Today is Nobel laureate Gao Xingjian’s birthday! In celebration and in honor of all his tremendous contributions to the literary world, we highlight his eponymous book, Gao Xingjian: Aesthetics and Creation, which Gao himself has maintained is the key to understanding all his creative works.
This book will be very welcome by fans of Gao’s works. Anyone who has read Soul Mountain would appreciate this book. A review of the book in Modern Chinese Literature and Culture (MCLC) states that the book is:
“easy to read and helps to explain concepts of Gao’s that are not readily understood in Western languages. The work has been edited carefully and, while the language is appropriate for a critical work, technical terms have been explained and translated into common usage for lay readers. It is a beautifully produced book, with a cover that shows the writer Gao Xingjian engaged in deep introspection … highly readable and engaging.”
This is a critical book for understanding the works of a “major voice in literary aesthetics and politics, a Chinese Nobel Prize winner who remains a leading figure in creative circles and in dialogues and debates between China and the West.” (MCLC).
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“The memory of slavery and the slave trade has strongly influenced how history is understood. What is remembered and why are clearly identified as major historical themes of analysis in this valuable collection.” —Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies
This study addresses the memory of slavery from a transnational perspective. The inclusion of Brazil and the French, English, and Spanish Caribbean alongside the United States and Europe, and the variety of investigative approaches—ranging from cinema, popular culture and visual culture studies to anthropology and literary studies—expand the current understanding of the slave past and how it is reimagined today. Transatlantic Memories of Slaveryis an important book for those interested in African American, American, and Latin American studies and working across literature, cinema, visual arts, and public culture. It will also be useful to public official and civil servants interested in the question of slavery and its present memory.
This book is a timely and much-needed exploration of the intricate nature of culture and life in the African diaspora. It examines identities, collectivities, and relationships with Africa and Africans. It helps fill a gap in the field by illuminating the complex experiences of blackness in a manner that motivates readers to grapple with the nuances diaspora studies and African issues on a global stage.
“I recommend this first full-length study in English to anyone who wants the perfect complement to their reading of Mo Yan’s novels.” — Howard Goldblatt, University of Notre Dame, and translator of Mo Yan’s novlels
This book examines three overarching themes: Chinese modernity’s (sometimes ambivalent) relationship to tradition at the start of the twentieth century, the processes of economic reform started in the 1980s and their importance to both the eradication and rescue of traditional practices, and the ideological issue of cosmopolitanism and how it frames the older academic generation’s attitudes to globalisation. It is important to grasp the importance of these points as they have been an important part of the discourse surrounding contemporary Chinese visual culture. As readers progress through this book, it will become clear that the debates surrounding visual culture are not purely based on aesthetics––an understanding of the ideological issues surrounding the appearance of things as well as an understanding of the social circumstances that result in the making of traditional artifacts are as important as the way a traditional object may look. Contemporary Chinese Visual Culture is an important book for all collections dealing with Asian studies, art, popular culture, and interdisciplinary studies.
“the story that Peter Baker wrote in The New York Times was pretty accurate, but the headline didn’t really reflect my feeling about it [… because] “the president tried very, very hard [on bipartisanship] … I cite a number of examples of that in my book.”
On being selected by President Obama for his Cabinet
“I couldn’t have gotten the job with President Obama had I not been a been a Republican because he was looking for a Republican. And our friendship obviously has endured even since I’ve left the job.”
On what President Obama has accomplished in implementing policy
“It is difficult because under our system of legislation passing, it has to come before Congress, which is an equal brancn of government, separate from the Administration, separate from the Executive branch. We’ve seen how difficult it is for President Obama to enact some legislation that he’s wanted to do … but I give the president credit on: he did pass national health care, he did get us out of Iraq, he’s working very hard on a trade bill, he supported this education reform, the transportation bill. So it can be done, but it has to be done in a bipartisan way. No one of the 435 in the House and no one of 100 senators gets their own way. When Congress solves big problems, when they address big issues, they’re almost always solved in a bipartisan way–with compromise.”
On Vice President Joe Biden,
“I developed a great relationship with Vice President Biden. He’s an endearing friend today because of all the time we spent together trying to get people to work on transportation projects.”
On the worst day of his job as Secretary of Transportation
February 12, 2009 “That was the day of the Colgan air crash in Buffalo, New York, when 49 people boarded a plane with the idea that they were going to arrive in Buffalo safely, like thousands of people do today. … As a result of that, we implemented new rules and regulations on pilot rest … and better training for pilots.
On Paul Ryan as Speaker
“I particularly admire him for stepping up into this very important leadership vacuum and filling the vacuum. … I think Paul is going to be a very strong Speaker. In my book, I talk about one of the real pillars of leadership is listening. And I think Paul is and will be a good listener. He’s already doing that.”
On the 2016 election
“It looks like on the Democratic side Hillary will probably get the nomination.”
Another major event in Sheri’s life that shows the indelible marks of Lagos on her psyche is the episode in which Sheri fights back and beats up the brigadier when he abuses her physically. Atta’s deliberate use of a biracial character (often referred to derogatorily as half-caste in the Nigerian context) to beat up a Brigadier validates the claim that it is the Lagos lifestyle, and not the color of the skin (ancestry), that ultimately affects her characters:
“Telling me I’m a whore for going out. Your mother is the whore. Raise a hand to beat Sheri Bakare, and your hand will never remain the same again. Stupid man, he will find it hard to play polo from now on ….I was raised in downtown Lagos…Bring the Queen of England there. She will learn how to fight.” (Everything Good Will Come 174)
Even Sheri recognizes that she is who she is because of her having been born and bred in Lagos. When Enitan remarks that she is unable to tell who is crazier between the two of them, Sheri quickly remarks that: “after what I’ve seen, if I’m not crazy, what else would I be?”
Writing Contemporary Nigeria is a must for all African literature collections–Order it now and click here to ask your university library to purchase it.
Brenda Murphy, Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Connecticut, praises it as “the first substantial study of the work of Arthur Laurents, and it was worth waiting for. In this authoritative and engaging book, John Clum draws on an unparalleled fund of knowledge about the musical theatre and the history of LGBT theatre in America to chronicle Laurents’s importance as a gay playwright writing about gay issues during the twentieth century. He elegantly demonstrates the ways in which Laurents’s writings parallel the momentous changes in the social, cultural, and political status of LGBT people during the period of his long life, from 1917 to 2011.”
Below are some excerpts from the book:
Laurents and Gay History
Though it is ostensibly about anti-Semitism in the military, there is a homoerotic subtext to Arthur Laurents’s first play, Home of the Brave (1945), one of the few plays about soldiers written during World War II. One of Laurents’s first Hollywood assignments was the screenplay for the Alfred Hitchcock film, Rope (1948), an adaptation of the 1929 play by Patrick Hamilton. Based loosely on the famous Leopold-Loeb murder of young Bobby Franks in the 1920s, Rope depicts the cold-blooded murder of a young man by a gay couple. Neither the play nor the film overtly states that the two men are gay, but there are obvious hints and strong echoes of the homosexual relationship of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb. Despite the Production Code’s restrictions on the representation of gay men, Laurents, with director Alfred Hitchcock’s support, wrote as gay a film as could be written in 1947, starring two gay actors, John Dall and Farley Granger (who was Laurents’s lover at the time).
Women, Politics, and Marriage
As Laurents’s work reflects the evolving history of gay men in America from World War II to the present, so it can be seen to trace the history of women during that period. Laurents was not consciously offering a feminist critique of women’s limited roles in the American upper middle class in the second half of the twentieth century, but one can easily read such a critique into his work. The female protagonists of his Broadway plays in the 1950s, Leona in The Time of the Cuckoo and Virginia in A Clearing in the Woods, are both “fancy secretaries” who, given the limitations on women in the workplace at the time, have risen as high as they can in their places of employment. Both are single. Virginia, like many women of her generation, has to project her own ambition onto the men in her life, as the fiercely ambitious Madame Rose in Gypsy projects her ambition onto her children. The questions asked in these plays are: What is the effect on women of limited life choices? What is the role of men in these women’s lives? Can women be complete without a man? In 1960, in Invitation to a March, Laurents created Camilla, a single mother who happily leads her life outside of conventional middle-class values. In the play Camilla is pitted against two unhappy paragons of respectability in a battle for the soul of a young woman who must choose between conventionality and freedom. Most of the plays Laurents wrote between 1973 and 2000 center on prosperous, urban nuclear families, but the focus is often on the wife’s realization that she has the moral authority and that she is free to make choices and assert her will within the marriage.
Anne Brewster: With my book Giving This Country A Memory, I wanted to introduce readers to a range of Aboriginal writers, some of whom they not have heard about. The book has introductory chapters on seven writers, several of whom are well established and have high profiles, such as Doris Pilkington Garimara, Kim Scott and Melissa Lucashenko. It also represents up and coming writers such as Romaine Moreton, Marie Munkara, Jeanine Leane and Alf Taylor. I wanted to include the voices of the Aboriginal writers talking about themselves and their work, so I decided to interview each of them. In this way they have participated in the evolution of the research I have done on their work. I felt this was very important as I wanted to avoid writing about their work as if they were not present in the discussion. I have learned a great deal from my long conversations with these writers who very generously gave of their time to talk to me and I wanted to share this very important knowledge with other people who may not be luck enough to have the opportunity to talk personally with them.
What do you hope your readers take away from your book?
Anne Brewster: I would like them to take a way a sense of the richness and variety of contemporary Aboriginal literature. Writers like Doris Pilkington Garimara talk about their removal from their families as children and the very slow and painful process of reconnecting with their families and healing. Others like Marie Munkara and Alf Taylor have a strong sense of humour which has enabled them to cope with trauma in their lives. All of these writers celebrate the strength and resilience of Aboriginal culture – its spirituality, its profound knowledges and its sovereignty.
What other research do you believe is needed on this topic?
Anne Brewster: The work of all of these writers, especially the emerging writers, warrants further analysis and discussion. It raises many important issues about Australia’s colonial history and about whiteness, for example, as well as issues relating to Aboriginal people and their culture. Alf Taylor is one of the first Aboriginal people to write about the Spanish Benedictine New Norcia Mission in Western Australia just as Marie Munkara has written in her fiction about the Bathurst Island Mission. The poetry and the interviews with of Romaine Moreton and Jeanine Leane give us insight into the histories of their families as well as the issues facing younger Aboriginal people today.
Join Dr. Anne Brewster and Dr. Larissa Behrendt for the book launch at GleeBooks on Saturday (December 5, 2015)!