We Tell Stories that Reinforce Power: God, Royalty, and Professionals in Popular Culture

Borgen

The stories in our culture reinforce the power structure of society. And western culture has become so globally dominant that it’s big enough to contain any story of rebellion against authority (emphasis on contain) without itself being threatened. Anyone want to buy an Occupy T-shirt? Even protest can be commercialized. True story: I met someone starting college with a desire to work in forensics and asked why and they said their favorite TV show had been CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. And that became their path to the professional class. That investment of time, money, and work will reinforce a certain kind of power structure. And so what? What modern culture has a different class structure? They might be speaking a different language, but do they support a different use of power? Continue reading

Women in Translation in the U.S. and Only One of Us Is Sleeping

Josefine Klougart

Waiting for Josefine Klougart in the bookstore, I overheard a man talking about Three Percent and searched online, finding the journal dedicated to literary work in translation. By the number that gives the publication its name, only 3% of books published in the U.S. are works in translation—but that is all books, the majority are nonfiction—the number is around 0.7% for literary fiction or poetry in translation.

Of that 0.7%, the books by women are at most half, let’s estimate—rounding down, in this case, 0.3% of all of the fiction and poetry books in translation published in the United States are written by women. Using another international lens, look at how many women have won the Nobel Prize for Literature, from 1901 to 2016, over the course of one hundred and fifteen years, only fourteen women have been awarded the prize, the other 99 (with a few years skipped for World War II) were men. Continue reading