Emilie Morin’s recent book sheds light on Beckett’s engagement with cultural and political issues
Emilie Morin, Beckett’s Political Imagination (Cambridge University Press, 2017)
Emilie Morin, Beckett’s Political Imagination (Cambridge University Press, 2017)

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.

livre_galerie_2707300551-Oh les beaux jours-beckett-happy daysIt 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…)

Carolyn Cocca discusses how women superheroes are changing the we way think about contemporary femininity

What motivated you to write Superwomen?

carolyn-cocca-superwomen-gender-power-representation
Carolyn Cocca, Superwomen: Gender, Power, and Representation (Bloomsbury, 2016)

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…)

From an interview with Electric Literature
colson-whitehead
Colson Whitehead
The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead’s gripping new novel, we are introduced to a metaphor made manifest: an actual railroad, underground. A literal and literary engine for his incredible inquiry into slavery, humanity, and the true nature of America. When Cora is invited to leave, to escape the plantation where she has lived her whole life and take the titular train north, she climbs down the rabbit hole and through different states, both geographical and psychological. She runs through a world fueled by cruelty, ambivalence, and every so often, kindness. And we see this world with sober eyes by the light of her unsentimental telling.

(more…)


This morning, I was surprised to read that Comedy Central’s The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore has been cancelled.

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.

An excellent 1994 documentary exploring the life and political activism of Malcolm X. The film explores his legacy through interviews with friends, family, and journalists who knew him. The documentary also includes a wealth of archival footage of Malcolm X. himself. Fascinating and highly recommended.

In a 2014 review, Larry Rohter (New York Times) takes a look at David L. Lewis’s documentary

Early in “The Pleasures of Being Out of Step,” a documentary about the writer, critic and record producer Nat Hentoff that opens on Wednesday, Mr. Hentoff declares that “the Constitution and jazz are my main reasons for being.” That may seem an odd pairing to anyone unfamiliar with the man or his work, but Mr. Hentoff has nurtured those twin passions since the 1940s. (more…)