One of the atypical things about this SAA seminar will be having two respondents who are not (gasp!) Shakespeareans — though I hasten to assure everyone that they aren’t double agents or marketers for Hollywood films. Instead they work in cognate disciplines, and I’ve asked them aboard to try to stretch our Shakespearean and oceanic thinking.
Josiah Blackmore is Professor of Portuguese and Spanish Studies at the U of Toronto. A specialist in early modern Iberian literatures, he has written two great books with maritime resonances: Manifest Perdition: Shipwreck Narrative and the Disruption of Empire (Minnesota, 2002), and Moorings: Portuguese Expansion and the Writing of Africa (Minnesota, 2009). I met Joe first through reading Manifest Perdition, and then later we both presented at a wonderfully intense small conference on shipwreck in London in 2010. There I heard a snippet of his new work, on Portuguese poetry, maritime expansion, and innovations of “depth.”
Jeffrey Jerome Cohen is Professor of English and Director of the Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute (MEMSI) at George Washington U. He’s written too many books and articles to list here, though Monster Theory (Minnesota, 1996), Of Giants (Minnesota 1999), and Medieval Identity Machines (Minnesota, 2003) will provide a good sense of the work. More recent snippets can be found on his group blog, In the Middle. I’m pretty sure I first met Jeffrey via his e-avatar(s), which produce a lively discursive flow, though I also recently found him hanging around New York City.
The directions that I’m hoping Joe and Jeffrey will stretch us should be fairly obvious; we can perhaps escape the twin prisons of chronological early modernity and Anglophone monolingualism by attending to their work and responsive voices. Less directly, I also hope that their presence with us will make our engagements less “in group” and more expansive.
I’m looking forward to reading our shared bibliography by Dec 1. Please limit yourself to 2 or 3 items you think might be useful for other seminar members, remembering that none of us has time for dozens of new sources. What are the select few things that you think everyone working on oceanic matters should read?
I’ve not pruned my list yet, but I’m thinking about Chris Connery, Edouard Glissant, and Charles Olson. Fiction, poetry, and non-early modern works are all welcome in our great salt sea.
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