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How J. Edgar Hoover's Ghostreaders Framed African American Literature
Few institutions seem more opposed than African American literature and J. Edgar Hoover’s white-bread Federal Bureau of Investigation. But behind the scenes the FBI’s hostility to black protest was energized by fear of and respect for black writing. Drawing on nearly 14,000 pages of newly released FBI files, F.B. Eyes exposes the Bureau’s intimate policing of five decades of African American poems, plays, essays, and novels. Starting in 1919, year one of Harlem’s renaissance and Hoover’s career at the Bureau, secretive FBI “ghostreaders” monitored the latest developments in African American letters. By the time of Hoover’s death in 1972, these ghostreaders knew enough to simulate a sinister black literature of their own. The official aim behind the Bureau’s close reading was to anticipate political unrest. Yet, as William J. Maxwell reveals, FBI surveillance came to influence the creation and public reception of African American literature in the heart of the twentieth century.
Taking his title from Richard Wright’s poem “The FB Eye Blues,” Maxwell details how the FBI threatened the international travels of African American writers and prepared to jail dozens of them in times of national emergency. All the same, he shows that the Bureau’s paranoid style could prompt insightful criticism from Hoover’s ghostreaders and creative replies from their literary targets. For authors such as Claude McKay, James Baldwin, and Sonia Sanchez, the suspicion that government spy-critics tracked their every word inspired rewarding stylistic experiments as well as disabling self-censorship.
Illuminating both the serious harms of state surveillance and the ways in which imaginative writing can withstand and exploit it, F.B. Eyes is a groundbreaking account of a long-hidden dimension of African American literature.
Fake Documentary And Truth’S Undoing
Defining the borderline between fact and fiction, the contributors reveal what fake documentaries imply and usually make explicit: that many documentaries lie to tell the truth, and that the truth is relative.
Contributors: Steve Anderson, Catherine L. Benamou, Mitchell W. Block, Luis Buñuel, Marlon Fuentes, Craig Hight, Charlie Keil, Alisa Lebow, Eve Oishi, Robert F. Reid-Pharr, Gregorio C. Rocha, Jane Roscoe, Catherine Russell, Elisabeth Subrin.
Alexandra Juhasz is professor of media studies at Pitzer College. She is author of Women of Vision: Histories in Feminist Film and Video (Minnesota, 2001).
Jesse Lerner is associate professor of media studies at Pitzer College.
University of Minnesota Pamphlets on American Writers
F. Scott Fitzgerald - American Writers 15 was first published in 1961. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
The Making of "The Great Gatsby"
The essays in F. Scott Fitzgerald at Work examine fresh facts that illuminate the experiences and source materials upon which Fitzgerald based this quintessentially American masterpiece. They confirm author Horst Kruse’s view that Fitzgerald’s flights of fancy, even at their most spectacular, are firmly grounded in biographical experience as well as in the social, literary, and philosophical circumstances of his era.
In the first essay, Kruse reconstructs the life story of the individual who allegedly inspired the character of Jay Gatsby: Max von Gerlach. Kruse recounts his journeys to various archives and libraries in the United States as well as in Germany to unearth new facts about the genesis of the Gatsby characters. In another journey, readers travel with Kruse to Long Island to explore its physical and moral geography in relation to Fitzgerald, specifically the role of certain elite Long Island families in the advancement of the “science of eugenics” movement. The final two essays take Kruse across the globe to various destinations to consider the broader place of The Great Gatsby in American and international intellectual history.
Replete with fascinating discoveries and insights, F. Scott Fitzgerald at Work both corrects previous assumptions about The Great Gatsby and deepens our appreciation and understanding of Fitzgerald‘s imagination.
As the author of some of the most compelling short stories ever written, two of the central novels in American literature, and some of the most beautiful prose ever penned, F. Scott Fitzgerald is read and studied all over the world. Sixty-two years after his death, his works—protean, provocative, multilayered, and rich—continue to elicit spirited responses. This collection grew out of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Conference that convened in Princeton at the centennial of this author's birth. Bringing together dozens of the world's leading scholars and commentators, the conference and the book celebrate the ever-growing legacy of Fitzgerald's art.
Seventeen scholarly articles deal not only with Fitzgerald's novels but with his stories and essays as well, considering such topics as the Roman Catholic background of The Beautiful and Damned and the influence of Mark Twain on Fitzgerald's work and self-conception. The volume also features four personal essays by Fitzgerald's friends Budd Schulberg, Frances Kroll Ring, publisher Charles Scribner III, and writer George Garrett that shed new light on his personal and professional lives. Together these contributions demonstrate the continued vitality of Fitzgerald's work and establish new directions for ongoing discussions of his life and writing.
Vol. 11 (2013) through current issue
The F. Scott Fitzgerald Review publishes essays on all aspects of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s life and work. The journal serves both the specialist and the general reader with essays that broaden understanding of Fitzgerald’s writing and related topics. While the centrality of The Great Gatsby is recognized, the journal is also eager to advance interest in the breadth of Fitzgerald’s writing. The journal is published on behalf of F. Scott Fitzgerald Society.
“An Almost Theatrical Innocence”
“Fitzgerald’s work has always deeply moved me,” writes John T. Irwin. “And this is as true now as it was fifty years ago when I first picked up The Great Gatsby. I can still remember the occasions when I first read each of his novels; remember the time, place, and mood of those early readings, as well as the way each work seemed to speak to something going on in my life at that moment. Because the things that interested Fitzgerald were the things that interested me and because there seemed to be so many similarities in our backgrounds, his work always possessed for me a special, personal authority; it became a form of wisdom, a way of knowing the world, its types, its classes, its individuals.” In his personal tribute to Fitzgerald's novels and short stories, Irwin offers an intricate vision of one of the most important writers in the American canon. The third in Irwin's trilogy of works on American writers, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Fiction resonates back through all of his previous writings, both scholarly and poetic, returning to Fitzgerald's ongoing theme of the twentieth-century American protagonist's conflict between his work and his personal life. This conflict is played out against the typically American imaginative activity of self-creation, an activity that involves a degree of theatrical ability on the protagonist's part as he must first enact the role imagined for himself, which is to say, the self he means to invent. Irwin claims that Fitzgerald, because he was on the side of good breeding and lost causes, should be considered a Southern writer. It also includes a reading of The Great Gatsby that centers on the notion of desire, one that suggests, paradoxically, that the true object of desire is its lack of fulfillment. The work is suffused with elements of both Fitzgerald's and Irwin's biographies, and Irwin's immense erudition is on display throughout. Irwin seamlessly ties together details from Fitzgerald's life with elements from his entire body of work and considers central themes connected to wealth, class, work, love, jazz, acceptance, family, disillusionment, and life as theatrical performance.
From its founding in 1842 the Citadel has been steeped in tradition. There have been changes through the years, but the basics of the military code and the plebe system have remained constant. Citadel graduate Tom Worley has crafted this collection of short stories about life at the South Carolina military academy during the 1960s. While the stories are fictional, they are inspired in part by his days as a student on the college campus. With humor and dramatic clarity, Worley reveals the harshness of the plebe system, how success is achieved through perseverance, and the character-building benefits of a Citadel education. The seventeen stories included in the volume are told from the perspective of two main characters—cadets Pete Creger and Sammy Graham—who are members of F Company. By turns surprising and entertaining, the collected stories range from the emotional and physical trials of being a knob in the plebe system, the brutality of hazing, and the fear and fun of company pranks, to the friendship and camaraderie the system fosters and the tremendous pride shared by those who wear the coveted Citadel ring. Best known for its Corps of Cadets, the Citadel attracts students who desire a college education in a classical military system in which leadership and character training are essential parts of the overall experience. Any romanticized notion of military bravado is quickly shattered the moment students set foot on campus and their parents drive away. Many cadets are left wondering, “What have I signed up for?” Worley’s stories shed light on the pain and the pride, explaining why, he says, “most cadets at the Citadel hated the place while they were there and loved everything about it once they’d graduated. They were bonded together for life. Perhaps that’s the greatest thing the Citadel did for them.”
“With a breadth and depth unsurpassed by any other cultural historian of the South, Lewis Simpson examines the writing of southerners Thomas Jefferson, John Randolph, Mark Twain, Robert Penn Warren, Allen Tate, William Faulkner, Elizabeth Madox Roberts, Arthur Crew Inman, William Styron, and Walker Percy. Simpson offers challenging essays of easy erudition blessedly free of academic jargon. . . . [They] do not propose to support an overall thesis, but simply explore the southern writer’s unique relationship with his or her region, bereft of myth and tradition, in the grasp of science and history.”—Library Journal