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In his nearly two terms as president, Barack Obama has solidified his status as something black people haven’t had for fifty years: a folk hero. The 1960s delivered Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, forever twinned as larger-than-life outsiders and truth tellers who took on racism and died in the process. Obama is different: Not an outsider but president, head of the most powerful state in the world; a centrist Democrat, not the face of a movement. Yet he is every bit a folk hero, doing battle with the beast of a system created to keep people like him on the margins. He is unique among presidents and entirely unique among black people, who never expected to have a president so soon.
In I Heart Obama, journalist Erin Aubry Kaplan offers an unapologetic appreciation of our highest-ranking “First” and what he means to black Americans. In the process, she explores the critiques of those in the black community who charge that he has not done enough, been present enough, been black enough to motivate real change in America. Racial antipathy cloaked as political antipathy has been the major conflict in Obama’s presidency. His impossible task as an individual and as a president is nothing less than this: to reform the entire racist culture of the country he leads. Black people know he can’t do it, but will support his effort anyway, as they have supported the efforts of many others. Obama’s is a noble and singular story we will tell for generations. I Heart Obama looks at the story so far.
Narrative, Affiliation, and Antiraciset Rhetoric
"Both from the Right and from the Left, we are stymied in talking well with one another about race and racism, by intransigent beliefs in our own goodness as well as by our conviction that such talk is useless. . . . White antiracist epistemology needs to begin not with our beliefs, but with our individual and collective awakening to that which we do not know."
Drawing on scholarship across disciplines ranging from writing and rhetoric studies to critical race theory to philosophy, I Hope I Join the Band examines the limits and the possibilities for performative engagement in antiracist activism. Focusing particularly on the challenges posed by raced-white identity to performativity, and moving between narrative and theoretical engagement, thebook names and argues for critical shifts in the understandings and rhetorical practices that attend antiracist activism.
The Civil War Letters of John Bennitt, M.D., Surgeon, 19th Michigan Infantry
In 1862 at the age of thirty-two, Centreville, Michigan, physician John Bennitt joined the 19th Michigan Infantry Regiment as an assistant surgeon and remained in military service for the rest of the war. During this time Bennitt wrote more than two hundred letters home to his wife and daughters sharing his careful and detailed observations of army life, his medical trials in the field and army hospitals, dramatic battles, and character sketches of the many people he encountered, including his regimental comrades, captured Confederates, and local citizens in southern towns. Bennitt writes about the war’s progress on both the battlefield and the home front, and also reveals his changing view of slavery and race. Bennitt traces the history of the 19th Michigan Infantry, from its mustering in Dowagiac in August 1862, its duty in Kentucky and Tennessee, its capture and imprisonment by Confederate forces, its subsequent exchange and reorganization, its participation in the Atlanta and the Carolinas campaigns, its place in the Grand Review in Washington, and the final mustering out in Detroit in June 1865. John Bennitt’s significant collection of letters sheds light not only on the Civil War but on the many aspects of life in a small Michigan town. Although a number of memoirs from Civil War surgeons have been published in the last decade, “I Hope to Do My Country Service” is the first of its kind from a Michigan regimental surgeon to appear in more than a century.
Narrating Subjects from Moll Flanders to Marnie
In I Know That You Know That I Know, Butte explores how stories narrate human consciousness. Butte locates a historical shift in the representation of webs of consciousnesses in narrative—what he calls “deep intersubjectivity”—and examines the effect this shift has since had on Western literature and culture. The author studies narrative practices in two ways: one pairing eighteenth-and nineteenth-century British novels (Moll Flanders and Great Expectations, for example), and the other studying genre practices—comedy, anti-comedy and masquerade—in written and film narratives (Jane Austen and His Girl Friday, for example, and Hitchcock’s Cary Grant films). Butte’s second major claim argues for new ways to read representations of human consciousness, whether or not they take the form of deep intersubjectivity. Phenomenological criticism has lost its credibility in recent years, but this book identifies better reading strategies arising out of what the author calls poststructuralist phenomenology, grounded largely in the work of the French philosopher Merleau-Ponty. Butte criticizes the extreme of transcendental idealism (first-wave phenomenological criticism) and cultural materialism (when it rules out the study of consciousness). He also criticizes the dominant Lacanian framework of much academic film criticism.
Art and Deterritorialization
Contemporary Chinese art is nowadays a subject area widely taught and researched in academic and non-academic publications, but it has not yet been studied by 'localizing' the research in specific cultural areas within the Chinese world. Selecting Hong Kong for a first such study was an obvious choice, since Hong Kong culture has had for already quite a long time very specific features which have put it apart from the generally accepted definition of Chinese national culture. Although it is not a survey of 'Hong Kong art,' as such a study would demand many more books, the works of about eighty artists working in Hong Kong (and sometimes outside) have been analyzed and contextualized in these pages.
Memoirs of a Babe in Toyland
Babes in Toyland burst onto the Minneapolis music scene in the late 1980s and quickly established itself at the forefront of punk/alternative rock. The all-female trio featured a shy, seventeen-year-old Jewish teen from the suburbs on bass guitar—an instrument she had never played before joining the band. Over the next few years, Michelle Leon lived the rock-and-roll lifestyle—playing live concerts, recording in studios, touring across the United States and Europe, and spending endless hours in stuffy vans, staying in two-star motels, and sleeping on strangers’ couches in town after town. The grind and drama of life in the band gradually wore on Leon, however, and a heartbreaking tragedy led her to rethink her commitment to the band and the music scene. Leon’s sensitive, sensory prose puts readers right on stage with Babes in Toyland while also conveying the uncertainty, vulnerability, and courage needed by a girl who never felt like she fit in to somehow find her place in the world.
The Songwriting Legacy of Townes Van Zandt
The writer of such influential songs as “Pancho and Lefty,” “To Live’s to Fly,” “If I Needed You,” and “For the Sake of the Song,” Townes Van Zandt exerted an influence on at least two generations of Texas musicians that belies his relatively brief, deeply troubled life. Indeed, Van Zandt has influenced millions worldwide in the years since his death, and his impact is growing rapidly. Respected singer/songwriter John Gorka speaks for many when he says, “‘Pancho and Lefty’ changed—it unchained—my idea of what a song could be.” In this tightly woven, intelligently written book, Brian T. Atkinson interviews both well-known musicians and up-and-coming artists to reveal, in the performers’ own words, how their creative careers have been shaped by the life and work of Townes Van Zandt. Kris Kristofferson, Guy Clark, Billy Joe Shaver, Rodney Crowell, Lucinda Williams, and Lyle Lovett are just a few of the established musicians who share their impressions of the breathtakingly beautiful tunes and lyrics he created, along with their humorous, poignant, painful, and indelible memories of witnessing Van Zandt’s rise and fall. Atkinson balances the reminiscences of seasoned veterans with the observations of relative newcomers to the international music scene, such as Jim James (My Morning Jacket), Josh Ritter, and Scott Avett (the Avett Brothers), presenting a nuanced view of Van Zandt’s singular body of work, his reckless lifestyle, and his long-lasting influence. Forewords by “Cowboy” Jack Clement and longtime Van Zandt manager and friend Harold F. Eggers Jr. open the book, and each chapter begins with an introduction in which Atkinson provides context and background, linking each interviewee to Van Zandt’s legacy. Historians, students, and fans of all music from country and folk to rock and grunge will find new insights and recall familiar pleasures as they read I’ll Be Here in the Morning: The Songwriting Legacy of Townes Van Zandt.
The Life of Elizabeth Inchbald
Elizabeth Simpson Inchbald (1753--1821) was one of the leading literary figures of the late eighteenth century -- an actress, a successful playwright and editor of several collections of plays, a popular novelist, and a drama critic. Considered a beautiful, independent woman, Inchbald was much involved in the theatrical, literary, and publishing life of London.
Elizabeth Simpson ran away from home at age eighteen to seek fame as an actress in London and quickly married Joseph Inchbald, an actor twice her age. They toured the stage together until his sudden death in 1779. She made her London stage debut a year later, and her writing debut came in 1784 with the play The Mogul Tale; Or, The Descent of the Balloon. Over the next two decades she wrote or adapted twenty-one plays: comedies, farces, and works from French and German, including the version of Kotzebue's Lovers' Vows, later used in Jane Austen's Mansfield Park. Inchbald's acclaimed first novel, A Simple Story, prefigured the work of later women writers such as Austen.
Using material from Inchbald's own pocket books detailing her daily life (she destroyed most of her letters and journals late in her life at the advice of her Catholic confessor) as well as a wealth of other sources, Annibel Jenkins tells for the first time not only the full story of Mrs. Inchbald's life but also provides a fascinating look at the society and politics, both public and private, of London in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
A Crustacean Odyssey
A consideration of the lobster in history, myth, art, literature, and cuisine Consider the lobster. An improbable icon, Mesozoic revenant, surrealist fetish, nightmare ornament, and gastronomic adventure, it has fascinated people throughout history. It may be an exaggeration to say that lobsters are a cultural obsession—but only slightly. I, Lobster dissects the place of the lobster in human affairs, through history, science, myth, art, literature, music, movies, and, of course, cuisine. Though not generally beautiful to human eyes, lobsters star in some of the most gorgeous works of art in the world, the still-lifes painted in the Low Countries during the seventeenth century. And while many of us would question their sex appeal, lobsters carried an erotic charge for artists of the twentieth century who, inspired by Freud, found many opportunities to think of them in that way. Nancy Frazier explores diverse facets of our fascination with the lobster, whether in art, myth, or science. She describes how the lobster lives in its natural surroundings: its food, sex life, social life, predators, and general behavior. But I, Lobster goes beyond what we think about and do to the lobster, to explore how lobsters speak to us as signs, symbols, metaphors, code words, myth, lore, and fantasy. With recipes drawn from such notable lobster connoisseurs as M. F. K. Fisher, Alice B. Toklas, and Craig Claiborne, I, Lobster is a quirky, charming, and weirdly fascinating compendium of lobster lore.