“Pessimism of the Will & Optimism of the Intellect” (Antonio Gramsci)

Rebecca Ruth Gould in Isfahan (Iran) in 2016. Photo by the author.

Hello! Welcome to this short summary of myself. I define myself as a writer, reader, translator, teacher, lover of staying up late at night, of wandering through cities and watching the stars, coffee, documentary films, medieval ruins, and poetry in languages other than my own. My reading ranges across novels (Fyodor Dostoevsky and Virginia Woolf are among my favorites), philosophy (I adore Giambattista Vico and Walter Benjamin), and poetry (I love Mahmoud Darwish and Zbigniew Herbert, among others).

Instead of trying to summarize my life, I will show some…


What you can learn from the injustice done to other writers

Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash

Having a literary agent is the dream of many writers. Countless blog posts, forums, and writers’ handbooks begin with the question: How do you get a literary agent? To these sources, it seems that all a writer needs to do is secure an agent, and every other problem, from finding a publisher to making a living as a writer, is solved.

However, there are many ways in which your relationship with a literary agent can go wrong, and end up causing more damage to your career than if you had never contracted to have that person represent you. This applies…


Peer-review will give you visibility, credibility, and funding

Jan Lievens — Portrait of Anna Maria van Schurman via Wikipedia

Many articles on Medium deal with writing for a general audience, and with getting published by the top magazines. However, there another domain of writing that is relatively neglected on this forum: peer-reviewed scholarship. Most often, peer-reviewed scholarship takes the form of journal publications, but it can also take the form of books. This article will show you how to write well in this domain.

Why write for scholarly journals

First, we should address the reasons for writing for peer-reviewed journals. Is it worth your time and energy?

The most obvious reason for publishing scholarship is if you have — or are seeking — an…


Why a forgotten genocide in the Caucasus matters today

Circassians in Istanbul, Turkey, commemorate the banishment of their ancestors from their homeland by Russia on May 21, 2011. (TRT World and Agencies)

Circassian history is known only in the broadest of outlines to regional specialists and not at all to most outside observers.

The destruction of the Shapsug, Abkhaz, Adyghe, Ubykh, and Kabardian peoples — collectively called Circassian and resident for millennia on the north shore of the Black Sea — did not occur in a single historical moment. Nor was it ever wholly complete. The annihilation transpired over generations, and traversed the vast territories of the Russian and Ottoman empires during their most expansive phases.

Given its multi-ethnic character and transregional geography, the task of narrating what Walter Richmond, in his…


The untold story of Chechen non-violence

Photo by Andreas Brunn on Unsplash

When the Boston bombing trial dominated the media, its perpetrators, the Tsarnaev brothers, were associated with a geography scarcely known by Americans: Chechnya. If there was any examination in Chechnya’s history, rarely did it go beyond this: the bombers hailed from a Republic whose leader, Dudaev, had briefly made a bid for independence in 1992, the upshot of which was a catastrophic twenty-year-long war that decimated the local population.


The long-term income potential of your writing depends on it

Photo by Vish K on Unsplash

As someone who has recently been immersed in several contract negotiations for my books, I want to share here some of what I have learned. Although these guidelines are intended primarily for book authors, they apply broadly to any kind of rights to your work. I have included a few tips for selling the rights to your articles as well. They are based on my experience as a published author, translator, and editor of over ten books (some of which are currently in production). Learn from my mistakes!

Negotiate and contract with the words “all” and “exclusive”

In my first book contract (with Yale University Press) I was so…


From the vantage point of the peoples colonized by Russian rule

Imam Shamil by Denier via Wikimedia (public domain)

High in the mountains running along the border between Azerbaijan and Georgia, in the garrison town of Zaqatala, former outpost of the famed Imam Shamil who in the mid-nineteenth century led the longest resistance to Russian rule, I meet an elderly woman crossing the street.

“Come inside and drink some tea with me,” she said. “I have lived in this town all my life,” she explains. “I have pictures to show you. I will tell you the history of everything.”


My journey through the Caucasus and its literatures

Ingush man gives drinks to his fellow Ingush at a protest via Batenka.ru

Across the annals of travel literature past and present, the Caucasus is known for the premium local inhabitants place on hospitality. It was not, however, a desire to conform to stereotypes that led a young student at Grozny University by the name of Timur to give me, in the summer of 2004, a gift I never asked for or expected and to place me in a debt it has taken over a decade to discharge.

It was my first trip to the Caucasus. The second Russo-Chechen war (1999–2009) had only just begun to yield to an unstable peace. Russian conscripts…

Rebecca Ruth Gould

Poetry, politics, authors’ rights. The Caucasus, Iran, Palestine, Islam. Professor Islamic World & Comparative Literatures. https://rrgould.hcommons.org

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