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Bearing Witness to African American Literature

Validating and Valorizing Its Authority, Authenticity, and Agency

Bernard W. Bell

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.

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Before the Crash

Early Video Game History

Edited by Mark J. P. Wolf

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.

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Ben Shahn's New Deal Murals

Jewish Identity in the American Scene

Diana L. Linden

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.

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Bernard Malamud

A Centennial Tribute

Edited by Victoria Aarons and Gustavo Sánchez Canales

Master storyteller and literary stylist, Bernard Malamud is considered one of the top three most influential postwar American Jewish writers, having established a voice and a presence for other authors in the literary canon. Along with Philip Roth and Saul Bellow, Malamud brought to life a decidedly American Jewish protagonist and a newly emergent voice that came to define American letters and that has continued to influence writers for over half a century. This collection is a tribute to Malamud in honor of the hundredth anniversary of his birth. Literary critic Harold Bloom suggests that "Malamud is perhaps the purest storyteller since Leskov," the nineteenth-century Russian novelist and satirist. Novelist Cynthia Ozick, in a tribute to Malamud, described him as "the very writer who had brought into being a new American idiom of his own idiosyncratic invention." Unlike other collections devoted to Malamud, this collection is international in scope, compiling diverse essays from the United States, France, Germany, Greece, and Spain, and demonstrating the wide range of scholarship and approaches to Bernard Malamud's fiction. The essays show the breadth and depth of this masterful craftsman and explore through his short fiction and his novels such topics as the Malamudian protagonist's relation to the urban/natural space; Malamud's approach to death; race and ethnicity; the Malamudian hero as modern schlemiel; and the role of fantasy in Malamud's fiction. Bernard Malamud is a comprehensive collection that celebrates a voice that helped to shape the last fifty years of literary works. Readers of American literary criticism and Jewish studies alike will appreciate this collection.

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Between Jewish Tradition and Modernity

Rethinking an Old Opposition

Edited by Michael A. Meyer and David N. Myers

Although the ideas of “tradition” and “modernity” may seem to be directly opposed, David Ellenson, a leading contemporary scholar of modern Jewish thought, understood that these concepts can also enjoy a more fluid relationship. In honor of Ellenson, editors Michael A. Meyer and David N. Myers have gathered contributors for Between Jewish Tradition and Modernity: Rethinking an Old Opposition to examine the permutations and adaptations of these intertwined forms of Jewish expression. Contributions draw from a range of disciplines and scholarly interests and range in subject from the theological to the liturgical, sociological, and literary. The geographic and historical focus of the volume is on the United States and the State of Israel, both of which have been major sites of inquiry in Ellenson’s work. In twenty-two essays, contributors demonstrate that modernity did not simply replace tradition in Judaism but rather entered into a variety of relationships with it: adopting or adapting certain elements, repossessing rituals that had once been abandoned, or struggling with its continuing influence. In four parts—Law, Ritual, Thought, and Culture—contributors explore a variety of subjects, including the role of reform in Israeli Orthodoxy, traditions of twentieth-century bar/bat mitzvah, end-of-life ethics, tensions between Zionism and American Jewry, and the rise of a 1960s New York Jewish countrerculture. An introductory essay also presents an appreciation of Ellenson's scholarly contribution. Bringing together leading Jewish historians, anthropologists, sociologists, philosophers and liturgists, Between Jewish Tradition and Modernity offers a collective view of a historically and culturally significant issue that will be of interest to Jewish scholars of many discplines.

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Bewitched

Walter Metz

A study of the sitcom Bewitched that examines its entire run to discover the show’s numerous interlocking themes, tensions, and innovations.

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Beyond Blaxploitation

Edited by Novotny Lawrence and Gerald R. Butters, Jr.

Beyond Blaxploitation, the first book-length anthology of scholarly work on blaxploitation film, sustains the momentum that blaxploitation scholarship has recently gained, giving the films an even more prominent place in cinema history. This volume is made up of eleven essays employing historical and theoretical methodologies in the examination of spectatorship, marketing, melodrama, the transition of novel to screenplay, and racial politics and identity, among other significant topics. The book fills a substantial gap that exists in the black cinematic narrative and, more broadly, in film history. Beyond Blaxploitation is divided into three sections that feature original essays on a variety of canonical blaxploitation films and others that either influenced the movement or in some form represent a significant extension of it. The first section titled, "From Pioneer to Precursor to Blaxploitation," centers on three films-Cotton Comes to Harlem, Watermelon Man, and Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song-that ignited the African American film cycle. The second section, "The Canon and the Not so Canon," is dedicated to forging alternative considerations of some of the most highly regarded blaxploitation films, while also bringing attention to lesser-known films in the movement. The final section, "Was, Is, or Isn't Blaxploitation," includes four essays that offer significant insights on films that are generally associated with blaxploitation but contest traditional definitions of the movement. Moreover, this section features chapters that address industrial factors that led to the creation of blaxploitation cinema and highlight the limitations of the term itself. Beyond Blaxploitation is a much-needed pedagogical tool, informing film scholars, critics, and fans alike, about blaxploitation's richness and complexity.

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Beyond Sectarianism

The Realignment of American Orthodox Judaism

Ferziger, Adam S.

In 1965 social scientist Charles S. Liebman published a study that boldly declared the vitality of American Jewish Orthodoxy and went on to guide scholarly investigations of the group for the next four decades. As American Orthodoxy continues to grow in geographical, institutional, and political strength, author Adam S. Ferziger argues in Beyond Sectarianism: The Realignment of American Orthodox Judaism that one of Liebman’s principal definitions needs to be updated. While Liebman proposed that the “committed Orthodox” —observant rather than nominally affiliated—could be divided into two main streams: “church,” or Modern Orthodoxy, and “sectarian,” or Haredi Orthodoxy, Ferziger traces a narrowing of the gap between them and ultimately a realignment of American Orthodox Judaism. Ferziger shows that significant elements within Haredi Orthodoxy have abandoned certain strict and seemingly uncontested norms. He begins by offering fresh insight into the division between the American sectarian Orthodox and Modern Orthodox streams that developed in the early twentieth century and highlights New York’s Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun as a pioneering Modern Orthodox synagogue. Ferziger also considers the nuances of American Orthodoxy as reflected in Soviet Jewish activism during the 1960s and early 1970s and educational trips to Poland taken by American Orthodox young adults studying in Israel, and explores the responses of prominent rabbinical authorities to Orthodox feminism and its call for expanded public religious roles for women. Considerable discussion is dedicated to the emergence of outreach to nonobservant Jews as a central priority for Haredi Orthodoxy and how this focus outside its core population reflects fundamental changes. In this context, Ferziger presents evidence for the growing influence of Chabad Hasidism – what he terms the “Chabadization of American Orthodoxy.” Recent studies, including the 2013 Pew Survey of U.S. Jewry, demonstrate that an active and strongly connected American Orthodox Jewish population is poised to grow in the coming decades. Jewish studies scholars and readers interested in history, sociology, and religion will appreciate Ferziger’s reappraisal of this important group.

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Beyond the Windswept Dunes

The Story of Maritime Michigan

Elizabeth B. Sherman

Beyond the Windswept Dunes takes the reader into a world of maritime adventure as it was experienced by the sailors, passengers, rescue workers, shipping magnates, industrialists, and many other people whose livelihoods revolved around Michigan’s port city of Muskegon. At one time the leading edge of westward expansion, Muskegon was a place where lumbering and lakers merged and where rails met decks, a place situated midway along the coast of a great and sometimes stormy inland sea. Here Elizabeth Sherman offers both a shipping history and a portrait of the city. The events covered range from the visit by the British sloop H.M.S. Felicity in 1779 through Muskegon’s boom years as "Lumber Queen of the World," from the city’s revitalization with the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway to its recent establishment of a floating museum complex for historic naval vessels. The book’s focus is on the ships themselves—such as the Lyman M. Davis, Salvor, Highway 16, and Milwaukee Clipper—vessels that were noteworthy for being the first of their kind or for their popularity, unusual and distinctive careers, or tragic losses. A number of ships were lost in Lake Michigan near Muskegon Harbor, and the stories of some of the most notable wrecks and rescue missions appear in this book, including the psychic intervention that led the William Nelson to the exciting rescue of the crew aboard the sinking Our Son. The book offers many first-hand statements of shipwreck survivors and other witnesses, lending an authentic voice to the accounts.

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The Bird-while

Poems by Keith Taylor With illustrations by Tom Pohrt

"A Bird-while. In a natural chronometer, a Bird-while may be admitted as one of the metres, since the space most of the wild birds will allow you to make your observations on them when they alight near you in the woods, is a pretty equal and familiar measure" (Ralph Waldo Emerson's Journal, 1838). Without becoming didactic or pedantic about the spiritual metaphor hidden in the concept of the "bird-while," Keith Taylor's collection evokes certain Eastern meditative poets who often wrote in an aphoristic style of the spirit or the mind mirroring specific aspects of the natural world. The Bird-while is a collection of forty-nine poems that meditate on the nature-both human and non-human-that surrounds us daily. Taylor is in the company of naturalist poets such as Gary Snyder and Mary Oliver-poets who often drew from an Emersonian sensibility to create art that awakens the mind to its corresponding truths in the natural world. The book ranges from the longer poem to the eight line, unrhymed stanza similar to that of the T'ang poet Han-Shan. And without section breaks to reinforce the passing of time, the collection creates greater fluidity of movement from one poem to the next, as if there is no beginning or end, only an eternal moment that is suspended on the page. Tom Pohrt's original illustrations are scattered throughout the text, adding a stunning visual element to the already vivid language. The book moves from the author's travel accounts to the destruction of the natural world, even species extinction, to more hopeful poems of survival and the return of wildness. The natural rhythm is at times marred by the disturbances of the twenty-first century that come blaring into these meditations, as when a National Guard jet rumbles over the treeline upsetting a hummingbird, and yet, even the hummingbird is able to regain its balance and continue as before. At its core, Taylor's collection is a reminder of Emerson's idea that natural facts are symbols of spiritual facts. These well-crafted poems will be easily accessible to any literary audience, with a more particular attraction to readers of contemporary poetry sensitive to the marriage of an Eastern sensibility with contemporary American settings and scenes.

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