Sunday, March 25, 2012

Reassessing the Theater of the Absurd

What are you waiting for? Come to Michael Bennett's talk!

Prof. Michael Bennett (BA '02) will be returning to GW this week to speak about his book Reassessing the Theatre of the Absurd. His talk, on Tuesday, March 27 at 10:30 a.m. in Rome Hall 663, is open to all.

Bennett is Assistant Professor of English in Drama at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. In addition to Reassessing the Theatre of the Absurd: Camus, Beckett, Ionesco, Genet, and Pinter (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), he is author of the forthcoming Words, Space, and the Audience: The Theatrical Tension between Empiricism and Rationalism (Palgrave Macmillan). He is also the editor of Refiguring Oscar Wilde’s Salome (Rodopi, 2011) and the co-editor of Eugene O'Neill's One-Act Plays: New Critical Perspectives (Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming August 2012). Bennett's new project is a book titled Modern Drama and Philosophy: The Ontology of the Theatre.

Fifty years after the publication of Martin Esslin’s The Theatre of the Absurd, which suggests that “absurd” plays purport the meaninglessness of life, Bennett's book argues that these plays are, instead, ethical texts that suggest how life can be made meaningful. Analyzing the works of five major playwrights/writers of the 1950s (including three winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature), Bennett’s work challenges fifty years of scholarship through his upbeat and hopeful readings.

We are thrilled to have a former undergrad-cum-professor coming back to his alma mater to give a talk about his scholarship!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Off to #PopCon 2012

I'm heading to New York tomorrow for the annual Pop Music Conference, which for ten years running now has been sponsored by the Experience Music Project Museum in Seattle. The PopCon, as it's known, brings together scholars, music journalists, writers, and musicians to talk pop music, then and now, during a fun-filled weekend. This year, EMP is teaming up with the U.S. branch of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM), making for a bigger and even more fun-filled conference.

This year's PopCon has even attracted the attention of Stephen Colbert, who noted the other day on The Colbert Report that the paper he submitted had not been accepted.

Check out Colbert's spot-on satire of scholars of pop music and academic discourse. And check out the conference, which is free and open to all (if you happen to be in NYC). Or follow it on Twitter:
@empmuseum @clivedavisinst @iaspmus #popcon

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

How to Cite a Tweet

The Modern Language Association, or MLA, has been in the news lately for venturing into the Twitterverse with recommendations on how to cite a Tweet. The association representing English professors, the MLA released its recommendations on the Web and on Twitter, where it engendered a lively discussion.

Now the issue of Twitter citation style has made it to the pages of both the Atlantic and Inside Higher Ed. MLA Style, as it is known, is generally considered the style of record for scholars in the humanities.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Pearl Abraham, Author of 'American Taliban,' Reads Thursday Night

Come experience the work of an award-winning writer who grew up in a traditional community in Jerusalem.

Pearl Abraham grew up in Jerusalem during the 1960s; her family later moved between Hasidic communities in Jerusalem and New York. Her first novel, The Romance Reader, won praise from the New York Times, Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, and others. It also made bestseller lists in Germany and the Netherlands and has been translated into Dutch, Italian, German, Japanese, Norwegian, and Hungarian. Her most recent novel is American Taliban (2010).
Abraham has taught at NYU, Sarah Lawrence College, and the University of Houston. She is currently the editor of a Dutch anthology and teaches English at Western New England University.
Thursday, March 22
7 p.m.
Marvin Center, Room 405

*Jewish Lit Live is made possible by the generous support of David Bruce Smith. All of our events are FREE and open to the public.*

Friday, March 2, 2012

Prof. Mallon Releases New Novel About the Watergate Scandal

Prof. Thomas Mallon's new book about Watergate appeals even to those born after Pres. Nixon's 1974 resignation.

"I don't think that a leader can control, to any great extent, his destiny. Very seldom can he step in and change the situation if the forces of history are running in another direction."
-Richard Nixon

"And Watergate? Well, I’d have to say that Nixon feels like the public figure who most dominated my life — from the time I went to fourth grade wearing a Nixon-Lodge button in the fall of 1960, through my college years, which overlapped with Kent State, Cambodia, the China trip and all the rest. That I live across the street from the Watergate complex in Washington no doubt also had a lot to do with my getting around to this book."
-Thomas Mallon

Prof. Thomas Mallon, director of creative writing, has published a new novel, his eighth. Written about what was perhaps this country's most devastating political scandal in history, Watergate (Pantheon, 2012) is teeming with "glitter, glamor, suave grace and subtlety." Alliterations aside, the national book press is going absolutely crazy about this book, praising everything from its understated humor to rich, clever depictions of familiar political characters.

Although many books have been written about the scandal, Prof. Mallon shares an important distinction in Watergate. Says Mallon, "I try to see things from inside several different characters---to imagine things as intimately as possible from the points of view of seven different people caught up in the scandal." This format, written in "the close-third person," offers him a chance to reinvigorate the forty-year-old event with a stunningly creative set of voices.

I spoke to Prof. Mallon on behalf of students at GW and everywhere across the country, who cannot seem to recall the original scandal because---well, we didn't exist yet. He didn't seem too worried, though: "The book no doubt is easier for older readers who remember the actual events. But I think that just about anybody with a basic knowledge of Watergate can plunge in and catch on quickly."

"And," he quips, "there's always Google to fall back on. Nixon, by the way, would have LOVED the Internet."

Prof. Mallon is currently serving as distinguished visiting professor at Davidson College during the spring semester. For determined autograph-seekers, though, take heart. He will be in Washington this very weekend, doing a much-anticipated reading at Politics & Prose Bookstore at 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 3. I would strongly recommend attending, to see a true literary master in action. And look for a major, campus-wide event centering on the book in Fall 2012.

Congratulations to Prof. Thomas Mallon, for adding an excellent novel to GW English's literary tradition!

-Andrew Mendelson