621 episodes

Interviews with Scholars of Critical Theory about their New Books
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New Books in Critical Theory Marshall Poe

    • Social Sciences
    • 3.9 • 68 Ratings

Interviews with Scholars of Critical Theory about their New Books
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    Richard Jean So, "Redlining Culture: A Data History of Racial Inequality and Postwar Fiction" (Columbia UP, 2020)

    Richard Jean So, "Redlining Culture: A Data History of Racial Inequality and Postwar Fiction" (Columbia UP, 2020)

    What is the story of race in American fiction? In Redlining Culture: A Data History of Racial Inequality and Postwar Fiction (Columbia University Press, 2020), Richard Jean So, an assistant professor of English in the Department of English at McGill University, uses computational and quantitative methods, alongside close textual analysis, to demonstrate the institutional whiteness of the US publishing industry. Even as the rise of multiculturalism has been celebrated in American fiction, So shows how publishing houses, reviewers, prize givers, and audiences still focused on a minority of Minority authors, with little evidence of change during the second half of the twentieth century. Moreover, although as the struggle for recognition seemed to be won within universities, the literary world continued to exclude authors of colour. In addition, the book engages with, and draws inspiration from, the work and career of Toni Morrison, offering findings that will engage across both the humanities and social sciences. The book is essential reading for anyone interested in race and literature, along with anyone interested in explaining and understanding why race continues to be essential to understanding contemporary culture.
    Dave O'Brien is Chancellor's Fellow, Cultural and Creative Industries, at the University of Edinburgh's College of Art.
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    • 47 min
    Michael D. Snediker, "Contingent Figure: Chronic Pain and Queer Embodiment" (U Minnesota Press, 2021)

    Michael D. Snediker, "Contingent Figure: Chronic Pain and Queer Embodiment" (U Minnesota Press, 2021)

    In this episode, I interview Michael Snediker, professor of English at the University of Houston, about his book, Contingent Figure: Chronic Pain and Queer Embodiment, recently published by University of Minnesota Press. At the intersection of queer theory and disability studies, Snediker locates something unexpected: chronic pain. Starting from this paradigm-shifting insight, Snediker elaborates a bracing examination of the phenomenological peculiarity of disability, articulating a complex idiom of figuration as the lived substance of pain’s quotidian. This lexicon helps us differently inhabit both the theoretical and phenomenal dimensions of chronic pain and suffering by illuminating where these modes are least distinguishable.
    Suffused with fastidious close readings, and girded by a remarkably complex understanding of phenomenal experience, Contingent Figure resides in the overlap between literary theory and lyric experiment. Snediker grounds his exploration of disability and chronic pain in dazzling close readings of Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson, Henry James, and many others. Its juxtaposition of these readings with candid autobiographical accounts makes Contingent Figure an exemplary instance of literary theory as a practice of lyric attention. Thoroughly rigorous and anything but predictable, this stirring inquiry leaves the reader with a rich critical vocabulary indebted to the likes of Maurice Blanchot, Gilles Deleuze, D. O. Winnicott, and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. A master class in close reading’s inseparability from the urgency of lived experience, this book is essential for students and scholars of disability studies, queer theory, formalism, aesthetics, and the radical challenge of Emersonian poetics across the long American nineteenth century.
    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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    • 1 hr 14 min
    Dana Mills, "Rosa Luxemburg" (Reaktion Books, 2020)

    Dana Mills, "Rosa Luxemburg" (Reaktion Books, 2020)

    Political Theorist and activist Dana Mill’s latest new book, Rosa Luxemburg (Reaktion Books, 2020), is part of an extensive series of books published by Reaktion Books, Ltd, which focuses both on the ideas or creations and the lives of many leading cultural figures of the modern period. These volumes are not long, but they are thorough, and they help the reader to understand the historical context in which these thinkers, artists, writers, etc. lived, created, and worked. Mill’s contribution to this series centers on the turbulent life of Rosa Luxemburg, who lived, worked, studied, and advocated in Europe in the late 1800s and into the 1900s. Mills provides a biographical guide to Luxemburg as we learn about her young life growing up in Poland and her move to Zurich to pursue a PhD in Economics. Luxemburg becomes involved in politics in the late 1880s and 1890s, and she is also developing her thinking about economics, politics, exploitation, and nationalism during this same period. As Mills makes clear, Luxemburg quite enjoyed the experience of thinking and engaging ideas, taking on the dialectical arguments that were very much the mode and method of learning and teaching, particularly among those focusing on economics and Marxism. Luxemburg transferred this method of learning and teaching to her own work as a teacher, a very talented teacher in the trade union schools.
    Rosa Luxemburg was imprisoned for long stretches of her life—and, as a result of these experiences, she learned quite a lot about what incarceration does to a person, how this form of constraint impacts the individual psyche. This also contributed to her continued thinking about what freedom and equality actually mean to people, how these concepts are dimensions of justice, and how justice may be achieved in a colonial, imperial world marked by nationalism and material inequality. Mills’ biographical analysis incorporates Luxemburg’s murder, which, as Mills notes, is indeed tragic, but does not make Rosa Luxemburg into a tragic figure. Luxemburg was very much the author of her own life story, but she anticipated her murder, which was committed by right-wing fascists who would ultimately become members of the Nazi Party under Hitler. Dana Mills brings Rosa Luxemburg to life, exploring her revolutionary thinking and writing, all while helping the reader get to know Red Rosa, who always took brisk walks, loved reading Goethe’s Faust, regularly corresponded with V.I. Lenin, and continually worked towards an open and just future.
    Lilly J. Goren is professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012), as well as co-editor of Mad Men and Politics: Nostalgia and the Remaking of Modern America (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015). Email her comments at lgoren@carrollu.edu or tweet to @gorenlj.
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    • 51 min
    David Wills, "Prosthesis" (U Minnesota Press, 2021)

    David Wills, "Prosthesis" (U Minnesota Press, 2021)

    In this episode, I interview David Wills, professor of French Studies at Brown University, about his book, Prosthesis, recently republished for its 25th anniversary by University of Minnesota Press. A landmark work in posthuman thought that analyzes and explores the human body as a technology, the book promotes the idea that the human body is open to supplementation by artificial addenda that operate both internally or externally and engage it in an unceasing arbitration with the environment. Questioning the opposition between animate and inanimate along with the logic of the automatic prioritization of living flesh, Prosthesis undertakes these assumptions by studying thematics of artificiality through the writings of Freud, Derrida, William Gibson, Peter Greenaway, and others.
    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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    • 1 hr 9 min
    Morten T. Korsgaard, "Bearing with Strangers: Arendt, Education and the Politics of Inclusion" (Routledge, 2018)

    Morten T. Korsgaard, "Bearing with Strangers: Arendt, Education and the Politics of Inclusion" (Routledge, 2018)

    Bearing with Strangers: Arendt, Education and the Politics of Inclusion (Routledge, 2018) looks at inclusion in education in a new way. By introducing the notion of the instrumental fallacy, it shows how this is not only an inherent feature of inclusive education policies, but also omnipresent in modern educational policy. It engages with schooling through an Arendtian framework, namely as a practice with the aim of mediating between generations. It outlines a didactic and pedagogical theory that presents inclusion not as an aim for education, but as a constitutive feature of the activity of schooling. Drawing on the work of Hannah Arendt, the book offers a novel and critical perspective on inclusive education, as well as a contribution to a growing literature re-engaging didactic and pedagogical conceptions of teaching and the role of the teacher. Schooling is understood as a process of opening the world to the young and of opening the world to the renewal that the new generations offer. The activity of schooling offers the possibility of becoming attentive towards what is common while learning to bear with that which is strange and those who are strangers. The book points to valuable metaphors and ideas - referred to in the book as 'pearls' - that speak to the heart of what schooling and teaching concerns, such as exemplarity, judgement, and enlarged thought.
    Kai Wortman is a PhD candidate at the Institute of Education, University of Tübingen, interested in philosophy of education.
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    • 1 hr 4 min
    Frank Ruda, "Abolishing Freedom: A Plea for a Contemporary Use of Fatalism" (U Nebraska Press, 2016)

    Frank Ruda, "Abolishing Freedom: A Plea for a Contemporary Use of Fatalism" (U Nebraska Press, 2016)

    Frank Ruda's book Abolishing Freedom. A Plea for a Contemporary Use of Fatalism (University of Nebraska Press 2016) presents a compelling reading of authors diverse as Martin Luther, Descartes, Kant, Hegel, and Freud. They grapple with the limits of human freedom, and obviously so. Because we understand freedom - at least since Aristotle - as a capacity or a capability to choose freely between different options. Expressed with a formulation of Harry Frankfurt: "An action is free only if the agent could have done otherwise." However, Ruda - who is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Dundee - shows that this intuitive and classical formulation of freedom of choice is deceptive. It suggests that we can choose the amount of freedom we want to live up to in the same way in which we can choose between tea or coffee. But this is a trivialization of freedom. We do not get up in the morning determined to be more free this week than last week. And one reason for this is that freedom is not at our disposal. As such it touches upon questions of fate and predestination. Philosophers from Luther to Hegel and from Descartes to Freud know this. They conceptualize through the concept of freedom a point of negativity, or – metaphorically speaking – a ground zero of human agency and autonomy. This is why topics such as fatalism, predestination, morality or divine providence, to name just a few, guide the argument of the book: to abolish freedom for the sake of freedom.
    The Interview is conducted by Dominik Finkelde SJ, Professor of Philosophy at the Munich School of Philosophy and Sophie Adloff, student of philosophy.
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    • 1 hr 18 min

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5
68 Ratings

68 Ratings

flbart82 ,

Sound is so bad

I feel conflicted because these interviews are great, but it sounds like they were recorded in the bottom of a metal bucket.

MathySaxWailer ,

“Brought to you by Goldman Sachs”

Did I hear this incorrectly, or is GS actually sponsoring this podcast? That’s like if the Israeli State began sponsoring a Hamas podcast.

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Re: Michael Rechtenwald

This review is specifically in reference to the episode featuring Michael Rechtenwald and his book “Beyond Woke,” which I found to be a deeply frustrating and unhelpful discussion of an otherwise important topic. Both the guest and - perhaps more egregiously - the interviewer show little awareness of, and engagement with, the actual intellectual and theoretical foundations of what they derisively refer to as “identity politics.” That those who have been creating this easily accessible and voluminous body of work are largely BIPOC thinkers is no accident. Their ignorance of these thinkers shifts their outrage into the register of self-righteousness and reveals the white victimhood that forms the true kernel of the guest’s project. What a bummer.

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