Our Spring 2018 catalogs recently arrived, and we are excited to announce three interactive scholarly works to be published in the upcoming season. They are, in order of publication:
Samuel Liebhaber, When Melodies Gather
The Mahra people of the southern Arabian Peninsula have no written language but instead possess a rich oral tradition. Samuel Liebhaber takes readers on a tour through their poetry, collected by the author in audio and video recordings over the course of several years.
Based on this material, Liebhaber developed a systemic approach to Mahri poetry that challenges genre-based categorizations of oral poetry from the Arabian Peninsula. By taking into account all Mahri poetic expressions—the majority of which don’t belong to any of the known genres of Arabian poetry—Liebhaber creates a blueprint for understanding how oral poetry is conceived and composed by native practitioners. Each poem is embedded in a conceptual framework that highlights formal similarities between them and recapitulates how Mahri poets craft poems and how their audiences are primed to receive them.
The web-based medium allows users not only to delve into the classification system to explore the diversity and complexity of the Mahra’s poetic expressions, but also to experience the formation of a poem in the moment. Through a series of questions designed to define the social context in which a poem is being created, the reader is taken on an experiential tour through the corpus that highlights the embeddedness of poetry in the Mahras’ everyday practices.
Samuel Liebhaber is Associate Professor of Arabic at Middlebury College.
Thomas S. Mullaney, The Chinese Deathscape
In the past decade alone, ten million corpses have been exhumed and reburied across the Chinese landscape. The campaign has transformed China’s graveyards into sites of acute personal, social, political, and economic contestation.
Led by volume editor Thomas S. Mullaney, three historians of the Chinese world analyze the phenomenon of grave relocation via essays that move from the local to the global. Starting with an exploration of the phenomenon of “baby towers” in the Lower Yangzi region of late imperial China (Jeffrey Snyder-Reinke), and moving to an overview of the histories of death in the city of Shanghai (Christian Henriot), the final essay takes a broader view to discuss the history of grave relocation and its implications for our understanding of modern China overall (Thomas S. Mullaney).
Built on a bespoke spatial analysis platform, each essay takes on a different aspect of burial practices in China over the past two centuries. Rounding off the historical analyses, platform creator David McClure speaks to new reading methodologies emerging from a format in which text and map move in lockstep to advance the argument.
Thomas S. Mullaney is Associate Professor of Chinese History at Stanford University.
Alisa Lebow, Filming Revolution
Filming Revolution investigates documentary and independent filmmaking in Egypt since the Egyptian Revolution began in 2011. It brings together the collective wisdom and creative strategies of thirty filmmakers, artists, activists, and archivists who share their thoughts and experiences of filmmaking in those heady times. Rather than merely building an archive of video interviews, Alisa Lebow constructs a collaborative project, joining her interviewees in conversation to investigate questions about the evolving forms of political filmmaking.
The interviews can be explored via their connections to each other, across parameters such as themes, projects, or people. Each constellation of material allows users to engage in a curated conversation that creates a dialogue between filmmakers operating in the same space but who may not necessarily know of each other’s work or ideas. Topics highlighted range from the role of activism in filming to the limits of representation or the impact of practical considerations of production and distribution.
The innovative constellatory design of Filming Revolution makes an aesthetic commentary about the experience of the revolution, its fragmented development, and its shifting meanings, thereby advancing arguments about political documentary via both content and form, simultaneously re-imagining formats of political documentary and scholarly communication.
Alisa Lebow is Reader in Film Studies at Sussex University.
Check back in the spring for more information on each of these publications.