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American Literature Association Conversations
37 minutes | a month ago
Worlds of the Imaginary Ep 1: H. G. Wells's The Time Machine
In this inaugural episode of our subseries Worlds of the Imaginary, Troy University freshman Jason Frye and Kirk Curnutt discuss the grandfather of all sci-fi novels: H. G. Wells's The Time Machine, first published in 1895 when its author was still in his twenties. Although not the first-ever time travel adventure (Wells himself had previously published a story called "The Chronic Argonauts"), the story of an unnamed scientist who roars 800,000 years into the future established the template for humanity's desire to rocket around the clock. Our hosts discuss the political symbolism of the two races the traveler encounters, the Eloi and the Morlocks, and why the story includes a love interest, Weena, when there's no love. We also discuss the narrative frame and the killer ending, dropping references to Superman, Planet of the Apes, and other quintessential time travel tales.
43 minutes | 5 months ago
The Flexibility, Durability, and Portability of the Short Story
In our second installment of the ALA Conversations series, Society for the Study of the American Short Story president James Nagel speaks with Kasia Boddy (University of Cambridge) and Oliver Scheiding (Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz) about the almost alchemical ability of the short story to adapt to new narrative platforms. The unique tenacity of the genre has allowed it to remain vibrant and relevant while competing prose forms like the novel struggle to accommodate evolving patterns of literary consumption. Ranging from the short story's roots in oral tradition to its contemporary compatibility with delivery technologies, whether Kindle, Twitter, or podcasts, our roundtable examines the manifold ways that a type of fiction often stereotyped by its most basic feature---its "shortness"---helps satisfy the human need to explain experience through stories. Along the way, the panel discusses everything from beast fables to tales of initiation to story cycles to the New York Times's recent Decameron Project, highlighting writers as eclectic as Lucia Berlin, Tommy Orange, George Saunders, and Jennifer Egan. A must for short story historians and fans!
102 minutes | 7 months ago
Teaching American Literature Amid the Covid-19 Pandemic and the Push for Social Justice
ALA executive director Alfred Bendixen explores with a roundtable of faculty from diverse institutions the challenges of teaching American literature during the Coronavirus crisis and the imperative of addressing social-justice issues in the aftermath of May 2020 George Floyd murder. Speakers include Hubert Cook (Connecticut College), Kirk Curnutt (Troy University), Karen Kilcup (University of North Carolina, Greensboro), Leslie Petty (Rhodes College), Oliver Scheiding (University of Mainz), Evie Shockley (Rutgers University), and Candace Waid (University of California, Santa Barbara).
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