Literature

Literature Lab

David Sherman

Interviews about the world of literary studies. For anyone who loves reading and wants to think about what they read.

Episodes

Why Read? Thoughts from a Cold Heaven
00:30:59
2017-09-22 13:50:40 UTC 00:30:59
Why Read? Thoughts from a Cold Heaven

J. Hillis Miller talks about the significance of reading literature in an age overwhelmed by other media.  And works through Yeats.

Make It Strange: Ben Marcus on the Outskirts of Realism
32:29
2017-09-22 13:50:40 UTC 32:29
Make It Strange: Ben Marcus on the Outskirts of Realism

An interview with novelist Ben Marcus about the strange, fantastic, and supernatural in fiction.  The pleasures of fiction gone weird.

On the Secret Lives of Literary Genres, Markets, and Money
45:19
2017-09-22 13:50:40 UTC 45:19
On the Secret Lives of Literary Genres, Markets, and Money

Mary Poovey, from New York University, discusses the historical entanglement of imaginative writing with writing about markets and money.  She focuses on the way genres that now seem distinct once overlapped in 18th c. England, and what this modern separation of literature from other discourses means for their different kinds of social authority.

Fraudulence and the Making of U.S. Literature
00:33:53
2017-09-22 13:50:40 UTC 00:33:53
Fraudulence and the Making of U.S. Literature

Lara Langer Cohen from Wayne State University discusses fraudulence in 19th-century U.S. literary culture.  A new way to think about Melville, Poe, and others who wrote in a time of rampant suspicion about antebellum literary institutions.

Adventures in Close Reading
50:10
2017-09-22 13:50:40 UTC 50:10
Adventures in Close Reading

William Flesch from Brandeis University talks about the theory and practice of literary close reading, and works through these ideas with a poem by Elizabeth Bishop and story by Ernest Hemingway.

Yeats and Irish Revival
54:48
2017-09-22 13:50:40 UTC 54:48
Yeats and Irish Revival

Gregory Castle from Arizona State University discusses W. B. Yeats's poetry and drama in the context of Irish revivalism.  He focuses on the temporal complexity of writing about this nationalist project.

Imagining Mars
00:54:02
2017-09-22 13:50:40 UTC 00:54:02
Imagining Mars

Robert Crossley talks about the long, strange tradition of Mars writing and its relation to the scientific imagination.  How have Mars and its life-forms been imagined, and how has this imaginative work affected scientific desire?  How has space exploration affected the stories we tell about Mars?  Crossley, professor emeritus at University of Massachusetts, Boston, is the author of Imagining Mars: A Literary History.

Convicted Reading, or, Literature in Alternative Sentencing
00:41:10
2017-09-22 13:50:40 UTC 00:41:10
Convicted Reading, or, Literature in Alternative Sentencing

This interview with Robert Waxler, from UMASS Dartmouth, focuses on the Changing Lives through Literature program for convicts who do a lit class as part of probation.  It's an alternative sentencing program that relies on the deep power of literary narrative to fundamentally transform the sense of self and possibility that one carries into the world.

The Gothic Novel
00:36:41
2017-09-22 13:50:40 UTC 00:36:41
The Gothic Novel

John Paul Riquelme, from Boston University, talks about the literary genre that will not die.  How do vampires, zombies, and other undead inhabit the literary imagination?  What does the darkness of the gothic mean, and why do we need it?  Where did it come from, what are its contemporary offspring?  And why does the darkness of this dark world give such pleasure?

How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain
00:43:31
2017-09-22 13:50:40 UTC 00:43:31
How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain

Leah Price, from Harvard University, talks about the strange lives of books, as material things, in Victorian England.  What kinds of things did people do with them?  How did doing these things with books affect one's place in the social order?  What does all this have to do with books, in their competition with screens, today?

Oprah, the Victorian Novel, and You
00:38:40
2017-09-22 13:50:40 UTC 00:38:40
Oprah, the Victorian Novel, and You

Lisa Rodensky from Wellesley College talks about Victorian Oprah -- how she takes up a similar cultural function as novelist George Eliot.  Oprah and Eliot shed surprising light on each other.  For all their differences, both seek to instruct our private lives in just about the most public media of their respective times, TV and the serialized novel.  Rodensky talks about their different insights into how we fashion our selves as we try to imagine the lives of others.

The Medieval Imagination, or, the Fresh Blood of the Deep Past
00:44:51
2017-09-22 13:50:40 UTC 00:44:51
The Medieval Imagination, or, the Fresh Blood of the Deep Past

Nicholas Watson from Harvard University discusses medieval concepts of the imagination, dream visions, and the desire for the past.  What's the relation between the imagination and historical knowledge?  How can medieval thought teach us something about keeping a vital relation to a past we can never know?  The mind as re-combining machine, the present as re-combined past.  Insights into how the blood of the deep past is still fresh.

Ezra Pound, Noh Theater, and Submission
00:37:04
2017-09-22 13:50:40 UTC 00:37:04
Ezra Pound, Noh Theater, and Submission

Carrie Preston from Boston University tells her story of reckoning with American poet Ezra Pound's Cantos, several of which he wrote while incarcerated.  These poems eventually take her to Japan to study Noh Theater.  What do we do with Pound's demanding poetry and fascist politics?  Where can we learn something from submission, and where can't we?

Virtual Reality in 9/11 Fiction
00:29:16
2017-09-22 13:50:40 UTC 00:29:16
Virtual Reality in 9/11 Fiction

Laura Tanner from Boston College talks about literary and artistic responses to the highly mediated, spectacle-quality experience of 9/11.  She focuses on Don DeLillo's novel Falling Man to ask about the authenticity of the experiences we have through screens.  What kinds of experiences are real in a digital age?  What kinds of emotional reactions to screen-experiences are legitimate?

Why Read? Thoughts from a Cold Heaven
00:30:59
2017-10-09 07:43:42 UTC 00:30:59
Why Read? Thoughts from a Cold Heaven

J. Hillis Miller talks about the significance of reading literature in an age overwhelmed by other media.  And works through Yeats.

Make It Strange: Ben Marcus on the Outskirts of Realism
32:29
2017-10-09 07:43:42 UTC 32:29
Make It Strange: Ben Marcus on the Outskirts of Realism

An interview with novelist Ben Marcus about the strange, fantastic, and supernatural in fiction.  The pleasures of fiction gone weird.

On the Secret Lives of Literary Genres, Markets, and Money
45:19
2017-10-09 07:43:42 UTC 45:19
On the Secret Lives of Literary Genres, Markets, and Money

Mary Poovey, from New York University, discusses the historical entanglement of imaginative writing with writing about markets and money.  She focuses on the way genres that now seem distinct once overlapped in 18th c. England, and what this modern separation of literature from other discourses means for their different kinds of social authority.

Fraudulence and the Making of U.S. Literature
00:33:53
2017-10-09 07:43:42 UTC 00:33:53
Fraudulence and the Making of U.S. Literature

Lara Langer Cohen from Wayne State University discusses fraudulence in 19th-century U.S. literary culture.  A new way to think about Melville, Poe, and others who wrote in a time of rampant suspicion about antebellum literary institutions.

Adventures in Close Reading
50:10
2017-10-09 07:43:42 UTC 50:10
Adventures in Close Reading

William Flesch from Brandeis University talks about the theory and practice of literary close reading, and works through these ideas with a poem by Elizabeth Bishop and story by Ernest Hemingway.

Yeats and Irish Revival
54:48
2017-10-09 07:43:42 UTC 54:48
Yeats and Irish Revival

Gregory Castle from Arizona State University discusses W. B. Yeats's poetry and drama in the context of Irish revivalism.  He focuses on the temporal complexity of writing about this nationalist project.

Imagining Mars
00:54:02
2017-10-09 07:43:42 UTC 00:54:02
Imagining Mars

Robert Crossley talks about the long, strange tradition of Mars writing and its relation to the scientific imagination.  How have Mars and its life-forms been imagined, and how has this imaginative work affected scientific desire?  How has space exploration affected the stories we tell about Mars?  Crossley, professor emeritus at University of Massachusetts, Boston, is the author of Imagining Mars: A Literary History.

Convicted Reading, or, Literature in Alternative Sentencing
00:41:10
2017-10-09 07:43:42 UTC 00:41:10
Convicted Reading, or, Literature in Alternative Sentencing

This interview with Robert Waxler, from UMASS Dartmouth, focuses on the Changing Lives through Literature program for convicts who do a lit class as part of probation.  It's an alternative sentencing program that relies on the deep power of literary narrative to fundamentally transform the sense of self and possibility that one carries into the world.

The Gothic Novel
00:36:41
2017-10-09 07:43:42 UTC 00:36:41
The Gothic Novel

John Paul Riquelme, from Boston University, talks about the literary genre that will not die.  How do vampires, zombies, and other undead inhabit the literary imagination?  What does the darkness of the gothic mean, and why do we need it?  Where did it come from, what are its contemporary offspring?  And why does the darkness of this dark world give such pleasure?

How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain
00:43:31
2017-10-09 07:43:42 UTC 00:43:31
How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain

Leah Price, from Harvard University, talks about the strange lives of books, as material things, in Victorian England.  What kinds of things did people do with them?  How did doing these things with books affect one's place in the social order?  What does all this have to do with books, in their competition with screens, today?

Oprah, the Victorian Novel, and You
00:38:40
2017-10-09 07:43:42 UTC 00:38:40
Oprah, the Victorian Novel, and You

Lisa Rodensky from Wellesley College talks about Victorian Oprah -- how she takes up a similar cultural function as novelist George Eliot.  Oprah and Eliot shed surprising light on each other.  For all their differences, both seek to instruct our private lives in just about the most public media of their respective times, TV and the serialized novel.  Rodensky talks about their different insights into how we fashion our selves as we try to imagine the lives of others.

The Medieval Imagination, or, the Fresh Blood of the Deep Past
00:44:51
2017-10-09 07:43:42 UTC 00:44:51
The Medieval Imagination, or, the Fresh Blood of the Deep Past

Nicholas Watson from Harvard University discusses medieval concepts of the imagination, dream visions, and the desire for the past.  What's the relation between the imagination and historical knowledge?  How can medieval thought teach us something about keeping a vital relation to a past we can never know?  The mind as re-combining machine, the present as re-combined past.  Insights into how the blood of the deep past is still fresh.

Ezra Pound, Noh Theater, and Submission
00:37:04
2017-10-09 07:43:42 UTC 00:37:04
Ezra Pound, Noh Theater, and Submission

Carrie Preston from Boston University tells her story of reckoning with American poet Ezra Pound's Cantos, several of which he wrote while incarcerated.  These poems eventually take her to Japan to study Noh Theater.  What do we do with Pound's demanding poetry and fascist politics?  Where can we learn something from submission, and where can't we?

Virtual Reality in 9/11 Fiction
00:29:16
2017-10-09 07:43:42 UTC 00:29:16
Virtual Reality in 9/11 Fiction

Laura Tanner from Boston College talks about literary and artistic responses to the highly mediated, spectacle-quality experience of 9/11.  She focuses on Don DeLillo's novel Falling Man to ask about the authenticity of the experiences we have through screens.  What kinds of experiences are real in a digital age?  What kinds of emotional reactions to screen-experiences are legitimate?