Q & A Panel Part 3 (Video)


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  • [Music]
  • Welcome to the second,
  • what we hope to be annual,
  • Faculty Author Spotlight.
  • Thank you so much for joining us today.
  • My name is Melissa Chomintra
  • and I am the Scholarly
  • Engagement Librarian
  • for the social sciences
  • and geospatial data.
  • I have the pleasure of moderating
  • our last of three wonderful sessions
  • of this Spotlight series.
  • So sort of how today will run
  • is that we have three
  • pre-selected questions
  • will be asking of our faculty authors
  • and then we'll have some time
  • for questions and discussion at the end.
  • Before I introduce you to our authors
  • though I do want to thank
  • Amanda Morlas, Courtney Kearney and
  • Alan Velasquez for all of the work
  • they've done to make this
  • celebratory event happen.
  • I'm thrilled that we are able to continue
  • this event this year
  • despite its challenges.
  • One of my favorite things,
  • we were just chatting about this,
  • about this event,
  • is that it brings faculty
  • from across campus and across
  • disciplines together in one place
  • to sort of share and discuss
  • accomplishments.
  • I know that doesn't
  • always happen for most of us,
  • but with that being said,
  • I do want to introduce to you today's
  • brilliant faculty authors.
  • So joining us today
  • we have Michael Brumbaugh
  • from the Department of Classical Studies
  • chatting with us about their work,
  • titled The New Politics of Olympus.
  • We have Charles Figley,
  • who is the Chair in Disaster
  • Mental Health from
  • the School of Social Work,
  • chatting about Combat Social Work:
  • Applying the Lessons of War
  • to the realities of Human Services.
  • We have Elizabeth Gross
  • from Tulane Honors Program
  • with This Body/ That Lightning Show.
  • We have Jana Lipman
  • from the Department of History
  • chatting about their work,
  • titled In Camps: Vietnamese
  • Refugees, Asylum-Seekers, and Repatriates
  • We also have Felicia McCarren
  • from the French department
  • chatting about One Dead at the Paris
  • Opera Ballet,
  • which is, I think, my favorite title.
  • I don't mean to be
  • biased, but it's great.
  • And last but certainly not least,
  • we have Jonathan Morton
  • from French as well, live from Berlin.
  • And the title of
  • their most recent work is, and
  • Dr. Morton you say it
  • much better than me in your
  • beautiful video, but The Roman de la
  • Rose and 13th century thought.
  • You can share the much
  • more beautiful pronunciation if you like.
  • I'm going to stop
  • sharing my screen in this moment
  • so I can see all your lovely faces again.
  • So like I said, we have a few
  • prearranged questions
  • to ask our panelists
  • and then we'll have time for questions
  • from attendees at the end
  • because this is the Zoom
  • webinar platform,
  • all attendees are muted,
  • so we encourage you to,
  • if you want to chat among yourselves,
  • obviously use the chat feature
  • during this time.
  • When it comes time for the Q&A,
  • please use the Q&A function.
  • It'll allow us to better manage
  • the questions so that we may
  • address them in a more
  • manageable fashion, I guess.
  • So I'm going to jump
  • right in and you can...
  • I'm going to ask the question
  • and then y'all can just answer.
  • I'm not going to
  • go around and call on anybody.
  • I don't want to put any pressure,
  • if you don't feel like
  • answering the question,
  • you don't have to.
  • If you're like, No,
  • I don't really like that one,
  • I'll wait for the next one.
  • That's totally fine,
  • this is meant to be informal
  • discussion and fun.
  • Like I said, the last thing we want to do
  • is to celebrate your work
  • and then make this also feel like work.
  • So the first question is how
  • and why did you choose your book
  • or research topic?
  • I guess I can start things off,
  • the book that I wrote
  • is about ancient Greek hymns,
  • which are songs of praise
  • and how they work in a political context.
  • And the reason I chose that topic is
  • because in the ancient Greek world,
  • a very important part of social life,
  • political life, religious life was song.
  • It's something that we don't maybe
  • necessarily think about as much
  • because we have a lot of other types
  • of entertainment and media in our lives.
  • But for the ancient Greeks,
  • song was really, really dominant
  • and took up a lot of their attention,
  • especially within an elite culture.
  • And hymns, in particular
  • are ways of praising people.
  • And what that does,
  • in addition to making you feel good,
  • is it helps define what
  • the socially acceptable
  • standards and norms are
  • within a community.
  • And so when you praise
  • someone for doing something,
  • you are reinforcing
  • and setting the ground rules
  • for the rest of the community
  • about what praiseworthy behavior is.
  • And that had been studied in
  • some sort of formal literary ways.
  • But the social and
  • political ramifications
  • of that kind of praise
  • hadn't really been explored
  • in too much detail.
  • And so I thought that would be
  • an interesting topic to look into.
  • And particularly,
  • I look at how it works
  • in these sort of new emerging
  • authoritarian regimes.
  • Now, when I started this project
  • a decade ago,
  • that seemed more abstract
  • than it seems today.
  • And so the tail end of this book
  • was finished during a very different
  • political climate in the U.S.,
  • and it gave me a lot of insight
  • into thinking about how
  • norms can change rapidly and suddenly
  • in a way that a lot of
  • your society thinks
  • things are very fixed and static.
  • And then all of a sudden
  • things can change
  • in surprising and unexpected ways.
  • And so that was a really
  • kind of interesting
  • moment in our own lives that informed
  • some of the underlying
  • assumptions that I was
  • working with in my book.
  • I can go. So my
  • book topic, the reason I chose it was
  • because I got bullied by a bigger boy.
  • And so
  • my book is called The Roman de la Rose
  • and 13th Century thought,
  • they come in as The Roman de la Rose.
  • And this is the second
  • book that I've done.
  • This is an edited
  • collection, is a collection of essays
  • that came out of a conference,
  • so I'd already written
  • one book on this topic.
  • And what happened was
  • I was at a conference
  • that I'd organized talking
  • to a very, very senior
  • guy in the history of
  • medieval philosophy,
  • so I'm a medieval specialist.
  • And I might have had one glass
  • too many of fruit juice,
  • and I had said to,
  • I basically said to him,
  • Why does everyone,
  • Why do all like medieval
  • philosophy people
  • when you look for literature,
  • that's interesting in the Middle Ages,
  • why do you always look at Dante
  • and the divine comedy, which is
  • like big, 14th century,
  • late, 13th century Italian work?
  • And I said, Why don't you talk about
  • The Roman de la Rose,
  • the romance of the rose,
  • which is the thing I work on?
  • And the thing that my book was on,
  • my first book was on philosophy
  • and the Romance of the Rose.
  • And anyway, he then,
  • I didn't think anything of it.
  • And six weeks later,
  • I got an email from him saying
  • I was thinking about what you said.
  • That's great.
  • Let's organize a conference together.
  • And so I was like a very junior postdoc
  • and I had like the biggest name
  • in medieval philosophy,
  • which, okay, is not a big thing.
  • But, you know, in the small pond
  • he's like a reasonably large sized fish.
  • And he said, let's
  • do a conference together.
  • So I kind of had to say yes. And so
  • we brought together loads of
  • people who are specialists in philosophy
  • and people who are
  • specialists in literature
  • to make them talk to each other.
  • And so my kind of revenge
  • for being bullied
  • into organizing the conference
  • that became this book
  • was to make those philosophers
  • do something they didn't want to do,
  • which was
  • think about what happens when words
  • can mean like five different things
  • at the same time.
  • And philosophers really don't like that.
  • So they had to get, so, basically,
  • we made all of these poor
  • historians of philosophy read
  • this incredibly weird, obscene,
  • philosophical French poem.
  • And when we'd finished
  • wiping up the tears,
  • we persuaded them to collaborate
  • and bring out this volume.
  • So what happened was
  • I thought I was the expert in this topic,
  • like I had written about The Romance
  • of the Rose and philosophy.
  • I thought, this is my thing.
  • At the conference
  • that then became this book,
  • I realized there
  • either were all of these things.
  • I was so far out of my depth,
  • which was really exciting.
  • And so the result is this is like a book.
  • Okay, one other thing I did,
  • I bullied everyone
  • to reference my book in this.
  • So there are loads of references to me.
  • And they had to do it
  • because I was the editor.
  • And so out of politeness,
  • at least there were loads
  • and loads of people who were quoting me.
  • So it looks like I'm important.
  • And so that's what happened.
  • That's how I ended up doing this book,
  • which is this one.
  • That sounds terrifying.
  • You make it sound so great
  • and you know, you tied it up for this
  • nice bow towards
  • the end where you, you know,
  • now you have this thing in which
  • all these folks reference
  • you, but, you know,
  • being bullied by the bigger
  • boy just sounds...
  • I hope there are no
  • doctoral students attending right now.
  • They might just be scared.
  • I'm happy to go,
  • but I feel like Felicia,
  • you should go next.
  • I feel like the French
  • theme could continue.
  • Do you want to jump in
  • and then I'll go after you, maybe?
  • OK, if you want,
  • I'm not going to be bullied.
  • So, you know, I think
  • when you've written a lot of books,
  • you forget actually why you've done it.
  • But this particular one came from
  • the fact that as a
  • Historian of Performance,
  • I've been thinking a lot about
  • the way the stage,
  • you know, talks about difference, right?
  • Talks about gender or race
  • or diversity, human diversity.
  • And in particular,
  • all of my work has been focused
  • on choreography.
  • So when people on stage
  • don't necessarily
  • play human roles,
  • but they might play wordless roles
  • representing flora or fauna, right?
  • And then this idea
  • that that sort of biodiversity
  • that you see on stage in choreography,
  • in particular in the French tradition,
  • can really speak about human diversity.
  • So that's what I was working on.
  • And then it just so happened that
  • I came across a recent staging
  • of an old ballet from 1866
  • that is kind of unbelievable
  • and representative of a whole genre
  • of so-called Orientalist ballets, right?
  • But it had two key
  • things that were very, very
  • current still, right?
  • It had a kind of
  • stereotypical representation
  • of others and in particular,
  • Muslim others, right?
  • And there's actually a knife
  • attack in the ballet from 1866.
  • And then there's also a narrative
  • about the green world.
  • And actually, there's
  • a kind of environmental crisis
  • at the end of the ballet.
  • So when they restaged this
  • at the Paris Opera in 2011 and then 2014,
  • it was incredibly current, right?
  • These are things
  • that France is struggling
  • with very much today.
  • And I was able to start thinking
  • about what in French is called
  • decolonizing the stage,
  • thinking about minority representation
  • in a way that only now is really starting
  • to happen in public discourse.
  • Many of you may know in France
  • it's actually illegal
  • to gather data on racial
  • or religious or ethnic identification.
  • And so there isn't really
  • a public discourse about this.
  • And my argument is that the stage,
  • even the ballet stage,
  • opens that up and
  • really starts to address
  • these questions that are
  • so urgent right now.
  • Great.
  • Well, thank you so much.
  • I mean, I have to say
  • it's just great to hear
  • about all my colleagues work.
  • I feel like it's wonderful
  • to hear about our intellectual work
  • and not just about,
  • you know, administrative Covid details.
  • So welcome to everyone.
  • My name is Jana, I'm a historian
  • and I teach U.S.
  • 20th century history and U.S.
  • foreign policy and immigration.
  • And I look at issues
  • of migration and race in a way
  • that's really different than Felicia.
  • But my recent book is called In Camps:
  • Vietnamese Refugees,
  • Asylum Seekers and Repatriates.
  • And it comes out of some research
  • I was doing about Vietnamese
  • refugees who were in a small base
  • camp in the United States in Arkansas.
  • I started doing research
  • about this group of Vietnamese
  • who left in 1975,
  • this is the end of the Vietnam War.
  • And I found these
  • just remarkable photographs
  • of Vietnamese refugees
  • who are brought first to Guam
  • before they are brought
  • to the United States.
  • And while they were in Guam,
  • a small group began to protest
  • because they don't want to be resettled
  • in the United States.
  • In fact,
  • they wanted to go back to Vietnam.
  • And they start marching
  • around with pictures of Ho Chi Minh.
  • And if you know about anything
  • related to Vietnamese
  • refugees in the United States,
  • you know the majority are identified
  • with anti-communism,
  • many of them supported
  • the United States during the war.
  • And so I was really struck
  • as a historian of the
  • Vietnam War and U.S. foreign policy
  • to find these images of people
  • who did not want to come
  • to the United States,
  • who wanted to go back to Vietnam,
  • and this would have been in May of 1975.
  • And I was like I don't think I'll
  • find anything about this.
  • You know, this story will be a dead
  • end, it'll be an interesting anecdote.
  • And what I found
  • was massive amounts of material.
  • And I was like, wow,
  • this is really interesting.
  • And so I decided to start
  • following the stories of Vietnamese
  • who leave Vietnam.
  • I ended up not just looking at
  • those who leave in '75,
  • but I look in the late '70's,
  • the '80's and the '90's.
  • And I began to look
  • not just at the initial group
  • of Vietnamese who left in 1975,
  • but those who left later,
  • who found themselves
  • in other refugee camps
  • in Southeast Asia and Malaysia,
  • Hong Kong and the Philippines.
  • And I write about their stories
  • when they are in between
  • the United States and Vietnam
  • and the experiences
  • and political movements
  • that they participate in in those places.
  • And in some ways, like Michael,
  • I began this project,
  • you know, more than ten years ago now.
  • And so there have always been questions
  • about refugees and
  • immigration in America,
  • but it was a different political climate.
  • And so as I was continuing
  • to do research it in many ways
  • resonates with contemporary debates
  • about refugee admissions,
  • about having asylum seekers
  • who are now detained
  • in American jails,
  • particularly in Louisiana,
  • which has a huge number of people
  • incarcerated who are asylum
  • seekers here in our state.
  • And so while the work
  • is very much about Southeast
  • Asia and Vietnamese
  • in the 1970s, '80's, and '90's,
  • I think it really resonates
  • with contemporary questions
  • about asylum seekers, refugee status and
  • migration today.
  • Thanks.
  • Thank you.
  • Anybody else want to add?
  • You know, I'm a poet
  • and my book that came out in 2019
  • This Body/ That Lightning Show
  • is my first full collection of poetry.
  • So the role of research
  • in that process is
  • very different, especially
  • since This Body/ That lightning show
  • is a fairly autobiographical work.
  • So a lot of my research involved
  • living my life
  • and specifically connecting
  • the traumatic events
  • surrounding Hurricane Katrina
  • and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to
  • personal trauma as both
  • sexual and physical injury
  • that I was also going through
  • at the same time and became
  • inextricably linked
  • in my own imagination
  • and my own emotional processing.
  • And that's kind of
  • the origin of the work.
  • That said, there is some
  • research in the book,
  • which it contains
  • what I like to call irresponsible
  • translations from Sappho.
  • I do read Greek,
  • but most of that Greek is gone anyway.
  • So I'm going to do what I want
  • and what serves me with it now.
  • And also there's a central poem
  • in the book that's a little longer
  • called Amazon Amichai.
  • That is an Amazon Amichai, a battle
  • with Amazon women.
  • And I did some research
  • into various names of mytho-historical
  • Amazon women warriors
  • as I was working on that poem.
  • It's hard to remember the details
  • because I first wrote that poem in 2008,
  • and this book was first written
  • as my MFA thesis in 2010 and 2011.
  • So it was a long road
  • from writing the book to publishing it
  • as well.
  • In terms of the role of
  • research in my creative work, though,
  • there are a number of other topics that
  • kind of touch on things
  • that have come up in other faculty
  • topics in this panel.
  • My second, as yet unpublished
  • full collection,
  • began as an erasure of Shakespeare's
  • Merchant of Venice
  • and then expanded to include
  • narrative and almost documentary poems
  • about working with refugees
  • in a camp outside
  • of Thessaloniki, Greece.
  • So that's
  • what I've been working on more recently.
  • And in terms of active research
  • for creative work,
  • I'm also working on a libretto
  • with a composer here
  • about an environmental activist
  • orca whale, J35.
  • And looking into that research goes in
  • lots of different directions, including
  • how to write a libretto,
  • which I've never done, but also
  • a little bit about whales, a lot
  • about the indigenous communities
  • of the Pacific Northwest.
  • And it's also a kind of version
  • of Antigeni, so my classics background
  • just keeps coming.
  • Can't keep it down.
  • OK, so our next question is
  • what was the most difficult
  • and or most rewarding part of
  • your most recent work?
  • And you can speak to the process or
  • whether it was the research
  • or the outcome in terms
  • of how it was received, really anywhere
  • you can take that question
  • any way you want.
  • Yeah, I think that strikes a chord
  • because I had the three of us
  • who are editors of Combat Social Work,
  • which is the book,
  • and I'm not a social worker.
  • I'm a Marine
  • and they don't have any social workers
  • in the Marine Corps, unfortunately.
  • But one of the challenges
  • that I had was enabling
  • those who are writing
  • their own combat stories
  • as social workers to share that.
  • And it was a challenge
  • for a number of people
  • and there were some that actually just,
  • you know, gave up.
  • And I'm hoping we'll catch them
  • the next time we put a volume
  • like this together.
  • But it's interesting, with combat
  • social workers,
  • you have to be an officer.
  • You start as a captain.
  • So it's like three ranks up
  • from the very beginning
  • of being an officer.
  • So they come in
  • right away as being an outsider.
  • We have, we kind of laugh
  • at this in the book,
  • you'll see if you were to
  • pick it up and look at it.
  • That combat and social work seems to be
  • inconsistent, if you will.
  • And there were a number of people
  • who were in the Army or Navy or whatever
  • branch, there were three of them,
  • I remember very well,
  • that explicitly wanted social work
  • and nothing else.
  • And some of them got that,
  • and particularly
  • because they hated the war, as I do,
  • that this would not work out for them.
  • The lovely thing about their stories
  • is that it's really
  • a story of our country
  • of trying to come to grips,
  • especially with the Vietnam
  • War in particular.
  • And I guess country was won over by that
  • because we haven't really protested
  • since that time, unfortunately,
  • but it was interesting.
  • Two of my colleagues
  • are also senior professors, one
  • still in the Military
  • and getting out soon.
  • But both of them
  • have ambivalence about the war,
  • but not about those who fight the war,
  • those who serve like social workers.
  • We are totally committed to the troops,
  • but not to tactics.
  • And the book that I wrote
  • that is coming out
  • next year that went
  • into press before this one
  • really focuses on that.
  • And I'm happy to talk about it
  • if you want, but that talks
  • about psychiatric casualties
  • and about the horrible things
  • that the military has done outside of war
  • to people who are different
  • and who are not specifically
  • like the typical military personnel.
  • So there are a lot of stories
  • that are untold, but these 13 combat
  • social workers really did a great job
  • of articulating where
  • they were at the time.
  • Many of them were not really
  • prepared to go to war,
  • but they were in the reserves
  • and so they had an opportunity for that.
  • The challenges they had
  • of imagining themself being in war,
  • the struggles that they had
  • in leaving their family behind
  • because all of them were, you know,
  • relatively mature
  • with master's degrees, at least.
  • So it isn't just simply a war story
  • and duck and shoot.
  • This is human service
  • professionals who are doing
  • what social workers do
  • in New Orleans and everywhere else,
  • way far from home in a combat zone
  • in which people are shooting at you.
  • So I thought it was a
  • good idea that we finally
  • devote a book to this kind of phenomenon
  • in hopes that it will encourage
  • other social workers
  • to consider that as a career.
  • So that was it.
  • Am I supposed to say anything more?
  • No, no, that was fantastic, I guess I'm
  • sort of in awe of all of what you said
  • and the fact that you,
  • you know, mentioned
  • that there is no social workers
  • in the Marine Corps.
  • I just, I didn't know that.
  • And it sort of baffles me.
  • Well, it's in the Navy
  • and the Navy takes care
  • of the Marine Corps.
  • So I guess that we could
  • attend to them, but I've never
  • worked with one.
  • Wow, OK.
  • I mean, for my work,
  • I think that there's
  • so many challenges, right,
  • I mean there are the
  • challenges of language.
  • I wrote a book about Vietnamese refugees
  • not speaking Vietnamese,
  • which in some ways is an act of hubris.
  • And yet I decided
  • there was enough oral history
  • that had been done, some in English,
  • some in Vietnamese, that been translated
  • that I was able to use the research
  • of other scholars. I also,
  • in terms of I do really sort
  • of archival research, and I'm particularly
  • interested in archives
  • that are not easily accessible.
  • I'm particularly interested in
  • archives that are in
  • what are seen as peripheral locations.
  • And so this is both
  • my favorite part of the job,
  • and in some ways,
  • the most challenging part
  • is the part that I find really exciting.
  • But for example,
  • as part of this project,
  • I was able to go to the Philippines
  • and to Malaysia,
  • those were separate trips
  • and actually went to the places
  • where the refugee camps
  • were in the '80's and '90's.
  • And there are archives there
  • and there are sort of private archives
  • there are public archives.
  • There are, you know, old
  • English ESL, English as a second
  • language, manuals and boxes
  • that are sort of sitting there.
  • There are people's
  • photograph collections.
  • There are people
  • who have newspaper collections.
  • And so for me, one of the most exciting
  • and yet also a bit
  • more challenging parts of the work
  • is doing that type
  • of research on the
  • ground, going to archives
  • and really trying to think about
  • how do those stories
  • of the refugee camps
  • fit into larger stories of U.S.
  • foreign policy and larger
  • political narratives?
  • And I'll just say this,
  • I don't know how the other colleagues
  • feel in this room, it's
  • always hard to write.
  • In terms at least for me,
  • you know, figuring out
  • how to tell the story
  • and then shaping it.
  • And so that hopefully it's compelling
  • to a large readership
  • so that it actually is storytelling
  • with real people and people's stories
  • so that other people can connect.
  • Jana, I totally want
  • to emphasize a couple
  • of things that you said,
  • first of all, travel to archives, right?
  • I think several of us work in archives
  • that are in other countries
  • and we have to get there
  • and we have to get there at a time
  • where we can have a series of days.
  • Not everything is digitized.
  • And in fact,
  • some of the stuff that hasn't been overly
  • studied isn't digitized.
  • And so it's really worth
  • travel to archives.
  • And then bringing it back,
  • I mean, I wonder how many of us
  • on this panel experience
  • what I experienced,
  • which is like that it's
  • another kind of work,
  • another huge amount of work
  • to try to bring that research
  • into the classroom, right?
  • Of course, it informs who we are
  • and how we teach,
  • but we don't always get the opportunity
  • to teach it, right?
  • So kind of this ongoing,
  • you know, teaching and research
  • and trying to negotiate
  • that balance is really, really tricky.
  • Very difficult to write
  • while you're teaching, right?
  • So I can talk about, I think, probably
  • the most rewarding thing
  • about doing the book that I did was,
  • and the thing is, it's the most
  • like the most ivory tower, like
  • the ridiculous pastiche of
  • academic life and in comparison to,
  • say, looking at social workers
  • and the military
  • and thinking about the legacies of trauma
  • and Katrina and murder at the opera.
  • It feels completely ridiculous to me.
  • So I'm going to make a case
  • for the absurdity
  • of a certain kind of academic life
  • that was incredibly rewarding,
  • even though on the face of it,
  • it looks completely pointless.
  • Which was the conference
  • that I organized with two colleagues
  • that this book came out of.
  • When we did it in,
  • I know it was definitely it was 2016
  • because it was just when Brexit happened.
  • And so I was, like,
  • really completely all over the place.
  • So that was, I mean, that's separate.
  • But, so the conference
  • took place in this 17th century,
  • it was like a really big private house
  • that was taken over by the French state
  • on this little island
  • in the sand in the middle of Paris,
  • and it's the place called the Institute
  • for Advanced Studies.
  • And it's like gorgeous.
  • It's got really like
  • tasteless gold chairs
  • and like red carpets.
  • It's ridiculous.
  • And so we organized a conference
  • bringing all of these specialists
  • to look at this incredibly obscure stuff
  • like medieval French
  • literature and philosophy
  • that was taught at the
  • University of Paris,
  • but only in the 13th century.
  • And then so we sat around
  • and talked for two days.
  • There were maybe 30 people in the room.
  • And just sitting there and talking
  • about the same things that everyone
  • who worked really hard on
  • and everyone was out of their depth
  • at different times
  • and just learning from each
  • other was incredibly, it was,
  • I think it was probably one
  • of the most exciting,
  • rewarding academic
  • experiences I've ever had.
  • I mean, how much it changed the world?
  • I don't know.
  • But I should probably try and tie
  • that up somehow.
  • So one way, okay, one lesson
  • maybe which I've taken from that is,
  • Oh my god, I can feel immoral coming on.
  • OK, one lesson to take from this is
  • I think none of us had computers open
  • really or looked at screens much.
  • But we're just talking with one
  • another in person at length.
  • And I guess that's something
  • we don't have right now.
  • But it's something that in the age
  • where we're all kind of
  • connected through screens
  • and the internet
  • and so on, it's really valuable.
  • I think I still I find like
  • that having that
  • connection which maybe
  • we can look forward to
  • in the not hopefully too distant future.
  • I'd like to connect
  • the challenge and the reward
  • not so much about the writing
  • of my first book, but the publishing it.
  • I've already mentioned
  • it was a very long time
  • from writing the book to publishing it,
  • and that itself was a challenge.
  • And particularly because of some of the
  • personal and traumatic
  • nature of the material.
  • I found that I was completely,
  • I kept working on the manuscript
  • after completing my MFA,
  • it didn't rest at the thesis manuscript.
  • But by 2013, two years later,
  • I had found myself
  • just changing punctuation
  • and then changing it back.
  • And realized that I was completely
  • emotionally locked out of the
  • subject matter and like
  • I had brought it as far as it could
  • go, and I couldn't
  • do anything more with it
  • in any meaningful way
  • and continued to invest in
  • sending it to publishers
  • ever more selectively,
  • as that is an expensive
  • and brutal process
  • in poetry publishing.
  • But had basically,
  • so had basically given up
  • on publishing my first book
  • as my first book
  • and which happens all the time.
  • I still believed in the book.
  • And I had been a
  • semifinalist for big things
  • early on in the process, so
  • I had that kind of
  • external validation as well
  • that it was good enough
  • to fight for, to keep going
  • trying to get it in the world.
  • But when I submitted to The Word Works,
  • who ended up publishing it,
  • I was submitting to that press
  • for the third time
  • and at least who knows
  • if I would have held to this
  • but in my heart,
  • I was submitting it for the last time,
  • at least for a while,
  • because I had just completed
  • another manuscript.
  • And it, yeah, both financially
  • and emotionally,
  • it was too much to be
  • sending both out at once.
  • And so it
  • was extremely serendipitous that
  • submission like it was the last time
  • it turned out for a different reason
  • than what I thought
  • when I was submitting it.
  • And then also to have it selected
  • by Jericho Brown was incredible.
  • And I had to jump in.
  • I was at
  • got the news while I was at a friend
  • from grad school's
  • wedding on Lake Michigan,
  • and I went underwater and screamed.
  • That was definitely a particularly
  • rewarding moment for me.
  • But also, having had that experience of
  • feeling locked out from the book,
  • I wasn't sure what it would feel like
  • to put it in the world and then like,
  • give a reading tour, for example.
  • And the other really surprising reward
  • for me of the whole long
  • story of the publication was
  • the work that I was able to
  • do with an editor
  • at The Works, Word Works.
  • The manuscript had
  • not changed since 2013,
  • and it didn't change in really
  • major ways, but in small, important ones
  • and to work through that process
  • with another person from the outside,
  • it's yeah, I hadn't
  • had that experience before.
  • And yeah, it
  • really changed my ability
  • to put that work in the world and
  • feel good about it.
  • Well, that's kind of been
  • sort of a common thread
  • between these last
  • few days, is like trying
  • to find that home for your work.
  • You know, many of the faculty
  • authors over the past
  • few days have talked about,
  • you know, trying different places
  • and finding a home.
  • And I think that serves
  • as I mean, personally,
  • for me, a point of encouragement.
  • When I think about
  • my own ideas, and starting
  • to formulate those
  • and thinking about that process,
  • and it's a very vulnerable process
  • to like put your work out there
  • for other people
  • to critique and accept
  • or deny, and that's, you know, can be
  • a bit of a point of trauma in its own,
  • I guess for some people. So
  • it's been very refreshing and
  • confirming to hear
  • that that has been
  • the experience of so many folks.
  • So I appreciate you sharing that.
  • I guess I'll just say really quickly
  • to echo what several of my colleagues
  • have already said,
  • you know, whether you're
  • doing creative work or you're doing
  • non nonfiction.
  • The process is messy, right?
  • The subject that you're dealing
  • with is complex.
  • It's large
  • and there's lots of different ways
  • you could tell the story.
  • And going back to what Jana said
  • a few minutes ago, finding a linear path
  • through that big
  • constellation of material
  • is very, very challenging.
  • And I think for me
  • was probably one of the hardest parts.
  • In a lot of fields,
  • the work that you're doing
  • is not going to be repeated.
  • There's not going to be another book
  • that comes out on this topic, maybe ever.
  • But at the same time, your narrative
  • that you've chosen to tell
  • is not the definitive way
  • to tell the story.
  • And so making sure
  • that the work you're doing
  • is going to advance the conversation,
  • not stop the conversation is also
  • a really important consideration
  • in thinking about
  • how you want to push
  • the envelope enough
  • so that people will respond
  • to your work and do more and add on.
  • And finding the narrative
  • that will do that
  • in an effective and responsible
  • way is a really huge challenge of doing
  • sort of a large project.
  • I should talk again.
  • It's my turn maybe,
  • this particular book on combat
  • social work, it was the strangest
  • set of events.
  • I actually proposed the book
  • ten years ago
  • and there were publishers
  • that were interested, but they were not.
  • They were interested
  • in other branches or other profession
  • psychologists, that sort of thing.
  • Family therapist, et cetera.
  • But we kept pushing and we acquired, had
  • two, had another editor.
  • We acquired someone else.
  • And each time it failed,
  • we told the maybe four or five
  • that were with us
  • what happened and they all stuck with us.
  • And even at the end,
  • when Oxford University Press picked us up
  • and provided everything
  • actually that we had wanted
  • and hoped for as a book,
  • things started coming together.
  • But I think that the hardest part was
  • the contributors and
  • what they had the right in terms
  • of their own individual chapters
  • because all but three of them
  • had never published anything,
  • not to mention something
  • about themselves.
  • So there was a tremendous
  • amount of anxiety, I think, even
  • among most of them, I would say.
  • But there was tremendous
  • amount of satisfaction.
  • I know all of you feel this way
  • and you've seen this in your students.
  • It just is so great.
  • And in particular, those that have gone
  • through the most horrendous experiences
  • I think did among the best
  • in sorting it out and finding the arc and
  • making that connection.
  • So even though it was the hardest project
  • and it took longer than any book
  • that I've ever worked on,
  • I have almost 30 now.
  • It was the most satisfying
  • because of the reactions of those
  • who wrote the chapters.
  • So that's it.
  • Thank you all for sharing.
  • We have one last sort of
  • prearranged questions for you all.
  • And then we'll open it
  • up to folks to ask some questions.
  • And that question is
  • and some of you are
  • already sort of touched on this.
  • So if you don't want to repeat yourselves
  • that is fine,
  • did anything you learned
  • while researching the topic surprise you?
  • And if you didn't, you know,
  • if you were an editor,
  • maybe you can share something that
  • surprised you while you were either
  • editing or like,
  • just engaging with the material again,
  • maybe with a new lens
  • or something to that effect.
  • I'll just jump in, I mean,
  • I think that's the whole point
  • is to write about things
  • that surprise you.
  • I mean, I don't want to write
  • about something that
  • I already know about.
  • I mean, that seems a waste of time.
  • And so one of the things that I mean,
  • as I started with explaining
  • like how I came to my book topic,
  • it was very much
  • the images and the documents
  • that I was not expecting
  • that are the ones that
  • drew me to the story
  • and that I wanted to follow.
  • And like during the course
  • of the research,
  • I learned so many things
  • that were surprising.
  • I mean, for people who are interested,
  • you know,
  • I did not know that
  • 100,000 Vietnamese
  • were returned to Vietnam,
  • and those were largely
  • who did not want to go back
  • to Vietnam between 1990 and 1997.
  • I learned a great deal
  • about the ways in which
  • Vietnamese-American activists
  • had different techniques
  • of trying to support Vietnamese
  • who wanted to get refugee status.
  • I learned all about Malaysia,
  • which I knew nothing about at all,
  • but I started to learn
  • about Malaysia, right?
  • And I learned about
  • the variety of sort of politics
  • in Malaysia in the 1970s
  • and 1980s as it affected
  • questions related to refugees
  • and immigration.
  • And so, I mean, I would
  • only say that I'm only
  • in some ways interested
  • in the stories that surprise
  • because those are the stories that
  • are complicated.
  • And as Mike was saying
  • that are, you know,
  • maybe non-linear or maybe unexpected,
  • but those are the stories that are
  • worth writing and telling.
  • And in some ways, that's
  • what I think our jobs are, is
  • to sort of find a news story
  • and hopefully be able to explain
  • why it's important
  • not to tell stories
  • that we're expecting to find.
  • So those are just a few of the examples.
  • I think in my project,
  • I write about and study
  • and think about Ancient Greek
  • poetry, and we have the texts, right?
  • And we have them
  • and you can order them online
  • and they exist in little books.
  • But most of the work
  • that I tried to do
  • is to try to take those texts
  • and reconnect them
  • to the world that they came from.
  • And that is very difficult
  • because most of that world in an ancient
  • context, is missing, right?
  • We have little tiny fragments
  • of it here and there. And
  • when you aren't a specialist in all
  • of the different areas
  • where the evidence comes from,
  • it's hard to know what
  • the state of knowledge is.
  • So for instance,
  • if you were going to draw on evidence
  • that might be from coins, right?
  • And so coins from the period
  • might help tell you part of the story.
  • Pottery from the period might help
  • tell a different part of the story,
  • but no one is going to be an expert
  • on all of the different evidence.
  • And so it's very often the case
  • that you don't know what you don't know
  • but is available to be found, right.
  • So a lot of us who focus on literatures
  • sometimes fall into the assumption
  • that, oh,
  • we just can't know that information,
  • it's permanently lost to us.
  • And so we're not going
  • to try to dig it up.
  • And so the process of writing
  • this book of trying to test the limits of
  • why haven't we been asking
  • certain types of questions?
  • Is it because it really is inaccessible?
  • Or do we just have to
  • get more creative
  • about how we find answers
  • to those questions?
  • And that was very interesting.
  • And so I learned all sorts of things
  • that I never imagined as a poetry
  • specialist, I'd be
  • thinking about like where is
  • wood coming from
  • in the third century BCE?
  • Where are they chopping down trees
  • and what's it being used for?
  • It's all going to make ships.
  • And so a wooden statue,
  • which is not necessarily
  • a very expensive item
  • under normal circumstances,
  • if wood is in high demand
  • to make ships, all of a sudden,
  • the simple wooden statue
  • has an entirely different
  • significance in value
  • than it otherwise might.
  • And so there's a poem about a
  • wooden statue and
  • that sort of dramatically changes
  • the social significance
  • of discussing that object if you realize
  • that there's wood shortage because of war
  • needs and things like that.
  • So I learned lots of
  • interesting little niche
  • facts and details that really reorient
  • the landscape of thinking about something
  • that we've had codified in books
  • for a really long time.
  • Yeah, I want to thank Michael and Jana
  • for what they've just said.
  • I think oftentimes research
  • in the humanities gets,
  • or even social sciences, gets typified.
  • You know, it's not
  • scientific research, it's
  • not medical research, right?
  • Especially on our campus research
  • seems to really mean
  • what happens downtown, right?
  • And we have to really emphasize
  • that we're also asking questions, right?
  • The question is the mode that inspires us
  • and that we're working on, right?
  • And that we don't know the answer, right?
  • We wouldn't write the book
  • if we already knew the answer, right?
  • So it's it's an exploration
  • and it's very exciting
  • to be alive right now because we can work
  • really across disciplines
  • and we can really work
  • across archives
  • and across modes of thought and,
  • you know, even very, very different
  • kinds of disciplines.
  • So it's an incredibly exciting time.
  • And to see the work
  • that's being done
  • around us and on our campus
  • uptown as well as downtown
  • is, you know, is actually surprising.
  • Not surprising, really.
  • But it's very rewarding and wonderful.
  • And so I want to just emphasize,
  • you know,
  • thank you to the organizers, right?
  • Because we don't always all get a chance
  • to talk about our own work
  • on our own campus.
  • And that might be surprising,
  • but it's really fantastic
  • to have this opportunity so thank you.
  • Yeah, I want to echo that and also
  • say there's so much that
  • I found resonant
  • and in what you all have said,
  • I think particularly
  • in response to this latest question
  • about surprising and like,
  • the surprises that
  • motivate that research and also
  • like thinking about
  • as a person who also starts often
  • with the ancient text,
  • what I do from there is just
  • absolutely the opposite
  • of Michael.
  • Instead of trying to
  • contextualize the work
  • in its ancient context with gathering
  • what information can be found.
  • I think I I try to export
  • the uncertainty of the ancient world
  • and use that as a lens
  • to look at the contemporary world
  • and make connections there.
  • So just like inside out and backwards,
  • but also starting from the
  • same kind of stuff.
  • But in terms of the surprises
  • that come along in the work, for me, it's
  • really very rarely information
  • and much more often
  • those surprises that
  • stand out, our connections often
  • just unexpected connections.
  • And I have an example from my book that
  • started as an erasure of Shakespeare's
  • Merchant of Venice and became
  • also about narratives of
  • migration, European migration
  • from Thessaloniki
  • and also an examination
  • of my own Jewish identity
  • in the context of all of that.
  • But I was in the Jewish Museum
  • in Thessaloniki, and there
  • was a map on the wall of
  • transport routes,
  • migrants transport routes, and
  • I just realized
  • all of the ports are the same.
  • All of the ports
  • have always been the same.
  • The arrows are going
  • in the different direction.
  • There are the people who are
  • forced to migrate are
  • checking different identity boxes.
  • But like this, cross
  • Mediterranean migration is
  • definitely not new and that there was
  • a more direct connection between
  • the kind of World War
  • Two history of migration
  • in that area and the current situation
  • that I was in, mostly working
  • with people from Syria.
  • And it's those moments of sudden,
  • unexpected connection
  • that for me can motivate an entire
  • book, basically.
  • And also, why conversations like this
  • are so much fun.
  • So that was, that was really fascinating.
  • I mean, all of the answers, particularly
  • that last one from Elizabeth.
  • So I've read one thing that
  • I discovered or learned this is maybe
  • like not quite as serious
  • as it could have been.
  • I think this is a recurring theme
  • in my life and work.
  • And this is one thing that actually is
  • one thing I wasn't expecting
  • to find out about
  • was how people learned
  • in medieval universities,
  • which ended up being a big part
  • of what the work I ended up doing
  • for the chapter
  • that I wrote in this book.
  • So I started looking
  • at the teaching of logic
  • and the teaching of how to think
  • in 13th century
  • and 14th century universities.
  • And so it ended up being a slightly
  • self-reflective exercise.
  • And I so I looked to them, particularly
  • I was really interested
  • in the question of what sophism is,
  • which is a specific...
  • I mean, on what sophistry
  • is which is kind of
  • in general when someone looks like
  • they are saying something
  • that makes sense,
  • but actually they don't,
  • which is something that I identify
  • with very strongly.
  • And this was a really important tool
  • for the teaching of logic
  • in medieval university.
  • So I ended up going down this rabbit hole
  • and finding out about the different
  • classroom techniques.
  • And so you would get sophisms
  • which would be a sentence
  • that looks like it
  • makes sense, but doesn't
  • or it doesn't make sense,
  • and you have to try and work out
  • how the logic works in it.
  • And there was one about donkeys,
  • which I didn't make it.
  • I just remember thinking about it
  • I wasn't expecting to come across
  • and it didn't make it into the book.
  • But it's this logical problem,
  • and it's supposed to help
  • you learn about grammar.
  • And I'll give it in
  • Latin, and then I'll
  • give you it in English
  • and I'll just be very quick.
  • It's [Latin] .
  • So in English, it's
  • all humans are donkeys
  • or humans and donkeys are donkeys.
  • So it has to basically it's an exercise
  • supposed to make
  • you think about how
  • grammar works because either
  • you can say, all humans are donkeys,
  • or men and donkeys are donkeys.
  • And that doesn't make any sense,
  • and so you have to think, OK, well,
  • you can say, all humans
  • either donkey or human
  • and donkeys are donkeys,
  • so that makes sense.
  • And so essentially
  • what you have is a ridiculous
  • classroom situation
  • where you're doing really boring
  • grammatical learning,
  • but or you're just talking about
  • how humans are actually donkeys,
  • and this is kind of fun.
  • And then suddenly you're thinking about,
  • I don't know, like
  • [inaudible] and the goddess
  • or humans turning into animals,
  • which is a big thing
  • in medieval literature.
  • And so then you just
  • get to say donkey a lot,
  • which I've just successfully done.
  • And so it ends up being quite reflexive.
  • And so anyway, I learned a lot about that
  • I was not expecting
  • to find out about that
  • and I had a lot of fun doing it.
  • So what's the moral,
  • it needs to be moral,
  • this needs to be sensible, learning's fun
  • It's really exciting, like
  • doing the research,
  • even if it's hard, it is really hard.
  • And then there's always this like,
  • I find, anyway in my work
  • is like really fun moments
  • of discovery along the way.
  • Thank you for being so entertaining.
  • I'm going to toy with that, probably
  • longer than I should.
  • Does anybody else want to add
  • to our final question
  • before we have just
  • a few very short minutes
  • for questions from others?
  • So feel free to pop those in the chat.
  • Like I said, I always like to be
  • mindful of folks time, especially
  • knowing how exhausting Zoom can be.
  • So pop questions in the chat.
  • I actually, I'll start.
  • I'll be selfish in this moment.
  • I don't see any in the chat yet,
  • so I'll ask a question.
  • Some of you touched on,
  • you know, archives.
  • So as a librarian,
  • I'm obviously going to ask the question
  • about archives and accessibility to that.
  • So in your opinions,
  • would you prefer archives
  • to be more accessible,
  • which is something that
  • librarians and archivists
  • think about all the time
  • and are constantly working on.
  • Or do you feel like it adds
  • an additional layer to your work
  • that you do have to visit
  • the archives in person
  • because they aren't accessible?
  • And how do you feel
  • like that sort of either
  • bolsters your work?
  • Or maybe if the alternative has happened
  • in which it hinders
  • your research, like what
  • are your thoughts and feelings on that?
  • I mean, I'll start
  • because I am interested in archives,
  • I mean, I obviously want archives
  • to be accessible, right?
  • I mean, there's no doubt about that.
  • But I think it depends
  • what you mean by accessible.
  • And does that just
  • simply mean digitizing?
  • Or does that mean being
  • sort of a place that people
  • feel capable of going to,
  • both experts and non-experts?
  • I think that there's [inaudible]
  • about what accessible means.
  • I would say simply,
  • though, that I mean, whatever
  • I'm an old school historian,
  • I think that it's important
  • to actually be in the archive
  • because it does matter
  • how the materials organize,
  • it matters like, you know,
  • there's all sorts of,
  • I mean, you're an archivist,
  • it's not just about
  • popping up the document on my screen.
  • It's about the documents
  • that are next to it.
  • It's about thinking about
  • how it's been collected,
  • it's about thinking
  • about even the search terms.
  • And so I think that there are
  • all these different ways in which
  • it's important for archives
  • to be accessible,
  • and I obviously want them
  • to be more accessible.
  • But it doesn't,
  • even if it's accessible, doesn't
  • mean that I don't necessarily
  • have to go to it
  • physically for my
  • own purposes or my work.
  • And what I would say is that
  • I mean, this again is not original,
  • but there's all types of archives.
  • And I mean, for me,
  • I'm interested and thinking
  • about formal archives
  • and informal archives in my research.
  • I like using state archives,
  • like going to the National Archives,
  • whether it's in the United States
  • or Great Britain,
  • and then going to places
  • that are less traveled,
  • but where there are archives
  • which are also there.
  • And archivists everywhere
  • want to preserve materials
  • and make them accessible.
  • And so I think that it's,
  • in some ways, it's
  • sort of an ongoing question.
  • So I don't know if
  • that answers your question, but
  • I don't think that accessibility
  • is just about digitization.
  • I would agree, absolutely, I agree.
  • I think one of the most
  • important things is to
  • give ownership I guess, to
  • those folks whose you know,
  • those materials do belong to
  • and give them proper agency
  • on how they're used and accessed.
  • So I think that's probably
  • what I see as something
  • that will continue to be
  • at the forefront of archival work.
  • And I am not a trained
  • archivist, obviously,
  • just by proxy as being a librarian,
  • I know some things about archival work,
  • but I am definitely not,
  • I wouldn't say I'm
  • an authority on that, so
  • I just kind of wanted to
  • grab your opinions.
  • Can I just add one thing
  • to what Jana just said?
  • Absolutely.
  • With Jana's colleague Emily Clark,
  • our colleague in history,
  • I started a group,
  • an international group
  • that's based at Tulane that does work in
  • various archives, archives of all kinds.
  • Looking for what
  • we're calling history's extras, right?
  • The people who got written
  • out of the narrative.
  • Oftentimes, people
  • representing some kind of
  • minority or diversity.
  • But also I work in particular on people
  • who made it to the stage.
  • And then one thing that we can do
  • is we can create, you know,
  • files dossier to constitute
  • these people as characters in themselves
  • who then can be on offers
  • to people doing creative
  • work or staging or
  • making films or whatever.
  • So it isn't just the archive, right?
  • There's like a whole circular
  • thing of what you find in the archive
  • and then to what public you can bring it
  • and then what can be done with that.
  • So it's a very rich
  • site, and I think,
  • yes, accessibility is great.
  • But I also think we have to understand
  • that there are different knowledges
  • in different places in the world