Wesleyan University Press @ AWP2017 – Washington D.C.


Join us @ AWP2017, in Washington DC!

Booth #137


Come to our panel!

Working with Archives—Ethics, Strategies, and Methods

Saturday, February 11, 2017 – 1:30pm-2:45pm
Marquis Salon 1 & 2, Marriott Marquis, Meeting Level Two

Gerald Vizenor
Jena Osman
Harmony Holiday
Daniel Tiffany

Writers sometimes use archival records as sources of inspiration and information. Our panelists, including poets, a fiction writer and a historian, look at the use of public records as a source to gain better emotional understanding of their subject, and as evidence of sometimes grim historical events that have been overlooked or intentionally ignored. The panelist will discuss the methodologies and strategies of working with archival material, as well as the important ethical considerations of working with these often sensitive materials.

Meet the Authors
and have your books signed

Rae Armantrout, Friday 11-12

Peter Gizzi, Friday 1-2

Shane McCrae, Friday 2-3

Camille Dungy, Friday 4-5PM

Stop by booth 137 to see our new titles!

awp2017 new new books

 Trophic Cascade (Camille T. Dungy)

Because When God Is Too Busy (Gina Athena Ulysse)

In The Language of my Captor (Shane McCrae)

Planetary Noise: Selected Poetry of Erín Moure (Erín Moure)

awp2017 new books wip

Archeophonics (Peter Gizzi)

BAX 2016: Best American Experimental Writing (Seth Abramson)

The Work-Shy (Blunt Research Group)

Partly: New and Selection Poems, 2001-2015 (Rae Armantrout)

Ralph Lemon coming to Wesleyan University 2/25/16

Lemon_COME HOME_jacket mech.indd

As part of the World of Arts in the Heart of Connecticut series hosted by the Wesleyan University Center for the Arts, Ralph Lemon will appear at Wesleyan’s Ring Family Performing Arts Hall on February 25, 2016. His presentation, Ceremonies Out of the Air, touches upon both his new and old work in relation to an imagined South.

As a choreographer, writer, director, and conceptualist, Ralph Lemon is a dynamic voice, canonizing what is African American literature and history through his in-depth research and presentation of traditionally African American culture through dance, art, and memoir. In his latest book, Come home Charley Patton, Lemon examines and imagines the South through memoir, documenting the Civil Rights era and contemporary southern culture through his journal entries. Sketches and photographs are included, capturing the haunting sites of lynchings, Civil Rights protests, and meetings between Lemon and the descendants of musicians and activists. A few images from the book, documenting Lemon’s travels, are included below:

one of the bedrooms in Mose Toliver's home

One of the bedrooms in Mose Toliver’s home. Mose Toliver was a folk artist whose art can be found in the Rosa Parks Museum.

a framed image of Elvi Presley in Mrs. Kent's house in Memphis, TN

A framed image of Elvis Presley in Mrs. Helen Kent’s house in Memphis, TN.

Helen Kent in her living room

Helen Kent, the daughter of Frank Stokes, an African American blues musician, in her living room.

in memory of the many protests and marches of Birmingham, AL, Lemon captures an image of a hose, a common weapon to deter peaceful protestors

In memory of the many protests and marches of Birmingham, AL, Lemon captures an image of a hose, a common weapon to deter peaceful protestors.

NourbeSe Philip & Gina Ulysse team up!

'Zong!' by M. NourbeSe Philip at Arika: Episode 4: Freedom Is A Constant Struggle at Tramway, Glasgow on Sunday 21st April 2013


Atlantic Reasonings Between Caribbean Sisters
Performances by M. NourbeSe Philip and Gina Athena Ulysse
October 15th, 7:30PM in Wesleyan’s Memorial Chapel.

Two Wesleyan Press authors, M. NourbeSe Phlip and Gina Athena Ulysse are teaming up for an evening of powerhouse performances sponsored in large part by Wesleyan’s own Center for the Americas, with a additional support from our English Department’s Concentration in Creative Writing. Other funders include the Andrew W. Melon Fund for Lectures in Ethics; Center for the Arts; Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies; the English Department’s Concentration in Creative Writing; Office of Equity & Inclusion; and Romance Languages & Literatures.

Please, also join us on October 14th, 4:15 PM, in Russell House, for a conversation between M. NourbeSe Philip and Indira Karamcheti–who will discuss Caribbean diasporas, the arts, race and self-care, followed by an open Q&A with audience members.

About the artists:

Gina Athena Ulysse is a performance artist, anthropologist, and author of Why Haiti Needs New Narratives, Downtown Ladies, and Haiti, me & THE WORLD.

M. NourbeSe Philip is a poet, lawyer, and author of She Tries Her Tongue, Her Silence Softly Breaks and Zong!. Her essay collections include A Genealogy of Resistance and Showing Grit.

Respond to the Facebook invite here.

#WCW: Jill Sigman’s Performative Installations


The work of choreographer Jill Sigman exists at the intersection of dance, theater, and visual installation. Described as an artist of “prodigious imagination and intelligence” by The New York Times, Sigman transforms simple actions like walking on eggshells, sliding down the stairs, and eating hot pink roses into complex statements about self, society, and human experience.

Wesleyan University Press will publish Sigman’s Ten Huts in Spring 2017. The Hut Project, a series of installations made from debris and found objects, will be documented in the book.

Photographed here is a miniature hut created by Signman on Monday, September 28th, using found objects at Wesleyan University Press.


De Lavallade, Faison & Wilkinson reflect on Janet Collins & their careers



Panelists include Carmen de Lavallade, George Faison, and Raven Wilkinson.

Sunday, September 20th 2PM
Barnes & Noble, 150 East 86th Street (86th & Lexington Ave.), New York, NY

Moderated by author Yaël Tamar Lewin, to celebrate the paperback edition of Night’s Dancer: The Life of Janet Collins.
A panel of renowned artists will reflect on Collins and her career, and discuss their own experiences as African-American performers in a racially segregated United States. There will also be a brief reading from the book and a screening of historical film clips.

Carmen de Lavallade is an award-winning dancer, choreographer, and actress. She performed with the Lester Horton Dance Theater and Alvin Ailey Dance Company and has appeared on Broadway (House of Flowers) and off (Othello, Death of a Salesman), as well as in film (Carmen Jones, Odds Against Tomorrow). Janet Collins was her first cousin and a great inspiration to de Lavallade, who danced some of her roles at the Metropolitan Opera. De Lavallade was also wife and dance partner to the late Geoffrey Holder.

George Faison is a celebrated dancer, choreographer, and producer who was the first African American to win a Tony Award for Best Choreography—which he received for The Wiz in 1975. He has also worked with popular entertainers such as Ashford & Simpson, Patti LaBelle, Dionne Warwick, and Earth, Wind & Fire. In addition, Faison is the artistic director of the Faison Firehouse Theater, a performing arts and cultural center that seeks to preserve Harlem’s historic past.

Raven Wilkinson was the first African-American dancer with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, which she joined in 1955, becoming a soloist in her second season. When performing in the American South, she wore white makeup to conceal her race. After her identity was revealed, she faced threats from the KKK. She left the company in 1961 and went on to work with the Dutch National Ballet and New York City Opera.



Night’s Dancer: The Life of Janet Collins

Photo by Carl Van Vechten. Courtesy of the Van Vechten Trust
and the Carl Van Vechten Papers, Yale Collection of American Literature,
Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

Janet Collins (1917–2003) was a renowned dancer, painter, and the first African-American soloist ballerina to appear on the stage of New York’s Metropolitan Opera. It took her many years of resolve, facing the blatant racism that existed in the dance community (as it did elsewhere in the United States), to achieve the status of prima ballerina at the Met. In fact, at age 15 she was offered a position with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, with the caveat that she would “paint her face white.” Collins declined. But she did not give up.

 Lewin-Night R-72-3rule

Night’s Dancer: The Life of Janet Collins, recipient of the Marfield Prize,
the National Award for Arts Writing, and now available in paperback.
The first two chapters are comprised of Collins’s unfinished autobiography.

 larger collage


The black dancing body was welcome on American and European stages of the mid-twentieth century, but usually only in forms of popular entertainment that perpetuated African-American stereotypes: the comic, the streetwise, and the exotic primitive. These stereotypical characters were found in minstrel shows and vaudeville, as well as on Broadway and in Hollywood movies. Pioneers like Edna Guy, Hemsley Winfield, and Katherine Dunham paved the way for African-American dancers in the arena of Modern dance, but the world of ballet remained closed, its movement vocabulary deemed too refined for black performers. In addition to the stereotypes of being too raw, too sensual, and too primal, blacks also had to contend with an irrational judgment of their physiques. White dance directors and choreographers deemed the black dancing physique as incompatible with ballet’s technical and aesthetic demands, assuming that they somehow lacked the grace and precision necessary to succeed in ballet.

Night’s Dancer tells the story of Janet Collins, who helped to pave the way for positive change in the dance world. She remains an inspiration today, due to her artistry, courage, and perseverance. Biographer Yaël Tamar Lewin, who is also a dancer, does not shy away from the darker corners of her life. Lewin discusses Collins’s battle with depression, the sterilization she underwent as a young woman, and the hard-hitting rejection she faced because of her skin color. Lewin does not merely focus on Collins’s long struggle to break the race barrier. Drawing on extensive research as well as interviews with Collins, her family, friends, and colleagues, Lewin chronicles her life as a well-rounded and accomplished artist, a true pioneer in her choreographic work. Collins fused styles, topics, and music in new ways. She also was a talented painter.

Wesleyan University Press is not alone in recognizing the talents and achievements of Janet Collins. She is also the subject of Dancing in the Light: The Janet Collins Story, a new short animated film narrated by Chris Rock and produced by Karyn Parsons for Sweet Blackberry. Carmen de Lavallade, an accomplished dancer, choreographer, and Yale University professor, is working on a feature film about her talented cousin. De Lavallade is collaborating with actress/producer Roberta Haynes and writer Jenny Callicott on the film, Prima: The Janet Collins StoryTheir website explains: “So many events in today’s news remind us that it is increasingly important to remember the struggles of the civil rights movement.” And asks: “[W]hy is it that Janet Collins’ amazing accomplishment of becoming the first black prima ballerina of the Metropolitan Opera a story that remains untold?”

Collins’s story is still very relevant. In her memoir, Misty Copeland (now principal dancer at American Ballet Theater) noted that “[t]here were many people who seemed not to want to see black ballerinas, who thought that our very presence made ballet less authentic, less romantic, less true. The bitter truth is I felt that I wasn’t being fully accepted because I was black, that leaders of the company just didn’t see me starring in more classical roles, despite my elegant line and flow.” Collins was among a small, dedicated group of black dancers who helped pave a difficult road for talents such as Copeland.

Janet Collins has been widely recognized as one of the finest dancers in America. Her artistic and personal influences continue to shape the dance world today, not only due to her perseverance, but also due to her great talent and creativity as a dancer and artist.

Photo credits, all found in Night’s Dancer: 1 & 2: Collins in Spirituals. Photo @ Dennis Stock/Magnum Photos. Courtesy of the Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. 3: Painting of a young girl by Collins. Courtesy of the estate of Janet Collins. 4: Painting of a woman with magnolias by Collins. Courtesy of the estate of Janet Collins. 5: Collins with Hanya Holm, Don Redlick, and Elizabeth Harris, 1961. Photo by Bob McIntyre. Courtesy of Don Redlich. 6: Collins surrounded by her art. Betty Udesen/The Seattle Times. Featured image: Photo by Carl Van Vechten. Courtesy of the Van Vechten Trust and the Carl Van Vechten Papers, Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

New film on dancer Martha Hill

Hill featured image

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.

#tbt: A note from Langston Hughes


This small flyer was recently unearthed from files relating to our 1962 publication The Underground Railroad in Connecticut, by Horatio T. Strother.


Wesleyan’s esteemed editor, José Rollin de la Torre Bueno, was seeking Hughes as a pre-publication reader for the book. Hughes regretted that he could not act as a reader, being busy with his own projects and on account of having:

..been away a great deal from New York…twice to California, twice to Africa, and having just now come back a few weeks ago from abroad…. I have just sent to the press my book on the NAACP; now I have one other long overdue book deadline to meet, not counting the numerous magazine articles and other things that I have promised. While I was away, mail piled up to the ceiling and I have now in front of me at least a half dozen new books in proofs and others that publishers have sent me that I have had no more than a chance to glance at.

The above flyer, advertising Hughes’s gospel song-play, Black Nativity, accompanied his letter. On the reverse there is a hand-written note explaining that the play would be performed in Spoleto, Italy. The European debut of the play was at the Spoleto Festival. Then the play moved to London, where it was taped for a television special by the Westinghouse Broadcasting Company.

#tbt: Mel Brooks’ dancing alien, from Spaceballs

This week’s throwback Thursday post is dedicated to director Mel Brooks! He is one of many directors interviewed in The Director Within: Storytellers of Stage and Screen by Rose Eichenbaum. The photograph of Brooks, below, is one of many images from the book.


To honor Brooks and his ongoing ability to make us laugh long and hard, we picked a clip from his movie Spaceballs (1987).

Mel Brooks is a master of comedy. From film to theatrical productions, his work has earned him the highest honors bestowed on an entertainer: an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony Award—to name a few. As Brooks fans know, the filmmaker loves to spoof historic events, popular culture, books, and other films. Such parodies include Young Frankenstein, Dracula: Dead and Loving It, High Anxiety, and Spaceballs. 

When asked why he’s chosen to create so many parodies, Brooks responded:

“All I’m doing is reliving the movies I loved as a little boy. With Young Frankenstein I was reviving the gorgeous films by James Whale, Frankenstein (1931) and The Bride of Frankenstein (1935). High Anxiety is a tribute to Hitchcock. Spaceballs I made for my son, Max Brooks, who loved Star Trek and Star Wars. I dolled them up, of course, with a lot of different themes and feelings.”

Directors featured in the book The Director Within include:

• Michael Apted
• Robert Benton
• Peter Bogdanovich
• James L. Brooks
• Mel Brooks
• James Burrows
• John Carpenter
• Joseph Cedar
• Richard Donner
• Jonathan Frakes
• Lesli Linka Glatter
• Taylor Hackford
• Walter Hill
• Arthur Hiller
• Reginald Hudlin
• Doug Hughes
• Lawrence Kasdan
• John Landis
• Barry Levinson
• Rod Lurie
• Emily Mann
• Kathleen Marshall
• Rob Marshall
• Michael Mayer
• Paul Mazursky
• Mira Nair
• Hal Prince
• Brett Ratner
• Gary Ross
• Mark Rydell
• Jay Sandrich
• Susan Stroman
• Julie Taymor
• Robert Towne
• Tim Van Patten

Rose Eichenbaum will be signing copies of her books, The Director Within and The Dancer Within at Chavelier’s Books in Los Angeles this Saturday. She will be joined by performer-authors Zippora Karz and Victoria Tennant. Read more about the event and participants here.

#UPWeek: AAUP’s Third Annual Blog Tour


It is University Press Week…a time to celebrate all the wonderful work published by scholarly presses! In the spirit of partnership that pervades the university press community, thirty-two presses will unite for the AAUP’s third annual blog tour. This tour will highlight the value of collaboration among the scholarly community. Individual presses will blog on a different theme each day. Today’s theme is “Collaboration.” The following presses are participating. Click on the available links to learn about some of the collaborative efforts initiated by our colleagues at other presses and institutions.

University of California Press

University of Chicago Press

University Press of Colorado

Duke University Press

University of Georgia Press

Project MUSE/Johns Hopkins University Press

McGill-Queen’s University Press

Texas A&M University Press

University of Virginia Press

Yale University Press

Tomorrow’s theme is “Your University Press in Pictures.” Wesleyan University Press is participating on Thursday, November 13th, as part of “Throwback Thursday.” Read more about AAUP, University Presses, and University Press Week here.