300 episodes

Interviews with Scholars of Literature about their New Books

New Books in Literary Studies New Books Network

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    • 5.0, 9 Ratings

Interviews with Scholars of Literature about their New Books

    Kim Adrian, "Dear Knausgaard: Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle" (Fiction Advocate, 2020)

    Kim Adrian, "Dear Knausgaard: Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle" (Fiction Advocate, 2020)

    In 2009, a novel was released in Norway with a fairly simple premise; the author would simply write about himself, his life and his attempts to write. The autobiographical novel would be the first in a 6-volume series that would eventually total over 3,500 pages written in just 3 short years. The frenzied pace at which it was produced would only be matched by the frenzied pace at which it was consumed, with each volume hitting the bestseller list, and it would all eventually be translated into over 30 languages. The author was Karl Ove Knausgaard, and the novel was called ​My Struggle​.
    With the dust finally settling in the wake of the enormous controversy the book stirred up, many people are starting to move in to analyze the work with a more critical lens, trying to examine what the work actually achieves, what it’s place might be in the larger canon of literature, and elements of it we should be skeptical of. One of those critical examiners is Kim Adrian in her book ​Dear Knausgaard: Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle (Fiction Advocate, 2020)​, a collection of short letters written to the man himself where she wrestles with his work. While Adrian is herself a fan of Knausgaard, she is not uncritical of him, and even finds herself frustrated at various moments with his views on writing, literature, politics, gender and identity, but this dynamic gives the book an interesting back-and-forth as it helps her wrestle with these topics.
    Kim Adrian is a visiting lecturer in English at Brown University, and is the author of the memoir The 27th Letter of the Alphabet and ​Sock​. She has had both fiction and nonfiction appear in a number of outlets, including ​Tin House,​ ​The Gettysburg Review​, and ​The Seneca Review​.
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    • 1 hr 8 min
    Gaurav Desai, "Commerce with the Universe: Africa, India, and the Afrasian Imagination" (Columbia UP, 2013)

    Gaurav Desai, "Commerce with the Universe: Africa, India, and the Afrasian Imagination" (Columbia UP, 2013)

    Gaurav Desai’s Commerce with the Universe: Africa, India, and the Afrasian Imagination (Columbia University Press, 2013), offers an alternative history of East Africa in the Indian Ocean world. Reading the life narratives and literary texts of South Asians writing in and about East Africa, Gaurav Desai highlights many complexities in the history of Africa's experience with slavery, migration, colonialism, nationalism, and globalization. Consulting Afrasian texts that are literary and nonfictional, political and private, he broadens the scope of African and South Asian scholarship and inspires a more nuanced understanding of the Indian Ocean's fertile routes of exchange.
    Desai shows how the Indian Ocean engendered a number of syncretic identities and shaped the medieval trade routes of the Islamicate empire, the early independence movements galvanized in part by Gandhi's southern African experiences, the invention of new ethnic nationalisms, and the rise of plural, multiethnic African nations. Calling attention to lives and literatures long neglected by traditional scholars, Desai introduces rich, interdisciplinary ways of thinking not only about this specific region but also about the very nature of ethnic history and identity. Traveling from the twelfth century to today, he concludes with a look at contemporary Asian populations in East Africa and their struggle to decide how best to participate in the development and modernization of their postcolonial nations without sacrificing their political autonomy.
    Gaurav Desai is Professor of English at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
    Micheal Rumore is a PhD candidate at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. His work focuses on the Indian Ocean as an African diasporic site. He can be reached at mrumore@gradcenter.cuny.edu.
    Ahmed Yaqoub AlMaazmi is a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University. His research focuses on the intersection of law and the environment across the western Indian Ocean. He can be reached by email at almaazmi@princeton.edu or on Twitter @Ahmed_Yaqoub. Listeners’ feedback, questions, and book suggestions are most welcome.
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    • 1 hr 19 min
    Vanita Reddy, "Fashioning Diaspora: Beauty, Femininity and South Asian American Culture" (Duke UP, 2016)

    Vanita Reddy, "Fashioning Diaspora: Beauty, Femininity and South Asian American Culture" (Duke UP, 2016)

    Vanita Reddy, in her book Fashioning Diaspora: Beauty, Femininity and South Asian American Culture (Duke University Press, 2016), locates diasporic transnationality, affiliations and intimacies through the analytic of beauty.
    Through her analysis of Asian American literary fiction and performance artwork and installations, Reddy lingers on moments, objects and subjective positions that reveal the potentiality of beauty. Not just a site for neoliberal complicity, beauty, in its presence as well as absence, also emerges as something subversive. 
    The re-articulation of the bindi and the saree, objects that are otherwise imbued with upper-caste, Hindu hetero-reproductive symbolisms, in the works of performance artists, offer queer queer subversion of power structures. Beauty also becomes the site of not just physical but also social (im)mobility as Reddy presents the complicated ways in which beauty relates to aspiration.
    Central to her project is upending the male-centric understanding of the relationship between the diaspora and the “nation”. Focussing not only on female narratives of movement and mobility but also interrogating the vulnerability and queer-ness of male subject positions, Reddy provides a nuanced interrogation of how “frivolous” beauty becomes the site of transformative transnational journeys. 
    In the first three chapters, she looks at the literary fiction that either centrally or marginally deploys beauty as the site of narrating stories about the diaspora. Chapter 4 and 5 look at feminist performances and cyber representations of objects like the bindi and saree that deliberately challenge the essentialization of these objects and destabilizes them not just to narrate stories of movement but emphasize potential for mobilization through seemingly non-serious, beautiful artifacts.
    Vanita Reddy is an Assistant Professor of English at Texas A&M University.                     
    Lakshita Malik is a doctoral student in the department of Anthropology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her work focuses on questions of intimacies, class, gender, and beauty in South Asia.
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    • 43 min
    Brett Dakin, "American Daredevil: Comics, Communism, and The Battles of Lev Gleason" (Chapterhouse Publishing, 2020)

    Brett Dakin, "American Daredevil: Comics, Communism, and The Battles of Lev Gleason" (Chapterhouse Publishing, 2020)

    In American Daredevil: Comics, Communism, and The Battles of Lev Gleason (Chapterhouse Publishing, 2020), Brett Dakin, Gleason’s great-nephew delves into the life of his famous relative.
    Gleason rose to the top of the comic publishing world during its Golden Age, publishing Daredevil and Crime Does Not Pay among other titles. Dakin explores the family archives and FBI files to give readers a comprehensive look into the life of Gleason and his Progressive activism.
    Gleason’s experiences with the House Un-American Activities Committee and Dr. Frederic Wertham and other Anti-Comic activists give a glimpse into important political and social activism of the 1940s and 50s in American history. Dakin not only presents the story of Great-Uncle Lev, but he also gives readers insight into his research into Gleason’s life, career, and disappearance from public.
    Rebekah Buchanan is an Associate Professor of English at Western Illinois University. She researches zines, zine writers and the influence of music subcultures and fandom on writers and narratives. She is the author of Writing a Riot: Riot Grrrl Zines and Feminist Rhetorics (Peter Lang, 2018). You can find more about her on her website, follow her on Twitter @rj_buchanan or email her at rj-buchanan@wiu.edu.
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    • 48 min
    Ari Linden, "Karl Kraus and The Discourse of Modernity" (Northwestern UP, 2020)

    Ari Linden, "Karl Kraus and The Discourse of Modernity" (Northwestern UP, 2020)

    In Karl Kraus and The Discourse of Modernity (Northwestern University Press, 2020), Ari Linden analyzes Karl Kraus’s oeuvre while engaging in the conversation about modernism and modernity, which is shaped and conditioned by the already post-postmodern condition.
    This perspective opens up the exploration of modernist projects and allows a discussion that goes beyond a specific time-period and invites us to locate the conversation about Kraus, as well as about the modernist discourse, in the context of the present moment.
    In his book, Linden outlines the most salient features of Kraus’s writing and establishes an ethic and aesthetic matrix to explore the variations and renditions that the modernist projects may promote and welcome. The book specifies Kraus’s aesthetic engagement with satire, as well as with the exploration of the language limitations (if any) and with intellectual conversations, which serve as responses to political and historical events.
    The latter makes Linden’s project particularly relevant and up-to-date for the contemporary moment: Kraus’s oeuvre helps further disclose how writing can be engaged as a key instrument not only for the construction of the individual’s perception of the self and others, but also for the construction of ideological paradigms, encapsulating power and control on both individual and public levels.
    Karl Kraus and The Discourse of Modernity brings modernity and modernism to the forefront of the post-postmodernist concerns and offers an insightful perspective on how a writer responds to history and politics while interrupting the discourse with their aesthetic renditions.
    Ari Linden is an assistant professor in the Department of German Studies at the University of Kansas.
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    • 56 min
    Bradley Lewis, "Narrative Psychiatry: How Stories Can Shape Clinical Practice" (Johns Hopkins UP, 2011)

    Bradley Lewis, "Narrative Psychiatry: How Stories Can Shape Clinical Practice" (Johns Hopkins UP, 2011)

    Psychiatry has lagged behind many clinical specialties in recognizing the importance of narrative for understanding and effectively treating disease. With this book, Bradley Lewis makes the challenging and compelling case that psychiatrists need to promote the significance of narrative in their practice as well.
    Narrative already holds a prominent place in psychiatry. Patient stories are the foundation for diagnosis and the key to managing treatment and measuring its effectiveness. Even so, psychiatry has paid scant scholarly attention to the intrinsic value of patient stories. Fortunately, the study of narrative outside psychiatry has grown exponentially in recent years, and it is now possible for psychiatry to make considerable advances in its appreciation of clinical stories. Narrative Psychiatry: How Stories Can Shape Clinical Practice (Johns Hopkins UP, 2011) picks up this intellectual opportunity and develops the tools of narrative for psychiatry. Lewis explores the rise of narrative medicine and looks closely at recent narrative approaches to psychotherapy. He uses philosophic and fictional writings, such as Anton Chekhov’s play Ivanov, to develop key terms in narrative theory (plot, metaphor, character, point of view) and to understand the interpretive dimensions of clinical work. Finally, Lewis brings this material back to psychiatric practice, showing how narrative insights can be applied in psychiatric treatments―including the use of psychiatric medications.
    Nothing short of a call to rework the psychiatric profession, Narrative Psychiatry advocates taking the inherently narrative-centered patient-psychiatrist relationship to its logical conclusion: making the story a central aspect of treatment.
    Dr. Yakir Englander is the National Director of Leadership programs at the Israeli-American Council. He also teaches at the AJR. He is a Fulbright scholar and was a visiting professor of Religion at Northwestern University, the Shalom Hartman Institute and Harvard Divinity School. His books are Sexuality and the Body in New Religious Zionist Discourse (English/Hebrew and The Male Body in Jewish Lithuanian Ultra-Orthodoxy (Hebrew). He can be reached at: Yakir1212englander@gmail.com
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    • 49 min

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