About the Moderators

Italo Calvino: Cosmicomics

Robert Pogue Harrison is the acclaimed author of Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition (2008), The Dominion of the Dead (2003), Forests: The Shadow of Civilization (1992), and The Body of Beatrice (1988). The newest, Juvenescence: A Cultural History of Our Age will be published by the University of Chicago Press in December. Stanford’s Rosina Pierotti Professor in Italian Literature also hosts the popular and cerebral radio talk show, Entitled Opinions, available on iTunes. He contributes regularly to the New York Review of Books. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was recently named Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, one of the highest cultural honors France offers.

Tobias Wolff’s books include the memoirs This Boy’s Life and In Pharaoh’s ArmyMemories of the Lost War;  the short novel The Barracks Thief; the novel Old School, and four collections of short stories, In the Garden of the North American Martyrs, Back in the World, The Night in Question, and, most recently, Our Story Begins: New and Selected Stories. He has also edited several anthologies, among them Best American Short Stories 1994A Doctor’s Visit: The Short Stories of Anton Chekhov, and The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories. His work is translated widely and has received numerous awards, including the PEN/Faulkner Award, The Los Angeles Times Book Prize, both the PEN/Malamud and the Rea Award for Excellence in the Short Story, the Story Prize, and the Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is the Ward W. and Priscilla B. Woods Professor of English at Stanford.

Cynthia Haven has written for The Times Literary Supplement, The Virginia Quarterly Review, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, World Literature Today, and other publications. Her work has also appeared in Le Monde, La Repubblica, The Kenyon Review, Quarterly Conversation, The Georgia Review, Civilization, and others. She has been a Milena Jesenská Journalism Fellow with the Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen in Vienna. Peter Dale in Conversation with Cynthia Haven was published in London, 2005. Her Czestaw Mitosz: Conversations was published in 2006; Joseph Brodsky: Conversations in 2003; An Invisible Rope: Portraits of Czestaw Mitosz was published in 2011. She is currently a visiting scholar at Stanford, writing a book on the life of René Girard.

Marguerite Duras: The Lover

Blakey Vermeule is the author of Why Do We Care About Literary Characters? (2009) and The Party of Humanity: Writing Moral Psychology in Eighteenth-Century Britain (2000), both from The Johns Hopkins University Press. She is currently writing a book about what mind science has discovered about the unconscious. Her research interests are neuroaesthetics, cognitive and evolutionary approaches to art, philosophy and literature,  British literature from 1660-1820, post-Colonial fiction, satire, and the history of the novel.

Paula Moya directs the Program in Modern Thought and Literature at Stanford. Her teaching and research focuses on twentieth-century and early twenty-first century literary studies, feminist theory, critical and narrative theories, American cultural studies, interdisciplinary approaches to race and ethnicity. She is the author of Learning From Experience: Minority Identities, Multicultural Struggles (UC Press 2002) and has co-edited three collections of original essays.

Stephen Seligman is clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco. He is also Joint Editor-in-Chief for Psychoanalytic Dialogues: International Journal of Relational Perspectives. He is a training and supervising analyst for the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis & Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California.

 

Philip Roth: The Ghost Writer

Tobias Wolff’s books include the memoirs This Boy’s Life and In Pharaoh’s ArmyMemories of the Lost War;  the short novel The Barracks Thief; the novel Old School, and four collections of short stories, In the Garden of the North American Martyrs, Back in the World, The Night in Question, and, most recently, Our Story Begins: New and Selected Stories. He has also edited several anthologies, among them Best American Short Stories 1994A Doctor’s Visit: The Short Stories of Anton Chekhov, and The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories. His work is translated widely and has received numerous awards, including the PEN/Faulkner Award, The Los Angeles Times Book Prize, both the PEN/Malamud and the Rea Award for Excellence in the Short Story, the Story Prize, and the Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is the Ward W. and Priscilla B. Woods Professor of English at Stanford.

Michael Chabon has been called one of the most celebrated writers of his generation. His books include The Mysteries of Pittsburgh (1988), Wonder Boys (1995), and two short-story collections. In 2000, Chabon published The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, a critically acclaimed novel that received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2001. His novel The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, an alternate history mystery novel, was published in 2007 to enthusiastic reviews and won the Hugo, Sidewise, Nebula and Ignotus awards; his serialized novel Gentlemen of the Road appeared in book form in the fall of the same year. Chabon’s most recent novel, Telegraph Avenue, published in 2012 and billed as a twenty-first century Middlemarch, concerns the tangled lives of two families in the Bay Area of San Francisco in the year 2004.

Ayelet Waldman is a novelist, a controversial essayist, and a former criminal defense  attorney. She is the author of seven mystery novels in the series The Mommy-Track Mysteries, including Nursery Crimes (2000), The Big Nap (2001), Playdate With Death (2002), Death Gets a Time-Out (2003), Murder Plays House (2004), The Cradle Robbers (2005), and Bye-Bye, Black Sheep (2006). She has published three other novels, Daughter’s Keeper (2003), Love and Other Impossible Pursuits (2006) and Red Hook Road (2010), as well as a collection of personal essays entitled Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace (2009).  Don Roos directed a film based on Love and Other Impossible Pursuits, starring Natalie Portman, Lisa Kudrow and Scott Cohen. The film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in 2009.

 

J.R. Ackerley:  My Father and Myself 

Terry Castle specializes in the history of the novel, especially the works of Defoe, Richardson, Fielding, and Austen.  But she has taught a wide variety of other subjects too:  the literature of the First World War, British modernism, Virginia Woolf, Radclyffe Hall, and other twentieth-century women writers, psychoanalytic theory, literature and opera, and gay and lesbian writing. She has written seven books: Clarissa’s Ciphers: Meaning and Disruption in Richardson’s ‘Clarissa’ (1982); Masquerade and Civilization: The Carnivalesque in Eighteenth-Century English Culture and Fiction (1986); The Apparitional Lesbian: Female Homosexuality and Modern Culture (1993); The Female Thermometer: Eighteenth-Century Culture and the Invention of the Uncanny (1995), Noel Coward and Radclyffe Hall: Kindred Spirits (1996); Boss Ladies, Watch Out! Essays on Women, Sex, and Writing (2002);  Courage, Mon Amie (2002), and The Professor: A Sentimental Education (2010). She is the editor of a prize-winning anthology, The Literature of Lesbianism: A Historical Anthology from Ariosto to Stonewall (2003).  Several of her essays have likewise won individual prizes – including the William Riley Parker Prize awarded annually by the Modern Language Association for the best critical essay of the year.  In 1995 her book The Female Thermometer was a finalist for the PEN Spielvogel-Diamondstein Award for the Art of the Essay.  Her latest book, The Professor, has likewise been named as a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.  She writes regularly for the London Review of Books, New Republic, Atlantic, Slate, and other magazines and journals.

Jeffrey Fraenkel is president of Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco. Since founding the gallery in 1979, Fraenkel has presented more than 300 exhibitions and published more than forty books focusing on photography from its inception to the present. The gallery represents the estates of Diane Arbus, Ralph Eugene Meatyard, and Garry Winogrand, and works with contemporary artists as diverse as Robert Adams, Lee Friedlander, Katy Grannan, Christian Marclay, and Hiroshi Sugimoto. Fraenkel considers himself “a civilian reader with a 96-to-4 fiction-to-non-fiction ratio,” and reads books made only of ink and paper.

Adrian Daub studies the intersection of literature, music and philosophy in the 19th century. His first book, “Zwillingshafte Gebärden”: Zur kulturellen Wahrnehmung des vierhändigen Klavierspiels im neunzehnten Jahrhundert  (2009) traces four-hand piano playing as both a cultural practice and a motif in literature, art and philosophy. His second book Uncivil Unions – The Metaphysics of Marriage in German Idealism and Romanticism  (2012), explored German philosophical theories of marriage from Kant to Nietzsche. More recently, Tristan’s Shadow – Sexuality and the Total Work of Art (2013) deals with eroticism in German opera after Wagner. He’s currently working on a book that  trace the fate of the dynasty in the age of the nuclear family.

ANITA LOOS:  Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Hilton Obenzinger writes fiction, poetry, history and criticism. He has most recently published the autobiographical novel Busy Dying. His other books include a*hole, an experimental novel of children, art, and the cosmos; Running Through Fire: How I Survived the Holocaust by Zosia Goldberg as told to Hilton Obenzinger, an oral history of his aunt’s ordeal during the war; American Palestine: Melville, Twain and the Holy Land Mania, a literary and historical study of America’s fascination with the Holy Land; Cannibal Eliot and the Lost Histories of San Francisco, a novel of invented documents that recounts the history of San Francisco from the Spanish conquest to the 1906 earthquake and fire; New York on Fire, a history of the fires of New York in verse, selected by the Village Voice as one of the best books of the year and nominated by the Bay Area Book Reviewer’s Association for its award in poetry; This Passover Or The Next I Will Never Be in Jerusalem, which received the American Book Award of the Before Columbus Foundation. He has also contributed articles to journals and edited collections on Mark Twain, Herman Melville, American travel to the Holy Land/Palestine/Israel, and other literary and cultural topics. Born in 1947 in Brooklyn, raised in Queens, and graduating Columbia University in 1969, he has taught on the Yurok Indian Reservation, operated a community printing press in San Francisco’s Mission District, co-edited a publication devoted to Middle East peace, worked as a commercial writer and instructional designer. He received his doctorate in the Modern Thought and Literature Program at Stanford University in 1997. He is Associate Director for Honors and Advanced Writing, the Hume Writing Center.

Mark McGurl‘s scholarly work centers on the relation of literature to social, educational and other institutions from the late 19th century to the present. He is the author of The Program Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing (Harvard), which was the recipient of the Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism for 2011.

McGurl’s previous book was The Novel Art: Elevations of American Fiction after Henry James (Princeton). He has also published articles in journals such as Critical Inquiry, Representations, American Literary History, and New Literary History. He teaches a range of classes on American literature and related topics.

McGurl received his BA from Harvard, then worked at the New York Times and the New York Review of Books before earning his PhD in comparative literature from Johns Hopkins. He has held fellowships from Office of the President of the University of California and the Stanford Humanities Center.

Claire Jarvis studies Victorian literature with emphasis on the novel and theories of sexuality.  Her current project is titled Making Scenes: Supersensual Masochism and Victorian Literature, and examines the relationship between masochism and companionate marriage in novels by Emily Brontë, Anthony Trollope, and Thomas Hardy, and in representations of Queen Victoria.

Her other research interests include sensation fiction, New Woman novels, the long Victorian poem, nineteenth-century material culture, Henry James and Barbara Pym.

JANET LEWIS:  The Return of Martin Guerre

Kenneth Fields’ collections of poetry are The Other Walker, Sunbelly, Smoke, The Odysseus Manuscripts, and Anemographia: A Treatise on the Wind. He has completed the manuscripts of two other collections: Classic Rough News and Music from Another Room. His current projects are a novel, Father of Mercies, and a collection of essays on Mina Loy, H.D., Yvor Winters, Janet Lewis, J.V. Cunningham, Anne Bradstreet, Emily Dickinson, Ben Jonson, Wallace Stevens, Jorge Luis Borges, Henri Coulette, and others. Fields teaches the Advanced Poetry Writing Workshop for the Stanford Writing Fellows. He is developing a two-part course in American film, Men in the Movies: Film Noir and the Western. He delivered the Russel B. Nye Lecture at Michigan State University’s American Studies Program: “There Stands the Glass: Voices of Alcohol in Country Music.”

Eavan Boland is Irish. She has been writer in residence at Trinity College and University College Dublin. She was poet in residence at the National Maternity Hospital during its 1994 Centenary. She has also been the Hurst Professor at Washington University and Regent’s Lecturer at the University of California at Santa Barbara. She is on the board of the Irish Arts Council and a member of the Irish Academy of Letters. She is on the advisory board of the International Writers Center at Washington University. She has published ten volumes of poetry, the most recent being New Collected Poems (2008) and Domestic Violence (2007) and An Origin Like Water: Collected Poems 1967-87 (1996) with W.W. Norton. She has received the Lannan Award for Poetry and an American Ireland Fund Literary Award. She has published a volume of prose called Object Lessons: The Life of the Woman and the Poet in Our Time.

Tobias Wolff’s books include the memoirs This Boy’s Life and In Pharaoh’s Army: Memories of the Lost War;  the short novel The Barracks Thief; the novel Old School, and four collections of short stories, In the Garden of the North American Martyrs, Back in the World, The Night in Question, and, most recently, Our Story Begins: New and Selected Stories. He has also edited several anthologies, among them Best American Short Stories 1994, A Doctor’s Visit: The Short Stories of Anton Chekhov, and The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories. His work is translated widely and has received numerous awards, including the PEN/Faulkner Award, The Los Angeles Times Book Prize, both the PEN/Malamud and the Rea Award for Excellence in the Short Story, the Story Prize, and the Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is the Ward W. and Priscilla B. Woods Professor of English at Stanford.