Personal Limits: Sarah Chihaya, Merve Emre, and Monica Huerta

Oct 13, 2021, 5:30 pm7:00 pm
via Zoom
  • Labyrinth Books
  • Princeton Public Library
  • Humanities Council
  • Department of English
  • Lewis Center for the Arts
  • Program in American Studies
Event Description
Monica Huerta, Sarah Chiyaha, Merve Emre

Left to right: Monica Huerta, Sarah Chiyaha, Merve Emre. Photos courtesy of Monica Huerta

To launch her new book, Magical Habits, Assistant Professor of English and American Studies Monica Huerta is hosting Personal Limits, a virtual conversation series about contemporary experiments in personal writing.

Register via Crowdcast.

Magical Habits, which The New York Times called a “striking debut,” draws on Huerta’s experiences growing up in her family’s Mexican restaurants and as a scholar of literature and culture. Whether dwelling on mundane aspects of everyday life, such as the smell of old kitchen grease, or grappling with the thorny, unsatisfying question of authenticity, the book stages a dynamic conversation: personal and critical essays exist alongside a fairy tale; photographs and restaurant menus complement fictional monologues based on her family’s history. Huerta sketches out habits of living while thinking that allow us to consider what it means to peer beyond history even as we are caught up in the middle of it.

Each virtual conversation takes up a provocation from Magical Habits to think about how contemporary writers are experimenting with the personal, and what readers want from personal writing in a moment of overlapping, collective crises.

The initiating conversation is with Sarah Chihaya and Merve Emre, co-authors of The Ferrante Letters: An Experiment in Collective Criticism. Like few other works of contemporary literature, Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels found an audience of passionate and engaged readers around the world. Inspired by Ferrante’s intense depiction of female friendship and womens’ intellectual lives, four critics embarked upon a project that was both work and play: to create a series of epistolary readings of the Neapolitan Quartet that also develops new ways of reading and thinking together.

Monica Huerta is assistant professor of English and American studies at Princeton University. Her forthcoming book is The Unintended: Photography, Property, and the Aesthetics of Racial Capitalism. Sarah Chihaya is assistant professor of English at Princeton University. She is currently at work on a book titled Bibliophobia: Misreading and Being Misread, a meditation on reading practices, bad feelings, and the writing of criticism. Merve Emre is associate professor of English at the University of Oxford. Her most recent book is The Personality Brokers: The Strange History of Myers-Briggs and the Birth of Personality Testing.