Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Anthologizing Amiri Baraka


If, for some strange reason, you were like me and decided to trace Amiri Baraka's appearances in dozens and dozens of literature anthologies published over the course of several decades, you'd likely realize or be reminded of just how remarkable his publishing career has been. Over the last few months, I've been working on a project focusing on editors anthologizing Baraka's poetry. I took a look at 120 anthologies, containing his poems, published between 1960 and 2018.

Among many other discoveries, I learned that Baraka's top five most anthologized poems are: "Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note," "An Agony. As Now," "A Poem for Black Hearts," "In Memory of Radio," and "Black Art." I became aware that the largest number of Baraka's poems were reprinted during the 1970s and 1990s, while the fewest number of his poems were reprinted during 1980s and 2010s.

In the dataset I created, there are 136 unique Baraka poems, which in total appear 481 times in all those anthologies. This project confirmed that part of what makes Baraka such an outstanding literary figure concerns his appearances in so many different contexts.

Baraka's been published as a Beat poet, an American Negro poet, a new American poet, a new Black poet, a Black Arts poet, a postmodernist poet, an African American poet, and more. He's been the youngest contributor to a collection and later one of the older. He's been one of the only African Americans in a collection, and he's been in many all-black collections.

Related:
A Notebook on Amiri Baraka
A Notebook on Anthologies

Haley Reading Group: Robert Draper’s “The Battle for Virunga”

[The Best American Science and Nature Writing (2017)]

Robert Draper’s article “The Battle for Virunga” focuses on the continuous struggle to maintain and rebuild Virunga National Park. Draper emphasizes the hardships neighboring communities and scientist face when trying to save this national park.

At one point, Draper calls the Virunga National Park “a war zone” (67). This point highlights the tug of war between the scientists’ desire to maintain the life of the National Park and local citizens’ need to survive.

What did you think about the significance and struggles associated with rebuilding the Virunga National Park?

Responses so far:
I really enjoyed this reading because I watched the Oscar Nominated documentary "Virunga" on Netflix and to actually see all this happening visually, was heartbreaking but also inspiring to see the park rangers do all that they can to save their park and the gorillas. --Asher D.

I was struck by the importance that one road could make, and the symbolic meaning of it all. Here, we wouldn't give much thought into the rebuilding of a road, but to them the road meant new beginnings- it meant peace,hope,and rebirth. --Mackenzie C.

Reading this really gave me insight on the problems and immense effort it took to make the park function again. I have personal connections to the " ethnic conflict... that led to the genocide of Tutsis and Hutus" and some of the experiences I have been told are gruesome(67). --Desmond C

Haley Reading Group: Amy Maxmen’s "Digging Through the World’s Oldest Graveyard"


[The Best American Science and Nature Writing (2015)]

By Cynthia A. Campbell

Amy Maxmen’s article “Digging Through the World’s Oldest Graveyard” highlights paleoanthropologists Zeresenay Alemseged and Berhane Asfaw’s expeditions to locate fossils and human skeletal remains in Ethiopia. Maxmen illuminates the discovery of and process of dating the human remains found. Ultimately, the article speaks to Ethiopia being this significant geographical region in understanding the evolution of humans.

Maxmen’s discussion of Ardi (Ardipithecus ramidus) was especially enlightening. At one point, Maxmen notes that “the analysis took 15 years and 47 researchers to paint a full picture of…and her surroundings” (184). This point indicates the intricacies and painstaking efforts of thorough research.

In your view, what was most memorable or useful about Maxmen’s article?

Monday, October 8, 2018

Stefan Bradley's Upending the Ivory Tower


Not long after first meeting Stefan Bradley in 2003, I heard him start talking about developing a research project. Here and there over the years, he'd mention visiting archives and special collections at various Ivy League universities. He was working on various other activities, but he always had his eyes on this one large scholarly project as well.

A year or so ago, he sent me a few pages from chapters in the developing manuscript. So this is what he's been up to, I thought to myself as I read along in the drafts he was writing and sharing. But even then, I wasn't fully aware of the scale of what he was doing.

The publication of Bradley's Upending the Ivory Tower: Civil Rights, Black Power, and the Ivy League a couple of weeks ago represents the result of years of effort -- thinking and rethinking, travel, research, writing, more thinking, and revision. This current book extends what Bradley produced with Harlem vs. Columbia University: Black Student Power in the Late 1960s (2009).

Here, in Upending the Ivory Tower, he concentrates on the experiences, really the struggles, of black students at 8 prestigious and storied universities: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Penn, Columbia, Brown, Dartmouth, and Cornell. He explains how thinkers and activists associated with Black Power movements positively influenced who gained access to these powerful universities and what black folks did once they got there.

I've started working my way through Bradley's important book. Next week, some of my students, colleagues, and I will welcome him to SIUE for a talk about his work and various topics. More on that soon.

For now, I'm going to say I'm just glad to have been a witness, as the elders used to say. Catching bits and pieces of Bradley talking about this project over the years, hearing about him making visits to those universities libraries, and realizing he was putting in far more work than he talked about publicly is really something worth noting.  

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Haley Reading Group: Amy Maxmen’s "Digging Through the World’s Oldest Graveyard"


[The Best American Science and Nature Writing (2015)]

By Cynthia A. Campbell

Amy Maxmen’s article “Digging Through the World’s Oldest Graveyard” highlights paleoanthropologists Zeresenay Alemseged and Berhane Asfaw’s expeditions to locate fossils and human skeletal remains in Ethiopia. Maxmen illuminates the discovery of and process of dating the human remains found. Ultimately, the article speaks to Ethiopia being this significant geographical region in understanding the evolution of humans.

Maxmen’s discussion of Ardi (Ardipithecus ramidus) was especially enlightening. At one point, Maxmen notes that “the analysis took 15 years and 47 researchers to paint a full picture of…and her surroundings” (184). This point indicates the intricacies and painstaking efforts of thorough research.

After reading Maxmen’s article, what was one point concerning the various species discovered that caught your attention? Why was that point or passage important to you? Please provide a page number citation.

Haley Reading Group: Robert Draper’s “The Battle for Virunga”

[The Best American Science and Nature Writing (2017)]

Robert Draper’s article “The Battle for Virunga” focuses on the continuous struggle to maintain and rebuild Virunga National Park. Draper emphasizes the hardships neighboring communities and scientist face when trying to save this national park.

At one point, Draper calls the Virunga National Park “a war zone” (67). This point highlights the tug of war between the scientists’ desire to maintain the life of the National Park and local citizens’ need to survive.

What did you think about the significance and struggles associated with rebuilding the Virunga National Park?


Tuesday, October 2, 2018

A checklist of a few writings by Elana Levin

I'm co-teaching a class on diversity and comic books this semester, but I had help getting here. It's always good to have a trusted guide as you move through creative domains. And in comics, Elana Levin serves as one of those guides for me.

Earlier today, I was discussing her piece on Chelsea Cain and Mockingbird. Levin had high praise for the comic book back in 2016 when it was released. "If you are a grown-up-woman reading superhero comics this needs to be at the top of your list,” she wrote. "This entire Mockingbird series has always been explicitly feminist– practically every issue addresses sexism in some way and every issue features Bobbi standing up for women and girls.”

Here's a roundup of some of Levin's works that I re-read as I prepared for the class.

2015
June 9: Elana Levin and Emily Zanotti discuss Women in Comics - Bounding Into Comics

2016
August 28: Paying Tribute to Jack Kirby on His 99th Birthday - Alex K. Cossa and Elana Levin - Graphic Policy
October 26: Mockingbird is there for us: Who will be there for her writer? - Graphic Policy 

2017
June 5: Thank Goddess Wonder Woman Isn’t Straight: Towards a Better DCEU - Elana Levin - Comics Beat