Category Archives: Literature

Luso-Brazilian Review Is Now Free to Read on Project MUSE

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, volumes 41–56 (2004–present) of Luso-Brazilian Review are now freely available until May 31, 2020, on Project MUSE. In opening content, the journal joins a wider initiative led by Project MUSE to provide free access to many books and journals, in order to support scholars as they transition to remote teaching and learning. You can find a complete list of free resources on MUSE here.


Luso-Brazilian Review

Luso-Brazilian Review publishes interdisciplinary scholarship on Portuguese, Brazilian, and Lusophone African cultures, with special emphasis on scholarly works in literature, history, and the social sciences. Each issue of the Luso-Brazilian Review includes articles and book reviews, which may be written in either English or Portuguese.

Four Writers and a Funeral

On Toni Morrison’s birthday, we share a guest post from Cassandra Jackson. She is an author of The Toni Morrison Book Club along with Juda Bennett, Winnifred Brown-Glaude, and Piper Kendrix Williams. Uncle Bobbie’s will host the authors for a reading and signing tonight (2/18) at 7pm.

On June 25, 2018, I sent a group text to Piper, Winnie, and Juda: “My father needs to die. He is suffering and it is so terrible. If you pray, please ask for this part to end.”

I knew that my message had no business in a pop-up notification on a phone, that it would snatch my friends away from dinners, books, and children. Winnie would have to sit down, Juda would stand up, and Piper would cry. But it never occurred to me that I should not tell them what was happening in my world even though I was in Alabama and they were scattered along the line that divides Pennsylvania from New Jersey.

I had arrived in the South with my husband and children to visit my parents for a week. Over the course of those days, my father, who had lived with bone cancer for years, went from playing with his grandchildren to writhing in pain in his hospice bed. If I was to survive his transition from life to death, I needed the three of them to see me do it, to say it back to me, to let me know that the surreal was now real.

We call ourselves the Toni Morrison Book Club, but I am never sure if that name belies too much or too little of what we are. For those who have never been in a book club, the name just means people who talk about books. Those who have participated in a book club probably wonder at the deadly seriousness of one that focuses on a single author, and one of the most acclaimed and sophisticated at that. But our book club is probably not so different from theirs. We talk about human experience, gliding seamlessly between fictional characters and our lives.

As ordinary as it might sound, a book club where friends talk about books and themselves was a radical departure from the thing we had spent years learning to do. Three of us are scholars of literature and a fourth is a sociologist. We have been trained to cultivate scholarly distance and the veneer of objectivity. We say “the ways in which” rather than “how,” “meanings” rather than “the message,” and one of us (I won’t say who, but his name rhymes with Buddha) occasionally sprinkles a bit of French into everyday conversation. When our students judge characters, we remind them that characters are “constructions,” and we redirect them to think about what the character means rather than who the character is. If they tell us what the author meant to say, we tell them that the author (whether living or not) is dead because we do not have access to authors’ thoughts and even when we do, intentions are not art. In these ways, we do away with writers as people and thus kill off ourselves too.

When Juda knocked on my office door rambling and gesticulating about a book that would abandon all that, I thought, sure, why not. I have long been done with writing books of literary criticism that no one but a handful of specialists would read. But when he said the book would be about Toni Morrison, I said, “Have you lost your mind? Boy, if you don’t get away from my door—” But for him, Ms. Morrison’s work would make the perfect jumping-off point. Who more ideal for a book in which writers think about the relationship between literature and their own lives than the woman who, upon finding out that she had won the Nobel Prize for literature, told a committee member, “If you’re going to keep giving prizes to women—and I hope you do—you’re going to have to give us more warning. Men can rent tuxedos. I have to get shoes. I have to get a dress.” But after years of watching scholars argue over the meaning of Ms. Morrison’s work like she was the last cocktail at the Modern Language Association open bar, I had made a quiet pact with myself: Better to die of thirst than sit at that hot mess of a bar. I made Morrison my not-so-secret side-chick who I taught and loved on in class but refused to write about publicly.

In the end, Juda tricked me into it. You’ll have to read the book to find out how, but suffice it to say that he is one sneaky BFF, and I am forever grateful for his conniving.

We met, and talked, and wrote about Toni Morrison’s novels, ourselves, and the world. In one conversation over cupcakes and tears, we moved from Song of Solomon to the death of Philando Castile, a black motorist murdered by police, to Winnie’s son, who she had to warn to be careful, even though no amount of careful ever seems to be enough. Our fear and anger settled over Juda’s table like a thick fog until Juda spoke in a shaky voice, adding himself and Alton Sterling, also murdered by police, to the mix.

This is how our secret lives emerged—things that you think you can never talk about—your brother who hates black people, the gay boy you tried to turn, the white boys you hid from your mother, the tourist visa your family used to immigrate permanently to this country. We decided to center the book on this concept of secrets, the things that we had learned to say with each other’s help. And somewhere in the process, though I am not quite sure of the precise moment, we became something else—not simply friends or colleagues but something overlapping and converged—at once multiple and singular.

I cannot say precisely when we became the Toni Morrison Book Club. But for me, the signs of this merger coalesce around moments of shared grief. In 2017, I was cleaning my attic when my husband called to say that my brother—who was, as far as anyone knew, healthy—had died of a heart attack that morning. I made the necessary calls to my family, still unable to fully process his death. Then I texted TMBC to let them know that I couldn’t meet: “My brother died this morning. I have to go to Alabama. Not sure when I will be back.” They all wrote back immediately, their messages sounding like words one would direct to someone who has been shot. That’s when I realized that the words “Your brother died” had made me feel like I’d been shot—they had penetrated my body, cutting and burning before my mind could understand or accept what happened. I stared at my phone and to my surprise, I was no longer alone in the attic.

We never set out to be this to each other. It felt, instead, like we were just doing what Ms. Morrison would have wanted us to do, telling our own stories as if language was the only thing that could save us. So when we got word in the summer of 2019 that Ms. Morrison had read part of our manuscript and wanted to see more, we were thrilled and scared. Would she see the gift that she had given us? Would she understand that this book was our thank you? Or, would we be remembered as the four nitwits who needed to write a whole-ass book just to tick off the great Toni Morrison?

We would never find out what she thought of The Toni Morrison Book Club. On the morning of August 6, 2019, I sent the following text to TMBC: “Toni Morrison died last night.”

Cassandra Jackson is a professor of English at The College of New Jersey and the author of Violence, Visual Studies, and the Black Male Body and Barriers between Us: Interracial Sex in Nineteenth-Century American Fiction.

Articles We Love: A Valentine’s Reading List

For all our fellow nerdy types out there, this Valentine’s Day, we’re highlighting scholarship from our journals on the literature and economics of love. The selection includes a study on falling divorce rates, an analysis of the courtly love lyrics of medieval Spain and Germany, an article on queer erotics and political action in poetry, and more. All articles listed here are freely available until the end of the month.

Motifs of Love in the Courtly Love Lyric of Moslem Spain and Hohenstaufen Germany by Charles M. Barrack, Monatshefte 105.2 (2013)

“My intention is to demonstrate the striking—even contradictory—attitude of the supplicant minstrel in both traditions to the object of his affection, viz., a noble but distant lady. Let us term this the ‘Platonic-Erotic Dilemma’: Is the beloved a distant, sublime, edifying force or a mere mortal capable of physical love?”

Why Have Divorce Rates Fallen? The Role of Women’s Age at Marriage by Dana Rotz, Journal of Human Resources 51.4 (2016)

“American divorce rates rose from the 1950s to the 1970s peaked around 1980, and have fallen ever since. The mean age at marriage also substantially increased after 1970. I explore the extent to which the rise in age at marriage can explain the decrease in divorce rates for cohorts marrying after 1980.”

Life, War, and Love: The Queer Anarchism of Robert Duncan’s Poetic Action during the Vietnam War by Eric Keenaghan, Contemporary Literature vol. 49.4 (2008)

“The queerness I associate with Duncan’s poetic anarchism, then, is related to the emphasis he places on how eroticism facilitates subjects’ resistance to the liberalist attitudes promoted by the biopolitical state. Whereas many gay and lesbian thinkers and activists promoted sex and eroticism as a means of resisting the state, Duncan was preoccupied with how language is an erotic vehicle mediating embodied experience and promoting transformative passions.”

Lucky in Life, Unlucky in Love? The Effect of Random Income Shocks on Marriage and Divorce by Scott Hankins and Mark Hoekstra, Journal of Human Resources 46.2 (2011)

“There are several reasons why positive income shocks could affect marital decisions. For married couples, more generous cash transfers may have a stabilization effect and relax financial constraints and arguments that lead to divorce. . . . On the other hand, increased resources may enable unhappy couples to incur the costs associated with divorce.”

Cosmopolitan Love: The One and the World in Hari Kunzru’s Transmission by Ashley T. Shelden, Contemporary Literature 53.2 (2012)

“Most critics will agree that the adjective cosmopolitan describes not just a way of organizing the world or a type of subject position but also a stance that pertains, in particular, to the ethical relation to the other. Few critics, however, in their explorations of the ethics of cosmopolitanism, inquire into what one might call the fundamental analytical category of ethics: love.”

Kathleen Fraser and the Transmutation of Love by Jeanne Heuving, Contemporary Literature 51.3 (2010)

“Fraser changes from writing through a poetic speaker as lover addressing her beloved to a transpersonal love writing, or a libidinized ‘field poetics’ (Translating 176). In the course of her career, Fraser comes to write an erotically charged prosody through a “projective” poetics that rejects individuated poetic speakers and cathects directly with her poems’ others and languages—engaging material aspects of language and of the page itself.”

Toni Morrison and Contemporary Literature

This month marks the publication of The Toni Morrison Book Club, a book honoring Morrison’s legacy and role as a central figure in American writing. Since her work has also been a frequent topic in our journal Contemporary Literature, we’ve assembled a reading list of articles on her fiction, including an excellent 1983 interview with Morrison.


Contemporary Literature

An An Interview with Toni Morrison, conducted by Nellie McKay, vol. 24.4 (1983)

“Locating Paradise in the Post–Civil Rights Era: Toni Morrison and Critical Race Theory” by Richard L. Schur, vol. 45.2 (2004). Read the full article, freely available until the end of February.

“Blackness and Art in Toni Morrison’s Tar Baby” by Linda Krumholz, vol. 29.2 (2008). Read the full article, freely available until the end of February.

“Self, society, and myth in Toni Morrison’s fiction” by Cynthia A. Davis, vol. 23.3 (1982)

“The Bonds of Love and the Boundaries of Self in Toni Morrison’s Beloved” by Barbara Schapiro, vol. 32.2 (1991)

“‘Rememory’: Primal Scenes and Constructions in Toni Morrison’s Novels” by Ashraf H. A. Rushdy, vol. 31.3 (1990)

“Form Matters: Toni Morrison’s Sula and the Ethics of Narrative” by Axel Nissen, vol. 40.2 (1999)

“Pain and the Unmaking of Self in Toni Morrison’s Beloved” by Kristin Boudreau, vol. 36.3 (1995)

“The House a Ghost Built: Nommo, Allegory, and the Ethics of Reading in Toni Morrison’s Beloved” by William R. Handley, vol. 36.4 (1995)

“‘Apple Pie’ Ideology and the Politics of Appetite in the Novels of Toni Morrison” by Emma Parker, vol. 39.4 (1998)

“Descent in the ‘House of Chloe’: Race, Rape, and Identity in Toni Morrison’s Tar Baby” by John N. Duvall, vol. 38.2 (1997)

“Impossible Voices: Ethnic Postmodern Narration in Toni Morrison’s Jazz and Karen Tei Yamashita’s Through the Arc of the Rain Forest” by Caroline Rod, vol. 41.4 (2000)

“Paradise Lost and Found: Dualism and Edenic Myth in Toni Morrison’s Tar Baby” by Lauren Lepow, vol. 28.3 (1987)

“The Novelist as Conservator: Stories and Comprehension in Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon” by Theodore O. Mason, Jr., vol. 29.4 (1988)


CALL FOR PAPERS AND INTERVIEWS: Contemporary Literature seeks scholarly essays on post-World War II literature written in English which offer scope, supply a new dimension to conventional approaches, or transform customary ways of reading writers. Additionally, CL welcomes interviews that focus on an author’s writing, pursue and elaborate a line of questioning and response, and provide insight into central aspects of the writer’s significance. Past interviews have featured writers such as Dorothy AllisonRae ArmantroutEdwidge DanticatRachael KushnerBen LernerViet Thanh NguyenAfaa Michael Weaver, and Charles Yu.

See the journal’s submission guidelines for more information. Questions may be directed to the editorial office at CL@english.wisc.edu.

Celebrating the Legacy of Monatshefte Editor Hans Adler

In August 2019 we approached colleagues and Weggefährten of Hans Adler and informed them of Hans’s retirement as Editor and Co-Editor of Monatshefte after nearly two decades of service. Along with good wishes for his retirement sent by Rüdiger Campe, Ritchie Robertson, Gerhard Sauder, and Ulrich Gaier, we received and collected these statements that celebrate Hans and speak to his work not only as an editor, but also his contributions to German Studies more generally.

With all good wishes,

Hannah V. Eldridge and Sonja E. Klocke, Editors, Monatshefte


From Rolf Goebel:

I have had the great pleasure of working with Hans Adler as editor of Monatshefte on several occasions, most recently in connection with publishing an article on Hölderlins Erinnerungsmusik (Hölderlin’s Music of Memory) in the journal. Under Adler’s experienced leadership, Monatshefte, one of the most respected and oldest, perhaps the oldest, venue for German studies in the U.S., has continued to offer a wide range of essays exploring themes in literary criticism, cultural studies, and media theory, exploring classical as well as lesser known or unjustly neglected writers while engaging in important debates on new methodologies. I really cannot think of anyone who did a more thorough copy editing job, responded more quickly to questions, was more patient with my tendency to submit yet another round of minor corrections, and, perhaps most importantly, succeeded in speeding up the peer review process to a degree that other journals would be wise to emulate. During the revise-and-resubmit phase, he knew how to use his admirable gift of academic diplomacy in adjudicating any disagreements between the reviewers’ suggestions and my own defenses. Hans Adler will be dearly missed after stepping down as editor, but I am sure he’ll enjoy the extra time for continuing to pursue his scholarly activities and whatever else he plans to do now! 

Dr. Rolf Goebel, Distinguished Professor of German, The University of Alabama in Huntsville


From John Ferguson:

I’ve had the privilege of working on every issue of Monatshefte with Hans since the fall of 2013. Always the professional, Hans always has time for a quick quip. I think the most valuable thing I learned from him is the value of scholarship and education. When he told me about being a young child in post-WWII Germany, it was made clear to me that he was eternally grateful for the opportunities given to him in his life—and that you can never take that for granted. I am positive you will continue to do great things, Hans, even in your “retirement.”

John Ferguson, University of Wisconsin Press, Journals Production Manager


From Sabine Gross:

The eighteen years of overlap between Hans Adler’s time as Monatshefte General Editor and my service as Book Review Editor were a period of enjoyable collaboration and of continued conversation about Monatshefte. As Hans took on the role of General Editor, he started thinking about new initiatives. He inaugurated the popular series “Neu gelesen – wieder gelesen” that Monatshefte featured for a number of years; he intensified outreach to guest editors who contributed exciting Monatshefte Special Issues; and he was happy to work with me when I began the practice of soliciting “review articles” for Monatshefte, a combination of book review/essay/Forschungsbericht that crossed the boundary between my responsibilities and his. But perhaps most importantly, he was firm in his stance that Monatshefte should represent the broadest range of scholarship in German, with no allegiance to specific subdisciplines, schools of thinking, or intellectual profiles. It is not least this breadth and the absence of dogma that has contributed to the continued success of Monatshefte. Thank you, Hans, for almost two decades of dedicated editorial leadership!

Dr. Sabine Gross, Professor of German at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and Monatshefte Book Review Editor 


From Mike Lützeler:

9. August 2019, Langnau im Emmental – ein Gruß von Mike Lützeler

Lieber Hans,

Gerade bin ich, mit Sulzer zu sprechen, auf einer Berg-Reise durch einige Oerter der Schweiz, sitze hier im Sonnenschein mit dem Ferien-Blick auf das zerklüftete Emmental. Am Horizont strahlen die verschneiten Gipfel von Eiger, Mönch und Jungfrau, weit weg und doch wie zum Greifen nahe. Das Wetter ist völlig aufgeklärt und so leuchten mir Deine Auslassungen über Horizont und Idylle, Synästhesie und Aisthesis, Anschauung und Synonymie, Utopie und Imagination, Moral und Eudaimonie noch unmittelbarer ein als beim ersten Lesen im Verlauf der Jahre. 

Sonja Klocke schrieb mir, dass Du die Edition der “Monatshefte” nach siebzehn Jahren jungen Kolleginnen anvertraust. So sind Dankesworte fällig. Wenn Du nichts anderes in Deinem Leben geleistet hättest, als die “Monatshefte” herauszugeben, würdest Du mehr als genug für unsere Profession getan haben. Du hast die Zeitschrift nicht lediglich fortgeführt, sondern auf eine höhere wissenschaftliche Ebene gebracht. Die nun 120 Jahre alten “Monatshefte” (die inzwischen längst zur “Vierteljahrsschrift” mutiert sind) gehören zu den allerbesten Periodika des Fachs. Du hast die Niveausteigerung ohne allen Lärm, ohne grässliche Reklame zustandegebracht, einfach durch das Bestehen auf hohen Maßstäben der Edition einer Fachzeitschrift. Verdienstvollerweise hast Du die regelmäßigen Information zur Profession beibehalten (über die einzelnen German Departments, die Dissertationen, die Beförderungen, Todesfälle etc.). Und das Schöne ist auch, dass Du sicher sein kannst, dass Deine beiden Nachfolgerinnen ihre Sache ausgezeichnet machen werden. 

Aber die Arbeit als ‘editor in chief’ war nur ein Teil Deines Beitrags zum Fach. Wir alle wissen, was wir Dir als Experten in Sachen Aufklärungsliteratur zu verdanken haben, denn wer heute über Ästhetiken und Kulturtheorien von Herder, Baumgarten, Kant, Schiller und Sulzer forscht, wird dankbar zu Deinen vorbildlichen Arbeiten greifen. Das gilt besonders für die Herderologen, denen Dein ‘Companion’ und die Studie zur “Prägnanz des Dunklen” eine willkommene Untersuchung mit neuen und anschließbaren Einsichten bedeutete. Und nun die große Sulzer-Edition, für die Du den Humboldt-Forschungspreis erhalten hast, und die Du gemeinsam mit der Kollegin Décultot herausgibst.

Wir lernten uns im unruhigen akademischen Jahr 1967/68 an der FU Berlin kennen. Damals leitete ich  (begleitend zur Emrich-Vorlesung über den modernen Roman) ein Broch/Joyce-Tutorium, in dem wir “Die Schlafwandler” und den “Ulysses” diskutierten. Du hast vor einigen Jahren einen Band mit dem Titel “Protest und Verweigerung” zusammengestellt. Der erinnerte mich (nur vom Titel her) an den Emrich-Band “Protest und Verheißung”, den wir damals (Mitte der 1960er Jahre) lasen. Ich verbrachte das folgende akademische Jahr 1968/69 als Fulbright-Stipendiat an der Indiana University. Das war eine Universität nach meinem Geschmack. Ich stellte mir die anderen US-Hochschulen von vergleichbarer Qualität  ähnlich vor, was sie ja waren, denn überall gab es eine gute Beziehung zwischen Lehrenden und Lernenden, und man brauchte nicht Assistent eines Ordinarius  zu werden, sondern konnte gleich nach der Dissertation seine Professorenlaufbahn beginnen. 

Wir hatten uns aus den Augen verloren, aber dann wurdest Du lange nach der Dissertation von 1980 (“Soziale Romane im Vormärz”), jedoch bald nach der Habilitation über Herder an der Universität Bochum Kollege am German Department der University of Wisconsin, die seit Bestehen des Fachs in Amerika eine Art Leuchtturmfunktion hat. Schon 1968/69 merkte ich schnell, wie wichtig die Deutschabteilungen im Mittelwesten waren: Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois – lauter Staatsuniversitäten mit exzellenten German Departments, die auch international bekannt waren und einen Austausch mit deutschen Kollegen und Kolleginnen pflegten. Unvergesslich der erste Wisconsin Workshop (“Die sogenannten Zwanziger Jahre”), den Jost Hermand und Reinhold Grimm im Herbst 1969 veranstalteten. Ich besuchte ihn und lernte dort auch Egon Schwarz kennen. Gerade bei den Wisconsin Workshops hast Du in den letzten Jahrzehnten aktiv mitarbeiten können und – gemeinsam mit Deinen Kolleginnen und Kollegen – Veranstaltungen mit internationaler Ausstrahlung zusammengestellt. Man darf das inspirierende Zusammenspiel von regelmäßigem Workshop und kontinuierlich erscheinender Zeitschrift nicht unterschätzen. Auch habe ich mich gefreut, dass wir acht Jahre lang im Vorstand der American Friends of Marbach kooperieren konnten.

Da wir nun beide Mitte siebzig sind, wünsch ich Dir noch viel produktive Zeit. Jetzt bleibt mehr Freiheit für Arbeiten auf Deinen Spezialgebieten. So solltest Du dafür sorgen, dass die Herausgeber anderer Zeitschriften mehr zu tun bekommen. Vor allem aber Gesundheit und Wohlergehen wünscht Dir Dein Mike.

Dr. Paul Michael Lützeler, Rosa May Distinguished University Professor in the Humanities at Washington University, St. Louis, and Editor in Chief of the yearbook Gegenwartsliteratur


From Carsten Zelle, a document from the outset of Hans’s career:

Hans Adlers erstes Proseminar am Germanistischen Institut der Ruhr-Universität Bochum, das er als wissenschaftlicher Assistent (m.d.V.b. = mit der Vertretung beauftragt) im Kommentierten Vorlesungsverzeichnis im WS 1979/80 ankündigt:

Für Hans,

mit herzlichem Gruß aus Bochum.

Carsten Zelle (ehemaliger Herausgeber der Zeitschrift Das achtzehnte Jahrhundert)

19-09-19

Prof. Dr. Carsten Zelle, Ruhr-Universität Bochum


From John A. McCarthy:

Twenty years as editor of the Monatshefte is a very long time. Most academics find the task so demanding that six years proves, on average, to be the limit. During that extended period Hans Adler and the journal have become nigh synonymous. His tenure as editor was marked by a keen eye for excellence, a desire for consistency, and an eager thoroughness. What is even more astounding is the fact that editing the Monatshefte was but one of several oversight projects pursued simultaneously. The number of volumes he edited in those years is quite astonishing.

What I recall in particular was a project on “Measuring the World” for a special issue of the journal. He asked me to review the hundred-page typescript, catching me at an unusually busy time when I had said “yes” to too many solicitations for evaluation and was struggling to meet my own publishing deadlines. It really was not a felicitous moment for me. Yet, Hans had developed a powerfully persuasive, mellifluous style that is well designed to encourage potential reviewers to say “yes” when leaning toward “no.” I told him that, even if I were somehow able to fit the review into my schedule, I could not guarantee meeting his (and the Press’s) deadline, which was a mere 3–4 weeks away. A quick review revealed the eclectic contributions to be quite interesting with a common thread running through them. I explained further that I am in the habit of reviewing manuscripts meticulously, looking to see how each chapter of a monograph or each essay in a collection contributes to the sense of a cogent whole. If I only had four weeks, the best I could do is to give the manuscript a cursory review, too little to reveal potential problems. Hans confirmed that he wished to ensure the excellence of each contribution. That was more important. He subsequently persuaded the University of Wisconsin Press to extend the submission deadline by a couple of weeks, and I took on the task. The revised essays did, in fact, appear in September 2016 (108.3). Hans Adler’s management of the review process in this particular instance is surely representative of all his editorial actions on behalf of the Monatshefte.

To be sure, I was predisposed to assist him with the review of the special issue of the journal because of my prior experience of him (and of his work). Our paths first crossed in 1983. Our memories of the encounter diverge a bit, but the essence remains unchanged. He remembers our meeting in Minneapolis/St. Paul during his first trip to the USA, while I recall meeting him at the MLA conference in New York City. He gave me a copy of his Soziale Romane im Vormärz. Literatursemiotische Studie (1980), which I read immediately. It convinced me that Hans Adler is someone with whom I should remain in contact. Thus, our first meeting was a propitious start to a long association during which we ran parallel courses, interconnecting at various points. We share many intellectual interests in common, e.g., regarding the Enlightenment, science and literature, philosophy and literature, aesthetics, and individual writers (Leibniz, Baumgarten, Kant, Herder). His joining the German and Comparative Literature faculty at Wisconsin was one of the smartest moves Wisconsin has made for their already vigorous programs. His career trajectory since then (1990/91) has been stellar, marked, as noted, by his dedication to maintaining and enhancing the role of the Monatshefte as a primary venue for German Studies. He will be missed.

Dr. John A. McCarthy, Professor Emeritus of German and Comparative Literature and Professor of European Studies, Vanderbilt University


Monatshefte Vol 111.3 Cover

Volume 111 #4 of Monatshefte, the final issue with Hans Adler as a coeditor, is now available. Browse the table of contents here.

About Monatshefte: Monatshefte has appeared continuously since 1899 and has been published at the University of Wisconsin–Madison since 1927. A quarterly journal devoted to German literature and culture, Monatshefte offers articles on topics from all periods of German literature and book reviews of current scholarship in German studies. Monatshefte also publishes extensive topic-focused review articles intermittently. The winter issue of each volume contains “Personalia,” a comprehensive listing of German studies faculty and departments in the United States and Canada, as well as a list of all PhD theses that have been defended in the preceding year.

Most Read Articles of 2019

As 2019 wraps up, we take a look back at the most read journal articles published this year. The following list presents the most popular article from each of our journals. Many are freely available to read until the end of January.

African Economic History: “The Politics of African Freehold Land Ownership in Early Colonial Zimbabwe, 1890–1930” by Joseph Mujere and Admire Mseba

Arctic Anthropology: “Farming in the Extreme—Animal Management in Late Medieval and Early Modern Northern Finland” by Maria Lahtinen and Anna-Kaisa Salmi

Contemporary Literature: “Don DeLillo, Madison Avenue, and the Aesthetics of Postwar Fiction” by Aaron Derosa

Ecological Restoration: “Five Decades of Wetland Soil Development of a Constructed Tidal Salt Marsh, North Carolina, USA” by Aaron Noll, Courtney Mobilian, and Christopher Craft

Ghana Studies: “Descendant Epistemology” by Ebony Coletu

Journal of Human Resources: “Teacher Effects on Complex Cognitive Skills and Social-Emotional Competencies” by Matthew A. Kraft

Land Economics: “Adaptation, Sea Level Rise, and Property Prices in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed” by Patrick Walsh, Charles Griffiths, Dennis Guignet, and Heather Klemick

Landscape Journal: “Core Knowledge Domains of Landscape Architecture” by William N. Langley, Robert C. Corry, and Robert D. Brown

Luso-Brazilian Review: “Os lugares do morto: O que faz Eça na literatura portuguesa contemporânea?” by Pedro Marques

Monatshefte: “Recent German Ecocriticism in Interdisciplinary Context” by Helga G. Braunbeck

Native Plants Journal: “Successfully Storing Milkweed Taproots for Habitat Restoration” by Melissa L. Topping, R. Kasten Dumroese, and Jeremiah R. Pinto

Freedom of Expression and the Exiled Writer: A Reading List from Contemporary Literature Journal

To mark Banned Books Week, we are sharing a collection of articles and interviews from Contemporary Literature journal featuring writers whose work has been censored, or who have faced government persecution in response to their writing.


“I have tried to write honestly about China and preserve its real history. As a result, most of my work cannot be published in China.”

Ha Jin

Chinese writer Ha Jin came to the United States to complete doctoral studies in American literature and opted to emigrate permanently following the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989. From studying literature, he turned to writing poetry and then fiction, and to date he has published eight novels, seven books of poetry, and four short story collections.

In a New York Times op-ed, published a few days before the twentieth anniversary of Tiananmen Square, he explains his decision to write in English: “if I wrote in Chinese, my audience would be in China and I would therefore have to publish there and be at the mercy of its censorship. To preserve the integrity of my work, I had no choice but to write in English.” He continues, “To some Chinese, my choice of English is a kind of betrayal. But loyalty is a two-way street. I feel I have been betrayed by China, which has suppressed its people and made artistic freedom unavailable. I have tried to write honestly about China and preserve its real history. As a result, most of my work cannot be published in China.”

In this Contemporary Literature interview, conducted by Jerry A. Varsava, Ha Jin discusses growing up during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, when books were burned and schools were shuttered, as well as his decision to join the “great [English literary] tradition where nonnative writers [have become] essential writers.”

Read the interview, freely available for the rest of September: “An Interview with Ha Jin”


“If our own literature in Africa is too political, then I think the literature of the U.S. is too apolitical.”

Niyi Osundare

Niyi Osundare is a Nigerian poet known as “The People’s Poet” for his commitment to making poetry accessible to all and reflective of common life. He uses elements of the Yoruba oral tradition, which he transmits through his English-language writing.

In this 2000 interview with Cynthia Hogue and Nancy Easterlin for Contemporary Literature, Osundare describes the struggle of the artist writing under a dictatorship, summing up the situation with this parable: “once an English writer came to an African colleague and complained about the apparent irrelevance of Western writers. The African then told the Western artist, ‘Well, when we talk in Africa, the government listens, but that is not the end of the story. The government listens in a different way. They put us in jail.’”

But democracy also hampers the artist in certain ways, Osundare finds, having emigrated to the US in 1997. Comparing US literature and African literature, he notes, “Democracy leads to the flowering of free opinions, of public consciousness, and, without this, creativity cannot really take place. But democracy also leads to a kind of complacency which may undermine that dissonance and eliminate that kick in the stomach that is necessary for every creative activity. . . . If our own literature in Africa is too political, then I think the literature of the U.S. is too apolitical.”

Osundare believes in a “golden mean” that writers should strive for. And while Osundare’s work often has political themes, Isidore Diala argues in this Contemporary Literature article that the poet’s work contains a “vibrant and sustained global humanistic vision” that has been overlooked by critics who focus too narrowly on the poems’ Nigeria-specific social and political commentary.

Read the article, freely available for the rest of September: “Burden of the Visionary Artist: Niyi Osundare’s Poetry,” by Isidore Diala

And read the interview on JSTOR: “An Interview with Niyi Osundare”


“How might we think about postcolonial state formation and literary form together? Can we determine a relationship between them that goes beyond that of simple opposition?”

Jini Kim Watson on NINOTCHKA ROSCA

In 1973, Filipina writer Ninotchka Rosca was imprisoned under the Marcos dictatorship for her antigovernmental journalism. Later, from exile in the U.S., she wrote a short story collection, The Monsoon Collection, and a novel, State of War, about life during the Marcos regime. In the outlines of Rosca’s biography, argues Jini Kim Watson in her article “Stories of the State: Literary Form and Authoritarianism in Ninotchka Rosca’s State of War,” we find that the “repressive, unchecked (usually third-world) dictatorial state is conceived of in inherent opposition to the freedom and free speech of committed writers.” This vision of the relationship between the writer and the authoritarian state is seen, for example, in the literary and humanitarian organization PEN International, which fights for freedom of expression and strives to protect writers from state persecution.

While writers do face very real persecution, Watson argues that it is dangerous to oversimplify the dynamic between writers and the authoritarian state, since this could imply that third-world states are simply “tyrannical and backwards”—a judgment that privileges Western norms of “good” government and ignores the agency of individual citizens. “How might we think about postcolonial state formation and literary form together?” Watson asks. “Can we determine a relationship between them that goes beyond that of simple opposition?” Watson puts these questions to Rosca’s State of War, examining the ways the novel confounds a simplistic view of state tyranny through formal experimentation and a nuanced narrative.

Read the article, freely available for the rest of September: “Stories of the State: Literary Form and Authoritarianism in Ninotchka Rosca’s State of War,” by Jini Kim Watson


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Monatshefte Journal Welcomes New Editors

Monatshefte Vol. 111.2 cover

Monatshefte, a journal of German literature and culture, has added two new editors, Hannah V. Eldridge and Sonja E. Klocke. Both scholars are based at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, the home of Monatshefte since 1927. Eldridge and Klocke joined longtime editor Hans Adler to produce the most recent issue of the journal, and they will be taking over the reins when Adler steps down at the end of this fall. Monatshefte has been published continually since 1899, and this year, we are excited to celebrate Adler’s legacy (more on that in a forthcoming post!) and to learn about the new editors’ vision, as this foundational journal adapts to changes in the field of German Studies. Here, Eldridge and Klocke introduce themselves in their own words.


Hannah V. Eldridge: I have been at UW–Madison since 2012, first in the Department of German and now in the Department of German, Nordic, and Slavic, where I received tenure in 2018. My main research area is lyric poetry from the eighteenth century to the present, with a focus on sound, rhythm, and other parasemantic features. Other interests include literature and philosophy. I have published on Hölderlin, Rilke, Cavell, Wittgenstein, Klopstock, Nietzsche, and Grünbein, among others. As a participant in the group “Diversity, Decolonialization, and the German Curriculum,” I am working against my socialization in systems of inequality and to reflect the richness and variety of perspectives  in the German-speaking world in my teaching and research. I hope to bring this learning to bear on my work for Monatshefte as well. Some of my most significant educational and professional experiences have involved giving and receiving feedback, so I’m especially excited to work with authors on revising and rewriting.

Sonja E. Klocke: After holding my first faculty position at Knox College (IL, 2007–2012), I joined UW–Madison in 2012. I was granted tenure in the Department of German in 2016, and have since been part of the Department of German, Nordic, and Slavic. My research interests range from the eighteenth century to the present, with a specialization in twentieth- to twenty-first-century German culture and a focus on postwar and contemporary literature and film. I have published on the legacy of the socialist German Democratic Republic (GDR) and the Holocaust; women’s writing; East German literature and film; contemporary writing on modern exile, migration, and globalization; discourses on illness and the body; and gender theory. As an author, I am grateful for the valuable feedback I have received from colleagues in the past. As co-editor of Monatshefte, I hope to bring these experiences as well as the editing skills I have had the chance to develop to the journal.

On their vision for Monatshefte: Although we are excited to receive articles in our areas of research, Monatshefte will remain a general-interest journal, accepting submissions on all topics in any period of German-language literature and culture. We are looking forward to following in Hans Adler’s august footsteps, and we will be making a few updates to the journal in response to changes in the field. First, and most importantly, we will begin to expand the national and international review boards to include scholars whose intellectual agendas and individual perspectives are not currently represented there. We will also be making some changes to the types of information collected in “Personalia,” the annual report on German departments, faculty, graduate students, and dissertations. Finally, we hope to work with the wonderful University of Wisconsin Press to streamline submissions and editing, as well as to create blog entries and social media posts as a venue for more informal communication with our readers.

An Interview with Poet Rae Armantrout

As National Poetry Month draws to a close, we present three interviews with living poets, originally published in Contemporary Literature journal. The interviews are freely available to access until May 1.

Our final poet is Rae Armantrout, a central figure of the Language poetry movement of the 1970s and 1980s who was nevertheless somewhat separate from that collectivity, crafting her own flavor of poetry that over time has remained “distinctive and distinctively fresh, particularly in its allegiance to a honed version of lyric that brings to mind the poetry of Emily Dickinson or George Oppen, and in its attention to the degradations—and the surprises—of American speech that permeate our consciousness and infiltrate even our dreams,” according to interviewer Lynn Keller. The conversation presented here touches on everything from physics to religion to ghosts to feminism. Armantrout discusses her cancer diagnosis and how it has impacted the practice and content of her writing, leading her to write poems more quickly and to dwell on mortality (though she says, “I’ve always had an attraction to the dark stuff anyway. I used to say I was channeling Kali. (Not so funny now.)”). When Keller asks Armantrout about the religious imagery in her recent work, she replies that though she’s not religious, she sees a parallel between religious practice and the act of creating a poem or other artwork:

Who are we talking to when we write? I don’t really think, in my case, that I’m talking to a specific audience; I think I’m talking to myself, but when I’m talking to myself, who am I talking to? It feels very much like when I was a child and I prayed, so it’s not that I actually believe there is an entity called God who hears what I say, but there is this desire to somehow perfect utterance. But make it perfect for whom, you know? I think in a way we are making something for the gods that we don’t believe in.

Read the full interview here, and then go read Armantrout’s poems!


And check out our other poetry month offerings:

An interview with Marge Piercy

An interview with Myung Mi Kim

An Interview with Poet Myung Mi Kim

As National Poetry Month draws to a close, we’re presenting three interviews with living poets, originally published in Contemporary Literature journal. The interviews are freely available to access until May 1.

Our second poet is Myung Mi Kim, in conversation with Lynn Keller. Kim, a Korean-American, refers to herself as “as a poet arrived at an uncanny familiarity with another language—or more precisely, as a poet transcribing the interstices of the abbreviated, the oddly conjoined, the amalgamated—recognizing that language occurs under continual construction.” As Keller puts it, in Kim’s hands, language

is subject to fracture and disruption, excision and rearrangement. It functions not as a means of gaining an illusory stability but rather as a register of the often jarring instability of human experience in time, and of the stumblings, the incoherencies, the polyphonic complexity of the immigrant’s experience in and between several cultures.

The wide-ranging discussion presented here touches on the poet’s process, childbirth and family, documentary poetry, poetic forms that privilege visual impact, the pastoral, geological time, the slipperiness of nostalgia, the generative power of silence, migration, and loss and mourning. Kim and Keller’s conversation bounces among so many different topics in part because Kim’s vision of poetry is so expansive and all-encompassing. As she describes it, “Poetry invites a practice of language/perception that embraces mutability, undecidability, the motion underneath and around what’s codified in conventions of language, grammar, syntax, semantics, and so forth. Poetry produces new ways of participating in perception, thinking, historical being and becoming.”

Read the full interview here, and then go read Kim’s poems!


And if you missed yesterday’s post, check out an interview with poet Marge Piercy.