Modern Languages

Postgrowth Imaginaries – In Conversation with Luis I. Prádanos

The most recent publication in the Contemporary Hispanic and Lusophone Cultures series is now available! The work is also open access and is available on Modern Languages Open and the Oapen Library. We caught up with author Luis I. Prádanos to discuss Postgrowth Imaginaries.

Postgrowth Imaginaries cover

Firstly, could you tell us a bit about Postgrowth Imaginaries and what compelled you to focus your research in this area?

I wanted to understand the cultural dimension of the ecological crisis and its relation to the economic dominant paradigm. Many fields study these processes separately (economics, environmental studies, cultural studies), but I believe that the only way to make sense of our current historical conjunction in politically and ethically relevant ways is to investigate these processes together.

What makes post-2008 Spain such an optimal context to investigate these cultural processes?

It is an optimal context due to the dramatic changes in the social metabolism of the region during the last few decades (rapid economic growth, accelerated ecological destruction, massive adoption of cultural consumerism and an energy-intensive lifestyle) that resulted in a post-2008 long economic and social crisis. These changes are crucial to understand the acritical celebratory rhetoric of growth and modernization that resulted into the current socioecological crisis. Spain exemplifies a very intense and accelerated case of neoliberal globalization rise and fall (but it is also a region where many innovative and vibrant counterhegemonic practices and narratives are emerging).

You mention that some areas covered in Postgrowth Imaginaries have often been ignored in Iberian cultural studies. Are there any key areas you think it’s important to highlight which have previously been ignored?

The inextricable entanglements among ecological processes, economic paradigms, and cultural changes are undertheorized in Spanish cultural studies. Not many cultural scholars in my field take seriously how cultural sensibilities influence material and energy flows and how specific ecologies, energy regimes, and urban infrastructures condition and shape our cultural, political, and aesthetic possibilities. Fortunately, these topics are receiving more attention in the last few years.

How does this volume pave the way for future research on the topic?

I hope that this intervention will encourage more Iberian cultural scholars to develop a more systemic, posthumanist, and ecological understanding of culture. I would love to see more research projects in my field that are informed by political ecology and environmental humanities.

What are you going to be working on next?

I am now working on a project that converges energy humanities and urban cultural studies. In this work I explore the interrelations among cultural sensibilities, political power, and energy technologies. I believe that studying Iberian contemporary cultures from this angle can be illuminating, as it reveals how dominant cultural imaginaries can only be maintained by completely ignoring the nonrenewable and environmentally destructive substance that fuels petro-capitalism and made it both historically feasible in the past and biophysically impossible as a future option. I am interested in exploring how certain arrangements of energy power and urban infrastructure support the dominant cultural imaginary in Spain (and the other way around) and how such arrangements could be modified to facilitate the emergence of counterhegemonic cultures that are socially desirable and ecologically viable.

 

For more information on Postgrowth Imaginaries please visit our website or read it for free on Modern Languages Open.

 

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Modern Languages

Post-Migratory Cultures in Postcolonial France – In Conversation with Kathryn A. Kleppinger and Laura Reeck

The most recent addition to the Francophone Postcolonial Studies series Post-Migratory Cultures in Postcolonial France is now available! We caught up with editors Kathryn A. Kleppinger and Laura Reeck to discuss their recent publication.

Post-Migratory Cultures in Postcolonial France

What prompted the volume?

Given the span of time – twenty years – and important demographic changes in France, our original idea was to provide an update to Alec Hargreaves’s and Mark McKinney’s very important volume, Post-Colonial Cultures in France (1997).  Their volume transposed postcoloniality, which had primarily been used as a critical lens to study France’s former colonies, to metropolitan France and looked specifically at the case of post-colonial minorities for whom France became a contact zone.  But these postcolonial minorities were not necessarily French citizens.  Our volume, for which Hargreaves and McKinney have written the Afterword, focuses on activists, artists, and cultural producers who are French citizens and who have lived in France for all their lives (or virtually so).  Post-Migratory Cultures in Postcolonial France explores this proximity with the attendant opportunities and challenges that it brings for people who are too often marginalized or at once highly visible and invisible.  We suggest that the post-migratory is an important conceptual category that stands to help rearticulate and update relationships between the local and global, national and transnational, all the while holding postcoloniality as relevant.  Also, part of our motivation stemmed from our sense that it was time to cross over resolutely to the 21st century and hone in on 21st century cultural production, which is exclusively featured in the volume.  All too often, the most contemporary cultural production gets treated insufficiently in edited volumes.  We wanted to ensure that Post-Migratory Cultures in Postcolonial France was timely and spoke to the current social and cultural moment in France, and all the contributors harnessed this perspective.

 

Can you summarise some of the common themes and findings in the diversity of topics covered in the volume?

 Although the volume explores many cultural forms — literature, rap, hip hop dance, visual art, bandes déssinées, film, new media — there is a cohesiveness and consensus that emerges.  Examining such topics as institutions/institutional memory, laïcité, Blackness, and Islamophobia, the volume explores vacuums created by French republicanism and faux colorblindness, and advocates for an adjustment to indifference to social differences.  It seems as though the artistic and cultural forms that best account for this adjustment themselves collapse boundaries and differentials – for example, rapper-writers, or El Seed’s street art as it grows onto institutional walls.  Filling in the void of silence and activating post-memory also recur across the volume, whether in the case of the children of harkis or second-generation Vietnamese French, both cases in which trauma resulting from war and displacement figures prominently.  Another interesting consideration is the level of access to various stages.  The volume suggests there is unequal opportunity and access depending on the stage in question: while the dance, music, and street art stages seem somewhat favorable and open, the literary and mediatic establishments’ gates remain largely shut to post-migratory postcolonial minorities.  Meanwhile, these artists and cultural producers have appropriated their own spaces (whether on Twitter or on the walls of buildings) and are demonstrating that they, too, deserve to be recognized as innovators: they produce works with their own distinctive voices and refuse to relegate their art to the margins of French high culture. By revealing the social and political nature of canonization and consecration in France, they make us more aware of our own expectations and blindspots when we “consume culture.”

 

How do you think this book will pave the way for further research into cultural production in relation to new social identities?

We are excited to contribute to this conversation! Each of the fields of study presented here (media, film, literature, visual arts, dance, etc) merits attention in its own right, so we hope to see new monographs in these areas as well as additional collections that seek to synthesize new material as we have done here. While we chose to focus on how these artists and cultural producers reconsider Frenchness and their place in French society, further research could look at the ways in which contemporary post-migratory producers engage with concepts such as neoliberal economic policies and the future of Europe in a transnational world. Each of these themes requires sensitivity to the relationship between the local and the global and the role of historical events and precedents in the contemporary era, which are tensions we address in our volume. We also think the volume points toward the importance of intersectionality in new social identities in France, an area of research that is key and imminent in our view. We hope our vocabulary, centered around the concept of the post-migratory, provides researchers with a theoretically useful foundation upon which to build future investigations.

For more information on Post-Migratory Cultures in Postcolonial France please visit our website.
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Modern Languages

Comparative Literature Section Launch Issue

Modern Languages Open, a peer-reviewed platform for the open access publication of research from across the modern languages, has published the Comparative Literature Section Launch Issue.

This special issue has been compiled to mark the launch of the Comparative Literature section of Modern Languages Open, and includes original articles by Michael Cronin, Andrew Ginger, Florian Mussgnug, Francesca Orsini, Haun Saussy and Galin Tihanov. The authors were invited to identify a theme or issue facing the discipline of Comparative Literature today, and to explore it within a Modern Languages framework. Each piece can be read as a manifesto of sorts: posing new questions, sketching out new areas of enquiry, and suggesting new frameworks of thought. All are written as brief reports, designed to be accessible to undergraduate and postgraduate students of Comparative Literature, and hold the aim of stimulating fresh academic scholarship that engages with and builds on this set of original and dynamic ideas.

Contents:

Modern Languages Open Comparative Literature Launch Issue
Emma Bond

Comparative Study and the Nature of Connections: Of the Aesthetic Appreciation of History
Andrew Ginger

Multilingual Locals and Significant Geographies: For a Ground-up and Located Approach to World Literature
Karima Laachir, Sara Marzagora, Francesca Orsini

The Comparative History of East Asian Literatures: A Sort of Manifesto
Haun Saussy

Ferrying a Thinker Across Time and Language: Bakhtin, Translation, World Literature
Galin Tihanov

Planetary Figurations: Intensive Genre in World Literature
Florian Mussgnug

Translation Studies and the Common Cause
Michael Cronin

Browse the issue on MLO >

Modern Languages, News

Derek Schilling joins Contemporary French and Francophone Cultures Editorial Board

Liverpool University Press is delighted to announce that Professor Derek Schilling will be joining the Editorial Board of Contemporary French and Francophone Cultures.

Derek Schilling is Professor of French at Johns Hopkins University, where he teaches courses in modern and contemporary literature and film and directs the Centre pluridisciplinaire Louis Marin. He holds a co-ordinated doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania and the Université Paris 8. His chief research domain is geopoetics and geocriticism, specifically the relation of the literary and filmic record to the history of town planning and suburbanisation in France since 1900. In Mémoires du quotidien: les lieux de Perec (Presses universitaires du Septentrion, 2006) he explored Perec’s sociology of everydayness in relation to the rhetoric of the memory place and various site-bound observational practices. A forthcoming study, Banlieues de mémoire: géopoétique du roman de l’entre-deux-guerres, examines the emergence of the Paris suburb as a leading chronotope in novels published at the turn of the 1930s, by the likes of Simenon, Céline, Queneau, Dabit, and Berberova.

A scholar of documentary and fiction film, Schilling published in 2007 the comprehensive monograph Eric Rohmer in Manchester UP’s “French Film Directors” series. His most recent film-related publication, co-edited with Philippe Met, is Screening the Paris suburbs: from the silent era to the 1990s (Manchester UP 2018). Its fifteen contributors address the long history of representations of greater Paris, delving into tropes of escape, alienation, local struggle, criminality and stigmatisation. Other recent articles explore the work on René Vautier; place names in Georges Perec’s fiction; Louis Malle’s direct cinema of the 1970s; and plant closure documentaries and the memory of labour in the new millennium (“France’s Labour Lost,” forthcoming in France in Flux, eds. Ari Blatt and Edward Welch, Liverpool UP 2019). Schilling is a member of several editorial boards of journals in the United States including French ForumFrench ReviewMLNSymposium and, in France, the Revue des Sciences Humaines.

Charles Forsdick, James Barrow Professor of French at University of Liverpool and Series Editor of CFFC, said, “We are delighted to welcome Professor Derek Schilling as a new member of the editorial board of Contemporary French and Francophone Cultures. Derek is one of the leading international specialists on modern and contemporary French literature and culture, particularly well known for his extensive work on geocriticism and the relationship of literature and film to space and urbanisation in France since 1900. A specialist on authors such as Simenon, Céline, Queneau and Perec, he has also published widely on contemporary French film. Derek joins us as we celebrate the publication of the 50th title in the series and will offer invaluable advice and support as we commission our next 50 volumes mapping out the major movements and tendencies in twentieth- and twenty-first-century French and Francophone cultures.”

If you would like to submit a book proposal to the series please get in touch with Chloe Johnson at chloe.johnson@liverpool.ac.uk. You can find out more about the series here.

Modern Languages

Women in Translation Month

August marks Women in Translation month, the time to celebrate and read works in translation by women authors. Liverpool University Press supports Women in Translation all year round, publishing important works by both female authors and female translators.
Next month sees the publication of the second edition of Montserrat Lunati’s Rainy Days, a collection of short stories by contemporary Spanish women writers translated into English. This volume re-edits and expands the previous edition and features a critical introduction, notes, and bio-bibliographical information on each author, making it a useful tool for students of the Spanish language and culture at all levels.
Rainy Days / Dias de Lluvia cover image
In January we published Valerie Hegstrom and Catherine Larson’s edition of El muerto disimulado/Presumed Dead by Ângela de Azevedo. This is the first English translation of the comedy and features a comprehensive introduction that describes Spanish theatre in its Golden Age, what is known of the author’s life and times, contemporary stagings, and an extensive analysis of the text.
 El muerto disimulado / Presumed Dead cover image
Both of these volumes appear in our Aris & Phillips Hispanic Classics series which publishes modern editions of Classic Hispanic texts, with substantial introductions and commentaries as well as the original text with facing-page English translation. We are currently accepting book proposals of such translations.