Film

“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.

Celebrating International Women’s Day

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Today, March 8th, is International Women’s Day! A great way to commemorate a day—and womens’ history month—is to read a book written by or about a woman. Here are just a few of our favorite books by or about our favorite females.

Williams - Prudence R-150-3In its new paperback edition, Connecticut state senator Donald E. Williams’s Prudence Crandall: The Fight for Equality in the 1830s, Dred Scott, and Brown v. Board of Education is a necessity to read. Crandall was a Connecticut school teacher dedicated to the education of African-American girls who ignited a firestorm of controversy when she opened Miss Crandall’s School for Young Ladies and Little Misses of Color, in Canterbury. The town’s residents retaliated—Crandall couldn’t find anyone willing to supply her with goods necessary for running the school, and even the school’s well water was poisoned. Crandall herself faced ridicule all over town, was arrested, and yet did not close the school until her girls’ safety was threatened. Williams tells of Crandall’s push for justice and how her struggles helped to set legal precedent. He explains the relationship between three trials brought against Crandall, for her violation of Connecticut’s “Black Law,” and other notable legal cases: the Amistad case, the Dred Scott decision, and Brown v. Board of Education. Williams also discusses how Crandall v. State impacts our modern interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

 

 

Basinger - Womans-R-72-3 In A Woman’s View: How Hollywood Spoke to Women 1930-1960, Jeanine Basinger highlights the incredibly contradictory messages sent to female moviegoers—films about women’s lives constantly displayed both conformity and righteous freedom. Where women’s film has often been dismissed as another instrument in female oppression, Basinger brings an understanding of both film and women’s lives to parse out the complexities in films sometimes dismissed as “sheer trash.” Films from across genres, from melodramas to westerns to musicals, are examined under Basinger’s discerning eye for traces of subversive rebellion against the “proper” idealized role of women. As the New York Times Book Review said, “Ms. basinger analyzes Hollywood’s view with affectionate wit and verve…Her book is a timely reminder that female rebellion didn’t start with Thelma and Louise.”

 

 

Reed - Weird R-300-9 In humorous, ironic prose, acclaimed Science Fiction writer Kit Reed explores women’s lives and feminist issues in the twenty stories inside Weird Women, Wired Women. Spanning across the years of the women’s movement to more contemporary years in American history, Reed’s writing in Weird Women, Wired Women deals in her usual darkly comic speculative fiction at its best. Reed uses her expertise in science fiction to further cast a subversive spell over these depictions of predominantly-believed women’s roles. The collection of short stories with provocative, clever titles such as “The Bride of Bigfoot” and “Mommy Nearest” takes worn-out suburban subjects and gives them a fresh coat of paint—if that paint is moving, eerie, sharp social criticism, that is.

 

 

0819565474Inside American Women Poets in the 21st Century: Where Lyric Meets Language, readers can find indispensably valuable poetry and prose from women’s points of view. Each section of the book is devoted to a single poet and contains new poems; a brief “statement of poetics” by the poet herself in which she explores the forces—personal, aesthetic, political—informing her creative work; a critical essay on the poet’s work; a biographical statement; and a bibliography listing works by and about the poet. With highly acclaimed poets selected-among them Rae Armantrout, Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge, Jorie Graham, Barbara Guest, Susan Howe, and Harryette Mullen—this collection forces us to redefine lyric poetry. Underscoring the dynamic give and take between poets and the culture at large, this anthology is indispensable for anyone interested in poetry, gender and the creative process.

 

 

McGee_Some_R_72_2Women and jazz have been intricately involved with one another since the genre’s conception, but so often the men of jazz stole the spotlight away from the many acclaimed ladies. Some Liked It Hot looks at all-girl bands and jazz women from the 1920s through the 1950s and how they fit into the nascent mass culture, particularly film and television. G.A. Foster from Choice says, “A remarkable book in every respect. Although one can find several other books on this topic, this study stands above the rest for its accuracy, scholarly discipline, thoroughness of research, and detailed analysis… A stunning achievement. Essential.”

 

 

Consider shopping local this holiday season!

We reached out to our local independent booksellers to find out what fun events they have planned for Small Business Saturday, Cyber (or CIDER) Monday, and the rest of the holiday season. If you shop for the holidays, please consider ordering or purchasing gifts from local retailers. You might also consider giving a book from a small press or university press. Wesleyan has number of books that would make great gifts, some are included here.

*November 28th* SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY

Bank Square Books
53 W. Main St
Mystic, CT 06355
Day-long celebration with local authors: James R. Benn, L.M. Browning, Sarah MacLean, Ruth Crocker, Ann Haywood Leal, Susan Kietzman, David K. Leff, Adam Shaughnessy, and Robert Steele.

Breakwater Books
81 Whitfield St
Guilford, CT 06437
Book signing with Mary Sharnick, Orla’s Canvas, 12–2PM

Hickory Stick Bookshop
2 Green Hill Rd.
Washington, CT 06794
Book signing with Marilyn Singer, Tallulah’s Tap Shoes, 2PM

Mystic Seaport Museum Store
75 Greenmanville Ave
Mystic, CT 06355
Book signing with Roger C. Taylor, L. Francis Herreshoff: Yacht Designer,  3pm

*November 30th* CIDER MONDAY

Breakwater Books
81 Whitfield St
Guilford, CT 06437
Join us on “Cider Monday” (our version Cyber Monday) & enjoy warm cider and snacks as you do your holiday shopping. Leave your computer and shop in a local bookstore where real people can help you with your selections. Enjoy an old fashioned shopping experience! (View more events here.)

Hickory Stick Bookshop
2 Green Hill Rd.
Washington, CT 06794
Enjoy a cup of cider and a snack as you have an old-fashioned holiday shopping experience in a real bookstore with real people to help you. We promise our “servers” won’t crash, but instead will offer recommendations that will help you with your selections. We’ll even wrap your gifts!

Additional Events

Bank Square Books
53 W. Main St
Mystic, CT 06355
December 1 – Mystic Stroll, businesses in Mystic stay open late for holiday shoppers! That night, we will host cookbook author Ellen Stimson for a cookie contest and cookie swap. More info here.

Breakwater Books
81 Whitfield St
Guilford, CT 06437
December 3 – E-List’s annual Girls Night Out Guilford, 5PM. Meet at Whitfields, to start with a 1/2 price glass of wine! More info here.

Broad Street Books
45 Broad St
Middletown, CT 06457
December 19 – Scooby Doo books and read by Santa
Broad Street Books is also a one of the sponsors of Middletown’s Holiday on Main Street.

Burgundy Books
1285 Boston Post Rd
Westbrook, CT 06498
November 21 – Luncheon with Carl Safina, Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel, 12PM
December 15 – Book signing with Susannah Cahalan, Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness,  12:30PM

Harbor Books
146 Main St
Old Saybrook, CT 06475
December 4 – Old Saybrook’s Winter Stroll, stop by at our table for a free novelty bookmark!

Hickory Stick Bookshop
2 Green Hill Rd.
Washington, CT 06794
December 5 – Donna Marie Merritt, We Walk Together, 2PM
December 6 – Jack Chaucer, Nikki Blue: Source of Trouble

Mystic Seaport Museum Store
75 Greenmanville Ave
Mystic, CT 06355
December 5 – Book signing with Carlo DeVito, Wreck of the Whale Ship Essex: The Complete Illustrated Edition, 1PM
December 6 – Book signing with Paul S. Krantz, Riding the Wild Ocean, 2pm

R.J. Julia Booksellers
768 Boston Post Rd
Madison, CT 06443
December 2 – Book signing with Ellen Stimpson, An Old Fashioned Christmas, 7PM
December 3 – Teens Talk Books Holiday Party, 6PM
December 6 – Santa Letter Writing Workshop, 12PM–1:30PM
December 18 – Voices In The Bookstore, local authors read their work, 6PM
December 20 – The Grinch Story Time, 10:30AM

Gift Ideas from Wesleyan University Press

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

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 COLLAGE

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
212-369-2180

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.

 

RSVP: https://www.facebook.com/events/504146629740543/

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.

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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.

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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.

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 

 Jones comps.indd

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

Readercon Weekend–win a book!

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Readercon 26 is taking place this weekend, July9–12, in Burlington, Massachusetts. Returning conference-goers will be used to seeing Leslie Starr at our booth. Alas, Leslie is retiring! Our wonderful new marketing manager, Jaclyn Wilson, is on hand at our booth to answer questions. Please stop by to introduce yourself and check out our new books, including Five Weeks in a Balloon. You can watch a trailer about the book and enter to win a free copy here.

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This year, two of Readercon’s three Guests of Honor were published by Wesleyan: Gary K. Wolfe (who is sharing honors with Nicola Griffith) and Memorial Guest of Honor Joanna Russ.

Wolfe is the author of Evaporating Genres: Essays on Fantastic Literature and contributed the introduction to our forthcoming book, Reality by Other Means: The Best Short Fiction of James Morrow. Wesleyan reissued two of Russ’s novels in 2005: We Who Are About To… (with an introduction by Samuel R. Delany) and The Two of Them (with a foreword by Sarah LaFanu). In addition, we published the critical volume On Joanna Russ, edited by Farah Mendlesohn, with contributors Andrew M. Butler, Brian Charles Clark, Samuel R. Delany, Edward James , Sandra Lindow, Keridwen Luis, Paul March-Russell, Helen Merrick, Dianne Newell, Graham Sleight, Jenéa Tallentire, Jason Vest, Sherryl Vint, Pat Wheeler, Tess Williams, Gary K. Wolfe, and Lisa Yaszek.

ReaderCon is full of useful panels and presentations for writers, scholars, editors, and readers. Day passes are available. To read more, please be sure to visit their website, http://readercon.org/. Have a wonderful conference!

Sarah Blake & Motion Poems

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Sarah Blake’s poem “A Day at the Mall Reminds Me of America” from her debut poetic collection Mr. West has been featured in a short film by Ayşe Altinok. MotionPoems “catalyzes the remix of poetry with other forms to create compelling hybrid artworks,” and it is a beautiful creation at that.

 

Watch this amazing film adaptation of the poem here. Both Sarah Blake and Ayşe Altinok have been interviewed about their parts in this work, found here.


A Day at the Mall Reminds Me of America

Recently, my 14 year old sister was approached at the mall to see if she’d be interested in working at Hollister, or Abercrombie and Fitch, or American Eagle. I can’t remember.

She’s that beautiful. And with the mall’s lights all around her—I can only imagine.

Yet on Facebook, one of her friends calls her a loser. More write, “I hate you.”

I wonder if Kanye knows that these girls are experimenting. As with rum. As with skin, all the ways to touch it.

My day at the mall begins with a Wild Cherry ICEE and an Auntie Anne’s Original Pretzel. A craving.

I pass women who you can tell are pregnant, and I know we all might be carrying daughters.

The mall is so quiet. The outside of the Hollister looks like a tropical hut, like the teenage girls should be sweating inside.

No one’s holding doors for me yet, but they will as I take the shape of my child.

And if my child has a vicious tongue, it will take shape lapping at my breast.


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SARAH BLAKE is the founder of the online writing tool Submittrs, an editor at Saturnalia Books, and a recipient of an NEA Literature Fellowship. Her poetry has appeared in Boston Review, Drunken Boat, FIELD, and The Threepenny Review. She lives outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Click here for author’s website.

 

Announcing The Lives of Robert Ryan by J.R. Jones

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The Lives of Robert Ryan provides an inside look at the gifted, complex, intensely private man whom Martin Scorsese called “one of the greatest actors in the history of American film.” The son of a Chicago construction executive with strong ties to the Democratic machine, 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 Rock, Billy Budd, The Dirty Dozen, and The Wild Bunch.

 Jones comps.indd

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, film critic J.R. Jones deftly explores the many contradictory facets of Robert Ryan’s public and private lives, and how these lives intertwined in one of the most compelling actors of a generation.

For more information on Robert Ryan, visit the book’s website.

J.R. Jones is an award-winning film critic and editor for the Chicago Reader. His writing has appeared in New York Press, Kenyon Review, Da Capo Best Music Writing, and Noir City. He lives in Chicago.

Catch a screening of The Set-Up at Chicago’s Music Box Theatre, including a Q&A with the author and Lisa Ryan, daughter of Robert Ryan. Purchase your book and film ticket in advance and save $2 off the cover price, courtesy of The Book Cellar.

You can also catch J.R. Jones at Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row Lit Festival in June.

Enjoy clips from Robert Ryan films, below.

Praise for The Lives of Robert Ryan:

“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

“Too many critical biographies lurch back and forth between biography and criticism. Jones weaves the criticism in the biographical fabric, and the finished product has a very friendly mien—The Lives of Robert Ryan is a book you will want to spend time with.”
—Kent Jones, author of Physical Evidence: Selected Film Criticism

“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 at 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

The Lives of Robert Ryan is a well-written, insightful biography on an important Hollywood actor who is finally getting the attention he deserves. Ryan was a fearless liberal who embraced controversial causes during a time when most Hollywood stars remained apolitical. Even many film scholars are unaware of this aspect of Ryan’s career. This biography emphasizes it.”
—Richard B. Jewell, author of RKO Radio Pictures: A Titan is Born

 

Publication of this book is funded by the Beatrice Fox Auerbach Foundation Fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.

Wesleyan Film @ SCMS Montreal

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The Society for Cinema & Media Studies‘ annual conference is currently underway in Montreal. Founded in 1959, SCMS is a professional organization of college and university educators, filmmakers, historians, critics, scholars, and others devoted to the study of the moving image. Wesleyan’s film series acquisitions editor, Parker Smathers, will be in attendance this weekend, catching up on the latest news in the field.

The Wesleyan Film series takes a back-to-basics approach to the art of cinema. Books in the series deal with the formal, the historical, and the cultural—putting a premium on visual analysis, close readings, and an understanding of the history of Hollywood and international cinema, both artistically and industrially. Volumes in the series are rigorous, critical, and accessible both to academics and to lay readers with a serious interest in film.

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Our new and forthcoming film-related books include:

The Director Within: Storytellers of Stage and Screen

The Cinema of Errol Morris

The Lives of Robert Ryan

View a full list of books in the Wesleyan Film Series here.

On May 31st the Music Box Theatre in Chicago will host a special screening of The Set-Up to celebrate the release of The Lives of Robert Ryan. A Q&A with author J.R. Jones and the late actor’s daughter, Lisa Ryan, will follow the screening. Attendees will be able to purchase a book/ticket combo at a discounted price, thanks to the support of The Book Cellar. Stay tuned for details! For now, you can check out this piece on Robert Ryan, from The Chicago Reader, by J.R. Jones.