Monuments

Erin L. Thompson talks about monuments, and their role in American public life. Public art intervenes in directly in politics, shaping social behavior in the present. Monuments, in her account, are a bid for immortality that says “this is how things are” but often means “this is how things should be.”

In the episode she talks about The Houston Museum of African American Culture. They are engaged in a super exciting project reinterpreting the cultural memory of the US Civil War, as the first Black cultural institution that has re-housed a Confederate monument.

If you’re keen on the history and politics of monuments, check out her brand new book: Smashing Statues: The Rise and Fall of America’s Public Monuments. It’s coming out from Norton this Tuesday (Feb 8)! You learn more about the book, and her upcoming talks on her website: artcrimeprof.com

Erin L. Thompson is an associate professor of Art Crime at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York. Her first book Possession (Yale UP, 2016) studied the history of theft at the heart of private art collections from the Ancient World to the present.

Image: Statue of a man on a horse, part of the the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial at the US Capital, described in this article from the Architect of the Capital, US government website.

Music used in promotional material: ‘Morrisson’s jig – Leslie’s march’ by Aislinn

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Institutions

Kim talks with Chad Hegelmeyer about the institutional turn in literary studies.

Chad references Jeremy Rosen’s article “The Institutional Turn” from the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature.

We also talk about: Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar (Harper Collins, 1963), D.A. Miller’s The Novel and the Police (U California Press, 1989), Nancy Armstrong’s How Novels Think (Columbia UP, 2006), Mark McGurl’s The Program Era (Harvard UP, 2011), and Janice Radway’s books, Reading the Romance (UNC Press, 1984) and A Feeling for Books (UNC Press, 1997).

Chad quotes several texts referenced by Rosen:
Franco Moretti’s Signs Taken for Wonders: On the Sociology of Literary Forms (Verso, 2005)
Frederic Jameson, The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act (Cornell UP, 1982)
Mark McGurl. “Ordinary Doom: Literary Studies in the Waste Land of the Present.” New Literary History 41, no. 2 (Spring 2010): 329–349.

In the longer version of our conversation, Chad gave several other examples of the “institutional turn” including: James F. English, The Economy of Prestige: Prizes, Awards, and the Circulation of Cultural Value (Harvard UP, 2005); Claire Squires, Marketing Literature: The Making of Contemporary Writing in Britain (Palgrave, 2007); John B. Thompson, Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in the Twenty-First Century (Polity, 2010); Laura J. Miller, Reluctant Capitalists: Bookselling and the Culture of Consumption (U Chicago Press, 2008); Jim Collins Bring on the Books for Everybody: How Literary Culture Became Popular Culture (Duke UP, 2010).

Chad is a friend of the pod! He writes about fact checking and literature, and he’s a postdoc in the English Department at NYU.

Today’s image is a photograph of the “Staircase of the National Museum of Slovenia” taken by Petar Milošević, posted under a creative commons attribution share-alike license on Wikimedia Commons.

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Mimesis

Kim interviews Alliya Dagman about mimesis.

Alliya references Plato’s Republic and various internet memes, including a John Oliver meme about how Xi Jinping hates being compared to Winnie the Pooh.

E. H. Shepard’s 1928 illustration of the honey loving Pooh bear (not yet a dictator).

Alliya is a PhD candidate in the English Department at NYU. She writes about poetics and theory, and is a vital force behind the Organism for Poetic Research. She is a badass WordPress developer too!

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