Decolonizing Self

A polyphonic blog-poem—in English and Georgian—about decolonizing one's self.

Right Queer: Hegel’s Philosophy of Marriage

What insight does Hegel's philosophy of marriage offer for contemporary debates about marriage and the state, citizenship, and queer kinship?


Para-Library Science at the NYPL

In Roland Emmerich’s schlocky disaster film The Day After Tomorrow (2004), a tsunami swamps the New York Public Library and enables some ham-handed scenarios about the fate of books after an environmental apocalypse.


Making Sport of Signs and Similitudes

For my last post on Cervantes and his “invention of fiction” before handing in my finished manuscript, I wanted to return to one of the most influential interpretations of his work in the twentieth century: that of Michel Foucault.


American Dreams in China: Challenges of the Transnational University

American Dreams in China (2013) is a Chinese film about upward mobility that will feel familiar to most Americans.


In Sickness and in Health

Elizabeth Bishop’s most impactful letter of the summer of 1947 was the first substantive one she ever wrote to Robert Lowell.


Winnie’s Penelope: On Solitude and the Comfort of Strangers

I just finished reading a fascinating appetizer to John Carlin’s new book on Nelson Mandela, Knowing Mandela.


Lafcadio Hearn: Global Before Globalization

How could a man born on a Greek island in 1869 be a household name in Japan today?

The Plastic Self and the Prescription of Psychology

How the advent of the "new psychology" in the late 19th century comes to shape and name the individual as the privileged site for sociocultural diagnosis and intervention.


Reference Works, Poetically

Why would anyone read a reference work cover-to-cover?

Writing the Case

What does a close analysis of the clinical case study in Philippe Pinel's writing tell us about institutional psychiatry's inauguration? How does it revise the Foucauldian narrative of the birth of psychiatry?


Omnivorousness, Elite Taste, Literary Scholarship

Let’s talk about quantitative literary history and where you can find the best tacos al pastor.

Late Style(s): The Ageism of the Singular

Generalizations about late style suffer from the same limitations as contemporary narratives of aging because of their shared, reductive rhetoric of progress, peak, and decline.


The Shock of the Modern

The discovery of being culturally late is a profound human experience.


Utopia and the reality of literary study

Is there anything more tedious than the facile distinction between university study and the “real world”?


Ghostlier demarcations

A book that furnishes no quotations is no book—it is a plaything. Next to the originator of a good sentence is the first quoter of it. How frequently the mere purchase of a book is mistaken for the appropriation of its contents.


What the ASA Boycott Actually Says About Academic Freedom

Some of you may have been following the recent matter of the ASA’s vote for an academic boycott of Israel. I was involved in that discussion and favor the boycott, but my blog today will not try to convince you or lobby you.


Lukács and the Mockingjay

How important is Katniss Everdeen, really, to the uprising in Panem?

A Sketch Map of a Lost Continent: The Republic of Letters

A historical traveler’s report on a strange imaginary land—one that had few of the distinctive marks by which we usually identify a state.


I Can, Therefore I Shall: Identifications from the Novel to Facebook

Is there something to be said for looking at Facebook as one of a long genealogy of modes of reader/viewer identification?


’If u don’t know who Mandela is, please shut up!’: Victims of Enchantment and the Reign of Emblems

Some months ago when news of Mandela’s illness began to trickle into the media I decided try and ensure that my 12-year-old knew something about the great man beyond the coverage to be found on the news.


Remembering Paul Alpers

The Spenser Review has run an issue remembering Paul Alpers, who sadly passed away last May, and I am one of the six contributors. I have a great fear (I hope I’m wrong) that Alpers is not so well known to those new to the profession of criticism. He was a giant, and is very much missed.


Remembrance Day and the Case of the $400,000,000 Poem

I like to think of John McCrae's "In Flanders Fields" as the $400,000,000 poem, and not just because its first stanza has appeared on the back of the Canadian $10 bank note—a fact that, all by itself, makes McCrae's World War I-era verse one of the most widely circulated poems in history.


Optimized Health

Reaction to the roll-out of has taken many predictable forms, among them the false equation whereby Grand Tech Failure = Evidence of the Unconstitutionality of the Affordable Care Act itself.


Living, loving, and party-going in Shakespeare

Plays have to end, but no one so well as Shakespeare understood how to use them to offer the hospitality of time, the interim of friendship.

Enduring Contact: Australian Perspectives in Environmental and Social Change

How is indigenous land management at contact studied? And how does this affect our understanding of contemporary land and heritage management?


1942-2013 = LOU REED = ∞

Lou Reed cared about art long after he could have stopped caring. Art is what drove him and fueled his work, what inspired him and made him so inspiring. And in this cultural moment where fame and page views often trump all other claims to attention, that is huge.


A Bombastic Book: "Staying Alive: A Survival Manual for the Liberal Arts"

Staying Alive, from its title on, is a refreshing—and radical—perspective on the "crises of the humanities."


Occupy: the view from Tehran I

Arash Beidollahkhani, a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at the University of Tehran, connects the Arab Spring to Occupy and other protests globally.

Vision and Insight: Portraits of the Aged Woman Artist, 1600-1800

Why do female artists portray themselves, or allow themselves to be portrayed, as old?


A Critic, His Life, His Age: A Tribute to Joseph Frank (1918-2013)

The mark that Frank’s legacy left on the study of Russian literature and culture in the larger Euro-American context is deep and indelible.


The Gannet of Thought

Stories of voyage are also stories of loss; this is why the Old English poem The Seafarer feels elegiac. In a column for The Nation, Joshua Clover considers (through allusions to The Seafarer) what kinds of losses the current crop of voyage movies are marking.

Machines in the Garden

What can Renaissance-era automata and garden water pranks tell us about early modern notions of animation and consciousness?


A Surprise Guest

Thoughts on Edgar A. Guest, the Economics of American Poetry, and the Blind Spots of Modern Poetry Studies.


Coppola's Girls, Coppola's America: Guilty/Not Guilty

It's hard to watch Sofia Coppola's 2013 The Bling Ring, which came out on DVD about a month ago, without feeling like you're at the end of a chain of recycled celebrity worship.

Life-Times of Becoming Human

We live in a time when every day brings ample evidence of the disposability of human life.


Whitman's Grandchildren: Becoming and Unbecoming Walt Whitman

The January 2013 issue of PMLA has a pretty cool article ("Whitman's Children") by Bowdoin College English Professor Peter Coviello that takes as its starting point a couple of babies born after the U.S. Civil War that were named Walt—a nominal tribute that two veterans paid to Walt Whitman after receiving Whitman's care during the war.


'I move into the gates, demanding...': A Tribute to Kofi Awoonor

I first met Kofi Awoonor as an excitable 17-year-old high school student then in the Sixth Form.


A History of the Emergence and Phenomenal Success of Memory as a Discursive-Frame

Rev explores how memories of atrocities are closely connected with traumatic silence, as well as the theory of how trauma can be passed onto others by listening, making trauma an intergenerational experience.


Imagining an Age of MOOCs

The MOOC era has dawned with a rush of utopian and dystopian bombast, much of which is bound to be wrong.