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Debating Tenure, Again By now, many readers will have seen the story in the Chronicle of Higher Ed about the dramatic decline in the number of tenure track faculty at American colleges and universities. The Valve’s own Marc Bousquet is quoted in the story. There is also a series of columns under the “Room… Amardeep Singh 07/20/10 3 07/21/10
Research, Teaching, and What Ails English Studies (a brief response to Cathy Davidson) I would recommend readers to Cathy Davidson’s recent post at the HASTAC blog, “Research is Teaching.” She helpfully puts the basic drift of her argument in bullet-points, which I’ll paste here: 1. Most doctorate-granting departments require one monograph for tenure, two for promotion to full professor. 2. Yet we do not… Amardeep Singh 06/28/10 9 07/14/10
Murakami, “The Big Sleep,” Allusions to Proust As I have been teaching Haruki Murakami’s Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World this spring to undergraduates, I have been tracking some of the allusions and reference points. Some, like the references to Turgenev’s Rudin and Stendhal’s The Red and the Black, seem to be relatively straightforward allusions, though… Amardeep Singh 04/02/10 3 04/02/10
From “Pinocchio” to “Astro-Boy”: Fairy Tales and Sci-Fi In the spring I’m co-teaching a course with a scholar visiting from Japan, “The Edges of the Human: Bodies, Animals, and Machines in Speculative Fiction Films and Literature.” The course will be about evenly divided between Japanese science fiction films and books, and British and American science fiction and fantasy. It’s… Amardeep Singh 12/16/09 13 12/20/09
The Sort of Book You Actually Want to Write: “Big Sid’s Vincati” A friend of mine from graduate school, Matthew Biberman, whom I knew primarily as an ambitious and driven Milton scholar, has written a memoir, not about Milton but motorcycles. The book is called Big Sid’s Vincati: The Story of a Father, a Son, and the Motorcycle of a Lifetime. His book,… Amardeep Singh 06/22/09 14 08/18/09
Shameless Literary Tourism in Dublin: Bloomsday 2009 It’s rather striking how much of a commodity James Joyce is in Dublin; there’s nothing comparable to it in any American city. You hear mentions of Bloomsday activites on Dublin radio stations, and see events described in some of the newspapers. There are two Joyce museums in the city, a proper… Amardeep Singh 06/18/09 0
“Mimicry” and “Hybridity” in Plain English The following is in part inspired by Rohan Maitzen’s post, from a few weeks ago, on questions in postcolonial theory. Upon reading about her dissatisfaction with the way reference books and anthologies introduce certain key concepts, it occurred to me that it might be useful for teachers who are not specialists… Amardeep Singh 05/08/09 7 05/11/09
Eve Sedgwick: A Few Reflections As many readers may be aware, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick passed away last weekend. Her friend Cathy Davidson has a tribute up, and Duke University Press has noted it as well on its internal blog. I’m sure there will be much more to come from Eve’s friends, colleagues, and students in the… Amardeep Singh 04/15/09 2 04/21/09
Nose-Picking Is Encouraged (Teaching Notes on “Ulysses") [Below is a modified version of a wrap-up lecture I used in an undergraduate class last week, closing out our unit on Ulysses. The class is titled “James Joyce and Modern Ireland,” and it is aimed at senior English majors.] When I was an undergraduate at Cornell, I took a class… Amardeep Singh 11/25/08 12 11/29/08
William Deresiewicz in “The Nation,” And a “Long Sunday” Blogger’s Response Start with William Deresiewicz in The Nation, for what ails the English department, according to him (via English @ Emory). It’s been said many times that English enrollments have declined nationally because of “theory,” but that’s been shown, I think conclusively, not to be true. (A starting point might be this… Amardeep Singh 03/28/08 24 03/31/08
A Little on Poet Alan Shapiro I first learned about Alan Shapiro’s poetry a couple of years ago, when someone suggested I read his book Song & Dance. I loved it, and then when a colleague suggested Tantalus in Love, I ate that up as well. This spring, I decided try and teach Tantalus in Love in… Amardeep Singh 03/13/08 1 03/14/08
Blogging and Peer Review—Noah Wardrip-Fruin’s Experiment In the January 22 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education, Jeffrey Young writes about an experiment being conducted by Noah Wardrip-Fruin, a Communications professor at UC-San Diego. Wardrip-Fruin is publishing segments of his book, Expressive Processing, on a blog, with the hope that feedback from commenters might be as effective… Amardeep Singh 01/24/08 3 01/25/08
China Miéville, not a fan of Libertarianism Via 3QD, China Miéville has a biting critique of libertarianism in In These Times. It’s an excerpt from a forthcoming book: Libertarianism is by no means a unified movement. As many of its advocates proudly stress, it comprises a taxonomy of bickering branches—minarchists, objectivists, paleo- and neolibertarians, agorists, et various al.—just… Amardeep Singh 10/25/07 5 10/28/07
“The Good Soldier”—A Bad Novel Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier (1915) is considered a classic of sorts from the early modernist period. W.H. Auden thought Ford was a great novelist (he had particularly strong praise for Parade’s End, which deals with World War I), and so did Graham Greene. From what I can tell, The… Amardeep Singh 08/15/07 32 08/22/07
Idea for Discussion: An Academic Blog Review This is a variant of an idea John Holbo has mentioned a few times over the years. But while (as I recall), Holbo has posited blogging as a radical alternative to the old peer-reviewed journal system, I’ve been thinking there might be a need to have a system that is more… Amardeep Singh 03/28/07 11 01/31/10
The Sea, The Sea: “Ulysses” vs. “To the Lighthouse” Recently, in my Modernism class, I gave students two brief passages relating to the sea to discuss, one from Joyce’s Ulysses, and the other from Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse. The similarities in the theme of the two passages helps provide an anchor for comparison; I’m curious to know what readers… Amardeep Singh 03/13/07 7 03/15/07
Peter Nicholson on Auden, and against the “Poetic” The Auden centenary is coming up, and Peter Nicholson has posted his poem, “Asking Auden,” from 1984 at 3 Quarks Daily (seems we’re in a linking-to-3QD mood over here). He’s also posted a short essay with some reflections on the function of criticism, specifically poetry criticism. The highlight for me is… Amardeep Singh 02/13/07 8 02/17/07
Virginia Woolf, in Winter When a person is inside her room, surrounded by everyday objects, the sense of home anchors the self, and to some extent limits the free flow of imagination. But as one steps outside, in London, on a cold winter’s day, everything changes. Anything might make a good excuse; for Woolf, it’s… Amardeep Singh 01/26/07 3 01/27/07
A Psychoanalyst in Turmoil Amy Bloom has a review of a new book about an Indian psychoanalyst named Masud Khan in this weekend’s New York Times. Khan was born in Lahore in 1922, and moved to England to study at Oxford around 1944. He ended up having a successful career as a psychoanalyst, publishing several… Amardeep Singh 01/22/07 2 01/23/07
“Sacred Games”: Two Reviewers Who Haven’t Finished the Book There seems to be something about Vikram Chandra’s heavily-hyped, 900 page Bombay gangster novel, Sacred Games, that has led reviewers to publish evaluations before they’ve finished reading the book.  I can forgive Sven Birkerts for his essay in the Boston Globe. He writes about the publishing industry’s hype machine, and how… Amardeep Singh 01/19/07 14 01/23/07
Richard Posner on Plagiarism; the Case of Yambo Ouloguem Via the Literary Saloon, I learn that Richard Posner has a new book on plagiarism out, called The Little Book of Plagiarism. There are already some reviews, including the Louisville Courier-Journal (which includes an interesting tidbit: the University of Oregon has been accused of plagiarizing its plagiarism policy from Stanford University).… Amardeep Singh 01/09/07 13 01/18/07
Putting the “Literary” in “Secularism” (and a little on James Wood) So – my book is for sale in cloth in the UK. I’ve created an informational mini-blog about it here, and also posted the text of Chapter One, on which I would be happy to answer questions if any readers have the time or inclination.  * * * Getting my dissertation… Amardeep Singh 01/07/07 18 01/13/07
Side Effects of the MLA’s Move to January According to Inside Higher Ed, the Delegate Assembly has voted to change the date of the MLA, from the last week of December to the first week of January. The change in schedule will not take effect until around 2010.  Obviously this will mean some general logistical changes. Plane fare might… Amardeep Singh 01/02/07 5 01/03/07
Nabokov: Butterflies, Darwin, Mimesis From Nabokov’s Speak, Memory: “The mysteries of mimicry had a special attraction for me. Its phenomena showed an artistic perfection usually associated with man-wrought things. Consider the imitation of oozing poison by bubblelike macules on a wing (complete with pseudo-refraction) or by glossy yellow knobs on a chrysalis ("Don’t eat me--I… Amardeep Singh 12/01/06 12 12/03/06
The Illusionist vs. The Prestige Note: I don’t think there are any plot spoilers in the following, though there are “meta-spoilers”—concepts that become apparent after watching each film. If you don’t want your thought-space crowded and intend to see one or both of these films, you might want to skip. Both movies are actually pretty entertaining.… Amardeep Singh 10/30/06 10 03/26/07
“A certain deceptive variation in these fancy chapter titles”: Wimsatt & Beardsley… and Indie Rock I wanted to thank commenters on my “Syllabus Sharing” post for the many suggestions for things to read and/or assign in my course on “Secrecy and Authorship.” Among other things, I followed up on “The Intentional Fallacy,” and found it helpful; I assigned it in conjunction with Oscar Wilde, to good… Amardeep Singh 09/28/06 11 10/02/06
The Genre of This Book Is Legally Binding James Frey is giving people their money back. James Frey, the author who admitted making up portions of his best-selling memoir, “A Million Little Pieces,” and his publisher, Random House, have agreed in principle on a settlement with readers who filed lawsuits claiming they had been defrauded. Neither Mr. Frey nor… Amardeep Singh 09/14/06 4 04/03/08
Susan Sontag’s Diaries: on the Need for Egotism Excerpts from Susan Sontag’s journal were in this past Sunday’s New York Times Magazine. The highlight for me was the following section from early in the portion of the journal (1958) included in the NYTM: Why is writing important? Mainly, out of egotism, I suppose. Because I want to be that… Amardeep Singh 09/14/06 6 09/17/06
Syllabus Sharing? Anyone want to share syllabi? If not full syllabi, how about a selection of books, poems, short stories or films you’re teaching? Anything you’re particularly excited about? If you’re a student, what are you looking forward to reading this fall? (Note: You don’t need to be in literature in either case.)… Amardeep Singh 08/29/06 24 05/03/11
A Pre-reading of “Snakes on a Plane” Note: the following is a parody. Though I myself haven’t seen the film, it is almost impossible not to think that Lacan had watched Snakes on a Plane, because his conception of alterity is so closely aligned with the film’s revolutionary mise en scene. Indeed, my reading below is deeply invested… Amardeep Singh 08/18/06 3 08/26/06
The Author as ‘Master’: Colm Toibin’s Henry James 1895, London. On the opening night of his play, Guy Domville, Henry James was too nervous to actually stay and watch the performance at the St. James Theatre, where it was to debut. Instead, he went down the street to watch a recently released Oscar Wilde play, An Ideal Husband. James… Amardeep Singh 08/14/06 8 08/20/06
Contemporary Indian Speculative Fiction Samit Basu has put together a wonderful series of essays and interviews on the subject of contemporary Indian speculative fiction. It’s really a small encyclopedia rather than a blog post, so here are a couple of pointers on where to start. First and foremost, go here to read about the question… Amardeep Singh 07/05/06 0
The True Story of Ramo Samee, the Indian Juggler (w/quotes from Hazlitt) I was browsing William Makepeace Thackeray's wonderful and strange The Book of Snobs (1848), and I came across the following odd passage in the midst of a rant about a lady-friend's poor table manners: I have seen, I say, the Hereditary Princess of Potztausend-Donnerwetter (that serenely-beautiful woman) use her knife in… Amardeep Singh 05/26/06 7 09/10/10
Craig Seligman on First Novels: George Eliot, Henry James, William Faulkner, William Burroughs [Update: This post has been de-snarked, so the comments may not make perfect sense. -AS] Craig Seligman has a long survey of first novels in Bookforum. The essay is more driven by local observations and insights than it is by a strong thesis, but it’s generally pretty agreeable reading to this… Amardeep Singh 05/23/06 4 05/24/06
Where Women Rule and Mirrors Are Weapons After my recent post on early Bengali science fiction, Desiknitter suggested in a comment that Sultana’s Dream (1905) by Rokeya Hosain ought to be on the list. She was right: Sultana’s Dream is an intriguing example of a feminist utopia—an imagined world where women are socially and politically dominant over men,… Amardeep Singh 05/15/06 1 05/15/06
Was it a Play or a Funeral? Terence Bellew MacManus on Abbey Street (Dublin, 1861) While reading a book on colonial India at the California E-Scholarship Editions site, I browsed my way into Adrian Frazier’s Behind the Scenes: Yeats, Horniman, and the Struggle for the Abbey Theatre (1990; full text).  In the Preface ("Whose Abbey Theatre?"), one finds a discussion of an event that took place… Amardeep Singh 05/10/06 2 10/01/06
Early Bengali Science Fiction I thought I might risk going out on the limb of historical obscurity and share an article by Debjani Sengupta (PDF) on early Bengali science fiction writing. The article is from the journal Sarai, which is published in Delhi. Some of the articles offer some truly impenetrable jargon -– even with… Amardeep Singh 05/07/06 9 05/11/06
Geoffrey Chaucer Defends Himself Against Charges of Plagiarism On his blog, Geoffrey Chaucer defends himself against the allegations of plagiarism that have surfaced recently, stating, “Ich dide turne yt from a foule Italienne loue poeme ynto an historiale werke of Englysshe ful of high sentence.” Frater Thomas Walsingham has described the alleged plagiarism and Chaucer’s response to it in… Amardeep Singh 05/01/06 2 05/05/06
Trans-speciation: From Margaret Cavendish to China Miéville The best thing in China Miéville’s The Scar is the character Tanner Sack. Tanner is a prisoner from New Crobuzon (think: London), who is on board the Terpsichoria en route to a slave colony (think: Australia, with apologies to Laura). The ship is hijacked by a particularly terrifying group of pirates… Amardeep Singh 04/26/06 7 04/26/06
Theorizing Blogging, Theorizing Theory (and a little on Spivak) [Part of the Spivak event] This post was partially inspired by John Holbo’s comment on an earlier post: that he doesn’t necessarily mind what theorists do, he only wishes they would be humble and honest enough to disown the role of the all-knowing priest: “Spivak’s essay might have made a decent… Amardeep Singh 04/19/06 20 04/20/06
Realism, Convention, and Ian McEwan’s “Atonement” I’ve been sitting on a link to an article on realism in the novel by James Wood for awhile (thanks Shehla A.). Recently it came to mind while I was teaching Ian McEwan’s masterful novel Atonement in my contemporary British fiction seminar. I was also thinking about the definition of realism… Amardeep Singh 04/02/06 12 04/04/06
Zadie Smith and the Academic Tomato-Meter I really enjoyed Zadie Smith’s On Beauty. It seems more mature and better-controlled than White Teeth, and I think part of its success is its relatively narrow focus and frame: it’s a less ambitious novel than White Teeth, and that’s actually a huge relief. Part of Smith’s new humility is her… Amardeep Singh 03/15/06 17 03/19/06
Marianne Moore’s Advice to Critics No, not the “fastidious ants” that inhabit the famous “Critics and Connoisseurs.” Today I’m thinking of a different poem, called “Picking and Choosing,” which appeared in the April 1920 issue of The Dial. Here are the first two-and-a-half stanzas (out of six) of the original poem: Literature is a phase of… Amardeep Singh 03/09/06 7 03/10/06
Norman Corwin, Poet Journalist I was intrigued by the Oscar for short documentary, A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin (IMDB). So I looked up Corwin, and was impressed by the beauty of the fragments of his writing that are floating around on the internet. The documentary that won the Oscar looks… Amardeep Singh 03/06/06 6 07/07/09
Auden and China My post on Auden last week generated some challenging comments, which provoked me to look a little more closely at the poems Auden wrote after his trip to China. My goal isn’t to support my original position on irony and ethical concern, though I still think the word “irony” is appropriate… Amardeep Singh 02/17/06 4 02/18/06
Breaking the Frame: “The Fall of Icarus” and the Torturer’s Horse I was discussing W.H. Auden’s poem “Musée des Beaux Arts” with a student during office hours recently, specifically the question of how to spot irony (the student had missed it). Looking up the poem on the internet, one comes across, first of all, the painting by Bruegel called Landscape and The… Amardeep Singh 02/12/06 27 02/13/06
Texture Words and Data Mining: Two Examples (Woolf and Sassoon) It's a pleasant coincidence that Matt Kirschenbaum posted an introduction to Nora, the data-mining literary studies collaborative project he is involved with, just as I've been working on my own post on a proposed project to use search and semantic tagging ( and other XML-based services) to study the representation of… Amardeep Singh 01/12/06 5 11/20/07
What to do with a Mexican Jumping Bean: Science and Poetry Jonathan Wonham has a wonderful post on Connaissances about a debate between two famous French writers, Roger Caillois and André Breton. The debate is over what to do with a Mexican Jumping Bean. For those who don’t know, these are beans found in northwestern Mexico, which make little jerking, rolling movements,… Amardeep Singh 01/05/06 10 10/20/06
Whiplash (literary texts cited at the MLA) MLA was fun this year; it was great to finally meet many Valve people in the flesh, as well as Clancy Ratliff, Charlie Bertsch (check out his pictures of Dupont Circle), Scott McLemee, and Michael Berube. The following comments are full of non-sequiturs, digressions, and random bits. But that is the… Amardeep Singh 12/30/05 4 01/03/06
Three Naive Statements About “The Snow Man” In honor of the snow, end of the semester office hours, and the endless winter of the mind, here are some very brief observations on Wallace Stevens’ “The Snow Man.” These are naive responses, because, well, it’s a blog. And of course, the many extant close readings of this poem (several… Amardeep Singh 12/09/05 7 12/16/05
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