Lillian E. Smith Center LibGuide

One of the things I enjoy doing is creating pedagogical materials for educators, students, and the general public. When I worked at the Ernest J. Gaines Center, I collaborated on the center’s LibGuide (library guide). In my position as the director of the Lillian E. Smith Center, I taken on a similar project constructing a LibGuide for Smith and some of her works. Today, I want to share my thought process in creating each LibGuide and some of the sources I chose to include for the LES LibGuide.

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We Must Stop the Roots from Ever Appearing

A couple of years ago, I took students to the EJI  Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. When we first entered the museum, a student saw the flag that hung from the headquarters of the NAACP in New York throughout the 1920s and the 1930s. The flag, which flew outside the headquarters, drew attention to racial violence and lynching, and it reads, “A Man Was Lynched Yesterday.” My student, upon seeing the flag, asked me, “What is a lynching?” This question took me aback some, especially since the student is from the South. Even if the student did not learn about state sanctioned racial violence he would have at least heard or known of the word “lynching,” right?

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Art and the Collaborative Circuit

In my last post, I wrote about Lillian E. Smith’s thoughts on art and artists in her speech “Ten Years from Today.” For this post, I want to continue that discussion and look at some of Smith’s other comments on art, artists, and critics. Speaking with Joan Titus shortly before her death in September 1966, Smith talks about how we experience art and the influences that affect the ways we perceive it. Her comments here need to be considered in relation to what I wrote about in the last post about the reader responses to Icon and about the individual who was mad at Smith for Strange Fruit even though he or she had never read the book.

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Art and the Creation of New Beliefs and New Images

On June 5, 1951, Lillian E. Smith delivered the commencement address at Kentucky State College. Entitled “Ten Years from Today,” Smith’s speech contained hope and optimism for the future, stating that by 1961, Jim Crow will have faded away. This, of course, did not occur; however, she provided the audience with tools to help to dismantle white supremacy and segregation. One of the tools that Smith points to is art, in its myriad forms (visual, musical, literary, etc.). Today, I want to spend some time looking at Smith’s comments on art as a tool to enact social change to combat white supremacy.

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“Dope with Lime” the Lillian E. Smith Center’s Podcast

One of the main initiatives I wanted to do when I started at the Lillian E. Smith Center was a podcast highlighting various topics related to Smith. These included her life, her work, her current impact, her legacy, and the ways that the center, scholars, artist residents, and more continue to carry on her legacy. As such, I debuted “Dope with Lime.” Today, I want to share with you information about the podcast and a few of the episodes.

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Laurel Falls Camp at 100

Note: This article originally appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of “A View from the Mountain,” the Lillian E. Smith Center’s newsletter.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Laurel Falls Camp. Lillian Smith’s father, Calvin, opened the camp in 1920, and it was the first private camp for girls in the state of Georgia. “Miss Lil,” as the campers called her, took over as the director of the camp in 1925 when she returned from China due to her parents’ ill health, and she ran the camp till it closed in 1948. As director of Laurel Falls Camp, Smith shaped the lives of countless women, both in the moment and in the future. The girls that went to the camp went on to grow into adulthood, relaying what they learned from “Miss Lil” to their own families. This generational legacy points to the importance of Laurel Falls Camp in the shaping of countless lives.

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Narrative Construction in Art Spiegelman’s “Maus”

One thing that I really enjoy about graphic memoirs is the metanarrative nature of the medium. When reading a prose autobiography, the author typically does not draw attention to the compositional aspects of the text. For example, with Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography, we know that he writes to his son; however, he does not refer to the writing of the text or the way he constructs it. Other autobiographies fall into forms, such as the conversion narrative or the captivity narrative in early American literature. Here, I’m thinking about John Marrant and Mary Rowlandson.

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Dream and Reality in Craig Thompson’s “Blankets”

Over the course of this semester, one of the recurring discussions in the graphic memoirs class has been about the ways that these texts approach memory and the past. I’ve written about this already with Kristen Radtke’s Imagine Wanting Only This where I discuss Radtke’s movement back and forth between specific scenes in the text. In this post, I want to look at this same topic in relation Craig Thompson’s Blankets. Near the end of the text, Thompson brings this discussion to the forefront through his use of Plato’s cave allegory, and it is this allegory and Thompson’s engagement with it that I want to focus on today.

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Panel Structure in Craig Thompson’s “Blankets”

In “The Beautiful Ambiguity of Blankets: Comics Representation and Religious Art,” Benjamin Stevens writes about the religious symbolism and metanarrative aspects of Craig Thompson’s Blankets. Early in his essay, Stevens discusses Thompson’s use of panels, the absence, in spots, of borders, and other aspects that draw attention to Blankets as a graphic memoir working within the language of the genre. Stevens points out that the visual “devices themselves become objects of attention” in Blankets. Today, I want to look at a couple of these devices, namely the borders and shape of panels and the deconstruction of some of those panels.

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LES Center Videos: III

In early December, I shared two posts with some of the weekly videos that I have been creating for the LES Center. Since then, I have created more videos, and I wanted to take a moment to share some of them with you today. These videos focus on talks she had with campers at Laurel Falls about racism, the ways that Smith connected her battle with cancer to racism, and the FBI’s file on her.

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Adjectives Are the Enemies of Nouns

This semester in the LES Studies Course, we just finished Jennine Capó Crucet’s My Time Among the Whites: Notes from an Unfinished Education. Crucet’s essays, in relation to what we have read from Lillian Smith and Ibram X. Kendi provide countless points for discussion, and I today I want to focus on one of those points: the ways that labels define others and construct power. I’ve written about this before in “‘That is medre alros’: Frank Yerby and Identity” where I talk about Yerby and his comments about his own identity.

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Dissecting Pages from Lillian Smith Graphic Memoir

Last week, I shared the graphic memoir that I created alongside my students this semester. I detailed, in that post and the post where I described the project, my thought process for the narrative and what parts of Lillian Smith’s story I wanted to tell. As well, I walked through a three page sequence where I focused on Smith’s work as the director of Laurel Falls Camp. Today, I want to look at a few more pages from the project, talking about my choices in regard to narrative and layout.

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