Reviews

“Hamilton” History Lessons & The Federalist Papers

The Federalist Papers, edited by Jacob E. Cooke

The Hamilton buzz won’t be ending anytime soon. Lin Manuel Miranda, a Wesleyan alum, has created a hit that will irrefutably change the stage and much beyond. With tickets basically impossible to lay your hands on to this phenomenal rejuvenation to both America’s early history and Broadway’s musical scene, it’s no surprise you can’t go a week without Hamilton coming up.

This Broadway musical isn’t just helping American musical practice evolve, either—the show’s ubiquitous presence in American pop culture has teachers across the nation incorporating the score into their history lessons. This contemporary, youthful take on our “founding fathers’ is helping to  revitalize interest in America’s early history. Twenty-thousand New York The Federalist Papers, edited by Jacob E. CookeCity 11th graders will be able to go further than just incorporating the soundtrack, though:

The Rockefeller Foundation and the show’s producers are financing a program to bring 20,000 New York City 11th graders, all from schools with high percentages of students from low-income families, to see Hamilton at a series of matinees. As part of the program, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History will develop curriculum.

The New York Time‘s “The Learning Network” featured a few examples for teachers, including the staging of “historic rap battles.” Another one of their wonderful examples was delving into the Federalist papers, which Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and Jon Jay wrote to defend the American Constitution after critique came of their government being too weak. Originally printed in newspapers, it can be difficult to discern which versions are the final versions, as intended by the authors. But not to fear, because editor Jacob E. Cooke created the “most complete and accurate” edition of The Federalist that has yet to appear. Fully annotated and reproduced from the original newspaper texts, The Federalist features chiefly works by Hamilton, aided by papers by Jay and Madison, to defend the government and its texts that the founding fathers so painstakingly fought to create.

László Moholy-Nagy Retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum

The Theatre of Bauhaus, Gropius

The Theatre of Bauhaus by Walter Gropius and Arthur S Wensinger“You would hardly know, from this show, that Moholy-Nagy shared an era with Picasso and Matisse. Perhaps chalk it up to the First World War and the Russian Revolution and a fissure in Western culture between art that maintained conventional mediums and art that subsumed them in a romance with social change and new techniques. The former held firm in France; the latter flourished in Germany. Americans could thrill to both at once, as interchangeable symbols of the ‘modern.’ It was in America, while he was dying, that Moholy-Nagy seemed to realize and begin to remedy the imbalance, exposing the heart that had always pulsed within the technocratic genius. To be a student of his then must have been heaven,” writes The New Yorker’s art critic  in “The Future Looked Bright”, reviewing the Guggenheim’s current retrospective exhibit on Bauhaus master László Moholy-Nagy.

Few creative movements have been more influential than the Bauhaus, under the leadership of Walter Gropius. The art of the theater commanded special attention, and its greatest commanders were none other than Oskar Schlemmer, Laslo Moholy-Nagy, and Farkas Molnár. Theater of the Bauhaus (edited by Walter Gropius and Arthur S. Wensinger, translated by Arthur Wensinger) is a reissued classic on theater design and presentation. Originally published in 1924, Wesleyan’s edition was its debut in English. The text in this volume is a loose collection of essays by Schlemmer, Molnár, and of course Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, with an introduction by Bauhaus leader Walter Gropius. For scholars of Moholy-Nagy’s late work in America, and scholars of Bauhaus in general, it is a necessary read and a collector’s item. The book is an accurate reproduction, from the lay-out and illustrations down to the book’s typography, so that Schlemmer and Moholy-Nagley’s thoughts and ideas come through just as they are meant.

Moholy-Nagy: Future Present is organized by and will be presented at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

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Wesleyan University Press @ AWP2016 – Los Angeles

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Join Us @ AWP 2016, in Los Angeles!

Booth #1213

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Don’t miss these events:

A Lunch Time Reading at Ace Hotel

Thursday, 3/31: Noon–2PM 
Ace Hotel, 929 South Broadway, Los Angeles
1913 Press, Sidebrow & Wesleyan University Press present:

Rae Armantrout
Fred Moten
Ben Doller
Sandra Doller
Amaranth Borsuk
Kate Durbin
Lily Hoang
Mathias Svalina

Just Saying: A Tribute to Rae Armantrout

Thursday, 3/31: 3-4:15pm
Room 502 A, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level R255

Stephen Burt
Amy Catanzano
Catherine Wagner
Monica Youn
Rae Armantrout

Four author-critics approach Armantrout’s work from a variety of angles, including her association with Language poetry, her exploration of science through verse, her treatment of pop culture and current events, and her merging of everyday experience with epistemological questions about perceptions. Read more here.

Friday Afternoon Cocktail Celebration for BAX 2015

Friday, 4/1: 4-5pm, AWP Booth #1213
Purchase a copy of Best American Experimental Writing, 2015 for $10 (50% off cover price) & enjoy a free Moscow Mule!

Book Signings @ Booth #1213

Rae Armantrout (Itself)–Thursday, 3/31, 4:30PM

Robert Fernandez (Scarecrow)–Friday, 4/1: 10AM

Ben Doller (Fauxhawk) –Friday, 4/1, 12PM

 

Stop by check out our new books!

fiction

Treaty Shirts: October 2034—A Familiar Treatise on the White Earth Nation (Gerald Vizenor)

Reality by Other Means: The Best Short Fiction of James Morrow (James Morrow)

poetry

Common Sense (Ted Greenwald)

Age of Reasons: Uncollected Poems 1969–1982 (Ted Greenwald)

Azure: Poems and Selections from the “Livre” (Stéphane Mallarmé)

Fauxhawk (Ben Doller)

Scarecrow (Robert Fernandez)

The Book of Landings (Mark McMorris)

A Sulfur Anthology (edited by Clayton Eshleman)

#tbt: “A Blessing,” by James Wright

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Today’s Throwback Thursday selection is a James Wright poem found in a forthcoming poetry collection for children: Book of Nature Poetry. The poem was originally published in Wright’s 1963 volume, The Branch Will Not Break, which is also available as an adorable mini-book.

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“A Blessing”
by James Wright
from The Branch Will Not Break (Wesleyan UP, 1963)
Also found in The Book of Nature Poetry (National Geographic Society, 2015), from which this photograph was taken.

Anthology Film Archives (NYC) presents Robert Ryan

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Robert Ryan: An Actor’s Actor
Special screenings of films featuring Robert Ryan
Sept. 4–10 @ Anthology Film Archives 

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A six-film Robert Ryan retrospective
in conjunction with The Lives of Robert Ryan (Wesleyan UP)

  • ACT OF VIOLENCE (Fred Zinnemann, 1948)
    September 4, 7:00 PM; September 6, 4:15 PM; September 8, 9:00 PM
  • ON DANGEROUS GROUND (Nicholas Ray, 1952)
    September 4, 9:00 PM; September 7, 7:00 PM; September 10, 7:00 PM
  • THE NAKED SPUR (Anthony Mann, 1953)
    September 5, 4:30 PM; September 7, 9:00 PM; September 9, 7:00 PM
  • BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK (John Sturges, 1955)
    September 5, 9:15 PM; September 6, 9:00 PM; September 8, 7:00 PM

From September 4–10, Anthology Film Archives in New York will celebrate publication of The Lives of Robert Ryan with the retrospective series “Robert Ryan: An Actor’s Actor.” The series collects six of the most arresting screen performances by this gifted artist and activist, whom Martin Scorsese called “one of the greatest actors in the history of American film.” Select screenings will feature discussions with author J.R. Jones, film editor for the Chicago Reader, and Robert Ryan’s son, Cheyney Ryan, professor of law and philosophy at the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict at Oxford University.

The son of a Chicago construction executive with strong ties to the Democratic machine, Robert Ryan became a star after World War II on the strength of his menacing performance as an anti-Semitic murderer in the film noir Crossfire. Over the next quarter century he created a gallery of brooding, neurotic, and violent characters in such movies as Bad Day at Black RockBilly BuddThe Dirty Dozen, and The Wild Bunch. His riveting performances expose the darkest impulses of the American psyche during the Cold War.

At the same time, Ryan’s marriage to a liberal Quaker and his own sense of conscience launched him into a tireless career of peace and civil rights activism that stood in direct contrast to his screen persona. Drawing on unpublished writings and revealing interviews, Jones deftly explores the many contradictory facets of Ryan’s public and private lives, and how these lives intertwined in one of the most compelling actors of a generation.

Jones has recently spoken about The Lives of Robert Ryan at the Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival in Palm Springs and at the Printers Row Lit Fest in Chicago. At the Music Box Theatre in Chicago, he presented a screening of Ryan’s boxing classic The Set-Up and took part in a discussion with Lisa Ryan, the actor’s daughter. The Lives of Robert Ryan is the featured book for July on Turner Classic Movies.

J.R. JONES is film editor for the Chicago Reader, where his work has appeared since 1996 and won multiple awards from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia. A member of the National Society of Film Critics, Jones has also published work in the Chicago Sun-Times, New York Press, Kenyon Review, and Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000, edited by Peter Guralnick.

CHEYNEY RYAN is Human Rights Program Director at the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict at Oxford University, where he is engaged in a multi-year project exploring the relation of pacifism and nonviolence to contemporary just war theory. He has also taught at Harvard Law School, Northwestern University, and University of Oregon, where he is a professor emeritus. His most recent book is The Chickenhawk Syndrome: War, Sacrifice, and Personal Responsibility.

ANTHOLOGY FILM ARCHIVES is an international center for the preservation, study, and exhibition of film and video, with a particular focus on independent, experimental, and avant-garde cinema. AFA maintains a reference library containing the world’s largest collection of books, periodicals, stills, and other paper materials related to avant-garde cinema. It screens more than 900 programs annually, preserves an average of 25 films per year, publishes books and DVDs, and hosts numerous scholars and researchers.

Praise for The Lives of Robert Ryan:

“A masterly biography that portrays an actor devoted to his craft and dedicated to his personal convictions.” –Richard Dickey, Library Journal

“J.R. Jones in his excellent biography shows what a fascinating career [Ryan’s] was—complicated, contradictory, accidental. . . . As Jones demonstrates at considerable length, [Ryan] was a man of liberal principle and moral courage.” –Philip French, Sight & Sound 

“J.R. Jones’s meticulous, revealing book on Robert Ryan places the actor’s life and career against the turbulent politics of the Cold War and the red scare in Hollywood. Jones is especially adept in moving between the life and the work, the films and their contexts. He introduces political history throughout, in ways that are both relevant and revelatory.” –Foster Hirsch, author of The Dark Side of the Screen: Film Noir

“As self-effacing yet as solid and as ethically engaged as Robert Ryan himself, J.R. Jones offers a comprehensive and sensitive chronicle of one of the giants of American movie acting.” –Jonathan Rosenbaum, author of Movie Wars

#tbt: Old Leather Man

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Today’s Throwback Thursday selection is from our 2008 book The Old Leather Man.

I first learned about the Old Leather Man around 15 years ago, when I worked for Arcadia Publishing. One day, after joining the staff here at Wesleyan, I was pleasantly surprised to see a proposal for an entire book on the subject. That book, The Old Leather Man: Historical Accounts of a Connecticut and New York Legend, has gone on to become one of our best-selling regional books. First published in 2008, it has maintained a steady stream of interest. The book and its author, Dan W. DeLuca, were recently the subject of a feature article, by Jon Campbell, in The Village VoiceIt is wonderful to see Yann Legendre’s phantom-like interpretation of the mystery man gracing the cover of The Voice. It is not often that we see regional history and regional books receiving this kind of coverage!

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The Old Leather Man, featured in The Village Voice. Our book, the newspaper, and some memorabilia are seen here.

Eddie Vedder, of Pearl Jam fame, happens to be a fan of the mystery man, and our book. Vedder wrote of our book on his band’s website. He said: “While this book offers up his life and times in the most complete manner possible, the mystery of Leather Man remains intact. It’s also interesting to note the parallels between the Leather Man and Chris McCandless who we got to know through Into the Wild.”

The spirit embodied by the Leather Man is universal. As Vedder pointed out, the desire to drop out of society and roam the world freely remains strong in our modern times. Who hasn’t day-dreamed about leaving it all behind and walking off into the woods?

from Connecticut Valley Advertiser, Saturday, December 27, 1873

The veritable “Old Leather Man” paid our village another visit last week. It has long been a query who he is, where he comes from, and where he stays nights. With the juveniles, the latter query is the most important, and for their gratification, more particularly we can inform them that his home is in a cave, in what is known as Elijah’s ledges, in the west part of the town of Westbrook. In this lonely place he makes a home when he wanders this way. The cave is small and does not compare very favorably, either in size or gorgeousness, with the famous “Cave of the Winds” at Moodus. This queer specimen of humanity, clothed in leather, is indeed a curiosity. He is very reticent, only conversing when necessity compels it in soliciting food. It is not known where he came from, but it is generally supposed that he escaped from some Dime Novel.

Not everyone was happy about visits from Old Leathery and his kind.

from Bristol Press, Thursday, August 26, 1875

Tramp, Tramp, Tramp

There would appear to be no immediate prospect of abatement of the tramp nuisance. Rather, the tramp seems to have become ubiquitous and the growth of his order is only equaled by its capacity for villainy and “general cussedness.” The few mild measures taken in some sections for the suppression of this dangerous class have proved wholly inoperative, thus far. How long the community at large will continue to bear the inflictions before resorting to a more vigorous and wholesome treatment is difficult to determine. From the way in which people permit themselves to be imposed upon and cowed into acquiescence with all that these rascals insolently demand, we should judge that this is a sort of tramps’ millennium and is to be of indefinite duration. At any rate the tramps are increasing and with their multiplication, robbery, incendiarism, intimidation, rape and murder in like ratio become more and more common.

This tramp nuisance will continue just so long as people submit to it and no longer. The remedy is within reach. It is a simple remedy, easily applied. It may appear to some to be harsh, but if people would be rid of the evil, they must first make up their minds that harsh measures are the only ones that can be made effective. In the first place, stop feeding tramps. Secondly, let every man, woman and youth learn how to use a revolver and have one or more of these useful articles in every house, especially if in an isolated situation. Then whenever a tramp appears, peremptorily refuse him food or shelter and escort him off the premises at the muzzle of a cocked revolver and if he isn’t easily scared and attempts force, shoot.

A trusty weapon in every house and a disposition to use it on very slight provocation, will do more to squelch this abomination than any other means possible to use. And when people drop their squeamishness and sickly philanthropy and all other classes of criminals with that promptness and fidelity which is possible only by taking the law into their own hands, the moral atmosphere will improve wonderfully and life, property and virtue will be properly respected.

Yet others took pity on this lost soul, and were happy to feed him.

from Connecticut Valley Advertiser, Saturday, December 4, 1875

The old veteran leather man passed through this place on Thursday last, and as usual, he stopped at the house of W. B. Starkey, on South Blood street, and partook of hot coffee, cake, pie, etc., as he has done for the past twenty years. He makes his trips every six weeks. He is always on time and never fails.

Sadly, the man who seemingly had no name died a rather painful death from cancer of the mouth.

from Evening News, Friday, January 25, 1889

The Leather Man in Redding

The Leather Man was in Redding and called early in the morning at the residence of Dr. J. H. Benedict, where he asked for a breakfast. He was readily recognized by Mrs. Benedict from his leather clothing, and she invited him into the kitchen. As Mrs. Benedict can speak French she soon learned his wants, which were simply coffee, and she furnished him with all he desired. He drank the full of two large bowls, into each of which he put a teacupful of sugar.

He explained that he was unable to partake of solid food on account of his cancer, which prevented chewing. He conversed for a short time with Mrs. Benedict in French, until she asked him of his antecedents and then he became suddenly and stubbornly silent and spoke in his broken English.

His cancer is rapidly eating away his life. The right cheek is entirely gone, including a portion of the lower lip. He would not allow Dr. Benedict to dress it or Mrs. Benedict to do anything for his comfort, save to give him the coffee and a bottle of milk.

He now seems very shaky and is evidently drawing near his end. It seems as if the Humane Society should look after him, and care for him, even if it was necessary to do so by force, or else some day he will be found a corpse in some out of the way place, the victim of a-craze, want, neglect and exposure.

 

In the end, the Leather Man died alone. His death was reported in the Hartford Times, on Monday evening, March 25, 1889. The headline read:

“The Old Leather Man” Gone
FOUND DEAD IN A CAVE
a great sufferer from cancer

 

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At Left: The Old Leather Man, photographer and location unknown. Courtesy of the Plymouth Historical Soicety.

 

 

Wishing Clayton Eshleman a Happy 80th Birthday!

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Today we wish Clayton Eshleman a happy 80th birthday!

Eshleman has been at the heart of American poetry since the early 1960s. His poems, critical essays, and translations of noteworthy poets as diverse as César Vallejo, Aimé Césaire, Pablo Neruda, Antonin Artaud, Vladimir Holan, Michel Deguy, Henri Michaux, and Bernard Bador have earned him international acclaim. Widely anthologized, his work has appeared in over 400 magazines and newspapers and translated into eight languages. He has given readings and lectured to audiences at universities and other venues around the world.

His work is widely known and lauded. Eshleman has been honored with many awards and honors, including a National Book Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, numerous grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, two Landon Translation Prizes from the Academy of American Poets, and a Hemingway Translation Grant. In 1994, he was a fellow at the Rockefeller Study Center in Bellagio, Italy, where he wrote a 50 page poem on Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights. In 2007 University of California Press published his translation of Vallejo’s verse, The Complete Poetry of César Vallejo, a work on which he spent spent over forty years.

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Tour director Nancee Clark (Ringling Brother School of Art and Design), Robert Creeley, and Clayton Eshleman.

From 1996 to 2008, Eshleman and his wife Caryl led yearly tours to the Ice Age painted caves of southwestern France, sponsored by the Ringling School of Art and Design, in Sarasota, Florida. These tours featured thoughtful guest lecturers such as Robert Creeley, Gary Snyder, and novelist Wade Davis. Eshleman utilized his research of Ice Age Cave Art from the past 30 years and lectured on six of the some three hundred decorated caves. His book Juniper Fuse is based on this research and experience; it is, as Ronald Gottesman calls it, “a fabulous three-dimensional tapestry of scholarship. Original and intense, it poses serious questions about human nature and its relation to the animal and natural worlds.”

Introducing A Sulfur Anthology

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Eshleman was also the founder and editor of two of the most important literary journalism the latter half of the 20th century: Caterpillar (1967–1973, 20 issues) and Sulfur (1981–2000, 46 issues). Sulfur magazine presented an overview of innovative writing from around the world. Forty-six issues were published, totaling some 11,000 pages and featuring over eight hundred writers and artists, including Norman O. Brown, Jorie Graham, James Hillman, Mina Loy, Ron Padgett, Octavio Paz, Ezra Pound, Adrienne Rich, Rainer Maria Rilke, William Carlos Williams, and many more. Each issue featured a diverse offering of poetry, translations, previously unpublished archival material, visual art, essays, and reviews. Sulfur was a hotbed for critical thinking and commentary and also provided a home for the work of unknown and younger poets. In the course of its twenty year run, Sulfur maintained a reputation as the premier publication of alternative and experimental writing. His wife Caryl was the managing editor for the magazine’s entire run. A Sulfur Anthology, containing a generous selection of highlights from the journal’s nearly twenty year run, will be published by Wesleyan University Press in December 2015

The Essential Poetry (1960–2015)

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The Essential Poetry (1960–2015) is due out this summer, from Black Widow Press. This definitive collection spans the entirety of Eshleman’s poetic output. It is an essential reference work for Eshleman readers.

Previously Published Collections and Translations

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Wesleyan University Press has previously published two works by Eshleman. Companion Spider is a book of essays on poetics, translation, and publishing; and Juniper Fuse: Upper Paleolithic Imagination & the Construction of the Underworld is a groundbreaking collection of poetry and prose that is the culmination of Eshleman’s twenty-five years of research into the origins of image-making via the Ice Age painted caves of southwestern France. 

Concerning Juniper Fuse, Gary Snyder wrote:
“Archeologists and artists have written on southwestern European cave art, but none have given us a book like this. Clayton Eshleman has explored and inspected almost all of the great cave art of southwestern Europe including many caves that are not open to the public and require special permission. Now with visionary imagination, informed poetic speculation, deep insight, breathtaking leaps of mind, Eshleman draws out the underground of myth, psychology, prehistory, and the first turn of the human mind toward the modern. Juniper Fuse opens us up to our ancient selves: we might be weirder (and also better) than we thought.”

In the foreword of Companion Spider, Adrienne Rich wrote:
“Clayton Eshleman has gone more deeply into his art, its process and demands, than any modern American poet since Robert Duncan and Muriel Rukeyser. As a poet, Eshleman has wrestled with his vocation and, in some senses, created himself through poetry. He has written on the self-making and apprenticeship of the poet and of the poet as translator as no one else in North America in the later twentieth century. He has written perceptively about visual art in its relationship to contemporary poetics. And he has delivered stinging critiques of mediocrity and cautiousness in the standardizing of poetic canons.”

 

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Eshleman’s work as a translator includes three volumes of Aimé Césaire’s poetry published by Wesleyan. Notebook of a Return to the Native Land, translated with Annette Smith, and 1939 Original Notebook of a Return to the Native Land, translated with A. James Arnold, are both available, as bilingual editions. Solar Throat Slashed: The Unexpurgated 1948 Edition, also translated with A. James Arnold, is the first bilingual edition of the work.

We commend Clayton Eshleman for his impressive contributions to poetry and translation, and wish him the best on this 80th birthday!

 

Announcing Why Haiti Needs New Narratives: A Post-Quake Chronicle from Gina Athena Ulysse

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Mainstream news coverage of the catastrophic earthquake of January 12, 2010, reproduced longstanding narratives of Haiti and stereotypes of Haitians. Cognizant that this Haiti, as it exists in the public sphere, is a rhetorically and graphically incarcerated one, the feminist anthropologist and performance artist Gina Athena Ulysse embarked on a writing spree that lasted over two years. As an ethnographer and a member of the diaspora, Ulysse delivers critical cultural analysis of geopolitics and daily life in a series of dispatches, op-eds and articles on post-quake Haiti. Her complex yet singular aim in Why Haiti Needs New Narratives is to make sense of how the nation and its subjects continue to negotiate sovereignty and being in a world where, according to a Haitian saying, tout moun se moun, men tout moun pa menm (All people are human, but all humans are not the same). This collection contains thirty pieces, most of which were previously published on Haitian Times, Huffington Post, Ms Magazine, Ms Blog, NACLA, and other print and online venues. The book is trilingual (English, Kreyòl, and French) and includes a foreword by award-winning author and historian Robin D. G. Kelley.

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Gina Athena Ulysse is an associate professor of anthropology at Wesleyan University. Born in Haiti, she has lived in the United States for over thirty years. A performance artist, multimedia artist, and anthropologist, she is the author of Downtown Ladies: Informal Commercial Importers, a Haitian Anthropologist, and Self-Making in Jamaica. Robin D. G. Kelley is the Distinguished Professor of History and Gary B. Nash Endowed Chair in United States History at UCLA.

“Five years after the earthquake that razed Haiti, feminist anthropologist Ulysse reclaims the cultural narrative of her homeland from its simplification and distortion by mainstream news coverage. In her trilingual (English, Kreyòl, French) collection of op-eds, essays, reviews and news articles…Ulysse rejects the colonial framework through which Haiti is often viewed and reasserts the validity of its sovereignty.”
Ms. Magazine, Spring 2015

The Driftless Connecticut Series is funded by the Beatrice Fox Auerbach Foundation Fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, www.wesleyan.edu/wespress/driftless.

Praise for Why Haiti Needs New Narratives:

“Ulysse’s clear, powerful writing rips through the stereotypes to reveal a portrait of Haiti in politics and art that will change the way you think about that nation’s culture, and your own.”
—Jonathan M. Katz, author of The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster

“This is a beautifully written and profoundly important work of engaged anthropology. Gina Ulysse steps bravely into the public domain bringing a nuanced and sophisticated analysis of things Haitian to a large group of general readers as well as to a broad audience of scholars. Publication of this book marks a kind of “coming of age” for anthropological bloggers and public anthropology.”
—Paul Stoller, author of Yaya’s Story: The Quest for Well-Being in the World

“Gina Athena Ulysse’s compilation, Why Haiti needs New Narratives: A Post-Quake Chronicle, is the gut-felt testimony of an insider/outsider that resounds as a thunderclap in the desert. Trapped in the alienating context of sterile academia, neoliberal political economy, populations displaced, shock therapy and general geopolitical shifts, the author’s gift of polysemy opens horizons. Through thought, action, word, poetry, song . . . flow yet unbounded prospects.”
—Rachel Beauvoir-Dominique, professor, Université d’Etat d’Haïti

“Taking us through entangled and liberating possibilities, Gina Ulysse introduces us to Haiti, the kingdom of this world. Embedded in the interstices of words and other aesthetic sensibilities that summon the past into the present, the powerful promise of a people is revealed. Ashe.”
—Arlene Torres, coeditor of Blackness in Latin America and the Caribbean

“The sense of urgency that pervades these essays is palpable. Similar to her performances, Ulysse rings the alarm, fills the room in our head with deafening sound, a one-woman aftershock.”
—Robin D. G. Kelley, from the foreword

 

New film on dancer Martha Hill

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Martha Hill (1900–1995), the first Director of Dance at the Juilliard School, was one of the most influential dance figures of the twentieth century. Her leadership was instrumental in cementing dance’s position as an art form and as an area for serious scholarship. She carved out a place for contemporary dance in America, paving the way for artists like José Limón and Merce Cunningham. Recently, Hill has come back into the public eye with Greg Vander Veer’s movie Miss Hill: Making Dance Matter, which premiered at the 2014 Dance on Camera Festival in New York. In her review of Miss Hill for Film Journal International, Lisa Jo Sagolla writes that “Hill’s crucial role in modern dance history is comprehensively delineated in Janet Mansfield Soares’ exemplary 2009 biography, Martha Hill & the Making of American Dance. Yet director Greg Vander Veer’s smartly constructed documentary bears viewing, even by those who’ve thoroughly digested Soares’ book.”

Author Janet Mansfield Soares was a student, colleague, and teacher of dance composition with Martha Hill at the Juilliard School and is a professor emerita of dance at Barnard College, Columbia University.

Janet Mansfield Soares and her book, Martha Hill & the Making of American Dance

Janet Mansfield Soares and her book, Martha Hill & the Making of American Dance.

Martha Hill, along with contemporaries like Martha Graham, Hanya Holm, and Doris Humphrey, broke away from the old-world paradigms of ballet and European dance to create the distinctly American art form of modern dance. Soares traces the social and political forces that shaped Hill’s life, following her as she challenged the expectations placed on women in terms of their physical capabilities. Hill questioned the tenets of “white-gloved” physical education for women, and battled members of the “old boys’ club” in her mission to gain acceptance and status for dance as an independent performing art. Her work was essential in proving female dancers, teachers, and choreographers to be true artists in their own right. In her introduction to Martha Hill & the Making of American Dance, Soares wrote: “Hill worked to position dance as a valued artistic practice, one that belonged in the sociocultural life of campuses and arts centers in the United States and around the world—and one that would gradually shape a cultural entity of its own… [Hill], with her colleagues, managed to transform a many-faceted group of eccentrics into a community of talents with a single goal: to assure the survival of contemporary dance into a new millennium.”

President Gerald Ford greeting Martha Hill in 1976. Courtesy of the Martha Hill Archives.

President Gerald Ford greeting Martha Hill in 1976. Courtesy of the Martha Hill Archives.