Thursday, November 29, 2018

Wendelmoot Symposium: The CRISIS Crisis! Featuring Mark Dery on Edward Gorey

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MALAS is proud to be co-sponsoring this lecture with SDSU English and Comparative Literature and SDSU Press:


@ 11AM IN GMCS 333

“The Screams We Make In 
Other People’s Dreams”
Edward Gorey, the Gay Gothic, 
and the Camp Macabre

Mark Dery

Edward Gorey (1925-2000)—the incomparably eccentric author and illustrator of more than a hundred-odd little picture books with titles like The Loathsome Couple, The Beastly Baby, and Neglected Murderesses—always claimed to be asexual. (“Reasonably undersexed,” is how he put it.) Yet his mauve-ish aesthetic is steeped in the pre-Stonewall gay sensibility of camp, the Aestheticism of 19th-century gay writers such as Oscar Wilde and the Decadent artist Aubrey Beardsley, the nonsense verse of the gay writer of limericks Edward Lear, and the cutting irony of ‘20s queer novelists such as Ronald Firbank and Ivy Compton-Burnett. At the same time, Gorey’s “hand-drawn engravings” and darkly droll writing are indebted to gothic literature, Victorian penny dreadfuls, and true crime—genres whose literary conventions and artistic clichés Gorey uses to hint not only at his buried sexuality but to problematize allnotions of identity and normalcy. In this lecture, cultural critic Mark Dery will draw on queer theory, literary criticism, art history, and cultural studies to explore the Freudian shadows lurking in the corners of Gorey’s whimsically macabre art and writing. As well, he’ll reveal the seminal role played by Gorey in the postwar mainstreaming of the gay aesthetic and, together with children’s authors like Maurice Sendak, the transformation of American visions of childhood and the popularization of the darker, queerer children’s literature familiar from Lemony Snicket’s YA novels the twee-goth movies of Tim Burton.

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Mark Dery is a cultural critic, essayist, and book author. He coined the term “Afrofuturism,” popularized the concept of “culture jamming,” has been a member of the faculty at New York University and the Yale School of Art, and was a Chancellor’s Distinguished Fellow at UC Irvine and a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome. He has published widely, in the academic as well as the popular press, on American mythologies and pathologies. His books include Flame Wars (1994), a seminal anthology of writings on digital culture; Escape Velocity: Cyberculture at the End of the Century (1996), which has been translated into eight languages; The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium: American Culture on the Brink (1999), a study of cultural chaos in millennial America; and the essay collection, I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts: Drive-by Essays on American Dread, American Dreams (2012). His biography of Edward Gorey, Born to Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey, will be published by Little, Brown this November.

Check out the October 30, 2018 review of Dery's New Gorey Biography in The New York Times.

Sponsored by the Department of English and Comparative Literature @ SDSU—additional support provided by MALAS, the Master of Arts in Liberal Arts and Sciences; San Diego State University Press; and the students of Robotic Erotic Electric, English 220, Fall 2019

About the Origins of the Wendelmoot Symposium Series
An Interview with William Nericcio, Wendelmoot Curator, 2018-19

• What are your plans for the series (e.g., what events do you envision)?
I am planning to coordinate a series of lectures/presentations/performances entitled “The Crisis Crisis: Interdisciplinary Reactions to a World in Transition/Translation.” Drawing on a shortlist of international scholars and performers, both new and established, I hope to fashion a lecture series/events catalogue that will be a gathering site for exchange, dialogue, discovery and debate. I envision a series of at least 4 lectures and events. I want to maintain maximum flexibility so that the best speakers might be sought, but also so that the Wendelmoot Symposia will be woven into the fabric of the department, augmenting and complementing the Humanities in Action series as well as, if we are lucky enough to get a hire, the new faculty searches we will be running.
• What organizes your vision for the series (e.g., what are your motivating interests and reasons; how does this series strengthen or steer the department as a whole)?
Never before has fear and loathing, crisis and crisis management, been so near and dear to the hearts and minds of our faculty and our students. The realities of our current context— political and economic—coupled with the tenuousness of the entire academy (especially the Humanities) means that the subject of crisis is right at hand for ourselves and our colleagues. Developing a lecture series focused on “Crisis” allows us to convert a negative anxiety filled with the unknown, into an intellectual project that will assuage as it enlightens, relieve pressure as it illuminates the current cultural conundrums roiling Literature, to be sure, but a host of disciplines across the humanities and sciences. I envision the lecture series as serving to further allow for the evolution and strengthening of English and Comparative Literature ties to the Digital Humanities Initiative.

Department of English and Comparative Literature
Wendelmoot Symposium Author Makes PBS Great Reads List, 2018

Meet Mark Dery at 11am, Thursday, November 29, 2018
GMCS 333 at 11am--free and open to the SDSU Community!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Monday, October 29, 2018

Back Again! Spring 2019: MALAS 600D/RWS 730 RHETORIC OF GENDER with Professor Suzanne Bordelon

MALAS 600D/RWS 730
Professor Suzanne Bordelon
Section 1: M 3:30-6:10 pm

This graduate seminar explores the intersection of gender, rhetoric, and the body.  As Jack Selzer explains, in recent years scholars have noted the “rhetorical turn,” in both the liberal arts and the sciences.  Although this turn has made various fields more reflective about disciplinary practices, particularly in terms of language, “it has consequently deflected scholarly attention from material realities and toward the way those realities are represented in text” (4).  However, scholars, especially those in Rhetoric and Composition, have stressed that the material and the body matter: they contribute to rhetorical action and, thus, deserve our attention. 

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NEW MALAS CLASS! Spring 2019 MALAS-600C SEMINAR ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS with J. GRAUBART | 4pm to 6:40pm on Wednesdays in Nasitir Hall 131

One useful bit of information you have already learned or will learn soon is that there is no consensus view on what is regarded as proper “Political Science” or proper “International Relations,” though you will likely encounter certain academics convinced that their approach is the only acceptable one. Regrettably, there seems to be an unwritten consensus throughout much of the Political Science discipline that political ideas and historical development are of secondary concern. Focusing on the subfield of International Relations, the beginning Ph.D. student is confronted with a series of leading theoretical approaches within the discipline. These typically feature “Classical Realism,” “Structural Realism,” “Liberalism,” “Neoliberal Institutionalism,” “Constructivism,” and perhaps a few weeks at the end on “IR Feminism,” “Post-Structuralism,” “Post-Colonialism,” and some variant of “Marxism.” To be sure, all of these theoretical approaches have their uses, leaving it to individual discernment on which approach or approaches are most valuable. But the problem with immediately immersing oneself into a specialized academic discipline is that most students have not yet adequately reflected on international politics in general. Lacking sustained exposure to the evolution and nature of world politics and to the contentious struggles that have shaped the global order, one is hardly in position to form second-order disciplinary perspectives on how to study global politics. 

The aim of this course is to examine closely global politics. Although we will dabble in a few International Relations theories, our focus will be on important historical developments and broader normative ideas and struggles that have profoundly shaped modern global politics over the past two centuries. To be sure, this course will not, in itself, give you comprehensive expertise on the gamut of historical events, ideas, and struggles in global politics. But the course will acquaint you with several major themes and provide depth on a few pivotal themes, such as the rise and evolution of modern nationalism and the nation-state. You will then be much better equipped to engage theoretical approaches to International Relations and develop your own normative voice. Moreover, you will gain a more sophisticated perspective on what theoretical and empirical issues most interest.

The course is broken up into two sections. The first surveys a range of historically informed arguments on the nature of global politics. Collectively, they present a range of analytical and ideological views with each summoning extensive historical evidence to advance their arguments. The second section takes an in-depth look into the emergence of contemporary nationalism. We will use Hannah Arendt’s magisterial Origins of Totalitarianism to set up the big themes and historical developments. We then delve into the emergence of Zionism and Palestinian nationalism in the 20th century. The idea is not to gain expertise on the contemporary dividing issues but to gain a historical and normative deep appreciation of the dynamics that have shaped both nationalisms and their contentious interaction over the years.

Here's a preliminary book list:

·       E.H. Carr, The Twenty Year’s Crisis, 1919-1939. Harper Perennial, 1964.
·       Michael Doyle, Liberal Peace: Selected Essays, First Ed., Routledge Press, 2011. 
     Hedley Bull, Anarchical Order: A Study of World Politics
·       Noam Chomsky, The Chomsky Reader (edited by James Peck). Pantheon, 1987.
·        Hannah Arendt, Origins of Totalitarianism. Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1973.
·       Edward W. Said, The Question of Palestine. Vintage Books, 1992.
      Edward Said, Orientalism

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Monday, October 8, 2018

A MALAS Co-Sponsored Event Featuring Adam Brookes and Jeffrey Wasserstrom | "Big Brother States in Fact and Fiction: Thoughts on China and Other Places"

Please join us for a special event sponsored by the Center for Asian & Pacific Studies, the School of Journalism and Media Studies, MALAS, and the Departments of History and Political Science.  At 4pm on Wednesday October 17th spy novelist and former BBC foreign correspondent Adam Brookes, and China Historian Jeffrey Wasserstrom from UC Irvine will give a joint talk titled "Big Brother States in Fact and Fiction: Thoughts on China and Other Places."  This presentation will take the form of a public conversation in which the speakers will focus on issues of surveillance and control in not just China, but also other parts of the world where elements of the future George Orwell conjured up in Nineteen Eighty-Four may be found. Please let your students know about this timely event.  You'll find the details below, and on the attached flyer.  

                            Thanks and best regards, 

                             Kate Edgerton-Tarpley 
                             Department of History 
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PUBLIC TALK:  4:00pm on Wednesday October 17th, in International Student Center 
"Big Brother States in Fact and Fiction: Thoughts on China and Other Places"
This presentation will take the form of a public conversation in which the speakers will focus on issues of surveillance and control in not just China but also other parts of the world where some commentators claim that elements of the dark future George Orwell conjured up in Nineteen Eighty-Four can be found.  How can concepts like that of the "Big Brother State" help or hinder efforts to make sense of the current era, when new technologies of communication have become so powerful in both efforts to challenge and efforts to assert authoritarian control?  Are there other dystopian visions that are equally or more useful for thinking about authoritarian states and authoritarian trends in democracy societies?  Do new technologies of surveillance make old genres, such as the Cold War era spy novel, obsolete or open new possibilities for their reinvention?  These are the kinds of questions that the speakers will pose to one another before opening the discussion to for questions from the audience.    

Adam Brookes studied Chinese at the University of London, then worked as a foreign correspondent for the BBC (based in Indonesia, China and the United States), before switching gears to write a trio of acclaimed novels of international intrigue: Night Heron, Spy Games, and The Spy's Daughter.  NPR selected his first book as its "must-read thriller of the year"; the Washington Post called it 'outstanding'; Kirkus Reviews said of his second that "a smarter or more exciting mystery likely won't be released this year"; while The Sun said of his third that it cemented his "reputation as a superb spy novelist" who draws comparisons to "espionage heavyweights including John le Carré."  
Jeffrey Wasserstrom spent much of the first part of his teaching career at Indiana University but is now Chancellor's Professor of History at UC Irvine, where he also serves as the Historical Writing Mentor for the Literary Journalism Program.  He is the author or co-author of five books, including most recently the third edition of China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford, 2018).  He edited the The Oxford Illustrated History of Modern China (Oxford, 2016), often writes for newspapers, magazines, and online publications, such as the Los Angeles Review of Books and its associated "China Channel," and has been interviewed by both NPR and the BBC.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

New Class with MALAS and @SDSU: SPATIAL HUMANITIES | Professor Angel David Nieves | History 680 & MALAS 600A

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HIST 680 (cross-listed w/MALAS-600A)
Spatial Humanities 
Dr. Angel David Nieves  
Department of History AoE in Digital Humanities and Global Diversity 
San Diego State University (SDSU) 
M, 4:00-6:40pm, AL-566 


Spatial humanities relies upon powerful geospatial technologies and methods to explore new questions about the relationship of space (physical, imagined, manmade or otherwise) to human behavior. It represents a bridging across disciplines, with history, archaeology, literary studies, women’s studies, queer studies, ethnic studies, and cultural studies, to name a few. This seminar course introduces graduate students to the theory and methods of the spatial humanities, while examining the tools, theories, and methodologies of social justice. Engaging with spatial theory and learning technical methodologies students will learn to develop an understanding of the research questions and tools available in this new field of scholarly and applied inquiry while grappling with issues of social justice. Students will work throughout the semester in project-based learning grounded in spatial, intersectional, and critical race theories. 


Spatial humanities has transformed the work of researchers, enabling profound considerations of space in relationship to human behavior and culture across time and place. Art history, literature, history, philosophy, and religion – all notable fields from across the humanities – have benefited from scientific and quantitatively oriented technologies and tools to better understand the intersections between space and the human condition. It is particularly timely now to question space in relation to African & LatinX descended people’s ability to traverse and negotiate spaces in western societies. The history of Black and Brown bodies and American public and private space is particularly problematical as the presence of POC (People of Color) has been largely unwanted during long stretches of American history. Indeed, both geographical and social spatial differentiation in the United States and the larger western world has largely been predicated on racial difference, exclusion, segregation, and genocide. 

These questions will inform our work over the breadth of the course:

 • How do the spatial humanities and American/Ethnic Studies work together to posit and practice a different way of knowing and imagining the world?
 • How do racial identities impose a certain framework on our understanding of space?
 • How can the spatial humanities help us experience the lived realities of Black/Brown bodies?
 • How do maps/mapping technologies reflect and/or counter the realities and dynamism of Black & Brown life?
 • How can spatial technologies provide us with a way of understanding the forms of inhumanity attributed to or placed upon Black/Brown people? 

 Course Texts & Readings (only some listed below): 

1. Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad (Random House, 2016). 
2. Andrew Wiseman, “When Maps Lie,” City Lab. 
3. David J. Bodenhamer, “The Potential of Spatial Humanities.” 
4. Richard White, “What is Spatial History?” 
5. Tiffany Earley-Spadoni, "Spatial History, Deep Mapping and Digital Storytelling.” 
6. Dana McLeod, Jasmine Rault, and T.L. Cowan, “Speculative Praxis Towards a Queer Feminist Digital Archive.”

*Ingrid Hernández + Pieter Wisse, Nada Que Declarar, Tijuana 2016. Photo rights Ingrid Hernández and Pieter Wisse (see,

Originally from New York City, Angel Nieves holds a PhD in the History of Architecture and Urban Studies from Cornell University (2001). He comes to SDSU from Hamilton College, where he was the director of American Studies and Cinema and Media Studies and co-director of the Digital Humanities Initiative. Nieves' scholarship focuses on the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and technology in the U.S. and South Africa. He is the author of two historical monographs, including "An Architecture of Education: African American Women Design the New South" (U Rochester, 2018), plus a range of cutting edge digital history publications and platforms. These include Soweto’76 3D, which developed a digital archive and virtual reality site depicting politically charged locations such as the Winnie Mandela home in Soweto. He is working on a range of exciting digital collaborations as well as a digital book project entitled, "Apartheid Heritages: A Spatial History of South Africa’s Township’s." Professor Nieves has received support for his work from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Mellon Foundation. Angel Nieves is also an award winning teacher and mentor. He teaches courses in digital history, urban history and the histories of race, gender, sexuality and space in the U.S. and the global South, including Apartheid-era South Africa. Professor Nieves joins us as one of two new faculty affiliated with the Digital Humanities Area of Excellence!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

New Fall 2018 MALAS Class! WMNST 580/MALAS 600B Woman, Development, and the Global Economy with Dr. Doreen Mattingly

Woman, Development, and the Global Economy
Dr. Doreen Mattingly
Wednesday 4:00-6:40, Adams Humanities 3110
Although women’s paid and unpaid labor is invisible in many theories and descriptions of politics, economics, and geography, women are, in fact, central actors in economic development and political change.  In this course we will examine the connection between women’s lives and economic change.  To do so, we will look at theory, descriptions, and the “real world.”  From the vantage point of women’s lives, we will also question what is meant by “economic development” and “globalization.”  We will analyze the effect of these processes on women’s lives, as well as the ways women have shaped and challenged national and international economic processes. 

Learning outcomes:

·      Demonstrate an understanding of conflicting ideas of development and globalization.
·      Explain how economic and legal structures affect women’s opportunities
·      Contrast the position of women in different countries
·      Articulate a way of looking at the world from the standpoint of diverse women internationally
·      Analyze feminist debates about development and empowerment

Dr. Doreen Mattingly is Professor and Chair of Women’s Studies. Since coming to SDSU in 1995, she has taught a total of sixteen different courses, including her popular classes on women and politics, women’s movements and activism, and globalization and development.  In 2016 she was the recipient of the College of Arts and Letters Excellence in Teaching Award. Her most recent book, A Feminist in the White House: Midge Costanza, the Carter Years, and America’s Culture Wars (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016), chronicles the political career of a feminist who served as assistant to the president for public liaison under President Jimmy Carter. Dr. Mattingly’s current research investigates the California feminist movement of the 1970s, especially in its engagement with political institutions. Behind the scenes, Dr. Mattingly serves the university as the Vice President of the SDSU chapter of the California Faculty Association. She has been on the board of the Bread and Roses Center for Feminist Research and Activism at SDSU since 2014. 

A New MALAS Class! Contemporary Legacies of Colonialism, in the 20th and 21st-Century Brazilian and Portuguese Novel | Professor Ricardo Vasconcelos

Portuguese 540 — Luso-Brazilian Literature | MALAS 600A

Contemporary Legacies of Colonialism,

in the 20th and 21st-Century Brazilian and Portuguese Novel

Fall 2018 | Wednesdays, 4 p.m. to 6:40 p.m.
Prof. Ricardo Vasconcelos


This course studies different lingering legacies of the colonial past in the Portuguese and Brazilian societies, as described by contemporary novels from those countries.
            In Brazil, these include namely the economic inequalities and racial asymmetries that continue to plague the country, in a relation that in many ways is still reminiscent of the historic dialectic of the Casa Grande (the big house) and the Sanzala (the slave quarters), even when set in contexts of modern, cosmopolitan spaces, such as São Paulo or Brasília. We will discuss Luiz Ruffato’s* Eles Eram Muitos Cavalos (2007), which portrays a day in the life of a broad range of inhabitants of the city of São Paulo — an unofficial capital of South America, with its 21 million dwellers — and depicts side by side both the experience of the resident of the periphery and that of the member of the upper classes. The course also studies João Almino’s Entre Facas, Algodão (2018), a subtle x-ray of the current state of affairs in Brazil, with regard to the emancipation of disenfranchised social classes in recent decades. The novel displays several contrasts between utopia and reality, the rural Northeast and the idealized avant-garde capital of Brasília; ultimately questioning whether the subaltern will ever see recognized their claim to the legacy of the privileged in contemporary Brazil.
With regard to Portugal, the course will study novels that address the process of gaining awareness about the country’s colonial and imperial rule, as this came to an end, as well as discuss the subsequent implications for the nation. We will study Lídia Jorge’s* A Costa dos Murmúrios (1988), in its portrayal of the Portuguese loss of innocence with regard to the colonial war waged in Africa (namely Mozambique), to preserve an imperial vision; and focus on the perspective of women with regard to the conflict, and the consequences of the war upon those women. We will likewise study Dulce Maria Cardoso’s O Retorno (2012), a coming-of-age novel that represents the traumatic and highly symbolic repatriation to the mainland of Portuguese citizens, in 1975, upon the independence of Angola. The novel focuses both on the conditions of life in pre-independence, colonial Luanda, and on the perception of the Portuguese retornado, the repatriated, as a symbol of the nation’s colonial past, one Portugal was eager to eschew, in its path to join the European Union.

All readings in Portuguese. Portuguese undergraduates will complete all class work in Portuguese. Graduate students will develop their class work in their language of specialization (typically Portuguese, Spanish, or English). This course meets the Spanish MA requirement of “Knowledge of Portuguese.”

*Award-winning authors Luiz Ruffato and Lídia Jorge are expected to visit SDSU during the semester, for public lectures and class workshops.