Video / Audio  Phi

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

In the last decade, public discussions of transgender issues have increased exponentially. However, with this increased visibility has come not just power, but regulation, both in favor of and against trans people. What was once regarded as an unusual or even unfortunate disorder has become an accepted articulation of gendered embodiment as well as a new site for political activism and political recognition. What happened in the last few decades to prompt such an extensive rethinking of our understanding of gendered embodiment? How did a stigmatized identity become so central to U.S. and European articulations of self? And how have people responded to the new definitions and understanding of sex and the gendered body? In Trans*, Jack Halberstam explores these recent shifts in the meaning of the gendered body and representation, and explores the possibilities of a nongendered, gender-optional, or gender-queer future.