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Remembering Leprosy in America
Mysterious and misunderstood, distorted by biblical imagery of disfigurement and uncleanness, Hansen's disease or leprosy has all but disappeared from America's consciousness. In Carville, Louisiana, the closed doors of the nation's last center for the treatment of leprosy open to reveal stories of sadness, separation, and even strength in the face of what was once a life-wrenching diagnosis. Drawn from interviews with living patients and extensive research in the leprosarium's archives, Carville: Remembering Leprosy in America tells the stories of former patients at the National Hansen's Disease Center. For over a century, from 1894 until 1999, Carville was the site of the only in-patient hospital in the continental United States for the treatment of Hansen's disease, the preferred designation for leprosy. Patients-exiled there by law for treatment and for separation from the rest of society-reveal how they were able to cope with the devastating blow the diagnosis of leprosy dealt them. Leprosy was so frightening and so poorly understood that entire families would suffer and be shunned if one family member contracted the disease. When patients entered Carville, they typically left everything behind, including their legal names and their hopes for the future. Former patients at Carville give their views of the outside world and of the culture they forged within the treatment center, which included married and individual living quarters, a bar, and even a jail. Those quarantined in the leprosarium created their own Mardi Gras celebrations, their own newspaper, and their own body of honored stories in which fellow sufferers of Hansen's disease prevailed over trauma and ostracism. Through their memories and stories, we see their very human quest for identity and endurance with dignity, humor, and grace. Marcia Gaudet is the Doris Meriwether/Board of Regents Professor of English at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
Postcolonial discourses on African Diaspora history and relations have traditionally focused intensely on highlighting the common experiences and links between black Africans and African Americans. This is especially true of Afrocentric scholars and supporters who use Africa to construct and validate a monolithic, racial, and culturally essentialist worldview. Publications by Afrocentric scholars such as Molefi Asante, Marimba Ani, Maulana Karenga, and the late John Henrik Clarke have emphasized the centrality of Africa to the construction of Afrocentric essentialism. In the last fifteen years, however, countervailing critical scholarship has challenged essentialist interpretations of Diaspora history. Critics such as Stephen Howe, Yaacov Shavit, and Clarence Walker have questioned and refuted the intellectual and cultural underpinnings of Afrocentric essentialist ideology. Tunde Adeleke deconstructs Afrocentric essentialism by illuminating and interrogating the problematic situation of Africa as the foundation of a racialized worldwide African Diaspora. He attempts to fill an intellectual gap by analyzing the contradictions in Afrocentric representations of the continent. These include multiple, conflicting, and ambivalent portraits of Africa; the use of the continent as a global, unifying identity for all blacks; the de-emphasizing and nullification of New World acculturation; and the ahistoristic construction of a monolithic African Diaspora worldwide.
Charles Burnett (b. 1944) is a groundbreaking African American filmmaker and one of this country's finest directors, yet he remains largely unknown. His films, most notably Killer of Sheep(1977) and To Sleep with Anger (1990), are considered classics, yet few filmgoers have seen them or heard of Burnett. The interviews in this volume explore this paradox and collectively shed light on the work of a rare film master whose stories bring to the screen the texture and poetry of life in the black community.The best qualities of Burnett's films-rich characterizations, morally and emotionally complex narratives, and intricately observed tales of African American life-are precisely the things that make his films a tough sell in the mass marketplace. As many of the interviews reveal, Hollywood has been largely inept in responding to this marketing challenge. "It takes an extraordinary effort to keep going," Burnett told Terrence Rafferty in 2001, "when everybody's saying to you, 'No one wants to see that kind of movie,' or 'There's no black audience.'" All the interviews selected for this volume (spanning more than three decades of Burnett's directorial career including his recent work) examine, in various degrees, Burnett's status as a true independent filmmaker and explore his motivation for making films that chronicle the black experience in America.
The early 1980s saw a revolution in mainstream comics--in subject matter, artistic integrity, and creators' rights--as new methods of publishing and distribution broadened the possibilities. Among those artists utilizing these new methods, Chester Brown (b. 1960) quickly developed a cult following due to the undeniable quality and originality of his Yummy Fur (1983-1994).
Chester Brown: Conversations collects interviews covering all facets of the cartoonist's long career and includes several pieces from now-defunct periodicals and fanzines. Brown was among a new generation of artists whose work dealt with decidedly nonmainstream subjects. By the 1980s comics were, to quote a by-now well-worn phrase, "not just for kids anymore," and subsequent censorious attacks by parents concerned about the more salacious material being published by the major publishers--subjects that routinely included adult language, realistic violence, drug use, and sexual content--began to roil the industry. Yummy Fur came of age during this storm and its often-offensive content, including dismembered, talking penises, led to controversy and censorship.
With Brown's highly unconventional adaptations of the Gospels, and such comics memoirs as The Playboy (1991/1992) and I Never Liked You (1991-1994), Brown gradually moved away from the surrealistic, humor oriented strips toward autobiographical material far more restrained and elegiac in tone than his earlier strips. This work was followed by Louis Riel (1999-2003), Brown's critically acclaimed comic book biography of the controversial nineteenth-century Canadian revolutionary, and Paying for It (2011), his best-selling memoir on the life of a john.
Text and Context in Faulkner
Polished and refitted into a new critical matrix, these essays by a distinguished Faulkner editor and scholar in no way resemble the casual self-anthologizing often encountered. Polk's stature as a critic meshes neatly with his work as an editor; his patent joy at the very sight of Faulkner manuscripts is inspiriting, and his professed commitment to Freudian readings is borne lightly (that is, expressed in sensible, jargon-free discourse that is both witty and brilliant).
--J. M. Ditsky, Choice
First published in 1996, this book by a major scholar of William Faulkner's writings collects choice selections of his Faulkner criticism from the past fifteen years. Its publication underscores the significance of his indispensable work in Faulkner studies, both in criticism and in the editing of Faulkner's texts.
Here, Polk's focus is mainly upon the context of Freudian themes, expressly in the works written between 1927 and 1932, the period in which Faulkner wrote and ultimately revised Sanctuary, a novel to which Polk has given concentrated study during his distinguished career. He has connected the literature with the life in a way not achieved in previous criticism. Although other critics, notably John T. Irwin and Andre Bleikasten have explored Oedipal themes, neither perceived them as operating so completely at the center of Faulkner's work as Polk does in these essays.
Noel Polk, a professor of English at the University of Southern Mississippi, is the editor of the definitive texts of Faulkner's works. He also is one of the most notable scholars of Eudora Welty's works and the author of Eudora Welty: A Bibliography of Her Work (University Press of Mississippi)
The Arriflex 35 in North America, 1945-1972
This volume provides a history of the most consequential 35mm motion picture camera introduced in North America in the quarter century following the Second World War: the Arriflex 35. It traces the North American history of this camera from 1945 through 1972--when the first lightweight, self-blimped 35mm cameras became available.Chronicle of a Camera emphasizes theatrical film production, documenting the Arriflex's increasingly important role in expanding the range of production choices, styles, and even content of American motion pictures in this period. The book's exploration culminates most strikingly in examples found in feature films dating from the 1960s and early 1970s, including a number of films associated with what came to be known as the "Hollywood New Wave." The author shows that the Arriflex prompted important innovation in three key areas: it greatly facilitated and encouraged location shooting; it gave cinematographers new options for intensifying visual style and content; and it stimulated low-budget and independent production. Films in which the Arriflex played an absolutely central role include Bullitt, The French Connection, and, most significantly, Easy Rider. Using an Arriflex for car-mounted shots, hand-held shots, and zoom-lens shots led to greater cinematic realism and personal expression.
Andrew W. Cooper's Impact on Modern-Day Brooklyn
In 1966, a year after the Voting Rights Act began liberating millions of southern blacks, New Yorkers challenged a political system that weakened their voting power. Andrew W. Cooper (1927-2002), a beer company employee, sued state officials in a case called Cooper vs. Power. In 1968, the courts agreed that black citizens were denied the right to elect an authentic representative of their community. The 12th Congressional District was redrawn. Shirley Chisholm, a member of Cooper's political club, ran for the new seat and made history as the first black woman elected to Congress.Cooper became a journalist, a political columnist, then founder of Trans Urban News Service and the City Sun, a feisty Brooklyn-based weekly that published from 1984 to 1996. Whether the stories were about Mayor Koch or Rev. Al Sharpton, Howard Beach or Crown Heights, Tawana Brawley's dubious rape allegations, the Daily News Four trial, or Spike Lee's filmmaking career, Cooper's City Sun commanded attention and moved officials and readers to action.
Cooper's leadership also gave Brooklyn--particularly predominantly black central Brooklyn--an identity. It is no accident that in the twenty-first century the borough crackles with energy. Cooper fought tirelessly for the community's vitality when it was virtually abandoned by the civic and business establishments in the mid-to-late twentieth century. In addition, scores of journalists trained by Cooper are keeping his spirit alive.
Innocence by Association
The statement, "The Civil Rights Movement changed America," though true, has become something of a cliché. Civil rights in the White Literary Imagination seeks to determine how, exactly, the Civil Rights Movement changed the literary possibilities of four iconic American writers: Robert Penn Warren, Norman Mailer, Eudora Welty, and William Styron. Each of these writers published significant works prior to the Brown v. Board of Education case in 1954 and the Montgomery Bus Boycott that began in December of the following year, making it possible to trace their evolution in reaction to these events. The work these writers crafted in response to the upheaval of the day, from Warren's Who Speaks for the Negro?, to Mailer's "The White Negro" to Welty's "Where Is the Voice Coming From?" to Styron's Confessions of Nat Turner, reveal much about their own feeling in the moment even as they contribute to the national conversation that centered on race and democracy.
By examining these works closely, Gray posits the argument that these writers significantly shaped discourse on civil rights as the movement was occurring but did so in ways that--intentionally or not--often relied upon a notion of the relative innocence of the South with regard to racial affairs, and on a construct of African Americans as politically and/or culturally na*ve. As these writers grappled with race and the myth of southern nobility, their work developed in ways that were simultaneously sympathetic of, and condescending to, black intellectual thought occurring at the same time.
Based on new research and combining multiple scholarly approaches, these twelve essays tell new stories about the civil rights movement in the state most resistant to change. Wesley Hogan, Françoise N. Hamlin, and Michael Vinson Williams raise questions about how civil rights organizing took place. Three pairs of essays address African Americans' and whites' stories on education, religion, and the issues of violence. Jelani Favors and Robert Luckett analyze civil rights issues on the campuses of Jackson State University and the University of Mississippi. Carter Dalton Lyon and Joseph T. Reiff study people who confronted the question of how their religion related to their possible involvement in civil rights activism. By studying the Ku Klux Klan and the Deacons for Defense in Mississippi, David Cunningham and Akinyele Umoja ask who chose to use violence or to raise its possibility.
The final three chapters describe some of the consequences and continuing questions raised by the civil rights movement. Byron D'Andra Orey analyzes the degree to which voting rights translated into political power for African American legislators. Chris Myers Asch studies a Freedom School that started in recent years in the Mississippi Delta. Emilye Crosby details the conflicting memories of Claiborne County residents and the parts of the civil rights movement they recall or ignore.
As a group, the essays introduce numerous new characters and conundrums into civil rights scholarship, advance efforts to study African Americans and whites as interactive agents in the complex stories, and encourage historians to pull civil rights scholarship closer toward the present.