Video / Audio  Literature

Why is national integration achieved in some diverse countries, while others are destabilized by political inequality between ethnic groups, contentious politics, or even separatism and ethnic war? Traversing centuries and continents from early nineteenth-century Europe and Asia to Africa from the turn of the twenty-first century to today, Andreas Wimmer delves into the forces that encourage political alliances to stretch across ethnic divides and build national unity. Using global datasets and three pairs of case studies (Switzerland and Belgium, Botswana and Somalia, and China and Russia), Wimmer’s theory of nation building focuses on slow-moving, generational processes: the spread of civil society organizations, linguistic assimilation, and the states’ capacity to provide public goods. Offering a long-term historical perspective and global outlook, Nation Building sheds important new light on the challenges of political integration in diverse countries.

This book challenges the ways we read, write, store, and retrieve information in the digital age. Computers—from electronic books to smart phones—play an active role in our social lives. Our technological choices thus entail theoretical and political commitments. Dennis Tenen takes up today's strange enmeshing of humans, texts, and machines to argue that our most ingrained intuitions about texts are profoundly alienated from the physical contexts of their intellectual production. Drawing on a range of primary sources from both literary theory and software engineering, he makes a case for a more transparent practice of human–computer interaction. Plain Text is thus a rallying call, a frame of mind as much as a file format. It reminds us, ultimately, that our devices also encode specific modes of governance and control that must remain available to interpretation. Dennis Tenen is Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, where he is a Co-Founder of Columbia's Group for Experimental Research Methods in the Humanities.

Whether you're new to Austen's work or know it backwards and forwards already, this book provides a clear, full and highly engaging account of how Austen's fiction works and why it matters. Exploring new pathways into the study of Jane Austen's writing, novelist and academic Jenny Davidson looks at Austen's work through a writer's lens, addressing formal questions about narration, novel writing, and fictional composition as well as themes including social and women's history, morals and manners. Introducing new readers to the breadth and depth of Jane Austen's writing, and offering new insights to those more familiar with Austen's work, Jenny Davidson celebrates the art and skill of one of the most popular and influential writers in the history of English literature.

From iPhones and clothing to jewelry and food, the products those of us in the developed world consume and enjoy exist only through the labor and suffering of countless others. In his new book, Bruce Robbins examines the implications of this dynamic for humanitarianism and social justice. He locates the figure of the "beneficiary" in the history of humanitarian thought, which asks the prosperous to help the poor without requiring them to recognize their causal role in the creation of the abhorrent conditions they seek to remedy. Tracing how the beneficiary has manifested itself in the work of George Orwell, Virginia Woolf, Jamaica Kincaid, Naomi Klein, and others, Robbins uncovers a hidden tradition of economic cosmopolitanism. There are no easy answers to the question of how to confront systematic inequality on a global scale. But the first step, Robbins suggests, is to acknowledge that we are, in fact, beneficiaries. Bruce Robbins is Old Dominion Foundation Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University and the author and editor of several books, including perpetual War: Cosmopolitanism from the Viewpoint of Violence, also published by Duke University Press, and Upward Mobility and the Common Good: Toward a Literary History of the Welfare State. Robbins has written for The Nation, n+1, and other publications.

In The Mediterranean Incarnate, anthropologist Naor Ben-Yehoyada takes us aboard the Naumachos for a thirty-seven-day voyage in the fishing grounds between Sicily and Tunisia. He also takes us on a historical exploration of the past eighty years to show how the Mediterranean has reemerged as a modern transnational region. From Sicilian poaching in North African territory to the construction of the TransMediterranean gas pipeline, Ben-Yehoyada examines the transformation of political action, imaginaries, and relations in the central Mediterranean while detailing the remarkable bonds that have formed between the Sicilians and Tunisians who live on its waters. The book centers on the town of Mazara del Vallo, located on the southwestern tip of Sicily some ninety nautical miles northeast of the African shore. Ben-Yehoyada intertwines the town’s recent turbulent history—which has been fraught with conflicts over fishing rights, development projects, and how the Mediterranean should figure in Italian politics at large—with deep accounts of life aboard the Naumacho, linking ethnography with historical anthropology and political-economic analysis. Through this sophisticated approach, he crafts a new viewpoint on the historical processes of transnational region formation, one offered by these moving ships as they weave together new social and political constellations.

Join Fintan O’Toole as he explores Shaw’s ambivalent relationship with Ireland and Irish nationalism. “George Bernard Shaw described Irish nationalist fervour in 1913 as ‘a burning fire shut up in the bones, a pain, a protest against shame and defeat, a morbid condition which a healthy man must shake off if he is to keep sane’. The only cure was national independence. Shaw always remained a paradoxical nationalist, arguing simultaneously that Irish freedom would do no good in itself and that it must be gained in order for the Irish to be able to think about other things.” Extracted from his new book Judging Shaw, Fintan O’Toole is a columnist and literary editor with The Irish Times and Leonard L. Milberg lecturer in Irish Letters at Princeton University. He has written books on Irish history, politics, society and culture. He has been awarded the European Press Prize 2017 and the Orwell Prize for Journalism 2017.

Shaw, Our Contemporary? George Bernard Shaw was the most famous Irishman in the world for much of his life – yet, for many, the prodigious nature and quality of his output is forgotten. As well as being a prolific writer and polymath, he was one of the first global celebrities who carefully created and managed his brand. With his passionate interest in social justice and poverty, in human rights, in public discourse and in entertainment, he was a man with much to say to our times. Join us for a panel discussion where academics, archivists, publishers, theatre makers debate the relevance of Shaw today on stage, in the classroom and in print. Speakers: Catriona Crowe, Ruth Hegarty, Barry Houlihan, Lucy McDiarmid, Adrian Paterson, and Keri Walsh.