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Attributed to the Harrow Painter

Nick Twemlow

Attributed to the Harrow Painter reckons with fatherhood, the violence of nostalgia, poetry, and the commodity world of visual art as the poems here frantically cycle through responses to the speaker’s son’s remark on a painting by Julian Schnabel that it “looks like garbage.” What does it mean to be a minor artist, the poems wonder, like the Greek pot painter named in the book’s title, who is described by one critic as “indeed a minor talent, not withstanding the undeniable charm of some of his works”? What structures must be destroyed to clear the way for all the “minor” voices that litter the discourse of Western civilization? This is a mangled, tattered guide to transcendence through art in an age when such a thing seems nearly impossible.

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August Wilson

Completing the Twentieth-Century Cycle

Just prior to his death in 2005, August Wilson, arguably the most important American playwright of the last quarter-century, completed an ambitious cycle of ten plays, each set in a different decade of the twentieth century. Known as the Twentieth-Century Cycle or the Pittsburgh Cycle, the plays, which portrayed the struggles of African-Americans, won two Pulitzer Prizes for Drama, a Tony Award for Best Play, and seven New York Drama Critics Circle Awards. August Wilson: Completing the Twentieth-Century Cycle is the first volume devoted to the last five plays of the cycle individually—Jitney, Seven Guitars, King Hedley II, Gem of the Ocean, and Radio Golf—and in the context of Wilson's entire body of work.

 Editor Alan Nadel's May All Your Fences Have Gates: Essays on the Drama of August Wilson, a work Henry Louis Gates called definitive, focused on the first five plays of Wilson's cycle. This new collection examines from myriad perspectives the way Wilson's final works give shape and focus to his complete dramatic opus. It contains an outstanding and diverse array of discussions from leading Wilson scholars and literary critics. Together, the essays in Nadel's two volumes give Wilson's work the breadth of analysis and understanding that this major figure of American drama merits.

 

Contributors

Herman Beavers

Yvonne Chambers

Soyica Diggs Colbert

Harry J. Elam, Jr.

Nathan Grant

David LaCroix

Barbara Lewis

Alan Nadel

Donald E. Pease

Sandra Shannon

Vivian Gist Spencer

Anthony Stewart

Steven C. Tracy

Dana Williams

Kimmika L. H. Williams-Witherspoon

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Bad Land Pastoralism in Great Plains Fiction

At the core of this nuanced book is the question that ecocritics have been debating for decades: what is the relationship between aesthetics and activism, between art and community? By using a pastoral lens to examine ten fictional narratives that chronicle the dialogue between human culture and nonhuman nature on the Great Plains, Matthew Cella explores literary treatments of a succession of abrupt cultural transitions from the Euroamerican conquest of the “Indian wilderness” in the nineteenth century to the Buffalo Commons phenomenon in the twentieth. By charting the shifting meaning of land use and biocultural change in the region, he posits this bad land—the arid West—as a crucible for the development of the human imagination.

 Each chapter deals closely with two novels that chronicle the same crisis within the Plains community. Cella highlights, for example, how Willa Cather reconciles her persistent romanticism with a growing disillusionment about the future of rural Nebraska, how Tillie Olsen and Frederick Manfred approach the tragedy of the Dust Bowl with strikingly similar visions, and how Annie Proulx and Thomas King use the return of the buffalo as the centerpiece of a revised mythology of the Plains as a palimpsest defined by layers of change and response. By illuminating these fictional quests for wholeness on the Great Plains, Cella leads us to understand the intricate interdependency of people and the places they inhabit.

 Cella uses the term “pastoralism” in its broadest sense to mean a mode of thinking that probes the relationship between nature and culture: a discourse concerned with human engagement—material and nonmaterial—with the nonhuman community. In all ten novels discussed in this book, pastoral experience—the encounter with the Beautiful—leads to a renewed understanding of the integral connection between human and nonhuman communities. Propelling this tradition of bad land pastoralism are an underlying faith in the beauty of wholeness that comes from inhabiting a continuously changing biocultural landscape and a recognition of the inevitability of change. The power of story and language to shape the direction of that change gives literary pastoralism the potential to support an alternative series of ideals based not on escape but on stewardship: community, continuity, and commitment.

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Behind the Lines

War Resistance Poetry on the American Home Front since 1941

Whether Thersites in Homer’s Iliad, Wilfred Owen in “Dulce et Decorum Est,” or Allen Ginsberg in “Wichita Vortex Sutra,” poets have long given solitary voice against the brutality of war. The hasty cancellation of the 2003 White House symposium “Poetry and the American Voice” in the face of protests by Sam Hamill and other invited guests against the coming “shock and awe” campaign in Iraq reminded us that poetry and poets still have the power to challenge the powerful.
    Behind the Lines investigates American war resistance poetry from the Second World War through the Iraq wars. Rather than simply chronicling the genre, Philip Metres argues that this poetry gets to the heart of who is authorized to speak about war and how it can be represented. As such, he explores a largely neglected area of scholarship: the poet’s relationship to dissenting political movements and the nation.
    In his elegant study, Metres examines the ways in which war resistance is registered not only in terms of its content but also at the level of the lyric. He proposes that protest poetry constitutes a subgenre that—by virtue of its preoccupation with politics, history, and trauma—probes the limits of American lyric poetry. Thus, war resistance poetry—and the role of what Shelley calls unacknowledged legislators—is a crucial, though largely unexamined, body of writing that stands at the center of dissident political movements.

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Benjamin Shambaugh and the Intellectual Foundations of Public Hisory

"This is an important book that uses the long and distinguished historical career of Benjamin Shambaugh to place public or 'applied' history into a much-needed historical context. . . . Conard's narrative and analysis provide new insights into continuing debates about the proper role of federal and state governments in collecting and writing history. . . . an important contribution to American historiography in the twentieth century."--Barbara Franco, executive director, the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. "In Benjamin Shambaugh and the Intellectual Foundations of Public History, Rebecca Conard has written a useful and intriguing book. . . . The historical profession and the people of Iowa are indebted to Rebecca Conard for this book, which explores the impressive career of Benjamin Shambaugh and sheds new light on the fundamentals of the public history movement."--Annals of Iowa ". . . an unexpectedly engaging and useful examination and analysis of the ideologies, arguments, and politics surrounding the rise of history as a professional and academic discipline from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries, especially as they were often rancorously expressed in disputes between the East and Midwest, state and national perspectives, and academic and professional practice."--The Journal of American History "Conard has provided the history profession with a layered narrative of its development and fragmentation or redevelopment over time, and has explored the meanings of its own histories."--Janelle Warren-Findley, The American Historical Review "Conard's biography is well written and interesting, and her strategies for engaging in dialog with a variety of texts produce a fresh method for defining and assessing public history."--The Journal of Heritage Stewardship Although his name is little known today outside Iowa, during the early part of the twentieth century Benjamin Shambaugh (1871 - 1940) was a key figure in the historical profession. Using his distinguished career as a lens, Conard's seminal work is the first book to consider public history as an integral part of the intellectual development of the historical profession as a whole in the United States. Conard draws upon an unpublished, mid-1940s biography by research historian Jacob Swisher to trace the forces that shaped Shambaugh's early years, his administration of the State Historical Society of Iowa, his development of applied history and commonwealth history in the 1910s and 1920s, and the transformations in his thinking and career during the 1930s. Framing this intriguingly interwoven narrative are chapters that contextualize Shambaugh's professional development within the development of the historical profession as a whole in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and assess his career within the post-World War II emergence of the modern public history movement. Shambaugh's career speaks to those who believe in the power of history to engage and inspire local audiences as well as those who believe that historians should apply their knowledge and methods outside the academy in pursuit of the greater public good. Rebecca Conard, associate professor of history and codirector of the Public History Program at Middle Tennessee State University, is also the author of Places of Quiet Beauty: Parks, Preserves, and Environmentalism (Iowa, 1997), which won the Benjamin Shambaugh Award. "Rebecca Conard provides an elegant discussion of a complex topic: the emergence of public history in the twentieth century. . . . a sophisticated addition to public history historiography."--The Public Historian

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The Best Specimen of a Tyrant

The Ambitious Dr. Abraham Van Norstrand and the Wisconsin Insane Hospital

Thomas Doherty

In 1847, young Dr. Abraham Van Norstrand left Vermont to seek his fortune in the West, but in Wisconsin his business ventures failed, and a medical practice among hard-up settlers added little to his pocketbook. During the Civil War he organized and ran one of the army’s biggest hospitals but resigned when dark rumors surfaced about him. Back home, he accepted with mixed feelings the one prestigious position available to him: superintendent of the state’s first hospital for the insane.
            Van Norstrand was a newcomer to the so-called “Hospital Movement,” perhaps the boldest public policy innovation of its time, one whose leaders believed that they could achieve what had long been regarded as impossible, to cure the insane. He was a driven man with scant sympathy for those he considered misfits or malingerers. Even so, early observers were impressed with his energetic, take-charge manner at the hospital. Here at last was a man who stood firm where his predecessors had weakened and foundered. But others began to detect a different side to this tireless ruler and adroit politician. It was said that he assaulted patients and served them tainted food purchased with state money from his own grocery store. Was he exploiting the weak for personal gain or making the best of a thankless situation? Out of this fog of suspicion emerged a moral crusader and—to all appearances—pristine do-gooder named Samuel Hastings, a man whose righteous fury, once aroused, proved equal to Van Norstrand’s own.
            The story of Abraham Van Norstrand’s rise and fall is also the story of the clash between the great expectations and hard choices that have bedeviled public mental hospitals from the beginning. 

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Between History and Poetry

The Letters of H.D. And Norman Holmes Pearson

Donna Krolik Hollenberg

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Between Urban and Wild

Reflections from Colorado

Andrea M. Jones

In her calm, carefully reasoned perspective on place, Andrea Jones focuses on the familiar details of country life balanced by the larger responsibilities that come with living outside an urban boundary. Neither an environmental manifesto nor a prodevelopment defense, Between Urban and Wild operates partly on a practical level, partly on a naturalist’s level. Jones reflects on life in two homes in the Colorado Rockies, first in Fourmile Canyon in the foothills west of Boulder, then near Cap Rock Ridge in central Colorado. Whether negotiating territory with a mountain lion, balancing her observations of the predatory nature of pygmy owls against her desire to protect a nest of nuthatches, working to reduce her property’s vulnerability to wildfire while staying alert to its inherent risks during fire season, or decoding the distinct personalities of her horses, she advances the tradition of nature writing by acknowledging the effects of sprawl on a beloved landscape.

Although not intended as a manual for landowners, Between Urban and Wild nonetheless offers useful and engaging perspectives on the realities of settling and living in a partially wild environment. Throughout her ongoing journey of being home, Jones’s close observations of the land and its native inhabitants are paired with the suggestion that even small landholders can act to protect the health of their properties. Her brief meditations capture and honor the subtleties of the natural world while illuminating the importance of working to safeguard it.

Probing the contradictions of a lifestyle that burdens the health of the land that she loves, Jones’s writing is permeated by her gentle, earnest conviction that living at the urban-wild interface requires us to set aside self-interest, consider compromise, and adjust our expectations and habits—to accommodate our surroundings rather than force them to accommodate us.

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The Biographical Dictionary of Iowa

Iowa has been blessed with citizens of strong character who have made invaluable contributions to the state and to the nation. In the 1930s alone, such towering figures as John L. Lewis, Henry A. Wallace, and Herbert Hoover hugely influenced the nation’s affairs. Iowa’s Native Americans, early explorers, inventors, farmers, scholars, baseball players, musicians, artists, writers, politicians, scientists, conservationists, preachers, educators, and activists continue to enrich our lives and inspire our imaginations.
     Written by an impressive team of more than 150 scholars and writers, the readable narratives include each subject’s name, birth and death dates, place of birth, education, and career and contributions. Many of the names will be instantly recognizable to most Iowans; others are largely forgotten but deserve to be remembered. Beyond the distinctive lives and times captured in the individual biographies, readers of the dictionary will gain an appreciation for how the character of the state has been shaped by the character of the individuals who have inhabited it.
     From Dudley Warren Adams, fruit grower and Grange leader, to the Younker brothers, founders of one of Iowa’s most successful department stores, The Biographical Dictionary of Iowa is peopled with the rewarding lives of more than four hundred notable citizens of the Hawkeye State. The histories contained in this essential reference work should be eagerly read by anyone who cares about Iowa and its citizens.

Entries include Cap Anson, Bix Beiderbecke, Black Hawk, Amelia Jenks Bloomer, William Carpenter, Philip Greeley Clapp, Gardner Cowles Sr., Samuel Ryan Curtis, Jay Norwood Darling, Grenville Dodge, Julien Dubuque, August S. Duesenberg, Paul Engle, Phyllis L. Propp Fowle, George Gallup, Hamlin Garland, Susan Glaspell, Josiah Grinnell, Charles Hearst, Josephine Herbst, Herbert Hoover, Inkpaduta, Louis Jolliet, MacKinlay Kantor, Keokuk, Aldo Leopold, John L. Lewis, Marquette, Elmer Maytag, Christian Metz, Bertha Shambaugh, Ruth Suckow, Billy Sunday, Henry Wallace, and Grant Wood.

Excerpt from the entry on:
Gallup, George Horace (November 19, 1901–July 26, 1984)—founder of the American Institute of Public Opinion, better known as the Gallup Poll, whose name was synonymous with public opinion polling around the world—was born in Jefferson, Iowa. . . . . A New Yorker article would later speculate that it was Gallup’s background in “utterly normal Iowa” that enabled him to find “nothing odd in the idea that one man might represent, statistically, ten thousand or more of his own kind.” . . . In 1935 Gallup partnered with Harry Anderson to found the American Institute of Public Opinion, based in Princeton, New Jersey, an opinion polling firm that included a syndicated newspaper column called “America Speaks.” The reputation of the organization was made when Gallup publicly challenged the polling techniques of The Literary Digest, the best-known political straw poll of the day. Calculating that the Digest would wrongly predict that Kansas Republican Alf Landon would win the presidential election, Gallup offered newspapers a money-back guarantee if his prediction that Franklin Delano Roosevelt would win wasn’t more accurate. Gallup believed that public opinion polls served an important function in a democracy: “If govern¬ment is supposed to be based on the will of the people, somebody ought to go and find what that will is,” Gallup explained.

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Biting through the Skin

An Indian Kitchen in America's Heartland

Nina Mukerjee Furstenau

At once a traveler’s tale, a memoir, and a mouthwatering cookbook, Biting through the Skin offers a first-generation immigrant’s perspective on growing up in America’s heartland. Author Nina Mukerjee Furstenau’s parents brought her from Bengal in northern India to the small town of Pittsburg, Kansas, in 1964, decades before you could find long-grain rice or plain yogurt in American grocery stores. Embracing American culture, the Mukerjee family ate hamburgers and softserve ice cream, took a visiting guru out on the lake in their motorboat, and joined the Shriners. Her parents transferred the cultural, spiritual, and family values they had brought with them to their children only behind the closed doors of their home, through the rituals of cooking, serving, and eating Bengali food and making a proper cup of tea.

As a girl and a young woman, Nina traveled to her ancestral India as well as to college and to Peace Corps service in Tunisia. Through her journeys and her marriage to an American man whose grandparents hailed from Germany and Sweden, she learned that her family was not alone in being a small pocket of culture sheltered from the larger world. Biting through the Skin shows how we maintain our differences as well as how we come together through what and how we cook and eat. In mourning the partial loss of her heritage, the author finds that, ultimately, heritage always finds other ways of coming to meet us. In effect, it can be reduced to a 4 x 6-inch recipe card, something that can fit into a shirt pocket. It’s on just such tiny details of life that belonging rests.

In this book, the author shares her shirt-pocket recipes and a great deal more, inviting readers to join her on her journey toward herself and toward a vital sense of food as culture and the mortar of community.

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