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Women's Studies, Gender, and Sexuality
The Demeter-Persephone Myth in Wharton, Cather, and Glasgow
A continuation of Josephine Donovan's exploration of American women's literary traditions, begun with New England Local Color Literature: A Women's Tradition, which treats the nineteenth-century realists, this work analyzes the writing of major women writers of the early twentieth century—Edith Wharton, Willa Cather, and Ellen Glasgow.
The author sees the Demeter-Persephone myth as central to these writers' thematics, but interprets the myth in terms of the historical transitions taking place in turn-of-the-century America. Donovan focuses on the changing relationship between mothers and daughters—in particular upon the "new women's" rebellion against the traditional women's culture of their nineteenth-century mothers (both literary and literal). An introductory chapter traces the male-supremacist ideologies that formed the intellectual climate in which these women wrote.
Reorienting Wharton, Cather, and Glasgow within women's literary traditions produces major reinterpretations of their works, including such masterpieces as Ethan Frome, Summer, My Antonia, Barren Ground, and others.
Toward a Politics of Exhaustion
Applying Jean Baudrillard’s question “What are you doing after the orgy?” to the postmillennial climate that informs our contemporary cultural moment, this book argues that the imagination of apocalyptic endings has been an obsessive theme in post-Enlightenment culture. Dominic Pettman identifies and examines the dynamic tensions of various apocalyptic discourses, from the fin-de-siècle decadents of the 1890s to the fin-de-millènnium cyberpunks of the 1990s, in order to highlight the complex constellation of exhaustion, anticipation, panic, and ecstasy in contemporary culture. Through analyses of rapturous cults, cyberpunk literature, post-apocalyptic cinema, techno-paganism, death fashion, and the Y2K prophecy, After the Orgy explores why the twentieth century swung so violently between the poles of anticipation and anticlimax. In the process, the book raises pressing questions concerning the relevance of such ideas in our new millennium and points out alternatives to the monotonous horror of traditional narratives.
The hit Broadway show of 1912; the lost film of 1919; Katharine Hepburn, as Jo, sliding down a banister in George Cukor’s 1933 movie; Mark English’s shimmering 1967 illustrations; Jo—this time played by Sutton Foster—belting “I'll be / astonishing” in the 2004 Broadway musical flop: these are only some of the markers of the afterlife of Little Women. Then there’s the nineteenth-century child who wrote, “If you do not . . . make Laurie marry Beth, I will never read another of your books as long as I live.” Not to mention Miss Manners, a Little Women devotee, who announced that the book taught her an important life lesson: “Although it’s very nice to have two clean gloves, it’s even more important to have a little ink on your fingers.” In The Afterlife of “Little Women,” Beverly Lyon Clark, a leading authority on children’s literature, explores these and other after-tremors, both popular and academic, as she maps the reception of Louisa May Alcott’s timeless novel, first published in 1868. Clark divides her discussion into four historical periods. The first covers the novel’s publication and massive popularity in the late nineteenth century. In the second era—the first three decades of the twentieth century—the novel becomes a nostalgic icon of the domesticity of a previous century, while losing status among the literary and scholarly elite. In its mid-century afterlife (1930–1960), Little Women reaches a low in terms of its critical reputation but remains a well-known piece of Americana within popular culture. The book concludes with a long chapter on Little Women’s afterlife from the 1960s to the present—a period in which the reading of the book seems to decline, while scholarly attention expands dramatically and popular echoes continue to proliferate. Drawing on letters and library records as well as reviews, plays, operas, film and television adaptations, spinoff novels, translations, Alcott biographies, and illustrations, Clark demonstrates how the novel resonates with both conservative family values and progressive feminist ones. She grounds her story in criticism of children’s literature, book history, cultural studies, feminist criticism, and adaptation studies. Written in an accessible narrative style, The Afterlife of “Little Women” speaks to scholars, librarians, and devoted Alcott fans.
The Violence of the Normative
Numerous activists and scholars have appealed for rights, inclusion, and justice in the name of "citizenship." Against Citizenship provocatively shows that there is nothing redeemable about citizenship, nothing worth salvaging or sustaining in the name of "community," practice, or belonging. According to Brandzel, citizenship is a violent dehumanizing mechanism that makes the comparative devaluing of human lives seem commonsensical, logical, and even necessary. Against Citizenship argues that whenever we work on behalf of citizenship, whenever we work towards including more types of peoples under its reign, we inevitably reify the violence of citizenship against nonnormative others. Brandzel's focus on three legal case studies--same-sex marriage law, hate crime legislation, and Native Hawaiian sovereignty and racialization--exposes how citizenship confounds and obscures the mutual processes of settler colonialism, racism, sexism, and heterosexism. In this way, Brandzel argues that citizenship requires anti-intersectionality, that is, strategies that deny the mutuality and contingency of race, class, gender, sexuality and nation--and how, oftentimes, progressive left activists and scholars follow suit.
Both a precursor to and a critical member of the French New Wave, Agnès Varda weaves documentary and fiction into tapestries that portray distinctive places and complex human beings. Critics and aficionados have celebrated Varda's independence and originality since the New Wave touchstone Cleo from 5 to 7 (1962) brought her a level of international acclaim she has yet to relinquish. Film historian Kelley Conway traces Varda's works from her 1954 debut La Pointe Courte through a varied career that includes nonfiction and fiction shorts and features, installation art, and the triumphant 2008 documentary The Beaches of Agnès . Drawing on Varda's archives and conversations with the filmmaker, Conway focuses on the concrete details of how Varda makes films: a project's emergence, its development and the shifting forms of its screenplay, the search for financing, and the execution from casting through editing and exhibition. In the process, she explores the artistic consistencies and bold changes in Varda's career and reveals how one woman charted a nontraditional trajectory through independent filmmaking.
Geraldyne Pierce Zimmerman Comes of Age in a Southern African American Family
Born into a relatively privileged family, Geraldyne Pierce Zimmerman earned a reputation as a maverick in her life-long home of Orangeburg, South Carolina, a semi-rural community where race and class were very much governed by the Jim Crow laws. Educated at Nashville’s Fisk University, Zimmerman returned to Orangeburg to teach school, serve her community, and champion equal rights for African Americans and women. She was a woman far ahead of her time. Kibibi V. Mack-Shelton offers a vivid portrayal of the kind of black family seldom recognized for its role in the development of the African American community after the Civil War. At a time when “separate-but-equal” usually meant suffering and injustice for the black community, South Carolina families such as the Tatnalls, Pierces, and Zimmermans achieved a level of financial and social success rivaling that of many white families. Drawing heavily on the oral accounts of Geraldyne Pierce Zimmerman, Mack-Shelton draws the reader into the lives of the African American elite of the early twentieth century. Her captivating narrative style brings to life many complicated topics: how skin color affected interracial interactions and class distinctions within the black community itself, the role of education for women and for African Americans in general, and the ways in which cultural ideas about family and community are simultaneously preserved and transformed over the span of generations. Refreshing and engaging, Ahead of Her Time in Yesteryear is an important contribution to African American and women’s studies, as well as a fascinating biography for any reader interested in a new perspective on small town black culture in the Jim Crow South.
The Cultural Semiotics of an Epidemic
Since public discourse about AIDS began in 1981, it has characterized AIDS as an apocalyptic plague: a punishment for sin and a sign of the end of the world. Christian fundamentalists had already configured the gay male population most visibly affected by AIDS as apocalyptic signifiers or signs of the “end times.” Their discourse grew out of a centuries-old American apocalypticism that included images of crisis, destruction, and ultimate renewal. In this book, Thomas L. Long examines the ways in which gay and AIDS activists, artists, writers, scientists, and journalists appropriated this apocalyptic rhetoric in order to mobilize attention to the medical crisis, prevent the spread of the disease, and treat the HIV infected. Using the analytical tools of literary analysis, cultural studies, performance theory, and social semiotics, AIDS and American Apocalypticism examines many kinds of discourse, including fiction, drama, performance art, demonstration graphics and brochures, biomedical publications, and journalism and shows that, while initially useful, the effects of apocalyptic rhetoric in the long term are dangerous. Among the important figures in AIDS activism and the arts discussed are David Drake, Tim Miller, Sarah Schulman, and Tony Kushner, as well as the organizations ACT UP and Lesbian Avengers.
There are approximately seven million adult gay and bisexual men in the United States and 120 million adult gay and bisexual men globally. This highly readable volume of original essays explores the cultural dimensions of AIDS among men who have sex with men (MSM).
The traditional emphasis in HIV/AIDS research within gay communities has focused on sexual behavior and psychological issues. Yet to better understand the social and cultural dimensions of the disease, and to halt the spread of HIV, it is essential to recognize and understand the culture of MSM. Cultural anthropologists, unquestionably, are in a unique position to achieve this understanding. Douglas Feldman has gathered a diverse group of experts to contribute to this collection, and the volume features a wealth of scholarly data unavailable elsewhere.
The True Story of U.S. Army Nurses Behind Enemy Lines
On November 8, 1943, U.S. Army nurse Agnes Jensen stepped out of a cold rain in Catania, Sicily, into a C-53 transport plane. But she and twelve other nurses never arrived in Bari, Italy, where they were to transport wounded soldiers to hospitals farther from the front lines. A violent storm and pursuit by German Messerschmitts led to a crash landing in a remote part of Albania, leaving the nurses, their team of medics, and the flight crew stranded in Nazi-occupied territory. What followed was a dangerous nine-week game of hide-and-seek with the enemy, a situation President Roosevelt monitored daily. Albanian partisans aided the stranded Americans in the search for a British Intelligence Mission, and the group began a long and hazardous journey to the Adriatic coast. During the following weeks, they crossed Albania's second highest mountain in a blizzard, were strafed by German planes, managed to flee a town moments before it was bombed, and watched helplessly as an attempt to airlift them out was foiled by Nazi forces. Albanian Escape is the suspense-filled story of the only group of Army flight nurses to have spent any length of time in occupied territory during World War II. The nurses and flight crew endured frigid weather, survived on little food, and literally wore out their shoes trekking across the rugged countryside. Thrust into a perilous situation and determined to survive, these women found courage and strength in each other and in the kindness of Albanians and guerrillas who hid them from the Germans.
A Woman's Search for Manet's Notorious Model and Her Own Desire
Eunice Lipton was a fledging art historian when she first became intrigued by Victorine Meurent, the nineteenth-century model who appeared in Edouard Manet's most famous paintings, only to vanish from history in a haze of degrading hearsay. But had this bold and spirited beauty really descended into prostitution, drunkenness, and early death-or did her life, hidden from history, take a different course altogether? Eunice Lipton's search for the answer combines the suspense of a detective story with the revelatory power of art, peeling off layers of lies to reveal startling truths about Victorine Meurent-and about Lipton herself.