Two Roads Diverged in a Yellow Wood, and I, I Took the One Less Travelled By: Why I Resigned my Professorship
These Are the Tiny Engines That Power the Sails of Our Adventure: Friendship as a Way of Life (Again, and Again)
It is now 2 days since returning from the 2nd Biennial Meeting of the BABEL Working Group in Boston last week, and I am still trying to recover. Following this blog post I am going to share with everyone the notes of the first-ever “think tank” of BABEL, held the Sunday after the conference, in which a group of us engaged in some strategic planning for the future of our conference, but also for BABEL as an organization that is getting larger and larger in terms of its activities and membership. WE NEED HELP. To that end, in the next day or two, I will share what we discussed at our day-long retreat and also invite everyone here to please pitch in ideas regarding the next meeting, to be held in Autumn 2014 at UC-Santa Barbara.
In the meantime, I would like to share with everyone here the edited and slightly expanded version of the presentation that I and my partner Anna Klosowska delivered in Boston as part of Brantley and Sakina Bryant’s “Impure Collaborations” panel, which they described this way:
This panel explores collaborations that challenge the customary professional expectations of academic being-together. What kinds of shared work beckon beyond the sanitized templates for “objective” (“pure”) and “professional” academic collaboration? How can we best make visible the ways in which that affinity, friendship, eros, identity, political engagement, and other off-the-CV connections give us ways of working outside of often constrictive and normative academic hierarchies and working conditions?
Friendship, and also “work” motivated by personal intimacy and love, was the topic Anna and I chose, and we understand the mine-field in which we tread. It is hoped that it is understood that we do not take our project of friendship [which we believe is deeply political and radical] as some sort of monolith: “we are all friends now! isn’t that groovy?” As if that “group” or whatever it is would not be striated by all sorts of differences, internal dissension, mixed motives, lopsided attractions, asymmetrical power dynamics, and the like. The project of friendship, in relation to the academy, is, for us, very much a Derridean and even Foucauldian working through of what is to-come, to-arrive. It is a project of radical hope, not a *thing* that already exists. It is not one specific group that insists on a sort of membership or set of rituals or personality types for being “in” or “out.” It is not a collective that absorbs nor threatens to absorb otherness and difference; it is an activity of clearing ground so that anything might happen, so that specific persons can feel safe to be exactly who they are, even if what that is might embody the wish to be “left alone.” It requires courage, because you have to be willing to allow yourself to be changed through your encounters with others. And without further ado, here are our remarks: Read more
cruising in the ruins: the question of disciplinarity in the post/medieval university [from punctum books]
Brooklyn, NY: punctum books, 2012. 95 pages. ISBN-13: 978-0615697659. Free download.
This small book comprises the program of the 2nd Biennial Meeting of the BABEL Working Group, hosted by Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts from 20-22 September 2012, and co-hosted by Boston College, College of Charleston, George Washington University’s Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute, Harvard University, M.I.T., Palgrave Macmillan, punctum books, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, and Tufts University.
Featured Speakers: Jane Bennett, Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, Carolyn Dinshaw, Lindy Elkins-Tanton, David Kaiser, Marget Long, and Sans façon [Charles Blanc and Tristan Surtees].
Sessions: The Inter-Discipline of Pedagogy; Getting Medieval on Medieval Studies; Medieval Touchscreen; Families Old and New; Going Postal: Networks, Affect, and Retro-Technologies; Digging in the Ruins: Medievalism and the Uncanny in the University [I & II]; Future-Philology; Intellectual Crimes: Theft, Punking, and Roguish Behavior; Impure Collaborations; Enjoying the End (Again); Textual Fault-Lines; All In a Jurnal’s Work: A BABEL Wayzgoose; Ecomaterialism; The Urmadic University; Synaesthetics: Sensory Integration Against the Disciplines; Hoarders/Hordes; Parts, Wholes, and the New; Will It Blend? Equipping the Humanities Lab; What Is Critical Thinking?; #Occupy Boston: Humanities and Praxis; Se7en Undeadly ScIeNceS: The Trivium and Quadrivium in the Multiforking University; Wild Fermentation: Disciplined Knowledge and Drink; The Historiographic Ghost. Read more
by Thomas Meyer
Edited by David Hadbawnik
with a Preface by David Hadbawnik, an Introduction by Daniel C. Remein, and an Interview with Thomas Meyer
Brooklyn, NY: punctum books, 2012. 312 pages. ISBN-13: 978-0615612652. FREE download + $15.00 in print.
“Thomas Meyer’s modernist reworking of Beowulf is a wonder.” ~John Ashbery
“Tom Meyer’s Beowulf reenacts the dark grandeur of a poem that is as much a story of vengeance as it is of courage and loyalty. Meyer brings the poem’s alliterative, inflected line in concert with post-Poundian lineation to give the reader a vivid sense of our oldest poem’s modernity. This is a major accomplishment.” ~Michael Davidson
“Meyer’s work is amazing and richly satisfying, a full-scale collaboration between an ancient poem and a modern poet. Its diversity of tone is dazzling, from stately to swinging, from philosophically abstract to savagely concrete, from conversationally discursive to gnomic, haunting, chthonic — yet every line feels honestly rooted in the original text, the echo of an generous, open-hearted, and lovingly close reading of the poem.” ~Roy Liuzza
Many modern Beowulf translations, while excellent in their own ways, suffer from what Kathleen Biddick might call “melancholy” for an oral and aural way of poetic making. By and large, they tend to preserve certain familiar features of Anglo-Saxon verse as it has been constructed by editors, philologists, and translators: the emphasis on caesura and alliteration, with diction and syntax smoothed out for readability. The problem with, and the paradox of this desired outcome, especially as it concerns Anglo-Saxon poetry, is that we are left with a document that translates an entire organizing principle based on oral transmission (and perhaps composition) into a visual, textual realm of writing and reading. The sense of loss or nostalgia for the old form seems a necessary and ever-present shadow over modern Beowulfs. Read more
punctum books is thrilled to announce the publication of Speculations III — the first issue of Speculations: A Journal of Speculative Realism (edited by Michael Austin, Paul J. Ennis, Fabio Gironi, Thomas Gokey, and Robert Jackson) to be published in conjunction with punctum books. This is a leviathan whale of an issue [510 pages!] comprising articles (by Benjamin Norris, Beatrice Marovich, Levi Bryant, Daniel Whistler, Daniel Colucciello Barber, Christopher Norris, and Michael Haworth), position papers (by Christian Thorne and Peter Wolfendale), translations (Graham Harman’s “On Vicarious Causation” into German, for example), reviews (of Levi Bryant’s The Democracy of Objects, Graham Harman’s Circus Philosophicus, Christopher Watkin’s Difficult Atheism, Andy Merrifield’s Magical Marxism, and Joseph Nechvatal’s nOise anusmOs installation), and an interview with Stathis Psillos. Those interested in the ongoing struggles to define exactly what Speculative Realism (SR) is, will want to read the translation of Louis Morelle’s comprehensive “Speculative Realism: After Infinitude and Beyond?” also included in this issue.
Re-visioning the past: Neuromedievalism and the neural circuits of vision (Ashby Kinch)
Neurobiological alphabets: Language origins and the problem of universals (Matthew Boyd Goldie)
Once more with feeling: Tactility and cognitive alterity, medieval and modern (Lara Farina)
‘Mind like wickerwork’: The neuroplastic aesthetics of Chaucer’s House of Tidings (Ashby Kinch)
Imitating Christ as a meme (Mayumi Taguchi)
Manual thinking: John Mombaer’s meditations, the neuroscience of the imagination and the future of the humanities (Sara Ritchey)
A cautionary note from a neuroscientist’s perspective: Interpreting from mirror neurons and neuroplasticity (Antony D. Passaro)
BOOK REVIEW ESSAY
Going mental (Aranye Fradenburg)
[see postmedieval site at Palgrave for more information on this and other issues]
BABEL is sponsoring two roundtables–”Plunder” and “Blunder”–while postmedieval is sponsoring a roundtable, “Thriving.” Abstracts are due September 15 (see details for submission below), and descriptions follow:
Thriving: A Roundtable
Sponsor: postmedieval: a journal of medieval cultural studies
The work of Aranye Fradenburg, especially her psychoanalytic criticism of Chaucer, and her formulations of discontinuist historical approaches to the Middle Ages, has been extremely influential within medieval studies for the past 15 or so years. More recently she has been focusing on more broad defenses of the humanities, especially with regard to the valuable role of literary studies relative to the arts of everyday living,eudaimonia [flourishing], ethical community, and well-being, and also on psychoanalysis itself as a “liberal art.” Relationality, intersubjectivity, aliveness, resilience, care of the self and also of others, adaptive flexibility, playfulness, shared attention, companionship, healing, and thriving seem, increasingly, to be the key watchwords and concerns of Fradenburg’s work, and at the same time, the so-called “literary” mode is still central to these concerns, such that, as Fradenburg has written, “Interpretation and relationality depend on one another because all relationships are unending processes of interpretation and expression, listening and signifying. In turn, sentience assists relationality: we can’t thrive and probably can’t survive without minds open to possibility, capable of sensing and interpreting the tiniest shifts in, e.g., pitch and tone” ["Frontline: The Liberal Arts of Psychoanalysis," Journal of theAmerican Academy of Psychoanalysis and Dynamic Psychiatry 39.4 (2011): 589-609]. This roundtable invites short presentations on the valuable role(s) that medieval studies might play in the future of the liberal arts, especially as they pertain to “thriving” and “living” and to the ways in which living itself is an art. [Aranye Fradenburg will be a participant on this panel.] Read more
cruising in the ruins: the question of disciplinarity in the post/medieval university
20-22 September 2012 Boston, Massachusetts
[co-organized by the BABEL Working Group, Boston College, Northeastern University, M.I.T., postmedieval: a journal of medieval cultural studies, and punctum books]
Jane Bennett (Chair, Department of Political Science, Johns Hopkins University)
Carolyn Dinshaw (Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis and English at New York University), author ofChaucer’s Sexual Poetics (1989)
Marget Long (MFA, Rhode Island School of Design)
Sans façon (Glasgow, Scotland)
“Read more” for all the details about the featured presenters, the conference theme and call for papers, and the conference organizers Read more
Cluster Essays (Edited by Julie Singer):
- Cluster Editor’s Introduction: Disability and the Social Body (Julie Singer)
- How to Kiss a Leper (Julie Orlemanski)
- The Disabled Body in the Fabliaux (M. Andia Augustin)
- Drug Overdose, Disability, and Male Friendship in Fifteenth-Century Mamluk Cairo (Kristina Richardson)
- ‘That suck’d the honey of his music vows’: Disability studies in early modern musicological research (Samantha Bassler)
- Queer Relics: Martyrological Time and the Eroto-Aesthetics of Suffering in Bertha Harris’s Lover (Kendra Smith)
- Networks of Exchange in The Franklin’s Tale (Janet Thormann)
- Monstrous Mongols (Noreen Giffney)
<You can download the book for FREE or purchase the print edition [for a mere $17.00] HERE.>
Edited by Jeffrey J. Cohen
Animal, Mineral, Vegetable examines what happens when we cease to assume that only humans exert agency. Through a careful examination of medieval, early modern and contemporary lifeworlds, these essays collectively argue against ecological anthropocentricity. Sheep, wolves, camels, flowers, cotton, chairs, magnets, landscapes, refuse and gems are more than mere objects. They act; they withdraw; they make demands; they connect within lively networks that might foster a new humanism, or that might proceed with indifference towards human affairs. Through what ethics do we respond to these activities and forces? To what futures do these creatures and objects invite us, especially when they appear within the texts and cultures of the “distant” past?
Contents: Jeffrey J. Cohen (George Washington University):“Introduction: All Things” – Karl Steel (Brooklyn College): “With the World, or Bound to Face the Sky: The Postures of the Wolf Child of Hesse” – Sharon Kinoshita (University of California, Santa Cruz):“Animals and the Medieval Culture of Empire” – Kellie Robertson (University of Wisconsin-Madison):“Exemplary Rocks” – Valerie Allen (John Jay College of Criminal Justice): “Mineral Virtue” – Jane Bennett (Johns Hopkins University): “Powers of the Hoard: Notes on Material Agency” – Carla Nappi (University of British Columbia): “You Don’t Mess With The Yohan: Cotton, Objects, and Becoming Vegetal in Early Modern China” – Peggy McCracken (University of Michigan): “The Human and the Floral” –Eileen Joy (Southern Illinois University Edwardsville): “You Are Here: A Manifesto” – Julian Yates (University of Delaware): “Sheep Tracks” – Julia Reinhard Lupton (University of California, Irvine): “Of Chairs, Stools and Trestle Tables: Scenes from the Renaissance Res Publica of Things”
Response essays: Lowell Duckert, “A Slower (Non)humanities” – Jonathan Gil Harris, “Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: Twenty Questions” – Nedda Mehdizadeh, “Ruinous Monument’: Transporting Objects in Herbert’s Persepolis” Read more