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Walls of Empowerment Cover

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Walls of Empowerment

Chicana/o Indigenist Murals of California

By Guisela Latorre

Exploring three major hubs of muralist activity in California, where indigenist imagery is prevalent, Walls of Empowerment celebrates an aesthetic that seeks to firmly establish Chicana/o sociopolitical identity in U.S. territory. Providing readers with a history and genealogy of key muralists’ productions, Guisela Latorre also showcases new material and original research on works and artists never before examined in print. An art form often associated with male creative endeavors, muralism in fact reflects significant contributions by Chicana artists. Encompassing these and other aspects of contemporary dialogues, including the often tense relationship between graffiti and muralism, Walls of Empowerment is a comprehensive study that, unlike many previous endeavors, does not privilege non-public Latina/o art. In addition, Latorre introduces readers to the role of new media, including performance, sculpture, and digital technology, in shaping the muralist’s “canvas.” Drawing on nearly a decade of fieldwork, this timely endeavor highlights the ways in which California’s Mexican American communities have used images of indigenous peoples to raise awareness of the region’s original citizens. Latorre also casts murals as a radical force for decolonization and liberation, and she provides a stirring description of the decades, particularly the late 1960s through 1980s, that saw California’s rise as the epicenter of mural production. Blending the perspectives of art history and sociology with firsthand accounts drawn from artists’ interviews, Walls of Empowerment represents a crucial turning point in the study of these iconographic artifacts.

Walls That Speak Cover

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Walls That Speak

The Murals of John Thomas Biggers

Olive Jensen Theisen

John Thomas Biggers (1924–2001) was one of the most significant African American artists of the twentieth century. He was known for his murals, but also for his drawings, paintings, and lithographs, and was honored by a major traveling retrospective exhibition from 1995 to 1997. He created archetypal imagery that spoke positively to the rich and varied ethnic heritage of African Americans, long before the Civil Rights era drew attention to their African cultural roots. His influence upon other artists was profound, both for the power of his art and as professor and elder statesman to younger generations. Olive Jensen Theisen’s long-time commitment to the art of John Biggers resulted from the serendipitous discovery of an early Biggers mural in a school storeroom in the mid-1980s. Theisen immediately recognized the artist, the work, and its significance. She then set about returning The History of Negro Education in Morris County, Texas to a place of honor and found herself becoming a friend and recorder of John Biggers’s stories and experiences relating to the creation of his other murals too, including Family Unity at Texas Southern University. Containing more than eighty color and black-and-white illustrations, Walls That Speak is a richly illustrated update of an earlier edition published in 1996. The artist completed new murals between its publication and his death in 2001. In addition to the inclusion of the new murals, Theisen has added a chapter on Biggers’s African art collection. The only work exclusively dedicated to his murals, this book will appeal to all those interested in murals or African American art.

Wal-Mart Wars Cover

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Wal-Mart Wars

Moral Populism in the Twenty-First Century

Rebekah Peeples Massengill

Wal-Mart is America’s largest retailer. The national chain of stores is a powerful stand-in of both the promise and perils of free market capitalism. Yet it is also often the target of public outcry for its labor practices, to say nothing of class-action lawsuits, and a central symbol in America’s increasingly polarized political discourse over consumption, capitalism and government regulations. In many ways the battle over Wal-Mart is the battle between “Main Street” and “Wall Street” as the fate of workers under globalization and the ability of the private market to effectively distribute precious goods like health care take center stage.
 
In Wal-Mart Wars, Rebekah Massengill shows that the economic debates are not about dollars and cents, but instead represent a conflict over the deployment of deeper symbolic ideas about freedom, community, family, and citizenship. Wal-Mart Wars argues that the family is not just a culture wars issue to be debated with regard to same-sex marriage or the limits of abortion rights; rather, the family is also an idea that shapes the ways in which both conservative and progressive activists talk about economic issues, and in the process, construct different moral frameworks for evaluating capitalism and its most troubling inequalities. With particular attention to political activism and the role of big business to the overall economy, Massengill shows that the fight over the practices of this multi-billion dollar corporation can provide us with important insight into the dreams and realities of American capitalism.
 
Rebekah Peeples Massengill is a Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at Princeton University. 
 
 

Walt Whitman Cover

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Walt Whitman

The Correspondence, Volume VII

In 1961 the first volume of Edwin Haviland Miller’s The Correspondence was published in the newly established series the Collected Writings of Walt Whitman. Miller proceeded to publish five additional volumes of Whitman letters, and other leading scholars, including Roger Asselineau, compiled accompanying volumes of prose, poems, and daybooks. Yet by the late 1980s, the Whitman Collected Writings project was hopelessly scattered, fragmented, and incomplete.

Now, more than forty years after the inaugural volume’s original publication, Ted Genoways brings scholars the latest volume in Walt Whitman: The Correspondence. Incorporating all of the letters Miller had collected before his death in 2001 and combining them with more than a hundred previously unknown letters he himself gathered, Genoways’s volume is a perfect accompaniment to Miller’s original work.

Among the more than one hundred fifty letters collected in this volume are numerous correspondences concerning Whitman’s Civil War years, including a letter sending John Hay, the personal secretary to Abraham Lincoln, a manuscript copy of “O Captain, My Captain!” Additional letters address various aspects of the production of Leaves of Grass, the most notable being an extensive correspondence surrounding the Deathbed Edition, gathered by Whitman’s friend Horace Traubel, and reproduced here for the first time. Most significantly, this volume at last incorporates Whitman’s early letters to Abraham Paul Leech, first published by Arthur Golden in American Literature in 1986. The revelations contained in these letters must be considered among the most important discoveries about Whitman’s life made during the last half of the twentieth century.

Regardless of whether their significance is great or small, immediate or long-term, each new piece of Whitman’s correspondence returns us to a particular moment in his life and suggests the limitless directions that remain for Whitman scholarship.

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Walt Whitman and the Class Struggle

By reconsidering Whitman not as the proletarian voice of American diversity but as a historically specific poet with roots in the antebellum lower middle class, Andrew Lawson in Walt Whitman and the Class Struggle defines the tensions and ambiguities about culture, class, and politics that underlie his poetry.Drawing on a wealth of primary sources from across the range of antebellum print culture, Lawson uses close readings of Leaves of Grass to reveal Whitman as an artisan and an autodidact ambivalently balanced between his sense of the injustice of class privilege and his desire for distinction. Consciously drawing upon the languages of both the elite culture above him and the vernacular culture below him, Whitman constructed a kind of middle linguistic register that attempted to filter these conflicting strata and defuse their tensions: “You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me, / You shall listen to all sides and filter them from yourself.” By exploring Whitman's internal struggle with the contradictions and tensions of his class identity, Lawson locates the source of his poetic innovation. By revealing a class-conscious and conflicted Whitman, he realigns our understanding of the poet's political identity and distinctive use of language and thus valuably alters our perspective on his poetry.

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Walt Whitman and the Earth

A Study in Ecopoetics

How did Whitman use language to figure out his relationship to the earth, and how can we interpret his language to reconstruct the interplay between the poet and his sociopolitical and environmental world? In this first book-length study of Whitman's poetry from an ecocritical perspective, Jimmie Killingsworth takes ecocriticism one step further into ecopoetics to reconsider both Whitman's language in light of an ecological understanding of the world and the world through a close study of Whitman's language.Killingsworth contends that Whitman's poetry embodies the kinds of conflicted experience and language that continually crop up in the discourse of political ecology and that an ecopoetic perspective can explicate Whitman's feelings about his aging body, his war-torn nation, and the increasing stress on the American environment both inside and outside the urban world. He begins with a close reading of “This Compost,” “Whitman's greatest contribution to the literature of ecology,” from the 1856 edition of Leaves of Grass. He then explores personification and nature as object, as resource, and as spirit and examines manifest destiny and the globalizing impulse behind Leaves of Grass, then moves the other way, toward Whitman's regional, even local appeal---demonstrating that he remained an island poet even as he became America's first urban poet. After considering Whitman as an urbanizing poet, he shows how, in his final writings, Whitman tried to renew his earlier connection to nature. Walt Whitman and the Earth reveals Whitman as a powerfully creative experimental poet and a representative figure in American culture whose struggles and impulses previewed our lives today.

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Walt Whitman and the World

Celebrating the various ethnic traditions that melded to create what we now call American literature, Whitman did his best to encourage an international reaction to his work. But even he would have been startled by the multitude of ways in which his call has been answered. By tracking this wholehearted international response and reconceptualizing American literature, Walt Whitman and the World demonstrates how various cultures have appropriated an American writer who ceases to sound quite so narrowly American when he is read into other cultures' traditions.

Walt Whitman's Mystical Ethics of Comradeship Cover

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Walt Whitman's Mystical Ethics of Comradeship

Homosexuality and the Marginality of Friendship at the Crossroads of Modernity

Recovers Walt Whitman as a self-conscious religious figure with an ethic based in male comradeship, one at odds with the temper of his times. A giant of American letters, Walt Whitman is known both as a poet and, to a lesser extent, as a prophet of gay liberation. This revealing book recovers for today’s reader a lost Whitman, delving into the original context and intentions of his poetry and prose. As Juan A. Herrero Brasas shows, Whitman saw himself as a founder of a new religion. Indeed, disciples gathered around him: the “hot little prophets” as they came to be called by early biographers. Whitman’s religion revolved around his concept of comradeship, an original alternative to the type of competitive masculinity emerging in the wake of industrialization and nineteenth-century capitalism. Shedding new light on the life and original message of a poet who warned future generation of treating him as a literary figure, Herrero Brasas concludes that Whitman was a moral reformer and grand theorist akin to other grand theorists of his day.

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Walt Whitman's Reconstruction

Poetry and Publishing between Memory and History

Martin T. Buinicki

 For Walt Whitman, living and working in Washington, D.C., after the Civil War, Reconstruction meant not only navigating these tumultuous years alongside his fellow citizens but also coming to terms with his own memories of the war. Just as the work of national reconstruction would continue long past its official end in 1877, Whitman’s own reconstruction would continue throughout the remainder of his life as he worked to revise his poetic project—and his public image—to incorporate the disasters that had befallen the Union. In this innovative and insightful analysis of the considerable poetic and personal reimagining that is the hallmark of these postwar years, Martin Buinicki reveals the ways that Whitman reconstructed and read the war.

 
The Reconstruction years would see Whitman transformed from newspaper editor and staff journalist to celebrity contributor and nationally recognized public lecturer, a transformation driven as much by material developments in the nation as by his own professional and poetic ambitions while he expanded and cemented his place in the American literary landscape. Buinicki places Whitman’s postwar periodical publications and business interests in context, closely examining his “By the Roadside” cluster as well as Memoranda During the War and Specimen Days as part of his larger project of personal and artistic reintegration. He traces Whitman’s shifting views of Ulysses S. Grant as yet another way to understand the poet’s postwar life and profession and reveals the emergence of Whitman the public historian at the end of Reconstruction.
 
Whitman’s personal reconstruction was political, poetic, and public, and his prose writings, like his poetry, formed a major part of the postwar figure that he presented to the nation. Looking at the poet’s efforts to absorb the war into his own reconstruction narrative, Martin Buinicki provides striking new insights into the evolution of Whitman’s views and writings.

 

Walt Whitman's Songs of Male Intimacy and Love Cover

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Walt Whitman's Songs of Male Intimacy and Love

"Live Oak, with Moss" and "Calamus"

In his 1859 “Live Oak, with Moss,” Walt Whitman’s unpublished sheaf of twelve poems on manly passion, the poet dreams of a city where men who love men can live and love openly. The revised “Live Oak, with Moss” poems became “Calamus,” Whitman’s cluster of poems on “adhesive” and manly love, comradeship, and democracy, in Leaves of Grass. Commemorating both the first publication of the “Calamus” poems and the little-known manuscript of notebook poems out of which the “Calamus” cluster grew, Whitman scholar Betsy Erkkila brings together in a single edition for the first time the “Live Oak, with Moss” poems, the 1860 “Calamus” poems, and the final 1881 “Calamus” poems. In addition to honoring the sesquicentennial of the “Calamus” cluster, she celebrates the ongoing legacy of Whitman’s songs of manly passion, sex, and love.

The volume begins with Whitman’s elegantly handwritten manuscript of the “Live Oak, with Moss” poems, printed side by side with a typeset transcription and followed by a facsimile of the 1860 version of the “Calamus” poems. The concluding section reprints the final version of the “Calamus” poems from the 1881 edition of Leaves of Grass. In an afterword, Erkkila discusses the radical nature of these poems in literary, sexual, and social history; the changes Whitman made in the “Live Oak” and “Calamus” poems in the post–Civil War and Reconstruction years; the literary, political, and other contests surrounding the poems; and the constitutive role the poems have played in the emergence of modern heterosexual and homosexual identity in the United States and worldwide. The volume closes with a selected bibliography of works that have contributed to the critical and interpretive struggles around Whitman’s man-loving life.

One hundred and fifty years after Whitman’s brave decision to speak publicly about a fully realized democracy, his country is still locked in a struggle over the rights of homosexuals. These public battles have been at the very center of controversies over the life, work, and legacy of Walt Whitman, America’s (and the world’s) major poet of democracy and its major singer of what he called “manly love” in all its moods. Together the poems in this omnibus volume affirm his creation of a radical new language designed to convey and affirm the poet’s man love.
 

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