Friday, December 9, 2016

A set of books for Black Girls from East St. Louis


This semester, 4 high school girls from East St. Louis audited one of my college literature courses. They blended in and interacted with the college students -- all first-year black women -- in the class really well.  

Yesterday, on the last day of class, I gave each of the students a set of five books:
the new black by Evie Shockley
Crave Radiance by Elizabeth Alexander
The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
A photo book by Deborah Willis

The students appreciated the books, and I was pleased that I was in a position to pass the selections along to them.

I've thought and blogged about Shockley's and Alexander's poetry fairly regularly over the last few years, so I'm always interested in passing along their works to students when I can. Collectively, they cover a wide range of works and adapt multiple  

 Reading, Viewing & Sharing Deborah Willis's books


I gave two students Willis's Black: A Celebration of a Culture; another student Reflections in Black: A History of Black Photographers 1840 to the Present; and another student Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890s to the Present. I also gave each of the students Wilkerson's award-winning The Warmth of Other Suns in case they are interested in becoming more aware of the major migrations of African Americans from the early to mid-20th century.   

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Haley Reading Group: Reflections



[Best American Science and Nature Writing]

Alright readers, we've reached the end of our assignments on The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2015. What's one idea you encountered over the course of the semester from the readings that you found most memorable, challenging, or surprising? Why?

Monday, December 5, 2016

A Checklist of Digital Humanities projects


By Kenton Rambsy and Howard Rambsy II

As we research and create digital humanities projects, we continually find inspiration and guidance from a range of sources. What follows are some of the projects that we’ve studied.

Black Press Research Collective
Founder/Director: Kim Gallon
Description: This project serves as an archive for the storage, analysis, digitization and distribution of material on the study of a global black press. The collective, comprised of an interdisciplinary group of scholars, produces scholarship and data visualizations on a variety of subjects related to black newspapers.
Black Quotidian
Curator: Matt Delmont
Description: Black Quotidian "is designed to highlight everyday moments and lives in African-American history" drawn from the pages of black newspapers. The site presents articles decades past in newspapers to correspond to the current date.
The Largest Vocabulary in Hip Hop
Creator: Matt Daniels
Description: This project compares the lexical density of Jay Z, Outkast, Nas, Lil Kim, Drake, and 80 other rappers among each other and to William Shakespeare. Daniels examines the first 35,000 lyrics of each rapper alongside 28,829 words that comprises William Shakespeare’s entire body of work. The infograph charts the number of unique words of each artist and ranks them accordingly.
Colored Conventions
Director: P. Gabrielle Foreman
The Colored Conventions Project examines the series of national, regional, and state conventions held from 1830 until after the Civil War. The digital exhibits examine the lives of the male delegates and the broader social networks that made these conventions possible.
Mapping American Social Movements 
Director: James N. Gregory
Description: Mapping American Social Movements uses various data sources to construction visualizations on a range of social movements that took place in America during the 20th century. The site pays particular attention to 4 black social movements in America: NAACP, CORE, the Black Panther Party, Civil Rights Congress.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Notations on the Vijay Iyer Trio's first set at Jazz at the Bistro

Vijay Iyer introduces Stephan Crump on bass and Marcus Gilmore on drums at the beginning of the show.


Last night, I caught the Vijay Iyer Trio at Jazz at the Bistro. The music was full of exciting ideas and rhythmic, improvisational movements. The trio, which includes Iyer on piano, Stephan Crump on bass, and Marcus Gilmore on drums, is playing at the Bistro through December 3.

In their first set, the trio moved through various works, including songs from their award-winning Accelerando. At many moments during the performance, the music was "free," which is to say, what they played was not constrained by conventional melodies and patterns we might hear with pop tunes on the radio. Instead, Iyer, Crump, and Gilmore explored an expansive body of phrasings, as they improvised and interacted with each other.

I've followed Iyer's career for some time now, and I began blogging about his music a few years ago. So, I was pleased to witness the trio live here in a show produced by Jazz St. Louis, an organization that coordinates jazz programming in the city and larger region.

Jazz at the Bistro, where the show took place, went through major renovations two years ago. It's a marvelous space, large enough to accommodate two hundred or so people, and yet arranged in a way where you feel close and connected to the musicians.

I sat up front off to the right of the stage closest to Gilmore. Crump was in the center, and Iyer was on the other side. The whole time, I felt like I was in close proximity to all of them. Maybe some of that closeness I felt was a result of the music. 

Related:
A Notebook on Vijay Iyer

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Haley Reading Group: Sarah Schweitzer’s “Chasing Bayla”



[Best American Science and Nature Writing]

Cynthia A. Campbell

Sarah Schweitzer’s article “Chasing Bayla” focuses on the dangers of right whales in their encounters with humans and unsafe fishing practices. Schweitzer highlights scientist Dr. Michael Moore’s quest for ethical treatment of endangered and injured right whales. Ultimately, the article speaks to the intersecting journey of Dr. Moore and Bayla.

Schweitzer’s discussion of Dr. Moore’s struggle to provide medical treatment for right whales was especially enlightening. At one point, Schweitzer notes that “he wanted to sedate a free-swimming whale…to remove ropes entangling it” (237). This point illustrates the desperation and urgency required to treat whales in their natural habitats using necessary extraordinary tactics.

After reading Schweitzer’s article, what was one point concerning the injuries suffered by Bayla that caught your attention? Why was that point or scene notable to you? Please provide a page number citation.

Haley Reading Group: Barry Yeoman’s "Billions to None"


[Best American Science and Nature Writing]

By Brittany Tuggle

Barry Yeoman’s article “Billions to None” focuses on the extinction of the passenger pigeon that dwindled over a century due to hunting and a genetic project deeply invested in bringing the bird back. To bring the bird back, scientists plan to genetically engineer the biology of the bird with other closely related pigeon species that will result in a passenger pigeon (adjacent) creature. However, the true controversy of the issue is that throwing this bird back into an ecosystem that has long adapted to living without it could culminate in unforeseeable consequences.

Yeoman’s discussion of how incredibly prominent the bird once was, per the title, was especially riveting. At one point, Yeoman explains that “These were passenger pigeons, Ectopistes migratorius, at the time the most abundant bird in North America and possibly the world” (297).

After reading Yeoman’s article, what was one point concerning the issues of de-extinction efforts that stood out to you? Why was that point or passage notable? Please provide a page number citation.

Monday, November 28, 2016

African American literature: a timeline


By Kenton Rambsy and Howard Rambsy II

We've worked on different timelines for a couple of years, so we decided to combine a few of them into one. While we provide more than 340 entries, we still view this project as a partial timeline. We realize, for instance, that African American literary history precedes 1852, and we have not included each and every writer who's ever published. Like always, this is an ongoing project.

1852: The Heroic Slave, a novella by Frederick Douglass, is published in 1852 by John P. Jewett and Company. The novella resembles a slave narrative even though it is a work of fiction.

1853: William Wells Brown—escaped slave from Kentucky—publishes Clotel; or, The President’s Daughter in London. His novel is considered the first to ever be published by an African American.

1854: Frances Ellen Watkins Harper's volume of poetry Poems on Miscellaneous Subjects is published.

1859: On September 5, 1859 Harriet Wilson’s novel, Our Nig, was published anonymously by George C. Rand and Avery, a publishing firm in Boston. Wilson is considered the first African American to publish a novel within the continental United States.

1859: Frances Ellen Watkins Harper’s “Two Offers” is published in the Anglo-African.

1859: As a response to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, abolitionist Martin Delany began publishing Blake: Or The Huts of America in a serialized form. This was the first novel by a black man to be published in the United States.

1864: Frances E. W. Harper's poem "Bury Me in a Free Land" is published in Liberator, January 14.

1887: Charles Chesnutt’s “The Goophered Grapevine” is published in The Atlantic .

1893: Paul Laurence Dunbar's first collection of poems Oak and Ivy is published.

1895: Alice Moore's Violets and other tales is published.

1895: Alice Ruth Moore's Violets and Other Tales is published.

1896: Dunbar's Lyrics of Lowly Life is published.

1898: Charles Chesnutt’s “The Wife of His Youth” is published in the July issue of The Atlantic.

1898: Paul Laurence Dunbar’s Folks From Dixie is published.

1898: The Uncalled, Paul Laurence Dunbar’s first novel, is published by Dodd, Meed, and Company.

1899: Charles Chesnutt’s The Conjure Woman, and Other Conjure Tales is published by Houghton Mifflin.

1899: Alice Ruth Moore's The Goodness of St. Rocque and other stories is published by Dodd, Mead and Company.

1899: Charles Chesnutt’s The Wife of His Youth and Other Stories of the Color-Line is published by Houghton Mifflin.

1900: Charles Chesnutt’s The House Behind the Cedars is published by Boston publishing house, Houghton Mifflin Company. His novel expands the thematic representations of race, miscegenation, and passing of his earlier short story collections.

1900: "Lift Every Voice and Sing," written by James Weldon Johnson, is performed for Booker T. Washington.

1900: Paul Laurence Dunbar’s The Strength of Gideon and Other Stories is published.

1901: Paul Laurence Dunbar’s second novel The Fanatics is published by New York publishing house Mead, Dodd and Company.

1901-1902: Sutton E. Griggs founds Orion Publishing Company in Nashville, Tennessee and publishes two self-authored novels back-to-back—Overshadowed (1901) and Unfettered (1902).

1903: Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. DuBois is published by A.C. McClurg & Co., Chicago. His collection of essays and concept “double consciousness” would influence the work of many African American novelists.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Black Short Stories: A Timeline


By Kenton Rambsy

A partial timeline on the histories of short stories:

1859: Frances Ellen Watkins Harper’s “Two Offers” is published in the Anglo-African.

1887: Charles Chesnutt’s “The Goophered Grapevine” is published in The Atlantic .

1895: Alice Ruth Moore's Violets and Other Tales is published.

1898: Charles Chesnutt’s “The Wife of His Youth” is published in the July issue of The Atlantic.

1898: Paul Laurence Dunbar’s Folks From Dixie is published.

1899: Charles Chesnutt’s The Conjure Woman, and Other Conjure Tales is published by Houghton Mifflin.

1899: Alice Ruth Moore's The Goodness of St. Rocque and other stories is published by Dodd, Mead and Company.

1899: Charles Chesnutt’s The Wife of His Youth and Other Stories of the Color-Line is published by Houghton Mifflin.

1900: Paul Laurence Dunbar’s The Strength of Gideon and Other Stories is published.

1921: Zora Neale Hurston wrote “John Redding Goes to Sea” and became a member of Alaine Locke's literary club.

1925: Rudolph Fisher’s “City of Refuge” is published in the Atlantic in February.

1925: Zora Neale Hurston’s “Spunk” is published in The New Negro an anthology of African American poetry, fiction, and essays edited by Alaine Locke.

1925: Zora Neale Hurston won the second-place fiction prize for her short story “Spunk” in the May 1 issue of Opportunity Magazine.

1925: Rudolph Fisher’s “Vestiges” is published in The New Negro ,an anthology edited by Alain Locke.

1933: Zora Neale Hurston’s “The Gilded Six-Bits” is published.

1934: Langston Hughes’s collection of short stories The Ways of White Folks is published.