Now Available: First Issue of English Language Notes Published by Duke University Press

ELN_561-cov_early_for-JmktWe are pleased to announce that the first issue of English Language Notes published by Duke University Press, volume 56, issue 1, “Critical and Comparative Mysticisms,” is now available.

A respected forum of criticism and scholarship in literary and cultural studies since 1962, English Language Notes (ELN) is dedicated to pushing the boundaries of scholarship in literature and related fields in new directions. Broadening its reach geographically and transhistorically, ELN opens new lines of inquiry and widens emerging fields. Each ELN issue advances topics of current scholarly concern, providing theoretical speculation as well as ptractical interdisciplinary recalibrations. Offering semiannual, topically themed issues, ELN also includes “Of Note,” an ongoing section featuring related topics, review essays or roundtables of cutting-edge scholarship, and emergent concerns. ELN is a wide-ranging journal that combines theoretical rigor with innovative interdisciplinary collaboration.

“Critical and Comparative Mysticisms” contains essays on mysticisms through a critical lens. This rarely, if ever, articulated vision of mysticisms juxtaposes them with other disciplinary and epistemological avenues of critical thought, such as historical, political, and literary studies. Mystical traditions, which often lie at the margins of institutionalized religions, tend to break down the boundaries that develop within religious contexts over time and offer syncretic alternatives to them. Mysticisms also offer alternative versions of knowledge seeking, being, and experience that contribute to a distinct and compelling branch of contemporary critical theory, intervening in current ideologically loaded discourses of religion and drawing on the vast archive of mystical thought, writing, and art from around the world in all periods. This special issue also contains a roundtable section with brief interventions concerning various angles of mysticism.

Read the introduction, made freely available, and browse the table of contents.

LASA2018: Find Our Titles in Barcelona

The XXXVI International Congress of the Latin American Studies Association meets later this week in Barcelona. We’re pleased to announce that our books and journals will be available for purchase in the book exhibit at the Combined Academic Publishers booth, #I02. Editor Gisela Fosado will also be attending the conference.

Sins against NatureWe have some terrific new titles in Latin American studies that you can pick up at the conference. Historians will want to check out The FBI in Latin America: The Ecuador Files by Marc Becker. There will be a panel on his book on Saturday, May 26. A City on a Lake by Matthew Vitz tracks the environmental and political history of Mexico City and explains its transformation from a forested, water-rich environment into a smog-infested megacity. Another great history title to pick up is Sins against Nature by Zeb Tortorici, which explores the prosecution of sex acts in colonial New Spain.

If theory is your style, pick up a copy of The Extractive Zone Designs for the Pluriverseby Macarena Gómez-Barris, which traces the political, aesthetic, and performative practices that emerge in opposition to the ruinous effects of extractive capital. Gómez-Barris will be on a panel at LASA called “Extractive Wars” on Friday, May 25.  You should also take a look at Designs for the Pluriverse by Arturo Escobar, which presents a new vision of design theory and practice aimed at channeling design’s world-making capacity toward ways of being and doing that are deeply attuned to justice and the Earth. Escobar appears on a panel about the possibility of cooperation between Latin America and Europe on Wednesday, May 23.

Reclaiming the DiscardedIf your interests lie in anthropology, be sure to check out Reclaiming the Discarded by Kathleen M. Millar, an evocative ethnography of Jardim Gramacho, a sprawling garbage dump on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro.

If you’re not able to attend the conference, or if you prefer to order your books rather than carry them in your luggage, we are offering a 30% conference discount. For delivery in North or South America, order from us at dukeupress.edu and use coupon code LASA18 when checking out. For delivery in the UK, Europe, Asia, Africa, or Australia, order from Combined Academic Publishers (CAP) at combinedacademic.co.uk and use coupon code CSF18LASA .

978-0-8223-7109-0The conference discount is good for thirty days, so you’ll be able to order a couple of great titles that we won’t have available in time for LASA as well. Check our website or CAP’s in June to order On Decoloniality: Concepts, Analytics, Praxis by Walter Mignolo and Catherine E. Walsh. It launches their new series of the same name. And also coming in June is the next volume in our popular Latin America Readers series: The Bolivia Reader. Get it for upcoming travel or consider requesting an exam copy and teaching it in your classes next year.

If you’re headed to Barcelona, we wish you a fun and productive meeting. Do stop by the CAP booth and check out our titles. If you aren’t able to attend LASA, we hope you’ll still take advantage of our 30% discount.

International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia

Today is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. In solidarity, we’d like to share some of our scholarship on gender identity and sexuality.

ddtsq_5_1_coverThe first issue from TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly‘s fifth volume is its first nonthemed, open-call issue, inviting a broad scope of scholarship in the field of trans studies. The issue features “Policy,” “Research Note,” and “Translation” sections, as well as a reproduction of an “action art object” collectively created by several trans artists and art scholars for distribution at the 2016 International Trans* Studies Conference in Tucson. The issue also includes several book reviews.

From the introduction by editors Paisley Currah and Susan Stryker:

“As a complement to whatever other actions we might take as individuals, we, as editors of this academic journal, hope the articles we are able to publish in this issue of TSQ can make their own contributions, in their own ways, to empowering trans lives, using knowledge and analysis to improve social conditions and contesting the violence being directed against us.”

Read the introduction to the issue now, made freely available.

ddglq_24_1_coverThe most recent issue of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies features a forum on the Pulse nightclub shooting in June 2016. It offers a range of responses to the murders of forty-nine people—and the injuring of many more—that took place in the early morning hours of June 12, 2016, at Pulse, a queer nightclub in Orlando, Florida. While acts of violence—everyday and spectacular—have long histories in queer and trans communities (threatening trans and queer people of color with double, triple, quadruple forms of jeopardy), one guiding question for this collection of contributions revolves around what is at stake in responding to and unpacking violent and publicly mediated events after the fact, after the events have faded from public consciousness. Read the special forum, “GLQ Forum/Aftereffects: The Pulse Nightclub Shootings,” made freely available.

Look for these upcoming issues

ddaml_90_2_coverAmerican Literature‘s “Queer about Comics,” edited by Dariek Scott and Ramzi Fawaz, explores the intersection of queer theory and comics studies. The contributors provide new theories of how comics represent and re-conceptualize queer sexuality, desire, intimacy, and eroticism, while also investigating how the comic strip, as a hand-drawn form, queers literary production and demands innovative methods of analysis from the fields of literary, visual, and cultural studies.

Contributors examine the relationships among reader, creator, and community across a range of comics production, including mainstream superhero comics, independent LGBTQ comics, and avant-garde and experimental feminist narratives. They also address queer forms of identification elicited by the classic X-Men character Rogue, the lesbian grassroots publishing networks that helped shape Alison Bechdel’s oeuvre, and the production of black queer fantasy in the Black Panther comic book series, among other topics.

GLQ-Clit Club 2“The Queer Commons,” a special issue of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies edited by explore how contemporary queer energies have been directed toward commons-forming initiatives from activist provision of social services to the maintenance of networks around queer art, protest, public sex, and bar cultures that sustain queer lives otherwise marginalized by heteronormative society and mainstream LGBTQ politics. This issue forges a connection between the common and the queer, asking how the category “queer” might open up a discourse that has emerged as one of the most important challenges to contemporary neoliberalization at both the theoretical and practical level.

Contributors look to radical networks of care, sex, and activism present within diverse queer communities including HIV/AIDS organizing, the Wages for Housework movement, New York’s Clit Club community, and trans/queer collectives in San Francisco. The issue also includes a dossier of shorter contributions that offer speculative provocations about the radicalism of queer commonality across time and space, from Gezi Park uprisings in Turkey to future visions of collectivity outside of the internet.

 

 

 

Recent Scholarship on Trans* Surgery

TSQ_5_2_coverThe Surgery Issue,” a special issue of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly edited by Eric Plemons and Chris Straayer, explores the vital and contested place of surgical intervention in the making of trans* bodies, theories, and practices. This issue engages “the surgical” in its many forms. Contributors contemplate a wide scope: physical, technical, and social aspects of the body; trans* and transition-related surgeries broadly construed; local and international endeavors; the conceptual, the theoretical, and the practical; the historical and the speculative.

Trans* surgery has been an object of fantasy, derision, refusal, and triumph. For decades after its establishment in the 1950s, clinicians considered a desire for reconstructive genital surgery to be the linchpin of the transsexual diagnosis. Drawing on earlier legacies of sexology and plastic surgery and the emerging specialties of endocrinology and surgical transplant, early emphasis on genital surgery determined clinical legibility, shaped forms of identification, produced institutional capacities, and became the object of criticism by those for whom a desire for body alterations indicated profound pathologies on the parts of patients and their willing surgeons. Subsequent contestations of the medico-surgical framework troubled the place of surgical intervention and helped mark the emergence of “transgender” as an alternative, more inclusive term for gender nonconforming subjects who were sometimes less concerned with surgical intervention.

Beginning in the 1990s, new histories of trans* clinical practice challenged the institutional claim that transsexuals were uniform in their desire for genital surgery, and trans* authors began to advocate relationships to their surgically altered bodies as sites of power rather than capitulation. Still others refused a focus on surgery-centric conceptualizations of trans* on the grounds that it obscures the conditions of how and for whom surgery is available, values Euro-American histories of transsexualism, and obfuscates the reality that trans* subjectivity might be as much about justice and rights as it is about physical transition.

Read the introduction to the issue, made freely available.

Eric Plemons, coeditor of “The Surgery Issue,” is also author of the recent book The Look of a Woman: Facial Feminization Surgery and the Aims of Trans- Medicine. Developed in the 1980s, facial feminization surgery (FFS) is a set of reconstructive surgical procedures intended to feminize the faces of trans- women. Plemons foregrounds the narratives of FFS patients and their surgeons, showing how the increasing popularity of FFS represents a shift away from genital-based conceptions of trans- selfhood. He demonstrates how FFS is changing the project of surgical sex reassignment by reconfiguring the kind of sex that surgery aims to change.

An Interview with Jessica Loudis, editor of World Policy Journal

Jessica Loudis recently became editor of World Policy Journal (WPJ), the flagship publication of the World Policy Institute. We sat down with her to discuss the new editorship, the direction of the journal, and upcoming issue themes.

m_ddwpj_35_1_coverWhat are your plans for the journal during your tenure as editor?
I want to cover policy in unexpected ways, and to draw in readers who don’t yet know they’re interested in the subject. Part of this involves taking a more multidisciplinary approach. For instance, our current issue has a piece about Dubai’s efforts to send a manned mission to Mars, and another about how Britain’s public space laws were shaped by music festivals in the 80s and 90s. Basically, WPJ will be the place to read the kinds of pieces you wouldn’t initially expect to find in a policy magazine.

How do you see the journal developing in the next few years?
I’m interested in discovering new, talented writers from all over the world, and in giving them the opportunity to tell stories that wouldn’t work for other magazines. We want to cultivate a sensibility that is incisive, offbeat, and multidisciplinary, and to do so by putting journalists and scholars and thinkers in conversation with one another. Ultimately, I want to create an intellectual community around the magazine, and to start meaningful conversations that have a broader impact.

How have you selected issue topics for the journal?
I’m interested in topics that are open-ended and allow for different avenues of access. For instance, the theme of our summer issue is “Megalomania,” and it will include a piece on a rising female fascist politician in Italy, another on a failed attempt to abolish time zones, and one on former London Mayor Boris Johnson’s overambitious architectural initiatives. I like topics that can speak to people in different ways, and which allow for a bit of fun.

WPJ34_4_cover

Oh, on a related note, we’ve also brought on a cocktail historian, Eben Klemm, to create original cocktails based on our themes. For “Megalomania,” Eben has designed a cocktail that is a combination of Mussolini and Saddam Hussein’s favorite drinks, with an Idi Amin flourish thrown in for good measure.

Are there certain topics or fields you’re interested in focusing on?
I come from a literary background, and I’m very interested in having people from literature and the arts think about policy and politics in new ways. I’m also interested in anthropology and sociology, and I’ve really enjoyed working with specialists in those fields. In general, I want to surprise readers by drawing connections they hadn’t previously considered.

Can you tell us more about upcoming issues?
Our upcoming issues are “Megalomania,” “The Limits of Big Data,” and “Tourism.”

I already told you a little about megalomania, and for “The Limits of Big Data,” we have a piece I’m excited about on facial recognition software and programmable empathy. Another piece I’m looking forward to is  on the Vatican’s big data initiative. As for the rest, you’ll have to wait and see…

For the tourism issue, we’re looking at a lot of different kinds of tourism: medical, adoption, dental, retail, to name a few.

WPJ34_3One of the interesting things about the journal is its work recruiting journalists from around the world, can you shed more light on how you find new voices and stories?
I was fortunate to work at Al Jazeera and Bookforum before WPJ, which allowed me to cultivate an international network of writers and critics. Beyond that, I just read constantly, and try to do so as widely as possible. I follow the book publishing catalogs (especially Duke’s, which is consistently excellent), I read magazines, I pay attention to what’s happening in journalism, and I do a bit of Twitter stalking to see who the people I respect are reading and talking to. Finally, I’ll often ask colleagues or friends in my field for recommendations or advice on particular topics.

Tell us more about any other World Policy programs you’d like us to know about.
World Policy Journal and World Policy Institute are about to launch a very cool new program called “Renegotiating the Social Contract.” There will be a few parts to this, including conferences, publications, and multimedia projects. The idea is that the classic social contract as we’ve known it has broken down, and in a lot of ways, changed. While keeping in mind how the social contract used to be structured between citizens and the government, we’re looking how it’s currently structured, and what’s been lost or gained.

Q&A with Katherine Verdery, author of My Life as a Spy

IMG_2520Katherine Verdery is Julien J. Studley Faculty Scholar and Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, as well as the author of the new book My Life as a Spy: Investigations in a Secret Police File. Part memoir, part detective story, part anthropological analysis, My Life as a Spy offers a personal account of how government surveillance worked during the Cold War and how Verdery experienced living under it.

You came to Romania in 1973 as a 25-year-old doctoral student studying folklore, but the Romanian secret police immediately suspected that your research was espionage rather than ethnography. How can anthropology look like spying? Is there overlap between the two practices?

Anthropology has looked like spying many times in the discipline’s history. Indeed, our “patriarch” Franz Boas published an article condemning any activities of this sort … a century ago! To begin with, an anthropologist arriving in a foreign location presents the locals with the problem of how to account for his/her presence, when anthropology is unknown to most if not all of them. The idea that someone might have come to collect information for some “enemy” is easy to believe cross-culturally, since that happens everywhere in the world. Other roles we have been assumed to play are missionary, or thief of sacred knowledge. The pattern in every case is to try to make a stranger comprehensible in a locally meaningful idiom. In my case, the resemblance was sharpened by the officers’ recognizing that some of my practices resembled theirs—I took notes in code, I used pseudonyms for my “informers,” I gathered up all kinds of information rather than sticking to a precise questionnaire, etc.

How did it feel to read through your own 2,781-page secret police file for the first time? In what ways did it alter your perceptions and understanding of your time in Romania?

It was a terrible experience. I sat down in the reading room of the secret police archive in Bucharest with several large volumes in front of me, knowing none of the conventions of such documents, so I had no way of creating distance between them and myself. As I thumbed through them and discovered close friends who had informed on me, I felt truly awful. It would take many readings, some training by the archive staff, and the gradual passage of time before I could read the pages more or less dispassionately.

What was your goal in reading and analyzing your own file? What did you hope to uncover or illuminate?

At first I didn’t really have a goal: I was just curious to see what a file was like. Once I had seen how comprehensive it was, I thought I should use it either to write a memoir (they had a lot of data on me, after all!) or to examine how that kind of organization creates its knowledge, and to what extent we can see it as knowledge rather than just a pack of lies, as most people would assume. In what ways it was and was not a pack of lies became a very interesting problem, once I got used to it.

978-0-8223-7081-9In your research for this book, you interviewed not only some of the secret police officers who followed you but also friends who turned out to have been informers. How did it feel to approach and speak with people who had monitored you and reported on your behavior?

Many of the ones whose reports were the most troubling to me had died before I could speak with them. Especially once I had spoken with a few who were still alive, I regretted that I had had no chance to make my peace with the ones who were not. In one case, the friend had in fact told me even before the end of the regime that she had had to write reports, but we didn’t discuss it at length until 2010, when I had read the reports themselves. In her case it was easy to ask her if she would talk about it, since I already knew. We spent several days together and had a truly illuminating time (for me—she was less enthusiastic!). I felt a tremendous mix of feelings: irritation at her for being so naive, guilt at having precipitated this experience she had found so dreadful, puzzlement at her inclination to blame me for it … but ultimately great respect for her honesty and self-insight, and huge relief to have gotten it out into the open. Although I came to feel that it was not appropriate for me to “forgive” her, our conversations did fully restore my affection for her. The experience was similar with another friend, whose identity I had guessed from the file. He gave a plausible account of himself and expressed great remorse. I did not manage to speak with any of the “mean” informers, however. Clearly, they didn’t want to.

How does your analysis of surveillance in communist Romania resonate in considerations of modern-day surveillance practices, including those practiced by countries like the U.S.?

The answer to this question has become suddenly relevant in ways I might not have expected, with the indictments handed down by Robert Mueller concerning Russian interference in our 2016 elections. One of the most important lessons I learned from reading my file (and others in which I did research) was that the goal of that secret police was to sow confusion, produce discord. Had I not seen this in my file, I would not have been able to say to my class, the day after the vote, “Putin has hacked the US election.” I lacked only the specific details concerning the use of trolls and bots. Concerning the broader comparison of communist Romania and the West today, there are some important differences in how these systems worked—for instance, the predominance of human labor (officers, informers) in Romania and of advanced technology in our own case. Those differences affect the ways of gathering information, the uses that can be made of it, and the nature of the information-gathering apparatus.

Read the prologue to My Life as a Spy free online, or pick up the paperback for 30% off using coupon code E18SPY at dukeupress.edu.

New Books in May

The semester is ending, graduates are heading off to bright futures, and we are bringing out more great scholarly books. Check out the titles we have coming out in May.

In Althusser, The Infinite Farewell Emilio de Ípola proposes an original reading of Althusser in which he shows how Althusser’s oeuvre is divided between two different projects: that of his canonical works, and a second subterranean current of thought that runs throughout his entire oeuvre and which only gained explicit expression in his later work.

978-0-8223-7079-6.jpgIn Cow in The Elevator Tulasi Srinivas uses the concept of wonder—feelings of amazement at being overcome by the unexpected and sublime—to examine how residents of Banglore, India pursue wonder by practicing Hindu religious rituals as a way to accept and resist neoliberal capitalism.

In Fugitive Life Stephen Dillon examines the literary and artistic work of feminist, queer antiracist activists who were imprisoned or became fugitives in the United States during the 1970s, showing how they were among the first to theorize and make visible the co-constitutive symbiotic relationship between neoliberalism and racialized mass-incarceration.

978-0-8223-7130-4.jpgSusan Murray’s Bright Signals traces four decades of technological, cultural, and aesthetic debates about the possibility, use, and meaning of color television within the broader history of twentieth-century visual culture.

In Colonial Lives of Property Brenna Bhandar examines how the emergence of modern property law contributed to the formation of racial subjects in settler colonies, showing how the colonial appropriation of indigenous lands depends upon ideologies of European racial superiority as well as legal narratives that equated civilized life with English concepts of property.

Lyndon K. Gill’s Erotic Islands foregrounds a queer presence in foundational elements of Trinidad and Tobago’s national imaginary—Carnival masquerade design, Calypso musicianship, and queer HIV/AIDS activism—to show how same-sex desire provides the means for the nation’s queer population to develop survival and community building strategies.

978-0-8223-7087-1.jpgIn Ontological Terror Calvin L. Warren intervenes in Afro-pessimism, Heideggerian metaphysics, and black humanist philosophy, illustrating how blacks embody a metaphysical nothing while showing how this nothingness destabilizes whiteness, makes blacks a target of violence, and explains why humanism has failed to achieve equality for blacks.

In Empire of Neglect Christopher Taylor shows why nineteenth-century British West Indian letters were remarkably un-British by exploring how West Indians reoriented their affective, cultural, and political worlds toward the Americas in response to the liberalization of the British Empire and the resulting imperial neglect.

A sensitive ethnography of psychotherapy in Putin’s Russia, Shock Therapy by Tomas Matza offers profound insights into how the Soviet collapse not only reshaped Russia’s political system but also everyday understandings of self and other.

Drawing on over 300 prosecutions of sex acts in colonial New Spain between 1530 and 1821, in Sins against Nature Zeb Tortorici shows how courts used the concept “against nature” to try those accused of sodomy, bestiality, and other sex acts, thereby demonstrating how the archive influences understandings of bodies, desires, and social categories.

978-0-8223-7109-0.jpgIn On Decoloniality,Walter D. Mignolo and Catherine E. Walsh introduce the concept of decoloniality by providing a theoretical overview and discussing concrete examples of decolonial projects in action. The book launches a new series of the same name.

The contributors to Territories and Trajectories, edited by Diana Sorensen, propose a model of cultural production and transmission based on the global diffusion, circulation, and exchange of people, things, and ideas across time and space.

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

Author events in May

978-0-8223-7117-5As the semester winds down, we hope you’ll have more time to attend one of our author events. You have multiple chances around the US to see Melanie Morrison discuss her book Murder on Shades Mountain this month, and UK audiences can catch Sara Ahmed several times in May.

May 1: Jane Lazarre will discuss her recent book The Communist and the Communist′s Daughter at the NYU Tamiment Library.
4:30pm, 70 Washington Square South, 10th Floor, New York, NY 10012

May 1: Living a Feminist Life author Sara Ahmed will participate in a panel discussion at University of Cambridge.
4:00pm, Mill Lane Lecture Theatres, 8 Mill Lane, CB2 1RW. Cambridge, UK

Abject PerformancesMay 3: Brown University‘s Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America will host a book launch for Leticia Alvarado’s Abject Performances.
2:00 pm, Nicholson House, 96 Waterman Street, Providence, RI 02912

May 3: Rwandan Women Rising author Swanee Hunt will speak at Harvard University’s Spring Women’s Leadership Meeting.
12:30 pm, 5th Floor, Taubman Building, Harvard Kennedy School, 79 John F. Kennedy Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

May 3: The Durham County Library and the Hayti Heritage Center will host a reading by Melanie Morrison of her new book Murder on Shades Mountain
7:00 pm, Great Hall, 804 Old Fayetteville St., Durham, NC 27701

May 8: Scuppernong Books will host a reading and book signing for Melanie Morrison’s new book Murder on Shades Mountain.
7:00 pm, 304 South Elm St., Greensboro, NC 27401

May 8: Chinese Surplus author Ari Larissa Heinrich will have a book launch at UC San Diego’s Cross Cultural Center.
3:00 pm, 9500 Gilman Dr, La Jolla, CA 92093

Living a Feminist LifeMay 9: See Living a Feminist Life author Sara Ahmed lecture at University of Hull.
5:00 pm, Cottingham Rd, Hull HU6 7RX, UK

May 10: Get your copy of Alexis Pauline Gumbs’s M Archive at the Philadelphia Contemporary’s Stellar Mass.
6:30 pm, Iron Gate Theater, 3700 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104

May 10: The University of Sheffield will also host a public lecture with Living a Feminist Life author Sara Ahmed.
5:30 pm, Lecture Theatre 1, The Diamond, 32 Leavygreave Road, Sheffield, S3 7R, UK

May 11: Don’t miss Sara Ahmed give a lecture at the University of Leeds.
5:00 pm, Conference Auditorium 1, Willow Terrace Road, Leeds, LS2 9DA, UK

May 14: Catch Murder on Shades Mountain author Melanie Morrison in DC when she has a reading at Busboys and Poets.
7:00 pm, Langston Room, 2021 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009

May 16: Living a Feminist Life author Sara Ahmed will give the qUCL Annual Lecture at the University College London.
6:00 pm, Darwin Lecture Theatre, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6XA, UK

May 16: The Willard Library will co-sponsor a book talk with Melanie Morrison at First Congregational Church.
6:30 pm, 145 Capitol Avenue, Battle Creek, MI

May 17: McNally Jackson bookstore in New York City hosts David Grubbs, author of Now that the audience is assembled.
7:00 pm, 52 Prince Street, New YorkNY 10012

May 19: Lauren Pond will present her photography book Test of Faith at The Seminary Co-op Bookstore.
3:00 pm, 5751 S Woodlawn Ave.,Chicago, IL 60637

May 23: Jessica Johnson will discuss her book Biblical Porn at Elliott Bay Book Company.
7:00 pm, 1521 Tenth Ave., Seattle, WA 98122

May 31: Books Inc. will host a book reading with Murder on Shades Mountain author Melanie Morrison.
7:00 pm, 1491 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, CA 94709

Preview Our Fall 2018 Catalog

F18-catalog-cover.inddWe always get excited to see each new catalog in print. It’s the culmination of months of work by our staff and it’s great to see each season’s forthcoming books nicely arranged in print. Our Fall 2018 list is a great one. Check out some highlights below and download the complete catalog for a more in-depth perusal. These titles will be published between July 2018 and January 2019.

As you can see from the cover, we continue to bring out new books in our Stuart Hall: Selected Writings series, edited by Bill Schwarz and Catherine Hall. Essential Essays—a landmark two volume set—brings together Stuart Hall’s most influential and foundational works. Spanning the whole of his career, these volumes reflect the breadth and depth of his intellectual and political projects while demonstrating their continued vitality and importance.  Both volumes will make their debut at MLA in January 2019.

Little Man Little ManWe are very excited and proud to be publishing a new edition of James Baldwin’s only children’s book, Little Man, Little Man: A Story of Childhood. Out of print for forty years, this new edition of Little Man, Little Man—which retains the charming original illustrations by French artist Yoran Cazac—includes a foreword by Baldwin’s nephew Tejan ‘TJ’ Karefa-Smart and an afterword by his niece Aisha Karefa-Smart, with an introduction by two Baldwin scholars. In it we not only see life in 1970s Harlem from a black child’s perspective; we gain a fuller appreciation of the genius of one of America’s greatest writers. Look for the book in August.

The Blue ClerkPoetry lovers will be pleased to find three titles coming out this fall. In The Blue Clerk renowned poet Dionne Brand explores memory, language, culture, and the nature of writing through a series of haunting prose poems that contain dialogues between the figure of the poet and the Blue Clerk, who is tasked with managing the poet’s discarded attempts at writing. Rafael Campo returns to our list with Comfort Measures Only, which collects eighty-eight poems—thirty of which have never been previously published in a collection—from his long career as a poet-physician. We’re also bringing out a special fiftieth anniversary edition of Edward Dorn’s classic poem Gunslinger. It includes a new foreword by Marjorie Perloff and other new material.

My Butch CareerPioneering anthropologist Esther Newton’s long-awaited memoir My Butch Career comes out in November. She tells the compelling and disarming story of her struggle to write, teach, and find love, all while coming to terms with her lesbian identity during one of the worst periods of homophobic persecution in the twentieth century. We’re also pleased to share James N. Green’s biography of another LGBT pioneer, Brazilian revolutionary Herbert Daniel, whose life and political commitment shaped contemporary debates about social justice, gay rights, and HIV/AIDS. And summing up a different kind of career, legendary rock critic Robert Christgau presents the definitive collection of his work with Is It Still Good to Ya?, which features fifty years of writing.

Jezebel UnhingedIf you’re interested in gender studies, you’ll find some great titles coming out this fall. In Vexy Thing, Imani Perry recenters patriarchy to contemporary discussions of feminism.  Sarah Banet-Weiser examines the deeply entwined relationship between popular feminism and popular misogyny as it plays out in advertising, online and multi-media platforms, and nonprofit and commercial campaigns in her new book Empowered. And in Jezebel Unhinged, Tamura Lomax traces the use of the jezebel trope in the black church and in black popular culture. Gender studies scholars Gayatri Gopinath, Ann duCille, Aren Z. Aizura, Toby Beauchamp, and Jian Neo Chen also have new books in this catalog.

The End of the Cognitive EmpireIf your interests lie with theory, you’ll want to check out The End of the Cognitive Empire by Boaventura de Sousa Santos, in which he further develops his concept of the “epistemologies of the South.” And in Can Politics Be Thought? published in French in 1985 and appearing here in English (translated by Bruno Bosteels) for the first time—Alain Badiou offers his most forceful and systematic analysis of the crisis of Marxism.

And don’t forget about our journals. We have special issues of SAQ, GLQ, TSQ, Radical History Review, boundary 2differences, American Literature, Novel, and English Language Notes.

These titles are just from the first few pages. We have over seventy titles in cultural studies, art, sound studies, Latin American studies, history, Asian studies, African studies, religion, American studies, and more. You’ll want to download the PDF of the catalog or check our this online hyperlinked version to see all the great new books and journals. To be notified of new books in your chosen disciplines, sign up for our email alerts, too.

 

 

 

 

Q&A with Magdalena J. Zaborowska, Author of Me and My House

Zabrowska2Magdalena J. Zaborowska is Professor of Afroamerican and American Studies and the John Rich Faculty Fellow at the Institute for the Humanities at the University of Michigan, and the author and coeditor of several books, including James Baldwin’s Turkish Decade: Erotics of Exile, also published by Duke University Press, and How We Found America: Reading Gender through East European Immigrant Narratives.
Her latest book, Me and My House: James Baldwin’s Last Decade in France, uses James Baldwin’s house in the south of France as a lens through which to reconstruct his biography and to explore the politics and poetics of blackness, queerness, and domesticity in his complex and underappreciated later works.

What initially drew you to James Baldwin’s house in the South of France? What was it like the first time you visited?

Me and My HouseI first visited that house, known locally as “Chez Baldwin,” in the Provençal village of St. Paul-de-Vence in June 2000. I was fascinated with the writer’s international peregrinations and admired his cosmopolitan, decades-ahead-of-our-time approach to how one’s composite self, inflected by race, gender, sexuality, and class, was key to understanding one’s national identity within and without one’s home country. I also wanted to get a sense of the domestic environment in which he wrote his later works, and where he thrived as a black queer American artist, who was reviled both by US black nationalists and white liberals at the time.

Like most readers, I had first read the best known early Baldwiniana of 1953-63, Go Tell It on the Mountain, Notes of a Native Son, Giovanni’s Room, Another Country, and The Fire Next Time. The works written at Chez Baldwin, during 1971-87, were another matter. They revealed an author transformed, testing new ideas and approaches to identity, trying his hand at new forms. I wanted to look for material and tangible reasons for that transformation. I was teaching in Denmark until 2000, and thanks to Aarhus University’s support made my trip to Provençe, where I first encountered Baldwin’s most enduring home. Another draw was my interest in the interpenetration of literary and literal social spaces, or how material environments become metaphoric representations by means of evocative language and imagery on the pages of books. Perhaps, because I was an immigrant, I was curious as well about how the writer lived his life in French and in such a remote location, especially given his earlier fondness for metropolitan locations like Istanbul, New York, London or Paris. In the early 1970’s, when Baldwin moved there, St. Paul-de-Vence was a sleepy, slow-paced Provençal village, rather than the densely commercialized tourist destination it is today.

My first visit to the house and surrounding gardens in June of 2000 was a revelation on several levels. First, because of how unlike the place that Baldwin had come from it was, and second, because it made him into a homeowner and someone who lived, so to speak, on and off the land. Third, as he explains it in the little-known Architectural Digest piece on his house published just a few months before his death in 1987, as he grew older and frailer, he loved the light, peace, and quiet that filled the old structure. He had first rented rooms, and then bought, piece by piece as money from his books came in, the property from an eccentric old lady. In his last interview, literally on his deathbed, he explains that the place had led him to discover and embrace a rather mythic “peasant” mindset that he traced back to his parents, who migrated to New York from Maryland and Louisiana. He loved the ancient olive, orange, and almond trees, and enjoyed flowers and herbs that enveloped the house in a lush embrace. He was beloved by the town, and wished to be buried there after his death, which we know did not happen. The more I looked, the more I found and realized, too, that Chez Baldwin had to be a character of sorts in the book along with the writer.

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The patio in front of Baldwin’s study, with his writing/reading table. Photo by Magdalena J. Zaborowska, 2000.

How did seeing the space where Baldwin lived and worked change your own perceptions of him and how did it inspire your research?

At first, I was overawed at being inside the parts of the house that were not rented out at the time (the most important space, Baldwin’s study and quarters downstairs, and in the back, were off limits, alas). Imagine, sitting on the living room couch where Baldwin once sat, or at the so-called Welcome Table in the gardens, while wearing one of his straw hats (which actually did happen, courtesy of Jill Hutchinson, who took care of the house and invited me in to see it). When I went through the interiors, I was shocked that no one wanted to salvage the material riches it still contained—books, journals, furniture, and artwork—that witnessed Baldwin’s daily life, and must have provided inspiration and tactile framework for his daily labor of writing. It struck me, too, that Baldwin must have had lots of work-related clutter, like so many of us, that he liked mantelpiece decorations arranged in symbolic manners, that he was playful; I was told of his favorite records and pillows; I looked through the possessions he left behind.

The house helped me appreciate how his acts of dwelling were inextricably intertwined with acts of literary creativity, how the rooms and gardens provided a stage on which he placed his characters (The Welcome Table) or how architectural elements of the interior and its decor appeared on the pages of his novels (Just Above My Head), not to mention his local friends’ influence on all of his works that he would read to and discuss with them regularly. The house embodied and exuded but also enabled and nurtured his fascinating, complex personality. The late Baldwin insisted on his uniqueness precisely because his blackness and queerness, his effeminate, “sissy” mannerisms made him an outcast in his home country and elsewhere. That house was a domestic and authorial haven where he could be fully himself.

I was also astonished while at Chez Baldwin that there were no sites in the United States where I could glimpse his domestic legacy; that school kids could not access the private life of one of the greatest twentieth-century American writers. On the other hand, that fact was not at all surprising, for until recently, the matter of African diasporic artistic legacies has not been preserved, cherished, and memorialized. Quite the opposite, material remnants of black lives have been systematically erased, demolished, and ignored.

My immigrant origins and early work on immigrant women writers provided another inspiration. Years before I arrived in St.Paul-de-Vence, I had visited Maria Kuncewiczowa’s house, known as “Kuncewiczowka,” in the town of Kazimierz on the Vistula in Poland. In fact, I ended up spending a night there, and while on subsequent visits noticed how fast it was becoming a cultural epicenter for the region, drawing authors, visual artists, and actors. That nothing similar was happening with Baldwin’s legacy either in France or in the United States was painful to behold. That early experience, my first visit to Chez Baldwin in 2000, and then a conference in Istanbul a year later, led me to Baldwin’s story in Turkey. From there, where I first glimpsed the tremendous vitality of transient domestic spaces to Baldwin’s artistic vision, no matter how remote from his birthplace of Harlem, it only made sense to return to St. Paul-de-Vence and pick up where I had started something that made sense only a decade later.

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The welcome table and books in Baldwin’s “last room,” an upstairs living room that was transformed into his bedroom during the final few months of his life. Photo by Magdalena J. Zaborowska, 2000.

Baldwin’s works from this period (1971-1987) are underappreciated, both by readers and scholars, compared to his earlier works. Why do you think this is? What can readers and scholars learn about Baldwin from his later works?

These works are bold and complex, and much ahead of their time, as their largely superficial and negative reviews, or homophobic responses to them by the likes of Eldridge Cleaver in Soul on Ice (1968), demonstrate all too clearly. No Name in the Street (1972), If Beale Street Could Talk (1974), The Devil Finds Work (1976), Just Above My Head (1979), The Evidence of Things Not Seen (1985), and the unpublished play The Welcome Table (1987) ushered in a new Baldwin, more complex and mature as an author, one who became disillusioned growing older as a black queer American, who had no choice but to live abroad to get his work done and to feel safe. The latter issue is often overlooked, especially by those who think it somehow uncool that, in his later life, the activist Baldwin, who came from dire poverty in Harlem, was a bourgie owner of a fancy property in France, where he entertained lavishly, and kept lovers and an entourage of hangers-on. This attitude may have something to do with the kind of politics of respectability on both sides of the proverbial US color line then. Along with the stifling, binary, hetero-patriarchal, misogynist, mainstream social norms that often masqueraded as patriotism, nationalism, or ethnocentrism, that attitude made him an outcast and rendered him, in a sense, homeless in the US. And Baldwin, of course, being who he was, wrote vehemently against all these oppressive politics in his later works.

I think that today we should be happy for his rags-to-riches story, and celebrate the fact that he had found a haven where he was cherished and nurtured and was able to write some of his most interesting works. As many of his letters to friends and family evidence, he was acutely aware that his portrayal of queer and interracial love and sex in Another Country and Just Above My Head not only angered but also threatened both black nationalists, who despised his sexuality and integrationist views, and the so-called white liberals, who objected to his candor concerning their complicity in national race relations and what they perceived as his “black anger.” These later works are daring both in terms of content and narrative structure, characterization, and imagery. They reveal a writer who wants to grow and experiment, and who is not afraid to test new waters. Baldwin considered his last novel his best, for example. I agree, for the more one reads Just Above My Head, the more its formal and thematic radicalism becomes clear and compelling (move over postmodernism…). Another matter is that reading late Baldwin requires work and intellectual willingness to be challenged, if not changed. You cannot encapsulate any of his ideas in 140 characters; you have to fight for who you can become thanks to his literary witnessing. That’s what great literature has always done, and that’s why we find his writings so relevant to our racially and politically troubled moment today.

You suggest that because of his gender and sexuality, not many scholars have written about the role of domesticity in Baldwin’s writing. How does a familiarity with Baldwin’s house in France help us understand more about the domestic themes (?) in his later works?

Queer domestic life, not to mention doubly-marginalized black queer or queer of color home-making, has been a taboo in US culture. As Baldwin writes in many of his essays, there are racial and sexual secrets and myths undergirding American cultural and social history that sharply cut across racial and class lines. He shows us how the official, traditional representations of how black and white Americans have envisaged domesticity since the mid-twentieth century have been superficial, small-minded, and provincial at best. Crafted to uphold the myth of the ideal national house, they may let us, for example, learn about Alice B. Toklas and Gertude Stein. But since these eccentric women lived as lesbians in Paris and not in Pittsburgh, we are supposed to chalk their lives up to having been inflected, if not tainted, by foreign, indeed, perverse “European” freakishness. Such expulsions of gender and sexual identity beyond the borders of the national house in the portrayals of cultural icons like Baldwin strip them of their complexity and adulterate their art. For example, even in the recently popular Raul Peck’s art film, “I Am Not Your Negro,” we encounter the so-called “Baldwin brand,” or the desexualized race man, rather than the intersectionality-promoting radical, who exploded binaries of identity, and by 1985-87 advocated for domesticating androgyny and black queer sex both in his works and on the pages of Playboy magazine. To those who would not accept him even today, and there are many, the radical better remain hidden at Chez Baldwin.

James Baldwin’s house in France was recently destroyed to make room for luxury condos. What do you think has been lost with that destruction?

The demolition of Chez Baldwin demonstrates yet again the power of capital over human need. The brutal erasure of that house strives to make our collective desire to connect with each other by means of affect and by preserving material places and remnants of lives that matter to us, that we love and want to keep tangible, insignificant. (Think of Rosa Parks’s house in Detroit, which was recently slated for demolition, and was saved only by having been moved to Berlin, where it now thrives as a popular museum.) It also means that there will be no brick-and-mortar museum for this writer, for there are no comparable sites in the US; the demolition makes France look bad, too, given that Baldwin was a recipient of its highest distinction, the Legion of Honor. Baldwin’s wish for his house was that it become a retreat for writers; there were plans and parties, and money, ready to implement his vision. That this did not happen demonstrates astonishing lack of imagination, as well as the sad reality of unequal valuation of legacies that still propels racialized politics of archiving, preservation, and memorialization. Among over seventy writers’ houses open to the public in the US today, there are only two devoted to African Americans. For all the sweat and blood its gestation and birth have taken, I am thrilled that some of Baldwin’s domesticity survives on the pages of my book.

What will happen to Baldwin’s “material archive”—all his belongings from the now-destroyed house? What can we learn from his day-to-day possessions? Is there a particular object that is most special to you?

Thanks to the aforementioned late David Baldwin’s partner, Jill Hutchinson, to whom he entrusted the care of the house he had inherited from James in 1987, most of the contents have been rescued from ending up in the trash when the property was lost. My own painstaking efforts to preserve the Chez Baldwin archive in digital form since 2000 have also opened a way for it to be considered for acquisition by a notable US institution. (I am unable to disclose the details at the moment.) I am returning to St. Paul-de-Vence next July to document a few more artifacts that were given by Baldwin to members of the Roux family; I am also in contact with a new entity there, Les Amis de la Maison-Baldwin, who has been fundraising to host exhibits and maintain a cultural center devoted to the writer.

My favorite artifact is the welcome table from Baldwin’s last room that Hutchinson has preserved at her own house, its surface imprinted with rings left by drinking glasses, scratches, and indentations marking various moments in Baldwin’s life that we will never know. Positively obsessed with making the only material remnants of Baldwin’s domesticity available to a wider audience, I am currently working on a companion project to Me and My House. It will yield a digital exhibit that will serve as a virtual writer’s house-museum for Baldwin in the absence of a brick-and-mortar one. I envisage it as open-access and showcasing the house and its grounds, as much as its contents. Down the road, it will be accompanied by an e-book and include other archival materials that I have amassed over the years; I am looking forward to involving graduate and undergraduate students and enlisting the wisdom of my University of Michigan colleagues in this project. I am currently mired in writing grant proposals and securing funding for it and for my upcoming research trip to Chez Baldwin. Grateful for being cheered on in these efforts by the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, and by my units at the University of Michigan, Institute for the Humanities, and the Departments of Afroamerican and African Studies and American Culture, I am also looking forward to writing more on Baldwin and collaborating again, I hope, with the marvelous folks at Duke University Press, who have helped me bring Me and My House into the worl

Head to our website where you can read the introduction to Me and My House for free. You can order Me and My House from your favorite local or online bookstore (print and e-editions available) or save 30% when you order directly from Duke University Press. Use coupon code E18ZABOR at checkout to save.