The author talks about his new book, his influences, and his fascination with modern urban spaces

What made you choose the title “Imaginary Cities”?

Darran Anderson, Imaginary Cities
Darran Anderson, Imaginary Cities

I had more romantic or esoteric titles in mind but it had to be something simple to give, what is a fairly sprawling and extremely rambling text, a sense of coherence. I’ve always liked books with minimalist titles; The Castle, The Plague, Notes from Underground, The Tin Drum, The Lottery. They seem far more evocative to me than The Lighthouse-Keeper’s Daughter-type titles you see a lot. At the same time, my intention was to write something that isn’t self-contained; a book that somehow spills out of its pages and into the world. Reading Susan Sontag’s On Photography, I was initially frustrated that she hadn’t included the photographs she was writing about. Later I came to realise this was a godsend as it sends you out searching and you end up finding entire worlds you didn’t know about – Diane Arbus, Roman Vishniac, Weegee, Vivian Maier. I tried to do the same with Imaginary Cities. I wanted to send people out looking for Sant’Elia or Chernikhov or whoever. It would be as much a map as a book.   (more…)

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NPR offers a brief profile of the “minimalist” composer’s life and career

American composer Steve Reich
American composer Steve Reich
To celebrate his 80th birthday, Anastasia Tsioulcas (NPR) offers an overview of the life and career of Steve Reich, enriched by conversations with the composer himself. She begins by acknowledging the profound influence Reich has held on fellow musicians and composers, from Brian Eno to David Bowie to Radiohead, and as a result the contemporary musical landscape. The legacy of his work can be traced through pop, ambient, and avant-garde music.

In 2011, Tsioulcas talked to Reich about his experimental work “WTC 9/11”, a commemorative piece that “intersperse[s] emergency calls from first responders and air traffic controllers with the recollections of his friends and neighbors”. “WTC 9/11” also records and documents “the recollections of Jewish women who sat with victims’ remains and chanted psalms and other Biblical texts”. Tsioulcas draws attention to Reich’s use of recorded voice in other projects, such as Different Trains, and the complex role that religious faith, specifically Judaism, plays in Reich’s life and work. (more…)

Joseph Anderton’s compelling new study explores the role of creaturely life in Beckett’s post-war prose and drama

Joseph Anderton, Beckett's Creatures: Art of Failure After the Holocaust (Bloomsbury, 2016)
Joseph Anderton, Beckett’s Creatures: Art of Failure After the Holocaust (Bloomsbury, 2016)
In the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, Samuel Beckett volunteered with the Irish Red Cross on the European continent. With a strong grasp several languages, the writer was assigned the role of driver and translator in the devastated Normandy city of Saint-Lô. During this time, while still stationed in the city, Beckett submitted a record of his experiences to Ireland’s national broadcaster, Radio Telefis Éireann (RTÉ). It was entitled ‘The Capital of the Ruins’. This unaired report on a landscape of wounded civilian casualties and collapsed buildings is the starting point for Joseph Anderton’s compelling new study, Beckett’s Creatures: Art of Failure After the Holocaust. [Read More]

This is an excerpt from a review of Joseph Anderton’s Beckett’s Creatures: Art of Failure After the Holocaust (Bloomsbury, 2016), published in Studies in Theatre and Performance(October, 2016).

Curating some of the best recent links across literature, philosophy, and the arts

This is the eighth in a weekly series that brings together the articles, reviews, interviews and miscellany that has caught my eye over the past seven days. Including: Bob Dylan becoming the first songwriter to win the Nobel Prize for Literature; Rebecca Solnit’s map of New York that celebrates women; and the treasure trove of archival materials celebrating T. S. Eliot’s life and work. Take a look, and feel free to share! (more…)

Call for Papers • Tennessee Philological Association Conference,  23-25 February 2017
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TPA Panel: Samuel Beckett’s Bodies of Water. Design: Rhys Tranter
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Samuel Beckett

In Samuel Beckett’s canon, water is a recurring image. In his radio play, Embers, the protagonist Henry tells us that he is sitting by the ocean, in his stage play Endgame Nagg and Nell remember nearly drowning in Lake Como, and in his tour de force stage and later television play, Not I Mouth refers to the narrative gushing from her mouth as a “steady stream.” Water in these and other works by the Nobel Prize winning author is both a location and a metaphor; it is aligned with happy memories and danger, with transition and stasis, with the beginning and the end.

Professor Katherine Weiss is seeking scholars interested in exploring the images of bodies of water in Beckett’s canon to be considered for a panel proposal to the 2017 Tennessee Philological Association Conference to be held in Johnson City, TN during 23-25 February 2017. For more about TPA, visit their website.

Abstracts should be no more than 250 words. To submit, please email Professor Katherine Weiss weisk01@etsu.edu with your abstract by 7 November 2016.