Finding Your Purpose

High Theory Presents a Book Launch for

Finding Your Purpose: A Higher Calling Workbook for Justice-Oriented Scholars in an Unjust World

Online Event

Friday June 17

4pm EST


Hannah Alpert-Abrams on “Purpose”

Matt Cohen on “Lineage”

Carter Hogan on “Community”

Quinn Dombrowski on “Pleasure”

Sonya Donaldson on “Values”

Register here:

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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Hannah Zeavin talks about teletherapy, from Freud’s letters to suicide hotlines to therapy apps. If therapy is always mediated, teletherapy is any form of therapy in which that mediation is more clearly legible. This mediated practice is the topic of her new book The Distance Cure: A History of Teletherapy (MIT Press, 2021).

Hannah is a Lecturer in the departments of English and History at UC Berkeley, where she is affiliated with the Berkeley Center for Science, Technology, Medicine, and Society, and she is a visiting fellow at Columbia University Center for the Study of Social Difference. She is currently at work on a second book project, about technology in the American family, called Mother’s Little Helpers, also with MIT Press. You can learn more about Hannah’s research and teaching on her website:

Image: adapted from a 1912 advertisement of the Illinois Telephone and Telegraph Co.

Music used in promotional material: ‘A Better Normal’ by Ian Sutherland

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Stephen Guy-Bray talks about sexuality, a concept that brings together the the use of sexual metaphors in the description of textual production and the erotics that inhere in reading praxes. Among other things, this concept is a critique of the use of popular heteronormative metaphors of reproduction to describe the creation of literature.

Stephen Guy-Bray is professor of English at the University of British Columbia. He specializes in Renaissance poetry, queer theory, and poetics. He has just finished a monograph on line endings in Renaissance poetry.

Image: © 2021 Saronik Bosu

Music used in promotional material: ‘The Gold Lining’ by Broke For Free

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Cognitive Cultural Studies

Torsa Ghosal talks about Cognitive Cultural Studies, a field that entails methodologies that situate the human mind in historical and cultural contexts, sometimes working against models of the mind proceeding from the Cognitive Sciences. This includes inquiries into how narratives mediate knowledge about cognition, the subject of her new book Out of Mind: Mode, Mediation, and Cognition in Twenty-First Century Narrative, from The Ohio State University Press.

Torsa Ghosal is an assistant professor of English and creative writing at the California State University, Sacramento. Her experimental novella, Open Couplets, was published by Yoda Press, India. Her shorter works of fiction as well as essays on literature and culture appear in magazines like Literary Hub, Michigan Quarterly Review Online, Necessary Fiction, Catapult, and elsewhere. She co-hosts the Narrative for Social Justice podcast. You can find more details about her work at her website and follow her on Twitter @TorsaG.

Image: © 2021 Saronik Bosu

Music used in promotional material: ‘Waves’ by Michael Korbin

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Helena DiGiusti talks about @WikiVictorian, the Twitter account that she runs. More than a traditional wiki, it embodies the randomness and miscellaneous nature of so much of Victorian cultures. She talks about the origins of the account in her interest in Victorian fashion, art, and history, and how the account has been embraced by enthusiasts across the professional spectrum and around the world.

Like William Morris, she favors the simple criteria of interest and beauty. Per Morris, “If you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” Perhaps more Twitter accounts ought to be like Kelmscott Manor.

Behind WikiVictorian hides someone deeply fascinated by art, history, photography, old things… and specially, everything about the Victorian era and the 19th century. Her name is Helena, and she is a 23 year old anthropologist from Granada, in the south of Spain.

Image: Fall and Winter Catalogue, H. O’Neill and Co.

Music used in promotional material: ‘winter smoke’ by The Owl

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Matt Poland talks about the meaning of archives, the nature of their construction, the physical environments that archives engender, and their emancipatory possibilities. Besides his own work on the archives of George Eliot, he talks about The Baltimore Uprising Archive Project, The Teaching Archive by Rachel Buurma and Laura Hefferman, Stirrings in the Archives by Wolfgang Ernst, No Archive Will Restore You by Julietta Singh, and Ann Laura Stoler’s Along the Archival Grain.

Matt is finishing his PhD in English at the University of Washington. His dissertation is titled “The Global Remediation of George Eliot and Charles Dickens: Books, Newspapers, Archives.” Matt’s recent publications include “Uncovering the Contingencies of Archives” in the Journal of Victorian Culture Online. His article “Middlemarch in Melbourne” is forthcoming in the Middlemarch 150th anniversaryissue of George Eliot-George Henry Lewes Studies

Image: Hilma af Klint, Grupp III, nr 5. De storafigurmålningarna, Nyckeln tillhittillsvarande arbete, 1907Olja på duk150 × 118 cmHAK042© Stiftelsen hilma af Klints Verk

Music used in promotional material: ‘Lighthouse’ by King Capisce

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Eric Wade speaks with Saronik about lust. They discuss how depictions of sexuality in medieval literature have persisted through literary traditions and shaped modern ideas of Orientalism and the sexual other.

In the episode, Eric mentions a number of modern theorists, including Edward Said, Joseph Boone, Ghassan Moussawi, and Joseph Massad.

Dr. Erik Wade—a visiting lecturer at the Universität-Bonn—researches the global origins of early medieval English ideas of sexuality and race. He is co-writing a book with Dr. Mary Rambaran-Olm, titled Race in Early Medieval England, out next year from Cambridge University Press.

This week’s image is a medieval illumination of the Dream of the Magi, showing the three kings hanging out naked in bed, in the Salzburg Missal, Regensburg ca. 1478-1489 [München, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Clm 15708 I, fol. 63r].

Music used in promotional material: ‘Streets of Sant’lvo’ by Mid-Air Machine

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Drone Life

Amy Gaeta uses the relationship between humans and technology, non-military use of drones being a prime example, to rethink concepts of passivity and how it can bring about change. She makes an intervention in science and technology studies from her position in feminist and disability studies, drawing from diverse theoretical sources like the work of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Saidiya Hartman, Alexander Weheliye, and Mark Fisher.

Amy Gaeta is not utopian; she is a student of understanding how we survive a world that is killing us on a dying planet, a feminist disability activist and scholar, poet, punk, and PhD candidate in the English Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her academic work specializes in the psychological aspects of human-technology relations under the surveillance state. In poetry, she explores mental illness, desire, and the impossibility of being human.

Image: “‘Little Planet’ style edit of a 180-degree panorama of my daughter’s little league game this summer” by Tim Bish.

Music used in promotional material: ‘Unsunny Sundays’ by Chris Herb.

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