The Professor’s Bookshelf: Dr. Matthew Mullins

This series at Between the Times highlights Southeastern faculty members as they share about books which they are enjoying now, books which have shaped them personally, and books they consistently recommend to others.

This week, we interview Dr. Matthew Mullins.

Dr. Mullins is Assistant Professor of English and History of Ideas at the College of Southeastern and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

What are some books you are reading right now?

  • Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen
  • Liturgy of the Ordinary – Tish Harrison Warren
  • Public Things – Bonnie Honig
  • What Was African American Literature? – Kenneth W. Warren

What are some of the books which have had the largest impact on your life, thinking, or teaching?

  • Reassembling the Social – Bruno Latour
  • Uses of Literature – Rita Felski
  • The New Jim Crow – Michelle Alexander
  • Desiring the Kingdom – James K. A. Smith
  • Playing in the Dark – Toni Morrison
  • The essays of David Foster Wallace

What are some of your favorite works of fiction?

  • The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead
  • Infinite Jest – David Foster Wallace
  • Gilead – Marilynne Robinson
  • Kindred – Octavia Butler
  • Mao II – Don DeLillo
  • Ceremony – Leslie Marmon Silko
  • Anything by Percival Everett

Are there any books which you re-read on a regular basis and why?

I reread the work of Terry Eagleton often because he’s one of the most lucid writers of academic prose around. I have reread Teju Cole’s novel Open City a few times as I often do with texts I teach, but there’s something about that book that especially lends itself to rereading. I reread poetry more than anything else because it’s like listening to your favorite songs over again. Most recently, I’ve reread:

  • The Self Unstable – Elisa Gabbert
  • Glitter Bomb – Aaron Belz

What is one book which you would recommend to a church member and why?

Every churchgoer should read more fiction! You might start with Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead and then read its companion novels, Home and Lila. These three novels overlap in terms of the times and characters they imagine, but they differ in terms of their perspectives. As an exercise in regarding the experiences of others, I don’t think you could do much better.

What is one book which you would recommend to a seminary student to read beyond what they might encounter in class and why?

  • A People’s History of the United States – Howard Zinn.

It’s always good to test the historical narratives on which our worldviews are based, and few books rattle familiar narratives about U.S. history as ferociously as Zinn’s.

Postmodernism in Pieces: Materializing the Social in U.S. Fiction

Dr. Matthew Mullins has a new work coming out: Postmodernism in Pieces:  Materializing the Social in U.S. Fiction.


Image Source: Oxford University Press

Postmodernism in Pieces performs a postmortem on what is perhaps the most contested paradigm in literary studies. In the wake of a critical consensus proclaiming its death, Matthew Mullins breaks postmodernism down into its most fundamental orthodoxies and reassembles it piece by piece in light of recent theoretical developments in Actor-Network-Theory, object-oriented philosophy, new materialism, and posthumanism. In the last two decades postmodernism has collapsed under the weight of the very phenomena it set out to deconstruct: language, whiteness, masculinity, class, the academy. Recasting these categories as social constructs has done little to alleviate their material effects. Through detailed analyses of everyday objects in novels by Leslie Marmon Silko, Toni Morrison, Jonathan Lethem, John Barth, David Foster Wallace, Don DeLillo, and Julia Alvarez, Mullins argues that what makes fiction postmodern is its refusal to accept “social” explanations for problems facing a given culture, and its tendency instead to examine everyday things and people as constituent pieces of larger networks. The result is a new story of postmodernism, one that reimagines postmodernism as a starting point for a new mode of literary history rather than a finish line for modernity.

Dr. Mullins is Assistant Professor of English and History of Ideas at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and The College at Southeastern.

Kingdom Diversity Podcast: Matthew Mullins

In this episode of the Kingdom Diversity Podcast, Dr. Matthew Mullins and Walter Strickland discuss identifying cultural blind spots and bias with the help of literature.

To listen to this episode you can use the player below, or you can click here to subscribe to the Kingdom Diversity Podcast.