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Daniel Hughes's final volume of poetry, written during his years of struggle with multiple sclerosis, displays his characteristic wit, intelligence, and imagination. While the poems in Ashes & Stars deal with themes such as love and mortality, the conflict between imagination and actuality, and the pleasures of the world around us, they are never somber or overly serious. Even the shortest ones have a wry comic sense. Additionally, Hughes's poems demonstrate a remarkably economical and precise use of language, without a wasted word in the entire collection. Although the concentrated emotion of the poems may remind readers of Emily Dickinson and Robert Lowell, Hughes's poetic forms-quatrains, tercets, irregular sonnets, irregular rhymes-also illustrate the deep influence of the English Romantics, whom he championed throughout his academic career. In addition, many poems draw inspiration from numerous individuals and works of art from the Italian Renaissance, as they weave abstract themes from Western culture with the sensual data of the poet's experience. Despite these deep historical and literary roots, the conversational tone of Ashes & Stars ensures that it is never dry or academic. The poems speak to the reader as to an intimate, giving a sense of transmitting hard-earned experience and knowledge. All readers will appreciate the passionate energy and worldly air of these unique and exactingly honest final poems.
Voices from the Midwest
While the number of Asians in Michigan was small for a good portion of the state’s history, many Asian-derived communities have settled in the area and grown significantly over time. In Asian Americans in Michigan: Voices from the Midwest, editors Sook Wilkinson and Victor Jew have assembled forty-one contributors to give an intimate glimpse into Michigan’s Asian-American communities, creating a fuller picture of these often overlooked groups. Accounts in the collection come from a range of perspectives, including first-generation immigrants, those born in the United States, and third- and fourth-generation Americans of Asian heritage. In five sections, contributors consider the historical and demographic origins of Michigan’s Asian American communities, explore their experiences in memory and legacy keeping, highlight particular aspects of community culture and heritage, and comment on prospects and hopes for the future. This volume’s vibrant mix of contributors trace their ancestries back to East Asia (China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan), South Asia (Bangladesh, India, Pakistan), and Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Laos, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Hmong). Though each contributor writes from his or her unique set of experiences, Asian Americans in Michigan also reveals universal values and memories held by larger communities. Asian Americans in Michigan makes clear the significant contributions by individuals in many fields—including art, business, education, religion, sports, medicine, and politics—and demonstrates the central role of community organizations in bringing ethnic groups together and preserving memories. Readers interested in Michigan history, sociology, and Asian American studies will enjoy this volume.
ABC’s action-comedy series Batman (1966–68) famously offered a dual address in its wildly popular portayal of a comic book hero in a live action format. Children uncritically accepted the show’s plots and characters, who were guided by lofty ideals and social values, while adults reacted to the clear parody of the values on display. In Batman, author Matt Yockey argues that the series served as a safe space for viewers to engage with changing attitudes about consumerism, politics, the Vietnam war, celebrity, race, and gender during a period when social meaning was increasingly contested in America. Yockey examines Batman’s boundary pushing in four chapters. In “Bat-Civics,” he analyzes the superhero as a conflicted symbol of American identity and considers the ways in which the Batman character parodied that status. Yockey then looks at the show’s experimentation with the superhero genre’s conservative gender and racial politics in “Bat-Difference” and investigates the significance of the show’s choices of stars and guest stars in “Bat-Casting.” Finally, he considers how the series’ dual identity as straightforward crime serial and subversive mass culture text set it up for extratextual production in “Bat-Being.” The superhero is a conflicted symbol of American identity—representing both excessive individualism and the status quo—making it an especially useful figure for the kind of cultural work that Batman undertook. Batman fans, from popular culture enthusiasts to television history scholars, will enjoy this volume.
Validating and Valorizing Its Authority, Authenticity, and Agency
Bearing Witness to African American Literature: Validating and Valorizing Its Authority, Authenticity, and Agency collects twenty-three of Bernard W. Bell’s lectures and essays that were first presented between 1968 and 2008. From his role in the culture wars as a graduate student activist in the Black Studies Movement to his work in the transcultural Globalization Movement as an international scholar and Fulbright cultural ambassador in Spain, Portugal, and China, Bell’s long and inspiring journey traces the modern institutional origins and the contemporary challengers of African American literary studies. This volume is made up of five sections, including chapters on W. E. B. DuBois’s theory and trope of double consciousness, an original theory of residually oral forms for reading the African American novel, an argument for an African Americentric vernacular and literary tradition, and a deconstruction of the myths of the American melting pot and literary mainstream. Bell considers texts by contemporary writers like Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, William Styron, James Baldwin, and Jean Toomer, as well as works by Mark Twain, Frederick Douglas, and William Faulkner, In a style that ranges from lyricism to the classic jeremiad, Bell emphasizes that his work bears the imprint of many major influences, including his mentor, poet and scholar Sterling A. Brown, and W. E. B. DuBois. Taken together, the chapters demonstrate Bell’s central place as a revisionist African American literary and cultural theorist, historian, and critic. Bearing Witness to African American Literature will be an invaluable introduction to major issues in the African American literary tradition for scholars of American, African American, and cultural studies.
Early Video Game History
Following the first appearance of arcade video games in 1971 and home video game systems in 1972, the commercial video game market was exuberant with fast-paced innovation and profit. New games, gaming systems, and technologies flooded into the market until around 1983, when sales of home game systems dropped, thousands of arcades closed, and major video game makers suffered steep losses or left the market altogether. In Before the Crash: Early Video Game History, editor Mark J. P. Wolf assembles essays that examine the fleeting golden age of video games, an era sometimes overlooked for older games’ lack of availability or their perceived “primitiveness” when compared to contemporary video games. In twelve chapters, contributors consider much of what was going on during the pre-crash era: arcade games, home game consoles, home computer games, handheld games, and even early online games. The technologies of early video games are investigated, as well as the cultural context of the early period—from aesthetic, economic, industrial, and legal perspectives. Since the video game industry and culture got their start and found their form in this era, these years shaped much of what video games would come to be. This volume of early history, then, not only helps readers to understand the pre-crash era, but also reveals much about the present state of the industry. Before the Crash will give readers a thorough overview of the early days of video games along with a sense of the optimism, enthusiasm, and excitement of those times. Students and teachers of media studies will enjoy this compelling volume.
Jewish Identity in the American Scene
Lithuanian-born artist Ben Shahn learned fresco painting as an assistant to Diego Rivera in the 1930s and created his own visually powerful, technically sophisticated, and stylistically innovative artworks as part of the New Deal Arts Project's national mural program. In Ben Shahn's New Deal Murals: Jewish Identity in the American Scene author Diana L. Linden demonstrates that Shahn mined his Jewish heritage and left-leaning politics for his style and subject matter, offering insight into his murals' creation and their sometimes complicated reception by officials, the public, and the press.
In four chapters, Linden presents case studies of select Shahn murals that were created from 1933 to 1943 and are located in public buildings in New York, New Jersey, and Missouri. She studies Shahn's famous untitled fresco for the Jersey Homesteads-a utopian socialist cooperative community populated with former Jewish garment workers and funded under the New Deal-Shahn's mural for the Bronx Post Office, a fresco Shahn proposed to the post office in St. Louis, and a related one-panel easel painting titled The First Amendment located in a Queens, New York, Post Office. By investigating the role of Jewish identity in Shahn's works, Linden considers the artist's responses to important issues of the era, such as President Roosevelt's opposition to open immigration to the United States, New York's bustling garment industry and its labor unions, ideological concerns about freedom and liberty that had signifcant meaning to Jews, and the encroachment of censorship into American art.
Linden shows that throughout his public murals, Shahn literally painted Jews into the American scene with his subjects, themes, and compositions. Readers interested in Jewish American history, art history, and Depression-era American culture will enjoy this insightful volume.