Normalization

In this episode of High Theory, Gëzim Visoka and Nicolas Lemay-Hebert tell us about normalization in international relations. Their research applies Foucault’s social theories of the normal and abnormal to the objects of political science: states, international organizations, and practices of intervention.

In the episode (and in their book) Gëzim and Nicolas reference Foucault’s Lectures at the College de France on the Abnormal (printed in English by Verso and Macmillan). They discuss three exemplary figures from Foucault’s work on the abnormal: the monster, the incorrigible, and the onanist. Each one has a corresponding figure in international politics.

Their new book Normalization in World Politics is available as an open access text from Michigan University Press. That means you can read it for free!  Check it out, and learn all about the ways we produce, impose, and maintain normal and abnormal affairs in the international order.

Gëzim Visoka is an Associate Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at Dublin City University, whose research focuses on peacebuilding and statebuilding, transitional justice, global governance, foreign policy, and diplomatic recognition.

Nicolas Lemay-Hébert is an Associate Professor of International Relations at the Australian National University. He works on interventions: local resistance to political interventions, the political economy of interventions, and mapping political interventions.

This week’s image is a 1689 world map, Nova totius terrarum orbis tabula Amstelodami, ex officina G. a Schagen (1682), t’Amsterdam Gedruckt by G. van Schagen, by de Nieuwe Haerlemmer Sluys. It was originally made in using copper engraving, then much later digitized and made available to the public on Wikimedia Commons.

Environmental Catastrophe

In this episode John Yargo speaks with Kim about Environmental Catastrophe.

In the episode John quotes Hannah Arendt and N.K. Jemisin, discusses a Shakespeare play and a 17th century Peruvian painting, and optimistically suggests that environmental catastrophe will save us. He references the work of many scholars in the field of environmental humanities, including Geoffrey Parker and Dagomar Degroot on the Little Ice Age in Early Modern Europe, Gerard Passannante’s work on Catastrophizing, and Gavin Bailey on the Andean Baroque. He also talks about Amitav Ghosh’s recent work The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable (UChicago Press, 2016) and Rebecca Solnit’s A Paradise Built in Hell (Penguin Random House, 2010). In the longer version of the conversation, John told Kim about how he teaches the literature of catastrophe in reverse, starting with the present and working backward, to upset teleological readings of cultural history.

John Yargo is Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Boston College, having recently received his Ph.D. degree in English literature at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He researches literary representations of environmental catastrophe, the subject of his dissertation titled Saturnine Ecologies: Environmental Catastrophe in the Early Modern World, 1542-1688. He is also a host for the New Books in Literary Studies, where he discusses recent scholarship in early modern studies, ecocriticism, and critical race studies.

The image for this week’s episode is Leonardo DaVinci’s drawing “A deluge” c. 1517-18, held by the Royal Collection Trust. You can read more about the painting in an “Anatomy of an Artwork” feature written by Skye Sherwin on 8 Feb 2019 in The Guardian.

Birthdays

We return after our four-month relaunch with an episode on Birthdays, variously interpreted. The reason? It’s the second birthday of High Theory Podcast! (And it’s also the shared birthday of its two hosts).

Joining us are our brilliant collaborators, Julia and Nathan. The four of us talk about our birthdays, what they actually celebrate, their relationship with the stars, and what they  have to do with the fetish for newness and the good and the bad of that relationship. 

Help us ring in a new year of High Theory Podcast with the messy conversation we were born for!

Júlia Irion Martins  is a doctoral candidate in Comparative Literature and Digital Studies at the University of Michigan. She writes about posts: post-feminism, post-internet, post-truth, and posting itself. Despite studying the online, Júlia has not paid for wifi since 2019.

Nathan Kim is in his final semester at Yale College, where is double majoring in Statistics & Data Science as well as Ethnicity, Race, & Migration. When not fretting about how to least confusingly declare he studies what may appear as five majors, he also enjoys Korean R&B, the Nintendo Switch game “Hades,” and messing around with his home server. He is an active member of the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project.

Kim Adams is an ACLS Emerging Voices Fellow at Stanford University. She writes about medicine, race, and technology in American culture, from the Civil War to the Civil Rights era. She also grows her own garlic, drives inordinate distances at very late hours, and is contemplating how to best sell out. Maybe founding a biotech startup? She co-hosts the podcast High Theory and is a founding member of the Humanities Podcast Network.

Saronik Bosu is a doctoral candidate in the NYU English Department. He is writing his dissertation on economic thought and literary rhetoric, and co-organizing the Postcolonial Anthropocene Research Network. His work in public humanities entails this podcast, co-organizing the Humanities Podcast Network, and the 2022-23 NYU Public Humanities Fellowship. He also procrastinates.

High Theory Relaunch!

We are so excited to partner up with the New Books Network! Fret not, our episodes, as always will be available here on this website, and on our regular feeds wherever you go to get your podcasts! We will be relaunching our entire catalog of episodes between April and July, 2022. Rediscover your favorites and return again in August for fresh episodes of High Theory! You can listen to the relaunch here: High Theory on the New Books Network.

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Presentism

Anna Kornbluh talks about presentism, the anachronistic historical practice of studying the past with contemporary frames of understanding. While some orthodoxies might consider it to be tantamount to historical heresy, presentism can be a powerful tool in building histories of anti-establishment struggles, such as women’s and workers’ rights movements. The conversation also focuses on the work of the V21 Collective, a research collective that Anna organizes, which applies presentist methods to Victorianist scholarship.

Anna Kornbluh is Professor of English and Director of Graduate Studies at University of Illinois, Chicago. Her research and teaching focus on the novel, film, and critical theory, especially marxism, psychoanalysis, structuralism, and formalism. She is the author of The Order of Forms: Realism, Formalism, and Social Space (University of Chicago 2019),  Marxist Film Theory and Fight Club (Bloomsbury “Film Theory in Practice” series, 2019), and Realizing Capital: Financial and Psychic Economies in Victorian Form (Fordham UP 2014).  Her current research concerns impersonality, objectivity, mediation, and abstraction as residual faculties of the literary in privatized urgent times.  She is the founding facilitator of two scholarly cooperatives: V21 Collective and InterCcECT.

Image: © 2022 Saronik Bosu

Music used in promotional material: ‘Past has not Passed’ by James Blackshaw

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University Press

Rebecca Colesworthy talks about the university press and how its workings should be demystified, what authors should keep in mind when they pitch their books, and what university presses do for the state of academic labor.

Rebecca Colesworthy (she/her) is senior acquisitions editor at SUNY Press. Her areas of
acquisition include literary studies, women’s and gender studies, queer studies, Latin American
and Iberian studies, Latinx studies, African American studies, Indigenous studies, and education.
She is the author of Returning the Gift: Modernism and the Thought of Exchange (Oxford UP,
2018) and co-editor with Peter Nicholls of How Abstract Is It? Thinking Capital
Now
 (Routledge, 2016). She is on the editorial board of MAUSS International; has taught at New
York University, University at Albany, SUNY, and Skidmore College; worked for a handful of
years in the nonprofit sector; and holds a PhD in English from Cornell.

Image: © 2022 Saronik Bosu

Music used in promotional material: ‘Nerys & Leo’ by Bloom K Trio

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Social Psychoanalysis

Ankhi Mukherjee talks about that looks at the subject of psychoanalysis as a product of social and cultural processes, and thereby reorients concepts of parental and familial bonds, trauma, coping mechanisms and so on. The conversation focuses on her recent book on the subject, Unseen City: The Psychic Lives of the Urban Poor, which studies community-based psychiatry and how it serves the working classes in three global cities.

Ankhi Mukherjee is Professor of English and World Literatures at the University of Oxford and a Fellow in English at Wadham College. Her most recent book is Unseen City: The Psychic Lives of the Urban Poor, published by Cambridge University Press in December 2021. Her second monograph, What Is a Classic? Postcolonial Rewriting and Invention of the Canon (Stanford, 2014) won the British Academy prize in English Literature in 2015. Mukherjee’s other publications include Aesthetic Hysteria: The Great Neurosis in Victorian Melodrama and Contemporary Fiction (Routledge, 2007) and the collections of essays she has edited, namely A Concise Companion to Psychoanalysis, Literature, and Culture (with Laura Marcus, Wiley-Blackwell, 2015) and After Lacan (Cambridge UP, 2018). Mukherjee has published in competitive peer-reviewed journals, including PMLAMLQContemporary LiteratureParallax, and the Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry, and sits on the editorial boards of several international journals. At present, Mukherjee has two books under contract. She is writing A Very Short Introduction to Postcolonial Literature in the widely circulated VSI series (Oxford UP, 2023) and co-editing (with Ato Quayson) a collaborative volume titled Decolonizing the English Literary Curriculum (Cambridge UP, 2022). 

Image: © 2022 Saronik Bosu

Music used in promotional material: ‘Avec Toi’ by Dana Boulé.

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World Literature

Roanne Kantor tells us about World Literature, in the ideas and practices of readers, writers, and scholars. Spatial metaphors like libraries, closets, and airport bookshops, help her imagine the “world” in world literature.

In the episode Roanne references work by many scholars in the field, including David Damrosch’s What is World Literature (Princeton UP, 2003); Debjani Ganguly’s This Thing Called the World (Duke UP, 2016), and Gloria Fisk’s Orhan Pamuk and the Good of World Literature (Columbia UP, 2018). In the longer version of our conversation, we talked about how little magazines from the 1970s New York literary scene, like Ed Sanders’ Fuck You: A Magazine of the Arts, circulated in South Asia, inspiring avant-garde magazines like Arvind Krishna Mehrotra’s damn you/a magazine of the arts.

Roanne is an assistant professor of English and Comparative Literature at Stanford University. She has a brand new book, South Asian Writers, Latin American Literature, and the Rise of Global English, (Cambridge UP, 2022). If you want to learn more about the world of world lit, check it out.

This week’s image of an airport bookshop at the Incheon International Airport in South Korea, was photographed by Adli Wahid and made publicly available on Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons License.

Music used in promotional material: ‘Six More Weeks’ by Evening Fires

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Epic

Sohini Sarah Pillai talks about epics, long narrative poems about heroic events – whether all such poems can be called epics, and how they continue to generate cultural and political material. The conversation covers epic poems ranging from the Iliad to Jack Mitchell’s The Odyssey of Star Wars.

Sohini Pillai is Assistant Professor of Religion at Kalamazoo College where she teaches courses on religious traditions in South Asia. She is a comparatist of South Asian religious literature and her area of specialization is the Mahabharata and Ramayana narrative traditions with a particular focus on retellings created in Hindi and Tamil. She is also the co-editor with Nell Shapiro Hawley of Many Mahabharatas (State University of New York Press, 2021).

Image by Saronik Bosu (This image is a work of fan art that adapts characters from the Star Wars franchise owned by Lucasfilm ltd.)

Music used in promotional material: ‘Yoliyoli’ by 33nano

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Black Trans Feminism

Marquis Bey talks about the radical and abolitionist project of Black Trans Feminism. Rather than an identity formation, it is a politics and modality of being that vitiates the limits of subjectivity. Black Trans Feminism finds joy in irreverence, just like we try to do on High Theory.

You can recalibrate your understanding of the subject by reading Marquis’s forthcoming book Black Trans Feminism, published by Duke University Press. Released next week! On February 25th.

In the episode Marquis references a wonderful quote from Saidiya Hartman, that “A Black revolution makes everyone freer than they actually want to be.” It’s a hard quote to find, but it appears in Frank Wilderson’s interview with C.S. Soong, “Blacks and the Master/Slave Relation” in Afropessimism: An Introduction (Racked & Dispatched, 2017).

Marquis is Assistant Professor of African American Studies and English at Northwestern University. They also serve as Faculty Affiliate and Advisory Board Member in Gender & Sexuality Studies and Advisory Board Faculty Member in Critical Theory.

This week’s image was provided by Marquis.

Music used in promotional material: ‘Semiacoustic’ by Pk Jazz Collective

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