Fantasy and Science-Fiction Medievalisms is now available! This fascinating study “illuminate[s] how the manifold layers of meaning attached to medieval in fantasy and science fiction are constructed.”
On The Lord of the Rings
“The Lord of the Rings also fed a powerful American appetite for medievalism that soon manifested itself not only through a new wave of pulp-fiction fantasy but also through the emergence of adult-audience comic books, historical reenactment, and immersive role-playing games.”
However, “Tolkien’s novels constitute the central [medievalist visual narrative] but certainly not the only one. Anglo-Saxon epic and elegiac poetry, Scandinavian sagas, Tolkien’s letters, and Victorian literature and painting, as well as the illustrated versions of Tolkien’s books, are some of the intertexts that find their way into the final result.”
On A Game of Thrones
“Gritty or ‘grimdark’ fantasy claims to be a reaction against what is seen as a romanticized, even bowdlerized, version of the Middle Ages inspired in fantasy by the imitation of Tolkien’s work.’
“George R. R. Martin has fetishized a version of the Middle Ages that he believes is as authentic as possible under the circumstances, and this fetishization leads to the inclusion of problematic elements, such as rape, incest, chattel slavery, and violence against women.”
Cambria Press author Adams Bodomo is not only a pioneer in being the first scholar to publish his unprecedented book-length study on Africans in China–Dr. Bodomo has now broken new ground again as the first black professor appointed at the University of Vienna after 650 years! Read the interview which was conducted with Dr. Adams Bodomo on this landmark appointment.
The Library of Congress announced yesterday that the next U.S. poet laureate is Juan Felipe Herrera. He is the first Latino poet to be appointed to the position.
This significant achievement comes as no surprise to those familiar with Herrera’s work, especially Professor John Burns, Chair of the Department of Modern and Classical Languages at Rockford University. In his new book Contemporary Hispanic Poets: Cultural Production in the Global, Digital Age, which was just published this March and launched at the recent Latin American Studies Association (LASA) international congress in Puerto Rico, Burns asserted that “Herrera is not heavy-handed, and when his work treads into the political realm, it embraces the ambiguities that are inherent in political value judgments.”
In discussing Juan Felipe Herrera‘s style, Burns also stated that “Herrera has not produced ‘the effect of the subaltern as subject’ for the sake of cultural legibility. Rather, he has attempted to articulate the space he inhabits, with all its playfulness and indeterminacy, thus avoiding essentialisms, strategic or otherwise. More often than not his work inhabits interstices, a space in between determined positions, and a space from which he can make those apparently determined positions—be they ethnic, political, or cultural—a little blurrier.”
This insightful observation makes it clear why learning more about Juan Felipe Herrera and his work (as well as other contemporary Hispanic poets) is critical not only for those in literary studies but in all disciplines of Latino studies.
Question: Why did you decide to write Contemporary Hispanic Poets? John Burns: I decided to write Contemporary Hispanic Poets because the need to emphasize the relationship between text and context is important when addressing poetry. This is particularly important for English-speaking readers, so as to avoid projecting certain assumptions about Latin American poetry onto texts that may produce meaning in surprisingly distinct ways from English-language contexts. I also hoped to highlight connections between Spanish-speaking literary traditions as well as between poetry and other forms of cultural production, from Internet culture to television and newspapers. Ezra Pound once wrote that “Literature does not exist in a vacuum.” This book attempts to dispel any perception of a vacuum. In order to do so I employed an interdisciplinary approach, using the tools of traditional literary studies as well as critical theory on globalization that focuses largely on political economics, mass media and regional history.
Question: What do you hope your readers take away from your book? John Burns: I hope that readers appreciate the variety of work being produced in the Spanish-speaking world in numerous contexts and in numerous forms. There is a tendency for readers of poetry, or of literature in general, to exist in metaphorical silos. These may be silos of taste, silos of regional interest or silos of historical periods. I hope to undermine those silos. Although the book focuses on the end of the twentieth century, I situate the work in terms that readers of literature from other time periods can appreciate, highlighting the history that informs more contemporary texts. I move between poets who are highly distinct in terms of national tradition, style and artistic trajectory to illuminate some of their common underpinnings.
I also hope that readers come away with a sense of poetry as a human artifact that can be understood in broader cultural terms. In academia, there is an institutional bias that views poetry as inherently difficult, even as elitist. Rather than elitist, I view poetry as essential. It is embedded in the politics, cultural practices and social norms that inform daily life in different corners of the Spanish-speaking world.
Question: What other research do you believe is needed on this topic? John Burns: I think there needs to continue to be work that takes into account the massive paradigm shifts the world has undergone in the last thirty or forty years. In Contemporary Hispanic Poets, I look at poetry in relation to certain forms of cultural production that might be, for more traditional-minded scholars, a rather far afield from literary studies. For example, I include reference to television productions, web pages and even digital games to look at the status of textuality itself in the late twentieth century. Scholars will soon have to look at other forms of textual production that compete and coexist with book production: for example, mobile phones, smart watches, wearable technology in general. How will our relationship with those forms of technology influence our relationship to literature? Additionally, how are these forms of technology referenced or employed by poets or writers of other forms of literature.
Contemporary Hispanic Poets will be on display at the LASA congress next week.