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A new podcast from UK based independent publisher Comma Press, specialising in the short story and literature in translation. Series Two: Futures, brings listeners 6 discussions around future-set fiction, including sci-fi, speculative fiction and future-looking literary fiction. This series takes in a number of recent and bestselling Comma titles, with episodes featuring authors, translators, editors and academics in conversation about the influence of genre, and how science-fiction and writ ...
 
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Raj Balkaran's 200th podcast episode: Christa Kuberry interviews him on his beautifully written new book The Stories Behind the Poses: The Indian Mythology That Inspired 50 Yoga Postures (Leaping Hare, 2022), and highlighting their significance for practice. Raj Balkaran is a scholar, online educator, and life coach. For information see rajbalkaran…
 
Adrienne Mayor is renowned for exploring the borders of history, science, archaeology, anthropology, and popular knowledge to find historical realities and scientific insights--glimmering, long-buried nuggets of truth--embedded in myth, legends, and folklore. Combing through ancient texts and obscure sources, she has spent decades prospecting for i…
 
The Dragon Daughter and Other Lin Lan Fairy Tales (Princeton University Press, 2022) by Dr. Juwen Zhang brings together forty-two magical Chinese tales, most appearing for the first time in English. These stories have been carefully selected from more than a thousand originally published in the early twentieth century under the pseudonyms Lin Lan a…
 
In this rebroadcast, John and Brandeis neuroscientist Gina Turrigiano (an occasional host and perennial friend of Recall this Book) speak with Madeline Miller, author of the critically acclaimed bestseller Circe. Elizabeth Ferry is Professor of Anthropology at Brandeis University. Email: ferry@brandeis.edu. John Plotz is Barbara Mandel Professor of…
 
Elizabeth and John talk about fantasy's power of world-making with Edinburgh professor Anna Vaninskaya, author of William Morris and the Idea of Community: Romance, History and Propaganda, 1880-1914 ( 2010) and Fantasies of Time and Death: Dunsany, Eddison, Tolkien ( 2020). Anna uncovers the melancholy sense of displacement and loss running through…
 
Once viewed as an embarrassing superstition, the theatrical religious performances of Korean shamans--who communicate with the dead, divine the future, and become possessed--are going mainstream. Attitudes toward Korean shamanism are changing as shamanic traditions appear in staged rituals, museums, films, and television programs, as well as on the…
 
Deirdre Ní Chonghaile is a writer, musician, broadcaster, and curator from the Aran Islands. Working bilingually in Irish and English, she is drawn to voices, contemporary and historical, especially those that have been marginalized, and to what they have to say or sing. She read Music at St. Hilda's College, Oxford, and worked at the University of…
 
The superhero of comic books and blockbuster movies may be a quintessentially American invention, forever saving the world in skin-tight spandex. But the cultural DNA of the superhero can arguably be traced to a much older, more progressive, British tradition: the larger-than-life folk heroes of historical protests – General Ludd, Captain Swing, La…
 
Stephanie Khattak speaks with Dr. Linda Legarde Grover, an award-winning author whose latest book interweaves family and Ojibwe history with stories from Misaabekong (the place of the giants) on Lake Superior in Duluth, Minnesota: Gichigami Hearts: Stories and Histories from Misaabekong (U Minnesota Press, 2021) Dr. Grover is an Anishinaabe novelis…
 
With The Handbook for Folklore and Ethnomusicology Fieldwork (Indiana University Press, 2019), Lisa Gilman and John Fenn offer a comprehensive review of the ethnographic process for developing a project, implementing the plan, and completing and preserving the data collected. Throughout, readers will find a detailed methodology for conducting diffe…
 
In The Fairy Tellers: A Journey into the Secret History of Fairy Tales (John Murray, 2022), Nick Jubber unearths the lives of the dreamers who made our most beloved fairy tales: inventors, thieves, rebels and forgotten geniuses who gave us classic tales such as 'Cinderella', 'Hansel and Gretel', 'Beauty and the Beast' and 'Baba Yaga'. From the Midd…
 
Spanning myth, history, and contemporary culture, a terrifying and illuminating excavation of the meaning of cannibalism. Every culture has monsters that eat us, and every culture repels in horror when we eat ourselves. From Grendel to medieval Scottish cannibal Sawney Bean, and from the Ghuls of ancient Persia to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, tales…
 
In Folk Literati, Contested Tradition, and Heritage in Contemporary China: Incense Is Kept Burning (Indiana UP, 2020), Ziying You explores the role of the "folk literati" in negotiating, defining, and maintaining local cultural heritage. Expanding on the idea of the elite literati―a widely studied pre-modern Chinese social group, influential in cul…
 
The Nuosu people, who were once overlords of vast tracts of farmland and forest in the uplands of southern Sichuan and neighboring provinces, are the largest division of the Yi ethnic group in southwest China. Their creation epic plots the origins of the cosmos, the sky and earth, and the living beings of land and water. This translation is a rare …
 
Ghastly Tales from the Yotsuya Kaidan (Chisokudo, 2020) is a newly revised and corrected translation of what is perhaps the most famous and oft told tales of horror in Japan. The legend of Iwa and her curse blurs the lines between fact and fiction as it spins its terrifying tale of ghostly vengeance. For nearly three hundred years in the repertoire…
 
Most of us think we know the story of Bambi—but do we? The Original Bambi: The Story of a Life in the Forest (Princeton UP, 2022) is an all-new, illustrated translation of a literary classic that presents the story as it was meant to be told. For decades, readers’ images of Bambi have been shaped by the 1942 Walt Disney film—an idealized look at a …
 
This volume explores a core medieval myth, the tale of an Arthurian knight called Wigalois, and the ways it connects the Yiddish-speaking Jews and the German-speaking non-Jews of the Holy Roman Empire. The German Wigalois / Viduvilt adaptations grow from a multistage process: a German text adapted into Yiddish adapted into German, creating adaptati…
 
There is something about a shapeshifter—a person who can transform into an animal—that captures our imagination; that causes us to want to howl at the moon, or flit through the night like a bat. Werewolves, vampires, demons, and other weird creatures appeal to our animal nature, our “dark side,” our desire to break free of the bonds of society and …
 
Alluring, nurturing, dangerous, and vulnerable, the yamamba, or Japanese mountain witch, has intrigued audiences for centuries. What is it about the fusion of mountains with the solitary old woman that produces such an enigmatic figure? And why does she still call to us in this modern, scientific era? Co-editors Rebecca Copeland and Linda C. Ehrlic…
 
From A New Hope to The Rise of Skywalker and beyond, this book offers the first complete assessment and philosophical exploration of the Star Wars universe. Lucasfilm: Filmmaking, Philosophy, and the Star Wars Universe (Bloomsbury, 2021) examines the ways in which these iconic films were shaped by global cultural mythologies and world cinema, as we…
 
Stephanie Khattak speaks with Carole Ann King, who, along with Mary Elizabeth “Sunshine” Johnson Huff, wrote Alabama Quilts: Wilderness Through World War II, 1682-1950 (UP of Mississippi, 2020). Alabama Quilts is a look at quilts of the state from before Alabama was part of the Mississippi Territory through the Second World War—a period of 268 year…
 
Raj Balkaran speaks with Wendy Doniger about her new book Winged Stallions and Wicked Mares: Horses in Indian Myth and History (University of Virginia Press, 2021), along with her translation of the final four books of the Mahābhārata's Critical Edition translation project, the power of the purāṇas, cultural appropriation, and more! Raj Balkaran is…
 
Rakugo, a popular form of comic storytelling, has played a major role in Japanese culture and society. Developed during the Edo (1600–1868) and Meiji (1868–1912) periods, it is still popular today, with many contemporary Japanese comedians having originally trained as rakugo artists. Rakugo is divided into two distinct strands, the Tokyo tradition …
 
Liang Luo's book The Global White Snake (U Michigan Press, 2021) examines the Chinese White Snake legends and their extensive, multidirectional travels within Asia and across the globe. Such travels across linguistic and cultural boundaries have generated distinctive traditions as the White Snake has been reinvented in the Chinese, Japanese, Korean…
 
Paula Richman and Rustom Bharucha's book Performing the Ramayana Tradition: Enactments, Interpretations, and Arguments (Oxford UP, 2021) examines diverse retellings of the Ramayana narrative as interpreted and embodied through a spectrum of performances. Unlike previous publications, this book is neither a monograph on a single performance traditio…
 
It is a familiar story: A recipient of public assistance funds is caught buying expensive steaks, seafood, or other luxury foods with food stamps at the grocery store. Or they wear designer clothes and drive extravagant cars, belying the need for government assistance. Or they game the system in order to buy drugs or alcohol. Or they continue to be…
 
Pan plays a central role in European mythology, originating as a figure who represented all that was impossible to tame in the world, something anyone who has ever worked with goats will understand. This primitive origin was slowly assimilated by the Greeks as a celebration of life and vitality, although through Plato’s radical dualism and the mora…
 
Until now, the herbal traditions of the Ashkenazi people have remained unexplored and shrouded in mystery. Ashkenazi Herbalism: Rediscovering the Herbal Traditions of Eastern European Jews (North Atlantic Books, 2021) rediscovers the forgotten legacy of the Jewish medicinal plant healers who thrived in Eastern Europe’s Pale of Settlement, from thei…
 
Children’s folklore is simultaneously a conservator of tradition and a site for creativity and innovation. For over five decades, Dr. Jeanne Pitre Soileau documented and collected the jokes, chants, rhymes, and games that that she observed on school playgrounds throughout her career as a public school teacher in southern Louisiana. From the early d…
 
If China’s Mao era is seen by many as a time of great upheaval and chaos, there are also people and places for whom things appear quite different. Writing from one such place in A Time of Lost Gods: Mediumship, Madness, and the Ghost after Mao (U California Press, 2020), Emily Ng foregrounds the perspective of a rural population in Henan province w…
 
What insights on the human experience can we find in ancient Indian mythology? Join us as we speak to Dr. Brian Collins (Associate Professor, Chair Department of Classics and Religious Studies, Ohio University) about his work on Paraśu-Rāma, the brahmin who decapitates his own mother and annihilates 21 generations of the warriors. You can also list…
 
Plato and the Mythic Tradition in Political Thought (Harvard UP, 2020) is an ambitious reinterpretation and defense of Plato’s basic enterprise and influence, arguing that the power of his myths was central to the founding of philosophical rationalism. Plato’s use of myths—the Myth of Metals, the Myth of Er—sits uneasily with his canonical reputati…
 
He's the destroyer of evil, the pervasive one in whom all things lie. He is brilliant, terrifying, wild and beneficent. He is both an ascetic and a householder, both a yogi and a guru. He encompasses the masculine and the feminine, the powerful and the graceful, the Tandava and the Laasya, the darkness and the light, the divine and the human. What …
 
At a time when we are all confronted by not one, but many crossroads in our modern lives—identity, technology, trust, politics, and a global pandemic—celebrated mythologist and wilderness guide Martin Shaw delivers Smoke Hole: Looking to the Wild in the Time of the Spyglass (Chelsea Green, 2021): three metaphors to help us understand our world, one…
 
Balut is a fertilized chicken or duck egg that is boiled at the seventeenth day and sold as a common street snack in the Philippines. While it is widely eaten in the Filipino community, balut is frequently used in eating “challenges” on American reality TV shows. At seventeen days, the balut egg already contains a partially developed embryo, and th…
 
Breaking box office records, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has achieved an unparalleled level of success with fans across the world, raising the films to a higher level of narrative: myth. Michael D. Nichols's Religion and Myth in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (McFarland, 2021) is first book to analyze the Marvel output as modern myth, comparing it…
 
This podcast features Brenda Beck’s lifelong work on the Tamil folk epic Ponnivala. In addition to her forthcoming new English translation of the epic (“Land of the Golden River”), we also discuss her 1982 study of the epic The Three Twins (now open-access), her full color graphic novel of the epic (available in Tamil and English), and her 13-hour …
 
In Salvage Poetics: Post-Holocaust American Jewish Folk Ethnographies (Wayne State University Press, 2020), Sheila Jelen explores how American Jewish post-Holocaust writers, scholars, and editors adapted pre-Holocaust works, such as Yiddish fiction and documentary photography, for popular consumption by American Jews in the post-Holocaust decades. …
 
Folklorist Robert L. Stone presents a rare collection of high-quality documentary photos of the sacred steel guitar musical tradition and the community that supports it. The introductory text and extended photo captions in Can’t Nobody Do Me Like Jesus! Photographs from the Sacred Steel Community (University of Mississippi Press, 2020) offer the re…
 
On January 21, 2017, the day after Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration, hundreds of cities in the U.S. and across the globe organized Women’s Marches in response to Trump’s misogynistic comments and as a general rebuke of his election. In this collection edited by Dr. Rachelle (Riki) Saltzman, established and emerging scholars contribute essay…
 
Today I talked with Jack Zipes about a life in Folklore Studies, about some of his many publications, and about publishing fairy tales. Jack Zipes is Professor Emeritus of German at the University of Minnesota and has previously held professorships at New York University, the University of Munich, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of …
 
The town of Pinhook in Missouri was founded in the 1940s by southern Black farmers who were looking for land that they could purchase and own in the face of limited options. It was low land that was often flooded, but the farmers were able to clear it and successfully farm it for decades to come while building up a small town. However, in 2011, aft…
 
Michael Slouber's new book A Garland of Forgotten Goddesses: Tales of the Feminine Divine from India and Beyond (University of California Press, 2020) surveys the diversity of India's feminine divine tradition by bringing together a fresh array of captivating and largely overlooked Hindu goddess narratives from different regions. As the first such …
 
A quinceañera is a traditional fifteenth birthday celebration for young women (though in contemporary times, it can also be for young men) in many Latinx communities. While the celebration has roots in religiosity, it has also become a space for imagining and performing class, identity, and Americanity. With fieldwork conducted in California, Texas…
 
Public Performances: Studies in the Carnivalesque and Ritualesque (University Press of Colorado) offers a deep and wide-ranging exploration of relationships among genres of public performance and of the underlying political motivations they share. Illustrating the connections among three themes—the political, the carnivalesque, and the ritualesque—…
 
The fifth episode of Series 2 of the Comma Press Podcast, which this series is on the theme of FUTURES.In this episode, host and Comma Press Publisher Ra Page is in conversation with acclaimed author M. John Harrison, writer and filmmaker Adam Scovell and writers and critics Andy Hedgecock and Jennifer Hodgson.Recorded remotely via Zoom due to the …
 
The moorlands of Gascony are often considered one of the most dramatic examples of top-down rural modernization in nineteenth-century Europe. From an area of open moors, they were transformed in one generation into the largest man-made forest in Europe. Body and Tradition in Nineteenth-Century France: Félix Arnaudin and the Moorlands of Gascony, 18…
 
The fourth episode of Series 2 of the Comma Press Podcast, which this series is on the theme of FUTURES.In this episode, guest host and co-editor of the Europa28 anthology, Sophie Hughes, is in conversation with contributors Kapka Kassabova and Janne Teller about Comma's recent anthology, Europa28: Writing by Women on the Future of Europe, a Hay Fe…
 
The third episode of Series 2 of the Comma Press Podcast, which this series is on the theme of FUTURES.In this episode, Comma Publisher Ra Page is in conversation with contributors and academics about Comma's best-selling anthology, Palestine + 100: Stories from a century after the Nakba, the first ever collection of science fiction from Palestine.…
 
What does it mean to be a Brahmin, and what could it mean to become one? The ancient Indian mythological figure Viśvāmitra accomplishes just this, transforming himself from a king into a Brahmin by cultivation of ascetic power. The book, Crossing the Lines of Caste, examines legends of the irascible Viśvāmitra as occurring in Sanskrit and vernacula…
 
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