— Primo Levi, If This Is a Man
“A country is considered the more civilised the more the wisdom and efficiency of its laws hinder a weak man from becoming too weak and a powerful one too powerful.”
“I believe in nonviolence as a way of life, as a way of living.”
Civil rights leader and American politician
Could you tell me a little bit about yourself and your research interests?
My research revolves around modernism and post-1945 literature, and the essays and books that I have published on Beckett’s work explore its relation to politics, its historical dimensions, and its Irish and European influences. I have been working in the Department of English at the University of York for over ten years.
How did you first encounter Samuel Beckett’s writing?
I must have been about fifteen, I think, when I first heard about Beckett. A friend of mine told me about a play that she had seen in which two actors were trapped in rubbish bins, and I was intrigued! Soon after I came across copies of the early absurdist plays, in the lovely Editions de Minuit versions. I was particularly struck by Oh les beaux jours, with its memorable cover featuring Madeleine Renaud stoically holding her umbrella.
It seemed to me remarkable that a whole play could be made to unfold from that situation, from that image. The author was of no concern to me then, but from that first reading I recall being convinced that the work dealt with colonialism and with colonial wars, and I remember seeing a very literal political dimension within it. The French texts have a peculiar texture; they refract much of what is unsaid about colonial history, and much of what is culturally unsayable about historical injustice, and I was sensitive to that. These were powerful impressions, which stayed with me thereafter. When I began to study Beckett’s work properly, many years later, I did so in light of its Irish literary and historical contexts, and my first monograph was a reappraisal of Beckett’s relation to Ireland. For me, the work is never abstract: it is inseparable from war memory and from the long colonial histories that it invokes. In a sense, this new book was a return to my first impressions: when I started researching, I worked on what is now the final chapter on Beckett and the Algerian War of Independence. (more…)
What motivated you to write Superwomen?
As a kid, my three male neighbors and I would play “superheroes.” I was always “the girl,” whether that was Wonder Woman, or Princess Leia, or whoever, while the guys got to choose from among many characters. As I got older it still seemed that female characters were much less numerous than the male characters and were more sexualized than the male characters, and usually have weaker powers and less interesting stories. So I decided to formally apply my political science and gender studies training to this issue and found that what I felt growing up is true not only about superheroes but also about the way women are portrayed across fiction–they are portrayed much less often, with much less nuance, and with much less power. There has been some change over time, but not very much. So Superwomen investigates how and why this is the case. (more…)
“The Larry Wilmore Show, which had come about under Michele Ganeless’ time as Comedy Central president, and which she had described as ‘a panel of diverse voices, a panel of underrepresented voices’ that was something that wasn’t ‘being done right now,’ has just been canceled under new network president Kent Alterman. He said in a statement that it ‘hasn’t connected with [their] audiences in the way that [they] need it to.’“
The timing of the cancellation is somewhat bizarre, considering the show’s excellent coverage of the ungoing American presidential election. Larry Wilmore has become a staple commentator of social justice issues and civil rights activism since The Nightly Show began, using playful monologues and group discussion to bring urgent and neglected issues to light. (more…)
Source: The Guardian.