Podcast Preview: The Closet in the Library

The Editors of the forthcoming Broadview Anthology of British Literature, Volume 5, 3rd Edition

This week’s podcast episode is four people talking about the subject they love most. Books, of course. But also: why do we read certain books and not others? All too often, the answer is: the books we have easiest access to were written by straight (or straight-presenting), white, male Christians… and others… were not. Enter: Jason Rudy and Kate Flint to discuss the phenomenon we call “The Closet in the Library,” in which certain books are hidden from view, despite their obvious merit, simply because the author or the subject is objectionable on racist, misogynist, or homophobic grounds.

Editor Jason Rudy is especially interested in highlighting “how this new edition helps broaden Victorian studies for the undergraduate classroom — by significantly deepening our selections from outside the UK and by non-white authors… That was one of our main goals for the edition, and I’m proud of the work the whole team did on that front.”

Editor Kate Flint makes note of the fact that this episode is airing during Pride month, and tells Andrew and Adam: “definitely we’ll want to talk about sexuality/queerness/etc., and how our selections allow people to put together classes – even courses – on these issues.” The phrase Professor Flint uses, “decolonizing syllabi,” may sound obtuse at first, but all four do their best to make its meaning clear throughout this interview.


As you psych yourself up to listen to the interview, and inevitably put thirty-nine more books on your already-dangerously-teetering “must read” pile, here are Professor Jason Rudy’s answers to the new ITBR pre-interview questionnaire:

1.What are you listening to, reading, watching?
I just read Tara June Winch’s novel The Yield (2019). Amazing! I also recommend Awaye and Frontier War Stories, two podcasts on Indigenous Australian history, culture, and politics. 

2.Do you like to cook? What is your favorite thing to make?
I cook all the time. Homemade pastas, breads, and anything Ottolenghi. I love Charlie Trotter’s cookbooks, too. 

3.What is something you have read and loved, and wish more people would read?
I think everyone should read Carpentaria (2006) by Alexis Wright. It speaks to Indigenous Australian culture and politics, situated in the present climate disaster, with a style something like magic realism. It’s epic and gorgeous and powerful.

4.Did you grow up with video- or computer-games? What were/are some of your favorites?
I remember playing the original Legend of Zelda, and a game called “Fraction Fever” (to which I owe some of my love for math). 

5.You’re taking a sick-day from work. What movie are you putting on.
I’d probably be rewatching episodes of Endeavour. I’m a big Shawn Evans fan. 

6.What’s your favorite excuse for why you have writer’s block?
I’m mostly just distracted or busy with other things! Once I sit down to write, I can usually get something on the page. But it often seems like a major accomplishment to push everything else aside and make the time for writing. 

7.What’s a book everyone says you should read, but you either read it and hated it, or haven’t read it.
I’m not a fan of Our Mutual Friend! I should probably go back and try again, but I couldn’t stand it the first time. 


So what are we in the Boiler Room reading/watching this weekend?

Andrew is reading Lev Raphael’s Dancing on Tisha B’Av in preparation for having him on the podcast in a few weeks. Erika has talked the book up so much, about how much this story impacted her queer Jewish identity, and Andrew is excited to feel a similar resonance. So now Erika also needs to get her hands on the book, which is good because, with Tisha B’Av less than a month away, we could all stand to brush up on our dancing skills. (If you knew that Tisha B’Av is the most solemn day of mourning in the Jewish calendar, you are probably chuckling appreciatively right now; if not…)

Andrew is also catching up on the Queer as Folk reunion, hosted by Stars in the House, on YouTube. This TV show deeply resonated with Andrew after he came out. When he was entering college, he would watch Justin and Brian’s storyline again and again and again. Oh, how empowering it was for a recently out Andrew!

If that isn’t enough, the Dreamgirls In Concert album is on repeat in Andrew’s apartment this week.

Adam has been at loose ends in his reading. The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton is great, but it’s not good bedtime reading. Shit, Actually by Lindy West is amazingly hilarious but again, cackling like a hyena is not necessarily the goal of late-night-reading. Surprisingly, Terry Pratchett’s Mort, as funny as it is, is a good balance. Nothing new to report on the listening front. More Bach, more Beethoven, more Hannah Gadsby. Bach’s Mass in B Minor turns out to be a great piece to write to. The Netherlands Bach Society has been the go-to version, but this recording by l’Ensemble Pygmalion is nothing to sneeze at either (unless Bach gives you upper-respiratory allergies).

Erika’s read/listen/watch includes Dar Williams. She’s been listening a lot to “When I was a Boy” and “As Cool as I Am,” as well as Ani DiFranco and Indigo Girls. She has also been watching a lot of knitting videos on YouTube,looking for the right fancy cast on/bind off for a scarf. And some analysis about queer vampire tropes. And some videos from ex-Mormons. Erika also wants to finally get around to the new Tales of the City, which she hasn’t watched yet. As for reading, she is trying to get herself a copy of Let the Record Show, Sarah Schulman’s book about ACT-UP, and is also thinking of picking up LC Rosen’s Camp using some bookstore gift cards from her birthday. In slightly more exciting news: “I’m poking around some erotica titles, because I have this stupid sex scene in a story that I have been staring at for months and haven’t been able to write, so I may go digging through how other people have written things to see what I want to do.”

Finally, we come to Mary, who declined to give her recommendations this week.

Shock! Why?

Because they are all spoilers for Tuesday’s True Crime in Academia column.

Really? All of them?, we hear you cry.

Yes, dear reader. All of them.

But she did consent to give the following clues:

What can it all mean?


Happy reading, listening, and mixed dancing everyone!

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