After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, a general sense that the world was different—that nothing would ever be the same—settled upon a grieving nation; the events of that day were received as cataclysmic disruptions of an ordered world. Refuting this claim, David Simpson examines the complex and paradoxical character of American public discourse since that September morning, considering the ways the event has been aestheticized, exploited, and appropriated, while “Ground Zero” remains the contested site of an effort at adequate commemoration.
In 9/11, Simpson argues that elements of the conventional culture of mourning and remembrance—grieving the dead, summarizing their lives in obituaries, and erecting monuments in their memory—have been co-opted for political advantage. He also confronts those who labeled the event an “apocalypse,” condemning their exploitation of 9/11 for the defense of torture and war.
In four elegant chapters—two of which expand on essays originally published in the London Review of Books to great acclaim—Simpson analyzes the response to 9/11: the nationally syndicated “Portraits of Grief” obituaries in the New York Times; the debates over the rebuilding of the World Trade Center towers and the memorial design; the representation of American and Iraqi dead after the invasion of March 2003, along with the worldwide circulation of the Abu Ghraib torture photographs; and the urgent and largely ignored critique of homeland rhetoric from the domain of critical theory.
Calling for a sustained cultural and theoretical analysis, 9/11 is the first book of its kind to consider the events of that tragic day with a perspective so firmly grounded in the humanities and so persuasive about the contribution they can make to our understanding of its consequences.
In 2009 Alaska celebrates its fiftieth anniversary of U.S. statehood. To commemorate that milestone, Alaskaat 50 brings together some of today’s most noteworthy and recognizable writers and researchers to address the past, present, and future of Alaska. Divided into three overarching sections—art, culture, and humanities; law, economy, and politics; and environment, people, and place—Alaskaat 50 is written in highly accessible prose. Illustrations and photographs of significant artefacts of Alaska history enliven the text. Each contributor brings a strong voice and prescription for the next fifty years, and the resulting work presents Alaskans and the nation with an overview of Alaska statehood and ideas for future development.
The 1960s, including the black social movements of the period, are an obstacle to understanding the current conditions of African Americans, argues Clarence Lang. While Americans celebrate the current anniversaries of various black freedom milestones and the election of the first black president, the effects of neoliberalism since the 1970s have been particularly devastating to African Americans. Neoliberalism, which rejects social welfare protections in favor of individual liberty, unfettered markets, and a laissez-faire national state, has produced an environment in which people of color struggle with unstable employment, declining family income, rising household debt, increased class stratification, and heightened racial terrorism and imprisonment. The book argues that a reassessment of the Sixties and its legacies is necessary to make better sense of black community, leadership, politics, and the prospects for social change today. Combining interdisciplinary scholarship, political reportage, and personal reflection, this work sheds powerful light on the forces underlying the stark social and economic circumstances facing African Americans today, as well as the need for cautious optimism alongside sober analysis.
For more than one hundred years, people have come to the Ludlow Massacre Memorial site to remember the dead, to place themselves within a larger narrative of labor history, and to learn about what occurred there. Communities of Ludlow reveals the perseverance, memory, and work that has been done to enrich and share the narratives of the people of Ludlow and the experiences of those who commemorate it.
The history of the Ludlow Massacre encompasses the stories of immigrant groups, women, the working-class, and people of color as much as the story of that tragedy, and the continued relevance of these issues creates a need for remembrance and discussion of how to make the events of the Ludlow Massacre available to contemporary society. The book outlines recent efforts to remember and commemorate this important historical event, documenting the unique collaborations in public scholarship and outreach among the diverse group of people involved in marking the 100-year anniversary of the Ludlow Massacre. The chapters relate the tales of the stewards of the Ludlow Massacre—the various communities that rallied together to keep this history alive and show its relevance, including lineal descendants, members of the United Mine Workers of America, historians, archaeologists, scholars, artists, interpreters, authors, playwrights, and politicians. The book also offers tips, strategies, and cautionary tales for practicing engaged public scholarship.
The history of the Ludlow Massacre has been told as a tragedy of striking miners in the West that occurred during a turbulent time in US labor relations, but it is so much more than that. Communities of Ludlow explores the intersections of public scholarship, advocacy, and personal experience, weaving these perspectives together with models for practicing public scholarship to illustrate the power of creating spaces for sharing ideas and information in an environment that encourages creativity, open dialogue, public outreach, political action, and alternative narratives.
Contributors: Robert Butero, Robin Henry, Michael Jacobson, Elizabeth Jameson, Linda Linville, Matthew Maher, Yolanda Romero
On the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, renowned choreographer and director Bill T. Jones developed three tributes: Serenade/The Proposition, 100 Migrations, and Fondly Do We Hope . . . Fervently Do We Pray. These widely acclaimed dance works incorporated video and audio text from Lincoln’s writings as they examined key moments in his life and his enduring legacy. Democracy Moving explores how these works provided both an occasion and a method by which democracy and history might be reconceived through movement, positioning dance as a form of both history and historiography.
The project addresses how different communities choose to commemorate historical figures, events, and places through art—whether performance, oratory, song, statuary, or portraiture—and in particular, Black US American counter-memorial practices that address histories of slavery. Advancing the theory of oscillation as Black aesthetic praxis, author Ariel Nereson celebrates Bill T. Jones as a public intellectual whose practice has contributed to the project of understanding America’s relationship to its troubled past. The book features materials from Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company’s largely unexplored archive, interviews with artists, and photos that document this critical stage of Jones’s career as it explores how aesthetics, as ideas in action, can imagine more just and equitable social formations.
Investigates the groundbreaking role American women played in commemorating those who served and sacrificed in World War I
In Forgotten Veterans, Invisible Memorials: How American Women Commemorated the Great War, 1917–1945 Allison S. Finkelstein argues that American women activists considered their own community service and veteran advocacy to be forms of commemoration just as significant and effective as other, more traditional forms of commemoration such as memorials. Finkelstein employs the term “veteranism” to describe these women’s overarching philosophy that supporting, aiding, and caring for those who served needed to be a chief concern of American citizens, civic groups, and the government in the war’s aftermath. However, these women did not express their views solely through their support for veterans of a military service narrowly defined as a group predominantly composed of men and just a few women. Rather, they defined anyone who served or sacrificed during the war, including women like themselves, as veterans.
These women veteranists believed that memorialization projects that centered on the people who served and sacrificed was the most appropriate type of postwar commemoration. They passionately advocated for memorials that could help living veterans and the families of deceased service members at a time when postwar monument construction surged at home and abroad. Finkelstein argues that by rejecting or adapting traditional monuments or by embracing aspects of the living memorial building movement, female veteranists placed the plight of all veterans at the center of their commemoration efforts. Their projects included diverse acts of service and advocacy on behalf of people they considered veterans and their families as they pushed to infuse American memorial traditions with their philosophy. In doing so, these women pioneered a relatively new form of commemoration that impacted American practices of remembrance, encouraging Americans to rethink their approach and provided new definitions of what constitutes a memorial. In the process, they shifted the course of American practices, even though their memorialization methods did not achieve the widespread acceptance they had hoped it would.
Meticulously researched, Forgotten Veterans, Invisible Memorials utilizes little-studied sources and reinterprets more familiar ones. In addition to the words and records of the women themselves, Finkelstein analyzes cultural landscapes and ephemeral projects to reconstruct the evidence of their influence. Readers will come away with a better understanding of how American women supported the military from outside its ranks before they could fully serve from within, principally through action-based methods of commemoration that remain all the more relevant today.
In 1937, the Soviet Union mounted a national celebration commemorating the centenary of poet Alexander Pushkin’s death. Though already a beloved national literary figure, the scale and feverish pitch of the Pushkin festival was unprecedented. Greetings, Pushkin! presents the first in-depth study of this historic event and follows its manifestations in art, literature, popular culture, education, and politics, while also examining its philosophical underpinnings.
Jonathan Brooks Platt looks deeply into the motivations behind the Soviet glorification of a long-dead poet—seemingly at odds with the October Revolution’s radical break with the past. He views the Pushkin celebration as a conjunction of two opposing approaches to time and modernity: monumentalism, which points to specific moments and individuals as the origin point for cultural narratives, and eschatology, which glorifies ruptures in the chain of art or thought and the destruction of canons.
In the midst of the Great Purge, the Pushkin jubilee was a critical element in the drive toward a nationalist discourse that attempted to unify and subsume the disparate elements of the Soviet Union, supporting the move to “socialism in one country.”
Naked Lunch @ 50: Anniversary Essays
Edited by Oliver Harris and Ian MacFadyen Southern Illinois University Press, 2009 Library of Congress PS3552.U75N336 2009 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Naked Lunch was banned, castigated, and recognized as a work of genius on its first publication in 1959, and fifty years later it has lost nothing of its power to astonish, shock, and inspire. A lacerating satire, an exorcism of demons, a grotesque cabinet of horrors, it is the Black Book of the Beat Generation, the forerunner of the psychedelic counterculture, and a progenitor of postmodernism and the digital age. A work of excoriating laughter, linguistic derangement, and transcendent beauty, it remains both influential and inimitable.
This is the first book devoted in its entirety to William Burroughs’ masterpiece, bringing together an international array of scholars, artists, musicians, and academics from many fields to explore the origins, writing, reception, and complex meanings of Naked Lunch. Tracking the legendary book from Texas and Mexico to New York, Tangier, and Paris, Naked Lunch@50 significantly advances our understanding and appreciation of this most elusive and uncanny of texts.
In 1920, on the third anniversary of the October Revolution, dramatist Nikolai Evreinov directed a cast of 10,000 actors, dancers, and circus performers—as well as a convoy of armored cars and tanks—in The Storming of the Winter Palace. The mass spectacle, presented in and around the real Winter Palace in Petrograd, was intended to recall the storming as the beginning of the October Revolution. But it was a deceptive reenactment because, in producing the events it sought to reenact, it created a new kind of theater, agit-drama, promulgating political propaganda and deliberately breaking down the distinction between performers and spectators.
Nikolaj Evreinov: “The Storming of the Winter Palace” tells the fascinating story of this production. Taking readers through the relevant history, the authors describe the role of The Storming of the Winter Palace in commemorating Soviet power. With a wealth of illustrations, they also show how photographs of Evreinov’s theatrical storming eventually became historical documents of the October Revolution themselves.
In the early hours of November 5, 1605, Guy Fawkes, an English Catholic who had served with the Spanish army in Flanders, was discovered in a storeroom under the Palace of Westminster—and with him, thirty-six barrels of gunpowder earmarked to obliterate England’s royal family, top officials, and members of Parliament gathered for Parliament’s opening day. Had it succeeded, this Gunpowder Plot—a Catholic conspiracy against the recently crowned Protestant King James I and his government—English history would have been shaped by a terrorist act of unprecedented proportions.
Today Guy Fawkes—whose name has long stood for the conspiracy—is among the most notorious figures in English history; and Bonfire Night, observed every November 5th to memorialize the narrowly foiled Gunpowder Plot, is one of the country’s most festive occasions. Why has the memory of this act of treason and terrorism persisted for 400 years? In Remember, Remember James Sharpe takes us back to 1605 and teases apart the tangled web of religion and politics that gave rise to the plot. And, with considerable wit, he shows how celebration of that fateful night, and the representation of Guy Fawkes, has changed over the centuries.
James Sharpe’s colorfully told story has wide implications. The plot of 1605 has powerful resonances today, in a time of heightened concern about ideological conflict, religious fanaticism, and terrorism. And his account of the festivities marking the momentous event comments on the role of rituals in constructing national histories.
Remembering Emmett Till
Dave Tell University of Chicago Press, 2019 Library of Congress E185.93.M6T45 2019 | Dewey Decimal 364.134
Take a drive through the Mississippi Delta today and you’ll find a landscape dotted with memorials to major figures and events from the civil rights movement. Perhaps the most chilling are those devoted to the murder of Emmett Till, a tragedy of hate and injustice that became a beacon in the fight for racial equality. The ways this event is remembered have been fraught from the beginning, revealing currents of controversy, patronage, and racism lurking just behind the placid facades of historical markers.
In Remembering Emmett Till, Dave Tell gives us five accounts of the commemoration of this infamous crime. In a development no one could have foreseen, Till’s murder—one of the darkest moments in the region’s history—has become an economic driver for the Delta. Historical tourism has transformed seemingly innocuous places like bridges, boat landings, gas stations, and riverbeds into sites of racial politics, reminders of the still-unsettled question of how best to remember the victim of this heinous crime. Tell builds an insightful and persuasive case for how these memorials have altered the Delta’s physical and cultural landscape, drawing potent connections between the dawn of the civil rights era and our own moment of renewed fire for racial justice.