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1. The burden of guilt and German politics in Europe

Since the outbreak of the First World War just over one hundred years ago, the debate concerning the conflict’s causes has been shaped by political preoccupations as well as historical research. Wartime mobilization of societies required governments to explain the justice of their cause, the “war guilt” clause of the treaty of Versailles became a focal point of German revisionist foreign policy in the 1920s, and the Fischer debate in West Germany in the 1960s took place against a backdrop of the Cold War and the efforts of German society to come to terms with the Nazi past. More recently critics of Sir Edward Grey’s foreign policy, such as Niall Ferguson and John Charmley, are writing in the context of intense debates about Britain’s relationship with Europe, while accounts that emphasise the strength of the great power peace before 1914 are informed in part by contemporary discussions of globalization and the improbability of a war between the world’s leading powers today – the conflict in the Ukraine notwithstanding.

The persistent political backdrop to debates about the origins of the war is evident in the reception of Christopher Clark’s best-selling work, The Sleepwalkers, particularly its resonance within Germany. Clark’s references to the Euro-crisis, 9/11, and the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s, dotted throughout the book, nod to the contemporary relevance of the collapse of the international system in 1914.

While Clark seeks to eschew debates about war guilt or responsibility, preferring to concentrate on the ‘how’ rather than the ‘why’, his conclusion contends that leaders in the capitals of the five Great Powers and in Belgrade bear somewhat equal responsibility for the war. This thesis has attracted considerable attention in Germany, where the last major public reckoning over the origins of the war took place in the 1960s, when Fritz Fischer’s thesis that German leaders planned for war from December 1912 and therefore bore the largest responsibility for its outbreak was the subject of intense and often vindictive debate. Fischer carried the day in the 1960s, but now Clark’s argument, comparative in a way that Fischer did not claim to be, has overturned what appeared to be a publicly accepted orthodoxy.

The centenary debate has also coincided with a particular moment in German political and cultural debate. The post-unification economic slowdown has now given way to a booming economy, while much of the rest of Europe is mired in austerity. In tandem with economic prosperity, German elites are displaying growing political confidence as Europe’s dominant state.

In this context Clark’s thesis about shared responsibility for the war has been read in two ways. One group, whose most notable advocates include Thomas Weber (Aberdeen/Harvard) and Dominik Geppert (Bonn), argue that the ongoing belief in German ‘war guilt’ is an historic fiction that damages both German and European politics. It has contributed to the unwillingness of successive German governments to take on greater leadership within Europe. The marginalization of the German national interest after 1945, they claim, is partly the product of a misinformed reading of history that holds the pursuit of the German national interest as responsible for two catastrophic global conflicts. This has resulted in a damaging approach to European politics, which holds that the national is inherently opposed to the European interest. By neglecting the national interest German leaders are creating instability within Europe and alienating many German citizens from participating in a European project that must take account of national diversity. Hence they welcome Clark’s book and the enormous public interest it has aroused in Germany.

Parade of Cuirassier Guards Marching to the Parade Ground, Berlin, Germany. Keystone View Company, copyrighted Underwood & Underwood Public domain via via Wikimedia Commons.
Parade of Cuirassier Guards Marching to the Parade Ground, Berlin, Germany. Keystone View Company, copyrighted Underwood & Underwood Public domain via via Wikimedia Commons.

However Clark’s thesis has not met with universal approval. Leading critics include Gerd Krumeich and John Röhl, both representatives of a generation of historians who came to the fore during and soon after the Fischer debate. They criticize Clark for downplaying the responsibility of German political and military leaders for the war, both by stressing the comparatively restrained character of German foreign policy up to the July crisis and by his criticisms of the aggressive nature of Russian, French, and British foreign policy before 1914. Not only do they take issue with Clark’s arguments, they also express concern that the ‘relativizing’ of German responsibility for the outbreak of the war will lead to a recrudescence of a more assertive German nationalism, undoing the successful integration of the Federal Republic into a community of democratic, European nations. From their perspective, a more assertive German nationalism, freed from the historic burden of war guilt, constitutes a potential danger.

The debate blends divergent generational perspectives on German national identity and European politics, as well as different interpretations of the sources and methodological approaches to studying the origins of the war. For the record, this author finds Clark’s account persuasive. On balance there is a greater risk in Germany not playing a leading role in European politics than there is of a re-assertion of a muscular German national interest and identity. Yet both groups may overestimate the significance of the “war guilt” in shaping perspectives in German and European politics. While the centenary has created a privileged space for the first world war in public discussion, the politics of history within Germany remain firmly fixed on the crimes of the Third Reich. When Europeans today think of Germany’s historical burden, they think primarily of the Nazi past. After all, disaffected protesters in countries hit by austerity after 2008 compared current German policies to those of the Third Reich, not the Kaiserreich. Grotesque and unfounded as the comparison was, it was striking that protesters did not think about Wilhelm II. While historians may revise their views of German responsibility for the First World War, no serious historian disputes the primacy of the Hitler’s regime in starting a genocidal war in Europe in 1939.

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2. Time to see the end

Imagine that you’re watching a movie. You’re fully enjoying the thrill of different emotions, unexpected changes, and promising developments in the plot. All of a sudden, the projection is abruptly halted with no explanation whatsoever. You’re unable to learn how things unfold. You can’t see the end of the movie and you’re left with a sense of incompleteness you won’t ever be able to overcome.

Now imagine that movie is the existence of a human being which, out of the blue, is interrupted. Enforced disappearance cuts the life-flow of a person and it’s often impossible to discover how it truly ends. The secrecy that shrouds the fate of the disappeared is the distinctive element of this heinous practice and differentiates it from other crimes. All that you can imagine is that the end is not likely to be a happy one, but you will never give up hope. The impossibility to unveil the truth paralyses also the life of family members, friends, colleagues, and, to a certain extent, of society at large. If you don’t see the end, you’re unable to move on. You can’t grieve. You can’t rejoice. You’re trapped between hope and despair.

Today is the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances. Besides commemorating thousands of human beings who have been subjected to enforced disappearance throughout the world and honouring the memory of brave family members and human rights defenders who continue to combat against this scourge, is there anything to celebrate?

While the UN General Assembly decided to observe this Day beginning in 2011, associations of relatives of disappeared persons in Latin America had been doing so since 1981.

Over more than 30 years much has been done to eradicate enforced disappearance, both at domestic and international levels. Specific human rights bodies, such as the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) and the Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED) have been established. Legal instruments, both of international human rights law and of international criminal law, deal with this crime in-depth and establish detailed obligations and severe sanctions. Regional human rights courts and UN Treaty Bodies have developed a rich, although not always coherent, jurisprudence. Domestic courts have delivered some landmark sentences, holding perpetrators accountable.

Ceremony organised by the Asian Federation against Involuntary Disappearances, held in Manila on 30 August 2009, to commemorate the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances. Photo by Gabriella Citroni.
Ceremony organised by the Asian Federation against Involuntary Disappearances, held in Manila on 30 August 2009, to commemorate the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances. Photo by Gabriella Citroni.

However, much remains to be done. First, the phenomenon has evolved: once mainly perpetrated in the context of military dictatorships, nowadays it is committed also under supposedly democratic regimes, and is being used to counter terrorism, to fight organised crime, or to suppress legitimate movements of civil protest. Enforced disappearance is practiced in a widespread and systematic manner in complex situations of internal armed conflict, as highlighted, among others, in the recent report “Without a Trace” concerning enforced disappearances in Syria.

During its latest session, held in February 2014, the WGEID transmitted 87 newly reported cases of enforced disappearance to 11 states. More than 43,000 cases, committed in a total of 84 states, remain under the WGEID’s active consideration.

Against this discouraging scenario, less than 15 states have codified enforced disappearance as an autonomous offence under their criminal legislation and thus lack the adequate legal framework to tackle this crime. Only a handful of states have adopted specific measures to regulate the legal situation of disappeared persons in field such as welfare, financial matters, family law and property rights. This causes additional anguish to the relatives of the disappeared and may also hamper investigation and prosecution. Amnesty laws or similar measures that have the effect of exempting perpetrators from any criminal proceedings or sanctions are in force in various countries and are in the process of being adopted in others. Recourse to military tribunals is often used to grant impunity.

Relatives of disappeared men from Lebanon and Algeria taking part in a gathering organised by the Fédération Euro-méditerranéenne contre les disparitions forcées in Beirut on 21 February 2013. Photo by Gabriella Citroni.
Relatives of disappeared men from Lebanon and Algeria taking part in a gathering organised by the Fédération Euro-méditerranéenne contre les disparitions forcées in Beirut on 21 February 2013. Photo by Gabriella Citroni.

States do not seem to be proactive in engaging in a serious struggle against enforced disappearance at the international level either. Opened for signature in February 2007, the International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance has so far been ratified by 43 states, out of which only 18 have recognized the competence of the CED to receive and examine individual and inter-state communications.

Furthermore, states often fail to cooperate with international human rights mechanisms, hindering the fact-finding process, and proving reluctant in the enforcement of judgments. On their part, some of these international mechanisms, such as the European Court of Human Rights, narrowed their jurisprudence on enforced disappearance, undertaking a particularly restrictive approach when assessing their competence ratione temporis, when evaluating states’ compliance with their positive obligations to investigate on cases of disappearance, prosecute and sanction those responsible, and when awarding measures of redress and reparation.

One may wonder why 30 August was chosen by relatives of disappeared persons as the International Day against this crime. Purportedly, they picked a random date. They didn’t want it to be related to the enforced disappearance of anyone in particular: anyone can be subjected to enforced disappearance, anytime, and anywhere.

That was the idea back in 1981. Sadly, it still seems to be the case in 2014. It’s about time the obligations set forth in international treaties on enforced disappearance are duly implemented, domestic legal frameworks are strengthened, and legislative or procedural obstacles to investigation and prosecution are removed. It’s time to see the end of the movie. The end of enforced disappearance.

The post Time to see the end appeared first on OUPblog.

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3. War poetry across the centuries

‘Poetry’, Wordsworth reminds us, ‘is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings’, and there can be no area of human experience that has generated a wider range of powerful feelings than war: hope and fear; exhilaration and humiliation; hatred—not only for the enemy, but also for generals, politicians, and war-profiteers; love—for fellow soldiers, for women and children left behind, for country (often) and cause (occasionally).

So begins Jon Stallworthy’s introduction to his recently edited volume The New Oxford Book of War Poetry.  The new selection provides improved coverage of the two World Wars and the Vietnam War, and new coverage of the wars of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Below is an extract of two poems from the collection.

 JOHN MILTON

1608–1674

 On the Late Massacre in Piedmont* (1673)

Avenge, O Lord, thy slaughtered saints, whose bones
Lie scattered on the Alpine mountains cold,
Even them who kept thy truth so pure of old
When all our fathers worshipped stocks and stones,
Forget not; in thy book record their groans
Who were thy sheep and in their ancient fold
Slain by the bloody Piedmontese that rolled
Mother with infant down the rocks. Their moans
and his Latin secretary, John Milton.
The vales redoubled to the hills, and they
To Heaven. Their martyred blood and ashes sow
O’er all th’ Italian fields where still doth sway
The triple tyrant, that from these may grow
A hundredfold, who having learnt thy way,
Early may fly the Babylonian woe.

* The heretical Waldensian sect, which inhabited northern Italy (Piedmont) and southern France, held beliefs compatible with Protestant doctrine. Their massacre by Catholics in 1655 was widely protested by Protestant powers, including Oliver Cromwell and his Latin secretary, John Milton.

 

LOUIS SIMPSON

The Heroes (1955)

I dreamed of war-heroes, of wounded war-heroes
With just enough of their charms shot away
To make them more handsome. The women moved nearer
To touch their brave wounds and their hair streaked with gray.
I saw them in long ranks ascending the gang-planks;
The girls with the doughnuts were cheerful and gay.
They minded their manners and muttered their thanks;
The Chaplain advised them to watch and to pray.
They shipped these rapscallions, these sea-sick battalions
To a patriotic and picturesque spot;
They gave them new bibles and marksmen’s medallions,
Compasses, maps, and committed the lot.
A fine dust has settled on all that scrap metal.
The heroes were packaged and sent home in parts
To pluck at a poppy and sew on a petal
And count the long night by the stroke of their hearts.

Image credit: Menin Gate, Ypres, Belgium. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

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4. On Machado

       At the Times Literary Supplement site Peter Robb's piece on the truly Magnificent Machado -- Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis -- is now freely available. It's a review of two recently published-in-translation story-collections, but (except for the odd John Updike references ...) is also a good overview/introduction to the great author.
       Only The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas is currently under review at the complete review, but I've been a huge fan over the years; my review of one of these collections, Dalkey Archive Press' Stories, should be up soon as well (meanwhile, see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk).
       The other collection Robb discusses is a bilingual edition from new-to-me New London Librarium, Ex Cathedra; see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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5. Read Russia finalists

       The Read Russia Prize for translations of Russian works into (selected) foreign languages will be announced 6 September, and at Russia Beyond the Headlines they have all the information and the finalists -- seventeen titles (only three of which are translations-into-English), selected from 112 nominations from 16 countries.
       This seems a great way to encourage translation, with both the translator(s) and the publisher getting decent prize-money -- and it's great that it's not limited to translations-into-English.

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6. Towards the One and Only Metaphor review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Szentkuthy Miklós' Towards the One and Only Metaphor, the second of his works to be brought out in English by Contra Mundum Press, with more to follow (not soon enough !).
       One of these hard to review/get a grasp on titles, but definitely worthwhile.

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7. Character description

       A little while ago I flailed about on how I don't much care for/need/get much out of descriptions of characters in fiction; now I find, in Szentkuthy's Towards the One and Only Metaphor (which I just reviewed) a passage conveying exactly what I mean.
       Section 92 reads, in its entirety:

How preposterous it is for a novelist to describe a person even on the very first page: one has already long ago pictured something else -- the tablet of the book, the smell of its print, the letter font, the form of the page numbers, the touch of the paper, a title long retained in the mind, the pressure of the chair in which one is sitting, the shadow thrown by the roller blinds, the wall, door, or picture opposite: these have all once and for all time, absolutely indelibly traced the protagonist's face (even if it is not directly visible).
       Exactly !
       (And you understand now why you really should be reading Szentkuthy, right ?)

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8. Jamie Marks Is Dead

  
Jamie Marks Is Dead is based on a book I love by a writer I love: One for Sorrow by Christopher Barzak. I realized recently that I think of it as the first novel of "our" generation/group of writers — Chris is a few months older than me, and originally introduced me to probably half the writers and editors I know. I read One for Sorrow in manuscript, exhorted Juliet Ulman to buy and edit it for Bantam, and celebrated its publication. Chris sent me a copy with the kindest inscription penned onto its title page that any writer has ever given me. I feel like a kind of distant (crazy) uncle to the book, and thus also deeply protective toward it. I didn't read most of the reviews when it was released for fear that I would seek out any negative reviewers and do terrible things to them that would get me arrested.  When I found out it was being made into a movie, I was both excited for Chris and for the higher profile the book would likely gain, and terrified that the movie would just be awful. I mumbled to myself for weeks about the change of title before coming to accept it.

The movie was officially released in some major US cities today, and the distributor is also doing a simultaneous release on video-on-demand (Amazon, iTunes, etc.), so those of us, at least in the US, who can't get to one of the cities it's playing in can still see it. I watched it this morning.

The movie is not awful — far from it — and though at first I had my crazy-uncle fists clenched, ready to pounce on anything that even touched a hair of my beloved nephew's head, it was soon clear that this was a movie made from not only a general understanding of the book, but a profound sympathy with it. They're very different creatures, but if you love One for Sorrow, I think you're likely to love Jamie Marks Is Dead, too.



It begins in a style I've come to think of as "digital somber", a style common to a lot of artsy low-budget movies these days: muted colors; the clarity of light peculiar to a certain kind of digital lensing; long takes and fluid camera movement; dreamy music. It's become a familiar enough style that I now find myself skeptical of it at first, because too often it screams out, "Serious Movie!" before it earns its mood. (But at its best it can be devastating. See, for instance, The Snowtown Murders.)  In this case, it's a good fit to the material, and director Carter Smith, cinematographer Darren Lew, and the various designers and decorators (Amy Williams, Steven Phan, Nora Mendis, Rachel Dainer-Best) do a superb job of uniting the elements into a whole that sustains a mood impressively. The production design and decoration in particular deserve notice, because the details are exquisite — though the movie makes absolutely no effort to drawn attention to it, the setting is not contemporary, but rather seems to be late '90s, early '00s (the time of the book). Further, though the novel is explicitly set in and around Youngstown, Ohio, the movie is more general in its setting: somewhere northeastish, somewhere working class, somewhere rusty and full of industrial and commercial ruins. (It was shot in New York state. Chris says it looks plenty like Ohio. It looks plenty like places I know in New Hampshire, too, the places the tourists don't go.)

Smith's background as a photographer serves him well, as he and Lew sustain a difficult look for the film without strain. Shot after shot is evocative but not ostentatious. One example (a screen capture doesn't do it justice, or I'd place a picture here): a high-angle long shot of a yellow ribbon of crime scene tape snaked across the wet ground of a grey riverbank on a moonlit night. The tape, though muddied, is the brightest object in the image, rivalled only by the white of driftwood and fragments of light rippling on the water. The image evokes mood and meaning, but most importantly it provides a perfect introduction for a ghost.

I wasn't sure if I was going to like Noah Silver as Jamie, because I had such a clear idea of Jamie in my own mind, an idea that has congealed over a decade of living with the novel, and the soggy-Harry-Potter styling of the character was very different from the lighter, whispier Jamie in my head. (Adam was always less defined for me, more an aural than physical image, since the novel is written from his first-person POV.) But Silver's performance won me over, especially in the second half of the film when he must be alluring, mysterious, innocent, and menacing all pretty much at the same time. In his first scenes, the lighting and make-up make him seem almost like a plastic mannequin, but as the scenes progress, he becomes more and more human — an odd and very effective choice for the representation of this ghost.

All of the performances are strong, and the film demonstrates quite well the adage that finding the right cast (and crew) is 90% of the success of a production. In pre-release photos from the film, I thought Cameron Monaghan as Adam looked a bit too much like a human Kewpie doll, but he gives an impressive performance. His physique is remarkably variable — he can play vulnerability and sensitivity as well as sharpness and hardness, with his face seemingly changing shape depending on the needs of the scene: at one moment, his face is soft and a bit round, at another, it's all cold angles. (Some of this is also the responsibility of the cinematographer and his lighting team.) Monaghan has excellent instincts, and Smith is smart enough to bring those instincts to fore by encouraging him to hold back: Monaghan's eyes tell entire stories.

Where Silver and Monaghan were not immediately in sync with how I'd imagined the characters, and thus had to (and did) win me over, Morgan Saylor was the Gracie in my mind's eye. I've rarely seen an actor so perfectly fit how I'd imagined a character when reading the original material. A big part of it is her voice, which is deeper and huskier than you might imagine if you just looked at her. It would be easy to make the character of Gracie into a cliché of the adolescent "bad girl", but the movie thankfully doesn't do that — as Saylor plays the role, Gracie is very much an individual, not a type. We don't actually learn a lot about her in the movie, but there is a richness to the performance that allows us to imagine so much that the film itself doesn't have time to convey.

Smith made some excellent choices with his screenplay and direction, particularly in how he focused the story. There's an epic quality to the second half of the novel that just couldn't be conveyed well in a 2-hour movie, never mind a 2-hour movie without a big budget. As any good artist does, Smith turns his limitations into opportunities. The close focus on Adam, Jamie, and Gracie (with some other folks wandering in and out of the story to create and complicate tension) allows the film to build a slow, careful emotional resonance. It's seductive, this movie, and it sticks its hooks in when you're not expecting it. Partly, this is because Smith decided to keep the dialogue to a minimum and to not explain everything. It's a movie of glances and glimpses, of possibilities more than answers. That will, I'm sure, bother plenty of viewers, viewers who want explanations for the logic of the ghost world (as if the supernatural must follow a logical system!), who will want some of the plot's mysteries solved more neatly, who will want some of the side stories tied up or justified — but this is a different sort of film, and its commitment to suggestiveness, its willingness to allow possibilities to linger, enhances the fundamental effect. Give yourself over to it, and this is a movie that will haunt you. The novel does this some, but as a novel it has the space to answer questions without closing off possibilities. Two-hour movies are more like short stories, and at its best moments this one reminded me of the effect of reading my favorite writer of ghost stories, Robert Aickman.

For all its many great moments, the most extraordinary is the very last. Since the movie goes in a different direction for some of its later parts than the novel does, I had no idea how or where it would end. (Figuring out the end was, I know, one of Chris's biggest challenges when writing the novel.) What could it possibly do? How could it find the resonance it needed to be satisfying?

I'll just say this: the moment the credits started rolling, I was in tears. Tears not only because of the profound effect of the absolutely perfect choice of ending, but also of relief that this beloved novel had been translated with such care and love to a very different medium.



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9. A preview of the 2014 OHA Annual Meeting

In a few months, Troy and I hope to welcome you all to the 2014 Oral History Association (OHA) Annual Meeting, “Oral History in Motion: Movements, Transformations, and the Power of Story.” This year’s meeting will take place in our lovely, often frozen hometown of Madison, Wisconsin, from 8-12 October 2014. I am sure most of you have already registered and booked your hotel room. For those of you still dragging your feet, hopefully these letters from OHA Vice President/President Elect Paul Ortiz and Program Committee co-chairs Natalie Fousekis and Kathy Newfont will kick you into gear.

*   *   *   *   *

Madison, Wisconsin. The capitol city of the Badger State evokes images of social movements of all kinds. This includes the famed “Wisconsin Idea,” a belief put forth during an earlier, tumultuous period of American history that this place was to become a “laboratory for democracy,” where new ideas would be developed to benefit the entire society. In subsequent years, Madison became equally famous for the Madison Farmers Market, hundreds of locally-owned businesses, live music, and a top-ranked university. Not to mention world-famous cafes, microbreweries, and brewpubs! [Editor’s note: And fried cheese curds!] Our theme, “Oral History in Motion: Movements, Transformations and the Power of Story,” is designed to speak directly to the rich legacies of Wisconsin and the upper Midwest, as well as to the interests and initiatives of our members. Early on, we decided to define “movements” broadly — and inclusively — to encompass popular people’s struggles, as well as the newer, exciting technological changes oral history practitioners are implementing in our field.

Creating this year’s conference has been a collaborative effort. Working closely with the OHA executive director’s office, our program and local arrangements committees have woven together an annual meeting with a multiplicity of themes, as well as an international focus tied together by our belief in the transformative power of storytelling, dialog, and active listening. Our panels also reflect the diversity of our membership’s interests. You can attend sessions ranging from the historical memories of the Haitian Revolution and the future of the labor movement in Wisconsin to the struggles of ethnic minority refugees from Burma. We’ll explore the legacies left by story-telling legends like Pete Seeger and John Handcox, even as we learn new narratives from Latina immigrants, digital historians and survivors of sexual abuse.

Based on the critical input we’ve received from OHA members, this year’s annual meeting in will build on the strengths and weaknesses of previous conferences. New participants will have the opportunity to be matched with veteran members through the OHA Mentoring Program. We will also invite all new members to the complimentary Newcomers’ Breakfast on Friday morning. Building on its success at last year’s annual meeting, we are also holding Interest Group Meetings on Thursday, in order to help members continue to knit together national—and international—networks. The conference program features four hands-on oral history workshops on Wednesday, and a “Principles and Best Practices for Oral History Education (grades 4-12)” workshop on Saturday morning. This year’s plenary and special sessions are also superb.

With such an exciting program, it is little wonder that early pre-registration was so high! I hope that you will join us in Madison, Wisconsin for what will be one of the most memorable annual meetings in OHA history!

In Solidarity,
Paul Ortiz
OHA Vice President/President Elect

*   *   *   *   *

The 2014 OHA Annual Meeting in Madison, Wisconsin is shaping up to be an especially strong conference. The theme, “Oral History in Motion: Movements, Transformations and the Power of Story,” drew a record number of submissions. As a result, the slate of concurrent sessions includes a wide variety of high quality work. We anticipate that most conference-goers will, even more so than most years, find it impossible to attend all sessions that pique their interest!

The local arrangements team in Madison has done a wonderful job lining up venues for the meeting and its special sessions, including sites on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, the Wisconsin Historical Society and the Madison Public Library. The meeting will showcase some of Madison’s richest cultural offerings. For instance, we will open Wednesday evening in Sterling Hall with an innovative, oral-history inspired performance on the 1970 bomb explosion, which proved a key flashpoint in the Vietnam-era anti-war movement. After Thursday evening’s Presidential Reception, we will hear a concert by Jazz Master bassist Richard Davis — who will also do a live interview Saturday evening.

In keeping with our theme, many of our feature presentations will address past and present fights for social and political change. Thursday afternoon’s mixed-media plenary session will focus on the music and oral poetry of sharecropper “poet laureate” John Handcox, whose songs continue to inspire a broad range of justice movements in the U.S. and beyond. Friday morning’s “Academics as Activists” plenary session will offer a report from the front lines of contemporary activism. It will showcase an interdisciplinary panel of scholars who have emerged as leading voices in recent pushes for social change in Wisconsin, North Carolina and nationwide. The Friday luncheon keynote will feature John Biewen of Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies, who has earned recognition for—among other things—his excellent work on disadvantaged groups. Finally, on Friday evening we will screen Private Violence, a film featured at this year’s Sundance festival. Private Violence examines domestic violence, long a key concern in women’s and children’s rights movements. The event will be hosted by Associate Producer Malinda Maynor Lowery, who is also Director of the University of North Carolina’s Southern Oral History Program.

Join us for all this and much more!

Natalie Fousekis and Kathy Newfont
Program Committee

*   *   *   *   *

See you all in October!

Headline image credit: Resources of Wisconsin. Edwin Blashfield’s mural “Resources of Wisconsin”, Wisconsin State Capitol dome, Madison, Wisconsin. Photo by Jeremy Atherton. CC BY 2.0 via jatherton Flickr.

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10. The unfinished fable of the sparrows

Owls and robots. Nature and computers. It might seem like these two things don’t belong in the same place, but The Unfinished Fable of the Sparrows (in an extract from Nick Bostrom’s Superintelligence) sheds light on a particular problem: what if we used our highly capable brains to build machines that surpassed our general intelligence?

It was the nest-building season, but after days of long hard work, the sparrows sat in the evening glow, relaxing and chirping away.

“We are all so small and weak. Imagine how easy life would be if we had an owl who could help us build our nests!”

“Yes!” said another. “And we could use it to look after our elderly and our young.”

“It could give us advice and keep an eye out for the neighborhood cat,” added a third.

Then Pastus, the elder-bird, spoke: “Let us send out scouts in all directions and try to find an abandoned owlet somewhere, or maybe an egg. A crow chick might also do, or a baby weasel. This could be the best thing that ever happened to us, at least since the opening of the Pavilion of Unlimited Grain in yonder backyard.”

The flock was exhilarated, and sparrows everywhere started chirping at the top of their lungs.

Only Scronkfinkle, a one-eyed sparrow with a fretful temperament, was unconvinced of the wisdom of the endeavor. Quoth he: “This will surely be our undoing. Should we not give some thought to the art of owl-domestication and owl-taming first, before we bring such a creature into our midst?”

Replied Pastus: “Taming an owl sounds like an exceedingly difficult thing to do. It will be difficult enough to find an owl egg. So let us start there. After we have succeeded in raising an owl, then we can think about taking on this other challenge.”

“There is a flaw in that plan!” squeaked Scronkfinkle; but his protests were in vain as the flock had already lifted off to start implementing the directives set out by Pastus.

Just two or three sparrows remained behind. Together they began to try to work out how owls might be tamed or domesticated. They soon realized that Pastus had been right: this was an exceedingly difficult challenge, especially in the absence of an actual owl to practice on. Nevertheless they pressed on as best they could, constantly fearing that the flock might return with an owl egg before a solution to the control problem had been found.

Headline image credit: Chestnut Sparrow by Lip Kee. CC BY 2.0 via Flickr.

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11. A back-to-school reading list of classic literature

With carefree summer winding to a close, we’ve pulled together some reading recommendations to put you in a studious mood. Check out these Oxford World’s Classics suggestions to get ready for another season of books and papers. Even if you’re no longer a student, there’s something on this list for every literary enthusiast.

Timon of Athens

If you liked Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, you should read Timon of Athens by William Shakespeare. Like Miller’s Willy Loman, Timon does not enjoy an especially happy life, although from the outside it seems as though he should. Timon once had a good thing going, but creates his own misery after lavishing his considerable wealth on friends. He eventually grows to despise humanity and the play follows his slow demise.

If you liked Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown, you should read The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. DuBois. Many argue that each of these texts should be required reading in all American schools. The Souls of Black Folk sheds light on a dark and shameful chapter of history, and of the achievements, triumphs, and continued struggles of African Americans against various obstacles in post-slavery society.

The IliadIf you liked Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, you should read The Iliad by Homer. Written 2,700 years ago, The Iliad may just be the original anti-war novel, paving the way for books like Slaughterhouse-Five. Illustrating in poetic form the brutality of war and the many types of conflict that often lead to it, the periodic glimpses of peace and beauty that punctuate the story only serve to bathe the painful realities of battle in an even starker light.

If you liked The Lord of the Flies by William Golding, you should read Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. This 19th century Victorian novel explores the survival of good, utilizing England’s workhouse system and an orphaned boy as vehicles to navigate its themes. Dickens was considered the most talented among his contemporaries at employing suspense and violence as literary motifs. The result was a classic work of literature that continues to be a favorite for many.

The Scarlet LetterIf you liked The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood you should read The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. If strong female protagonists are your thing you will probably enjoy Hester Prynne, who endures public scorn after bearing a child out of wedlock, and faces a punishment of wearing a red “A” to designate her offense. Despite the severe sentence, Hester maintains her faith and personal dignity, all while continuing to support herself and her baby—not an easy feat in a 17th century puritan community.

If you liked One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, you should read The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. A colorful and eclectic assortment of characters make the best of a long and arduous pilgrimage by entertaining each other with tall tales of every genre from comedy to romance to adventure. If you enjoy certain aspects of Garcia Marquez’s writing, namely the fantasy elements and large cast of characters in One Hundred Years, you will probably appreciate those same characteristics in this novel, which was written 600 years ago and is still admired today.

My AntoniaIf you liked The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, you should read My Antonia by Willa Cather. A similar tale of survival in a harsh new land, My Antonia provides the context for a romance between two mufti-dimensional characters. Cather offers readers a glimpse into settler life in the nascent stages of American history, with vivid landscape descriptions and universal themes of companionship and family as added bonuses.

For over 100 years Oxford World’s Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford’s commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more. You can follow Oxford World’s Classics on Twitter, Facebook, or here on the OUPblog. Subscribe to only Oxford World’s Classics articles on the OUPblog via email or RSS. – See more at: http://blog.oup.com/2014/08/daniel-deronda-book-design/#sthash.BydtPSF1.dpuf
For over 100 years Oxford World’s Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford’s commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more. You can follow Oxford World’s Classics on Twitter, Facebook, or here on the OUPblog. Subscribe to only Oxford World’s Classics articles on the OUPblog via email or RSS. – See more at: http://blog.oup.com/2014/08/daniel-deronda-book-design/#sthash.BydtPSF1.dpuf

If you liked One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey, you should read The Trial by Franz Kafka. Psychological thrillers don’t get much better than The Trial, a book that incorporates various themes including guilt, responsibility, and power. Josef K. awakens one morning to find himself under arrest for a crime that is never explained to him (or to the reader). As he stands trial, Josef gradually crumbles under the psychological pressure and begins to doubt his own morality and innocence, showing how Kafka used ambiguity brilliantly as a device to create suspense.

Featured image: Timeless books by Lin Kristensen. CC-BY-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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12. Publishing in ... Spain

       There have been bad numbers from all over, over the past few years, but few as dismal as this: at The Bookseller Benedicte Page reports that Spain's domestic market sees 12% drop in 2013. That's turnover -- but even so:

The latest survey found 154 million copies were sold in 2013, a decrease of 9.6% on 2012 numbers. Publishing numbers were down 3.5% year-on-year to 76,434 titles.
       Disappointingly, too: "Studied by genre, fiction saw the biggest revenue fall, down 17.2% to €469m" (Come on, you Spaniards -- no matter how bad things are, there's always room for ... fiction ! Always ! Fiction is what matters ! Buy some !)
       It's hard to ascribe plummets like this to the absence of one or two blockbusters; this is a much broader problem -- not a good sign at all.

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13. Amis, not in Germany

       An Interesting Q & A (in German) with Martin Amis in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung -- summed up by Philip Oltermann and Anne Penketh in The Guardian, in Martin Amis's holocaust 'comedy' fails to find German publisher, as the German publisher of his last few duds books, Hanser, has declined to publish The Zone of Interest -- the big question being (this being the German market): is it because it is about Auschwitz, or is it because it is crap ?
       Amis doesn't seem to have ever really caught on in Germany, and you can see that he's a tough sell there under the best of circumstances (among his works' main qualities is his style, and that's tough to translate effectively/well).
       Understandably Interestingly, recent French Amis-publisher Gallimard has also passed on this one (though another French publisher did pick it up) -- though Amis suggests in his FAZ-interview that that likely has more to do with a general editorial shift at Gallimard, rather than the subject-matter at hand. (Presumably, that's how his 'literary agent' -- Andrew Wylie -- is trying to spin things to his no-doubt irritated client .....)

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14. Ramuz revival ?

       At English PEN, Michelle Bailat-Jones writes about Charles Ferdinand Ramuz -- trying to sell him as a: "contemporary of Robert Walser" (because that's relevant to .. anything) and how he: "is now being introduced to a new readership as the 'dams' between languages break down", in "You must keep feeding the lake".
       Hey, I'm a Ramuz fan -- The Young Man from Savoy, yes ! -- but let's get real. Walser was a long-overlooked genius; Ramuz's When the Mountains Fell (Eng. 1949) was an early Pantheon title (yes, as far back as the Jacques (not André ...) Schiffrin days) that was a freaking Book-of-the-Month-Club title (you young 'uns won't remember, but that was a big, big deal back then). Ramuz has been mainstream (and, since, admittedly, completely forgotten ...).
       Good to see some attention for Ramuz, but, please, some perspective -- which includes not trying to compare him to Walser.

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15. maudnewton: Dear ragweed: I almost typed rageweed by accident,...



maudnewton:

Dear ragweed: I almost typed rageweed by accident, even though I was going to try to come up with something fair-minded to say. Such as, theoretically I have nothing against you. But if you could just not pollinate? Or if you could thrive on the moon?

Ugh, yes. When I read today’s horoscope for Geminis, it left off, “You will accidentally take a Benadryl nap midmorning.”

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16. Ethics of social networking in social work

Facebook celebrated its tenth anniversary in February. It has over 1.2 billion active users — equating to one user for every seven people worldwide. This social networking phenomenon has not only given our society a new way of sharing information with others; it’s changed the way we think about “liking” and “friending.” Actually, “friending” was not even considered a proper word until Facebook popularized its use. Traditionally, a friend is not just a person one knows, but a person with whom one shares personal affection, connection, trust, and familiarity. Under Facebook-speak, friending is simply the act of attaching a person to a contact list on the social networking website. One does not have to like, trust, or even know people in order to friend them. The purpose of friending is to connect people interested in sharing information. Some people friend only “traditional friends.” Others friend people on Facebook who are “mere acquaintances,” business associates, and even people with whom they have no prior relationship. On Facebook, “liking” is supposed to indicate that the person enjoys or is partial to the story, photo, or other content that someone has posted on Facebook. One does not have to be a friend to like someone’s content, and one may also like content on other websites.

Unbeknown to many Facebook users is how Facebook and other websites gather and use information about people’s friending and liking behaviors. For instance, the data gathered by Facebook is used to help determine which advertisements a particular user sees. Although Facebook does have some privacy protection features, many people do not use them, meaning that they are sharing private information with anyone who has access to the Internet. Even if a person tries to restrict information to “friends,” there are no provisions to ensure that the friends to not share the information with others, posting information in publically accessible places or simply sharing information in a good, old-fashioned manner – oral gossip. So, given what we know (and perhaps don’t know) about liking and friending, should social workers like their clients, encourage clients to like them, or friend their clients?

When considering the use of online social networking, social workers need to consider their ethical duties with respect to their primary commitment to clients, their duty to maintain appropriate professional boundaries, and their duty to protect confidential client information (NASW, Code of Ethics, 2008, Standards 1.01, 1.06, and 1.07). Allow me to begin with the actual situation that instigated my thinking about these issues. Recently, I saw a social worker’s Facebook page advertising her services. She encouraged potential clients to become friends and to like her. She offered a 10% discount in counseling fees for clients who liked her. What could possibly be a problem with providing clients with this sort of discount? The worker was providing clients with a benefit, and all they had to do was like her… they didn’t even have to become her friend.

In terms of 1.01, the social worker should ask herself whether she was acting in a way that promoted client interests, or whether she was primarily promoting her own interests. If her decision to offer discounts was purely a decision to promote profits (her interests), then she may be taking advantage (perhaps unintentionally) of her clients. If her clients were receiving benefits that outweighed the costs and risks, then she may be in a better position to justify the requests for friends and likes.

Woman in home office with computer and paperwork frowning. © monkeybusinessimages via iStockphoto.
Woman in home office with computer and paperwork frowning. © monkeybusinessimages via iStockphoto.

With regard to maintaining appropriate boundaries, the worker should ask how clients perceive her requests for friends and likes. Do clients understand that the requests are in the context of maintaining a professional relationship, or might terms such as friending and liking blur the distinctions between professional and social relationships? If she truly wants to know whether clients value her services (as opposed to like), perhaps she should use a more valid and reliable measurement of client satisfaction or worker effectiveness. There are no Likert-type scales when it comes to liking on Facebook. You can only “like” or “do nothing.”

Confidentiality presents perhaps the most difficult issues when it comes to liking and friending. When a client likes a social worker who specializes in gambling addiction, for instance, does the client know that he may start receiving advertisements for gambling treatment services… or perhaps for casinos, gambling websites, or racetracks? Who knows what other businesses might be harvesting online information about the client. “OMG!” Further, does the client realize that the client’s Facebook friends will know the client likes the social worker? Although the client is not explicitly stating he is a client, others may draw this conclusion – and remember, these “others” are not necessarily restricted to the client’s trusted confidantes. They may include co-workers, neighbors, future employers, or others who may not hold the client’s best interests to heart.

One could say it’s a matter of consent – the worker is not forcing the client to like her, so liking is really an expression of the client’s free will. All sorts of businesses offer perks to people who like or friend them. Shouldn’t clients be allowed to pursue a discount as long as they know the risks? Hmmm… do they know the actual risks? Do they know that what seems like an innocuous act – liking – may have severe consequences one day? Consider, is it truly an expression of free will if the worker is using a financial incentive – particularly if clients have very limited income and means to pay for services? Further, young children and people with dementia or other mental conditions may not have the capacity to understand the risks and make truly informed choices.

Digital natives (people born into the digital age) might say these are the ramblings of an old curmudgeon (ok, they probably woudn’t use the term curmudgeon). When considering the ethicality of social work behaviors, we need to consider context. The context of Facebook, for instance, includes a culture where sharing seems to be valued much more than privacy. Many digital natives share intimate details of their life without grave concerns about their confidentiality. They have not experienced negative repercussions from posting details about their intimate relationships, break-ups, triumphs, challenges, and even embarrassments. They may not view liking a social worker’s website any riskier than liking their favorite ice cream parlor. So, to a large segment of Facebook users, is this whole issue much ado about nothing?

In the context of Internet risks, there are far more severe concerns than social workers asking clients to like them on Facebook. Graver Internet risks include cyber-bulling, identity theft, and hacking into national defense, financial institutions, and other important systems that are vulnerable to cyber-terrorism. Still, social workers should be cautious about asking clients to like them… on Facebook or otherwise.
The Internet offers social workers many different approaches to communicating with clients. Online communication should not be feared. On the other hand, social workers should consider all potential risks and benefits before making use of a particular online communication strategy. Social work and many other helping professions are still grappling with the ethicality of various online communication strategies with clients. What is hugely popular now – including Facebook – may continue to grow in popularity. However, with time and experience, significant risks may be exposed. Some technologies may lose popularity, and others may take their place.

Headline image credit: Internet icons and symbols. Public domain via Pixabay.

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17. United Airlines and Rhapsody in Blue

As anyone who has flown United in the past quarter-century knows, the company has a long-standing history with George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. The piece appears in its television advertisements, its airport terminals, and even its pre-flight announcements. However, the history of United’s use of the piece is far from straight forward. This brand new safety video offers a compelling case in point:

Like recent videos by Air New Zealand and Delta Airlines, United’s safety briefing is designed to keep our attention as it reiterates the standard safety announcements that we know all too well. The video rewards paying close attention on multiple viewings. In fact, there are several airline-travel and United-specific “Easter Eggs.” A few of my favorites appear in the Las Vegas section. A tour bus traversing the Las Vegas Strip scrolls “lavatory occupied” and later “baggage on carousel 2.” Perhaps more subtle is a movie poster for a film titled “Elbow Room 2.” Look closely and you will see that it features a shot encountered later in the safety video as a James Bond-looking figure goes hand to hand against his nemesis a cable car—a clear reference to the 1979 film Moonraker for the alert viewer.

Under the banner “Safety is Global,” the familiar themes of the Rhapsody are musically arranged while diverse members of the United flight crew provide instructions from a series of specific and generic international locales. Certainly, the visuals play a key role in signaling our recognition of these surroundings: the Eiffel Tower and street corner cafe for Paris, a pagoda in front of Mt. Fuji for Japan, casinos and neon signs for Las Vegas, snow-covered peaks and a ski gondola for the Alps, kangaroos for Australia, a Vespa scooter and Mt. Edna for Italy, Chilean flamingos for the bird sanctuary, and palm trees and white-sands for the tropical beach.

But perhaps most important in drawing out the setting of each scene are the dramatic—if not clichéd—musical arrangements of Rhapsody in Blue. While in France a pair of accordions play the introductory bars of the piece while a pilot welcomes us aboard and reminds us to heed their instruction. A flight attendant hops a cab to Newark Airport (United’s East Coast hub) to the strains of a jazz combo setting of the love theme. A tenor saxophone improvises lightly around this most famous melody of the Rhapsody while she provides instruction on how to use the seatbelt from the bumpy backseat. A gong signals a move to Asia, where we encounter the ritornello theme of the Rhapsody on a plucked zither and bamboo flute. The bright-lights of the Las Vegas strip (where we learn about power outages) and a James Bond-inspired depiction of the Swiss Alps (where we learn about supplemental oxygen) are accompanied by the traditional symphonic arrangement of the Rhapsody created by Ferde Grofé. Curious kangaroos learn about life vests as the ritornello theme is heard on a harmonica punctuated by a didgeridoo and a rain stick. A mandolin plucks out the shuffle theme while a flight attendant extinguishes a volcano like a birthday candle—no smoking allowed! Finally, steel drums transport us to a Caribbean bird sanctuary and a tenor saxophone playing the stride theme to a laid-back, quasi-bossa nova groove relocates us to the beach.

Although each of these settings is somewhat stereotypical in its sonic and visual depiction of its respective locale, such treatment of the Rhapsody stands as less formulaic than past attempts at international representation by the airline. Both domestic and international advertisements have adapted the Rhapsody.

Although the video is a bit rough, by comparison to “Safety is Global,” the visuals and instrumentation choices are much more stereotypical. We clearly hear the “orientalist” signifiers at play: a taiko drum, a shakuhachi flute, a trio of pipas. But just as this commercial provides its American market with a glimpse at Asian cultures through the streamlined gaze of corporate advertising, a commercial aired in Japan in 1994 provides an equally reductive depiction of the United States.

The spot features a Japanese puppet of the traditional Bunraku style seated on an airplane as the voiceover announces a series of locales that travelers could visit at ever-increasing award levels. The puppet appears in a succession of wardrobes representative of each destination with arrangements of Rhapsody in Blue emphasizing each costume change: a shamisen accompanies the traditional Japanese kimono, an erhu for the silk Chinese robe, a Hawaiian slide guitar for a bright floral patterned shirt and yellow lei, a fiddle-driven two-step for a cowboy hat and bolo tie, and finally a calypso, steel drum for the white Italian sports coat and dark sunglasses—a clear reference to Don Johnson and Miami Vice. The commercial not only effectively promotes United’s frequent flyer program but also reinforces its corporate logos—both motto and music—to an international market. Through easily identifiable visual and sonic representations of destinations in the United States from Hawaii to Texas to Florida, it also promotes a positive—if not stereotypical—view of American culture using one of its most recognizable musical works.

And this is ultimately what the “Safety is Global” video accomplishes as well. By treating Rhapsody in Blue to a variety of musical arrangements, United Airlines has re-staked its claim on the Rhapsody not as its corporate theme music, but also as an international anthem. Its visualization of the Rhapsody over the course of time repositions the piece from a uniquely American (or specifically New Yorker) theme to one that aims to unite us all through the friendly skies.

Headline Image: Airplane Flying. Photo by Michael Stirling. CC0 1.0 Universal via Public Domain Pictures

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18. Sheridan Le Fanu at 200

       It's the bicentenary of Sheridan Le Fanu's birth, and it's nice to see some coverage -- though one wonders how much is occasioned by the (validation ?) that, as for example The Guardian reports, comes with: Google Doodle to celebrate author Sheridan Le Fanu's 200th birthday (sigh).
       But there is some decent coverage, notably: Sheridan Le Fanu: 200 years of literary blood and terrorism by Bill McCormack at Times Higher Education; see also Sheridan Le Fanu's haunting legacy by Brian Maye in the Irish Times.
       I've enjoyed his work over the years -- I have fond memories of some of those Dover editions -- and since you can find pretty much everything online, sample away. In A Glass Darkly, Uncle Silas, and Carmilla are all good places to jump in.

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19. A couple of years ago we were in San Francisco visiting my stepson, and one night we were walking...

A couple of years ago we were in San Francisco visiting my stepson, and one night we were walking back from dinner and there was this nice grenadine-ish smell in the air, and I said, “It smells like cherries.” My stepson paused, sniffed, and said, “That’s urinal cakes, Carrie.” (Except he’s very deadpan, so it was more like, “That’s. urinal. cakes.”) Anyway, I was writing well this morning so I was late getting to the woods for a walk. It was already hot out and there were lots of thick gnarly spider webs everywhere with dime-sized spiders in them. None of the guys I passed were wearing shirts. And once in a while when the breeze picked up it smelled a lot like urinal cakes (not unpleasantly!).

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20. SPX announces programming

tumblr_n9ehki6iCJ1qa5kkmo1_500-1.jpg

And it’s a doozy as always — PR provided some highlights but I can tell you I won’t miss that alt-weekly panel….90s NOSTALGIA PEOPLE.

SPX will be held Sept. 13-14 in North Bethesda, MD. BE THERE.


White Oak Room
 
TIME
DESCRIPTION

Noon – 1:00
Alt-Weekly Comics Roundtable
Until recently the media landscape has been augmented by alternative weekly newspapers. Beginning with the Village Voice in the 1950s and including a wave of papers in the 1980s and 1990s, alt-weekly newspapers used a mass media format to provide readers with an independent voice—and independent comics. In a historic panel conversation, cartoonist and Seattle Stranger co-founder James Sturm will discuss the phenomenon of comics in alternative weekly newspapers with a panel of the form’s most important practitioners: Jules Feiffer, Lynda Barry, Ben Katchor, Charles Burns, and Tom Tomorrow.

1:00 – 2:00
Raina Telgemeier Q+A
Raina Telgemeier has distinguished herself among the leading American artists producing graphic novels for younger readers. Her autobiographical graphic novelSmile has spent more than two years on the New York Times Graphic Books bestseller list, and her follow-up, Drama, has won the Stonewall Book Award among other distinctions. She has just published a sequel to Smile titled Sisters. Telgemeier will discuss her work and her process with moderator Isaac Cates (Cartozia Tales, University of Vermont) in this special spotlight session.

2:00 – 3:00
Pro Tips: How Comics Get Reviewed
How do comics get reviewed? What role do publicists, pitching and marketing plans play in determining coverage? What kind of coverage do editors prefer? To what extent is it possible to get a reviewer’s attention, and how is that best accomplished? And how do individual critics evaluate work? Johanna Draper Carlson (Comics Worth Reading) will investigate these questions and more with Brigid Alverson (School Library Journal), Michael Cavna (Washington Post), Dan Kois (Slate), Heidi MacDonald (Publishers Weekly), and Douglas Wolk (The New York Times).

3:00 – 4:00
Micro-Press and Beyond
For the past year, Robyn Chapman has been documenting the movement in comics towards very small publishing, otherwise know as micro-publishing. Robyn will briefly share findings from her upcoming publication (The Tiny Report: Micro-Press Yearbook 2013) before speaking with a range of publishers—from the micro-press to traditional small press—to discuss how they print, sell, and distribute their comics. Panelists will include Chuck Forsman (Oily Comics), Keenan Marshall Keller (Drippy Bone Books), Justin Skarhus and Raighne Hogan (2D Cloud), and Anne Koyama (Koyama Press).

4:00 – 5:00
Lynda Barry Q+A
Lynda Barry changed the face of North American comics with her pioneering comic strip Ernie Pook’s Comeek, which ran in alternative weekly newspapers for more than twenty years. Her many celebrated books include One! Hundred! Demons!, and What It Is as well as the illustrated novel Cruddy. Barry is currently an assistant professor of art and Discovery Fellow at University of Wisconsin Madison. Her latest book isSyllabus: Notes from an Accidental Profesor. Barry will discuss her current work and her career in conversation with Slate Culture Editor Dan Kois.

5:00 – 6:00
Drew Friedman’s Heroes and Vaudevillians
Drew Friedman is an iconic cartoonist and illustrator whose intensely rendered, caricatural work has appeared in RAW, Spy, The New Yorker, the New York Observer, and countless other venues. His Old Jewish Comedians trilogy of books celebrated entertainers who have attracted Friedman’s fascination in a series of lush portraits. His new book, Heroes of the Comics, features eighty-four portraits of landmark figures from the history of comic books. Friedman will discuss his work in this special spotlight session moderated by Rob Clough (The Comics Journal).

6:00 – 7:00
Inkstuds Live: Michael DeForge, Simon Hanselmann and Patrick Kyle
At this year’s SPX, two cross-country tours explosively collide! Inkstuds host Robin McConnell has taken his popular comics-focused radio show on the road with special guest co-host Brandon Graham in tow, in a series of live Inkstuds programs. In Bethesda, Michael DeForge (Lose #6), Simon Hanselmann (Megahex), and Patrick Kyle (Distance Mover) will kick off their own book tour live on stage as McConnell and Graham’s special guests.

 
White Flint Auditorium
 
TIME
DESCRIPTION

12:30 – 1:30
Sex, Humor and the Grotesque
Eleanor Davis (How to Be Happy), Julia Gfrörer (Black is the Color), and Meghan Turbitt (#foodporn) have all produced comics that touch upon events, experiences, sensations and feelings that contemporary social discourse often fails to engage in meaningful or productive terms. This group of artists will discuss the intersections of humor, anxiety, sexuality and parody in their work in a panel discussion moderated by Katie Skelly (Operation Margarine).

1:30 – 2:30
The Roots of Frémok: Yvan Alagbé and Dominique Goblet
Yvan Alagbé and Dominique Goblet are foundational figures in the poetic comics movement represented by the the avant-garde publishing house Frémok. Alagbé’s work expresses in harsh lines and soft tones his narratives of mysterious desire and explosive cultural conflict, as in his most recent book, École de la misère. Goblet’s work troubles the distinctions between fiction and autobiography, and between narrative comics and poetic image-making. Her new graphic novel Plus si entente was produced collaboratively with Kai Pfeiffer to test the possibilities of narrative within the comics form. Moderated by Bill Kartalopoulos.

2:30 – 3:30
The Closed Caption Comics Legacy
In 2004 a group of students at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) formed the loosely-defined art group Closed Caption Comics, their collective activity centered around an eponymous comics anthology which ran for nine increasingly ambitious issues. Ten years later, the members of the group are productively focused on individual projects. Several of them will discuss their common roots and current work, including Ryan Cecil Smith (S.F. #3), Molly Colleen O’Connell (Strip Mall, Poety Unlimited), Noel Freibert (Weird Magazine), and Conor Stechschulte (The Amateurs). Moderated by Brian Nicholson.

3:30 – 4:30
Comics Workshop presented by the Sequential Artists Workshop
Comics educators Josh Bayer and Sally Cantirino from the Sequential Artists Workshop (SAW) in Gainesville, FL, will guide the audience through a complete cartooning exercise. Everyone, from experienced cartoonists to those who have never drawn a panel of comics, is welcome to attend this fun, educational, creative workshop. No matter what your age or experience level, you will leave this workshop having drawn your own comic!

4:30 – 5:30
Jules Feiffer Q+A
Jules Feiffer has reinvented the comics form multiple times in his diverse and storied career. In 1956 Feiffer broke new ground with a truly modern comic strip intended for an adult audience in the pages of The Village Voice. In addition to his incisive comics, Feiffer has distinguished himself as a playwright, screenwriter, children’s book author, and more. His most recent books are the graphic novel Kill My Mother and the picture book Rupert Can Dance. He will discuss these and more in conversation with Bill Kartalopoulos (Series Editor, The Best American Comics).

5:30 – 6:30
John Porcellino: Root Hog or Die / Film Screening and Conversation
For twenty-five years John Porcellino has been writing, drawing, and self-publishing his minicomics series King-Cat. The DIY ethic underlying Porcellino’s life’s work resonates with the sublime authenticity of his comics as he chronicles the events and rhythms of his life. Porcellino is now the subject of the documentary film Root Hog or Die, debuting at this year’s SPX with Porcellino and director Dan Stafford in attendance. After this debut screening, Porcellino and Stafford will discuss the film and Porcellino’s new book, The Hospital Suite, with moderator Jared Gardner (Ohio State University).
 
Sunday Programming

White Oak Room
 
TIME
DESCRIPTION

1:00 – 2:00
Bob Mankoff: The Past, Present and Future of The New Yorker Cartoons
Bob Mankoff is a cartoonist and has been the Cartoon Editor for The New Yorkersince 1997. He has written and edited many books including The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker, The Naked Cartoonist, and his new memoir How About Never — Is Never Good for You? In this special presentation, Mankoff will discuss the historical development and evolution of the iconic single panel cartoon form and the magazine that perfected and popularized it—with an eye towards the future.

2:00 – 3:00
Charles Burns Q+A
Charles Burns is among the world’s most distinguished cartoonists. His work first gained notice in the pages of RAW Magazine in the 1980s. His meticulously drawn early stories reflected upon and transformed the tropes of historical genre comics. Burns then spent ten years drawing his graphic novel masterpiece Black Hole, which dissolved literal horror into the true horror of everyday life. At SPX he will debut Sugar Skull, which concludes the serialized narrative in his new trilogy of full color comics albums. Burns will discuss his work in a spotlight session moderated by Alvin Buenaventura.

3:00 – 4:00
Making Art for the Internet
This panel will consider different aspects of the process, problems and possibilities of making art for internet-based platforms. This will include questions of art-media, digital medium specificity, online platforms, audience, culture, and content. Bill Kartalopoulos will lead a discussion featuring Sam Alden (It Never Happened Again), Emily Carroll (Through the Woods), Blaise Larmee (altcomics.tumblr.com), and Rebecca Mock (rebeccamock.tumblr.com).

4:00 – 5:00
Mimi Pond Q+A
Mimi Pond has a long and diverse career in cartooning that includes work for such venues as National Lampoon, The Village Voice, and Seventeen. Pond’s work in television includes the screenplay for the first full-length Simpsons episode, “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire.” Her recent graphic novel, Over Easy, is an autobiographically-based narrative based on her time working as a waitress in a California diner in the late 1970s. Pond will discuss her work and career with moderator Heidi MacDonald (The Beat).
White Flint Auditorium
 
TIME
DESCRIPTION
12:30PM – 1:30
Stories of Girlhood
What is the difference between writing about girlhood and writing for young girls? What can we generalize about the experience of girlhood in Western culture? And how do we express that in words and images? Moderator Ellen Lindner (The Black Feather Falls) will consider these questions and more with artists Jillian Tamaki (Skim, This One Summer), Aisha Franz (Earthling), and Melissa Mendes (Freddy Stories, Lou).
1:30 – 2:30
Spanish-Language Comics
This essential panel will examine a world of Spanish-language comics from South America to Europe, which share a common language, and, sadly, low awareness in North America. Colombian comics editor Daniel Jiménez Quiroz (Revista Larva) will discuss Colombian and South American comics, and will lead a discussion including Spanish comics critic Santiago Garcia, Colombian comics critic Pablo Guerra, and North American editor Scott Brown, who is working to bring Argentine comics by Hector Oesterheld and others into English-language translation.
2:30 – 3:30
Eleanor Davis: How to Be Happy
Eleanor Davis (How to be Happy) will share an autobiographical presentation that will have something to do with finding truth in fiction and the strange passions inside an author/reader relationship. Moderator Tom Spurgeon (The Comics Reporter) will follow Davis’s presentations with questions about her work, and will also take questions from the audience.
3:30 – 4:30
Mana Neyestani Q+A
Mana Neyesteni is an Iranian cartoonist and illustrator. A 2006 political cartoon by Neyesteni prompted riots among the oppressed Azeri minority in Iran; the paper in which the cartoon appeared was promptly closed and Neyestani was imprisoned. He is the recipient of the Cartoonists Rights Network International award for courage in editorial cartooning, 2010. His graphic novel An Iranian Metamorphosiswill debut in an English-language edition from Uncivilized Books at SPX. He will discuss his work in a spotlight session moderated by Alex Dueben (Comic Book Resources).
4:30 – 5:30
Renée French and Jesse Jacobs in Conversation
Renée French first made her mark with the intensely drawn, troubling comic book series Grit Bath in the 1990s and has produced a diverse array of works including The Ticking, H Day, and her new book Baby Bjornstrand. Jesse Jacobs has worked on the animated series Adventure TIme and his books of comics include By This You Shall Know Him and his new book Safari Honeymoon. These artists share a commitment to intense visual explorations of unsettled and unsettling narratives and will discuss their work in a special conversation moderated by Marc Sobel.

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21. Marvel to reprint Dark Horse Star Wars comics as STAR WARS LEGENDS EPIC COLLECTION

Huh, well blow me down with a womp rat. Over the 20 years of Dark Horse’s Star Wars license they built up a healthy business in selling collected editions of their “expanded universe” stories. However that ended when Disney purchased Lucesfilm and reassigned the Star Wars license to their “in house ” publisher Marvel.

Although the entire “expanded universe” is expected to be rewritten in the wake of Episode VII coming next year, many thought the comics would go to the big remaindered table in the sky, especially since Marvel’s graphic novel backlist is, ahem, a work in progress.

Well, it’s turns out Marvel couldn’t resist the low hanging fruit of keeping the Dark Horse Star Wars comic in print — at least in a $34.99 collectors edition in the “Epic Collection” format. The first collection will be out in April, 2015, leading the way to the new film.

ANd perhaps, the content of these reprints would even give a clue to wheat might still be canon in the new Star Wars timeline?

Marvel is excited to announce the release of an oversized dose of a galaxy far, far, away – Star Wars comics are coming to Marvel’s prestigious Epic Collection format – STAR WARS LEGENDS EPIC COLLECTION: THE EMPIRE VOL. 1 TPB.
 
Let the dark times begin! Marvel welcomes Star Wars to the Epic Collection program, with this first volume of a series focusing on the years that follow Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith! After the end of the Clone Wars, the Republic has fallen and Palpatine exerts his ruthless grip on his new Galactic Empire. Now, the few Jedi that remain must decide whether to hold true to their faith, or abandon it completely in the face of a brutal purge — one carried out by the new Dark Lord of the Sith. Rise, Darth Vader!
 
“We’re thrilled to be bringing our innovative Epic Collections to a galaxy far, far away,” says Marvel SVP Sales & Marketing David Gabriel. “We’ll be bouncing around to different periods of Star Wars history with each Epic Collection, constructing one huge tapestry, collecting full unbroken runs of all the greatest Star Wars comics from the past 35 years.”
 
STAR WARS LEGENDS EPIC COLLECTION: THE EMPIRE VOL. 1 TPB. will offer a new way for fans to collect and read iconic Star Wars stories across the past 35 years of published titles. These oversized, self-contained color collections will bring the adventures of the Rebellion, the Galactic Empire and more to the masses with exciting new Epic Collections.
 
COLLECTING: STAR WARS: REPUBLIC 78-80, STAR WARS: PURGE 1, STAR WARS: PURGE — SECONDS TO DIE 1, STAR WARS: PURGE — THE HIDDEN BLADE 1, STAR WARS: PURGE — THE TYRANT’S FIST 1-2, STAR WARS: DARTH VADER AND THE LOST COMMAND 1-5, STAR WARS: DARK TIMES 1-5
AUTHOR: JOHN OSTRANDER, RANDY STRADLEY, HADEN BLACKMAN, ALEXANDER FREED
ARTIST: LUKE ROSS , DOUGLAS WHEATLEY, JIM HALL, CHRIS SCALF, MARCO CASTIELLO, ANDREA CHELLA, RICK LEONARDI

 
STAR WARS LEGENDS EPIC COLLECTION: THE EMPIRE VOL. 1 TPB.
WRITTEN BY JOHN OSTRANDER, RANDY STRADLEY, HADEN BLACKMAN & ALEXANDER FREED
ART BY LUKE ROSS, DOUGLAS CASTIELLO, ANDREA CHELLA & RICK LEONARDI
440 PGS./Rated T …$34.99
On-Sale April 2015
ISBN: 978-0-7851-9398-2
© 2014 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. Used under authorization. All rights reserved.
 

 

2 Comments on Marvel to reprint Dark Horse Star Wars comics as STAR WARS LEGENDS EPIC COLLECTION, last added: 8/28/2014
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22. Marvel to reprint Dark Horse Star Wars comics as STAR WARS LEGENDS EPIC COLLECTION

Huh, well blow me down with a womp rat. Over the 20 years of Dark Horse’s Star Wars license they built up a healthy business in selling collected editions of their “expanded universe” stories. However that ended when Disney purchased Lucesfilm and reassigned the Star Wars license to their “in house ” publisher Marvel.

Although the entire “expanded universe” is expected to be rewritten in the wake of Episode VII coming next year, many thought the comics would go to the big remaindered table in the sky, especially since Marvel’s graphic novel backlist is, ahem, a work in progress.

Well, it’s turns out Marvel couldn’t resist the low hanging fruit of keeping the Dark Horse Star Wars comic in print — at least in a $34.99 collectors edition in the “Epic Collection” format. The first collection will be out in April, 2015, leading the way to the new film.

ANd perhaps, the content of these reprints would even give a clue to wheat might still be canon in the new Star Wars timeline?

Marvel is excited to announce the release of an oversized dose of a galaxy far, far, away – Star Wars comics are coming to Marvel’s prestigious Epic Collection format – STAR WARS LEGENDS EPIC COLLECTION: THE EMPIRE VOL. 1 TPB.
 
Let the dark times begin! Marvel welcomes Star Wars to the Epic Collection program, with this first volume of a series focusing on the years that follow Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith! After the end of the Clone Wars, the Republic has fallen and Palpatine exerts his ruthless grip on his new Galactic Empire. Now, the few Jedi that remain must decide whether to hold true to their faith, or abandon it completely in the face of a brutal purge — one carried out by the new Dark Lord of the Sith. Rise, Darth Vader!
 
“We’re thrilled to be bringing our innovative Epic Collections to a galaxy far, far away,” says Marvel SVP Sales & Marketing David Gabriel. “We’ll be bouncing around to different periods of Star Wars history with each Epic Collection, constructing one huge tapestry, collecting full unbroken runs of all the greatest Star Wars comics from the past 35 years.”
 
STAR WARS LEGENDS EPIC COLLECTION: THE EMPIRE VOL. 1 TPB. will offer a new way for fans to collect and read iconic Star Wars stories across the past 35 years of published titles. These oversized, self-contained color collections will bring the adventures of the Rebellion, the Galactic Empire and more to the masses with exciting new Epic Collections.
 
COLLECTING: STAR WARS: REPUBLIC 78-80, STAR WARS: PURGE 1, STAR WARS: PURGE — SECONDS TO DIE 1, STAR WARS: PURGE — THE HIDDEN BLADE 1, STAR WARS: PURGE — THE TYRANT’S FIST 1-2, STAR WARS: DARTH VADER AND THE LOST COMMAND 1-5, STAR WARS: DARK TIMES 1-5
AUTHOR: JOHN OSTRANDER, RANDY STRADLEY, HADEN BLACKMAN, ALEXANDER FREED
ARTIST: LUKE ROSS , DOUGLAS WHEATLEY, JIM HALL, CHRIS SCALF, MARCO CASTIELLO, ANDREA CHELLA, RICK LEONARDI

 
STAR WARS LEGENDS EPIC COLLECTION: THE EMPIRE VOL. 1 TPB.
WRITTEN BY JOHN OSTRANDER, RANDY STRADLEY, HADEN BLACKMAN & ALEXANDER FREED
ART BY LUKE ROSS, DOUGLAS CASTIELLO, ANDREA CHELLA & RICK LEONARDI
440 PGS./Rated T …$34.99
On-Sale April 2015
ISBN: 978-0-7851-9398-2
© 2014 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. Used under authorization. All rights reserved.
 

 

0 Comments on Marvel to reprint Dark Horse Star Wars comics as STAR WARS LEGENDS EPIC COLLECTION as of 8/27/2014 7:09:00 PM
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23. Marvel to reprint Dark Horse Star Wars comics as STAR WARS LEGENDS EPIC COLLECTION

Huh, well blow me down with a womp rat. Over the 20 years of Dark Horse’s Star Wars license they built up a healthy business in selling collected editions of their “expanded universe” stories. However that ended when Disney purchased Lucesfilm and reassigned the Star Wars license to their “in house ” publisher Marvel.

Although the entire “expanded universe” is expected to be rewritten in the wake of Episode VII coming next year, many thought the comics would go to the big remaindered table in the sky, especially since Marvel’s graphic novel backlist is, ahem, a work in progress.

Well, it’s turns out Marvel couldn’t resist the low hanging fruit of keeping the Dark Horse Star Wars comic in print — at least in a $34.99 collectors edition in the “Epic Collection” format. The first collection will be out in April, 2015, leading the way to the new film.

ANd perhaps, the content of these reprints would even give a clue to wheat might still be canon in the new Star Wars timeline?

Marvel is excited to announce the release of an oversized dose of a galaxy far, far, away – Star Wars comics are coming to Marvel’s prestigious Epic Collection format – STAR WARS LEGENDS EPIC COLLECTION: THE EMPIRE VOL. 1 TPB.
 
Let the dark times begin! Marvel welcomes Star Wars to the Epic Collection program, with this first volume of a series focusing on the years that follow Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith! After the end of the Clone Wars, the Republic has fallen and Palpatine exerts his ruthless grip on his new Galactic Empire. Now, the few Jedi that remain must decide whether to hold true to their faith, or abandon it completely in the face of a brutal purge — one carried out by the new Dark Lord of the Sith. Rise, Darth Vader!
 
“We’re thrilled to be bringing our innovative Epic Collections to a galaxy far, far away,” says Marvel SVP Sales & Marketing David Gabriel. “We’ll be bouncing around to different periods of Star Wars history with each Epic Collection, constructing one huge tapestry, collecting full unbroken runs of all the greatest Star Wars comics from the past 35 years.”
 
STAR WARS LEGENDS EPIC COLLECTION: THE EMPIRE VOL. 1 TPB. will offer a new way for fans to collect and read iconic Star Wars stories across the past 35 years of published titles. These oversized, self-contained color collections will bring the adventures of the Rebellion, the Galactic Empire and more to the masses with exciting new Epic Collections.
 
COLLECTING: STAR WARS: REPUBLIC 78-80, STAR WARS: PURGE 1, STAR WARS: PURGE — SECONDS TO DIE 1, STAR WARS: PURGE — THE HIDDEN BLADE 1, STAR WARS: PURGE — THE TYRANT’S FIST 1-2, STAR WARS: DARTH VADER AND THE LOST COMMAND 1-5, STAR WARS: DARK TIMES 1-5
AUTHOR: JOHN OSTRANDER, RANDY STRADLEY, HADEN BLACKMAN, ALEXANDER FREED
ARTIST: LUKE ROSS , DOUGLAS WHEATLEY, JIM HALL, CHRIS SCALF, MARCO CASTIELLO, ANDREA CHELLA, RICK LEONARDI

 
STAR WARS LEGENDS EPIC COLLECTION: THE EMPIRE VOL. 1 TPB.
WRITTEN BY JOHN OSTRANDER, RANDY STRADLEY, HADEN BLACKMAN & ALEXANDER FREED
ART BY LUKE ROSS, DOUGLAS CASTIELLO, ANDREA CHELLA & RICK LEONARDI
440 PGS./Rated T …$34.99
On-Sale April 2015
ISBN: 978-0-7851-9398-2
© 2014 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. Used under authorization. All rights reserved.
 

 

3 Comments on Marvel to reprint Dark Horse Star Wars comics as STAR WARS LEGENDS EPIC COLLECTION, last added: 8/28/2014
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24. Lessing's books to Harare

       As New Zimbabwe reports, Lessing donated entire book collection to Harare, as Nobel laureate Doris Lessing:

bequeathed her entire personal collection of over 3,000 books to the Harare City Library in Zimbabwe.
       Interesting also to learn:
A Book Aid International said they were fascinated by the variety and breadth of Lessing's library, describing it as "A collection to aspire to !"

"We found books not just in every room of Lessing's home, but on shelves in every space where shelves could be fitted, in hallways, under stairs -- there were books everywhere," said an official.
       Neat. I guess the only thing that surprises me is that the collection constitutes only three thousand titles. Granted. many of my books are boxed up and piled up out of easy reach, but my collection is ... several times bigger. I suppose I could live with a working library of 3000, carefully selected -- but it's cutting it close ..... Read the rest of this post

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25. First Soviet Writers' Congress anniversary

       At Russia Beyond the Headlines (which continues to offer a variety of fun literary coverage -- you do have it bookmarked, don't you ?) Anastasia Gorbatova reminds of When literature came under state control: 80 years since the First Congress of Soviet Writers.
       As she notes:

Attendees at the congress included Boris Pasternak, the foremost Soviet poet of the time, the "Red Count" Alexei Tolstoy, a nobleman who adjusted to the demands of Soviet power, future Nobel laureate Mikhail Sholokhov, and leading children's author Korney Chukovsky.

Maxim Gorky gave a keynote lecture to close the event on September 1.
       But, of course, the defining figure was Andrei Zhdanov -- Mr. Socialist Realism himself, the man who latched onto Stalin's 'writers-are-engineers-of-human-souls' idea and ran with it, ushering in the lowliest times of socialist realism (pre-1934 Soviet literature, like pre-code Hollywood cinema, was actually pretty happening).
       Yes, this was the guy who said:
I think that every one of our Soviet writers can say to any dull-witted bourgeois, to any philistine, to any bourgeois writer who may talk about our literature being tendencious: "Yes, our Soviet literature is tendencious, and we are proud of this fact, because the aim of our tendency is to liberate the toilers, to free all mankind from the yoke of capitalist slavery."
       'Noble' sentiments -- but, hey, 1934, under Stalin, you know the deal ..... (The marxists.org page suggests: "Zhdanov died on 31st August 1934"; yeah, not quite/no such luck .....)
       Marxists.org has good documentation (other than hopefully killing off Zhdanov way prematurely ...) on that first congress -- worth being reminded of.
       Meanwhile, as Anastasia Gorbatova notes:
There were only eight congresses between 1934 and 1986, and they increasingly became formal events with almost no influence on Soviet culture. The First Congress was unique in its own way -- it was the first and last successful attempt to unite all the writers of one country
       Whereby 'successful' is a matter of ... opinion.

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