Complit Collage 

Podcast hosts in studio.Nano and Anwita at the CXC Studio

Complit Collage is a brand-new initiative taken by the LSU Program in Comparative Literature. It comprises of a series of Podcasts, where the contents are entirely scripted, edited and researched by the graduate students of the program and can be accessed by the public free of all costs.

The topics addressed in these audio series are wide ranging — including but not limited to art, music, culture, politics and of course literature!

We would encourage all students who are a part of the program to send in topics and suggestions for future podcasts.

Anybody who wants to participate in Complit Collage may contact Anwita Ray (aray24@lsu.edu) for further information.

Introduction to Comparative Woman

Cover of Comparative Woman

Cover of Comparative Woman 1st Issue

Right before the launching of Comparative Woman, the journal of Comparative Literature, Nano and Anwita engages in an informal conversation with Liz, the present editor-in-chief of the journal, to ask her about the first issue and the intended readers for the journal.

Listen to the podcast on Soundcloud:

soundcloud.com/user-862930061/podcast-1


Transcript of Podcast 1:

[00:00:07] Hello everyone. Welcome to Complit Collage. [00:00:10][2.9]

Anwita: [00:00:11] I'm Anwita, with my co presenter Nano

Nano: And we are PhD students in Comparative Literature at Louisiana State University. Today we will like to begin by introducing you to the first issue of our departmental journal-Comparative Woman. [00:00:29][18.6]

Anwita: [00:00:30] This podcast is very special not only because it is the first episode of our podcast, but also because we interviewed Liz in her office—a week before the first issue of Comparative Woman was released. Liz is the editor in chief of Comparative Woman. So, here’s presenting to you the full interview with Liz. Hope you really enjoy it! [00:00:55][24.5]

Liz: Hi!

Anwita: Hi Liz!

Anwita: [00:00:58] I would like everybody to know that Liz is also a PhD student like us and she has worked very hard to finally bring out this journal. [00:01:06][8.1] Or, I think it is still in the process of being published?

Liz: Yes

Anwita: And now we are going to talk to Liz about her ideas, challenges and her journey through conceiving the idea of publishing the Journal to eventually giving shape to it. [00:01:24][17.1]

[00:01:24] Liz welcome to our podcast. And congratulations for your journal.

Liz: Thank you. I'm so honored to be here. [00:01:32][7.2]

Anwita:[00:01:33] The honor is ours.

Nano: Okay…hello. Let us know how you decided to name this journal as you name it. [00:01:45][12.4]

Liz: [00:01:46] I…I wish I had a deep back story about how how in my childhood this title had meaning and this is used in here but it is not. [00:01:55][9.2]

[00:01:57] I wanted to create a journal that really talked about topics I felt like weren’t getting this space to be talked about. [00:02:07][10.0]

[00:02:08] I know with us being in comparative literature we tend to want to venture out of the traditional Eurocentric—mainly American and English literature which is so when you look at the Western canon it's so male dominated, so white male dominated and I wanted to have a space where we start talking more in depth about literature and all other types of art created by so many other brilliant people who just aren't really getting that recognition, be it, People of color or LGBTQ people or women, in the States but also across the world. In calling it Comparative Woman I was thinking a lot about bridging the gap between Comparative Literature and bringing in Women and Gender Studies and I feel like maybe Comparative Woman in a way is a bit of a misnomer because it's not just about women. [00:03:19][28.8]

Anwita: [00:03:19] Yeah.

Liz: It’s so much…

Anwita: It shouldn’t be misleading…

Liz: It's misleading in a way. Because it's it's definitely not just about women it's about more than just women

Anwita: It’s gender as a whole…

Liz: It's gender as well. But we're sticking with the title. Yeah it's open to not just women and especially not just cis women not just cis gendered women. It's open to all these wide range of topics in its essence comparative literature is about bringing in all these other things comparing contrasting having this wide ranged view and not just sticking to like oh I'm going to be stuck in this one language in this one viewpoint and this one disciplinary discipline. [00:04:14][46.2] And so that's really what it's supposed to embody in itself. [00:04:20][3.3]

[00:04:21] The main goal and mission of this journal is to bring together art and academia and put artists and academics in conversation with each other and bridge that gap between them because I feel like there is a gap which really shouldn't exist because there are so many artists who are academic and there's so many academics who also create art. I myself am a poet and a musician and so why should you have to choose. I'm getting a master's in English I'm getting a PhD in Comparative literature but does that mean I can't create art anymore. No. There are so many artists who are in academia and there are so many people who may not be in the traditional academic sphere who are having these very…..I don't even want to just say deep but these very insightful conversations about art and literature who have this different view who have similar views to some people who are working in academia and I think both groups which often very much so overlap have very interesting things to say and I want this to be a community where we are talking about these types of art, these creative forms that are created by a wide range of people not just you know no offense to Shakespeare but not just Shakespeare

Liz: I love Shakespeare but all these these other authors these other writers these other creatives these artists musicians out there and there's so much value in hearing from that and learning from that and just breaking that traditional idea of what it means to be an academic or what it means to be an artist and what it means to even have those conversations in the first place.

 And I think having it be specifically a digital journal that is free for everyone to access you don't have to be an LSU student to access it or to even participate in it and to expand it out to social media. So, we have our Instagram which is at Comparative Woman and our Facebook which is at Comparative Woman LSU, for everyone to kind of get on and put these insightful thoughts in. I know from the experience, being in a Comparative Literature class. And there are so many people who are of different ages, different backgrounds, from different countries, who have degrees in different things and it's so valuable because all these different perspectives are coming in and we're talking about you know all this differently…..I mean it must have been when we had our biography of Latin America. It was literature which was taught by history professor which gave a whole new insight to even talking about literature and how you view literature and how you view history and where history even comes from. But a lot of people who were in the course weren't history students who weren't into literature and people who weren't very familiar with Latin American literature.

Anwita: Like myself…

Liz: Yes I mean coming from India, like that and hearing what you had to say and how you were processing it in the way you were comparing things, that is so rich and fulfilling and I want to take that out of just our small classroom and introduce that to so many people who have other things to say and I think it's so valuable and that's that's the beauty of social media communities which is what I want to have that component of it, but to just kind of bridge all these gaps and have these conversations expand outside of the classroom because people regardless of your education, regardless of where you're from, you have so many valuable interesting things to say and I just want to foster that not just for the LSU community or the Baton Rouge and Louisiana community but also inviting other people as well. [00:08:25][126.2]

Anwita: [00:08:27] Wow. So it really means that you are trying to go against the grain with your focus on gender from all spheres and different kinds of people, with pouring their experiences and not just limiting it to the academia. [00:08:41][14.1]

Liz: Yeah

Anwita: [00:08:42] OK. So let me tell you Liz is just not the Editor-in-chief of Comparative WOman but also hosting two events which are going to be on February 8 and it is a part of Comparative Woman. So liz, can you tell us a little more about these events?

Liz: [00:09:04] OK. So, the first one is on February 8th. It's Friday. So Friday February 8th from 6:00p.m. to 9p.m. in the Women's Center on campus at LSU. It's right by the LSU bookstore and it is an open mike slash open gallery showcase. So pretty much like a traditional open mic you would have people come in at the door and they sign up for whatever time slot to perform for about seven minutes. So it's open to poets, musicians. We have someone who intends to come and do comedy like a standup like seven minutes stand up…and so just like a traditional open mike in that sense. But there's also another component which is the open gallery/open showcase so visual artists can come in setup there art and kind of have this pop up gallery. That idea came from the fact that we feature both literature and poetry and comparative women but we also feature art as well. And I think there's so many people especially in our community who may be academics who do painting or who are artists and want to participate in these conversations and who don't necessarily get the opportunities or spaces to really show or display or talk about their work and I wanted to create a space not only for networking but for conversation. For critique. For creative communities to kind of come together and talk about art and experience each other’s network and learn from each other and also give exposure to these different…how am I gonna say this…give exposure to people who are doing different things are doing interesting things that may not necessarily have the opportunity or the space to go out and do something in the more traditional sphere. I guess is how I wanted to put it.

Nano: I have a little question. Where did this idea come from?

Liz: I am someone who really..I can't just go to class and go home. I have to have something to do. And I was looking for something to do. This came out of me to keep myself sane. In undergrad I was very very active. I worked three or four on campus jobs I was involved in like three or four on campus organizations at the same time…..

Anwita: Wow. That’s a lot.

Liz: Some of them like I was in charge of or had a Vice President position or so I've always been like I need to be active. I think if anything it stresses me out more than nothing to do. Not that this isn't stressful but this is like a good stress. It is like a productive stress but I just kind of wanted something to do and I have a personal belief that when you join a university when you start in a university and even more so your program is not just about what that university can provide to you but what value you can give to the university. Not that I want to be like you know so incredibly capitalist like..what value like what is the cost!!! But I think it's important to give back to where you are attending. Like what are you doing for the people in your program? what are you doing for yourself in that program? What are you adding or contributing to the conversation..

Anwita: Because it is the students who enrich the program ultimately

Liz: They do and Professors are so crucial. we have so many amazing professors in Comparative Literature. They're so amazing and so enriching. But, I was just talking to some people earlier you know a class..even just a class..the professors are one part of the class but the students also really make the class. That shows where the conversation is going to go what are we going to talk.

Anwita: especially in Grad classes where the students lead the conversation. [00:13:27][2.4]

Liz: [00:13:28] Yeah and it shows like that really brings out where we're going to go.

Anwita: I know you already talked a lot about what kind of entries you are expecting, and what kind of entries we can expect to see in your first issue but still offer us and our listeners a sneak peek at the kind of articles that are going to feature in the first issue. [00:13:54][12.5]

[00:13:56] Yes. So. one of the issues…..yeah, I am kind of trying to like think since there's so many. So, I'm trying to make sure I get titles and names right.

Anwita: But you can just talk about what kind of……. [00:14:07][11.1]

[00:14:08] Yeah I know. Yes. So, one of the articles that really interests me was by Dr. Katherine Quinn, and there’s one about like meditator. Like how the art of drama. And how that is a meditative practices. This issue is on spirituality. So that's why we were like interpreters. Well everyone interpreted because we want those wide perspectives of what spirituality is to others. And then that conversation. And so this was a very interesting article about how this was a healing and meditative practice and she's someone who is an educator in nursing as well as a bunch of other a bunch of other disciplines and so that was really enriching to have that. We have a lot of poetry. Poetry really is like a stand up thing for this issue. Poetry is really going you know like it's really like we have more poems than anything right now for this issue. And we allow people to submit multiple injuries. So, we have some people who have published two or three poems and other people just have one short poem. There are a lot of different people like different forms of the poems, like Taylor Scott who was a student here. She did a kind of found poem. So, Found poem is when you take different lines from different pieces and you create a poem. So, I think that's a very amazing exercise in comparative literature within itself to take you know these lines from differing pieces and see how you put them together and it makes its own thing. And I'm like that is beautifully represent right. Well what we do in comparative literature and that one is called “Dark Energy” and that's going to be the next issue. We have a lot of people who were referencing authors and thinkers, so we have one poet who's talking about Jose Marti and that is a very descriptive and detailed poem. And people are making these very great arguments about how they view spirituality or the afterlife or how they view themselves their relationships not only with God but like what what is God. You know some people are talking in a traditional Abrahamic sense and other people are like ‘No, I am doing it in the other way’. One of the other authors who published a poem…she actually just finished her degree her graduate degree in Library Information Studies. And so she published a poem and she was talking about like how I see the face of God in this and this and that and then I was a very interesting poem and then you have other people talking about their relationship with past family members and how they cope with that. We have a lot of different perspectives on spirituality and some people may find things controversial some people may go “I read that and I feel this exact same thing”. And I think well both are very valuable. It is very valuable to have something where people are addressing these in different ways and different perspectives and we have people who are coming from the academia and we have people who are coming from different disciplines and we also have people who are just in the community who also submit and I also have some of my own work..

Anwita: Yeah… I was just going to ask you about that.

Liz: So with my work I actually submitted two in two different categories so the first is my poetry which I publish under my stage name Lizzie Nova. I'm talking deeply about my ancestral connection, like spirituality being experienced with those who you may not have met in your blood line they feel their presence and they impact you in your life. The people in your family who are no longer here but how somehow are ever present. And my second entry which is actually an interview with my mother which is rooted in what my thesis topic is going to be in: dream interpretation in afro diasporic communities..mainly Louisiana. I'm still still working on the title there. But my mother is a dream interpreter and I interviewed her on what is dream interpretation, and what it is like and her ability to talk to the dead through the dreams or the dreams being a representative of message and symbolism through your higher self and that's something that's always been a part of my upbringing. It was also the thing that really got me interested in literature because interpreting dreams is not very different from interpreting a text and pointing out the symbolism and what that means and that's how doing that in when I was younger and trying to figure out those messages or see the symbolism and what that means that really helped me throughout my career and got me to the doctorate level doing literature. And so that's something I carry with me that I use in my everyday life just in a slightly different way. And so, I have an interview about that with my mommy and I was so excited about that. [00:20:00][6.0]

Anwita: [00:20:00] We are too!

Nano: I have more! let's see what’ behind the scenes…behind the scenes of the journal. I know that it took quite a bit of time but tell us about the challenge that you faced. Do you think that there was a time when thought about giving up. [00:20:25][8.3]

Liz: [00:20:29] I don't want to say there was ever a point where I was like I'm going to give up because it’s just not me which can be a vice sometimes. But, from the beginning this had an amazing support. This had amazing support from from Dr. Otero. she's very excited and everyone talked about this with who she talked to which is always great to have that type of departmental support where it's not just me and like “yeah yeah whatever that sounds great” but like also being excited and and caring about it and promoting it to other people and it's just been such an amazing process because of her.

Anwita: Right. Liz, I know you talked a lot about who are going to be our target writers, readers and who are going to be the contributors……but this is going to be the last question. So could you sort of summarize in short that who are going to be your target readers, as in Who were those target readers in your mind when you first had this idea. [00:21:32][16.1]

Liz: [00:21:33] Everyone.

Anwita: That’s a good answer and I like it. [00:21:39][5.8]

Liz: [00:21:39] I think ideally that's what most people want when they start anything. Everyone…you know….everyone should be reading this all the time.

Liz: No I think I wanted to start this for the people who were really feeling I guess frustrated in those moments where you pick up a journal and your like “Oh my goodness this is the fiftieth time I've seen the same exact article by just replace the name it's the same thing”. You know you. You're looking for something, “like oh I want to read more about literature from this place” and it's like you're not seeing that, you're not seeing these translations, you're not seeing people working with that in your language. And there are people around the world and even in the states who do incredible things, who are doing very groundbreaking amazing things. And there are people who have ideas who haven't had the chance yet or the platform yet to use them. And I really wanted to give a space even if it's a tiny space. Just give a space to people who wanted to talk about gender studies especially since we're having these conversations about what is gender what is sexuality and where are we getting these concepts from. [00:23:10][23.6]

[00:23:11] What do we do. How do we view gender and sexuality and what are the multiple ways to do it and what are people talking about in multiple areas in multiple languages in multiple forms about that. How are people expressing that, how people are comparing and contrasting it. Just giving a space to something that, ‘Yes it exists’. I'm never going to say that. But putting….trying to find the best word..like putting even if it's just a little drop in the ocean of like an area to have these conversations about things they don't feel like are getting talked about or perspectives they don't feel have either been valued in the academia or now or just in general at all. And I am someone I did my minor in social media in my undergrads and I'm very interested in these groups and how they form and what social media does to community. [00:24:21][9.5]

Liz: [00:24:22] You know I think my Facebook obsession has contributed a lot to it. Like people who are having these conversations and discussions whether or not they're academics and these people are having this conversation. These conversations are impacting a lot of things all over the world in many different ways and people are expressing themselves in different ways and in different mediums about it. [00:24:45][23.0]

Anwita[00:24:45]:Right. What is mainstream and what is not.

Liz: You know, and I wanted to do something that gave us a place to express especially when it's self-expression has felt so dangerous especially over these past couple of years where diversity and differences felt very dangerous to have or bear consequences in these past couple of years and this is a way to create a safe space for that I want to contribute to that conversation which I think is ultimately what we're all doing whether we're artists or academics we're trying to contribute something in some form to a larger conversation. And I think that's really what it is all. [00:25:23][37.5]

[00:25:24] Hi again we're back to our studio after interviewing Liz and of course after going through comparative woman. I'm so excited to share all the beautiful entries in the journal. But I'd rather not spoil all the fun for you. We really hope that you liked our interview and would definitely be motivated to take a look at Comparative Woman. You can access it free of cost at digitalcommons.lsu.edu/comparativewoman. [00:25:52][27.4]

Nano: [00:25:53] OK, Anwita. this is the end of the first podcast and I am super excited to do the next one. What do you think we should talk about? [00:26:01][7.8]

[00:26:01] Mardi Gras is around the corner! Why not have something on Mardi Gras? [00:26:05][3.2]

[00:26:05] Yes, Anwita. Why not? We are in Louisiana after all. Why don't we tell everyone about these interesting Carnival--Mardi Gras that we have here? [00:26:13][8.1]

[00:26:14] That's great. Let's find out more about Mardi Gras after we walk out of our studio today. And to our listeners thank you for listening to us. See you all on the next podcast. Bye. [00:26:14][0.0]

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