(About) Me

Art OpeningI.

A graduate student in the English department at the University of California, Berkeley, I am the father of three brilliant and beautiful children- Estrella Maria, age 12; Ephraim John, age 9; and Seva James, age 5

I currently reside in Oakland, CA, with a Buddhist, a Bread-Baker, and a Bartender.

My email is joshuaanderson@berkeley.edu.


I enjoy visiting art museums and then writing about it on my Instagram.

I enjoy writing poetry, which I currently self-publish under the moniker #JAA.

I enjoy slowly cobbling together an overly ambitious rough draft of my first novel.

I enjoy teaching literature, and have lead discussion sections as a graduate student instructor in

  • 20th century American and British literatures,
  • race & ethnicity in American film, and worked as a reader for classes on
  • children’s literature,
  • Chicana/o & Latina/o literature of migration and immigration, and
  • The Victorian Period.


My interests are in contemporary and historical modes of reading/ criticising/ theorizing literature, with a specific emphasis in hermeneutics, aesthetics/ politics, and genre. My interest in literature has never been dominated by a desire to take up this or that historical or literary object or category, or even to take up a specific mode of reading literature, but in the ways in which literature or texts create a specific set of conditions around which the big questions of epistemology (method, hermeneutics, genre, etc.) and ethics (politics and aesthetics*) orbit.  

My interest in hermeneutics is piqued by our contemporary ‘post-theory’ landscape symptomized by the emergent assertions of surface reading, among other things. My interest in aesthetics is similarly rooted in the opposition between the apprehension of the beautiful and the problematics of politics, both culturally and concerning modes of reading. My interest in genre stems from my interest in the aesthetic insofar as it has to do with how we apprehend the world, and the connection between that seeing and the ways in which we make the world.

These interests currently manifest themselves in my research on children’s literature, itself an object of interest in part because of my conception of it as being (something like) groupable under the auspices of fantastic literature, which is the term I deploy over and above the term(s) “science-” or “speculative fiction,” which is itself an offshoot of my interest in critiquing our contemporary conception of genre as a way of seeing and making the world.

At the end of the day my method can be described as something like (new?) formalist concept work: it begins with the structures and concepts in and of the texts themselves and works to build working assemblages from them in an attempt to articulate formal analogs: ways in which the text is working that can then be applied, or “mapped onto,” situations “in the world.” A non-academic example of how I’ve tried to do this can be found in my essay on Science Fiction and Black Lives Matter for the Los Angeles Review of Books last December.

Other examples can be found in my academic case work:

Last summer I subjected the famed 20th century children’s book writer Margaret Wise Brown’s classic book “Goodnight Moon” to something like a “Too-Close Reading” at the annual Children’s Literature Association conference in Richmond, Virginia. My reading utilizes concepts that I feel the text itself suggests, even if their assemblage seems counterintuitive or paradoxical. In it I take up as both tools and objects of inquiry Roland Barthes’ mythological signification, Melanie Klein’s unconscious phantasy, and Gilles Deleuze’s virtuality, toward what amounts to something like an intertextual heuristic of Lacanian desire. All of this is made possible, I argue, by the uncanny nature of the text.

This summer I will be performing a similar reading/ inquiry on another Margaret Wise Brown text, Little Fur Family. Thinking about the concept of animation as a viable metaphor for a hermeneutics that emphasises duration (via Deleuze on Nietzsche), this paper will continue to articulate both signification and the uncanny by taking up a nested series of furred beings through which seemingly redundant layers of signification seem to make claims about both the signified and difference, or multiplicity.


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