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Literary Masters on a Popular Medium
When Art Spiegelman's Maus-a two-part graphic novel about the Holocaust-won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992, comics scholarship grew increasingly popular and notable. The rise of "serious" comics has generated growing levels of interest as scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals continue to explore the history, aesthetics, and semiotics of the comics medium. Yet those who write about the comics often assume analysis of the medium didn't begin until the cultural studies movement was underway. Arguing Comics: Literary Masters on a Popular Medium brings together nearly two dozen essays by major writers and intellectuals who analyzed, embraced, and even attacked comic strips and comic books in the period between the turn of the century and the 1960s. From e. e. cummings, who championed George Herriman's Krazy Kat, to Irving Howe, who fretted about Harold Gray's Little Orphan Annie, this volume shows that comics have provided a key battleground in the culture wars for over a century. With substantive essays by Umberto Eco, Marshall McLuhan, Leslie Fiedler, Gilbert Seldes, Dorothy Parker, Irving Howe, Delmore Schwartz, and others, this anthology shows how all of these writers took up comics-related topics as a point of entry into wider debates over modern art, cultural standards, daily life, and mass communication. Arguing Comics shows how prominent writers from the Jazz Age and the Depression era to the heyday of the New York Intellectuals in the 1950s thought about comics and, by extension, popular culture as a whole. A columnist for the National Post (Canada), Jeet Heer has been published in Slate, the Boston Globe, the Guardian, the Comics Journal and many other venues. Kent Worcester, a professor of political science and international studies at Marymount Manhattan College, is the author of C. L. R. James: A Political Biography. His work has appeared in the Comics Journal, New Statesman, Popular Culture Review, and numerous other publications.
A Guide to Understanding Cultural Artifacts
The Native American tribes of what is now the Southeastern United States left intriguing relics of their ancient cultural life. Arrowheads, spearpoints, stone tools, and other artifacts are found in newly plowed fields, on hillsides after a fresh rain, or in washed-out creekbeds. These are tangible clues to the anthropology of the Paleo-Indians, and the highly developed Mississippian peoples.This indispensable guide to identifying and understanding such finds is for conscientious amateur archeologists who make their discoveries in surface terrain. Many are eager to understand the culture that produced the artifact, what kind of people created it, how it was made, how old it is, and what its purpose was.Here is a handbook that seeks identification through the clues of cultural history. In discussing materials used, the process of manufacture, and the relationship between the artifacts and the environments, it reveals ancient discoveries to be not merely interesting trinkets but by-products from the once vital societies in areas that are now Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, the Carolinas, as well as in southeastern Texas, southern Missouri, southern Illinois, and southern Indiana.The text is documented by more than a hundred drawings in the actual size of the artifacts, as well as by a glossary of archeological terms and a helpful list of state and regional archeological societies.
America's Illustrated Magazines of the 1840s
How did the average American learn about art in the mid-nineteenth century? With public art museums still in their infancy, and few cities and towns large enough to support art galleries or print shops, Americans relied on mass-circulated illustrated magazines. One group of magazines in particular, known collectively as the Philadelphia pictorials, circulated fine art engravings of paintings, some produced exclusively for circulation in these monthlies, to an eager middle-class reading audience. These magazines achieved print circulations far exceeding those of other print media (such as illustrated gift books, or catalogs from art-union membership organizations). Godey's , Graham's Peterson's Miss Leslie's and Sartain's Union Magazine included two to three fine art engravings monthly, "tipped in" to the fronts of the magazines, and designed for pull-out and display. Featuring the work of a fledgling group of American artists who chose American rather than European themes for their paintings, these magazines were crucial to the distribution of American art beyond the purview of the East Coast elite to a widespread middle-class audience. Contributions to these magazines enabled many an American artist and engraver to earn, for the first time in the young nation's history, a modest living through art. Author Cynthia Lee Patterson examines the economics of artistic production, innovative engraving techniques, regional imitators, the textual "illustrations" accompanying engravings, and the principal artists and engravers contributing to these magazines.
Aesthetics, Transmission, Bonding, and Creativity
An iconic symbol and sound of the Lucum'/Santer'a religion, Afro-Cuban batá are talking drums that express the epic mythological narratives of the West African Yoruba deities known as orisha. By imitating aspects of speech and song, and by metaphorically referencing salient attributes of the deities, batá drummers facilitate the communal praising of orisha in a music ritual known as a toque de santo.
In The Artistry of Afro-Cuban Batá Drumming, Kenneth Schweitzer blends musical transcription, musical analysis, interviews, ethnographic descriptions, and observations from his own experience as a ritual drummer to highlight the complex variables at work during a live Lucum' performance.
Integral in enabling trance possessions by the orisha, by far the most dramatic expressions of Lucum' faith, batá drummers are also entrusted with controlling the overall ebb and flow of the four- to six-hour toque de santo. During these events, batá drummers combine their knowledge of ritual with an extensive repertoire of rhythms and songs. Musicians focus on the many thematic acts that unfold both concurrently and in quick succession. In addition to creating an emotionally charged environment, playing salute rhythms for the orisha, and supporting the playful song competitions that erupt between singers, batá drummers are equally dedicated to nurturing their own drumming community by creating a variety of opportunities for the musicians to grow artistically and creatively.
Grand in its scope, Asian Comics dispels the myth that, outside of Japan, the continent is nearly devoid of comic strips and comic books. Relying on his fifty years of Asian mass communication and comic art research, during which he traveled to Asia at least seventy-eight times and visited many studios and workplaces, John A. Lent shows that nearly every country had a golden age of cartooning and has experienced a recent rejuvenation of the art form.
As only Japanese comics output has received close and by now voluminous scrutiny, Asian Comics tells the story of the major comics creators outside of Japan. Lent covers the nations and regions of Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Organized by regions of East, Southeast, and South Asia, Asian Comics provides 178 black-and-white illustrations and detailed information on comics of sixteen countries and regions--their histories, key creators, characters, contemporary status, problems, trends, and issues. One chapter harkens back to predecessors of comics in Asia, describing scrolls, paintings, books, and puppetry with humorous tinges, primarily in China, India, Indonesia, and Japan.
The first overview of Asian comic books and magazines (both mainstream and alternative), graphic novels, newspaper comic strips and gag panels, plus cartoon/humor magazines, Asian Comics brims with facts, fascinating anecdotes, and interview quotes from many pioneering masters, as well as younger artists.
Fifty Pieces from the Road
Writing as a newspaper reporter for nearly forty years, Curtis Wilkie covered eight presidential campaigns, spent years in the Middle East, and traveled to a number of conflicts abroad. However, his memory keeps turning home and many of his most treasured stories transpire in the Deep South. He called his native Mississippi, “the gift that keeps on giving.” For Wilkie, it represented a trove of rogues and racists, colorful personalities and outlandish politicians who managed to thrive among people otherwise kind and generous.
Assassins, Eccentrics, Politicians, and Other Persons of Interest collects news dispatches and feature stories from the author during a journalism career that began in 1963 and lasted until 2000. As a young reporter for the Clarksdale Press Register, he wrote many articles that dealt with the civil rights movement, which dominated the news in the Mississippi Delta during the 1960s.Wilkie spent twenty-six years as a national and foreign correspondent for the Boston Globe. One of the original “Boys on the Bus” (the title of a best-selling book about journalists covering the 1972 presidential campaign), he later wrote extensively about the winning races of two southern Presidents, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.
Wilkie is known for stories reported deeply, rife with anecdotes, physical descriptions, and important background details. He writes about the notorious, such as the late Hunter S. Thompson, as well as more anonymous subjects whose stories, in his hands, have enduring interest. The anthology collects pieces about several notable southerners: Ross Barnett; Byron De La Beckwith and Sam Bowers; Billy Carter; Edwin Edwards and David Duke; Trent Lott; and Charles Evers. Wilkie brings a perceptive eye to people and events, and his eloquent storytelling represents some of the best journalistic writing.
A Daughter's Tribute to Ann Petry
Ann Petry (1908-1997) was a prominent writer during a period in which few black writers were published with regularity in America. Her novels The Street, Country Place, and The Narrows, along with a collection of short stories and various essays and works of nonfiction, give voice to black experience outside of the traditional strains of poverty and black nationalism.
At Home Inside: A Daughter's Tribute to Ann Petry sifts the myriad contradictions of Ann Petry's life from a daughter's vantage. Ann Petry hoarded antiques but destroyed many of her journals. She wrote, but, failing to publish for years, she used her imagination to design and sew clothes, to bake, and to garden. When fame finally came, Ann Petry did not enjoy the travel it brought. Though she suffered phobias and anxieties all her life, she did not avoid the obligations of literary success until late in her career.
Ann Petry applied her formidable skills to stories she told about herself and her family, and the corrections Elisabeth Petry makes to her mother's inventions will prove invaluable. Talking about her life publicly, Ann Petry acknowledged six different birth dates. She hid her first marriage, and even represented her father, Peter C. Lane, Jr., as a potential killer. Mining Petry's journals Elisabeth Petry creates part biography, part love letter, and part sounding of her mother's genius and luminescent personality.
Elisabeth Petry is a freelance writer with a juris doctor from the University of Pennsylvania. She lives in Middletown, Connecticut, and is the editor of Can Anything Beat White? A Black Family's Letters (University Press of Mississippi).
Life Writing in Pictures
A troubled childhood in Iran. Living with a disability. Grieving for a dead child. Over the last forty years the comic book has become an increasingly popular way of telling personal stories of considerable complexity and depth.
In Autobiographical Comics: Life Writing in Pictures, Elisabeth El Refaie offers a long overdue assessment of the key conventions, formal properties, and narrative patterns of this fascinating genre. The book considers eighty-five works of North American and European provenance, works that cover a broad range of subject matters and employ many different artistic styles.
Drawing on concepts from several disciplinary fields--including semiotics, literary and narrative theory, art history, and psychology--El Refaie shows that the traditions and formal features of comics provide new possibilities for autobiographical storytelling. For example, the requirement to produce multiple drawn versions of one's self necessarily involves an intense engagement with physical aspects of identity, as well as with the cultural models that underpin body image. The comics medium also offers memoirists unique ways of representing their experience of time, their memories of past events, and their hopes and dreams for the future. Furthermore, autobiographical comics creators are able to draw on the close association in contemporary Western culture between seeing and believing in order to persuade readers of the authentic nature of their stories.
The Wild Witch of the East in Russian Fairy Tales
Baba Yaga is an ambiguous and fascinating figure. She appears in traditional Russian folktales as a monstrous and hungry cannibal, or as a canny inquisitor of the adolescent hero or heroine of the tale. In new translations and with an introduction by Sibelan Forrester, Baba Yaga: The Wild Witch of the East in Russian Fairy Tales is a selection of tales that draws from the famous collection of Aleksandr Afanas'ev, but also includes some tales from the lesser-known nineteenth-century collection of Ivan Khudiakov. This new collection includes beloved classics such as "Vasilisa the Beautiful" and "The Frog Princess," as well as a version of the tale that is the basis for the ballet "The Firebird."The preface and introduction place these tales in their traditional context with reference to Baba Yaga's continuing presence in today's culture--the witch appears iconically on tennis shoes, tee shirts, even tattoos. The stories are enriched with many wonderful illustrations of Baba Yaga, some old (traditional "lubok" woodcuts), some classical (the marvelous images from Victor Vasnetsov or Ivan Bilibin), and some quite recent or solicited specifically for this collection
Wade Mainer's First Hundred Years
Wade Mainer (b. 1907) is believed to be the longest-lived country entertainer ever. His banjo lessons began in childhood and he played informally into his adult years, when he joined his brother, fiddler J. E. Mainer (1898-1971), in Mainer's Mountaineers. Music became their ticket out of the cotton mills in 1934. At the time, country styles were swiftly evolving from community-based performance into mass-market broadcast via radio, records, and the silver screen. Mainer's Mountaineers attracted radio sponsors and touring opportunities, allowing the brothers to become full-time musicians.Eventually Wade Mainer formed his own band, the Sons of the Mountaineers. His success secured a permanent place for the fiddle and banjo sound in country music, sustained that sound's popularity throughout the 1930s, and created the foundation upon which Bill Monroe and his disciples would spread bluegrass music in the 1940s. Banjo on the Mountain features Wade's own words and recollections from a lifetime in music and an exciting career that included a command performance at the White House for President Franklin D. Roosevelt and a key role in The Old Chisholm Trail , a 1944 BBC-sponsored radio play for American troops and embattled English civilians. The volume is rich in photographs and documents, thanks to Wade and Julia Mainer's careful custodianship of letters, professional photos and family snapshots, posters, songbooks, flyers, and other priceless curios.