Although it is said that books can’t be judged by their covers, this year’s round up of long-form English faculty publications begs to differ. With quite the crop of cool covers, content does not fall short of exteriors. Subjects range from fictional to theoretical, practical to esoteric, various other readily deconstructable dichotomies. The unifying thread of course is that all are thoughtful, complex and, of course, consummately well-written. Congratulations to all our faculty authors!
Nancy Bou Ayash, co-editor, Translingual and Transnational Graduate Education in Rhetoric andComposition (Utah State UP):
Translingual and Transnational Graduate Education in Rhetoric and Composition investigates the implications of composition studies’ changing terminological and ideological landscape around language and nation for the professionalization of future university writing teacher-scholars. As the collection editors argue, incorporating translingual and transnational theories into graduate pedagogy and curricular structures is necessary if they are to shape professional practices in rhetoric and composition long term. Contributors to the collection articulate the need for translingual and transnational sensibilities in rhetoric and composition graduate programs in light of the material conditions of graduate students’ lives and labor. They further present pathways for rethinking the design of graduate-level coursework, foreign language learning policies and labor, mentoring practices, writing teacher and writing center tutor training, and other professionalization initiatives.
This autotheoretical book in Cambridge’s Elements series, written in the tense space between feminist and trans theory, argues that movement between 'woman' and 'nonbinary' is possible, affectively and politically. In fact, a nonbinary structure of feeling has been central in the history of feminist thought, such as in Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex (1949). This structure of feeling is not antifeminist but indexical of a desire for a form of embodiment and relationality beyond binary sex and gender. Finally, the book provides a partial defense of nonbinary gender identity by tracing the development of the term in online spaces of the early 2000s. While it might be tempting to read its development as symptomatic of the forms of selfhood reproduced in (neo)liberal, racialized platform capitalism, this reading is too simplistic because it misses how the term emerged within communities of care.
In these three deeply observed novellas, award-winning author David Nikki Crouse dramatizes the lives of women living in Interior Alaska. Each novella acts as an extended meditation on grief, loss, and the nature of imagination. Crouse’s usual storytelling gifts are on full display here, but the darkness found in past short story collections is balanced by images of stark beauty. In “Misfortune and Its Double,” a woman remembers—and manufactures—the story of an arduous cross-country drive that might not be entirely true. “A Rough Map of the Interior” follows a woman’s life from suicide attempt to hospitalization to a new kind of self-knowledge, and “Asmodeus Speaks” lingers on a Dungeon and Dragons roleplaying game in remote Fairbanks and its disruption when one of its players, a young Yupik man, goes missing.
While Crouse’s prize-winning collection of short fiction The Man Back There offered up insights into a kind of self-destructive masculinity, these novellas now sensitively and persuasively capture the inner landscapes of women struggling with grief and isolation. Trouble Will Save You is a unique and fully realized work from a keenly empathetic writer.
The stories in I’m Here dramatize life in the Alaskan interior, describing the difficult lives of people in Fairbanks, Alaska as they move through the long, brilliant days of summer into the deep winter months. These are characters living on the tenuous edge of things—on the economic edge caused by poverty and disillusion, on the dividing line between outsider and insider, and on the literal edge of the Alaskan wilderness. The stories in this collection move from beauty to danger and back again with decisive grace, although the lingering effect is not shock, but empathy toward people simultaneously alien and oddly familiar. David Nikki Crouse’s work has always explored the mysteries of identity, and these remarkably rendered stories double down on that subject by focusing on the self-mythology of people living in Fairbanks, Alaska, merging the hard exterior world of the Alaskan wilderness with its inhabitants’ complicated interior landscapes.
How can we learn to notice the signs of disability? We see indications of disability everywhere: yellow diamond-shaped “deaf person in area” road signs, the telltale shapes of hearing aids, or white-tipped canes sweeping across footpaths. But even though the signs are ubiquitous, Stephanie L. Kerschbaum argues that disability may still not be perceived due to a process she terms “dis-attention.” To tell better stories of disability, this multidisciplinary work turns to rhetoric, communications, sociology, and phenomenology to understand the processes by which the material world becomes sensory input that then passes through perceptual apparatuses to materialize phenomena—including disability. By adding perception to the understanding of disability’s materialization, Kerschbaum significantly expands our understanding of disability, accounting for its fluctuations and transformations in the semiotics of everyday life.
What if rhetoric and climate are intimately connected? Taking climates to be rhetorical and rhetoric to be climatic, Rai and her co-authors offer a generative framework for making sense of rhetorical studies as they grapple with the challenges posed by antiracist, decolonial, affective, ecological, and more-than-human scholarship to a tradition with a long history of being centered around individual, usually privileged, human agents wielding language as their principal instrument. Understanding the atmospheric and ambient energies of rhetoric underscores the challenges and promises of trying to heal a harmed world from within it. A cowritten “multigraph,” which began in 2018 as a reading group, this book enacts an intimate, mutualistic spirit of shared critical inquiry and play—an exciting new way of doing, thinking, and feeling rhetorical studies by six prominent scholars in rhetoric from communication and English departments alike.
Juliet Shields, editor, Clan-Albin: A National Tale: by Christian Isobel Johnstone (Routledge):
Christian Isobel Johnstone’s Clan-Albin: A National Tale was published in 1815, less than a year after Walter Scott’s Waverley; or ‘tis Sixty Years Since enthralled readers and initiated a craze for Scottish novels. Both as a novelist and as editor of Tait’s Edinburgh Magazine from 1834 to 1846, Johnstone was a powerful figure in Romantic Edinburgh’s literary scene. But her works and her reputation have long been overshadowed by Scott’s. In Clan-Albin, Johnstone engages with themes on British imperial expansion, metropolitan England’s economic and political relationships with the Celtic peripheries, and the role of women in public life. This rare novel, alongside extensive editorial commentary, will be of much interest to students of British Literature.
An author, who made a career by examining her own trauma sits down to interview her nephew for a new book about his history as a model. Each of them reveals much more than expected and confronts some of their most deeply hidden secrets.