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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

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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

    Bruce B. Lawrence, "Islamicate Cosmopolitan Spirit" (Wiley-Blackwell, 2021)

    Bruce B. Lawrence, "Islamicate Cosmopolitan Spirit" (Wiley-Blackwell, 2021)

    In his new book cum manifesto, Islamicate Cosmopolitan Spirit (Wiley-Blackwell, 2021), legendary scholar of Islam Bruce Lawrence outlines his politico-conceptual manifesto for the study and place of Islam in the modern world. He does so by expounding, lyrically and brilliantly, on the key category of his book that also forms its title: "Islamicate Cosmopolitan Spirit.” Much of the book is devoted to elaborating and nuancing what these three categories mean to Lawrence and their significance to the craft of Islamic Studies today. He also delves on some other central themes such as the notion of Persianate Cosmopolis and its importance to the manifesto he details in this book. Analytically piercing and refreshingly unhinged, this manifesto should and will be widely read and debated.
    SherAli Tareen is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Franklin and Marshall College. His research focuses on Muslim intellectual traditions and debates in early modern and modern South Asia. His book Defending Muhammad in Modernity (University of Notre Dame Press, 2020) received the American Institute of Pakistan Studies 2020 Book Prize and was selected as a finalist for the 2021 American Academy of Religion Book Award. His other academic publications are available here. He can be reached at sherali.tareen@fandm.edu. Listener feedback is most welcome.
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    • 1 hr 6 min
    Jason Lustig, "A Time to Gather: Archives and the Control of Jewish Culture" (Oxford UP, 2021)

    Jason Lustig, "A Time to Gather: Archives and the Control of Jewish Culture" (Oxford UP, 2021)

    How do people link the past to the present, marking continuity in the face of the fundamental discontinuities of history? A Time to Gather: Archives and the Control of Jewish Culture (Oxford UP, 2021) argues that historical records took on potent value in modern Jewish life as both sources of history and anchors of memory because archives presented one way of transmitting Jewish history from one generation to another as well as making claims of access to an authentic Jewish culture. Indeed, both before the Holocaust and especially in its aftermath, Jewish leaders around the world felt a shared imperative to muster the forces and resources of Jewish life. It was a time to gather, a feverish era of collecting-and conflict-in which archive-making was both a response to the ruptures of modernity, and a mechanism for communities to express their cultural hegemony.
    Jason Lustig explores how archives became battlegrounds over control of Jewish culture from the turn of the twentieth century to the cusp of the digital era. He excavates a tradition of monumental collecting, represented by repositories like the Gesamtarchiv der deutschen Juden, the German Jews' central archive formed in Berlin in 1903, alongside the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People in Jerusalem and the American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati, both opened in 1947, which all showcase the continual struggle over owning the Jewish past. Lustig presents archive-making as an organizing principle of twentieth-century Jewish culture, as a metaphor of great power and broad symbolic meaning with the dispersion and gathering of documents falling in the context of the Jews' long diasporic history. In this light, creating archives was just as much about the future as it was about the past.
    Jason Lustig is a Lecturer and Israel Institute Teaching Fellow at the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, where he’s also an affiliate of the History department. His first book, A Time to Gather: Archives and the Control of Jewish Culture, published by Oxford University Press in December 2021, traces the twentieth-century struggle over who might “own” Jewish history, especially after the Nazi looting of Jewish archives. Dr. Lustig is also the host and creator of the Jewish History Matters Podcast. He received his Ph.D. at the UCLA Department of History, and has also been a Harry Starr Fellow in Judaica at Harvard's Center for Jewish Studies and a Gerald Westheimer Early Career Fellow at the Leo Baeck Institute. Contact: jlustig@austin.utexas.edu.
    Steven Seegel is Professor of Slavic and Eurasian Studies at The University of Texas at Austin.
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    • 59 min
    Aleksandra Prica, "Decay and Afterlife: Form, Time, and the Textuality of Ruins, 1100 to 1900" (U Chicago Press, 2021)

    Aleksandra Prica, "Decay and Afterlife: Form, Time, and the Textuality of Ruins, 1100 to 1900" (U Chicago Press, 2021)

    Western ruins have long been understood as objects riddled with temporal contradictions, whether they appear in baroque poetry and drama, Romanticism’s nostalgic view of history, eighteenth-century paintings of classical subjects, or even recent photographic histories of the ruins of postindustrial Detroit. Decay and Afterlife: Form, Time, and the Textuality of Ruins, 1100 to 1900 (U Chicago Press, 2021) pivots away from our immediate, visual fascination with ruins, focusing instead on the textuality of ruins in works about disintegration and survival. Combining an impressive array of literary, philosophical, and historiographical works both canonical and neglected, and encompassing Latin, Italian, French, German, and English sources, Aleksandra Prica addresses ruins as textual forms, examining them in their extraordinary geographical and temporal breadth, highlighting their variability and reflexivity, and uncovering new lines of aesthetic and intellectual affinity. Through close readings, she traverses eight hundred years of intellectual and literary history, from Seneca and Petrarch to Hegel, Goethe, and Georg Simmel. She tracks European discourses on ruins as they metamorphose over time, identifying surprising resemblances and resonances, ignored contrasts and tensions, as well as the shared apprehensions and ideas that come to light in the excavation of these discourses.
    Lea Greenberg is a scholar of German studies with a particular focus on German Jewish and Yiddish literature and culture; critical gender studies; multilingualism; and literature of the post-Yugoslav diaspora.
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    • 1 hr
    Kristin Waters, "Maria W. Stewart and the Roots of Black Political Thought" (U Mississippi Press, 2021)

    Kristin Waters, "Maria W. Stewart and the Roots of Black Political Thought" (U Mississippi Press, 2021)

    Kristin Waters' book Maria W. Stewart and the Roots of Black Political Thought (U Mississippi Press, 2021) tells a crucial, almost-forgotten story of African Americans of early nineteenth-century America. In 1833, Maria W. Stewart (1803–1879) told a gathering at the African Masonic Hall on Boston’s Beacon Hill: “African rights and liberty is a subject that ought to fire the breast of every free man of color in these United States.” She exhorted her audience to embrace the idea that the founding principles of the nation must extend to people of color. Otherwise, those truths are merely the hypocritical expression of an ungodly white power, a travesty of original democratic ideals. Like her mentor, David Walker, Stewart illustrated the practical inconsistencies of classical liberalism as enacted in the US and delivered a call to action for ending racism and addressing gender discrimination.
    Between 1831 and 1833, Stewart’s intellectual productions, as she called them, ranged across topics from true emancipation for African Americans, the Black convention movement, the hypocrisy of white Christianity, Black liberation theology, and gender inequity. Along with Walker’s Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World, her body of work constitutes a significant foundation for a moral and political theory that is finding new resonance today―insurrectionist ethics.
    Jane Scimeca is Professor of History at Brookdale Community College.
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    • 27 min
    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

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