Series editor: Ari Ofengenden, Tulane University
Comparative Cultural Studies examines how cultural practices, especially contemporary creative media, both shape and themselves are shaped by current global developments such as the digitization of culture, virtual reality, global interconnectedness, increased people flows, transhumanism, environmental degradation, and new forms of subjectivities. We aim to publish manuscripts that cross disciplines and national borders in order to provide deep insights into these issues.
Hard copies of these volumes may be purchased here.
Imagining Afghanistan examines how Afghanistan has been imagined in literary and visual texts that were published after the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent U.S.-led invasion—the era that propelled Afghanistan into the center of global media visibility. Through an analysis of fiction, graphic novels, memoirs, drama, and film, the book demonstrates that writing and screening “Afghanistan” has become a conduit for understanding our shared post-9/11 condition. “Afghanistan” serves as a lens through which contemporary cultural producers contend with the moral ambiguities of twenty-first-century humanitarianism, interpret the legacy of the Cold War, debate the role of the U.S. in the rise of transnational terror, and grapple with the long-term impact of war on both human and nonhuman ecologies.
Post-9/11 global Afghanistan literary production remains largely NATO-centric insofar as it is marked by an uncritical investment in humanitarianism as an approach to Third World suffering and in anti-communism as an unquestioned premise. The book’s first half exposes how persisting anti-socialist biases—including anti-statist bias—not only shaped recent literary and visual texts on Afghanistan, resulting in a distorted portrayal of its tragic history, but also informed these texts’ reception by critics. In the book’s second half, the author examines cultural texts that challenge this limited horizon and forge alternative ways of representing traumatic histories. Captured by the author through the concepts of deep time, nonhuman witness, and war as a multispecies ecology, these new aesthetics bring readers a sophisticated portrait of Afghanistan as a rich multispecies habitat affected in dramatic ways by decades of war but not annihilated.
Kris Rutten, Stefaan Blancke, and Ronald Soetaert
Edited by Kris Rutten, Stefaan Blancke, and Ronald Soetaert, Perspectives on Science and Culture explores the intersection between scientific understanding and cultural representation from an interdisciplinary perspective. Contributors to the volume analyze representations of science and scientific discourse from the perspectives of rhetorical criticism, comparative cultural studies, narratology, educational studies, discourse analysis, naturalized epistemology, and the cognitive sciences. The main objective of the volume is to explore how particular cognitive predispositions and cultural representations both shape and distort the public debate about scientific controversies, the teaching and learning of science, and the development of science itself. The theoretical background of the articles in the volume integrates C. P. Snow's concept of the two cultures (science and the humanities) and Jerome Bruner's confrontation between narrative and logico-scientific modes of thinking (i.e., the cognitive and the evolutionary approaches to human cognition).
James P. Wilper
In Reconsidering the Emergence of the Gay Novel in English and German, James P. Wilper examines a key moment in the development of the modern gay novel by analyzing four novels by German, British, and American writers. Wilper studies how the texts are influenced by and respond and react to four schools of thought regarding male homosexuality in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The first is legal codes criminalizing sex acts between men and the religious doctrine that informs them. The second is the ancient Greek erotic philosophy, in which a revival of interest took place in the late nineteenth century. The third is sexual science (or “sexology”), which offered various medical and psychological explanations for same-sex desire and was employed variously to defend, as well as to attempt to cure, this "perversion." And fourth, in the wake of the scandal caused by his trials and conviction for "gross indecency," Oscar Wilde became associated with a homosexual stereotype based on "unmanly" behavior. Wilper analyzes the four novels—Thomas Mann's Death in Venice, E. M. Forster's Maurice, Edward Prime-Stevenson's Imre: A Memorandum, and John Henry Mackay's The Hustler—in relation to these schools of thought, and focuses on the exchange and cross-cultural influence between linguistic and cultural contexts on the subject of love and desire between men.
Angelica Duran and Yuhan Huang
In 2012 the Swedish Academy announced that Mo Yan had received the Nobel Prize in Literature for his work that “with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history, and the contemporary.” The announcement marked the first time a resident of mainland China had ever received the award. This is the first English-language study of the Chinese writer’s work and influence, featuring essays from scholars in a range of disciplines, from both China and the United States. Its introduction, twelve articles, and epilogue aim to deepen and widen critical discussions of both a specific literary author and the globalization of Chinese literature more generally.
The book takes the “root-seeking” movement with which Mo Yan’s works are associated as a metaphor for its organizational structure. The four articles of “Part I: Leaves” focus on Mo Yan’s works as world literature, exploring the long shadow his works have cast globally. Howard Goldblatt, Mo Yan’s English translator, explores the difficulties and rewards of interpreting his work, while subsequent articles cover issues such as censorship and the “performativity” associated with being a global author. “Part II: Trunk” explores the nativist core of Mo Yan’s works. Through careful comparative treatment of related historical events, the five articles in this section show how specific literary works intermingle with China’s national and international politics, its mid-twentieth-century visual culture, and its rich religious and literary conventions, including humor. The three articles in “Part III: Roots” delve into the theoretical and practical extensions of Mo Yan’s works, uncovering the vibrant critical and cultural systems that ground Eastern and Western literatures and cultures. Mo Yan in Context concludes with an epilogue by sociologist Fenggang Yang, offering a personal and globally aware reflection on the recognition Mo Yan’s works have received at this historical juncture.