#MLA18 Book Launch: The Monster as War Machine

Meet Dr. Mabel Moraña, William H. Gass Professor in Arts and Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis and winner of the 2013 MLA Katherine Singer Kovacs Prize, on Saturday (January 6) at 11:30 a.m. at the Cambria Press booth (101) for a book signing for her latest book, The Monster as War Machine.

This book is in the Cambria Latin American Literatures and Cultures Series headed by Dr. Román de la Campa, the Edwin B. and Lenore R. Williams Professor of Romance Languages at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr.  de la Campa will also be at the booth to celebrate the publication of this new book.

Read excerpts of The Monster as War Machine.

#MLA18

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The Monster as War Machine – Book Excerpts

Cambria Press is proud to announce the publication of the new book, The Monster as War Machine, by by Mabel Moraña, William H. Gass Professor in Arts and Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis and winner of the 2013 MLA Katherine Singer Kovacs Prize. See below for excerpts from this book, which has been hailed as “a tour de force” and praised for being “audacious, erudite, and exquisitely written.”

Monster as War Machine

From the preface

An apparatus of social immunization, a simulacrum that spectacularizes its artificiality, a shifter that activates social dynamics, an assemblage that threatens the machinery of power, the monster symbolizes the heroic resistance of the slave and the sinister excesses of the master. Thus, it is essential to contextualize, even though it may seem fallacious, even the universality that the monster evokes in every one of its apparitions and attributes. In spite of its extreme empiria, and although it frequently lacks rationality and language, the monster is in its own way always philosophical. This book proceeds as a critical exercise that follows the meanderings of the monster’s “negative aesthetics.”

On Epistemophilia and the Performance of Difference

The nineteenth century was inhabited by ghosts and monsters that expressed dystopian fantasies about the possibility of unrestrained combinations of nature and technology. The anxiety that accompanied the ideology of progress, the turbulent culmination of the colonialist enterprise in the Americas, and the massive expansion of capitalism came to be sublimated through the monstrous. In this context, monstrosity constituted a discourse that directly addressed the tensions and exclusions of the social “order” of modernity in which forms of domination and social exclusion that began with colonialism were perpetuated and made into law. Processes like the scientific “rationalization” of the body were based on the demonization of otherness. These practices took the form of taxonomies of races and individuals that became part of the hierarchical and discriminatory imaginaries of infinite “progress” in modern capitalism. Monstrosity provided a visual and conceptual support for currents of thought that promoted privilege and exclusion based on naturalist criteria and supposedly demonstrable and unimpeachable truths. “Scientific racism” asserted the superiority of the Caucasian race within a highly influential technological structure that legitimated the political, economic, and cultural domination of societies thought to be savage, primitive, or barbarous. Forms of hybridity like mestizaje were interpreted as monstrous processes that promoted impurity and the degeneration of “pure” races.

On the Ubiquitous Quality of Monsters

For the monster, neither progress nor utopia nor purity of class, race, or gender exists, because its being consists of a contaminated material in which human qualities have been definitively or partially displaced, erased, or substituted by spurious, out-of-place characteristics. This ubiquitous quality constitutes the essence of the monster. The remains of its soul reside precisely in this ambiguous, fragile, and unstable condition. Zombies, vampires, pishtacos, chupacabras, demons, phantasms, and other representatives of the broad family tree that shares the characteristics of the monstrous or the supernatural are all beings that benefit from solitude and isolation. However, they also share, within their domains, family resemblances. The monster generates itself—regenerates, degenerates—mechanically, in order to survive as a distinct concentration of irrationality in a world ruled by monstrous but legitimated principles of exclusion and reification.

On the Age of Futilitarianism

Certain social, economic, and political conditions nonetheless seem to be a breeding ground for the proliferation of monstrosity, which is expressed both in concrete fears such as the desperation of being trapped, or the disconcerting awareness of horizons that open up a landscape of disorienting freedom that manifests as a foreign, ghostly place. According to the Comaroffs, we are now in “the Age of Futilitarianism”—that is, an era in which all hope is thought to be vain and all effort is considered futile …

The Monster as War Machine is in the Cambria Latin American Literatures and Cultures Series headed by Román de la Campa, the Edwin B. and Lenore R. Williams Professor of Romance Languages at the University of Pennsylvania.

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Cambria Press Forthcoming Publication on David Malouf

A new book on the celebrated Australian writer David Malouf will be out soon. Winner of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the inaugural Australia-Asia Literary Award, and the Australia Council Award for Lifetime Achievement in Literature, Malouf’s works include novels, poetry, nonfiction, plays, and libretti.

His earlier works provide much insight into Malouf’s development as a writer, and the forthcoming book David Malouf and the Poetic: His Earlier Writings Yvonne Smith uncovers what the terms “poetic”, “poetic imagination” and “inner and outer ways” imply for his development as a writer. Making use of some of his correspondence, diaries, and drafts of work-in-progress, Yvonne Smith takes into fuller account the way his works relate to each other and to the circumstances in which they were written.

Cambria Press Publication David Malouf

Title: David Malouf and the Poetic: His Earlier Writings
Author: Yvonne Smith
Publisher: Cambria Press
ISBN: 9781604979367
304 pp. | 2017 | Hardback & E-book
Book Webpage: http://www.cambriapress.com/books/9781604979367.cfm

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Cambria Press Publication Review: The Rimbaud of Leeds

Congratulations to Dr Christine Regan on the outstanding review of her book The Rimbaud of Leeds: The Political Character of Tony Harrison’s Poetry by the journal English – Journal of the English Association. The journal review commends the book for being:

Meticulously researched … an unusually astute and impressively well informed guide to the poetry. Even those well versed in Harrison’s work will, I suspect, depart this volume with new insights and new knowledge in hand … In the age of Trump and Brexit, there is a certain pathos to seeing this one time member of the ‘white working class’ prove so inclined to side with postcolonial peoples in their struggles with the architects of the post-war order. … Regan’s work offers many new and valuable insights.

Cambria Press publication review

Title: The Rimbaud of Leeds: The Political Character of Tony Harrison’s Poetry
Author: Christine Regan
Publisher: Cambria Press
ISBN: 9781604979275
290 pp.  |   2016   |   Hardback & E-book
Book Webpage: http://www.cambriapress.com/books/9781604979275.cfm

Interview with Cambria Press author Professor Mark Bender

An interview with Professor Mark Bender (The Ohio State University) about his new book was posted on the MCLC. Professor Bender’s book The Borderlands of Asia: Culture, Place, Poetry was released last month at the 2017 AAS conference in Toronto.

Cambria Press author Mark Bender publication Borderlands of Asia

See also Professor Bender’s speech at the
AAS 2017 Cambria Press reception.

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Cambria Press author I-Hsien Wu (AAS 2017 speech)

Cambria Press author I-Hsien Wu (City University of New York) spoke about her new book Eroticism and Other Literary Conventions in Chinese Literature: Intertextuality in The Story of the Stone at the Cambria Press reception. This book is in the Cambria Press Sinophone World Series headed by Professor Victor Mair (University of Pennsylvania).

Watch Professor I-Hsien Wu’s speech
at the Cambria Press reception

Cambria Press author I-Hsien Wu publication Story of the Stone

Below is a transcript of Professor I-Hsien Wu’s speech:

“Let me begin with a heartfelt thank you to Toni Tan and David Armstrong, and the whole production team at Cambria. Thank you for helping me transform my project into a book. And thank you, Professor Mair. It is my great honor to have my book included in the series. I feel extremely honored and grateful.

And I am so thrilled to be here today, because The Story of the Stone is not only the most celebrated prose fiction in Chinese literature but also my favorite book. I vividly remember reading an abridged version of the novel for young readers when I was in elementary school. And I remember reading the original for the first time when I was eleven — it was such a struggle! I was completely confused by Chapter 1 and gave up!

But now that’s history. Chapter 1 has since become where I turn to all the time, especially the metafictional framework. I am intrigued by the idea that a stone can be a character, a narrator, a jade pendant, and the book itself all at the same time. And I am fascinated by the stone’s famous criticism of historical romance, erotic fiction, and scholar-and-beauty novels. Although it looks like he is drawing a line between his story and these previous works, in fact he only reveals that The Story of the Stone is deeply rooted in these genres and conventions.

This is where the novel openly shows the author’s anxiety of influence and alludes to the nature of intertextuality, and this is also where my book comes in. To me, the novel’s construction of lust is a dialogue with erotic literature; its making of romance is about the use of drama; in the last forty chapters, the novel wrestles with the scholar-and-beauty ideals; and finally, the mythic stone is created to question the convention of storytelling, not only in pre-existing fiction but also in the novel’s many previous lives in manuscript versions and printed editions.

It has been a long journey for me reading and writing about The Story of the Stone. I hope you will all join me by reading my book. Thank you.”

* * * * *

How does The Story of the Stone utilize language and text to make meanings of the human lives it creates? How does The Story of the Stone exist through its relation to previous fiction? To answer these questions, this book argues that the mythic stone’s harsh critiques of historical romance (yeshi), erotic fiction (fengyue bimo), and scholar-and-beauty fiction (caizi jiaren) cannot be taken at face value. Instead, they signify The Stone’s anxiety of influence and allude to the nature of intertextuality. Professor Wu’s book, Eroticism and Other Literary Conventions in Chinese Literature, is thus a must-read for anyone interested in The Story of the Stone, and for readers interested in novel, fiction, drama, and other literary genres and subgenres in Chinese literature.

Title: Eroticism and Other Literary Conventions in Chinese Literature: Intertextuality in The Story of the Stone
Author: I-Hsien Wu
Publisher: Cambria Press
ISBN: 9781604979770
240 pp.  |   2017   |   Hardback & E-book
Book Webpage: http://www.cambriapress.com/books/9781604979770.cfm

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Cambria Press author Mark Bender (AAS 2017 speech)

Cambria Press author Professor Mark Bender (The Ohio State University) spoke about his new book The Borderlands of Asia: Culture, Place, Poetry at the Cambria Press reception. This book is in the Cambria Press Sinophone World Series headed by Professor Victor Mair (University of Pennsylvania).

Watch Professor Mark Bender’s speech
at the Cambria Press reception

Cambria Press author Mark Bender publication Borderlands of Asia

Below is a transcript of Professor Mark Bender’s speech:

“Firstly, I’d like to say a big thank-you to Toni Tan, Michelle Wright—and, of course, Victor Mair—of Cambria Press for helping me with this project.  I am endlessly grateful for their vision and hard work.

This project began as a side interest to my study of oral traditions in China.  It has grown organically from the translation of a few poems concerning cultural and environmental change written in Nuosu language by Yi poet and academic Aku Wuwu of Southwest University for Nationalities in Chengdu. The  present volume includes the works of 48 poets from Northeast India, Myanmar, Southwest China, Inner Mongolia, and Mongolia.

It has been my great pleasure to work with a number of onsite collaborators who helped in many ways to put me in touch with local poets.  These include Desmond Kharmawthlang from the Northeast Hill University in Shillong, Meghalaya in Northeast India; the poet ko ko thett, a former Burmese ex-pat, now living in Mandalay, Myanmar; poets Aku Wuwu and Burao Yilu, of Sichuan and Yunnan provinces, China; Prof. Chen Ganglong of Peking University who connected me to poets of Inner Mongolia; and the inimitable Delgermaa Ganbat of the Union of Mongolian Writers in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

The theme of the volume is the experiences of cultural and environmental change as channeled through the voices of poets from among the many ethnic groups within and without of the border areas of China and India. As I note in the Preface the array of poets included in this volume would have been different if I had met different people and if my travels had taken me to other places.  That said I feel strongly that the themes of cultural and environmental change treated in the volume have a sharp relevancy in many areas Asia and elsewhere on the planet.  One theme that I raise in the Introduction is that of “place-competency” – the deep familiarity with local environments and how to live in a place – knowledge threatened by new styles of living that require new competencies for survival.  Many of the poets in this volume have written poems that reflect their own adjustments to changing circumstances, and often speak for their local communities. To quote from page 15:

“Many of the poets in this volume reflect perceptual and experiential attitudes towards the lands and waters of specific places that belie deep place-competency—whether the environment they evoke is a humid jhum field in Northeast India, the sublime spaces of the northern steppes, the disorienting streets of an urban megalopolis in Southwest China, or a somehow familiar myth-world inhabited by speaking animals. Some of the poets stress the de-linkage from these familiar relationships with the environment, exhibiting nostalgia for an imagined world of harmony in contrast to the traumatic changes of the present. From another angle, poems such as Desmond Kharmawphlang’s “Thaiang Buried Roots,” reflect an attitude adopted by poets who seek to renew aspects of tradition amidst the chaos of cultural upheaval and environmental destruction and heal intimate ties between community and place (Syiem 2011, 129–130).”

Other themes, such as the imagery of ritual and material culture in relation to imagery are prominent in the poems, but as my three minutes are rapidly coming to a close, I will end here with an entreaty that we pay take advantage of the opportunity to listen to these voices from the borderlands of Asia and see what they have to teach us.”

* * * * *

The Borderlands of Asia is a rare collection that brings together the works of poets of diverse cultural backgrounds located in places that are only beginning to be recognized globally as sites of intense poetic work. This book contributes to raising global awareness of this poetry of land, waters, and cultures in less-highlighted parts of Asia. The subjects of environmental and cultural change are inescapable in the poetry represented in this volume, and many ethnic communities are on the front lines of development, affected in various ways by resource extraction (especially mining and logging), damming of rivers (a severe international issue), loss of wildlife and habitat, population displacement, and the effects of climate change. Likewise, the local cultures have variously experienced the effects of invasion, colonization, revolution, social engineering, insurgency, multi-spectrum development, and globalization contributing to often challenging (or worse) cultural changes. The intense contemporary poetry being produced is an index of the magnitude of these changes. An important book for Asian studies, Indigenous literature studies, and literature of the environment studies, this volume offers a substantial glimpse into contemporary poetry from exciting but under-represented poetic voices speaking out in the border areas of eastern Asia.

Title: The Borderlands of Asia: Culture, Place, Poetry
Author: Mark Bender
Publisher: Cambria Press
ISBN: 9781604979763
396 pp.  |   2017   |   Hardback & E-book

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