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Cultural Diplomacy and the Cold War
At the height of the Cold War in 1954, President Eisenhower inaugurated a program of cultural exchange that sent American dancers and other artists to political "hot spots" overseas. This peacetime gambit by a warrior hero was a resounding success.
Among the artists chosen for international duty were Jose Limon, who led his company on the first government-sponsored tour of South America; Martha Graham, whose famed ensemble crisscrossed southeast Asia; Alvin Ailey, whose company brought audiences to their feet throughout the South Pacific; and George Balanchine, whose New York City Ballet crowned its triumphant visits to Western Europe and Japan with an epoch-making tour of the Soviet Union in 1962. The success of Eisenhower's program of cultural export led directly to the creation of the National Endowment for the Arts and Washington's Kennedy Center.
Naima Prevots draws on an array of previously unexamined sources, including formerly classified State Department documents, congressional committee hearings, and the minutes of the Dance Panel, to reveal the inner workings of "Eisenhower's Program," the complex set of political, fiscal, and artistic interests that shaped it, and the ever-uneasy relationship between government and the arts in the US.
CONTRIBUTORS: Eric Foner.
Intimate Conversations with Great Dancers
The Dancer Within is a collection of photographic portraits and short essays based on confessional interviews with forty dancers and entertainers, many of them world-famous. Well-known on the concert stage, on Broadway, in Hollywood musicals, and on television, the personalities featured in this book speak with extraordinary candor about all stages of the dancer’s life—from their first dance class to their signature performances and their days of reflection on the artist’s life. The Dancer Within reveals how these artists triumphed, but also how they overcame adversity, including self-doubt, injuries, and aging. Most of all, this book is about the courage, commitment, love, and passion of these performers in their quest for artistic excellence. The reader will quickly realize that “the dancer within” is a metaphor of the human spirit.
From the depths of sorrow following the sudden death of her closest female mentor, Brenda Hillman asks anguished questions in this book of poems about separation, spiritual transcendence, and the difference between life and death. Both personal and philosophical, her work can be read as a spirit-guide for those mourning the loss of a loved one and as a series of fundamental ponderings on the inevitability of death and separation. At first refusing to let go, desperate to feel the presence of her friend, the poet seeks solace in a belief in the spirit world. But life, not death, becomes the issue when she begins to see physical existence as "an interruption" that preoccupies us with shapes and borders. "Shape makes life too small," she realizes. Comfort at last comes in the idea of "reverse seeing": that even if she cannot see forward into the spirit world, her friend can see "backward into this world" and be with her.
Death Tractates is the companion volume to a philosophical poetic work entitles Bright Existence, which Hillman was in the midst of writing when her friend died. Published by Wesleyan University Press in 1993, it shares many of the same Gnostic themes and sources.
A haunting and peculiar travelogue, Deeds of the Utmost Kindness employs forms as diverse as haiku and prose poetry in settings that range from Japan to the rural Ozarks to contemporary Moscow. The compelling strangeness of the poems' precise details exposes varied rhythms of thought and illustrated how different logics work in the metaphoric structures of changing places . Yet behind the uneasy sense of dislocation felt by the constant traveler lies the personal, essentially moral, voice of the poet as observer.
First published in 1927, Deluge is one of the most famous of the English catastrophe novels. Beautifully written and action packed--RKO Radio Pictures even filmed this story--the novel depicts a flood so severe that it destroys modern civilization, leaving the few survivors to adapt to the rigors of the natural world. Like other English writers responding to the trauma of World War I, Sydney Fowler Wright expresses a loathing of the worst aspects of industrialization. The flood, in his view, becomes an opportunity for the remaking of society. The protagonists soon realize that civilization and technology have divorced them from the knowledge and skills necessary for survival. Released from their over-reliance on social regulation, they struggle to overcome their own brutality to develop a new sense of community. For over 75 years readers have praised this book for its style and wisdom, and debated the meaning of its controversial ending. This Wesleyan edition is graced with an excellent introduction and annotations by leading science fiction scholar Brian Stableford.
The Art History and Popular Celebrity of Frida Kahlo
Beginning in the late 1970's Frida Kahlo achieved cult heroine status less for her richly surrealist self-portraits than by the popularization of the events of her tumultuous life. Her images were splashed across billboards magazine ads, and postcards; fashion designers copied the so-called "Frida" look in hairstyles and dress; and "Fridamania" even extended to T-shirts, jewelry, and nail polish. Margaret A. Lindauer argues that this mass market assimilation of Kahlo's identity has consistently detracted from appreciation of her work, leading instead to narrow interpretations based on "an entrenched narrative of suffering." While she agrees that Kahlo's political and feminist activism, her stormy marriage to fellow artist Diego Reviera, and the tragic reality of a progressively debilitated body did represent a biography colored by emotional and physical upheaval, she questions an "author-equals-the-work" critical tradition that assumes a :one-to-one association of life events to the meaning of a painting." In kahlo's case, Lindauer says, such assumptions created a devouring mythology, an iconization that separates us from rather than leads us to the real significance of the oeuvre. Accompanied by 26 illustrations and deep analysis of Kahlo's central themes, this provocative, semiotic study recontextualizes an important figure in art history at the same time it addresses key questions about the language of interpretation, the nature of veneration, and the truths within self-representation.
Ebook Edition Note: All images have been redacted.
Storytellers of Stage and Screen
In Rose Eichenbaum’s latest book on the confluence of art making and human expression, she sits down with thirty-five modern day storytellers—the directors of theater, film, and television. Eichenbaum’s subjects speak with revealing clarity about the entertainment industry, the role and life of the director, and how theatrical and cinematic storytelling impacts our culture and our lives. The Director Within includes interviews with Peter Bogdanovich (The Last Picture Show), Julie Taymor (The Lion King), Mel Brooks (Blazing Saddles), Tim Van Patten (The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire), Hal Prince (The Phantom of the Opera), Barry Levinson (Rain Man), and many others. The interviews are skillfully crafted, sensitively executed, and brimming with honesty and insight. The accompanying portraits demonstrate Eichenbaum’s mastery of photography and convey the truth, depth, and intimacy of their subjects. The Director Within is an inspirational, informative, and entertaining resource for anyone interested in creativity, art making, and artistic collaboration. The book includes a listing of works from each of the directors.
The Rock’n’Roll Scene in Austin, Texas
Music of the bars and clubs of Austin, Texas has long been recognized as defining one of a dozen or more musical "scenes" across the country. In Dissonant Identities, Barry Shank, himself a musician who played and lived in the Texas capital, studies the history of its popular music, its cultural and economic context, and also the broader ramifications of that music as a signifying practice capable of transforming identities.
While his focus is primarily on progressive country and rock, Shank also writes about traditional country, blues, rock, disco, ethnic, and folk musics. Using empirical detail and an expansive theoretical framework, he shows how Austin became the site for "a productive contestation between two forces: the fierce desire to remake oneself through musical practice, and the equally powerful struggle to affirm the value of that practice in the complexly structured late-capitalist marketplace."
This elegant and moving collection documents Hilda Raz's experience with breast cancer. The journey, from diagnosis to chemotherapy to mastectomy, from denial to humor to grief and rage, is ultimately one of courage and creativity. The poems themselves are accessible and finely wrought. They are equally testaments to Raz's insistence on making an order out of chaos, of finding ways to create and understand and eventually accept new definitions of good and evil, health, blame, personal boundaries -- in short, a new sense of self. These poems remain intimately bound to the world and of the senses, becoming documents of transformation.