Category: american literature

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Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisn in the Sun” Lecture: Part I

My final lecture last fall for the American literature course at the University of Bergen was on Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun. A couple of years ago, I wrote about the presence of Big Walter on stage during a performance in Boston that was directed by Liesl Tommy. As well, I have discussed my other lectures fro the American Literature class: Introductory … Read More Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisn in the Sun” Lecture: Part I

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“That is merde alors!”: Frank Yerby and Identity

Rediscovering Frank Yerby, a project I have been working on for a few years, will be out this May from the University Press of Mississippi. Along with this, UPM will release Veronica Watson’s The Short Stories of Frank Yerby around the same time. I am extremely excited for each of these books, not just because I edited one of them. I am excited because … Read More “That is merde alors!”: Frank Yerby and Identity

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Fears of Change and A More Equitable Society

Last October, Jennine Capó Crucet gave a talk at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, GA. The university chose her novel Make Your Home Among Strangers (2015) as the campus-wide first year experience book. Crucet’s novel chronicles a Cuban American woman’s experiences at an elite college as a first-gen student and daughter of Cuban immigrants. After her talk, some students went out to a grill … Read More Fears of Change and A More Equitable Society

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Lillian E. Smith Studies Course

This semester, I am teaching the Lillian E. Smith Studies course for the first time. It is part of the LES Scholars’ program, and it is a course that focuses on Lillian Smith and social justice. The course looks historically at Smith and her work, but it also looks at the ways that her work and legacy resonate today. As such, I included works … Read More Lillian E. Smith Studies Course

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The “historical self” and the “self self”: Part I

Last post, I wrote about the ways that racism, subjugation, and history imprisons everyone, the oppressed and the oppressor alike. Today, I want to continue that discussion by looking at Lillian Smith’s Killers of the Dream and connected her discussion with a couple of the vignettes in Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric. While Smith focuses, predominately, on the white psyche, Rankine focuses on … Read More The “historical self” and the “self self”: Part I

Art and Creation

In “Going Empty,” Dessa writes about filming the music video for her song “Sound the Bells.” She talks about learning to control her breathing to dive underwater amidst Jason deCaires Taylor’s submerged sculptures off the coast of Mexico. She ruminates about her career, writing about the fears that time is rapidly running out on commercial success. She thinks, Yet all my life I’ve been … Read More Art and Creation

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American History and Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird”

Last post, I wrote about the Southern paradoxes in Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird. Today, I want to look at the opening of the novel because Scout traces the events of the novel deep into our nation’s history, before Jem, Scout, or Atticus arrived on the scene. This is important because for all of the missed moments of reflection in the novel, the … Read More American History and Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird”

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Why do we travel?

One of my favorite quotes comes from Mark Twain. Talking about what travel does to one’s worldview, he wrote in Innocents Abroad, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” … Read More Why do we travel?

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The Great Gatsby Lecture

For my lecture last fall on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (1925), I decided to focus on the ways that Fitzgerald’s novel does not speak for all of its readers but also how the novel overtly challenges the myth of the American Dream. This challenging of the myth does not only occur with Gatsby. Rather, it occurs from the very beginning of the … Read More The Great Gatsby Lecture

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Facades in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby”

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (1925) challenges the mythology of the American Dream through its multiple layers of the facade that appear throughout the novel. These facades do not merely occur with Gatsby’s house or the rumors surrounding his life. Rather, they appear elsewhere, some even on a meta-level within the text. Today,  I want to briefly discuss a few of these instances. … Read More Facades in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby”

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The Problematic Nature of Willa Cather’s Final Novel

When I was constructing my “Introduction to Modernism” course this semester, I decided to use Ernest J. Gaines’ work as the focal point, moving outwards from his work back into the past and towards he present, not limiting modernist thought to one particular temporal period. I did this, mainly, because Gaines, time and time again, has spoken about the influence of Modernists and Russian … Read More The Problematic Nature of Willa Cather’s Final Novel

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History and Education in Alice Walker’s “The Third Life of Grange Copeland”

Today, I’m going to finish the discussion I began last week on history and the ways that we construct meaning. In the last post, I looked at Ernest J. Gaines’ The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1971). For this post, I will focus on one more scene from Gaines’ novel then move on to look at a section from Alice Walker’s The Third Life … Read More History and Education in Alice Walker’s “The Third Life of Grange Copeland”