Literature

Reading After Trump: Conversations in Literature and Politics

readingaftertrump.stanford.edu

Conversations between literary scholars and writers on the significance of literature to contemporary US politics, and effects politics has on how we read and discuss literature. Created by scholars at Stanford University.

Episodes

Reading After Trump, Episode 5 Elaine Treharne
48:21
2017-09-30 04:24:03 UTC 48:21
Reading After Trump, Episode 5 Elaine Treharne

When I read Old English, “The Battle of Maldon” or Beowulf or any of these texts, I read resilience and even in times of successive conflicts, which we have now, there's an ability to be resolute and to seek to overcome that we would do well to emulate. Elaine Treharne

Our newest episode is a conversation with Professor Elaine Treharne, an expert of medieval literature and Director of Stanford's Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis.  

We got to talk with Elaine about her research and writing, her political and scholarly development, and above all about the beauty and fascination of early medieval literature.  Our key text is the famously enigmatic poem generally known as "Wulf and Eadwacer," translated here by Elaine:

"Wretched" (Wulf and Eadwacer) Authorship unknown

For my tribe it's like being given a tribute. They'll want to consume him if he comes on that crowd. It's not like that for us. Wulf's on one island, I'm on the other. Fast-bound is that island, surrounded by fen. They are murderous men there on the island. They'll want to consume him if he comes on that crowd. That's unlikely for us. I traced the wide travels of Wulf in my wonderings when it was rainy weather, and I sat weeping. Then he, battle-hardened, laid arms about me. That was pleasure for me; still, there was pain for me too. Wulf, my Wulf, my wonderings of you made me sick—your seldom comings, my mourning mind—not the missing of meals. Can you hear, Eadwacer? Wulf will carry our wretched whelp to the woods. That may easily be split apart what was never spliced, the riddle of us both together.

In Old English:

Leodum is minum     swylce him mon lac gife. Willað hy hine aÞecgan     gif he on Þreat cymeð. Ungelic is us. Wulf is on iege,     Ic on oÞerre. Fæst is Þæt eglond,     fenne biworpen. Sindon wælreowe     weras Þær on ige. Willað hy hine aÞecgan     gif he on Þreat cymeð. Ungelic is us. Wulfes Ic mines widlastum     wenum dogode Þonne hit wæs renig weder,     one Ic reotugu sæt. Þonne mec se beaducafa     bogum bilegde: Wæs me wyn to Þon;    wæs me hwæÞre eac lað. Wulf, min Wulf,    wena me Þine seoce gedydon,    Þine seldcymas, murnende mod,    nales meteliste. Gehyrest Þu, Eadwacer?     Uncerne earmne hwelp bireð wulf to wuda. Þæt mon eaÞe tosliteð     ðætte næfre gesomnad wæs, uncer giedd geador.

In the closing of the podcast, Elaine describes how this poem still speaks to us today, and what such literature can tell us about being human.

Here are a few links for exploring further the books and subjects in the episode:

Information on the Exeter Book

"The Wife's Lament" in translation

Living through Conquest: The Politics of Early English, 1020-1220 by Elaine Treharne

The Myth of Nations: The Medieval Origins of Europe by Patrick J. Geary

Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

A review of Stephen Greenblatt's The Swerve

The history of Tryweryn

The controversy over a recent performance of Julius Caesar

You can follow Elaine on Twitter: @ETreharne

You can find more about our podcast at readingaftertrump.stanford.edu

Reading After Trump: Episode 4, Solmaz Sharif
35:00
2017-09-30 04:24:03 UTC 35:00
Reading After Trump: Episode 4, Solmaz Sharif

A conversation with poet and lecturer Solmaz Sharif on James Baldwin, Muriel Rukeyser, and on Sharif's poetry collection Look.

More on this conversation can be found at readingaftertrump.stanford.edu

Photo credit: Joseph Nicéphore Niépce [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Reading After Trump, Episode 5 Elaine Treharne
48:21
2017-12-20 02:30:15 UTC 48:21
Reading After Trump, Episode 5 Elaine Treharne

When I read Old English, “The Battle of Maldon” or Beowulf or any of these texts, I read resilience and even in times of successive conflicts, which we have now, there's an ability to be resolute and to seek to overcome that we would do well to emulate. Elaine Treharne

Our newest episode is a conversation with Professor Elaine Treharne, an expert of medieval literature and Director of Stanford's Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis.  

We got to talk with Elaine about her research and writing, her political and scholarly development, and above all about the beauty and fascination of early medieval literature.  Our key text is the famously enigmatic poem generally known as "Wulf and Eadwacer," translated here by Elaine:

"Wretched" (Wulf and Eadwacer) Authorship unknown

For my tribe it's like being given a tribute. They'll want to consume him if he comes on that crowd. It's not like that for us. Wulf's on one island, I'm on the other. Fast-bound is that island, surrounded by fen. They are murderous men there on the island. They'll want to consume him if he comes on that crowd. That's unlikely for us. I traced the wide travels of Wulf in my wonderings when it was rainy weather, and I sat weeping. Then he, battle-hardened, laid arms about me. That was pleasure for me; still, there was pain for me too. Wulf, my Wulf, my wonderings of you made me sick—your seldom comings, my mourning mind—not the missing of meals. Can you hear, Eadwacer? Wulf will carry our wretched whelp to the woods. That may easily be split apart what was never spliced, the riddle of us both together.

In Old English:

Leodum is minum     swylce him mon lac gife. Willað hy hine aÞecgan     gif he on Þreat cymeð. Ungelic is us. Wulf is on iege,     Ic on oÞerre. Fæst is Þæt eglond,     fenne biworpen. Sindon wælreowe     weras Þær on ige. Willað hy hine aÞecgan     gif he on Þreat cymeð. Ungelic is us. Wulfes Ic mines widlastum     wenum dogode Þonne hit wæs renig weder,     one Ic reotugu sæt. Þonne mec se beaducafa     bogum bilegde: Wæs me wyn to Þon;    wæs me hwæÞre eac lað. Wulf, min Wulf,    wena me Þine seoce gedydon,    Þine seldcymas, murnende mod,    nales meteliste. Gehyrest Þu, Eadwacer?     Uncerne earmne hwelp bireð wulf to wuda. Þæt mon eaÞe tosliteð     ðætte næfre gesomnad wæs, uncer giedd geador.

In the closing of the podcast, Elaine describes how this poem still speaks to us today, and what such literature can tell us about being human.

Here are a few links for exploring further the books and subjects in the episode:

Information on the Exeter Book

"The Wife's Lament" in translation

Living through Conquest: The Politics of Early English, 1020-1220 by Elaine Treharne

The Myth of Nations: The Medieval Origins of Europe by Patrick J. Geary

Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

A review of Stephen Greenblatt's The Swerve

The history of Tryweryn

The controversy over a recent performance of Julius Caesar

You can follow Elaine on Twitter: @ETreharne

You can find more about our podcast at readingaftertrump.stanford.edu

Reading After Trump: Episode 4, Solmaz Sharif
35:00
2017-12-20 02:30:16 UTC 35:00
Reading After Trump: Episode 4, Solmaz Sharif

A conversation with poet and lecturer Solmaz Sharif on James Baldwin, Muriel Rukeyser, and on Sharif's poetry collection Look.

More on this conversation can be found at readingaftertrump.stanford.edu

Photo credit: Joseph Nicéphore Niépce [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Reading After Trump, Episode 1
26:53
2017-12-20 02:30:16 UTC 26:53
Reading After Trump, Episode 1

“If you really pause on that, ‘too sane to understand the modern world,’ it’s a very haunting phrase. Think about 1984 and Winston Smith’s struggle to remain sane. Think about Orwell’s proposition that if you remain sane that might prevent you from understanding.”—Alex Woloch

Our first show, an ad hoc recording in mid-November 2016, was a discussion of George Orwell in the context of the 2016 US election results.

The key passages that we focused on can be found at the home page of the show website.

Reading After Trump, Episode 3 Blakey Vermeule
01:04:58
2017-12-20 02:30:16 UTC 01:04:58
Reading After Trump, Episode 3 Blakey Vermeule

“Swift I think is basically the great diagnoser of the human modern condition…Swift was writing at the time basically of the invention of the modern political party…and he was very, very shrewd about what that was likely to mean and what it looked like.”—Blakey Vermeule

In our third episode, we got to speak with Professor Blakey Vermeule on our Gulliver’s Travels—our most canonical text so far, and one with special insights into the formation of the modern Western political states.

Here are the key passages of the book we focused on:

     There is likewise another Diversion which is only shewn before the Emperor and Empress, and first Minister, upon particular Occasions. The Emperor lays on the Table three fine silken Threads of six Inches long. One is Blue, the other Red, and the third Green. These Threads are proposed as Prizes for those Persons whom the Emperor hath a mind to distinguish by a peculiar Mark of his Favour. The Ceremony is performed in his Majesty’s great Chamber of State, where the Candidates are to undergo a Tryal of Dexterity very different from the former, and such as I have not observed the least Resemblance of in any other Country of the new or old World. The Emperor holds a Stick in his Hands, both Ends parallel to the Horizon, while the Candidates advancing one by one, sometimes leap over the Stick, sometimes creep under it backwards and forwards several times, according as the Stick is advanced or depressed. Sometimes the Emperor holds one end of the Stick, and his first Minister the other; sometimes the Minister has it entirely to himself. Whoever performs his part with most Agility, and holds out the longest in leaping and creeping, is rewarded with the Blue coloured Silk; the Red is given to the next, and the Green to the third, which they all wear girt twice round about the middle; and you see few great Persons about this Court, who are not adorned with one of these Girdles. (Book I, pp. 32-33)

 

     My Reconcilement to the Yahoo-kind in general might not be so difficult if they would be content with those Vices and Follies only, which Nature hath intitled them to. I am not in the least provoked at the Sight of a Lawyer, a Pick-pocket, a Colonel, a Fool, a Lord, a Gamester, a Politician, a Whore-master, a Physician, an Evidence, a Suborner, an Attorney, a Traitor, or the like: This is all according to the due Course of Things: But when I behold a Lump of Deformity, and Diseases, both in Body and Mind, smitten with Pride, it immediately breaks all the Measures of my Patience; neither shall I be ever able to comprehend how such an Animal and such a Vice could tally together. The wise and virtuous Houyhnhnms, who abound in all Excellencies that can adorn a Rational Creature, have no Name for this Vice in their Language, which hath no Terms to express any thing that is evil, except those whereby they describe the detestable Qualities of their Yahoos, among which they were not able to distinguish this of Pride, for want of thoroughly understanding Human Nature, as it sheweth itself in other Countries where that Animal presides. (Book IV, p. 249-50)

Edition: Norton, 2002.