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Women's Studies, Gender, and Sexuality

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The Afterlife of "Little Women"

Beverly Lyon Clark

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.

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Against Citizenship

The Violence of the Normative

Amy L. Brandzel

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.

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Agnès Varda

Kelley Conway

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.

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Ahead of Her Time in Yesteryear

Geraldyne Pierce Zimmerman Comes of Age in a Southern African American Family

Kibibi Voloria Mack-Shelton; With a Foreword by Hayward Farrar Jr.

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.

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AIDS and American Apocalypticism

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.

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AIDS, Culture, and Gay Men

Edited by Douglas A. Feldman

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.

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Albanian Escape

The True Story of U.S. Army Nurses Behind Enemy Lines

Agnes Mangerich

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.

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Alice Paul and the American Suffrage Campaign

Katherine H. Adams

Past biographies, histories, and government documents have ignored Alice Paul's contribution to the women's suffrage movement, but this groundbreaking study scrupulously fills the gap in the historical record. Masterfully framed by an analysis of Paul's nonviolent and visual rhetorical strategies, Alice Paul and the American Suffrage Campaign narrates the remarkable story of the first person to picket the White House, the first to attempt a national political boycott, the first to burn the president in effigy, and the first to lead a successful campaign of nonviolence. _x000B__x000B_Katherine H. Adams and Michael L. Keene also chronicle other dramatic techniques that Paul deftly used to gain publicity for the suffrage movement. Stunningly woven into the narrative are accounts of many instances in which women were in physical danger. Rather than avoid discussion of Paul's imprisonment, hunger strikes, and forced feeding, the authors divulge the strategies she employed in her campaign. Paul's controversial approach, the authors assert, was essential in changing American attitudes toward suffrage. _x000B__x000B_

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All Bound Up Together

The Woman Question in African American Public Culture, 1830-1900

Martha S. Jones

The place of women's rights in African American public culture has been an enduring question, one that has long engaged activists, commentators, and scholars. ###All Bound Up Together# explores the roles black women played in their communities' social movements and the consequences of elevating women into positions of visibility and leadership. Martha Jones reveals how, through the nineteenth century, the "woman question" was at the core of movements against slavery and for civil rights. Unlike white women activists, who often created their own institutions separate from men, black women, Jones explains, often organized within already existing institutions--churches, political organizations, mutual aid societies, and schools. Covering three generations of black women activists, Jones demonstrates that their approach was not unanimous or monolithic but changed over time and took a variety of forms, from a woman's right to control her body to her right to vote. Through a far-ranging look at politics, church, and social life, Jones demonstrates how women have helped shape the course of black public culture. Jones examines the activism of African American women in the nineteenth century who staked out space in the public sphere. Unlike white women activists, who often created their own institutions separate from men in order to establish their public presence, black women, Jones explains, began to organize within mixed-gender institutions that already existed--churches, political organizations, mutual aid societies, and schools. Covering three generations of black women activists, Jones demonstrates that their approach was not unanimous or monolithic but changed over time and took a variety of forms, from a woman’s right to control her body to her right to vote. Jones focuses her attention on one crucial part of that: the extent to which African American women should exercise autonomy and authority within their community’s public culture. This volume explores the roles black women played in their communities' social movements and the consequences of elevating women into positions of visibility and leadership. Martha Jones reveals how, throughout the 19th century, the "woman question" was at the core of movements against slavery and for civil rights. The place of women's rights in African American public culture has been an enduring question, one that has long engaged activists, commentators, and scholars. ###All Bound Up Together# explores the roles black women played in their communities' social movements and the consequences of elevating women into positions of visibility and leadership. Martha Jones reveals how, through the nineteenth century, the "woman question" was at the core of movements against slavery and for civil rights. Unlike white women activists, who often created their own institutions separate from men, black women, Jones explains, often organized within already existing institutions--churches, political organizations, mutual aid societies, and schools. Covering three generations of black women activists, Jones demonstrates that their approach was not unanimous or monolithic but changed over time and took a variety of forms, from a woman's right to control her body to her right to vote. Through a far-ranging look at politics, church, and social life, Jones demonstrates how women have helped shape the course of black public culture.

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All the Way from Yoakum

The Personal Journey of a Political Insider

By Marjorie Meyer Arsht

All the Way from Yoakum tells the story of the long, eventful life of a Jewish “good girl” from small-town Texas who became a remarkable woman of her time and a leading light in Houston and Texas politics. One of the founders of the modern Republican Party in Texas, Marjorie Meyer Arsht served as a state party committeewoman and was the first Jewish woman to run as a Republican for the state legislature. Becoming active in politics in the 1950s, she was closely involved in the early career of George H. W. Bush. A member of the prominent Texas family (Meyer, Cohen) that owned Foley Brothers department store and gave Cohen House to Rice University, she recalls the contentious mid-century division in the Jewish community over the issue of Zionism that split congregations and turned friends into bitter antagonists. Formerly president of the Temple Beth Israel Sisterhood, Arsht served as a national spokesperson for a major American anti-Zionist organization. When she turned seventy, Arsht was working as a speechwriter and high-level assistant in the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington while also serving as a regent of Texas Southern University, where she spearheaded a number of important reforms. In addition, she continued to run the small, independent energy development and investment company founded by her late husband. From her childhood as a member of one of the few Jewish families in small-town Yoakum, Texas, to her years of political activism and social involvement, she offers a moving account of an indomitable spirit, one that will provide both inspiration and an understanding of how the Republican Party came to be the dominant force in Texas politics.

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