Author: Anna Fletcher

W. G. Sebald and the Global Valences of the Critical

The newest issue of boundary 2, “W. G. Sebald and the Global Valences of the Critical,” edited by Sina Rahmani, is now available.

Since his death nearly two decades ago, W. G. Sebald’s literary star among academics and critics has risen to astounding heights. In this special issue, contributors assert that Sebald’s transformation from controversial yet obscure Germanist to seemingly permanent fixture of scholarly monographs, articles, reviews, syllabi, and conference proceedings offers an instructive glimpse behind the velvet rope of global literary eminence.

His meteoric rise, they argue, shines a light on the hegemonic role the Anglophone literary market plays in the processes that authors and their texts undergo when they migrate from a national literary market to a planetary readership.

Read the free introduction, as well as Uwe Schütte’s “Troubling Signs: Sebald, Ambivalence, and the Function of the Critic,” available free through the end of October.

50 Years of Theater: A Retrospective

Congratulations to Theater for reaching its fiftieth anniversary! The journal’s new issue, “50 Years of Theater: A Retrospective,” celebrates this milestone by reflecting on some of the journal’s editorial accomplishments. The full issue is freely available for three months. Start reading here.

With reflections from Tom Sellar, the current editor, and Gordon Rogoff, a founding editor, this anniversary edition honors Theater’s tradition of speculation on change and an altered society. It includes a section of excerpts from the journal’s archives in which contributors offer a vision for the future. A photo dossier considers the art of photographing live performance and theater productions, and a forum of reflections from past editors considers how the journal simultaneously served as a training organ for the emerging editors and writers who compose the editorial staff.

Rethinking Cosmopolitanism: Africa in Europe | Europe in Africa

In “Rethinking Cosmopolitanism: Africa in Europe | Europe in Africa,” a new issue of Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art, contributors reconfigure concepts of art, culture, and politics through the lens of cosmopolitanism.

Cover of "Rethinking Cosmopolitanism: Africa in Europe | Europe in Africa"

Focusing on the historical and cultural entanglement of Africa and Europe at the intersection of decolonization and modernity, the authors emphasize the potential of cosmopolitanism to shape possibilities for coexistence and living with difference among all people. Visual and textual essays address the causes and consequences of migration between Africa and Europe; the classification of artistic practices whose roots are not confined to any particular nation; and mid-twentieth-century debates on decolonization, modernity/modernism, and identity through a cosmopolitan viewpoint.

The issue’s introduction by editor Salah M. Hassan is free to read online. Fatima El-Tayeb’s article, “The Universal Museum: How the New Germany Built its Future on Colonial Amnesia,” which addresses the long-term impact of colonialism on Europe’s internal structures and on its self-positioning in a global context, is free for three months.

Learn more about Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art or purchase “Rethinking Cosmopolitanism: Africa in Europe | Europe in Africa” here.

Indigenous Narratives of Territory and Creation: Hemispheric Perspectives

The newest issue of English Language Notes, “Indigenous Narratives of Territory and Creation: Hemispheric Perspectives,” edited by Leila Gómez, is now available.

Indigenous activism in the Americas has long focused on the symbolic reclamation of land. Drawing on interdisciplinary perspectives, contributors to this issue explore narratives of territory and origin that provide a foundation for this political practice. They study Indigenous-language stories from displaced communities, analyzing the meaning and power of these narratives in the context of diaspora and the struggle for land.

Essays address topics including territorial struggle and environmentalism, Indigenous resistance to neoliberal policies of land dispossession, and alliances between academic and Indigenous knowledges and activisms.

Browse the table of contents and read the introduction, freely available.

The Politics of the Opioid Epidemic

The Politics of the Opioid Epidemic,” the newest issue of the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, edited by Susan L. Moffitt and Eric M. Patashnik, is freely available for three months. Read the full issue here.

In this special issue, leading political scientists from diverse theoretical traditions provide new insights into the enduring features of American policy and practice that have influenced state-level and national responses to the ongoing opioid crisis.

Key among these features is the persistent power of race in shaping public opinion of the opioid crisis, influencing the development of punitive and treatment-oriented legislation, and impacting media portrayal of opioids and the communities they affect.

Other factors include the development of the conservative welfare state and the challenges of delivering information and services to affected communities through existing, dysfunctional systems.

(en)gendering: Chinese Women’s Art in the Making

“(en)gendering: Chinese Women’s Art in the Making,” the latest issue of positions: asia critique, edited by Shuqin Cui, is available now.

"(en)gendering: Chinese Women’s Art in the Making" cover

While contemporary Chinese art has arrived as a critical subject in art history and found market success, current art criticism has yet to fully engage with art made by Chinese women, especially from the perspective of gender politics. In this special issue, contributors consider how the work of contemporary women artists has generated new approaches to and perspectives on the Chinese art canon.

The issue begins by laying a historical framework for the potentials and problems regarding the interpretation of Chinese women’s art, tracing its evolution throughout a century of Chinese history. Next, the issue addresses the spatial notion of boundary crossing, addressing how travel across national and theoretical boundaries affects the perception of artworks, and explores the misgivings of Chinese women artists about participating in a global exhibition system in which their artwork stands for “China” and “Women.” The issue concludes by looking at the idea of (en)gendering as a revision of women’s art prompting artists and the viewers of women’s artworks to challenge the conventional gaze that has dominated our ways of seeing.

Browse the issue’s contents and read the introduction, freely available.

On Ideological Transparency

Congratulations to Pedagogy for reaching its twentieth anniversary! The journal’s new issue, “On Ideological Transparency,” celebrates this milestone by exploring the neutrality/advocate dichotomy in classroom discourse.

The editors look back on a 2017 call for papers for a special issue which, they had hoped, would explore how teachers’ ideological commitments and the extents to which they make these transparent in the classroom have changed, shifted, or stayed the same throughout the years.

“We envisioned an eclectic special issue populated by different perspectives on the topic—not with the intent of categorization but to show the variegated nature of our community’s ideological commitments (which, from our perspective, at times can get rather hegemonic in nature),” the editors write in their introduction.

What they experienced instead, they write, was “unique, often emotionally charged perspectives into the challenges of teaching in our sociopolitical moment, largely written to audiences who were assumed not to be in need of persuasion.”

This twentieth-anniversary issue presents the articles they had received, sequenced to respond to one another and invite readers to encounter an idea and then perhaps experience destabilization.

Read a note from the founding co-editors and the introduction, freely available.

Black British Art Histories

Black British Art Histories,” the latest issue of Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art, edited by Salah M. Hassan and Chika Okeke-Agulu, is available now.

Until the early 1990s, curating or writing black British art histories was centered mainly on correcting or addressing the systemic absences of such artists from the canons of British art and modern and contemporary art. However, increased art world attention to individual black British practitioners and scholarship has led to the emergence of expansive, deeply nuanced art histories that do much more than attend to or counter the withering and brutalizing omission of black British artists in both the art scene and art history chronicles.

Contributors to this special issue reflect on and expand this work, offering articles that embody perceptive, probing, and illuminating considerations of a range of artists whose practices are fascinating, complex, and of great art historical importance.

Check out the table of contents and read the introduction, as well as a tribute to the late Olabisi Obafunke Silva, a Nigerian contemporary art curator, both made freely available.

An Interview with Milette Shamir and Irene Tucker, editors of Poetics Today

We sat down with Milette Shamir and Irene Tucker, the new editors of Poetics Today, which aims to develop systematic approaches to the study of literature. Shamir is based at Tel Aviv University in the department of English and American Studies, and Tucker is based at the University of California, Irvine, in the English department.

DUP: You both are new coeditors, beginning your terms in July. What are your professional backgrounds, and how did you come to be involved with Poetics Today?

Milette: That’s an interesting question, because my background is actually in American studies, a field not usually associated with the kind of scholarship that Poetics Today promotes. So I come to the journal as something of an outsider.

But as a former student and twenty-year faculty member at Tel Aviv University’s School of Cultural Studies, where Poetics Today was born and is housed today (at the Porter Institute for Poetics and Semiotics), editing the journal does not feel all that strange to me. Poetics Today has a long and rich tradition at Tel Aviv University. It was started at the university in the ’70s by the late professor Benjamin Harshav, and to this day it has links to the kind of literary scholarship that flourished in Tel Aviv at that time and that, at its peak, had worldwide impact, especially in the fields of poetics, narratology, and literary theory. For many years, the journal’s editor was TAU professor Meir Sternberg. For me, taking on this journal and continuing the work of generations of scholars at Tel Aviv University is a great honor, and I am committed to the journal’s legacy even if it lies a bit outside of my own intellectual comfort zone. 

Irene: I’m more of a formalist than Milette, but not in a particularly narratological way—I’m interested in thinking about the ways that this long tradition of looking at narrative form can interact with some of the new and interesting historicist and multimedia questions that have emerged recently.

I also have a long, if not entirely continuous, association with Tel Aviv University. When I was in graduate school, I had a chapter on the early Hebrew novel that I did research on at the Porter Institute. I’ve gone back to Tel Aviv University for a number of sabbaticals and for a third book project that I’m working on now, on the subject of ambivalence about state sovereignty in modern Jewish and Israeli political thought and in contemporary Israeli literature. So, like Milette, I feel a sense of institutional investment in Poetics Today’s tradition and curiosity about new directions that it could take. Also, we work well together, so it seemed like a fun thing to do.

DUP: What is your vision for Poetics Today, and how do you hope to shape the journal for the future?

Milette: Poetics Today was from the beginning an international journal in the full sense of the word—many of its contributors and its readers are based in different countries around the world—not just in North America and the UK, but also in all parts of Europe, South America, and Asia. Its global reach is really impressive, especially given the dominance of North American scholarship in most literary journals. In recent years, several voices in our profession have been making the point that the growth of interest in “world literature” should be accompanied by increasing attentiveness to literary criticism outside of the US and to the way non-US-based scholars think about literary analysis and theory from a diversity of perspectives. 

Since Poetics Today has for decades now been bringing together scholars from different countries, it provides a natural environment for conversations between these globally diverse approaches. This is something that I’m really interested in encouraging.

DUP: Are there places in the world that you’re particularly interested in?

Irene: I think that we’d like to reach out in a lot of different directions. Scholars from Latin America seems a group with which we’d like to be in more regular and sustained conversation. So far in terms of submissions, we’ve gotten lots of interesting stuff from various places in the Middle East, various kinds of scholars in different parts of Africa. We’re not built around a certain national point of interest since national literature is not our structuring principle. We actually can turn and pivot among different kinds of audiences.

One of the things that I’ve noticed is that while there has recently emerged a critical movement that calls itself “the New Formalism,” in some, though certainly not all, versions of this self-designated practice, the thing that is “new” about it is its nostalgia for an earlier professional and intellectual moment. This impulse seems to me connected to the recent proliferation of work in various sub-disciplines on “the state of the field,” which seems similarly animated by a certain melancholy. It is almost as if in this moment of crisis in the humanities—which we can’t legitimately call a “moment” any more—people are uncertain whether the work they—we—are doing matters in any lasting way and so are responding by looking back to a time when literary studies was generally acknowledged to command respect. 

Part of what I’m interested in thinking about that we could do with Poetics Today are the ways in which, rather than opting for this kind of melancholic retrospection, we might think of new ways of linking subfields that have been understood to be isolated from one another, if not in active tension. So, for example, we might think about the relations of narrative form and the various sorts of scholarly modes associated with archives. Or we might explore the narrative effects of the proliferation of different modes of delivery—audiobooks and streaming, just to take some fairly obvious examples. How have the changes in the economics of television changed the narrative forms stories take? Scholarship about narrative form has lots to illuminate and to learn from those sorts of cultural studies scholars studying the shifting economics of television.

DUP: Are there any special issues coming up that you’re looking forward to?

Milette: There are several exciting issues in preparation or under consideration. We are currently working on a special issue that brings together comparative literature and cognitive approaches to literary studies, edited by Lisa Zunshine. Another one in the works offers a critical extension of postsecular thinking into aesthetic discourses, cultural criticism, and arts practices. It is edited by Silke Horstkotte of Universität Leipzig and James Hodkinson of the University of Warwick.

Irene: We’re publishing a special issue on logic and narrative in which contributors are thinking about how questions of mathematical form are connected to questions of literary form. This issue came out of a conference on the topic that seemed very promising, so we invited the organizers, Jeffrey Blevins and Daniel Williams, to create a special issue.

Milette: To return to the international reach of Poetics Today, we’re currently considering a special issue that will come out simultaneously with a special issue in the French journal Cahiers de Narratologie, centering around the influential philosopher and theorist Paul Ricoeur. The two journals will publish different but complementary articles, each in its own language.

DUP: What are you looking for right now in submissions?

Milette: The scope of Poetics Today is very broad. As long as a submission falls within the general topics of the journal and is a smart, innovative article that is also self-conscious of being part of an ongoing conversation in its area, we will consider it. We are less inclined to accept articles that offer readings of texts without thinking about the larger theoretical or critical implications of those readings.

Irene: Yeah, I guess my basic principle is: does this piece of writing make me think new things that suggest moving in different ways? Does it make me say, Huh, that’s kind of cool, as opposed to a kind of retreading of a given set of questions? Because we do get lots of articles that are beautifully written but seem very positioned within what we would call normal science. I’m more inclined to consider something that feels a little rough but is moving in a lot of interesting directions, and to see whether we can shepherd it through, as opposed to going with something that feels it’s happy within the terms of an existing discourse.

DUP: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

Milette:  I think this is a good opportunity to thank our predecessor, Brian McHale. Brian’s work over the past five years was outstanding, and it is thanks to him that we are able to transition into the role of editors with full confidence in the journal and its strengths.

The Most Read Articles of 2019

As 2019 comes to a close, we’re reflecting on the most read articles across all our journals. Check out the top 10 articles that made the list, all freely available until the end of January.

Instafame: Luxury Selfies in the Attention Economy” by Alice E. Marwick
Public Culture volume 27, issue 1 (75)

Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene: Making Kin” by Donna Haraway
Environmental Humanities volume 6, issue 1

Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens: The Radical Potential of Queer Politics?” by Cathy J. Cohen
GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies volume 3, issue 4

After Trans Studies” by Andrea Long Chu and Emmett Harsin Drager
TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly volume 6, issue 1

Necropolitics” by Achille Mbembe
Public Culture volume 15, issue 1

Markup Bodies: Black [Life] Studies and Slavery [Death] Studies at the Digital Crossroads” by Jessica Marie Johnson
Social Text volume 36, issue 4 (137)

Twin-Spirited Woman: Sts’iyóye smestíyexw slhá:li” by Saylesh Wesley
TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly volume 1, issue 3

Gender and Nation Building in Qatar: Qatari Women Negotiate Modernity” by Alainna Liloia
Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies volume 15, issue 3

All Power to All People?: Black LGBTTI2QQ Activism, Remembrance, and Archiving in Toronto” by Syrus Marcus Ware
TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly volume 4, issue 2

Unruly Edges: Mushrooms as Companion Species: For Donna Haraway” by Anna Tsing
Environmental Humanities volume 1, issue 1