28 RTB Books in Dark Times 5: Seeta Chaganti (JP)

Seeta Chaganti, medievalist extraordinaire (Strange Footing and The Medieval Poetics of the Reliquary) joins John to discuss–wait for it–data visualization in the work of W. E. B. Du Bois, philosopher, visionary and scholar. They go on to discuss past traditions that merge text and image in ways that foreshadow modern visualization practices, and close with beloved books that take readers “back of the tapestry” to reveal what everyday front-of-tapestry life keeps decorously hidden.

Seeta teaches at UC Davis (as a bantam owner, John has chicken envy)

Mentioned in this conversation:

University of California Spring 2020 graduate student strike

W. E. B. Du Bois’s Data Portraits (c. 1900; images from the book interspersed below…)

A brief informative biography of Du Bois as academic, writer, activist.

Souls of Black Folk” (1903)

Chaucer “Troilus and Crysede” (c. 1385)

Leo Tolstoy, “Anna Karenina” (1878)

C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Edith Wharton “House of Mirth” (1905; “Lily had an odd sense of being behind the social tapestry, on the side where the threads were knotted and the loose ends hung.”)

Edith Wharton “Ethan Frome” (1911)

Martin Scorcese’s version (1993) of Edith Wharton’s “The Age of Innocence” (1920)

Jane Campion’s 1996 version of Henry James’s Portrait of a Lady (1880-1)

Sergei Eisenstein on montage

Lynda Nead, “The Haunted Gallery” (2008)

The University of California Does Not Exist” (on the non-neutrality of digital instruction formats)

Darrell Huff, “How to Lie with Statistics” (1954; cf also Cathy O’Neill, “Weapons of Math Destruction“)

Listen to the episode here:

Read the Transcript here:

Upcoming: We continue our Books in Dark Times series with SF great Kim Stanley Robinson. And in an RTB first, we hope to feature a conversation with a medical ethicist who has proposed a new way to think about a controversial topic in the search for vaccines: “challenge testing.”

Author: plotznik

I teach English (mainly the novel and Victorian literature) at Brandeis University, and live in Brookline.

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