assistant Professor of Religion at Mercer University. She earned her PhD in Islamic Studies with a focus on gender from the University of Texas at Austin in 2018. Her dissertation research explored questions of change and tradition, specifically in the context of gender and sexuality, in Islam. She can be reached at haqqani_s@mercer.edu.
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    • 1h 3 min
    Nicholas McDowell, "Poet of Revolution: The Making of John Milton" (Princeton UP, 2020)

    Nicholas McDowell, "Poet of Revolution: The Making of John Milton" (Princeton UP, 2020)

    Decades before he wrote his epic work Paradise Lost, John Milton was an active republican and polemicist. How Milton came to espouse such radical views is just one of the key themes of Nicholas McDowell’s Poet of Revolution: The Making of John Milton (Princeton UP, 2020), the first book of a projected two-volume biography of the famous author. The son of a prosperous scrivener, Milton enjoyed the benefits of a quality education heavily influenced by Italian humanism. This extensive instruction in foreign languages and classical authors was viewed by Milton as a necessary requirement for a career as a poet, one to which he dedicated himself during his time at university. Yet as McDowell demonstrates Milton’s Puritan faith also played an important role in his intellectual development, especially as he found his beliefs increasingly at odds with the emerging Laudian influence on the Anglican church. This motivated the young intellectual to write a series of pamphlets after his return from a lengthy trip to France and Italy in 1638-9, works which signaled his growing engagement with politics on the eve of England’s plunge into a devastating civil war in the 1640s.
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    • 50 min
    Mario Telò, "Archive Feelings: A Theory of Greek Tragedy" (Ohio State UP, 2020)

    Mario Telò, "Archive Feelings: A Theory of Greek Tragedy" (Ohio State UP, 2020)

    On this episode, I interview Mario Telò, professor of Classics and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley, about his new book, Archive Feelings: A Theory of Greek Tragedy, recently published by The Ohio State University Press. In the text, Telò examines how contemporary theorizations of the archive (especially Derrida’s Mal d’Archive) and the death drive (in Freud as well as Bersani, Butler, Edelman, Deleuze, Lacan, Rancière, and Žižek) can help us understand the aesthetic experience of tragedy. Archive Feelings: A Theory of Greek Tragedy locates the tragic genre's aesthetic allure beyond catharsis in a vertiginous sense of giddy suspension, in a spiral of life and death that resists equilibrium, stabilization, and all forms of normativity. In so doing, Telò forges a new model of tragic aesthetics.
    Britt Edelen is a Ph.D. student in English at Duke University. He focuses on modernism and the relationship(s) between language, philosophy, and literature. You can find him on Twitter or send him an email.
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    • 1h 1m
    Michael Gorra, "The Saddest Words: William Faulkner's Civil War" (Liveright, 2020)

    Michael Gorra, "The Saddest Words: William Faulkner's Civil War" (Liveright, 2020)

    Today I talked to Michael Gorra about his new book The Saddest Words: William Faulkner's Civil War (Liveright, 2020). This episode touches on two of William Faulkner’s novels in particular: The Sound and the Fury as well as Absalom, Absalom! It considers the role of memory and history, Faulkner’s alcoholism, the sexual exploitation practiced by plantation owners, and the greater presence of Nathan Bedford Forrest over Robert E. Lee in Faulkner’s fiction writings. Ties to today’s reckoning for racial justice is a part of the episode, too.
    The author of Portrait of a Novel, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, Michael Gorra is a Professor English Language and Literature at Smith College and the editor of the Norton Critical Editions of As I Lay Dying and The Sound and the Fury.
    Dan Hill, PhD, is the author of eight books and leads Sensory Logic, Inc. (https://www.sensorylogic.com). To check out his related “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight” blog, visit https://emotionswizard.com.
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    • 36 min
    Daniel T. Rodgers, "As a City on a Hill: The Story of America's Most Famous Lay Sermon" (Princeton UP, 2020)

    Daniel T. Rodgers, "As a City on a Hill: The Story of America's Most Famous Lay Sermon" (Princeton UP, 2020)

    Since the presidency of Ronald Reagan, John Winthrop's famous phrase, "We shall be as a city upon a hill," has become political creed and rallying cry for American exceptionalism. But for over three centuries the text of Winthrop's "Model of Christian Charity" was largely forgotten in the American textual canon. In a charming book of textual history, the Henry Charles Lea Professor Emeritus at Princeton University, Daniel T. Rodgers, tells a fascinating tale with surprising twists and turns about how an obscure Puritan treatise became indispensable political rhetoric for late-twentieth-century American politics and into the new millennium. As a City on a Hill: The Story of America's Most Famous Lay Sermon (Princeton University Press, 2018) traces Winthrop's model from its seventeenth-century context, through centuries of neglect and forgetfulness, to its unlikely and meteoric rise as a foundational text of the American idea.
    Ryan David Shelton (@ryoldfashioned) is a social historian of British and American Protestantism and a PhD researcher at Queen’s University Belfast.
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    • 41 min
    L. Ferlier and B. Miyamoto, "Forms, Formats and the Circulation of Knowledge: British Printscape’s Innovations, 1688-1832" (Brill, 2020)

    L. Ferlier and B. Miyamoto, "Forms, Formats and the Circulation of Knowledge: British Printscape’s Innovations, 1688-1832" (Brill, 2020)

    Forms, Formats and the Circulation of Knowledge: British Printscape’s Innovations, 1688-1832 (Brill, 2020) explores the printscape – the mental mapping of knowledge in all its printed shapes – to chart the British networks of publishers, printers, copyright-holders, readers and authors. This transdisciplinary volume skilfully recovers innovations and practices in the book trade between 1688 and 1832. It investigates how print circulated information in a multitude of sizes and media, through an evolving framework of transactions. The authority of print is demonstrated by studies of prospectuses, blank forms, periodicals, pamphlets, globes, games and ephemera, uniquely gathered in eleven essays engaging in legal, economic, literary, and historical methodologies. The tight focus on material format reappraises a disorderly market accommodating a widening audience consumption.
    Louisiane Ferlier, Ph.D. (2012, Université Paris Diderot), is the Digital Resources Manager at Centre for the History of Science at the Royal Society. She has published articles on John Wallis, the Bodleian Library and cross-Atlantic circulation of books.
    Bénédicte Miyamoto, Ph.D. (2011, Université Paris Diderot), is Associate Professor of British History at Université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3. She has published on eighteenth-century drawing manuals, sales catalogues and art markets.
    Alexandra Ortolja-Baird is Lecturer in Early Modern European History at King’s College London. She tweets at @timetravelallie.
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    • 1h 2 min

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