Category Archives: Literature

The Hopkins Review Enters New Era

John Irwin, who led The Hopkins Review from its rebirth in 2008, will retire from teaching at Johns Hopkins University this spring. David Yezzi took over the reins of the journal in 2015. A well-known poet, actor and editor, Yezzi joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 2013. Yezzi joined us to talk about his new position and the special issue devoted to Irwin’s impact on the field.

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EMILY DICKINSON JOURNAL REACHES 25 YEARS

Emily Dickinson Journal publishes its 25th volume in 2016 under the guidance of a new editor. James R. Guthrie, Professor of English Language and Literatures at Wright State University, now helms the journal. He joined us for a Q&A about his new role and the journal’s anniversary.

How did you come to take the editor position at the journal?

I was invited to take the position by Cristanne Miller, the EDJ‘s previous editor.

EDJ_front_coverWhat is one surprising thing you have found in the transition?

Learning to use ScholarOne. (Ed: An online system for manuscript submission and review) I was quite intimidated by ScolarOne when I took over the editorship. But now, with two issues under my belt, I’m much more comfortable with that program. ScholarOne is still not as user-friendly as I would prefer, but I’ve come to appreciate what it can do for me, as an editor.

Emily Dickinson Journal will publish its 25th volume in 2016. What does that milestone mean for you?

Twenty-five years is indeed a milestone for the EDJ. Personally, those 25 years coincide roughly with my own scholarly interest in Dickinson. It has been a real pleasure to watch Dickinson move from the fringe of recognized American writers to canonical status. My wife jokes now that she can rarely open an issue of the Sunday New York Times or the New Yorker without coming across a reference to Emily Dickinson. She has definitely entered the mainstream of American culture and literary history.

What kind of plans to you have in the short term for the journal?

Now that I’m more comfortable with the position of editor, I look forward to using the EDJ to encourage growth in particular areas of Dickinson scholarship. For example, I’m interested in encouraging interdisciplinary approaches to her poetry. I also like cultural materialist / new historical approaches. Also, there’s a good deal of interest among Dickinson scholars these days in looking more closely at literary kinships between Dickinson and other 19th-century American writers such as Melville and Thoreau. Then too, Dickinson scholarship has become increasingly international in scope. Foreign scholars have much to offer about the reception of Dickinson’s work in their countries, translations of the poems, and similarities between her work and that of local celebrated authors.

What kind of advice would you give to scholars looking to publish in the journal?

I would certainly advise scholars considering submitting work to the EDJ to go ahead and do so — we welcome any sort of scholarship concerning Dickinson. And Dickinson is something of a hot property these days in scholarship and the media — so young scholars may boost their own careers by focusing more intently upon Dickinson’s work. The network of Dickinson scholars is (drawing upon my own experience) welcoming, receptive to new ideas, and friendly. So, take a chance on Dickinson — I think all of us practicing Dickinson scholars are happy that we did.

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Steve Grant’s First Folio Tour

This year, in honor of the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare (on April 23, 1616), the Folger Shakespeare Library has organized an extraordinary tour of First Folios from the Folger collection to all fifty states.  Steve Grant, author of our widely-admired Collecting Shakespeare: The Story of Henry and Emily Folger, has undertaken an similarly ambitious speaking schedule that will take him to several of the hosting libraries, museums, and institutions participating in the tour.  We’ve invited Steve to provide regular updates as he follows the First Folios around the country, speaking about their important literary and cultural history the extraordinary legacy of Henry and Emily Folger.

Guest post by Stephen H. Grant

Steve March 1

On display in the New Mexico Museum of Art during February, 2016, Shakespeare’s First Folio open to the “To Be or Not To Be” speech in Hamlet.

Partnering with St. Johns College in Santa Fe, the New Mexico Museum of Art won the competition to host the First Folio Exhibition from February 5 to February 28, 2016. While the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC––only two blocks from the U.S. Capitol––required that host institutions organize at least FOUR events during the exhibit, the Museum arranged FORTY events.

One event was the Shakespeare Treasure Hunt. Youngsters picked up a free treasure map and followed clues based on quotations from the Bard that led them downtown to declaim the lines to local merchants. Visitors from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art put on a workshop on the breath, sound, and articulation on Shakespeare’s sonnets, including practice in reading Shakespeare out loud. The Museum organized a day of love and art where participants created cards, heart ornaments, and Valentine’s Day collages inspired by Shakespeare.

Steve March 2

Director of the Palace Press at New Mexico History Museum in Santa Fe, Tom Leech, demonstrates a wooden hand press like those used in early 17th century England.

Of all the First Folio Exhibit venues, New Mexico is the only state where a government was operating when Shakespeare was alive and writing The Tempest. Across the street from the New Mexico Museum of Art is the New Mexico History Museum, created in 1610 as Palace of the Governors, when Spain established its seat of government in Santa Fe to cover what is now the American southwest. It is the oldest continuously occupied building in the United States. Award-winning Palace Press printers Tom Leech and James Bourland mounted a multi-part exhibit where they printed facsimiles of a First Folio page using a replica Gutenberg wooden hand press. Visitors were invited to make their own prints to take home.

Steve March 4

Steve Grant outside New Mexico Museum of Art before his talk to 200 enthusiastic Shakespeare addicts.

In Conversation with John F. Andrews, President of the Shakespeare Guild, I spoke in St. Francis Auditorium on Collecting Shakespeare and the First Folio to 200 Shakespeare enthusiasts come from the area to catch a glimpse of the First Folio on display in an adjacent room and opened to the “To Be or Not To Be” soliloquy from Hamlet. The Shakespeare Society bid adieu to the First Folio on February 28 by performing familiar farewell scenes from Shakespeare.

Stephen H. Grant is the author of Collecting Shakespeare: The Story of Henry and Emily Folgerpublished by Johns Hopkins. He is a senior fellow at the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training and the author of Peter Strickland: New London Shipmaster, Boston Merchant, First Consul to Senegal. We expect Steve’s next report on the First Folio tour after he speaks in San Diego on June 22 the San Diego Public Library.

STEVE’S 2016 FIRST FOLIO TOUR

April 15, Noon
The Association of the Oldest Inhabitants of D.C.
Capitol Skyline Hotel, 10 I St., SW, Washington, D.C. 20024
OPEN TO MEMBERSHIP

Steve March 3

Tom Leech designed and printed this “WANTED Willy the Kid” poster displayed in many Santa Fe store windows during the residence of the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Shakespeare First Folio.

April 18, 10:30 am – noon
Live & Learn Bethesda Talk
4805 Edgemoor Ln, Bethesda, MD 20814
REGISTRATION REQUIRED

June 21, 11:00 am
Calvary Presbyterian Church Seniors Program Talk
2515 Fillmore St. San Francisco, CA 94115
PRIVATE EVENT

June 22, 6:30 pm
San Diego Public Library Talk
330 Park Blvd., San Diego CA 92101
FREE & OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

June 23, 6:00 pm
San Francisco Public Library Talk
Main Library, Koret Auditorium, 100 Larkin St, San Francisco CA 94102
FREE & OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

September 29, 6:30 pm
Cathedral West Condominiums Talk
4100 Cathedral Ave. NW, Washington DC, 20016
FOR RESIDENTS AND GUESTS

 

 

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Remembering Ralph Cohen

By Anne E. Bromley, UVA Today Associate

Longtime University of Virginia English professor Ralph Cohen, who founded the internationally known scholarly journal New Literary History, died Feb. 23 – his 99th birthday – in Charlottesville.

Cohen joined the UVA faculty in 1967 and retired 42 years later as William R. Kenan Jr. Professor Emeritus of English. He founded New Literary History in 1969 as a new type of academic journal devoted to the role of theory in exploring literary and cultural questions.

UVA President Emeritus and University Professor John T. Casteen III, a colleague of Cohen’s in the English department, noted that the journal “has served a dual purpose: it has been both the touchstone for the community of scholars of literature within this one university and a global forum for wide-ranging scholarly discussion and debate among writers and critics in every place and of every persuasion.”

ralphcohen_1_3-2

Ralph Cohen was honored in 2010 for founding and editing New Literary History for 40 years. (Photo courtesy of UVA Today)

The current New Literary History editor, Rita Felski, who now holds the William R. Kenan Jr. Professorship, took the helm from Cohen in 2009. He “transformed the field of literary studies, thanks to New Literary History, whose extraordinary impact resonated around the globe,” she said.

New Literary History, a quarterly published by Johns Hopkins University Press, was the first-ever journal of literary theory, raising challenging questions about the aims and purposes of literary studies, Felski said.

“It was followed by many other journals of a similar kind,” she said. “It has a huge international reputation and put UVA on the map in many ways.”

W.J.T. Mitchell, the editor of one of those other journals, Critical Inquiry, called Cohen “the father of criticism and theory in our time.”

Through translations into English, often for the first time, the journal introduced numerous thinkers from France, Eastern Europe, China and elsewhere to an Anglo-American academic audience. In turn, New Literary History became the first English-language literary journal to be translated into Chinese.

Specializing in 18th-century British literature and philosophy – though his intellectual reach ranged well beyond British literary studies – Cohen developed an original theory of genre that connected literary theory with analysis of historical change across the disciplines. He published six books and more than 100 essays.

In keeping with his scholarly interests, he created the Commonwealth Center for Literary and Cultural Change, which operated from 1988 to 1995. This interdisciplinary research center, Cohen wrote, “had as its primary aim the study of change and continuity in individuals and institutions in the arts, humanities, sciences, and social sciences.”

During the same time period, Cohen served as the first chair of the international Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes.

A fellow of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (since 1984) and the British Academy (since 1987), Cohen received numerous fellowships and scholarly awards and was visiting professor at universities across the United States and around the world.

For more than 60 years, he was a professor of English and considered himself first and foremost a teacher. Before coming to the University of Virginia, he taught at the University of California, Los Angeles for 17 years.

After retiring from UVA, he joined James Madison University’s School of Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication and helped establish the Cohen Center for the Study of Technological Humanism in 2013.

Cohen graduated from the City College of New York in 1937, received his master’s degree from Columbia’s Teachers College in 1946, taught at CCNY from 1947 to 1950 and earned his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1952. He served in the U.S. Army’s Signal Corps from 1942 to 1946. Before the war, he met and married Libby Okun, his wife of more than 70 years. She died in 2013.

Cohen is survived by his daughter, Ruth; and son-in-law, David B. Morris; and son David and daughter-in-law, Mary Cohen, all of Charlottesville.

A memorial event will be held on UVA’s Grounds later this year.

Reprinted with permission from UVA Today

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Don’t miss the reading by John Irwin & Wyatt Prunty on Thursday, February 25

The Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars will host a reading by two long-time friends and JHU Press authors, John Irwin and Wyatt Prunty, on Thursday, February 25, at 6:30 p.m.  The reading, reception, and book signing take place in Gilman Hall, Room 50, on JHU’s Homewood campus.  The event is free and open to the public; find more information on the Writing Seminars website.

bricuthJohn Irwin has been an extraordinary friend and partner to JHU Press over many decades, publishing six scholarly books with us under his own name; three volumes of poetry under his pen name, John Bricuth; editing some 97 volumes in the distinguished series, Johns Hopkins: Poetry & Fiction, on behalf of the Press and the Writing Seminars; relaunching the literary journal, The Hopkins Review, in 2008; and serving as the intrepid cheer-leader, fundraiser, and inspiration for all these projects.  We extend boundless thanks and good wishes to John, who retired last year as Decker Professor of the Humanities at JHU.  He will be reading from and signing copies of his (John Bricuth’s) latest volume of poetry, Pure Products of America. Inc.

pruntyWyatt Prunty is a professor of English at Sewanee: The University of the South and the founding director of the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. He is the author of nine collections of poems (eight published with JHUP), including Unarmed and DANGEROUS and The Lover’s Guide to Trapping. He will be reading from and signing copies his  latest collection from JHUP, Couldn’t Prove, Had to Promise.

 

 

 

 

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Other Althussers

Twenty-five years after his death and just two years shy of the centenary of his birth, research into the work of Louis Althusser flourishes, unveiling a more complicated and contentious author than his reputation as a French Communist Party philosopher ever allowed. The journal diacritics recently published a special issue focused on Althusser. Guest editors Jason Barker and G. M. Goshgarian joined us for a Q&A on the issue and Althusser’s work.

How did this special issue come about?

dia.43.2_frontJB: I had submitted an article on Althusser for inclusion in a general issue. In the meantime G. M. Goshgarian (Michael) happened to mention that he would probably be trans­lating Initiation à la philosophie pour les non-philosophes (Puf, 2014; translated as Philoso­phy for Non-Philosophers, due out in 2016) for Bloomsbury, and wondered whether diacritics would be interested in running an excerpt. Initially the plan was to run one chapter from Initiation. However, it took so long to obtain pre-publication rights from Bloomsbury that, in the interim, Bloomsbury had obtained translation rights to Être marxiste en philosophie (Puf 2015; How to Be a Marxist in Philosophy, due out in 2017) as well. At that point we agreed it would be preferable to include extracts from both books, along with Michael’s editor’s preface to the French edition of Être marxiste. diacritics were very supportive of the idea.

How do you think Philosophy for Non-Philosophers and Être marxiste en philosophie might change common perceptions of Althusser? 

JB: The reception of any author’s posthumous work is always going to be subject to contingent factors beyond his control. There are things that are especially stimulating in these two works from the mid-1970s, due to the forty-year time lag involved. Had they by some minor miracle appeared during Althusser’s lifetime then one imagines that their impact would have been less dramatic. This is all especially interesting because contingency emerges as a central concern of Althusser’s in his posthumously published works of the 1980s, as well as in these books of the 1970s. In them he is trying to think contingency as a category of materialist philosophy. Obviously this rather contradicts the impression we have of Althusser as a deterministic Marxist philosopher who was also a lifelong member of the French Communist Party.

Do you think Althusser would have shared the assessment of his philosophy and its overall evolution that you make in the special issue? Can you say a little about your assessment?

GMG: Probably, if my assessment is right. For the last decade, I’ve been rather monotonously suggesting that the “late-Althusserian” materialism of the encounter is a reprise and refinement of the “theory of the encounter” that Althusser sketched in 1966-67 on the basis of an idea worked up in his first book, the 1959 Montesquieu: the idea that nothing short of the necessarily contingent encounter of revolution can abolish the transitory eternity of one class dictatorship and ring in the transitory eternity of another. Althusser insisted on that idea from 1959 on, harping on his currently unfashionable, if not currently incomprehensible claim that Marx’s main contribution to thought is the concept of the necessity of proletarian dictatorship. He developed it in what may be his own main contribution to thought, a theory of the way the subject of class dictatorship, specifically bourgeois class dictatorship, emerges as the effect of an encounter between the individual and contingent combinations of various ideological state apparatuses, an encounter its victim experiences as “interpellation.” Besides a theory of revolution and a theory of the subject, the idea of the encounter also commanded a theory, patterned after Engels’ and Lenin’s idea of a proletarian “non-state,” of philosophy as self-deconstructive non-philosophy. Althusser began to work it out in the late 1950s, dropped it in his theoreticist period, took it up again in mid-1966, and elaborated it, to mention only what’s been published so far, in his 1971-72 course on Hobbes, Machiavelli, and Rousseau and in Philosophy for Non-Philosophers and Être marxiste. It might be called an application of the theory of the encounter to the philosophy of the encounter. It has obvious affinities to Derridean deconstruction that Derrida, in his 1974-76 s seminars on Althusser, chose to ignore.

Would you say something about the translation of Philosophy for Non-Philosophers and Être marxiste en philosophie?

GMG: Do you mean the English translations? I recently finished an English version of Philosophy for Non-Philosophers and hope to be correcting the proofs soon. I’m working on the English translation of Être marxiste now. There are nine more translations of the first book on the way or already out, in all the major Romance languages (the Italian and Spanish translations were both released in the past few months) and also in Arabic, Greek, German, Korean, and Turkish. As for Être marxiste, I know that the Japanese translation is pretty much under wraps and I’m told that there are eight more translations coming, one of them from the People’s Republic of China. Althusser is back on the map.

How did you decide who to invite to contribute to the special issue?

JB: Michael and I commissioned essays from Warren Montag and Alberto Toscano. The aim was that each of the contributions should support the Althusser excerpts thematically by revealing an “unusual” or unexpected side of his work. Hence “Other Althussers.” I hope we succeeded in this.

There is a defining emphasis on “non-Marxist” themes in the Althusser excerpts. Was that also intentional?

JB: That emphasis exists in both Philosophy for Non-Philosophers and Être marxiste en philosophie, which are books exploring the difficulty of being a Marxist and a philosopher at the same time. Althusser attempts to resolve or unravel the difficulty by taking one of his so-called detours through the history of philosophy, and ultimately asking where the detour leads a Marxist. For Althusser, the answer is not Marxist philosophy, but “non-philosophy.” This is particularly pertinent in light of the contemporary trend, which is something of a reprise from the France of the 1950s and 1960s, away from the institutional discipline and domination of philosophy, toward non-philosophical discourses, whether they be scientific, political, ethical, artistic, and so on. The question that remains, which Alberto Toscano touches on in his essay, is the extent to which these non-philosophical discourses can any more hope to be “condi­tions” of Marxism than philosophy can. Is it still possible to be a Marxist with or without philosophy? I think this is the question that runs through these two new Althusser books.

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First Folio, the book that gave us Shakespeare: On tour from the Folger Shakespeare Library in 2016

Guest post by Stephen H.Grant

Johns Hopkins University Press released Collecting Shakespeare: The Story of Henry and Emily Folger on the Ides of March in 2014, the 450th anniversary of the Bard’s birth.  In 2016, the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, the most famous and valuable Shakespeare volume––the 1623 First Folio––is on tour to all 50 American states plus Washington DC and Puerto Rico.  Eighteen of the 82 copies of the First Folio that Henry Folger purchased are traveling. The institutional hosts were selected after a competitive process marked by 140 inquiries, 101 completed applications, and winning proposals from 23 museums, 20 universities, five public libraries, three historical societies, and one theater. The University of Notre Dame in Indiana opened the First Folio tour on January 4, 2016 and The Parthenon in Nashville, Tennessee will close the tour on January 2, 2017. This link to the Folger gives the information about where and when the rare volume will be displayed.

The tour is an ambitious, complicated, and unprecedented project, made possible in part through the sponsorship of the National Endowment for the Humanities and Google.org. The Folger Library’s partners in organizing it are the Cincinnati Museum Center and the American Library Association.

Grant feb Image 1 First Folio Open

A 1623 Shakespeare First Folio open to the title-page and Ben Jonson’s preface.

What is a folio? The word “folio” is a printer’s term, referring to the size of the page, approximately 9 by 13 inches. (A folio-size paper folded in half, is called a “quarto.”) When Shakespeare’s plays were printed individually, they appeared in quarto. When all his plays were posthumously published, they appeared in folio. The First Folio of 1623 is the sole source for half of Shakespeare’s dramatic production. Eighteen of his plays (including Macbeth, Julius Caesar, The Tempest, and As You Like It) had never been printed before and would probably be unknown today without this early compilation. They were offered to the public unbound, with pages uncut. Due to the large-size format of the volume, and the quality of the handmade sheets of rag paper imported from northern France, the sales price was high for the times. While attending the play cost one shilling six pence; the cost of this prestigious book was one pound (twenty shillings), or the equivalent of buying forty loaves of bread. By comparison, Sotheby’s in London sold a First Folio in 2006 for 2.8 million pounds, or the equivalent of buying 125 new automobiles.

Grant Feb Image 2 To Be Speech

A 1623 Shakespeare First Folio open to the Hamlet soliloquy, “To be or not to be.” At every location on the tour, the First Folio will be open to this page.

The First Folio is the most coveted secular book in the English language and one of the most important books in the world. Shakespearean scholars consider it to be the most authentic version of the Bard’s dramatic output. The original print run was about 750 copies. Only 233 copies of the First Folio are known to exist today. Why did Mr. Folger seek to acquire as many copies as he could? Every hand-printed book is unique. In the 17th century, with hand-set type, sometimes a letter wore out and was replaced. Spelling was not standardized. As many as nine typesetters or compositors worked on the First Folio in the printing shop with idiosyncrasies such that experts can identify which compositor worked on which copy. Many of the copies have marginalia (words, phrases, poems, drawings) added in the margins by avid readers over the centuries. Some assertive readers considered that they could improve upon the Bard’s English and crossed out his words and inserted their own!


STEVE’S FIRST FOLIO TOUR

I will next report on the First Folio tour after speaking at two events in Santa Fe later this month. My major Folger talks for the remainder of this year are:

New Mexico Museum of Art Talk Friday, Feb. 19, 2016 at 2 PM
http://media.museumofnewmexico.org/events.php?action=detail&eventID=2685

Reception by Friends of the Santa Fe Public Library, Feb. 20, 2016 5:30 – 7:30 PM
http://www.santafelibraryfriends.org/SpecialEvents.html

Stanford University Book Store Talk Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016 at 6 PM
https://events.stanford.edu/events/572/57263/

Marin County Book Passage Talk Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016 at 7:00 PM
http://www.bookpassage.com/event/stephen-grant-collecting-shakespeare

The Homestead, Hot Springs, Va. Talk Saturday, Mar. 12 at 4 PM
http://www.omnihotels.com/hotels/homestead-virginia/things-to-do/event-calendar?trumbaEmbed=view%3Devent%26eventid%3D117806472

San Diego Public Library Talk Wednesday, June 22, 2016 at 6:30 PM
330 Park Blvd
San Diego, CA 92101

San Francisco Public Library Talk Thursday, June 23, 2016 at 6 PM
Main Library Koret Auditorium, 100 Larkin St.
San Francisco, CA 94102


grant.collectingStephen H. Grant is the author of Collecting Shakespeare: The Story of Henry and Emily Folgerpublished by Johns Hopkins University Press. He is a senior fellow at the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training and the author of Peter Strickland: New London Shipmaster, Boston Merchant, First Consul to Senegal.

Use promo code “HDPD” to receive a 30% discount when you order your copy of Collecting Shakespeare.

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