Video / Audio

New Books in the Society of Fellows: Murad Idris, Jordanna Bailkin and Ilana Feldman

You can't copyright facts, but is news a category unto itself? Without legal protection for the "ownership" of news, what incentive does a news organization have to invest in producing quality journalism that serves the public good? This book explores the intertwined histories of journalism and copyright law in the United States and Great Britain, revealing how shifts in technology, government policy, and publishing strategy have shaped the media landscape.

Dramatic art arose as a means of reckoning with war. The earliest known Greek plays were written by military veterans and performed by a chorus of young conscripts, dramatizing episodes from the Trojan War, before an Athenian audience whose lives were directly touched by military conflict. The 21st-century has seen a profusion of plays grappling with war on North American stages, written and performed under very different conditions. This roundtable event brings together a panel of playwrights whose innovative work has stimulated the expanding corpus of “war plays” -- Judith Thompson (Palace of the End), George Brant (Grounded), and Stephan Wolfert (Cry Havoc). They will reflect on the enduring power of live dramatic performance for thinking through contemporary culture's relationship to war, and consider what new forms and strategies are needed to face war's new realities.

The Oxford History of Life-Writing: Volume 2. Early Modern explores life-writing in England between 1500 and 1700, and argues that this was a period which saw remarkable innovations in biography, autobiography, and diary-keeping that laid the foundations for our modern life-writing. 

We are living in a time of deep divisions. Americans are sorting themselves along racial, religious, and cultural lines, leading to a level of polarization that the country hasn’t seen since the Civil War. Pundits and politicians are calling for us to come together, to find common purpose. But how, exactly, can this be done?   In Palaces for the People, Eric Klinenberg suggests a way forward. He believes that the future of democratic societies rests not simply on shared values but on shared spaces: the libraries, childcare centers, bookstores, churches, synagogues, and parks where crucial, sometimes life-saving connections, are formed. These are places where people gather and linger, making friends across group lines and strengthening the entire community. Klinenberg calls this the “social infrastructure”: When it is strong, neighborhoods flourish; when it is neglected, as it has been in recent years, families and individuals must fend for themselves.

In Mandarin Brazil, Ana Paulina Lee explores the centrality of Chinese exclusion to the Brazilian nation-building project, tracing the role of cultural representation in producing racialized national categories. Lee considers depictions of Chineseness in Brazilian popular music, literature, and visual culture, as well as archival documents and Brazilian and Qing dynasty diplomatic correspondence about opening trade and immigration routes between Brazil and China. In so doing, she reveals how Asian racialization helped to shape Brazil's image as a racial democracy.

A special edition of our series, hear the full event featuring Cory Doctorow from September 2018. Cory Doctorow and Dennis Tenen, Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature, have a conversation about science fiction, the changing material conditions of contemporary authorship, copyright, and surveillance.

What does it mean to be a Muslim philosopher, or to philosophize in Islam? In Open to Reason, Souleymane Bachir Diagne traces Muslims’ intellectual and spiritual history of examining and questioning beliefs and arguments to show how Islamic philosophy has always engaged critically with texts and ideas both inside and outside its tradition. Through a rich reading of classical and modern Muslim philosophers, Diagne explains the long history of philosophy in the Islamic world and its relevance to crucial issues of our own time.