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Summer 2001

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Books

Reforming Fictions: Native, African, and Jewish American Women’s Fiction and Journalism in the Progressive Era
The Scene of My Selves: New Work on New York School Poets
The Hindenburg Crashes Nightly
Native America Today: A Guide to Community Politics and Culture
Au Pairing Up!
Silver Novelties in the Gilded Age: 1870-1910
Productions of the Irish Theatre Movement, 1899-1916; A Checklist
Memories of an Immigration: Testimonies of Dominican Immigrant Children


Reforming Fictions: Native, African, and Jewish American Women’s Fiction and Journalism in the Progressive Era

by Carol J. Batker, Visiting Associate Professor of English
Columbia University Press, 2000

     As Native, African, and Jewish American women gained access to education, developed women’s clubs, and joined political organizations, some of them began writing to reform the nation, engaging themselves politically and creating a cross-cultural dialogue between journalism and fiction. Early in this century, writers such as Zitkala-Sa, Mourning Dove, Alice Dunbar-Nelson, and Anzia Yezierska developed their writing careers through affiliations with reform organizations. They worked for Pan-Indianism, racial uplift, immigrant aid, or social welfare. Carol Batker explores the impact of their journalism and political work on their fiction. She demonstrates points of contact among these women that suggest mutual influence and conversations across racial and ethnic lines, revealing important historical antecedents to contemporary debates about multiculturalism in America.

The Scene of My Selves: New Work on New York School Poets

edited by Terence Diggory, Professor of English, and Stephen Paul Miller
National Poetry Foundation, 2000

     John Ashbery, Frank O’Hara, Barbara Guest, Kenneth Koch, and James Schuyler—poets of the 1950s and all members of the New York School—are the focus of this book’s sixteen critical essays. By seeing the five poets as members of a close-knit community, the essays provide a new look at the poets’ work and how it was affected by the cultural milieu in which they lived. O’Hara’s work, for example, is placed in such new contexts as racial relations, popular culture, and the cold war.

     Editor Terence Diggory, Skidmore’s Courtney and Steven Ross Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies, wrote the introductory essay entitled “Community ‘Intimate’ or ‘Inoperative’: New York School Poets and Politics from Paul Goodman to Jean-Luc Nancy.”

     The volume reproduces a number of prints by Grace Hartigan from Skidmore’s permanent art collection, including “Dido to Aeneas” (1962-66) on the cover. Hartigan, a collaborator and friend of Frank O’Hara, was the subject of Diggory’s 1993 Moseley Faculty Research Lecture.

The Hindenburg Crashes Nightly

by Greg Hrbek, Writer-in-Residence
HarperTrade, 2000

     Published by Bard/Avon in 1999, Greg Hrbek’s first novel, The Hindenburg Crashes Nightly, was reissued in paperback last summer. While working on the novel Hrbek, who joins the Skidmore English department this fall, was awarded the James Jones Literary Society’s First Novel Fellowship Award in 1996. The fellowship program seeks to honor “the spirit of unblinking honesty, determination, and insight into modern culture exemplified by the author of From Here To Eternity.”

     When Hindenburg was first published, a reviewer from the San Francisco Chronicle described it as “a coming-of-age story through a very dark glass. Stylistically dazzling and strong in narrative flow, the book is not for those with weak stomachs. . . . Just when the reader begins to hope that someone will do the right thing the story becomes even more bleak.”

Native America Today: A Guide to Community Politics and Culture

by Barry M. Pritzker, Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations
ABC-CLIO, 1999

     Focusing on reservation-based political, social, economic, and cultural concerns, Barry Pritzker provides insight into the contemporary lives of Indians and Inuit living in primarily rural communities. Today’s diverse Native American communities, he writes, embrace wealth and poverty, traditionalism and cutting-edge modernity, ongoing struggle and hard-won success.

     Following thirteen mini-chapters on topics such as crafts and media, the major section of the guide is devoted to profiles of tribes and tribal groups—from Apache to Zuni—including a brief history of each, population and geographic data, form of government, and notable leaders.

     The author has taken a research rather than journalistic approach to his subject, relying almost exclusively on the written word. And, since he is writing about cultures without a strong written tradition, he obtained much of his information from the Internet, where he perused the burgeoning number of Native American Web sites. Underlying the entire project, he says, are his own political and cultural biases as a middle-class non-native man.

Au Pairing Up!

by Ruth Kawecki Libermann ’72
ASI, 2000

     Subtitled “How to Maximize the Rewards and Minimize the Learning Curves of America’s Best Childcare Solution,” this how-to manual/CD-ROM package is the result of the two-parent, two-child Liebermann family’s experience with twenty au pairs over a sixteen-year period. In it, Ruth Liebermann suggests ways to make this live-in child-care arrangement productive and successful for the visiting au pair and the host family alike.

     Convinced that living with an au pair (from the French meaning “on a par with the rest of the family”) is a win-win situation, she deals directly with the three issues that can be most problematic: communication, privacy, and control. And she repeatedly urges everyone involved—adults, kids, and the au pair—to follow her two golden rules: work hard to make it work, and deal with things as they arise. The major section of Au Pairing Up! is Liebermann’s “standard operating procedure” manual, which includes a template on the CD-ROM for customizing the reader’s own SOP.

Silver Novelties in the Gilded Age: 1870-1910

by Deborah Crosby ’74
Schiffer Publishing Ltd, 2000

     Highly decorative, ostensibly functional, these late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century objects—referred to as novelties at the time—reflect the mores of the rising entrepreneurial class as well as the evolving technology that allowed such items to be produced. The endearing and often whimsical pieces shown in 600 color photos include silver accoutrements for entertaining, writing, sewing, the toilette, afternoon tea, smoking, amusing and feeding infants, and much more.

     In addition to historical background, Deborah Crosby includes valuable information on manufacturing techniques and marks. With values provided in the captions and an extensive bibliography, this book is for new and experienced collectors of figural silver novelties. Crosby, a high-school art teacher in Chappaqua, N.Y., is also the author of Victorian Pencils: Tools to Jewels.

Productions of the Irish Theatre Movement, 1899-1916; A Checklist

compiled by Nelson O’Ceallaigh Ritschel ’81
Greenwood Press, 2001

     Nelson Ritschel has compiled an all-inclusive list of premieres and revivals of Irish theater productions from the turn of the twentieth century through the April 1916 Easter Rising, when British martial law significantly altered the course of Irish drama. During that period Dublin and other Irish urban centers were said to be “drama-mad,” and one scholar believes the Irish Theatre Movement comes close to rivaling that of Elizabethan-Jacobean England.

     According to one reviewer, “This new record fundamentally alters our sense of who were the agents of cultural change, where they staged dramas, and how often particular works were revived. The result is a newly diversified sense of the Irish Literary Renaissance in a reference work that will be essential for all scholars of the place and period.” In providing entries for 1,163 productions, “Ritschel gives us the valleys as well as the peaks . . . long-forgotten plays as well as the canonical ones of Synge, Gregory, and Yeats.”

     Ritschel, who holds a Ph.D. in theater history from Brown University, teaches at Stonehill College.

Memories of an Immigration: Testimonies of Dominican Immigrant Children

compiled by Mary Ely Peña-Gratereaux edited and translated by Juleyka Lantigua ’96
Ediciones Alcance 2001

     This slim paperback, with personal essays in Spanish on the verso pages and the translated versions opposite them, tells the story of the children of the Dominican diaspora. The unrehearsed candidness of their thoughts, feelings, and memories has been preserved in Juleyka Lantigua’s translations. Well suited for the task, Lantigua herself emigrated from the Dominican Republic was she was ten.

     In 1987 Mary Ely Peña-Gratereaux, a family and community mediator in the Washington Heights section of upper Manhattan, compiled these essays from writing workshops she held for middle- and high- school students who were recent arrivals to the United States and spoke only Spanish. Her reason for publishing these essays, she says, is to raise the awareness of the adults who work with immigrant children and adolescents, many of whom have emigrated without their parents. —ACH

 


© 2001 Skidmore College