Video / Audio  Arab

Essays are central to students’ and teachers’ development as thinkers in their fields. In Crafting Presence, Nicole B. Wallack develops an approach to teaching writing with the literary essay that holds promise for writing students, as well as for achieving a sense of common purpose currently lacking among professionals in composition, creative writing, and literature. Wallack analyzes examples drawn primarily from volumes of The Best American Essays to illuminate the most important quality of the essay as a literary form: the writer’s “presence.” She demonstrates how accounting for presence provides a flexible and rigorous heuristic for reading the contexts, formal elements, and purposes of essays. Such readings can help students learn writing principles, practices, and skills for crafting myriad presences rather than a single voice.

Video: Frankenstein at 200

October 26, 2018

2018 marks the two-hundredth anniversary of Mary Shelley’s classic novel Frankenstein – a book about birth, death, fragmentation, monstrosity, and knowledge that continues to haunt contemporary thought and culture. In the two centuries since its publication, readers have variously interpreted Frankenstein as a cautionary tale of scientific hubris, an allegory of motherhood, a political commentary, and a gothic horror. Meanwhile, the loquacious monster at the heart of the novel has left the book to become a figure of inarticulacy and terror in the popular imagination. Recent scholarship on Frankenstein juggles between these polarities, while also considering manuscript evidence of a collaborative writing process shared by Mary Shelley and her poet husband Percy.

Since Edward Said’s foundational work, Orientalism has been singled out for critique as the quintessential example of Western intellectuals’ collaboration with oppression. Controversies over the imbrications of knowledge and power and the complicity of Orientalism in the larger project of colonialism have been waged among generations of scholars. But has Orientalism come to stand in for all of the sins of European modernity, at the cost of neglecting the complicity of the rest of the academic disciplines?

The first volume to offer an integral theory of love poetry that explores why poetry is consistently associated with romantic love.

In AD 60/61, Rome almost lost the province of Britain to a woman. Boudica, wife of the client king Prasutagus, fomented a rebellion that proved catastrophic for Camulodunum (Colchester), Londinium (London), and Verulamium (St Albans), destroyed part of a Roman legion, and caused the deaths of an untold number of veterans, families, soldiers, and Britons. Yet with one decisive defeat, her vision of freedom was destroyed, and the Iceni never rose again. Boudica: Warrior Woman of Roman Britain introduces readers to the life and literary importance of Boudica through juxtaposing her different literary characterizations with those of other women and rebel leaders. 

Living in the shadow of death may enhance the gift of life.

In current debates about Brexit, right wing populism, the crisis of democracy and the future of Europe Switzerland does not feature much, although it provides an intriguing case from a variety of angles. It is praised for its direct democracy and hailed as a model for Europe, yet it also receives sustained criticism as an opportunistic and self-serving tax haven for dictators and drug barons. It has one of the biggest and loudest right-wing populist parties in Europe, yet it integrates it fairly successfully into its system of consensus politics. One of its intriguing, yet under-discussed contradictions is that while it is arguably among the most untraumatized countries in history, it very effectively mobilizes the rhetoric of cultural trauma for its isolationist and xenophobic policies and for its wider identity narratives.  

Celebrating Recent Work by Maggie Cao, Dalia Judovitz, and William Sharpe, 13 September 2018