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Scott Eric Kaufman - Editor
Aaron Bady
Adam Roberts
Amardeep Singh
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Daniel Green
Jonathan Goodwin
Joseph Kugelmass
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Miriam Burstein
Ray Davis
Rohan Maitzen
Sean McCann
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Miriam Jones

Past Valve Book Events

cover of the book Theory's Empire

Event Archive

cover of the book The Literary Wittgenstein

Event Archive

cover of the book Graphs, Maps, Trees

Event Archive

cover of the book How Novels Think

Event Archive

cover of the book The Trouble With Diversity

Event Archive

cover of the book What's Liberal About the Liberal Arts?

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cover of the book The Novel of Purpose

Event Archive

The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Happy Trails to You

What’s an Encyclopedia These Days?

Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Intimate Enemies: What’s Opera, Doc?

Alphonso Lingis talks of various things, cameras and photos among them

Feynmann, John von Neumann, and Mental Models

Support Michael Sporn’s Film about Edgar Allen Poe

Philosophy, Ontics or Toothpaste for the Mind

Nazi Rules for Regulating Funk ‘n Freedom

The Early History of Modern Computing: A Brief Chronology

Computing Encounters Being, an Addendum

On the Origin of Objects (towards a philosophy of computation)

Symposium on Graeber’s Debt

The Nightmare of Digital Film Preservation

Richard Petti on Occupy Wall Street: America HAS a Ruling Class

Bill Benzon on Whatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhat?

Nick J. on The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Bill Benzon on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Norma on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Bill Benzon on What’s an Object, Metaphysically Speaking?

john balwit on What’s an Object, Metaphysically Speaking?

William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

Bill Benzon on That Shakespeare Thing

William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

JoseAngel on That Shakespeare Thing

Bill Benzon on Objects and Graeber's Debt

Bill Benzon on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on Objects and Graeber's Debt

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Saturday, April 09, 2005

Going Around the Room: A Questionnaire

Posted by Amardeep Singh on 04/09/05 at 07:33 AM

It occurs to me that I don’t really know people here very well—participants, readers, or commentors. So I wrote a questionnaire, in the hope that if we know a bit more about each other, it might benefit the flow of the conversation.

And if it has the ancillary effect of warming up the waters in the comments of The Valve, that wouldn’t be such a bad thing either. (But let’s see what happens.)

The questions are sort of in the vein of those blog quizzes that one often sees, though I thought I would tailor the questions to the people who are participating in this blog, and perhaps many of the readers as well.

Don’t feel obligated to answer all the questions. Just mark your answers by number, so we know that “Arthur C. Clarke” is an author you like, not a library you study in.

And feel free to add questions, if there are things in others you are curious to find out.

(One final thing: I intend to answer my own quiz shortly, but I was hoping some other folks might jump in first.)

1. Describe an aspect of literature or literary studies that you think is interesting, but which most people you know couldn’t care less about.

2. Describe something in literary studies you wish you knew a little more about.

3. Music you listen to while reading sometimes. Or no music?

4. Favorite literary critic, biographer, historian, or theorist this week. (Could also be: what you happen to be reading right now)

5. Book or author that turned you on to literature most when you were in high school/college. Who made you think “I want to read/write/teach for a living”? (if applicable)

6. What is a course you wish you could teach? (Even if it has nothing to do with literature)

7. Name a category of genre fiction that you enjoy reading, and name an author or two you would recommend to others in that category.

8. Name an out-of-print book that you really wish were in print.

9. What is your favorite library to do research in, and why?

10. What are you most annoyed about in literary studies or the broader world of literature this week? (Optional: and why)

11. Which movie adaptation of a work of literature do you despise above all others? (Optional: and why)


Comments

1.  Nabokov’s humor.
2.  Foucault.
3.  NPR talk, or standard NPR classical programming.
4.  Reading Mark Edmundson’s Why Read? now.
5.  HS:  read all of Hemingway, including criticism, in study halls my junior year.  College:  Norman O. Brown and Robert Pirsig.
6.  NA
7.  NA
8.  William Gibson “A Mass for the Dead.”
9.  Dartmouth’s Baker Library, it has changed, but when I was there, the stacks were monastic and spare, and invited serious, and absorbed, reading.
10.  NA
11.  I don’t; one always seems to inform the other for me.  I am easy to please, perhaps.  Trivia:  Friends in western NC hate that Anthony Minghella went to Rumania to film “Cold Mountain,” thus depriving them of some possible employment.

By A. G. Rud on 04/09/05 at 10:19 AM | Permanent link to this comment

1.  Subjects that happen not to have much at all to do with gender, politics, or race.

2. Literary nosology.

3. I like music (I was a music major as an undergrad)--but not as a background to other activities.

4.  Current lit studies reading:  Baxter’s BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE; Dunn’s WALKING LIGHT; Stewart’s POETRY AND THE FATE OF THE SENSES.

5. Dostoevsky; then Berryman & Chekhov; then Bishop, Meredith, L. Moore

7. Never cared much for genre fiction (I generally don’t read books that have a category label printed on them by the publisher.) Great admiration for MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN, though.

8. Turnbull’s TREATISE ON ANCIENT PAINTING

9.  The Baker Liberary is nice--pretty broad collection, sufficiently maze-like, not too much gold and fine wood

10. What are you most annoyed about in literary studies or the broader world of literature this week? (Optional: and why)

11. Which movie adaptation of a work of literature do you despise above all others? (Optional: and why)

By Zehou on 04/09/05 at 11:14 AM | Permanent link to this comment

1.Anglo-Saxon manuscript studies.

2.Wish I could read Ancient Greek.

3.Ususally it distracts me too much. But while writing I like Mahler or one of a dozen slam-bang 19th century violin concerti (Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, etc.)

4.Steven Runciman.

5.Shakespeare’s Julis Caesar in 10th grade.

6.A Tolkien course. 

7.Anything by Jane Austen.

8.Can’t think of one.

9. Boston Public Library--what a courtyard!

10.The continued expansion of contemporary fiction studies in English departments and the gradual phasing out of medievalists and most medieval literature courses.

11.That’s a tough question. I’d rather answer my favorite: The Maltese Flacon. But, that Beowulf movie set in the future with Christopher Lambert is pretty god damned awful.

By on 04/09/05 at 11:14 AM | Permanent link to this comment

Correction for number 7. I missed the “genre” part of the question, though I suppose in some ways Jane Austen could be considered “genre” fiction. Anyhow:  I used to like those Robert Jordan fantasy novels when I was in high school, but they’ve pretty much turned to garbage.

By on 04/09/05 at 11:17 AM | Permanent link to this comment

1.  I’m not sure how to answer this question; in my department, at least, I’m tempted to say literature and anything not written by, informed by, or “inter/intra-dialoguing” with by Judith Butler.  ("Inter/intra-dialoguing" being the best, nay, only way to appreciate Butler’s work fully according to a participant in a panel I recently attended.  Against my will.)
2.  18th Century American Literature.
3.  No music, mostly.  If music, it must be an album I’ve heard so many times I don’t listen to the lyrics anymore--like Wilco’s YHF and GIB, or most of M. Ward’s catalog--otherwise I start paying attention to the lyrics and the next thing I know I doing to the lyrics what I ought to be doing to the book in front of me.  (Ironically, all of Leonard Cohen’s early albums qualifies as works I no longer listen to the lyrics of.  If you don’t know why that’s ironic, check out his lyrics to, say, “Last Year’s Man” or “Famous Blue Raincoat.”
4.  Favorites: Gillian Beer, Robert J. Richards, Peter Bowler.
5.  HS: Gravity’s Rainbow.  College: James Joyce.
6.  Literary Journalism and New Historicism: Why I love to read and teach the former and practice a variation of the latter.
7.  British mass-market paperback mysteries: Ian Rankin; Peter Robinson. 
8.  Every turn-of-the-century American novel I regularly commute two hours to the Huntington Library to read.
9.  Were I not so annoyed by the time I arrived, probably the Huntington.
10. Since I woke up?  What I dreamt?  Or what kept me awake half the night?  I suppose it’d be the tendency of literary scholars to make asses of themselves at joint colloquia, as when, for example, in a room full of analytic philosophers an English graduate student won’t stop talking about “Deleuze’s ‘theory of time.’” This somehow applied to the topic at hand, I’m sure, but I don’t know how...nor did anyone else in the room (including, I’d suppose, the person asking the question).
11. Can I turn that around?  Because the novelization of Tim Burton’s Batman was particularly awful.  Actual Answer: The Perfect Storm.  Junger’s book is a work of probabilitistic non-fiction, and tracking how he reconstructs the last days of the Andrea Gale without violating his compact with the reader (not only the implicit one, but the one he details, at length, in the first chapter) is what makes the book worth reading.  The movie, well, is about handsome men and very large waves.  Pffft.

By A. Cephalous on 04/09/05 at 11:48 AM | Permanent link to this comment

I’m not really in literary studies, but some questions are relevant and I do read literature.

1. Pre-literate oral literature. Literature by military men (which is a high proportion of literature).

2. Bakhtin and Vygotsky (sp.)

3. Music distracts.

4. I read little criticism, and I’m pretty old school when I do. Kenneth Burke, Erich Auerbach, Spitzer.

5. Samuel Butler, The Way of All Flesh, Stendahl, French modernist poetry.

6. NA

7. When studying foreign languages I read translations of American tough-guy crime novels (Mickey Spillane, etc.)

8. Paul Pelliot, Notes on Marco Polo.

9. NA

10. I am annoyed about almost everything. Literary studies is low on my list of things to be annoyed about, but I dislike postmodernism except for Foucault, especially anything that comes from Lacan. I strongly endorse what Dares said.

11. All of them. I go to fewer movies than anyone in the world.

Zorba the Greek is almost the only thing I’ve both read and seen. I came away from the book disliking Zorba, whereas Quinn’s charm made that harder to do. I have met Zorba types in real life and don’t like being around them.

By John Emerson on 04/09/05 at 01:23 PM | Permanent link to this comment

1. Berkeley Renaissance Poetry, specifically Robert Duncan & Jack Spicer.

2. Where to begin? To take a topical example, Robert Creeley.

3. Can’t do this anymore. I seem to have acquired ADD.

4. Guy Davenport

5. Analog Magazine.

6. Contemorary Poetics.

7. Detective (very male), the usual suspects, esp. Hammett.

8. Robert Duncan, The First Decade: Selected Poems

9. Suzallo, the big library at Univ. of Washington, quite fits my needs.

10. The usual. I might do a snarky post about a recent issue of the American Literary Association Journal that goes into more detail.

11. I’m very forgiving of adaptations. But I really couldn’t stand the violence at the end of _Adaptation_.

By on 04/09/05 at 04:06 PM | Permanent link to this comment

1. The history of textual editing.  (I’m not an expert, but it tells you all sorts of fascinating things about attitudes to history, the author, etc.)

2. Book history.

3. No music.

4. Various and sundry: Richard D. Altick, Gillian Beer, Frank Turner, John Wolffe.

5. I’ve loved 19th c. lit ever since I was in elementary school, which was when I first read Doyle, Hawthorne, Alcott, Ouida…

6. A course on the history of the historical novel.

7. British mysteries; head for the Hills (that is, Reginald Hill’s Dalziel & Pascoe novels). 

8. Leslie Marchand’s two-volume biography of Lord Byron.

9. A three-way tie between the Huntington Library (although, alas, it doesn’t have much relating to my current research), UCLA (the Sadleir Collection), and the U of C’s Regenstein Library. 

10.  Cookie-cutter approaches to literary theory.

11. Any version of Jane Eyre (although the one with George C. Scott and Susannah York is especially execrable).

By Miriam Elizabeth Burstein on 04/09/05 at 04:40 PM | Permanent link to this comment

1. Dietetics

2. Native American responses to postcolonial frameworks.

3. No music, I get wrapped up in it and then forget it. Maybe sometimes Qawwali.

4. Derrida.

5. T.S. Eliot and Jeffrey Steingarten, Vogue’s food critic.

6. Women’s prison films from the fifties.

7. Science fiction: Nalo Hopkinson, Frank Herbert.

8. The Delmonico’s Cookbook, 1894.

9. The American Antiquarian Society.

10. How boring PMLA is.

11. Sin City. (If you consider graphic novels literature, which I do.)

By Toronto Girl on 04/09/05 at 04:44 PM | Permanent link to this comment

1. Literature and theology.

2. Rhetorical theory.

3. Eno, Music for Airports.

4. Bakhtin.

5. Embarrassing to admit now, but: Robert Pirsig, *Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance*.

6. Theoretical and Practical Cryptography.

7. Historical fiction: George Garrett’s *The Succession* is one of the great unrecognized masterpieces of our time.

8. Old Everyman edition of Ruskin’s *The Stones of Venice*.

9. Newberry Library, Chicago. Lovely views of Washington Square Park from the huge front windows, fascinating and strange collections, good pubs and coffee shops a short walk away.

10. Pretty much what everyone else is annoyed about: the loss of *reading* as a consequence of an agonistic model of critical responsibility and success.

11. The 1950’s version of *The Brothers Karamazov* with Richard Basehart (of *Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea* fame) as Dmitri and William Shatner as Alyosha. This is also my *favorite* movie adaptation of a work of literature.

By on 04/09/05 at 07:56 PM | Permanent link to this comment

1. I think that the production of a text — the circumstances under which it was written, the publication history, how it was received — is crucial to any understanding, but many treat these matters as peripheral. I’m also very interested in street literature (broadsides, etc.).

2. I wish I had taken Latin in high school when I had the chance. I would also like to learn, some day, how to make books.

3. No music when reading.

4. Amardeep reminded me how much I like Eagleton.

5. I never had a “Eureka!” moment, I don’t think. Always read, everything. Lots of moments of headiness, inspiration. Doris Lessing used to really do it for me, in university.

6. Just got a copy of The Norton Anthology of Children’s Literature in the mail and it makes me want to try my hand at our Children’s Lit. course. Children’s literature has it all: a fascinating history (lot’s of pamphlets and other ephemera; strong roots in my period), fantasy, visuals. And I am immersed in it myself, with my four year old, so it would bring my life and my work together (for once).

7. Speculative fiction. Some favourites: Samuel Delaney, China Miéville, Rebecca Ore, Geoff Ryman.

8. Until recently I would have said Francis Child’s The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, but after decades it has come back into print in not one, but two editions.

9. The old British Library, now a museum and a shadow of its former self, because of the dome, the semi-circular desks, the arcane organization, and the smell of books.

10. Same stuff as last week.

11. So many to choose from. Perhaps The Scarlet Letter with Demi Moore. There was a foolish production of Moll Flanders not too long ago. And back on the theme of children: almost anything from Disney.

By Miriam Jones on 04/09/05 at 09:33 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Isn’t the Scarlet Letter the one where Demi played the stripper? I thought that was a bold modernization there. (Of the movie, I mean, but old Demi too.)

By John Emerson on 04/09/05 at 10:07 PM | Permanent link to this comment

1. The availability of metaphor—both second-order (the metaphorical meaning of a text) and first-order: obvious similes and metaphors, their meaning and intention. Are “Gulliver’s Travels” or “Walden” readable today? What does it mean to read such works? What must we bring to them (are they in some way unavailable to us--or, put otherwise, what must we do to achieve them)?

2. Plot, psychology of… I can only think of Brooks’ book and maybe Kermode’s “Sense of an Ending"--what else out there?

3. I try not to listen to music when reading.

4. Living, James Wood is unsurpassed… Edmund Wilson is big, and Kenner/Davenport both mean a lot to me.

5. “Adventures of Augie March”—and, really, the rest of Bellow, all of whose works (to that time, 1989 or so) I read in a several week spurt as a philosophy undergraduate and continue to read every couple of years, especially “Augie,” “Henderson,” “Herzog,” and “Humbolt.”

6. “Epistemology of Style: The Rhetoric of Truth in Narrative Fiction and Non-Fiction.” Alternatively, “Walden, Moby Dick, and Huckleberry Finn: Three Archetypes for the Great American Novel.”

7. Spy/Espionage—from Graham Greene to Alan Furst, I think the combination of history/psychology in this genre is wonderful.

8. Cyril Connolly’s “Unquiet Grave” (as Palinurus) and “Enemies of Promise”—it’s a travesty these are out of print.

9. University of Minnesota, Wilson Library: It’s the fourteenth largest in North America—what to complain about?

10. This is just too much… but if forced to answer, “An unwillingness in literary studies to go after psychological/moral complexity in literature, with a generous view of authorial intention that nonetheless holds out possibility that a text can mean more than it’s author intended--and with an eye toward literature that has not only lasted, but will change the readers’ psyche (Greek for soul, with Greek meaning).”

11. I can’t think of any that I despise, or even, for that matter, strongly dislike.

By Joel Turnipseed on 04/10/05 at 03:50 AM | Permanent link to this comment

1. I have a philosophy-heavy approach that is - not exactly analytic, but the result of my upbringing in analytic philosophy departments. Lit studies people who favor philosophical approaches don’t favor my angle of approach, and my philosophy friends aren’t interested in literary studies.

2. I wish some of those huge holes in my knowledge of English literature - great swathes of blank ignorance - would fill themselves in.

3. No music.

4. Empson this week. And most weeks he’s near the top.

5. Melville, “Moby Dick”

6. A Shakespeare course in which we read “Troilus and Cressida” and the Florio translation of Montaigne’s “Raymond Sebond” and ponder the relation therebetween.

7. Fantasy. (Fantastic, generally.) John Crowley (although he’s not genre); Miéville and Clarke have been enjoyed lately. Pratchett is always fun.

8. English translation of Anatole France’s “Garden of Epicurus”. I’m surprised that Derrida’s English language readers haven’t seen to it, because the book contains the philosophical dialogue that gets treated to a fast-and-loose close reading in “White Mythology”. [I’ve got my copy so, per the title, I suppose I should just enjoy and not care too much about what others may lack.]

9. The National University of Singapore. We take what we are given, which turns out to be well funded hence perfectly fine.

10. I am bothered by the cluster of figures and styles and ideas known as Theory. (No, really. Practically the whole ball of wax.) Post-theory mannerisms are, arguably, more annoying but less baneful. Or it could be the other way round. Manuscript available on request.

11. Bad superhero comic adaptations bother me most.

By John Holbo on 04/10/05 at 10:21 AM | Permanent link to this comment

1. I think self-referentiality is endlessly interesting. I recently read a mystery novel called “Death of a Snob,” by M.C. Beaton, in which a character who doesn’t like genre fiction is murdered.

2. I wish I knew more about Milton, Spenser, and Chaucer, to name just three.

3. I tend to listen to deep house music a fair bit while reading.

4. My favorite critic this week is actually A.S. Byatt—I’m reading a book of essays of hers called “On Histories and Stories.”

5. In college: Salman Rushdie. I wrote an honors’ thesis on his novels with a level of excitement I haven’t felt since.

6. Very Long Books. I wish I could teach a course, which would last a year, with twelve Very Long Books, along the lines of Proust’s Recherche, Eliot’s Middlemarch, Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake, Tolstoy’s W&P, and Seth’s A Suitable Boy.

(In recent years I’ve found that my students tend not to stay with me if I assign books over 400 pages long)

7. I enjoy reading children’s fiction sometimes.

8. I wish G.V. Desani’s “All About H. Hatterr” were in print.

9. I like working at Yale. The trick is to get books in Sterling, but read them in the comfy chairs in the Cross-Campus Library. (The two are connected via a tunnel.)

10. I’m most annoyed by over-specialization, which I think of sometimes as a kind of plague.

11. I’m not sure why I asked this question, since I actually tend to like film adaptations of books. But my greatest hisses are probably reserved for the film version of “Wide Sargasso Sea,” which took a postcolonial classic and turned it into softcore porn.

By Amardeep on 04/10/05 at 10:31 AM | Permanent link to this comment

Oh, yeah, I forgot about Wide Sargasso Sea. I showed it to my students one year without having prescreened it.

Bad mistake.

By Miriam Jones on 04/10/05 at 10:41 AM | Permanent link to this comment

A malicious bit of history. About 1969-1969 the girlfriend of a friend was asked in a qualifying examination to say why she was interested in literary studies. I don’t know what she answered formally, but afterwards she told us that she wasn’t interested in literary studies, she was interested in literature.

Grinding my axe, I’d add to #11 that in my opinion, methodologization in accordance with the paradigm paradigm has been the bane of all the humanities. Liberationist and postmodernist paradigms claim to solve the problem, but they just transform it slightly , as though the debunker of a fraudulent and destructive cult felt obligated to replace the cult he’d destroyed with a newer, nicer cult.

By John Emerson on 04/10/05 at 10:53 AM | Permanent link to this comment

Amerdeep,

My second quarter in grad. school I participated in Katherine Hayles’ “Big Books” seminar.  Probably should’ve been called “Big Postmodern Books,” because we read Gravity’s Rainbow, The Sot-Weed Factor, Infinite Jest and Underworld.  Which is only to say that, given the right environment and a deep enough pool of willing students (from UCI, UCLA, UCSD and UCR), I don’t doubt that you could teach some kindred course.  I’d add Powell’s Dance to the Music of Time, Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!, one of Durrell’s Quartets...because Proust and Joyce in a single semester are unrealistic enough.  I’d run with it. 

(Quick question: I don’t suppose there’s any way to edit comments, is there?  Because I’m the only one who didn’t insert a carriage return between each of his/her answers, and I feel a little like an effusive Jewish uncle who talks without pause in an aesthetically, er, typographically unpleasant manner.)

By A. Cephalous on 04/10/05 at 01:15 PM | Permanent link to this comment

I wonder how teaching Finnegans Wake (the Joyce pedants in the audience will pounce on a superfluous apostrophe in that title) in a month would go over. Shockingly enough, there were streets named “Page,” “Plant,” and “Bonham” in a neighborhood I used to live in, which hints towards the probable result. It is easily the most dense and difficult work ever written in English. E.g., “I have examined it with some bewilderment, have enthusiastically deciphered nine or ten calembours, and have read the terror-stricken praise in the N.R.F. and the T.L.S.“ (Borges, “Joyce’s Latest Novel"). The mighty critical apparatus might, possibly, bring the current reader up to Borges’ position, but no further. And it’d take at least a semester. Now I’d argue that every English graduate student, including most certainly medievalists, needs three semesters of Joyce. The first will cover Dubliners, Portrait, and the minor works. Ulysses in the second, and the Wake in the third. Specialists can then go on to take a “methods” class in Joycean criticism.

By Jonathan on 04/10/05 at 01:44 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Now I’d argue that every English graduate student, including most certainly medievalists, needs three semesters of Joyce.

Wow, I’ve read some completely retarded things on this board, but that might be the stupidest yet.  Nothing against Joyce, but in a world where people can actually get PhDs without knowing what comes after “amo, amas”, the last thing we need is for the few dedicated medeivalists still out there to waste their time reading modern fiction; cripes, they should be spending at least 90 percent of their school time studying the necessary langauges (Latin, Old French, Old English, maybe Greek).  You would have been much more correct had you said that modernists (and everyone else for that matter) need at least two semesters of Anglo-Saxon.

By on 04/10/05 at 05:13 PM | Permanent link to this comment

1. The optimality hypothesis.

2. Epigraphy.

3. Satie. Early Skynrd. The Apocryphonics’ Docetae Dos Equis.

4. Lem’s essay on Roadside Picnic is the best piece of criticism I’ve re-read in 2005.

5. The Saison.

6. “CB 161, or, The Illusion of a Future”

7. “Genre fiction” is a publisher’s convenience, and we shouldn’t use it as an analytic category.

8. Wall Street.

9. Carteret County Public Library in Beaufort, NC. While here, I tend to go where you would.

10. The Whig Intepretation of Literary Theory. Lack of general charity.

11. Stalker, at the moment.

By Jonathan on 04/10/05 at 05:18 PM | Permanent link to this comment

But how would you conjugate “Let Her Cry?”

By Jonathan on 04/10/05 at 05:20 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Jonathan,

Ok, maybe not FW (sorry about the stray apostrophe). Maybe just Ulysses and Portrait together.

I’ve never tried to teach Finnegans Wake, nor have I read it all the way through. However, I did teach Ulysses in a grad seminar last fall, giving it about 5 weeks. It wasn’t enough time to do it “right,” but I think it worked because the book was beginning to exhaust the class.

By Amardeep on 04/10/05 at 06:24 PM | Permanent link to this comment

1. Artistic separatism in general.
2. What its end is.
3. Generally no music, or ambientish.
4. AOTW I’m reading Jean-Philippe Toussaint Television and The Faerie Queene.
5. NA (I do wish I could read for a living, though I don’t really care about writing (see 2) or teaching (involves people), but I can’t attribute that to a single figure.)
6. NA
7. Nostalgic/poetic, J. L. Carr or John Crowley.
8. Three-Cornered World (aka Grass Pillow and An Inhuman Journey) by Natsume Soseki.
9. Research?
11. Based on previews I suspect it’ll be A Scanner Darkly.

By ben wolfson on 04/10/05 at 08:15 PM | Permanent link to this comment

1) textual editing

2) textual editing

3) Never, ever.  Impossible--but only since the decline toward senility set in.

4) Tony Tanner, Dorrit Cohn

5) Milton

6) Milton

7) Crime.  Highsmith. 

8) Nixon Agonistes

9) NYPL--greatest reading room on the planet.

10) Ditto John Emerson’s comment about methodologism and the putative escape from it.  Brilliant!

11) Mr and Mrs. Bridge--and I haven’t even seen it.  I just can’t imagine any movie version that wouldn’t possibly ruin those two perfect novels.

By on 04/10/05 at 08:43 PM | Permanent link to this comment

6. What is a course you wish you could teach?

“Brion Gysin, John Cage, and Aleatoric Composition of Texts”—not as an end in itself but to help students cut up Walden (say) as an exercise in order to be confronted with how much of what they ordinarily see is their preconceptions, and what those are. (Why not Burroughs instead of Gysin? Too much. Like chemotherapy for your hangnail.)

In part this course would address Joel’s comment Are “Gulliver’s Travels” or “Walden” readable today? What does it mean to read such works? What must we bring to them (are they in some way unavailable to us--or, put otherwise, what must we do to achieve them)? Recall Kierkegaard’s metaphor (paraphrased from memory): today we are in the position of a man who is starving to death because his mouth is so full he cannot swallow. Feeding this man would paradoxically consist in removing food from his mouth.

4. Favorite literary critic, Carl Jung.

7. Name a category of genre fiction that you enjoy reading, and an author: Business books, but read as if they were science fiction. Peter Drucker.

11. Most despicable movie adaptation: Peter Jackson’s LOTR series. Selah.

By pierre on 04/11/05 at 01:15 PM | Permanent link to this comment

1. Literary Constraint

2. Close Reading

3. Sometimes Erik Satie.

4. Jan Baetens.

5. Borges.

7. Science Fiction: Samuel Delany, Joanna Russ.

9. My own, because I work there.

By derikb on 04/11/05 at 03:22 PM | Permanent link to this comment

1. Publishing economics

2. The way other national academic traditions constitute the discipline.

3. Indie rock

4. Janice Radway

5. Faulkner

6. I would love to teach a film history course based solely on one year from Hollywood’s classical period, say 1947, using it to examine industrial history, film genres, and larger political history as a snapshot in time.

7. Hard-boiled detective novels. It’s not an original answer, but I have to say Chandler and Hammett are the best I’ve encountered by far.

8. Dos Passos’ District of Columbia trilogy

9. All of the ones I use are pretty lousy

10. The excesses of new historicism.

11. Altman’s The Long Goodbye

By Chris Cagle on 04/12/05 at 12:39 PM | Permanent link to this comment

1. Russian formalism.

2. African literature.

3. The Art of Noise, esp. “Daft” and “The Seduction of Claude Debussy”.

4. Umberto Eco.

5. “Neuromancer”.

6. The comparative history of colonialism, 1492-1957.

7. Spy thrillers: John Le Carre, Graham Greene. (I could go with SF, but since most of the people I hang out with are into SF already, that would be too easy.)

8. “The Thirteen Clocks”, James Thurber.

9. The new National Library in London, ‘cause the carrels are comfortable, they bring all the books to you, and the cafeteria has Fentiman’s Ginger Beer.

10. Philosophy and its academic descendants (e.g., Theory-with-a-capital-T), because all discussions of it among professionals (viz. the Zizek discussions on John & Belle’s blog) seem to devolve into the hermeneutics of texts I haven’t read.

11. The recent “King Arthur” starring Clive Owen. ‘Nuff said.

By David Moles on 04/13/05 at 04:10 PM | Permanent link to this comment

P.S. I wouldn’t be as frustrated by philosophy, or philosophers, if some people (e.g., John) didn’t make it clear that it can be discussed in a lucid and interesting way that’s accessible to outsiders.

By David Moles on 04/13/05 at 06:05 PM | Permanent link to this comment

11. Which movie adaptation of a work of literature do you despise above all others? (Optional: and why)

Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon is probably the worst literary adaptation in film history.  Thackeray’s Lyndon was a dark, clever satire on social climbing.  Kubrick’s version is an aimless, lugubrious snooze.  It was perhaps the worst film of Kubrick’s career, and shares many of the same flaws as Eyes Wide Shut.

By on 04/14/05 at 02:27 AM | Permanent link to this comment

blah makes a good catch. Yes, I didn’t like Barry Lyndon. But I’m not a Kubrick man. Any defenders for Lyndon? Perhaps it can be defended in the ground that its lugubrious snooziness serves to suspend the era in which it was made in a sort of amber. That one would adapt that novel in this way says something about the year 1975. But perhaps you could just read about 1975 in a book. Hmmm, yes?

By John Holbo on 04/14/05 at 02:37 AM | Permanent link to this comment

To my mind Kubrick in Barry Lyndon is fulfilling in film the ambition that Amardeep has expressed in teaching literature i.e. giving something enough time.  He does the same in 2001.  It is the deliberate opposite of the ‘nouvelle vague’/MTV jump cut restlessness which typifies nearly all movies now, and all the more welcome for that.

And even if you don’t like it as an adaptation, the sheer beauty of the pictures must disqualify it from being the worst, surely?

By on 04/14/05 at 11:57 AM | Permanent link to this comment

You know, Chris, right after I posted that comment, I realized I posted in haste. I saw “Lyndon” when I was in college and disliked it intensely. But when I think about how my taste has changed since then - well, I should probably give it another try.

By John Holbo on 04/14/05 at 12:28 PM | Permanent link to this comment

1) Metafiction.

2) Old English.

3) Classical music. Currently Haydn’s “Sun” quartets.

4) Stanley Fish.

5) Catch-22.

6) Comedy and Literature.

7) Detective/crime fiction. James M. Cain, Jim Thompson.

8) Thomas Berger, Killing Time.

9) Whichever is at hand.

10) See my latest post.

11) Literary adaptations are almost never good enough to like nor bad enough to despise. Although I agree Barry Lyndon is a really bad one.

By Daniel Green on 04/14/05 at 01:14 PM | Permanent link to this comment

To my mind Kubrick in Barry Lyndon is fulfilling in film the ambition that Amardeep has expressed in teaching literature i.e. giving something enough time.  He does the same in 2001.  It is the deliberate opposite of the ‘nouvelle vague’/MTV jump cut restlessness which typifies nearly all movies now, and all the more welcome for that.

All of this may be true, but it is perverse as hell to choose a novel such as Barry Lyndon to accomplish this ambition.  The narrative pace of the novel is nothing if not restless. 

The other thing that bothered me about the adaptation is the treatment of the title character.  In the novel, Lyndon is charming and clever, at the same time that he is narcissistic and self destructive.  In the movie, he is just a brainless dolt.  The movie just sucked all the life and vigor out of an entertaining, comical novel. 

I will concede the possibility that Kubrick’s movie succeeds on its own terms (although I don’t think it does), but as an adaptation of the novel it is just plain horrible. 

(Funny, I was just reading Strong Opinions, and Nabokov was really very happy with Kubrick’s adaptation.  He said he found it very charming and was only disappointed that he couldn’t help make the movie).

By on 04/14/05 at 01:35 PM | Permanent link to this comment

I haven’t either read or seen Lyndon, but this strikes me as a case comparable to the different ways that Euripides and Sophocles treated the same story. Kubrick and Thackerey are about equally major, if you ask me, so aren’t these “versions”? (I’m not a Thackerey guy at all, so you can sue me if what I say bothers you).

I believe that that was why Nabakov was so untroubled by Kubrick’s version; he didn’t think of it as an attempt to duplicate the novel on film.

Whenever I think of Thackerey any more, I think of the Indian Hindu ultra-nationalist of the same name and ask myself WTF?

By John Emerson on 04/14/05 at 06:24 PM | Permanent link to this comment

John,

Whenever I think of Thackerey any more, I think of the Indian Hindu ultra-nationalist of the same name and ask myself WTF?

And vice versa.

By Amardeep on 04/14/05 at 07:07 PM | Permanent link to this comment

“It might be no bad thing . . . for literary theory as a whole to be reformulated in terms of genre, rather as mathematics was in large part reformulated, earlier this century, in terms of set theory.”

2. Describe something in literary studies you wish you knew a little more about.
Spanish Golden Age drama.

3. Music you listen to while reading sometimes. Or no music?
Mozart’s operas.

4. Favorite literary critic, biographer, historian, or theorist this week. (Could also be: what you happen to be reading right now)
In Richard Howard’s Paper Trail: Selected Prose, 1965-2003 (New York: Farrar Straus, 2004) there is a strange and wonderful essay called “The Resonance of Henry James in American Poetry, 1988.” Howard convincingly demonstrates that for many poets, including, oddly enough, Elizabeth Bishop, Jamesian syntax is linked to moral authority.  These poets felt that their writing could only remain faithful to the full complexity of their experience if they wrote in the opulent, hesitant, digressive, self-reflexive sentences of Henry James.  I have rarely encountered an essay simultaneously so surprising and so convincing.

5. Book or author that turned you on to literature most when you were in high school/college. Who made you think “I want to read/write/teach for a living”? (if applicable)
John Milton, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, John Webster.

6. What is a course you wish you could teach? (Even if it has nothing to do with literature)
I usually teach Shakespeare and his contemporaries, but I would love to teach my poetics course, which had a creative writing component, again.

7. Name a category of genre fiction that you enjoy reading, and name an author or two you would recommend to others in that category.
NA.  I do, though, read an unhealthy amount of literary criticism.

8. Name an out-of-print book that you really wish were in print.  For my purposes, the most useful single work of criticism of the last fifty years is Alastair Fowler’s Kinds of Literature: An Introduction to the Theory of Genres and Modes (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP, 1982). 

9. What is your favorite library to do research in, and why? 
The New York Public Library’s 42nd Street Humanities Research Library makes me feel as if academic research matters to a really diverse group of people.  I do my work surrounded by high school students, homeless people, lawyers on their lunch breaks, autodidacts, reporters, visitors from the Sorbonne, people who have had way too much coffee and people who fall asleep on their keyboards, people in evening dress, actively hallucinating schizophrenics, and of course academics.  I won’t say how many of those categories I belong to.  And of course the library also has a pretty good collection of books.

10. What are you most annoyed about in literary studies or the broader world of literature this week? (Optional: and why)
I am annoyed that so many university presses are moving away from publishing real scholarship.  If the university presses think they can compete effectively with the big trade presses, they are sadly mistaken.  And why do the university presses feel that they can’t make enough money on scholarly books?  Somehow commercial publishers like Palgrave, Routledge, and Ashgate find scholarly publishing profitable.  Is the root of the problem the way that universities allocate overhead expenses to their presses?

11. Which movie adaptation of a work of literature do you despise above all others? (Optional: and why)
Why is it that most film Hamlets, including Olivier and Branagh, feel the need to rant when they should be thoughtful?  Did they not reflect on that stuff about out-Heroding Herod?

By Matthew Greenfield on 04/15/05 at 01:17 AM | Permanent link to this comment

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