11. The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X (as told to Alex Haley) emerges from a specific time and place and yet, despite feeling very much of that moment, still resonates with issues that American culture is dealing with today—and is still a powerfully written book. Chris and Suzanne discuss its historical context, the formal questions of autobiography, writing to be read by wildly different audiences, conversion narratives, and what Malcolm X might have made of today’s America.

Show Notes.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X. (Weirdly, there doesn’t seem to be an audiobook?!)

Alex Haley’s Playboy interview with Malcolm X, which led to the book.

50 Years Later, The Autobiography of Malcolm X Is Still a Must-Read.

Solving for X: Malcolm X and White Readers, an article which is at times incisive, at times problematic.

The Explosive Chapter Left Out of Malcolm X’s Autobiography (with images of the co-edited manuscript).

A recent exhibit of the unpublished chapters: Only After the Deepest Darkness: The “Lost” Chapter & Manuscript of The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

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10b. Bonus: Peter Coviello on Leaves of Grass.

Another bonus episode! This time we’re joined by Peter Coviello, professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Peter studies nineteenth-century American literature, the history of sexuality, and queer studies—so it will be no surprise that he has thought a lot about Walt Whitman. His most recent academic book is Tomorrow’s Parties: Sex and the Untimely in Nineteenth-Century America, which was a finalist for the Lambda Award in LGBT Studies. We talk with Peter about nineteenth-century taxonomies of sexuality, Whitman’s caring for wounded soldiers in the Civil War, his understanding of nationalism and the American project, how he does and does not fit into his era, and the singular delights of his poetry.

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10. Leaves of Grass.

Full of life now, compact, visible,
I, forty years old the eighty-third year of The States,
To one a century hence, or any number of centuries hence,
To you yet unborn these, seeking you.

When you read these I that was visible am become invisible,
Now it is you, compact, visible, realizing my poems, seeking me,
Fancying how happy you were if I could be with you and become your comrade;
Be it as if I were with you. (Be not too certain but I am now with you.)

(“Full of Life Now”)

It’s Walt Whitman’s 200th birthday today! Suzanne and Chris are celebrating by rereading Leaves of Grass, the book of poetry that Whitman kept writing, revising, and expanding throughout his life. With its ecstatic rhythms, its vigorous celebration of the body and of freedom, and its dreams of collectivity through diversity, Whitman’s poetry can be compelling, even overwhelming. And even when the book doesn’t quite live up to our hopes and dreams, it offers a path beyond itself.

Show Notes.

Leaves of Grass. Also available for free on Project Gutenberg and, as an audiobook, on Librivox.

The Walt Whitman Archive also contains the complete text(s).

Some curious details about the first printing of Leaves of Grass.

The most famous section of Christopher Smart’s “Jubilate Agno”.

Walt Whitman reading “America”.

(Though there is some controversy about the authenticity of the recording.)

Mark Twain wrote on “The Whitman Controversy” (about Whitman’s alleged obscenity).

When Wilde Met Whitman.

Whitman Noir.

Some of the poems we quote:

Responses to Whitman:

Paul Hindemith set a requiem with When Lilacs Last in the Door-Yard Bloom’d.

Mark Doty reads Song of Myself (and more).

Next episode: The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

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9b. Bonus: Sarah Chamberlain on Frankenstein.

A bonus to our episode on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. We are joined by Sarah Chamberlain, one of the hosts of fellow Megaphonic podcast A Part Of Our Scare-itage. Sarah is deeply familiar with the world of horror movies, and Frankenstein is her favourite book—so we were excited to talk with her about a few of the many, many, many, many film adaptations that have been made. What gets changed, what gets added, and what audiences are addressed in these films? Also, what kind of horror is appropriate for children?

Show Notes.

Sarah’s podcast on Canadian horror films, A Part Our Our Scare-itage.

Richard Brinsley Peake: Presumption; or, the Fate of Frankenstein.

Frankenstein [1910].

Frankenstein [1931].

The Bride of Frankenstein [1935].

Penny Dreadful [2014–2016].

Young Frankenstein [1974].

Frankenweenie [2012].

The Terminator [1984].

Terminator 2: Judgment Day [1991].

That last film Sarah mentions.

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9. Frankenstein.

It was on a dreary night of November, that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils. With an anxiety that almost amounted to agony, I collected the instruments of life around me, that I might infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that lay at my feet. It was already one in the morning; the rain pattered dismally against the panes, and my candle was nearly burnt out, when, by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs. (38)

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a story that seems familiar to everyone—even people who haven’t read the novel (or seen any of the movie adaptations). But the novel fleshes out the story that everyone is familiar with (a scientist creates a creature out of dead parts, releasing a force of havoc and destruction upon the world) in a number of intriguing ways. Suzanne and Chris discuss how the novel tackles creation, parenting, corporeality, nature, and death—as well as how thoroughly it is connected to Paradise Lost, and why it has inspired so many adaptations.

Show Notes.

We read the original 1818 text of Frankenstein. It‘s also available on Project Gutenberg or as a free audiobook on Librivox.

The New Annotated Frankenstein.

Frankenstein: Annotated for Scientists, Engineers, and Creators of All Kinds.

The Strange and Twisted Life of Frankenstein, which includes some information about racialized imaginings of the creature.

The Science of Life and Death in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Next time: Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass. Also on Gutenberg and Librivox.

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