Performing the Literary Interview (Hardcover)

How Writers Craft Their Public Selves

By John Rodden

University of Nebraska Press, 9780803239395, 261pp.

Publication Date: June 1, 2001

Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (9/1/2007)

List Price: 24.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


When authors are interviewed about their books or themselves, much more is going on than a simple conversation. The interview becomes a performance space for authorial orchestration and self-promotion, and interviewers in turn respond to such self-display and theatrics.
Featuring absorbing conversations with nine well-known authors, including poets Richard Howard and Gerald Stern, novelist Isabel Allende, and scholar-intellectual Camille Paglia, Performing the Literary Interview is the first in-depth look at this type of performance art. Interviews with poets, fiction writers, and intellectuals enable John Rodden to identify a range of rhetorical strategies and their effects and to formulate a typology for appreciating the various roles that interviewers and interviewees assume. Traditionalists foreground their work rather than themselves, raconteurs are storytellers who skillfully spin anecdotes and creatively showcase their personalities, and advertisers more explicitly use the literary interview to promote and sell themselves. This pioneering, persuasive study stakes a claim to a new area of scholarly inquiry in the humanities. The literary interview can no longer be considered only as a voyeuristic window on an author, or a celebrity vehicle, or even an entertaining diversion, but should also be approached as a serious genre meriting scholarly attention and analysis.

About the Author

John Rodden is the author of six books, including Lionel Trilling and the Critics: Opposing Selves (Nebraska 1999).

Praise For Performing the Literary Interview: How Writers Craft Their Public Selves

"John Rodden takes the art of the literary interview to a new level of achievement in this book."—James Arnt Aune, The Pennsylvania State University

— James Arnt Aune

"Makes a claim for the author interview as a literary genre of its own. This successful study provides well-crafted models in support of its thesis."—Library Journal

— Library Journal

"Here is a strong and timely book, rich in implication for all who study the complex culture we inhabit. Anyone interested in our current intellectual trajectory should quickly open these covers."—Michael Levenson, University of Virginia

— Michael Levenson

"Performing the Literary Interview makes a major contribution to understanding an increasingly popular genre of public discourse. This book deserves a wide readership."—James van Oosting, Seton Hall University

— James van Oosting