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The Life of the Mind in the Digital Age: An Interview with John Rodden

Interviewee: John Rodden has taught at the University of Virginia, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Pennsylvania, among other institutions, and is currently an independent scholar and freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. He began his career with the groundbreaking The Politics of Literary Reputation: The Making and Claiming of ‘St. George’ Orwell (1989), and during the next twenty-five yearspublished several more highly regarded monographs and collections of essays on Orwell and his literary afterlife. He has, however, also written extensively on a wide range of literary, cultural, and sociopolitical subjects, including English and American literature, reputation studies, modern intellectual history, Utopian literature and thought, the literary interview, and education in Europe and the USA.  Recent work includes The Cambridge Introduction to George Orwell (co-authored with John Rossi, 2012), Between Self and Society: Inner Worlds and Outer Limits in the British Psychological Novel (2016), and Of G-Men and Eggheads: The FBI and the New York Intellectuals (2017).  His The Intellectual Species: Evolution or Extinction?, which is forthcoming next year, represents both a perceptive study in intellectual history and an unusual personal memoir.  

Interviewer: Henk Vynckier is an Associate Professor in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at Tunghai University in Taichung, Taiwan.  His interests in research include the literary legacy of Sir Robert Hart and the Chinese Maritime Customs Service; George Orwell; collecting as a literary theme and cultural practice; and Orientalism.  He co-edited, with John Rodden, “Orienting Orwell: Asian and Global Perspectives on George Orwell” (special issue of Concentric: Literary and Cultural Studies, March 2014) and his articles and essays have appeared in History of European Ideas, CLC Web: Comparative Literature and Culture, The Wenshan Review, and Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, as well as the edited collections Sinographies: Writing China (2008), George Orwell: Critical Insights (2013), and George Orwell Now! (2015).  He is currently conducting a Jean Monnet Project on “George Orwell and the Idea of Europe” with funding from the Education, Audiovisual, and Culture Executive Agency of the EU.