The Museum of Craven Life

SKU: 978-1-61468-872-3
Qty in Stock: 10


This dreamlike but sharply observed tour of ten museums – real and imagined – deploys a range of poetic styles and images to explore the ways humanity looks at itself. What does a wide-eyed child notice at natural history museum? What does a White tourist see and hear at a museum of Black history and culture? How hard is it to tell the difference between a thriving marriage and a collapsing one? Why do people curate themselves out of living fully as themselves?

“From farming to automata, through snapshots and formal experiments, Robert Watson’s The Museum of Craven Life curates an uncanny and wonderful journey through misgivings, marriage, and the horror-adjacent ephemera of museum exhibitions. It’s a rich ‘mix of glory, craft / and play,’ laced with care and Jonsonian attention to human folly. ‘Come with me,’ Watson invites us. Wander a world ‘not quite disenchanted.’ Prepare to be astonished.”  —Kate Bolton Bonnici, author of Night Burial (winner of the 2020 Colorado Prize for Poetry), and the new, widely lauded A True & Just Record.

Robert N. Watson is Distinguished Professor of English at UCLA, mainly teaching Shakespeare and 17th century poetry. His poems have appeared in the New Yorker, Oxford Poetry, Prairie Schooner, Ariel, and dozens of other print and online journals. His books include the ecocritical Back to Nature: The Green and the Real in the Late Renaissance, winner of multiple awards; the interdisciplinary Cultural Evolution and its Discontents: Cognitive Overload, Parasitic Cultures, and the Humanistic Cure; The Rest is Silence: Death as Annihilation in the English Renaissance; Ben Jonson's Parodic Strategy: Literary Imperialism in the Comedies; Shakespeare and the Hazards of Ambition; and the film-studies book Throne of Blood, as well as multiple editions of Early Modern drama. He especially loves his family, his dogs, music, playing pick-up soccer, and teaching. For more information, see

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