What Graduate Students Are Reading

Daniel Martini is reading "Does Beauty Build Adapted Minds? Toward an Evolutionary Theory of Aesthetics, Fiction and the Arts" by John Tooby and Leda Cosmides (2001), which can be found in De Gruyter's Handbook of Empirical Literary Studies (2021).
This piece informs Daniel's dissertation on the affordances of literature, specifically the means by which texts communicate through non-semantic stylistic features like parallelisms. 

Naz Keynejad is reading Persian poet Nur ad-Din Abd ar-Rahman Jami's "Yusuf and Zulaikha" (15th century CE).

The story of Yusuf and Zulaikha appears in Jami’s Haft Awrang (Persian: هفت اورنگ‎, meaning "Seven Thrones"). According to the story, Yusuf’s arresting beauty captures the hearts of all of the women he encounters. Zulaikha, unable to quell her thoughts of Yusuf, attempts to seduce him, but he rejects her advances until they meet again and marry many years later. 


Iman Salty is reading Troubling Vision: Performance, Visuality, and Blackness by Nicole R. Fleetwood. 

Troubling Vision examines the constructed visual narratives of Black culture as it has been created and perpetuated by American media. Using critical race theory, media studies, feminist theory, and performance theory, this book exposes how the production and circulation of Black visualities have resulted in troubling conceptions of coded and performative methods for visualizing Black subjects in the public sphere.


Surojit Kayal is reading The Marvelous Clouds by John Durham Peters.

In The Marvelous Clouds, the author argues that though we often think of media as environments, the reverse is just as true—environments are media. Drawing from ideas implicit in media philosophy, Peters argues that media are more than carriers of messages: they are the very infrastructures combining nature and culture that allow human life to thrive.  


Mary Okin is reading Hollywood Flatlands: Animation, Critical Theory, and the Avant-Garde by Esther Leslie.

With ruminations on drawing, colour and caricature, on the political meaning of fairy-tales, talking animals and human beings as machines, the book brings to light the links between animation, avant-garde art and modernist criticism, and Leslie reveals how the animation of commodities can be studied as a journey into modernity in cinema. 


Richard Nedjat-Haiem is reading Broadcasting Change: Arabic Media as a Catalyst for Liberalism by Joseph Baude.

Amid civil war, failing states, and terrorism, Arab liberals are growing in numbers and influence. Advocating a culture of equity, tolerance, good governance, and the rule of law, they work through some of the region’s largest media outlets to spread their ideals within the culture. This book analyzes this trend by portraying the intersection of media and politics in two Arab countries with seismic impact on the region and beyond. 


James Nichols is reading Exorcismos de la memoria: Políticas y poéticas de la melancolía en la España de la transición by Alberto Medina Dominguez. 

Through an interdisciplinary approach in which the analysis of philosophical, filmic, literary and political texts coexist, the book deals with a reading hypothesis of the period in which the lines of demarcation between the aesthetic and the political are blurred.


Ursula Friedman is reading The Red Brush: Writing Women of Imperial China, edited by Wilt L. Idema and Beata Grant.

Because of the burgeoning interest in the study of both premodern and modern women in China, this anthology offers a glimpse of women's writings not only in poetry but in other genres as well, including essays and letters, drama, religious writing, and narrative fiction.

Rachel Feldman is reading Suddenly in the Depths of the Forest (Hebrew: פתאום בעומק היער: אגדה‎) by Amos Oz. 

A dark, yet gen­tle, "fable for all ages" about silence, tolerance, and the role of language, orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished in Hebrew in 2005. The narrative is based in a mysterious town without animals or birds. Legend tells that they have been spirited away by the Pied Piper figure of Nehi, the mountain demon. Two children set out into the forest to find out more. 

GCLR Event Proposal 

As we begin working to fill our calendar for the upcoming academic year, students and faculty, please submit your event suggestions for the GCLR by completing this form. All submissions will be reviewed by the GCLR board.

All of the talks from the New Approaches to Art in the German Democratic Republic series, organized by Sven Spieker (UCSB) and Matteo Bertele (Ca' Foscari University of Venice) can now be viewed here. 

On May 19, 2023, the GCLR hosted a workshop focused on translation as a technique for cultural production. The presenters were interested in the relationship between translation and media such as literary writing (in print and manuscript), film, photography, and computers, and the way these and other media technologies underwrite different ways of addressing the question of what it means to translate. Presenters included: Patrice Petro, Juan Pablo Lupi, Jody Enders, Anna Schewelew, Susan Hwang, James McNamara, Giancarlo Tursi, Naoki Yamamoto. Here is a picture from the event. 

A reminder that the GCLR offers recruitment fellowships to help affiliated departments recruit the best graduate applicants. The fellowships are $3000 each and are competitive. Please send the student’s CV and a cover letter to the GCLR Director ( to apply. The deadline for applications is March 20.

The application process for the Harvard Institute of World Literature is now open. UCSB graduate students whose application is successful attend free of charge. This year’s HIWL will happen at Harvard from July 5 to 27, 2023. 
For more information, please click here. If you are interested in applying through the GCLR you can find more information about the process on the GCLR website. The first step is to send the GCLR Director a letter that they intend to apply by January 18, 2023.

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