Recent Publications

Here is a sample of books published within the last few years by UCSB scholars, which demonstrate interdisciplinary breadth and interests.


The Neighborhood of Gods: The Sacred and the Visible at the Margins of Mumbai

The Neighborhood of GodsPopular images of Mumbai capture the world’s collective imagination—as a Bollywood fantasia or a slumland dystopia—yet for many people who live in the city, the neighborhood streets are shared with local gods and guardian spirits. In this densely settled environment, space is scarce, and anxiety about housing is pervasive. Consecrating space, first with impromptu displays and then, eventually, with full-blown temples and official recognition, is one way of staking a claim. But how can a marginalized community make its gods visible, and therefore powerful, in the eyes of others? William Elison explores this question, bringing an ethnographic lens to a range of visual and spatial practices: from the shrine construction that encroaches on downtown streets, to the “tribal art” practices of an indigenous group facing displacement, to the work of image production at two Bollywood film studios. This book offers a creative intervention in debates on postcolonial citizenship, urban geography, and visuality in the religions of India.

Additional information: University of Chicago Press


Ecosophical Aesthetics: Art, Ethics and Ecology with Guattari

Ecosophical Aesthetics

Inspired by the ecosophical writings of Félix Guattari, this book explores the many ways that aesthetics – in the forms of visual art, film, sculpture, painting, literature, and the screenplay – can act as catalysts, allowing us to see the world beyond traditional modes of representation. This is in direct parallel to Guattari's own attempt to break down the 19th century Kantian dialectic between man, art, and world, in favour of a non-hierarchical, transversal approach, to produce a more ethical and ecologically sensitive world view. Each chapter analyses artworks which critique capitalism's industrial devastation of the environment, while at the same time offering affirmative, imaginative futures suggested by art. With contributions from philosophers, film theorists and artists, this book asks: How can we interact with the world in a non-dominant and non-destructive way? How can art catalyze new ethical relations with non-human entities and the environment? What part can philosophy play in rethinking these structures of interaction?

Additional information: Bloomsbury Publishing


The Chinese Scriptworld and World Literature

The Chinese Scriptworld and World Literature

The essays collected in this special issue of the Journal of World Literature all examine literature through the prism of script. The emphasis is primarily on the cultural sphere inscribed by Chinese characters, or the “Chinese Scriptworld” (漢字文化圈)—China, Korea, Japan and Vietnam. All of the countries in this “scriptworld” use, or have used, Chinese characters for writing though each has its own distinct language(s). By examining the interrelations between writing, speech, thought and culture in and outside this region, this collection builds a case for the scriptworld as a useful analytical unit for world literature. A more complete study of world literatures, as classified by script, will bring a dimension that is currently missing from world literary theories of translation and circulation.

Additional information: Brill


Deleuze and the Animal

Deleuze and the Animal

This book makes Deleuze contemporary and relevant for arguably one of the most crucial and foregrounded fields in philosophy: human-animal studies in the age of the Anthropocene. While Deleuzian studies has always been critical of the structure and status of human subjectivity, utilizing Deleuze in discussions of the contentious and unstable concept of the animal underlines the utility of his work for altering both theories and practices from art to philosophy to everyday activism. This book collects essays that use Deleuze’s entire oeuvre to analyze television, film, music, art, drunkenness, mourning, virtual technology, protest, activism, animal rights and abolition. Each chapter questions the premise of the animal as a discrete, easily understood concept and thereby simultaneously places the human as animal and critiques the centrality of the human.

Additional information: Edinburgh University Press


Queering Black Atlantic Religions: Transcorporeality in Candomblé, Santería, and Vodou

In Queering Black Atlantic Religions Roberto Strongman examines Haitian Vodou, Cuban Lucumí/Santería, and Brazilian Candomblé to demonstrate how religious rituals of trance possession allow humans to understand themselves as embodiments of the divine. In these rituals, the commingling of humans and the divine produces gender identities that are independent of biological sex. As opposed to the Cartesian view of the spirit as locked within the body, the body in Afro-diasporic religions is an open receptacle. Showing how trance possession is a primary aspect of almost all Afro-diasporic cultural production, Strongman articulates transcorporeality: a black, trans-Atlantic understanding of the human psyche, soul, and gender as multiple, removable, and external to the body.

Additional information: Duke University Press


The Taiga Syndrome

The Taiga Syndrome

Cristina Rivera Garza’s novel follows an unnamed Ex-Detective as she searches for a couple who has fled to the far reaches of the earth. A betrayed husband, convinced by a telegram that his second ex-wife wants to be found, hires the Ex-Detective, who sets out with a translator into a snowy, hostile forest where strange things happen and translation betrays both sense and one’s senses. Tales of Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood haunt the Ex-Detective’s quest into a territory overrun with the primitive excesses of Capitalism—accumulation and expulsion, corruption and cruelty—though the lessons of her journey are more experiential than moral: just as love can fly away, sometimes unloving flies away as well. Sometimes leaving everything behind is the only thing left to do.

Additional information and reviews: Dorothy


Edwidge Danticat: The Haitian Diasporic Imaginary

Edwidge Danticat: The Haitian Diasporic Imaginary

This book offers a comprehensive analysis of Edwidge Danticat’s exploration of the dialogic relationship between nation and diaspora. Nadège T. Clitandre argues that Danticat—moving between novels, short stories, and essays—articulates a diasporic consciousness that acts as a form of social, political, and cultural transformation at the local and global level. Using the echo trope to approach Danticat’s narratives and subjects, Clitandre effectively navigates between the reality of diaspora and imaginative opportunities that diasporas produce. Ultimately, Clitandre calls for a reconstitution of nation through a diasporic imaginary that informs the way people who have experienced displacement view the world and imagine a more diverse, interconnected, and just future.

Additional information: University of Virginia Press


Love and Its Critics: From the Song of Songs to Shakespeare and Milton's Eden

Title shown, Frencesca and Paolo in hell, Dante and Virgil looking on

This book is a history of love and the challenge love offers to the laws and customs of its times and places, as told through poetry from the Song of Songs to John Milton’s Paradise Lost. It is also an account of the critical reception afforded to such literature, and the ways in which criticism has attempted to stifle this challenge.

Additional information: Open Book Publishers


Untranslatability Goes Global

Title shown, abstract background in blue and white

This collection brings together translation theorists, linguists, and literary scholars to promote interdisciplinary dialogue about untranslatability and its implications within the context of globalization. The first section of the book looks at the pragmatics of translation practice, while the second part examines the role of the translator’s voice and the translator as author in specific literary works. The final section of the volume builds on the earlier chapters to study the interplay between translation as a creative practice and its place within the dynamic between local and global examining case studies across a wide variety of literary genres and traditions across regions.

Additional information: Routledge


Darkening Mirrors: Imperial Representation in Depression-Era African American Performance

Title of book shown. An image of six black men, three bent over and three behind them, wearing kitschy tribal costumes and posing.

In Darkening Mirrors, Stephanie Leigh Batiste examines how African Americans participated in U.S. cultural imperialism in Depression-era stage and screen performances. A population treated as second-class citizens at home imagined themselves as empowered, modern U.S. citizens and transnational actors in plays, operas, ballets, and films. Boldly addressing the contradictions in these performances, Batiste challenges the simplistic notion that the oppressed cannot identify with oppressive modes of power and enact themselves as empowered subjects. Darkening Mirrors adds nuance and depth to the history of African American subject formation and stage and screen performance.

Additional information: Duke University Press


Stuff Theory: Everyday Objects, Radical Materialism

Title of book. Black-and-white photo. Close-up of a glass tumbler and two wine glasses that are casting shadows on a white surface.

Stuff Theory traces a genealogy of materiality: flashpoints of one kind of minor matter in a succession of cultural moments. It asserts that in culture, stuff becomes a rallying point for a new critique of capital, which always works to reassign stuff to a subaltern position. Stuff is not merely unruly: it becomes the terrain on which a new relation between people and matter might be built.

Additional information: Bloomsbury Publishing


The Queen's Library: Image-making at the Court of Anne of Brittany, 1477-1514

Title of book. A medieval painting. A series of noble men are lining up to greet a queen.

In this work Professor Cynthia J. Brown examines key cultural issues surrounding female modes of empowerment and book production in the court culture of late fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century France. What, her study asks, do the physical characteristics of the books acquired by elite women in the late medieval and early modern periods tell us about their owners, and what in particular can their illustrations—especially their illustrations of women—reveal?

Additional information: University of Pennsylvania Press


Speaking About Torture

Title of book. Cover is divided in half. The left-half is black with the title in red and the right-side has a painting of a white blond-haired woman with white shorts and a green t-shirt with "America Tortures" written in the middle in red.

This collection of essays is the first book to take up the urgent issue of torture from the array of approaches offered by the arts and humanities. In the post-9/11 era, where we are once again compelled to entertain debates about the legality of torture, this volume speaks about the practice in an effort to challenge the surprisingly widespread acceptance of state-sanctioned torture among Americans, including academics and the media–entertainment complex. Speaking about Torture also claims that the concepts and techniques practiced in the humanities have a special contribution to make to this debate, going beyond what is usually deemed a matter of policy for experts in government and the social sciences.

Written by scholars in literary analysis, philosophy, history, film and media studies, musicology, and art history working in the United States, Europe, and the Middle East, the essays in this volume speak from a conviction that torture does not work to elicit truth, secure justice, or maintain security.

Additional information: Fordham University Press


Rage is in the Subtext

Title of book. Silhouette of face with blue tinted mask. Face and mask are twice superimposed on the image. Dark blue background.

Rage Is the Subtext: Readings in Holocaust Literature and Film charts the internal shifts of Holocaust survivors who tell their stories of suffering, loss, and endurance. Susan Derwin locates the healing effect of literary testimony in its capacity to openly represent certain of the survivor’s reactions to traumatic experience while simultaneously concealing from direct view other, more unsettling responses. Beneath the explicit concerns of works by Primo Levi, Saul Friedländer, Binjamin Wilkomirski, Imre Kertész, and Liliana Cavani, Derwin uncovers an unspoken reserve of rage, signs of which nonetheless remain legible in the specific formal properties of each text, such as narrative structure, imagery, and figural language.

Additional information: Ohio State University Press


The Speed Handbook: Velocity, Pleasure, Modernism

Title of book. Turn-of-the-20th-century black-and-white photo of a car driving.

Speed, the sensation one gets when driving fast, was described by Aldous Huxley as the single new pleasure invented by modernity. The Speed Handbook is a virtuoso exploration of Huxley’s claim. Enda Duffy shows how the experience of speed has always been political and how it has affected nearly all aspects of modern culture. Primarily a result of the mass-produced automobile, the experience of speed became the quintessential way for individuals to experience modernity, to feel modernity in their bones.

Duffy plunges full-throttle into speed’s “adrenaline aesthetics,” offering deft readings of works ranging from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, through J. G. Ballard’s Crash, to the cautionary consumerism of Ralph Nader. He describes how speed changed understandings of space, distance, chance, and violence; how the experience of speed was commodified in the dawning era of mass consumption; and how society was incited to abhor slowness and desire speed.

Additional information: Duke University Press


Staying Alive: A Survival Manuel for the Liberal Arts

Title of book. Photo of a beach with a woman standing on a top rungs of a ladder planted in the sand.

Staying Alive: A Survival Manual for the Liberal Arts fiercely defends the liberal arts in and from an age of neoliberal capital and techno-corporatization run amok, arguing that the public university’s purpose is not vocational training, but rather the cultivation of what Fradenburg calls “artfulness,” including the art of making knowledge. In addition to sustained critical and creative thinking, the humanities develop the mind’s capacities for real-time improvisational communication and interpretation, without which we can neither thrive nor survive. Bringing together psychoanalysis, neuroscience, animal behavioral research, biology & evolutionary theory, and premodern literarature (from Virgil to Chaucer to Shakespeare), Fradenburg offers a bracing polemic against the technocrats of higher education and a vibrant new vision for the humanities as both living art and new life science.

Additional information: punctum books


Postnationalism in Chicana/o Literature and Culture

Title of book. Image of the Virgin of Guadalupe with images of Los Angeles in the background. The virgin is framed by four cherubins holding a cloth decorated with flowers. The Virgen of Guadalupe is caressing a mermaid and vice versa.

In recent decades, Chicana/o literary and cultural productions have dramatically shifted from a nationalist movement that emphasized unity to one that openly celebrates diverse experiences. Charting this transformation, Postnationalism in Chicana/o Literature and Culture looks to the late 1970s, during a resurgence of global culture, as a crucial turning point whose reverberations in twenty-first-century late capitalism have been profound.

Arguing for a postnationalism that documents the radical politics and aesthetic processes of the past while embracing contemporary cultural and sociopolitical expressions among Chicana/o peoples, Hernández links the multiple forces at play in these interactions. Ultimately positing that globalization has enhanced the emergence of new Chicana/o identities, Hernández cultivates important new understandings of borderlands identities and postnationalism itself.

Additional information: University of Texas Press


Les Amoureux de Schéhérazade

Title of book: Les amoureux de Schéhérazade. A drawing of Scheherazade in blue ink as a woman with an oriental headdress and many fine jewels decorating her dress.

The Thousand and One Nights: no other book, with the possible exceptions of the Bible and the Odyssey, has had such a profound impact on literature since it was first introduced into the Western canon by its French translator, Antoine Galland, in the early years of the 18th century. From Marcel Proust to Salman Rushdie, from Balzac to Naguib Mahfuz, so many writers in love with Scheherazade have sought to reinvent the Nights—without imitating them. Hence the infinite variety of these modern rewritings, which all resemble their model without resembling one another. Here, then, is the story of the French rewriting of the Arabian Nights.

Additional information: Librairie Droz


Foundational Texts of World Literature

Title of book. Purple cover with a stripe running lengthwise near the far-left of the cover. This stripe has a ancient stone-engraved design.

World literature, first intuited in Goethe's foundational idea of weltliteratur as literature that seeks to transcend national boundaries, is viewed here in its essential mobility and migratory capacity, which relies on the centrality of the reading act. This volume focuses on foundational texts as they are read across cultures, languages and historical contexts. Its goal is to reflect on canonical texts - from Homer's Odyssey to Murasaki's Genji , from Cervantes to Mayan hieroglyphs, from Dante to Coetzee, from Goethe to Lezama Lima, from the Thousand and One Nights to Jorge Luis Borges - in a global perspective: how they are translated, appropriated, transformed, how they travel across different cultures and languages, their foundational status evolving accordingly in a post-European world.

Includes contributions by Gerardo Aldana, Sandra Bermann, Piero Boitani, Michael Emmerich, Azadeh Yamini Hamedani, Stefan Helgesson, Paulo Lemos Horta, Juan Pablo Lupi, Peter Madsen, Ulrich Marzolph, Suzanne Saïd, Evanghelia Stead, Mads Rosendahl Thomsen, and Richard Van Leeuwen.

Additional information: Peter Lang


Where There's Love, There's Hate

Title of book. White sideways silhouette of a head in a coat and fedora hat on a purple background.

Originally published in 1946, Where There’s Love, There’s Hate is the only work of fiction that united husband-and-wife Adolfo Bioy Casares and Silvina Ocampo as co-authors. Suzanne Jill Levine collaborated with Jessica E. Powell to bring this inventive novella, a satirical hybrid of the mystery and romance genres, to English-language readers for the first time.

Additional information: Melville House Publishing


Beckett, Deleuze and the Televisual Event: Peephole Art

Title of book. Cover shows a an open peephole. Behind the peephole is the face of a surprised old man with an eye patch.

An expressive dialogue between Gilles Deleuze's philosophical writings on cinema and Samuel Beckett's innovative film and television work, the book explores the relationship between the birth of the event – itself a simultaneous invention and erasure - and Beckett's attempts to create an unrepresentable space within the interstices of language as a (W)hole.

Additional information: Palgrave Macmillian


Pindar's Metaphors: A Study in Rhetoric and Meaning

Title of book: Pindar's Metaphors. Cover is blue in top-half and purple in bottom-half. There is a ancient medallion center-left with an image of a man running.

Pindar's victory odes have suffered from a curious lack of interest on the part of poststructuralism. Even a first, relatively superficial reading of the surviving corpus, however, reveals an intense interest in and exploitation of rhetorical figures and tropes, and an element of autoreferential self-questioning that throughout the history of Pindaric scholarship has attracted much comment. In view of the radical discontinuity within language postulated by Walter Benjamin, Jacques Derrida and Paul de Man between what is meant and the mode of meaning, we can on this basis alone ask what effects the rich figurality of the epinicians might have on what they intend to say.

Additional Information: Heidelberg


Literature, Geography and the Postmodern Poetics of Place

Title of book. Urban landscape. Bottom half of cover is at the end of an alleyway, with chaotic graffiti markings surrouding the walls and a closed mesh wire gate. The top half slowly fades to blue with the title of the book in yellow

This book opens up an understudied area within the field of literary spatiality: the question of geographical emergence. A study of contemporary literary representations of place, it draws on phenomenological, poststructural, and postcolonial theories of space and place to show how literature contributes to the formation of new geographical identities. With chapters devoted to the in-between spaces of Samuel Beckett, France's suburban ghettoes, and the postcolonial proto-nations of France's Caribbean territories, this study emphasizes literature's ability to subtly but decisively shape readers' attitudes toward the world around them.

Additional information: Palgrave Macmillan


Tactical Media

Title of book. Image of stars with a play button near the center of the cover. The bottom of the cover has what appears to be a youtube taskbar, as if the image was taken from a youtube screenshot.

Tactical Media describes interventionist media art practices that engage and critique the dominant political and economic order. Rather than taking to the streets, the practitioners of tactical media engage in an aesthetic politics of disruption, intervention, and education. In Tactical Media, Rita Raley provides a critical exploration of the new media art activism that has emerged out of, and in direct response to, postindustrialism and neoliberal globalization.

Additional information: University of Minnesota Press


Apocalyptic Futures: Marked Bodies and the Violence of the Text in Kafka, Conrad, and Coetzee

Title of book. Photo of a stony ground with two books laid on top of teach other. Books appear as gray and stony, as if petrified.

In this book, the author argues that certain modern literary texts have apocalyptic futures. Rather than claim that great writers have clairvoyant powers, he examines the ways in which a text incorporates an apocalyptic event into its future reception. He is thus concerned with the way in which apocalyptic works solicit their future receptions.

Apocalyptic Futures also sets out to articulate a new theory and textual practice of the relation between literary reception and embodiment. Deploying the double register of “marks” to show how a text both codes and targets mutilated bodies, the author focuses on how these bodies are incorporated into texts by Kafka, Conrad, Coetzee, and Spiegelman.

Additional information: Fordham University Press


Aging Gracefully in the Renaissance: Stories of Later Life from Petrach to Montaigne

Title of book. Blue cover with a gray border running across the bottom and the right-side of the cover. There's a red square near the bottom-right with a large "M" and below it "RAT" (the acronym stands for "Medieval and Renaissance Authors and Texts")

In Aging Gracefully in the Renaissance: Stories of Later Life from Petrarch to Montaigne Cynthia Skenazi explores a shift in attitudes towards aging and provides a historical perspective on a crucial problem of our time.

From the late fourteenth to the end of the sixteenth centuries, the elderly subject became a point of new social, medical, political, and literary attention on both sides of the Alps. A movement of secularization tended to dissociate old age from the Christian preparation for death, re-orienting the concept of aging around pragmatic matters such as health care, intergenerational relationships, and accrued insights one might wish to pass along. Such changes were accompanied by an increasing number of personal accounts of later life.

Additional information: Brill


Love in the Mirror

Title of book. Image of a renaissance-era portrait of a woman with a white headdress.

Professor Jon R. Snyder is the editor and translator of Love in the Mirror (ITER/CRSS, The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe: The Toronto Series, 2). This bilingual edition of the experimental 1622 comedy by Italy's leading Baroque playwright, G.B. Andreini, is the first work of his to appear in English. It tells the path-breaking story of a passionate love affair between two women in early modern Florence, which takes a number of unexpected twists as it unfolds, subverting traditional views of the relationship between art and life, representation and reality, and the two sexes. Professor Snyder's edition includes a wide-ranging introduction to this avant-garde comic masterpiece, as well as to the life and works of G.B. Andreini. The play, which was adapted into a major motion picture in 1999, pushes far beyond the bounds of commedia dell'arte through its gender-bending illusionism, reminding us of the bonds between the Baroque aesthetic and modernity.

Additional information: Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies


Living Together: Jacques Derrida's Communities of Violence and Peace

Title of book. A series of photographs of walls are shown. On the bottom left-hand corner there is a woman hanging clothes out to dry as a wall lies in the background.

For Jacques Derrida, the notions and experiences of “community,” “living,” and “together” never ceased to harbor radical, in fact infinite interrogations. The often anguished question of how to “live together” moved Derrida throughout his oeuvre, animating his sustained reflections on hospitality, friendship, responsibility, justice, forgiveness, and mourning, as well as his interventions as an outspoken critic of South Africa’s apartheid, the Israel/Palestine conflict, the bloody civil war in his native Algeria, human rights abuses, French immigration laws, the death penalty, and the “war on terror.” “Live together,” Derrida wrote, “one must . . . one cannot not ‘live together,’ even if one does not know how or with whom.”

In this volume, the paradoxes, impossibilities, and singular chances that haunt the necessity of “living together”are evoked in Derrida’s essay “Avowing—The Impossible: ‘Returns,’ Repentance, and Reconciliation,” around which the collection is gathered. Written by scholars in literary criticism, philosophy, legal studies, religious studies, Middle Eastern studies, and sociology working in North America, Europe, and the Middle East, the essays in this volume tackle issues such as the responsibilities and fragility of democracy; the pitfalls of decreed reconciliation; the re-legitimization of torture in the “war on terror”; the connections between Orientalism, Semitism, and anti-Semitism; the delocalizing dynamics of globalization; crimes against humanity; nationalism; and politics as the art not of the possible but of the impossible.

Additional information: Fordham University Press