Fag Rag and Gay Radicalism in the 1970s

Using primary sources from Popular Culture in Britain and America, 1950-1975 - an Adam Matthew Digital Collection

In the late 1960s and 1970s the radical gay press publications in the United States pushed the boundaries of acceptable journalism. Writing about controversial topics such as the age of consent, incest, bestiality and prostitution, the radical gay press not only horrified heterosexual society, but also alienated vast sections of the gay community. Continue reading

Book Review: Noise Uprising by Michael Denning

The State of the Discipline Series: Part I

As Benedict Anderson’s concept of nationalism relies on the omnipresence of ‘print capitalism’, so Michael Denning here argues that decolonisation depended on an era of ‘sound capitalism’ – a new, urban, plebeian music that circled the world. In this sense, then, while there is no clear moment when the ear was ‘decolonised’, the battle over sound and music was central to the struggle over colonialism. Continue reading

Zora Neale Hurston: Life and Works

A series to commemorate the historic publication of 'Barracoon: the Story of the Last Black Cargo' (Harper Collins, 2018)

“Of all the millions transported from Africa to the Americas, only one man is left. The only man on earth who has in his heart the memory of his African home; the horrors of a slave raid; the barracoon; the Lenten tones of slavery; and who has 67 years of freedom in a foreign land behind him.” Continue reading

Book Review: The Jolly Corner and Other Tales by Henry James and N.H. Reeve

The word perhaps most associated with Henry James is ‘difficult’. James, ‘The Master’, wrote weighty tomes—masterpieces of literature—fraught with long-winded, circumlocutory, or rather uniquely expressive, sentences. He is generally considered to be among the greatest novelists in the English language. The Cambridge Edition of the Complete Fiction of Henry James aims to provide, for the first time, a full scholarly edition of the novels and tales of this 20th Century American writer. Continue reading

Book Review: American Niceness: A Cultural History by Carrie Tirado Bramen

When the current U.S. president, as Bramen puts it in her wide-ranging cultural study, ‘epitomizes the bombastic chauvinism of the Ugly American’ (1), the concept of American niceness sounds at best like an out-dated but innocuous cliché and, at worst, like a dangerous fiction. As American Niceness sets out to prove, the trope of the kind and generous American has yet to fall out of fashion and the role that it has played in disguising a long history of ugly violence might account for its unstinting survival. Continue reading

The Stettheimer Dollhouse: A Life and Salon in Miniature

Winner of the BAAS Postgraduate Essay Prize

For twenty years, the Stettheimer salon (1915-1935) reigned as one of the central cultural hubs of 20th-century New York. Led by sisters Florine, Ettie, and Carrie, the salon cultivated an influential network of modernist artists, writers, and musicians, which would inspire and facilitate most of the sisters’ creative endeavours, including Carrie’s dollhouse replica of the salon: the Stettheimer dollhouse. An amalgamation of both Stettheimer salon locations, the dollhouse functions as a microcosm of the Stettheimer salon. Notable salon guests contributed a number of miniature paintings and sculptures to the dollhouse, whilst also providing Carrie with encouragement to persevere with the project. Continue reading

‘Can the Subaltern Play?’ Jazz as Voice in Boston, Massachusetts circa 1910 – 1949

One of the most interesting developments in contemporary subaltern studies has been its growing engagement with culture, particularly music. In 1988, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, in the context of postcolonial research, asked, ‘Can the Subaltern Speak?’ which, through its focus on agency, inspired greater inclusiveness and self-critical research on the other, life on the margins, and unheard peoples. Since then, many scholars have engaged with the political consequences of Spivak’s question and used her essay as inspiration. Continue reading

Overcoming Postmodernism

David Foster Wallace and a new Writing of Honesty

The end of postmodernism? Jesús Bolaño Quintero explores David Foster Wallace’s writing, searching for a new form of honesty in American literature after the age of irony. Continue reading

Book Review: Whiteness on the Border: Mapping the U.S. Racial Imagination in Brown and White by Lee Bebout

The work of Arizona State Associate Professor, Lee Bebout, in Whiteness on the Border is certainly topical. To date, the current U.S. administration plans to build a multi-billion-dollar border wall between Mexico and the U.S., solidifying a line in the sand across which ‘Mexican chaos south of the border must not cross’ (63). Those Americans supporting such a project are likely influenced to varying degrees by the very stereotypes about which Bebout writes. He suggests that theirs ‘is a fear not of military invasion per se but of cultural and biological influence and takeover’ (69). Continue reading

‘See America First’: International Expositions, Nationalism, and Local Competition

Using primary sources from ‘World's Fairs’ - an Adam Matthew collection

Enumerating the reasons why San Francisco rather than New Orleans should receive federal sanctioning for the 1915 exposition celebrating the completion of the Panama Canal, this illustrated pamphlet urged readers to acquaint themselves with the wonders of the Pacific Coast and to “See America First”. As the first global gatherings of mass audiences, expositions – or world’s fairs – assembled the world in a single site. Continue reading