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Interviews with Scholars of Intellectual History about their New Books
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New Books in Intellectual History New Books Network

    • Maatschappij & cultuur
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Interviews with Scholars of Intellectual History about their New Books
Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/intellectual-history

    Brenna Moore, "Kindred Spirits: Friendship and Resistance at the Edges of Modern Catholicism" (U Chicago Press, 2021)

    Brenna Moore, "Kindred Spirits: Friendship and Resistance at the Edges of Modern Catholicism" (U Chicago Press, 2021)

    In Kindred Spirits: Friendship and Resistance at the Edges of Modern Catholicism (University of Chicago Press, 2021), Brenna Moore takes us inside a global network of Catholic historians, theologians, poets, and activists who pushed against both the far-right surge in interwar Europe and the secularizing tendencies of the leftist movements active in the early to mid-twentieth century. With meticulous attention to the complexity of real lives, Brenna Moore explores how this group sought a middle way anchored in “spiritual friendship”—religiously meaningful friendship understood as uniquely capable of facing social and political challenges. Some of the figures are still well-known—philosopher Jacques Maritain, Nobel Prize laureate Gabriela Mistral, influential Islamicist Louis Massignon, poet of the Harlem renaissance Claude McKay—while others have unjustly faded from memory. Friendship, they believed, was a key to both divine and human realms, a means of accessing the transcendent while also engaging with our social and political existence.
    Piotr H. Kosicki is Associate Professor of History at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is the author of Catholics on the Barricades (Yale, 2018) and editor, among others, of Political Exile in the Global Twentieth Century (with Wolfram Kaiser).
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    • 59 min.
    72 Caryl Phillips Speaks with Corina Stan

    72 Caryl Phillips Speaks with Corina Stan

    Our second January Novel Dialogue conversation is with Caryl Phillips, professor of English at Yale and world-renowned for novels ranging from The Final Passage to 2018’s A View of the Empire at Sunset. He shares his thoughts on transplantation, on performance, on race, even on sports. Joining him here are John and the wonderful comparatist Corina Stan, author of The Art of Distances: Ethical Thinking in 20th century Literature. If you enjoy this conversation, range backwards through the RtB archives for comparable talks with Jennifer Egan, Helen Garner, Orhan Pamuk, Zadie Smith, Samuel Delany and many more.
    It’s a rangy conversation. John begins by raving about Caryl’s italics–he in turn praises Faulkner’s. Corina and Caryl explore his debt (cf. his The European Tribe) to American writers like Richard Wright and James Baldwin. Meeting Baldwin was scary–back in those days before there were “writers besporting themselves on every university campus.” Caryl praises the joy of being a football fan (Leeds United), reflects on his abiding loyalty to his class and geographic origins and his fondness for the moments of Sunday joy that allow people to endure. John raises Orhan Pamuk’s claim (In Novel Dialogue last season) that the novel is innately middle-class; Caryl says that it’s true that as a form it has always taken time and money to make–and to read. But “vicars and middle class people fall in love, too; they get betrayed and let down…a gamut of emotion that’s as wide as anybody else.” He remains drawn to writers haunted by the past: Eliot, W.G. Sebald, the huge influence of Faulkner trying to stitch the past to the present.
    Mentioned in the Episode

    James Baldwin, Blues for Mister Charley, The Fire Next Time


    Richard Wright, Native Son


    Johnny Pitts, Afropean


    Caryl Phillips, Dancing in the Dark


    J. M. Coetzee, “What We like to Forget” (On Caryl Phillips)

    Graham Greene (e.g Brighton Rock and The Quiet American) wrote in “The Lost Childhood” (1951) that at age 14 ” I took Miss Marjorie Bowen’s The Viper of Milan from the library shelf…From that moment I began to write.”

    Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter


    William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom



    Read a transcript here
    Elizabeth Ferry is Professor of Anthropology at Brandeis University. Email: ferry@brandeis.edu. John Plotz is Barbara Mandel Professor of the Humanities at Brandeis University and co-founder of the Brandeis Educational Justice Initiative. Email: plotz@brandeis.edu.
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    • 49 min.
    Erin M. Cline, "The Analects: A Guide" (Oxford UP, 2021)

    Erin M. Cline, "The Analects: A Guide" (Oxford UP, 2021)

    Probably the most well-known Chinese philosopher around the world is Kongzi, typically called by his Latinized name, “Confucius.” And yet he did not write a single book. Rather, his students collected Kongzi’s life and teachings into the Analects, a text which has become immensely influential from ancient Confucian traditions up to the current day. 
    In The Analects: A Guide (Oxford University Press, 2021), Erin M. Cline argues that we should understand the Analects not only as a guide for living, or a philosophical set of sayings on ethics, but as a sacred text. She argues that this approach helps us reflect more critically about the categories like the sacred, and to appreciate the role of Kongzi as a personal exemplar in the text. Engaging closely with the text of the Analects as well as traditional commentaries and contemporary scholarship, Cline introduces the reader to the history of this text as well its major themes, such as ritual, filial piety, and the relationship between the ordinary and the sacred. By situating the Analects alongside works such as the Nichomachean Ethics and the Bible, her work investigates the text from both philosophical and religious perspectives, while reflecting on these categories themselves.
    Malcolm Keating is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Yale-NUS College. His research focuses on Sanskrit philosophy of language and epistemology. He is the author of Language, Meaning, and Use in Indian Philosophy (Bloomsbury Press, 2019) and host of the podcast Sutras (and stuff).
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    • 1 u. 7 min.
    Nicholas Canny, "Imagining Ireland's Pasts: Early Modern Ireland Through the Centuries" (Oxford UP, 2021)

    Nicholas Canny, "Imagining Ireland's Pasts: Early Modern Ireland Through the Centuries" (Oxford UP, 2021)

    Nicholas Canny is an Emeritus Professor at the National University of Ireland-Galway (NUIG). Since completing his PhD at the University of Pennsylvania he has pursued an influential publishing career spanning the early 1970s until today. He is the author or editor of 11 books and has written over 70 published papers. He was founding Director of the Moore Institute for Research in the Humanities and Social Studies at NUIG and served as Director there from 2000-2011 at National University of Ireland Galway. From 2008 to 2011 he was President of the Royal Irish Academy. He has served on the Scientific Council of the European Science Foundation and is a member of the American Philosophical Society.
    In this interview he discusses his new book Imagining Ireland's Pasts: Early Modern Ireland Through the Centuries (Oxford UP, 2021) through the Centuries which surveys the contradictory ways in which Ireland’s different religious, ethnic, and linguistic communities understood the violent events of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
    Imagining Ireland's Pasts describes how various authors addressed the history of early modern Ireland over four centuries and explains why they could not settle on an agreed narrative. It shows how conflicting interpretations broke frequently along denominational lines, but that authors were also influenced by ethnic, cultural, and political considerations, and by whether they were resident in Ireland or living in exile. The book details how authors extolled the merits of their progenitors, offered hope and guidance to the particular audience they addressed, and disputed opposing narratives. Prof. Canny shows how competing scholars, whether contributing to vernacular histories or empirical studies, became transfixed by the traumatic events of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as they sought to explain either how stability had finally been achieved, or how the descendants of those who had been wronged might secure redress.
    Aidan Beatty is a historian at the Honors College of the University of Pittsburgh.
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    • 49 min.
    Sanjukta Sunderason, "Partisan Aesthetics: Modern Art and India's Long Decolonization" (Stanford UP, 2020)

    Sanjukta Sunderason, "Partisan Aesthetics: Modern Art and India's Long Decolonization" (Stanford UP, 2020)

    In Partisan Aesthetics: Modern Art and India's Long Decolonization (Stanford UP, 2020), Sanjukta Sunderason explores art's entanglements with histories of war, famine, mass politics and displacements that marked late-colonial and postcolonial India. Introducing "partisan aesthetics" as a conceptual grid, the book identifies ways in which art became political through interactions with left-wing activism during the 1940s, and the afterlives of such interactions in post-independence India. Using an archive of artists and artist collectives working in Calcutta from these decades, she argues that artists became political not only as reporters, organizers and cadre of India's Communist Party, or socialist fellow travelers, but through shifting modes of political participations and dissociations. Unmooring questions of Indian modernism from its hitherto dominant harnesses to national or global affiliations, Sunderason activates, instead, distinctly locational histories that refract transnational currents.
    Holiday Powers is Assistant Professor of Art History at VCUarts Qatar. Her research focuses on modern and contemporary art in Africa and the Arab world, postcolonial theory, and gender studies.
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    • 1 u. 6 min.
    Ginger Nolan, "Savage Mind to Savage Machine: Racial Science and Twentieth-Century Design" (U Minnesota Press, 2021)

    Ginger Nolan, "Savage Mind to Savage Machine: Racial Science and Twentieth-Century Design" (U Minnesota Press, 2021)

    Attempting to derive aesthetic systems from natural structures of human cognition, designers looked toward the “savage mind”—a way of thinking they associated with a racialized subaltern. In Savage Mind to Savage Machine: Racial Science and Twentieth-Century Design (U Minnesota Press, 2021), Ginger Nolan uncovers an enduring relationship between “the savage” and the development of technology and its wide-ranging impact on society, including in the fields of architecture and urbanism, the industrial arts, and digital design.
    Nolan focuses on the relationship between the applied arts and the structuralist social sciences, proposing that the late-nineteenth-century rise of Freudian psychology, ethnology, and structuralist linguistics offered innovations and new opportunities in studying human cognition. She looks at institutions ranging from the Public Industrial Arts School of Philadelphia and the Weimar Bauhaus to the MIT Media Lab and the Centre Mondial Informatique, revealing a persistent theme of twentieth-century design: to supplant language with more subliminal, aesthetic modes of communication, thereby inculcating a deep intimacy between human habit and new technologies of production, communication, and consumption.
    This book’s ultimate critique is of the development of the ergonomics of the spirit—the design of the human cognitive apparatus in relation to new aesthetic technologies. Nolan sees these ergonomics as a means of depoliticizing societies through aesthetic technologies intended to seamlessly integrate humans into the programs of capitalist modernity. Revising key modernist design narratives, Savage Mind to Savage Machine provides a deep historical foundation for understanding our contemporary world.
    Bryan Toepfer, AIA, NCARB, CAPM is the Principal Architect for TOEPFER Architecture, PLLC, an Architecture firm specializing in Residential Architecture and Virtual Reality. He has authored two books, “Contractors CANNOT Build Your House,” and “Six Months Now, ARCHITECT for Life.” He is an Assistant Professor at Alfred State College and the Director of Education for the AIA Rochester Board of Directors. Always eager to help anyone understand the world of Architecture, he hosts the New Books Network – Architecture podcast, is an NCARB Licensing Advisor and helps coach candidates taking the Architectural Registration Exam.
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    • 22 min.

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