Literature Lab

Interviews about the world of literary studies. For anyone who loves reading and wants to think about what they read.

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Why Read? Thoughts from a Cold Heaven

Posted by dsherman on September 13th, 2014

J. Hillis Miller talks about the significance of reading literature in an age overwhelmed by other media.  And works through Yeats.


Make It Strange: Ben Marcus on the Outskirts of Realism

Posted by dsherman on January 11th, 2014

An interview with novelist Ben Marcus about the strange, fantastic, and supernatural in fiction.  The pleasures of fiction gone weird.


On the Secret Lives of Literary Genres, Markets, and Money

Posted by dsherman on August 9th, 2013

Mary Poovey, from New York University, discusses the historical entanglement of imaginative writing with writing about markets and money.  She focuses on the way genres that now seem distinct once overlapped in 18th c. England, and what this modern separation of literature from other discourses means for their different kinds of social authority.


Fraudulence and the Making of U.S. Literature

Posted by dsherman on April 6th, 2013

Lara Langer Cohen from Wayne State University discusses fraudulence in 19th-century U.S. literary culture.  A new way to think about Melville, Poe, and others who wrote in a time of rampant suspicion about antebellum literary institutions.


Adventures in Close Reading

Posted by dsherman on January 20th, 2013

William Flesch from Brandeis University talks about the theory and practice of literary close reading, and works through these ideas with a poem by Elizabeth Bishop and story by Ernest Hemingway.


Yeats and Irish Revival

Posted by dsherman on December 22nd, 2012

Gregory Castle from Arizona State University discusses W. B. Yeats's poetry and drama in the context of Irish revivalism.  He focuses on the temporal complexity of writing about this nationalist project.


Imagining Mars

Posted by dsherman on October 15th, 2012

Robert Crossley talks about the long, strange tradition of Mars writing and its relation to the scientific imagination.  How have Mars and its life-forms been imagined, and how has this imaginative work affected scientific desire?  How has space exploration affected the stories we tell about Mars?  Crossley, professor emeritus at University of Massachusetts, Boston, is the author of Imagining Mars: A Literary History.


Convicted Reading, or, Literature in Alternative Sentencing

Posted by dsherman on September 1st, 2012

This interview with Robert Waxler, from UMASS Dartmouth, focuses on the Changing Lives through Literature program for convicts who do a lit class as part of probation.  It's an alternative sentencing program that relies on the deep power of literary narrative to fundamentally transform the sense of self and possibility that one carries into the world.


The Gothic Novel

Posted by dsherman on August 21st, 2012

John Paul Riquelme, from Boston University, talks about the literary genre that will not die.  How do vampires, zombies, and other undead inhabit the literary imagination?  What does the darkness of the gothic mean, and why do we need it?  Where did it come from, what are its contemporary offspring?  And why does the darkness of this dark world give such pleasure?


How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain

Posted by dsherman on July 23rd, 2012

Leah Price, from Harvard University, talks about the strange lives of books, as material things, in Victorian England.  What kinds of things did people do with them?  How did doing these things with books affect one's place in the social order?  What does all this have to do with books, in their competition with screens, today?