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Kelly, Garland, and Minnelli at Work
During Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s glory days, the studio’s famous Arthur Freed Unit made an extraordinary string of dazzling musicals. One of its very best was The Pirate. Based on a successful 1942 Broadway production, the film was directed by Vincente Minnelli and starred Gene Kelly and Judy Garland. It showcased some of the brightest work of these three gifted moviemakers and entranced many critics and viewers with exotic set décor and costumes, brilliant Technicolor application, stunning dance routines, and a clever plot about an actor who pretends to be a famous pirate to win the love of a fanciful island girl.
The Pirate has been studied by film historians, gender studies scholars, and film studies professionals since it was released in 1948. The Cinematic Voyage of The Pirate contributes to a growing literature asserting the importance of single-film production history and the significance of the film musical in the golden age of Hollywood.
A Military History
The Letters of Robert D. Carter
In the midst of the Philippine-American War, twenty-two-year-old Robert Dexter Carter served in Manila as a civilian quartermaster clerk. Through his letters to his family, he provided a vivid picture of army life in Manila—the sights, the smells, and his responses to the native culture. In addition to his letters, his diary and several related articles present a firsthand account of the historic voyage of the United States Army Transport Grant through the Suez Canal to Manila in early 1899. Carter’s writings not only tell of his sometimes harrowing experiences, but also reveal the aspirations and fears of a young man not quite sure of his next steps on life’s journey.
Carter’s father, Robert Goldthwaite Carter, was a war hero and a longtime friend of Maj. Gen. Henry W. Lawton. Carter obtained his position through Lawton’s influence, and his respect for Lawton is clear throughout his writings. A frequent guest in the Lawton home, the young clerk was introduced to many notable figures both military and civilian. Carter’s letters, particularly to his father, are full of news and gossip related to his commander. In other letters, he reveals the kindness and generosity of Mrs. Lawton, who took time to look out for Carter while he was in the hospital and often loaned him books.
This well-researched and expertly edited work casts light on the role of support troops in war, a subject too often minimized or ignored. Shay begins each chapter with an introduction that establishes the setting, the context of events, and the disposition of Carter and his compatriots and provides notes and commentary to place the letters in context. By choosing not to edit the offensive expletives of a sometimes arrogant and racist young man, Shay presents a fully nuanced portrait of a young American exploring the larger world in a time of turmoil.
Enhanced by photographs from collections at the Library of Congress and the Military History Institute, as well as many of Carter’s own whimsical drawings, the book will appeal to armchair historians and scholars alike.
Lincoln and the Movement for Black Resettlement
Whitman, Poe, and the American Culture of Mourning
In Contemporary Irish Poetry and the Pastoral Tradition, Donna L. Potts closely examines the pastoral genre in the work of six Irish poets writing today. Through the exploration of the poets and their works, she reveals the wide range of purposes that pastoral has served in both Northern Ireland and the Republic: a postcolonial critique of British imperialism; a response to modernity, industrialization, and globalization; a way of uncovering political and social repercussions of gendered representations of Ireland; and, more recently, a means for conveying environmentalism’s more complex understanding of the value of nature.
For her discussion, Potts has chosen six poets who have written significant collections of pastoral poetry and whose work is in dialogue with both the pastoral tradition and other contemporary pastoral poets. Three poets are men—John Montague, Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley—while three are women—Eavan Boland, Medbh McGuckian, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill. Five are English-language authors, while the sixth—Ní Dhomhnaill—writes in Irish. Additionally, some of the poets hail from the Republic, while others originate from Northern Ireland. Potts contends that while both Irish Republic and Northern Irish poets respond to a shared history of British colonization in their pastorals, the 1921 partition of the country caused the pastoral tradition to evolve differently on either side of the border, primarily because of the North’s more rapid industrialization; its more heavily Protestant population, whose response to environmentalism was somewhat different than that of the Republic’s predominantly Catholic population; as well the greater impact of the world wars and the Irish Troubles.
In an important distinction from other studies of Irish poetry, Potts moves beyond the influence of history and politics on contemporary Irish pastoral poetry to consider the relatively recent influence of ecology. Contemporary Irish poets often rely on the motif of the pastoral retreat to highlight various environmental threats to those retreats—whether they be high-rises, motorways, global warming, or acid rain. Potts concludes by speculating on the future of pastoral in contemporary Irish poetry through her examination of more recent poets—including Moya Cannon and Paula Meehan—as well as other genres such as film, drama, and fiction.
A Journey to My Daughter's Birthplace in China
An African American Family's Rise from Slavery to Bittersweet Success
Carolyn Wilkins grew up defending her racial identity. Because of her light complexion and wavy hair, she spent years struggling to convince others that she was black. Her family’s prominence set Carolyn’s experiences even further apart from those of the average African American. Her father and uncle were well-known lawyers who had graduated from Harvard Law School. Another uncle had been a child prodigy and protégé of Albert Einstein. And her grandfather had been America's first black assistant secretary of labor.
Carolyn's parents insisted she follow the color-conscious rituals of Chicago's elite black bourgeoisie—experiences Carolyn recalls as some of the most miserable of her entire life. Only in the company of her mischievous Aunt Marjory, a woman who refused to let the conventions of “proper” black society limit her, does Carolyn feel a true connection to her family's African American heritage.
When Aunt Marjory passes away, Carolyn inherits ten bulging scrapbooks filled with family history and memories. What she finds in these photo albums inspires her to discover the truth about her ancestors—a quest that will eventually involve years of research, thousands of miles of travel, and much soul-searching.
Carolyn learns that her great-grandfather John Bird Wilkins was born into slavery and went on to become a teacher, inventor, newspaperman, renegade Baptist minister, and a bigamist who abandoned five children. And when she discovers that her grandfather J. Ernest Wilkins may have been forced to resign from his labor department post by members of the Eisenhower administration, Carolyn must confront the bittersweet fruits of her family's generations-long quest for status and approval.
Damn Near White is an insider’s portrait of an unusual American family. Readers will be drawn into Carolyn’s journey as she struggles to redefine herself in light of the long-buried secrets she uncovers. Tackling issues of class, color, and caste, Wilkins reflects on the changes of African American life in U.S. history through her dedicated search to discover her family’s powerful story.
Missouri's Remarkable Owen Sisters
In the 1800s, American women were largely restricted to the private sphere. Most had no choice but to spend their lives in the home, marrying in their teens and living only as wives, mothers, and pillars of domesticity. Even as the women’s movement came along midcentury, it focused more on gaining legal and political rights for women than on expanding their career opportunities. So in that time period, in which the options and expectations for women’s professional lives were so limited, it is remarkable that three sisters born in the 1850s, the Owen daughters of Missouri, all achieved success and appreciation in their careers.
Homeless Boys and the People Who Tried to Save Them