Today we asked Karl Kroeber of Columbia University, “What are you working on?”
I am "working" (as you know when classes are in session and the department is hiring, there is little productive personal intellectual labor) on two projects. A contrast of visual and verbal narrative, focused on nineteenth-century novels and twentieth-century films, with significant emphasis falling on what I consider romantic novels by Jane Austen and Emily Bronte. The second project is a study of "children's literature," the roots of which I identify with Blake and Wordsworth, whom I associate with Hans Christian Anderson and later Kipling, in a line running through Tolkien and T. H. White and Richard Adams into Phillip Pullman. This line is distinguished by its antagonism to the overwhelming bulk of "children's literature" that increasingly appeals to and reinforces a commodified imagining, a Disneyfied perversion of imagining encouraged by all commercial movies and TV directed at children.