Undisciplining

Kim talks to Amy Wong, Ronjaunee Chatterjee, and Alicia Christoff about ‘Undisciplining’, a term they borrowed from Christina Sharpe’s In the Wake and have used in an article and a journal issue to signify a heuristic that would help bring modes of knowledge and methodologies to Victorian Studies that are unfamiliar or would be considered unnatural, given the regulations of that discipline. References are made to Elaine Freedgood’s Worlds Enough, Zadie Smith’s concept of the ‘neutral universal’, and the work of Brigitte Fielder.

Amy R. Wong lives in Oakland and is assistant professor of English at Dominican University of California, where she teaches courses on literature, film, media theory, and critical race studies. Her essays and reviews have appeared in NarrativeLiterature CompassASAP JournalModern PhilologyStudies in the NovelSEL: Studies in English LiteraturePublic Books, and Avidly.

Ronjaunee Chatterjee lives in Montreal and teaches feminist, queer, and critical race theory, as well as courses on the 19th century, at Concordia University. Her essays and reviews have appeared in the Los Angeles Review of BooksASAP JournalThe New InquiryFrench Studies,Victorian Literature and Culture, and other venues.

Alicia Mireles Christoff is associate professor of English at Amherst College. She is the author of Novel Relations: Victorian Fiction and British Psychoanalysis (Princeton University Press, 2019). Her essays have appeared in PMLANovelVictorian Literature and CulturePublic Books, and other venues, and her poems in The Yale Review and Peach Mag.

Image: Fire at the Crystal Palace

Music used in promotional material: ‘Fall Apart’ by Livio Amato

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Witnessing

Ulrich Baer talks to Kim about the process and phenomenon of witnessing, which creates collective acknowledgement, understanding, and responsibility for trauma. Among other works, he talks about Shoshana Felman and Dori Laub’s book Testimony. In his discussion of witnessing with respect to our present political moment, he talks about the murder of George Floyd and the following global reckoning.

Ulrich Baer is University Professor at New York University where he teaches literature and photography, and writes frequently about photography, art, literature, and other subjects. A graduate of Harvard and Yale, he has been awarded Guggenheim, Getty, and Humboldt fellowship.

Image: Detail from ‘Girl with a Yellow Bird’ by Hale Woodruff.

Music used in promotional material: “Leaving for Chicago” by Rest You Sleeping Giant.

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Eugenics

Kim talks with Mercedes Trigos about eugenics.

Mercedes references Francis Galton, who coined the term, preimplantation genetic profiling, and the failures of our ordinary progress narratives.

If you are interested in reading more about the subject check out:
Alexandra Minna Stern, Eugenic Nation: Faults and Frontiers of Better Breeding in Modern America, University of California Press, 2015
Daniel Kevles, In the Name of Eugenics: Genetics and the Uses of Human Heredity, Harvard UP, 1998
Nancy Leys Stepan, “The Hour of Eugenics” Race, Gender, and Nation in Latin America, Cornell UP, 1991

Kim and Mercedes organized an panel on “Eugenics and the Body” at the Modern Language Association Convention in January 2021. If you attended the conference and held onto your registration ID, you can watch a video of the panel on the MLA website, and learn more about the history and legacy of eugenic thought.

Mercedes is a sixth-year PhD candidate at New York University’s English Department. Her work focuses on racialization, sex, and sexuality in Chicanx and Latinx studies. 

This week’s image is the root system of the Dicotyledoneae Asteraceae herb. For the Deleuze scholars and botanists in the room, it is an example of root phenotypic plasticity: a primary root which becomes tap root and lateral roots. This image is in the public domain.

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Afropessimism

Saronik talks with Diane Enobabor about Afropessimism and Afrofuturism.

Diane is a Ph.D. student at The Graduate Center at CUNY. She studies Black Geographies, social movements, borders, critical theory and migration.

Reading List
Diane’s recent article “A Call for Mourning: How To Adapt to Our American Ruins”
Frank B. Wilderson III, Afropessimism. Norton, 2020.
Afro-pessimism: An Introduction. Racked & Dispatched, 2017.
Available online for free.

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