The writer and activist James Baldwin grew up in a majority white America that saw white American lives as standard and universal, and Black American lives as different and particular. But in his 1963 book The Fire Next Time, Baldwin showed that his life as a Black man in America was universally human. Josef Sorett is the Professor of Religion and African American and African Diaspora Studies at Columbia University. He is also chair of the Department of Religion and directs the Center on African-American Religion, Sexual Politics and Social Justice. He is the author of Spirit in the Dark: A Religious History of Racial Aesthetics. See more information on our website, WritLarge.fm. Follow us on Twitter @WritLargePod.
Mais episódios de "Writ Large"
Waiting for Godot
33:29In Paris in 1953, one of the strangest and most popular plays of the 20th century premiered, Waiting for Godot, written by the Irish writer Samuel Beckett. Since the premier, people have been trying to figure out what this play means. It’s been interpreted in countless ways, with no definitive confirmation from Beckett one way or another. Waiting for Godot is famous as a play about nothing, but it has endured because it is in fact a play about life. For what is life but a sequential collection of waitings? Waiting for school to end. Waiting to find someone to love. Waiting to know what to do. Waiting to feel better. Waiting for money or recognition. And ultimately, the last waiting, waiting for death. And yet, between all these waitings, we find meaning to continue on. Peter Connor is a professor of French and Comparative Literature at Barnard College. He is the author of Georges Bataille and the Mysticism of Sin (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins U.P., 2000). See more information on our website, WritLarge.fm. Follow us on Twitter @WritLargePod.
28:50William Shakespeare is the greatest writer in history, and Hamlet is his greatest work. In Hamlet, Shakespeare gave us one of the first modern characters in literature. We are invited into the mind of Hamlet, to see how he thinks and acts in the face of love, grief, and revenge. It is a work of deep psychological complexity, and has inspired many writers to explore and reveal the inner lives of their characters. Part of what keeps Hamlet alive is its delicate balance of textured specificity and capacious vagueness. It is specific enough for Hamlet to feel real while also inviting endless interpretations. Michael Dobson is the director of the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon. He is the author of “Cutting, interruption, and the end of Hamlet” See more information on our website, WritLarge.fm. Follow us on Twitter @WritLargePod.
32:06Don Quixote was written by Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes. He wrote it in two parts. Part one was published in 1605, and part two ten years later, in 1615. The story is centered around a middle aged guy named Alonso Quijano who is obsessed with stories of brave medieval knights—so obsessed that he decides to create a new persona for himself and live in a fictitious world of his own creation as Don Quixote. Don Quixote goes on all sorts of misguided adventures; fighting a windmill, jousting with a flock of sheep, and usually losing these battles in humiliating fashion. Timothy Hampton is a professor of comparative literature and French at the University of California at Berkeley. He is the author of Fictions of Embassy: Literature and Diplomacy in Early Modern Europe See more information on our website, WritLarge.fm. Follow us on Twitter @WritLargePod.
In Search of Lost Time
35:50The French writer Marcel Proust was fascinated by life. But he was even more interested in how we perceive life. In 1908, when he was in his late 30s, he began to write a novel that explored themes of memory, identity, and the passage of time. This project consumed him until he died in 1922. By the end, his novel came out at more than 1.2 million words—that’s 3,000-4,000 pages depending on the edition. Much of the work was inspired directly from his life, sometimes memories of the past, and sometimes experiences that were unfolding in the present. In English, the novel goes by the title In Search of Lost Time. Although it does have a plot of sorts, this book is more about ideas, and less about a storyline. Elisabeth Ladenson is Professor of French and Comparative Literature and General Editor of Romanic Review at Columbia University. She is the author of Proust’s Lesbianism. Michael Lucey is Professor in the French department at University of California Berkeley. He is the author of What Proust Heard: Novels and the Ethnography of Talk See more information on our website, WritLarge.fm. Follow us on Twitter @WritLargePod.
27:41Many people made the European Enlightenment, but probably nobody better represents the movement’s spirit than the French writer and philosopher Voltaire. He was a man of letters and strong critic of the Catholic Church. In 1759 Voltaire published one of his best known works, Candide. In this satirical fable, Voltaire used current events of the day—like the 7 Years War and the 1755 Lisbon earthquake—to explore larger philosophical questions, such as how there could be evil in a world created by a benevolent god. In Candide, Voltaire frees us from the naive optimism that there is a perfect order to things. Carla Hesse is the Peder Sather Professor of History at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of The Other Enlightenment: How French Women Became Modern See more information on our website, WritLarge.fm. Follow us on Twitter @WritLargePod.
One Hundred Years of Solitude
31:37In 1967, Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez published his masterpiece, One Hundred Years of Solitude. Because of that book, he won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1982. One Hundred Years of Solitude is a story about life, death, endings, and beginnings. It is a novel that invites its readers to think about their own past, and accept the complex and mysterious forces that have shaped them. It calls into question our relationship to nostalgia, and the role memory plays in shaping our futures. Héctor Hoyos is an Associate Professor of Latin American literature and culture at Stanford University. He is the author of Beyond Bolaño: The Global Latin American Novel. See more information on our website, WritLarge.fm. Follow us on Twitter @WritLargePod.
33:27Perhaps more than any other book, Ulysses has the reputation of being difficult—it is dense, allusive, and often hard to follow. But Joyce wasn’t trying to be challenging for its own sake, or because he sadistically wanted to punish future students assigned his book. Quite the contrary. With Ulysses, Joyce wanted to explore and convey what it is to be alive. And just like his book, life is difficult and confusing, but also thrilling and joyful. Catherine Flynn is Associate Professor, Affiliate of the Program in Critical Theory, Director of Berkeley Connect in English, and Director of Irish Studies at the University of California Berkeley. She is the author of James Joyce and the Matter of Paris. See more information on our website, WritLarge.fm. Follow us on Twitter @WritLargePod.
The Legitimacy of the Modern Age
32:08Those of us living today generally think of ourselves as modern, that we live in modern times, and that we are very different from the people of the past. But there is an important thing that we share with all humans who have come before—we ask ourselves big, hard questions about life, questions like how we should live and why the world is so full of suffering. Each era comes up with answers to these questions. And although sometimes the answers last a long time, they are never permanent. As times change, people demand new answers. In his 1966 book The Legitimacy of the Modern Age, German philosopher Hans Blumenberg explores the evolution of humanity's answers to our perennial questions. Martin Jay is the Ehrman Professor of European History Emeritus at UC Berkeley. He is the author of Discussing Modernity: A Dialogue with Martin Jay. See more information on our website, WritLarge.fm. Follow us on Twitter @WritLargePod.
35:39In the early 20th century, Europe and North America were undergoing a radical transformation. Scientific, technological, and political changes disrupted many traditional forms of life. The growth of cities opened up new freedoms and opportunities and scientists like Sigmund Freud and Ernst Mach were developing new theories about how we perceive the world and construct reality. These cultural changes gave birth to a form of art that reflected the new sensibilities of this era—modernism. The modernist literary movement was characterized in particular by its interest in revealing the inner psychology of its characters. And few texts were as successful in this goal as Virginia Woolf’s 1925 novel Mrs Dalloway. Dora Zhang is Associate professor of English and Comparative Literature at UC Berkeley. She is the author of Strange Likeness: Description and the Modernist Novel. See more information on our website, WritLarge.fm. Follow us on Twitter @WritLargePod.
37:36In a podcast about books that have changed the world, I bring you the book that I think changed the world the most: The Hebrew Bible. Specifically, the first book of the Hebrew Bible: Genesis. The Book of Genesis is an account of the origins of the world, human beings, and the Jewish people. It is a foundational text for three world religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. For thousands of years, Genesis has given its readers a foundation, a story that helps give an account of why the world exists, who we are, and how we should act. In a chaotic and unpredictable world, Genesis, this ancient set of stories, offers grounding, continuity, and deep meaning. Ronald Hendel is the Norma and Sam Dabby Professor of Hebrew Bible and Jewish Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of The Book of Genesis: A Biography See more information on our website, WritLarge.fm. Follow us on Twitter @WritLargePod.