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Fall 2000

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Books

Book Illustrated: Text, Image, and Culture 1770-1930
Gun Women: Firearms and Feminism in Contemporary America
Palestine’s Children: Returning to Haifa and Other Stories by Ghassan Kanafani
Spaces of the Mind: Isamu Noguchi’s Dance Designs


Book Illustrated: Text, Image, and Culture 1770-1930

edited by Catherine J. Golden, Associate Professor of English
Oak Knoll Press, 2000

The essays collected by Catherine Golden for this volume give particular emphasis to the book arts during the first wave of industrialization, when fascination with the visual, the proliferation of images, and technical means of reproduction (e.g., lithography, wood engraving, photography) attained previously unknown heights in Western European culture.

This collection, an outgrowth of the Adler lecture series at Skidmore, includes eight chronologically arranged essays (from Shakespeare to Virginia Woolf) in which leading Romantic and Victorian scholars from the United States and England examine the rich interplay of art with text by analyzing illustrations from novels, plays, poetry, ballets, and children’s books. Book Illustrated’s illustrations—thirteen color and fifty-five black and white—encompass engravings, book covers and jackets, bindings, title pages, prints, and paintings; works by George Cruikshank, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and Aubrey Beardsley accompany several of the essays.

Skidmore contributors to the book include associate professor of English Sarah Webster Goodwin on Romantic ballet, humanities and special collections librarian Ruth Copans on American women illustrators, and president emeritus David Porter on the Hogarth Press. The “prince of caricaturists” Cruikshank is the focus of both Golden’s essay, ’”Cruikshank’s Illustrative Wrinkle in Oliver Twist’s Misrepresentation of Class,” and of Robert Patten’s “The Politics of Humor in George Cruikshank’s Graphic Satire.”

In the introductory essay, Golden writes, “I hope this collection will not only rekindle an examination of the pictorial legacy of the first wave of industrialization but spark further exploration of images and texts in the late-eighteenth- through early-twentieth-century contexts.’”Art and cultural historians, book designers, illustrators, and bibliophiles take note.

Gun Women: Firearms and Feminism in Contemporary America

by Mary Zeiss Stange, Associate Professor of Religion, and Carol K. Oyster
New York University Press, 2000

Women, we are told, should not own guns. Women, we are told, are more likely to be injured by their own guns than to fend off an attack themselves. This “fact” is rooted in a fundamental assumption of female weakness and vulnerability. But why should a woman not be every bit as capable as a man of using a firearm in self-defense?

The reality is that millions of American women—somewhere between 11 million and 17 million—use guns confidently and competently every day. Women are hunting, using firearms in their work as policewomen and in the military, shooting for sport, and arming themselves for personal security in ever-increasing numbers. What motivates women to possess firearms? What is their relationship to their guns? Who exactly are these women? Crucially, can a woman be a gun-owner and a feminist too?

Women’s growing tendency to arm themselves has in recent years been political fodder for both the right and the left. Female gun owners are frequently painted as “trying to be like men” (the conservative perspective) or “capitulating to patriarchal ideas about power” (the liberal critique). Eschewing the polar extremes in the heated debate over gun ownership and gun control, and linking firearms and feminism in novel fashion, Mary Zeiss Stange and Carol Oyster here cut through the rhetoric to paint a precise and unflinching account of America’s armed women. Oyster is a professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse.

Palestine’s Children: Returning to Haifa and Other Stories by Ghassan Kanafani

translated by Barbara Harlow and Karen E. Riley, UWW ’88
Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2000

Ghassan Kanafani (1936-1972) is considered one of the most important Palestinian writers of the generation that followed the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. Politically engagé, he wrote about his people’s experience of loss, shame, and guilt on both the national and personal levels, until his assassination in 1972 in a car-bomb explosion. Although Kanafani’s novels and short stories brought him fame in his homeland, little of his literature has been translated into English. In 1988, Karen Riley chose to translate his 1969 novella “Returning to Haifa” as the final project for her UWW degree in Arabic studies. This collection comprises that novella along with short stories translated by Barbara Harlow.

In Palestine’s Children, each story involves a child—a child who is victimized by political events and circumstances, but who nevertheless participates in the struggle toward a better future. The stories take place between 1936 and 1967, when Palestinian national aspirations were at a high.

In “Returning to Haifa,” the primary action takes place after the end of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, in which Israel captured the West Bank, the Sinai, Gaza, and the Golan Heights. For the first time in twenty years, the borders between Israel and Jordan are reopened, and a Palestinian couple make their way from their West Bank refuge back to Haifa, their former home. Their thoughts are interwoven with memories of the events of April 21, 1948, when they, along with thousands of Haifa’s Palestinian residents, left the city in a panicked exodus as it changed overnight from British to Israeli control. The story begins: “When Said reached the edge of Haifa . . . he felt grief well up inside him. For one minute he was tempted to turn back, and without even looking he knew his wife had begun to cry silently. Then suddenly came the sound of the sea, exactly the way it used to be. Oh no, the memory did not return to him little by little. Instead, it rained down inside his head the way a stone wall collapses, the stones piling up, one upon another. The incidents came to him suddenly and they began to pile up and fill his entire being.”An assessor of Riley’s UWW project called the translation “flawless.”

Spaces of the Mind: Isamu Noguchi’s Dance Designs

By Robert Tracy ’77
Limelight Editions, 2000

In a career that spanned sixty years, the Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988) created such an extraordinary array of work that R. Buckminster Fuller called Noguchi “the comprehensive artist without peer in our times.” Using materials that ranged from stone, marble, wood, and cast iron to wire, rope, burlap, and space itself, Noguchi created carvings, constructions, gardens, architectural projects, playgrounds, and theater designs.

This latest book by Robert Tracy, also the author of Goddess: Martha Graham’s Dancers Remember (1997), celebrates Noguchi’s contributions to dance with photographs and commentary on thirty-seven of his set designs, mainly for Martha Graham but also for George Balanchine, Erick Hawkins, Merce Cunningham, and Ruth Page. Noguchi’s collaboration with Graham lasted for three decades, beginning with the set he created for her 1935 solo dance Frontier. The photographs, mainly by Arnold Eagle, Philipe Halsman, and Max Waldman, dramatically capture the movement and mood of the dances and their interactions with Noguchi’s settings. The commentary—from original and revival program notes, author Tracy, and Noguchi himself—recalls the content of each of the dances and the vision behind each of the sculptor’s creations. —ACH

Alumni authors are urged to send copies of their books, publisher’s notes, or reviews, so that Scope can make note of their work in the “Books” column.

 


© 2000 Skidmore College