Aaron Kunin, "Character as Form" (Bloomsbury, 2019)


Today’s guest is Aaron Kunin, Professor of English at Pomona College. We will discuss two books Aaron published in 2019: the first is Character as Form (Bloomsbury), a re-examination of the early modern understanding of “character” as stereotype, generalization, and convention. In Character as Form, Aaron braids together close readings of furniture in Christopher Marlowe’s Tamburlaine, a reflection on the concept of negative anthropology from Raul Ruiz’s Three Lives and Only One Death, and insight into formalism and anti-formalist views of fictive personhood.

The second we discuss is Love Three: A Study of a Poem by George Herbert (Wave Books), a “reading diary” that takes a seventeenth-century poem as a springboard for a meditation on love, sexual experience, and power. Herbert’s poem is a fraught dialogue between a speaker and Love, which is unfolded to touch on the politics of eating, the allure of rhetorical power, and the nature of crowds.

Aaron’s research focuses on English Renaissance literature. In addition to his scholarship, he is the author of five books, including Cold Genius: A Book of Poems (2014), The Mandarin (2008), and Folding Ruler Star: Poems (2005), all from Fence Books.

John Yargo is Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Boston College. He earned a PhD in English literature from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, specializing in the environmental humanities and early modern culture. In 2023, his dissertation won the J. Leeds Barroll Prize, given by the Shakespeare Association of America. His peer-reviewed articles have been published or are forthcoming in the Journal for Early Modern Culture Studies, Early Theatre, Studies in Philology, and Shakespeare Studies.

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John Yargo

John Yargo is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Environmental Humanities at Boston College. He holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His specializations are early modern literature, the environmental humanities, and critical race studies. His dissertation explores early modern representations of environmental catastrophe, including William Shakespeare's The Tempest, Aphra Behn's Oroonoko, and John Milton's Paradise Lost. He has published in Early Theatre, Studies in Philology, The Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, and Shakespeare Studies.

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