Cultural Studies

Courtney Berger on the Canceled SCMS Conference

spring50_saleapril20_blog-1-1

Our editors look forward to meeting their authors at conferences every year and are sad to be missing out on that this spring. The annual meeting of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies would have taken place April 1-5 in Denver this year. We know that many of you look forward to stocking up on new books at special discounts at our conferences, so we are pleased to extend a 50% discount on all in-stock books and journal issues through May 1. In addition, if you spend $100 or more, we are offering free shipping to U.S. addresses. Journal subscriptions and society memberships don’t qualify for the 50% discount, but they do count toward the $100 threshold.

CBerger_webInstead of greeting Executive Editor Courtney Berger in person this year, check out her recommendations for new titles in the discipline and a great round up of other ways to learn about all the new scholarship that was to be presented at the conference.

Hello, SCMSers. I’m sorry that I won’t see you all in person this year. In the past couple of months, we have published an amazing range of new books in film & media studies. I was looking forward to showing them off at the conference.  I hope you’ll go to our website to see the new and forthcoming titles and take advantage of the 50% off sale. (I know, I know. It’s not the same as being able to browse books at the exhibit hall, but it’s the best we’ve got right now.) You can learn Her Storiesabout the centrality of the soap opera to the history of American tv production in Elana Levine’s Her Stories, experience the film culture of mid-20th century Paris with Eric Smoodin in Paris in the Dark, or find out about the environmental publics that emerge in India around radiant technologies like cell-phone towers in Rahul Mukherjee’s Radiant Infrastructures.

There were some exciting panels this year that I was hoping to attend that highlight some emerging areas on Duke’s media studies list. Several panels on environment and media feature work related to the new Elements series, edited by Nicole Starosielski and Stacy Alaimo. Some of these panels will be happening in virtual form during the week, so check them out if Wild Blue Mediayou can. Melody Jue’s Wild Blue Media is the latest book in the series. Jue submerges key concepts of media—such as storage and transmission—under water, asking us to reconsider conventional notions of media environment. It’s a must read for folks in media studies, in my opinion.

Also, here’s a heads up about an upcoming book series on gaming and game culture called “Power Play” that will be edited by Jen Malkowski and TreaAndrea Russworm. It’s brand new, so no books yet; but keep your eyes open for new books in this area. And if you are into queer gaming culture, check out Bonnie Ruberg’s volume The Queer Games Avant-Garde, which features interviews with 22 queer video game developers and designers.

Finally, I want to give a shout out to Eliza Steinbock, whose book Shimmering Images won this year’s SCMS Best First Book Award. Congratulations, Eliza!

Take care, everyone, and I look forward to seeing you next year.

COB_100_pr

If you were hoping to connect with Courtney or another of our editors about your book project at SCMS, please reach out to them by email. See our editors’ specialties and contact information here and our new online submissions guidelines here.

We’re also excited to welcome liquid blackness: journal of aesthetics and black studies to our publishing program next spring. And don’t forget to check out our great new journal issues in film and media studies, including “On Chantal Akerman” from Camera Obscura, “Contemporary German and Austrian Cinema” from New German Critique, “Scenes of Suffering” from Theater, and “Multimodal Media” from Poetics Today.

Once again, we’re sorry to miss you in person but hope the 50% discount with free U.S. shipping on orders over $100 will make it possible for you to pick up some new books and journal issues. Use coupon SPRING50 at checkout and see the fine print on the sale here.

New Books in April

spring50_saleapril20_blog-1-1

Curling up on the couch with a great book is an excellent way to practice social distancing this month. All these titles will deliver before our sale ends on May 1, so check our website regularly. You can save 50% on all in-stock titles with coupon SPRING50

Tyler Bickford traces the dramatic rise of the “tween” pop music industry in Tween Pop, showing how it marshaled childishness as a key element in legitimizing children’s participation in public culture.

The contributors to Playing for Keeps examine the ways in which musical improvisation can serve as a way to negotiate violence, trauma, systemic inequality, and the aftermaths of war and colonialism. This volume is edited by Daniel Fischlin and Eric Porter.

John F. Szwed’s Space is the Place is the definitive biography of Sun Ra—composer, keyboardist, bandleader, philosopher, entrepreneur, poet, self-proclaimed extraterrestrial from Saturn, and a founder of Afrofuturism. We are pleased to be bringing this classic back into print with a new preface.

In Vital Decomposition, Kristina M. Lyons presents an ethnography of human-soil relations in which she follows state soil scientists and peasant farmers in Colombia’s Putumayo region, showing how their relationship with soil is key to caring for the forest and growing non-illicit crops in the face of violence, militarism, and environmental destruction.

Micha Rahder explores how multiple ways of knowing the forest of Guatemala’s Maya Biosphere Reserve shape conservation practice, local livelihoods, and landscapes in An Ecology of Knowledges.

In Relations, Marilyn Strathern provides a critical account of anthropology’s key concept of relation and its usage and significance in the English-speaking world, showing how its evolving use over the last three centuries reflects changing thinking about knowledge-making and kin-making.

In Virtual Pedophilia, Gillian Harkins traces the genealogy of the transformation of cultural construction of the pedophile as a social outcast into the image of normative white masculinity from the 1980s to the present, showing how his “normalcy” makes him hard to identify and stop.

In A People’s History of Detroit, Mark Jay and Philip Conklin use a Marxist framework to tell a sweeping story of Detroit from 1913 to the present, outlining the complex socio-political dynamics underlying major events in Detroit’s past, from the rise of Fordism and the formation of labor unions to deindustrialization and the city’s recent bankruptcy.

In Revolution and Disenchantment, Fadi A. Bardawil explores the hopes for and disenchantments with Marxism-Leninism in the writings and actions of revolutionary intellectuals within the 1960s Arab New Left.

In Tehrangeles Dreaming, Farzaneh Hemmasi draws on ethnographic fieldwork in Los Angeles and musical and textual analysis to examine how the pop music, music videos, and television made by Iranian expatriates express modes of Iranianness not possible in Iran.

The Lonely Letters is an epistolary blackqueer critique of the normative world in which Ashon T. Crawley meditates on the interrelation of blackqueer life, sounds of the black church, theology, mysticism, and the potential for platonic and erotic connection in a world that conspires against blackqueer life.

Drawing on Whitman and Adorno, Morton Schoolman proposes aesthetic education through film as a way to redress the political violence inflicted on difference society constructs as its racialized, gendered, Semitic, and sexualized other in A Democratic Enlightenment.

In Kwaito Bodies, Xavier Livermon examines the cultural politics of the youthful black body in South Africa through the performance, representation, and consumption of Kwaito—a style of electronic dance music that emerged following the end of apartheid.

Reflecting on the experience, philosophy, and practice of Latin American indigenous and Afro-descendant activist-intellectuals who mobilize to defend their territories from large-scale extraction, Arturo Escobar shows in Pluriversal Politics how the key to addressing planetary crises is the creation of the pluriverse—a world of many epistemological and ontological worlds.

The contributors to AIDS and the Distribution of Crises outline the myriad ways that the AIDS pandemic exists within a network of varied historical, overlapping, and ongoing crises borne of global capitalism and colonial, racialized, and gendered violence. This collection is edited by Jih-Fei Cheng, Alexandra Juhasz, and Nishant Shahani. It is currently available to read free online as part of our Navigating the Threat of Pandemic syllabus.

Never miss a new book! Sign up for our e-mail newsletters, and get notifications of new titles in your preferred disciplines as well as discounts and other news.

La Grippe à Paris: How Paris Responded to the 1918 Influenza Epidemic, A Guest Post by Eric Smoodin

Smoodin PhotoEric Smoodin is the author of Paris in the Dark: Going to the Movies in the City of Light, 1930–1950, just published this month. He is Professor of American Studies at the University of California, Davis, and author of Regarding Frank Capra: Audience, Celebrity, and American Film Studies, 1930–1960, and coeditor of Looking Past the Screen: Case Studies in American Film History and Method, both also published by Duke University Press. This guest post is reblogged from his own blog, The Paris Cinema Project.

On March 14th, 2020, the French government announced the closing of all restaurants, museums, theatres, and cinemas, a response to the novel coronavirus, possibly the worst global public health crisis since the flu epidemic of 1918-19. But as a comparison, what exactly was the government’s response just over 100 years ago to la grippe espagnole, which killed as many as a quarter of a million people in France? More to the point of my interests here, how did the flu affect the cinema in France, and especially in Paris?

Information can be difficult to come by, largely because the press in France covered the disease only very slowly, perhaps because the government insisted so as not to cause any alarm, or perhaps because journalists simply didn’t understand the severity of the outbreak. Françoise Bouron has provided the most exhaustive analysis of the general attitudes of the press at the time. While the flu seems to have come to France in April, 1918, most newspapers and journals at first avoided it altogether, then reported that France, unlike other European countries, seemed to have been spared, and then only began to cover the national outbreak in the late-summer and early-fall.

pm_speech2

Prime Minister Édouard Philippe announcing the closure of all non-essential public places in France, including cinemas, on March 14th, 2020

In any case, and far different from the response of 2020, the governmental actions in 1918-19 seem to have been regional rather than national, and might vary significantly from place to place, with Paris, apparently, always doing less rather than more. In mid-October, 1918, Le Figaro reported that 700 Parisians had died from the flu during the past week, an increase of 300 from the week before. The newspaper indicated that more hospital beds were coming to the city and that schools would be disinfected but would not close. Hinting at the dense Parisian bureaucracy that may have made any decisive action difficult, Le Figaro continued that, anyway, schools could only be closed in Paris by the local government, at the suggestion of the Seine Prefect and in consultation with the Hygiene Council.

That same report in Figaro, however, let readers know that Édouard Herriot, the mayor of Lyon, had acted more decisively. Herriot, of course, was the radical socialist who would later be in and out of office as Prime Minister during multiple revolving-door governments in France during the 1920’s and ‘30’s. In Lyon, Herriot insisted that all corpses be buried immediately, demanded the daily disinfection of post offices, banks, cafés, restaurants, and train stations, and completely closed all theatres and cinemas.

Other locations did the same thing. In Périgueux, in southwestern France, schools were closed and so too were all theatres and cinemas. The Communist newspaper L’Humanité reported on those closings, and added that the ongoing Parisian response involved, yet again, more hospital beds and, in addition, thirteen thousand gallons of rum to be distributed to the city’s pharmacies and sold as a partial cure for flu.

herriot

Édouard Herriot, who as the mayor of Lyon closed all the cinemas there during the epidemic

Assertions of official Parisian inactivity went across ideological lines. In late-October 1918, the far-rightwing newspaper L’Intransigeant wrote, “One thinks…of closing the cinemas, the theatres and even churches, as has been done in Switzerland and some French cities.” Then L’Intransigeant added that, “rather than facing anything that extreme, Parisians have been told to refrain from going anywhere they might be exposed to influenza.”

At least according to the press, aggressive actions by Herriot and others worked. In early-November, Le Journal reported that closing theatres—and it’s unclear whether this included cinemas—in Limoges, Dijon, Cherbourg, Orléans, and elsewhere had stopped the spread of flu. Le Temps wrote that “the efforts in Lyon had had their effect,” and theatres and cinemas would now reopen.

But Paris still did nothing comparable, and there was even some debate in the city about the usefulness of closures and the severity of the epidemic. On November 11th, 1918, the day that World War One ended, La Presse, a Parisian daily, devoted its front page to the Armistice. On page two, however, La Presse ran two stories about the flu. One of them insisted that the illness had declined considerably in the Parisian population (La Grippe décroit). In the other, a reporter for the paper, Lucile Laurence, wrote that city officials had given some thought to closing all cinemas and other public places, including schools. She went on, though, that even if they did, “public health would still be menaced” because of all the men who spit on streets, their germs then going into the air and onto the food that Parisians ate. On the same page, La Presse announced the opening of one of the most anticipated films of the season, Bouclette, at the very fashionable Palace-Aubert cinema in the ninth arrondissement. Bouclette featured one of the great French stars of the era, Gaby Deslys, who would die of influenza in February, 1920.

deslys

An undated publicity photograph of the great French star Gaby Deslys, the star of Bouclette and a victim of the flu epidemic

Deslys’ film, which had a scenario by Marcel L’Herbier, was one of the great cultural events in the city just after the war. But there were also many, many others, in cinemas and in the city’s theatres. Reporting on the flu on February 23rd, 1919, Le Matin put the grim numbers next to the masthead at the top of the front page. La grippe à Paris had claimed 900 lives in the last week, an increase of 350 from the week before. Le Matin never listed the movies in Paris, but it did offer information for plays, music halls, and café-concerts, and the list is astonishing, both in terms of how much was going on and how little the city’s entertainment industry seemed to have been touched by the epidemic. Had they wanted to, Parisians could have seen Les Noces de Figaro at the Opéra-Comique, where it alternated with Carmen, or Cyrano de Begerac at the Porte-St. Martin, or Sacha Guitry’s Pasteur at the Vaudeville. The Folies-Bergère featured a lion tamer for its family matinee and then more adult entertainment in the evening. The great music hall stars Mistinguett and Max Dearly appeared at the Casino de Paris, along with 200 Jolies Femmes, and Raimu, the stage actor soon to become a great movie star, performed in Le Cochon qui sommeille at the Théâtre Michel. There was also much, much more.

le-matin-2-23-19

On the upper right, on the masthead from February 23rd, 1919, Le Matin announces that week’s death toll of La Grippe à Paris

Parisian entertainment continued as usual for the duration of the epidemic, as the death toll mounted and city leaders kept all venues open while supplying pharmacies with more and more rum for the afflicted. A century later, French officials were slow to react to the coronavirus, as were governments in Italy, Spain, the United States, and elsewhere. They had, however, apparently learned something from the earlier public health crisis. Spitting on streets may still be a difficult problem and still a means of spreading disease. But Mayor Herriot’s example in Lyon, closing theatres, restaurants, and other public spaces, including cinemas, has now become the French model for containing the epidemic, even in Paris.

Read the introduction to Paris in the Dark free online, and now through May 1, save 50% on a print copy using coupon code SPRING50.

(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.

New Books in March

Spring is just around the corner—so it’s time to stock up on books for a whole new season of reading. Check out all of these titles arriving in March!

In I Never Left Home, poet and revolutionary Margaret Randall tells the moving, captivating, and astonishing story of her life, from her childhood in New York to joining the Sandanista movement in Nicaragua, from escaping political repression in Mexico to raising a family and teaching college.

Demanding Images is Karen Strassler’s ethnography of Indonesia’s post-authoritarian public sphere, exploring the role of public images as they gave visual form to the ideals, aspirations, and anxieties of democracy.

Focusing on a wide range of media technologies and practices in Beijing, Underglobalization by Joshua Neves examines the cultural politics of the “fake” and how frictions between legality and legitimacy propel dominant models of economic development and political life in contemporary China.

A writing manual as well as a manifesto, Every Day I Write the Book combines novelist and essayist Amitava Kumar’s practical writing advice with interviews with prominent writers, offering guidance and inspiration for academic writers at all levels.

In Negative Exposures, Margaret Hillenbrand explores how artistic appropriations of historical images effectively articulate the openly unsayable and counter the public secrecy that erases traumatic episodes from China’s past.

The contributors to Visualizing Fascism, edited by Julia Adeney Thomas and Geoff Eley, examine the imagery and visual rhetoric of interwar fascism in East Asia, southern Africa, and Europe to explore how fascism was visualized as a global and aesthetic phenomenon.

In his new book-length prose poem, The Voice in the Headphones, musician David Grubbs draws on decades of recording experience, taking readers into the recording studio to tell the story of an unnamed musician who struggles to complete a film soundtrack in a day-long marathon recording session.

Rahul Mukherjee explores how the media coverage of and debates about nuclear power plants and cellular phone antennas in India frames and sustains environmental activism in Radiant Infrastructures.

Salomé Aguilera Skvirsky theorizes the process genre—a filmic genre characterized by its representation of chronologically ordered steps in which some form of labor results in a finished product—in The Process Genre.

In The Queer Games Avant-Garde, Bonnie Ruberg presents twenty interviews with twenty-two queer video developers whose radical, experimental, vibrant, and deeply queer work is driving a momentous shift in the medium of video games.

Ana Y. Ramos-Zayas traces how parenting practices among urban elites in Brazil and Puerto Rico preserve and reproduce white privilege and economic inequality in Parenting Empires.

In Rock | Water | Life, Lesley Green examines the interwoven realities of inequality, racism, colonialism, and environmental destruction in South Africa, calling for environmental research and governance to transition to an ecopolitical approach that could address South Africa’s history of racial oppression and environmental exploitation.

Matt Brim shifts queer studies away from sites of elite education toward poor and working-class students and locations in Poor Queer Studies, showing how the field is driven by those flagship institutions that perpetuate class and race inequity in higher education.

In Paris in the Dark, Eric Smoodin takes readers on a journey through the streets, cinemas, and theaters of Paris to sketch a comprehensive picture of French film culture during the 1930s and 1940s.

Never miss a new book! Sign up for our e-mail newsletters, and get notifications of new titles in your preferred disciplines as well as discounts and other news.

Cruise Ships Confront Coronavirus: Passing Panic or Depressing Portent? A Guest Post by Eric Paul Roorda

diamond-princess-death-virus-web

The Diamond Princess docked in Yokohama

There is a talented band named Wookie Foot, whose lyrics are quirky and insightful. Their song “Cruise,” from 2003, skewers the cruise ship experience with deft sarcasm. The closing words were prophetic:

“And in the end, you’re just a virus wearing shoes,
on a cruise.
A virus!”

(The whole hilarious tune can be heard here.)

Passenger ships have always had to contend with the danger of a disease breaking out onboard. Vessels packed with people on the high seas are like powder kegs for spark-like contagions, and potential vectors for pandemics, such as the plague known as The Black Death, which arrived in Europe from Asia by ship in 1347, then spread rapidly around the Mediterranean. In the 19th century, a single incipient case of typhus or cholera among the immigrants crowded on a ship could grievously sicken and kill hundreds of them during the voyage. For this reason, quarantine regulations are among the oldest laws in human history.

In recent years, the cruise industry has had to fight Noro-virus, a highly contagious malady that causes a week of awful symptoms. But while Noro-virus is rarely fatal, the newest bug, Coronavirus, is a killer; about 2% of those who contract it succumb to its severe pneumonia. For cruise ships, and perhaps the entire industry, Coronavirus is a lethal threat.

The plight of two mega-vessels owned by Carnival Cruises is causing worldwide worry. Holland America Line’s Westerdam became a 21st century Flying Dutchman for two weeks, turned away from one port after another because the Coronavirus has stowed away, until Cambodia welcomed the ship, allowing a thousand possible carriers to disperse across the globe. Worse, Princess Cruise Line’s Diamond Princess arrived in Yokohama with the Coronavirus raging among the ship’s company of some 3,600 passengers and crew, where Japanese authorities subjected them to a badly botched quarantine. According to a full-page exposé in the New York Times on February 23, Diamond Princess has become a “Petri dish” for the pathogen. While passengers gained egress one way or another, the crew remained in their densely packed quarters below the waterline, without meaningful efforts to segregate those who exhibited symptoms, working merciless hours to succor the paying guests, who were isolated in their suites. Only two cruise ships out of the 314 in the worldwide pleasure fleet have made the headlines—so far. But the dangers that Coronavirus present to the cruise ship could be general.

An observer may draw two tentative conclusions.

978-1-4780-0696-1First, when transformational phenomena reach and disperse onto the Ocean, the Ocean exponentially amplifies the range of the changes. Examples of this include the spread of the new species H. sapiens after they learned to build boats; the impact of the new religion of Islam, which Arab traders brought to Indonesia and the Philippines, and which drew worshippers by sea to Mecca; the imposition of the culture of violent conquest that the new nation-state of Spain exported to the Western Hemisphere beginning in 1492; invasive organisms, which degrade the environments and damage the economies of the places they go; and viruses.

Second, cruise ships are like crowded pods of change. They impact the infrastructures, economies, environments, and cultures of ports of call, big and small, wherever they wander. The Coronavirus moment provides a lethal example.

The question remains, will the unfolding Coronavirus pandemic kindle suspicions about the whole cruise ship industry, which generates an estimated $126 billion in global economic activity and employs about a million people? Could it complicate the sans souci atmosphere that veteran cruisers expect and demand? Will it cause potential passengers to spend their vacation dollars some other way? Moreover, will the terrifying spread of Coronavirus, which is dragging down stock markets around the world as I write, trigger a series of agonizing re-evaluations of the cost/benefit ratio of the cruise industry’s impact on destinations around the world?

Eric Paul Roorda is the editor of The Ocean Reader: History, Culture, Politics. He is a Professor of History at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky, where he specializes in the diplomatic and naval history of  the Caribbean Sea. During the summer, he directs the Munson Institute graduate program in Maritime Studies at Mystic Seaport Museum in Mystic, Connecticut. He regularly lectures on cruises on the Regent Seven Seas Voyager.

Save 30% on The Ocean Reader on our website with coupon code E20RORDA.

New Books in February

This month, we’re releasing an array of new reads in all of the subjects you love. Take a look at these new books coming this February!

The concluding volume in a poetic triptych, Alexis Pauline Gumbs’s Dub: Finding Ceremony takes inspiration from theorist Sylvia Wynter, dub poetry, and ocean life to offer a catalog of possible methods for remembering, healing, listening, and living otherwise.

In Wild Blue Media, Melody Jue destabilizes terrestrial-based media theory frameworks and reorients the perception of the world by considering the ocean itself as a media environment—a place where the weight and opacity of seawater transforms how information is created, stored, transmitted, and perceived.

In The Ocean in the School, Rick Bonus tells the stories of Pacific Islander students at the University of Washington as they and their allies struggled to transform a university they believed did not value their presence into a space based on meaningfulness, respect, and multiple notions of student success.

In Orozco’s American Epic, Mary K. Coffey examines José Clemente Orozco’s mural cycle Epic of American Civilization, which indicts history as complicit in colonial violence and questions the claims of Manifest Destiny in the United States and the Mexican desire to mend the wounds of conquest in pursuit of a postcolonial national project.

Nandita Sharma traces the development of the categories of migrants and natives from the nineteenth century to the present in Home Rule to theorize how the idea of people’s rights being tied to geographical notions of belonging came to be.

In Unfixed, Jennifer Bajorek traces the relationship between photography and decolonial politics in Francophone west Africa in the years immediately leading up to and following independence from French colonial rule in 1960, showing how photography both reflected and actively contributed to social and political change.

In Are You Entertained?, a collection of essays, interviews, visual art, and artist statements on topics ranging from music and dance to Black Twitter and the NBA’s dress code, the contributors consider what culture and Blackness mean in the twenty-first century’s digital consumer economy. This volume is edited by Simone C. Drake and Dwan K. Henderson.

In Musicophilia in Mumbai, Tejaswini Niranjana traces the place of Hindustani classical music in Mumbai throughout the long twentieth century, showing how the widespread love of music throughout the city created a culture of collective listening and social subjects who embodied new forms of modernity.

Focusing on the work of a Marxist anticolonial literary group active in India between the 1930s and 1950s, Neetu Khanna rethinks the project of decolonization in The Visceral Logics of Decolonization by showing how embodied and affective responses to colonial subjugation provide the catalyst for developing revolutionary consciousness.

Contributors to Queer Korea, edited by Todd A. Henry, offer interdisciplinary analyses of non-normative sexuality and gender nonconformity in Korea, extending individualized notions of queer neoliberalism beyond those set in Western queer theory.

Drawing on Marxist phenomenology, geography, and aesthetics and film from China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan made between the 1990s and the present, Erin Y. Huang theorizes the economic, cultural, and political conditions of neoliberal postsocialist China in Urban Horror.

The contributors to Affective Trajectories examine the mutual and highly complex entwinements between religion and affect in urban Africa in the early twenty-first century, tracing the myriad ways religious ideas, practices, and materialities interact with affect to configure life in urban African spaces. This collection is edited by Hansjörg Dilger, Astrid Bochow, Marian Burchardt, and Matthew Wilhelm-Solomon.

In Naked Agency, Naminata Diabate explores how the deployment of defiant nakedness by mature women in Africa challenges longstanding assumptions about women’s political agency.

From The Guiding Light to Passions, Elana Levine traces the history of daytime television soap operas as an innovative and highly gendered mass cultural form in Her Stories.

In Seeing by Electricity, Doron Galili traces television’s early history, from the fantastical devices initially imagined fifty years before the first television prototypes to the emergence of broadcast television in the 1930s, showing how television was always discussed and treated in relation to cinema.

Jeremy Packer and Joshua Reeves provide a critical account of the history and future of automation in warfare in Killer Apps by highlighting the threats posed by the latest advances in media technology and artificial intelligence.

Originally published in German in 1978 and appearing here in English for the first time, the second volume of Peter Weiss’s three-volume novel The Aesthetics of Resistance depicts anti-fascist resistance, radical proletarian political movements, and the relationship between art and resistance from the late 1930s to World War II.

Working Together: Louis Draper and the Kamoinge Workshop by Sarah Eckhardt accompanies the exhibition of the photography of Virginia artist Louis Draper and other members of the Kamoinge Workshop that opens at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in February 2020. We are distributing it for the museum.

Never miss a new book! Sign up for our e-mail newsletters, and get notifications of new titles in your preferred disciplines as well as discounts and other news.

New Books in January

If one of your resolutions for 2020 is to read more books, we’ve got you covered. Ring in the new year with these captivating new releases!

In Beneath the Surface, Lynn M. Thomas constructs a transnational history of skin lighteners in South Africa and beyond, theorizing skin and skin color as a site for antiracist struggle and lighteners as a technology of visibility that both challenges and entrenches racial and gender hierarchies.

Weaving U.S. history into the larger fabric of world history, the contributors to Crossing Empires de-exceptionalize the American empire, placing it in a global transimperial context as a way to grasp the power relations that shape imperial formations. This collection is edited by Kristin L. Hoganson and Jay Sexton.

Engaging contemporary photography by Sally Mann, Lorna Simpson, Carrie Mae Weems, and others, Shawn Michelle Smith traces how historical moments come to be known photographically and the ways in which the past continues to inhabit, punctuate, and transform the present through the photographic medium in Photographic Returns.

Spanning the centuries between pre-contact indigenous Haiti to the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, the selections in The Haiti Reader introduce readers to Haiti’s dynamic history and culture from the viewpoint of Haitians from all walks of life. This volume is edited by Laurent Dubois, Kaiama L. Glover, Nadève Ménard, Millery Polyné, and Chantalle F. Verna.

The contributors to Futureproof (edited by D. Asher Ghertner, Hudson McFann, and Daniel M. Goldstein) examine the affective and aesthetic dimensions of security infrastructures and technology with studies ranging from Jamaica and Jakarta to Colombia and the US-Mexico border.

Examining abjection in a range of visual and material culture, the contributors to Abjection Incorporated move beyond critiques of abjection as a punitive form of social death to theorizing how it has become a means to acquire political and cultural capital in the twenty-first century. This volume is edited by Maggie Hennefeld and Nicholas Sammond.

Margaret E. Dorsey and Miguel Díaz-Barriga argue that border wall construction along the U.S.–Mexico border manifests transformations in citizenship practices that are aimed not only at keeping migrants out but also enmeshing citizens into a wider politics of exclusion in Fencing in Democracy.

In Politics of Rightful Killing, Sima Shakhsari analyzes the growth of Weblogistan—the online and real-life transnational network of Iranian bloggers in the early 2000s—and the ways in which despite being an effective venue for Iranians to pursue their political agendas, it was the site for surveillance, cooptation, and self-governance.

In Invisibility by Design, Gabriella Lukács traces how young Japanese women’s unpaid labor as bloggers, net idols, “girly” photographers, online traders, and cell phone novelists was central to the development of Japan’s digital economy in the 1990s and 2000s.

Presented in the context of the nonprofit arts collective More Art’s fifteen-year history, and featuring first-person testimony, critical essays, and in-depth documentary materials, More Art in the Public Eye is an essential, experiential guide to the field of socially engaged public art and its increasing relevance. This volume is edited by Micaela Martegani, Jeff Kasper, and Emma Drew, and we are distributing it for More Art.

Shana L. Redmond traces Paul Robeson’s continuing cultural resonances in popular culture and politics in Everything Man, showing how he remains a vital force and presence for all those he inspired.

In The Complete Lives of Camp People, Rudolf Mrázek presents a sweeping study of the material and cultural lives of internees of two twentieth-century concentration camps and the multiple ways in which their experiences speak to and reveal the fundamental logics of modernity.

In Avian Reservoirs, Frédéric Keck traces how the anticipation of bird flu pandemics has changed relations between birds and humans in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan, showing that humans’ reliance on birds is key to mitigating future pandemics.

Collecting texts from all corners of the world that span antiquity to the present, The Ocean Reader (edited by Eric Paul Roorda) charts humans’ relationship to the ocean, treating it as a dynamic site of history, culture, and politics.

The contributors to Blue Legalities attend to the seas as a legally and politically conflicted space to analyze the conflicts that emerge where systems of governance interact with complex geophysical, ecological, economic, biological, and technological processes. This collection is edited by Irus Braverman and Elizabeth R. Johnson.

Never miss a new book! Sign up for our e-mail newsletters, and get notifications of new titles in your preferred disciplines as well as discounts and other news.

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