Tag Archive for alumni publications

Litvak ’76 Takes a Fresh Look at the Hollywood Blacklist and McCarthy Era

The Un-Americans Joseph LitvakIn The Un-Americans: Jews, the Blacklist, and Stoolpigeon Culture (Duke University Press) Joseph Litvak ’76 offers a rethinking of the Hollywood blacklist and McCarthyite America by uncovering a political regime that did not come to an end with the 1950s or even with the Cold War, in which the good citizen is an informer, ready to denounce anyone who will not play the part of the earnest, patriotic American.

Litvak draws on the work of Theodor W. Adorno, Hannah Arendt, Alain Badiou, and Max Horkheimer to show how the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) conflated Jewishness with what he calls “comic cosmopolitanism,” an intolerably seductive happiness, centered in Hollywood and New York, in show business, and intellectual circles. He suggests that HUAC took the comic irreverence of the “uncooperative” witnesses as a crime against an American identity based on self-repudiation and the willingness to “name names.”

Litvak traces the outlines of comic cosmopolitanism in a series of performances in film and theater and before HUAC, performances by Jewish artists and intellectuals such as actors Zero Mostel and Judy Holliday, and screenwriter Abraham Polonsky. By analyzing the creative work of informers Broadway director and choreographer Jerome Robbins, film director Elia Kazan, and screenwriter/novelist Budd Schulberg, the author reveals the triumph of a “stoolpigeon culture” that still thrives in the America of the early 21st century.

Litvak is a professor of English at Tufts University.

Bluemel ’86 Edits Critical Essay Collection

Blumel Bookcover - Intermodernism

Kristin Bluemel ’86, a professor of English at Monmouth University, has edited a new essay collection, Intermodernism: Literary Culture in Mid-Twentieth-Century Britain (Edinburgh University Press). This volume of original critical essays encourages readers to accept a new term, new critical category, and new literary history for 20th-century British literature.

Its primary subject is the intriguing and typically neglected British writing of the years of the Depression and World War II, including the fiction, memoirs, criticism, and journalism of writers such as Elizabeth Bowen, Storm Jameson, William Empson, George Orwell, J. B. Priestley, Harold Heslop, T. H. White, Rebecca West, John Grierson, Margery Allingham, and Stella Gibbons. The book is divided into four sections—Work, Community, War, and Documents—and concentrates on qualities that distinguish these writers’ literary efforts from those of the modernists or postmodernists, clarifying the network of historical, institutional, and personal relationships that together define intermodernism.

This is a broad-ranging collection, discussing novels, journalism, manifestos, short stories, film, poetry, memoirs, letters, and travel narratives of the interwar, war, and immediately post-World War II years. More than 75 British intermodernists are covered.

Bloom ’75 Publishes New Story Collection

New book by Amy Bloom '75

New book by Amy Bloom '75

Acclaimed author Amy Bloom ’75 has published a new story collection, Where the Love of God Hangs Out (Random House), which has already received several fine reviews.

The book contains two sets of four related stories and four unrelated works in which the author explores love, loss, mortality, and other human predicaments with compassion and humor. The first quartet of stories concerns the love affair between middle-aged friends William and Clare who are married to others. The other set of interlocking tales explores the relationship over 30 years between Julia and her stepson Lionel who are introduced in the story “Sleepwalking” as they mourn the death of Lionel’s jazz musician father.

In her review of the book in The New York Times, Janet Maslin writes: “Ms. Bloom, who has worked as a psychotherapist as well as a creative writing professor, clearly has great gifts in both those realms. … She writes about characters who are stunning in their verisimilitude but never really predictable in their behavior … Ms. Bloom’s characters are uncommonly fully formed, seldom young, some of them well into old age. Yet they sustain the ability to surprise one another — and themselves.”

Bloom has previously published two story collections, a novel, and a book of essays, and she also created the Lifetime series, State of Mind. Her last book, the novel Away, was a New York Times best seller.

Flowers ’96 Examines the Politics and Power of Building 3 NYC Skyscrapers

Book by Benjamin Flowers '96.

Book by Benjamin Flowers '96.

In Skyscraper: The Politics and Power of Building New York City in the Twentieth Century (University of Pennsyvania Press), Benjamin Flowers ’96 explores the role of culture and ideology in shaping the construction of skyscrapers, as well as the way wealth and power have operated to reshape the urban landscape. He studies closely the creation and reception of three major architectural sites: the Empire State Building, the Seagram Building, and the World Trade Center.

Flowers wrote his new book using a broad array of archival sources, such as corporate records, architects’ papers, newspaper ads, and political cartoons. He reveals how architects and their clients employed a diverse range of modernist styles to engage with and influence broader cultural themes in American society, such as immigration, the Cold War, and the rise of American global capitalism. He also considers the personal, political, cultural, and economic agendas that motivate architects and their clients to build higher and higher.

Flowers teaches architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

New Book by Goode ’91 Focuses on Racial Theories in Spain

Book by Joshua Goode '91.

Book by Joshua Goode '91.

In Impurity of Blood: Defining Race in Spain, 1870–1930 (LSU Press), Joshua Goode ’91 traces the development of racial theories in Spain from 1870 to 1930 and explores the Spanish proposition that racial mixture, rather than racial purity, was the bulwark of national strength.

He begins his study with a history of ethnic thought in Spain in the medieval and early modern era, and then details the formation of racial thought in Spain’s nascent human sciences. He examines the political, social and cultural manifestations of racial thought at the dawn of the Franco regime and, finally, discusses its ramifications in Francoist Spain and post–World War II Europe.

Goode analyzes the findings of Spanish racial theorists working to forge a Spanish racial identity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when race and racial sciences were most in vogue across Europe. The goal of Spanish social sciences was to trace the history of racial fusion, studying both the separate elements of the Spanish composition and the factors that had nurtured them. Ultimately, Goode finds that national identity based on mixture—the inclusion rather than the exclusion of different peoples—did not preclude the establishment of finely wrought and politically charged racial hierarchies.

His book should prove useful to scholars of Spanish and European history, racial theory, historical anthropology and the history of science.

Goode teaches history and cultural studies at Claremont Graduate University in California.

He ’02 Co-Authors Book on Filmmaker Tim Burton

Jenny He '02

Jenny He '02

Jenny He ’02 is the co-author, along with Ron Magliozzi, of a new book Tim Burton, published by the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York City to accompany a major career retrospective that is currently on view at the museum. The publication considers Burton’s career as an artist and filmmaker, the evolution of his creative practices and the influence of popular culture and Pop Surrealism on his work. The book traces the path of his visual imagination from his earliest childhood drawings through his mature works, which includes his films Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

The publication offers a fresh look at Burton’s career and presents previously unseen works from the artist’s personal archive. Among the 64 illustrations in the book are works on paper, moving-image stills, drawn and painted concept art, puppets and maquettes, storyboards, and examples of his work as a graphic artist.

Jenny He contributes an essay in the book, “An Auteur for All Ages.” In the essay, she discusses Burton’s unique visuals, specific themes and his embrace of character. She points out that despite working on major studio productions, Burton has been able to maintain his “uncompromised aesthetic” by usually working with the same creative team.

TimBurtonCoverHe is currently a curatorial assistant in the department of film at the Museum of Modern Art and the co-curator of the Tim Burton exhibition, which is on view at the museum until April 26, 2010.

In conjunction with the exhibition, she curated the film series “Tim Burton and the Lurid Beauty of Monsters,” highlighting movies that have influenced, inspired, and intrigued the director. She previously curated MOMA exhibitions on the films of the Coen brothers, George Romero, and James Mangold.

Her essay on actress Lillian Gish is forthcoming in an anthology published by MoMA on women artists in the museum collection; she will also curate an exhibition of Gish films.

Fraser ’54 Offers a Cast of Characters in His Poems

Sanford Fraser TouristIn his third poetry collection, Tourist (NYQ Books, 2009), Sanford Fraser ’54 reveals a mastery of the lyric form and plainspoken language. The collection is divided into three sections: Strangers, Roles and Connections. In the first section, the narrator and/or characters in the poems are strangers isolated from and emotionally detached from others; in the second, they play various roles in the world beyond themselves; and finally in the last section, they experience emotional attachments with others.

Frasier shares the following observations about his new book:

“The busloads of tourists who ride and walk through the streets of my neighborhood each day, often remind me of myself arriving in France years ago, of experiencing again what it is to be a stranger in a strange world. In many of my poems, which are usually short character studies, I recreate this experience. The first section of Tourist is devoted to strangers who do not relate to others, who remain outside of the community they live in or visit. Some take home things, souvenirs—not memories; others remain strangers because they are illegal or simply newly arrived immigrants, speaking a strange language; still others isolate themselves from the world in various ways with their obsessions and imaginary barriers.

“Various roles these characters play in order to fit into society are explored in the second section of the collection, such as the role of the tough guy, or the roles of blind obedience and passive aggression. The ability to reach out beyond oneself and connect with others is explored in the last section: through desire or empathy, and finally, through art and imagination.”

Fraser’s interest in poetry began at Wesleyan in a class taught by George Creeger, professor of English emeritus. He did not begin writing poetry until the age of 50 in New York City, where he now lives. His first collection of poems, 14th Street, was published in the New School Chapbook Series, and his second, a French/English bilingual collection, Parmi les étrangers que j’ai connus toute ma vie/ (Among Strangers I’ve Known All My Life, Tarabuste Editions), appeared in France in 2007. This second book will be republished in 2010 by NYQ Books.

Levy ’96 Considers Feminism in Books About American Women

In the Nov. 16 issue of The New Yorker, staff writer Ariel Levy ’96 looks at two new books: When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present (Little Brown) by Gail Collins, and You’ve Come a Long Way, Maybe: Sarah, Michelle, Hillary and the Shaping of the New American Woman (Palgrave) by Leslie Sanchez.

In her essay, titled “Lift and Separate,” Levy discusses not just the content of the two books but also considers how feminism is still so divisive. She discusses some of the triumphs and defeats of the feminist movement and some myths of the movement as well. For instance, Levy writes that “bra burning became the most durable and unsettling image of modern feminism,” but then continues: “So it may be worth noting that it never actually happened.”

Levy notes how activist feminists are often stereotyped and how women like Sarah Palin and Cindy McCain who describe themselves as “traditional” are far from traditional women. She recognizes how the feminist movement succeeded in getting women into the government and the private sector workforce. But she also comments that the “contours of mainstream feminism started to change accordingly. A politics of liberation was largely supplanted by a politics of identity.”

Near the end of her essay, Levy writes: “Feminism as an identity politics has enjoyed real victories. It matters that women serve on the Supreme Court, that they make decisions in business, government, academia, and the media. But a preoccupation with representation suggests that feminism has lost its larger ambitions. We’ve come a long way in the past forty years … The trouble is that the journey hasn’t always been in the intended direction. These days, we can only dream about a federal program insuring that women with school-age children have affordable child care.”

Brenner ’92 Co-edits Book on Spiritual and Psychological Care in Disaster Relief Work

Book co-edited by Grant Brenner ’92.

Book co-edited by Grant Brenner ’92

Grant Brenner ’92, Daniel Bush and Joshua Moses are co-editors of Creating Spiritual and Psychological Resilience: Integrating Care in Disaster Relief Work (Routledge), which explores the interface between spiritual and psychological care in the context of disaster recovery work, drawing upon recent disasters including the experiences of Sept. 11, 2001.

The book contains three sections structured around the cycle of disaster response and focusing on the relevant phase of disaster recovery work. In each section, selected spiritual and mental health topics are examined with contributions from spiritual care and mental health care providers. This is a useful reference volume for theory and an invaluable hands-on resource, which identifies and considers interdisciplinary collaborations, creative partnerships, gaps in care and necessary interdisciplinary work.

The book grew out of several conferences co-organized by two of the editors during the years following 9/11, and it represents the collective wisdom of many people who have worked diligently and often at great cost to themselves. The volume highlights the often overlooked partnership between spiritual and mental health caregivers, a partnership especially important in distressful situations involving trauma, disaster and terrorism.

Grant Brenner, MD, is in private practice in Manhattan and works as a psychiatrist, psychoanalytic psychotherapist, and consultant. He is on faculty at the William Alanson White Institute of Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis and Psychology, where he is a chief psychiatric consultant and director of the Trauma Service; is assistant clinical professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Mount Sinai School of Medicine (adjunct); and teaches and supervises psychiatric residents in addition to other academic roles.

Report by Harrison MA ’08 Says Water Found on Mars

Tanya Harrison MA ’08, who studied with Martha Gilmore, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, and is now at Malin Space Science Systems in California, is first author on a report that says her team found evidence of liquid water flowing on the surface of Mars in multiple locations as recently as this year.

An abstract of the report, titled “Present-Day Activity, Monitoring and Documentation of Gullies With the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Context Camera,” was published in the Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 41, No. 7, p. 267. The findings were reported in a speech at the Division of Planetary Sciences meeting on Oct. 8, and the work also was presented at the 2009 Geological Society of America Annual Meeting Oct. 19-21.

According to the report, the group found evidence of six active gully flows that formed since 2001. Of the six new flows, three have formation dates constrained to within a single Mars year; these three formed during autumn to early spring, demonstrating that summer warming is not participating in creating the liquid involved in their formation.

“These efforts are focused on understanding how the gullies formed, how they have been degraded, and where they are active today,” the report says.

Hollister ’78 Launches National Blog for Parents on Safe Teen Driving

Tim Hollister '78

Tim Hollister '78

A father whose 17-year-old son died while driving in 2006, and who went on to take a leadership role in a statewide task force that advised the state legislature on rewriting Connecticut’s teen driving laws, has launched a national blog for parents on safe teen driving.

Tim Hollister ’78, a West Hartford, Conn. resident and attorney, lost his son Reid in a one-car accident on Interstate 84 in Plainville, Conn. in December 2006. During 2007-08, as a member of Connecticut Gov. Jodi Rell’s Safe Teen Driving Task Force, Hollister immersed himself in the issue of why driving is the leading cause of death for teens, and became an advocate for better-informed parental decision-making about teen driving.

“My son’s accident led me to study teen driving laws and statistics in Connecticut and nationally,” Hollister said, “but it was my discovery, as a task force member, that the literature and resources available to parents rarely explain the dangers of teen driving that prompted me to start this blog.”

The blog, “From Reid’s Dad,” is found at http://www.fromreidsdad.org.

“I was astounded to learn that even though 6,000 teen drivers and 2,000 of their passengers die every year, and 400,000 kids are seriously injured, the driving manuals and other literature usually say little more than ‘Be careful.’ Cigarette packs carry warnings about death, and patients going into surgery are warned multiple times that death is a potential consequence, but the driving literature doesn’t warn parents about how dangerous teen driving is, and why,” Hollister observed. “Meanwhile, every night on television we see ads with cars doing 360’s on busy city streets, crashing through glass, spinning into parking spaces, and weaving through dense traffic at high speeds, all without a scratch. Our culture glorifies risky driving. We need a counterbalance that will caution parents and teens.”

In addition, Hollister noted that “Many parents are seduced by the convenience of having another driver in the house, or their pride in their child passing a milestone toward adulthood. My blog is an effort to counsel parents not to put convenience and pride ahead of safe decisions. I have no intention of telling parents how to handle their own kids. My goal is to make important information about teen driving accessible and clear, so that parents will make better decisions.”

The blog, launched in the wake of the federal government’s national summit on distracted driving, includes the story of the death of Hollister’s son and how it led to his service on Connecticut’s task force and his advocacy for safer driving; a list of tips for parents of teen drivers; a summary of Hollister’s teen driving activities; two initial posts, “There Is No Such Thing As A Safe Teen Driver” and “Baseline Dangers and Higher Risks;” and links to informative national websites and databases.

McCormick ’96 Studies Causes of Breast Cancer

Book by Sabrina McCormick ’96

Book by Sabrina McCormick ’96

In No Family History (Rowman and Littlefield, 2009), Sabrina McCormick ’96 offers convincing and compelling evidence of environmental links to breast cancer, ranging from everyday cosmetics to industrial waste. She writes lucidly about the a growing number of experts who argue that we should increase focus on prevention by reducing environmental exposures that have contributed to the sharp increase of breast cancer rates.

McCormick also weaves the story of one breast cancer survivor with no family history of the disease into a powerful exploration of the big business of breast cancer—as drugs, pink products, and corporate sponsorships generate enormous revenue to find a cure. Money continues to be allocated for the search for a cure, and McCormick argues that the companies that profit, including some pharmaceutical and cosmetics companies, may contribute to the environmental causes of breast cancer. Her book reveals how profits drive our public focus on the cure rather than prevention, and also suggests new ways to reduce breast cancer rates in the future.

McCormick is a Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society scholar at the University of Pennsylvania and an assistant professor of environmental science and sociology at Michigan State University. She is the director and producer of the independent feature-length documentary No Family History. Her web site is www.nofamilyhistory.org.