Monthly Archives: October 2016

Molly Haskell: From Reverence to Rape

October 27, 2016
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Molly Haskell: From Reverence to Rape

In a piece for TCM’s blog Movie Morlocks, critic Susan Doll posted a tribute to the new edition of Molly Haskell’s classic feminist takedown of the female cinematic imaginary, From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women at the Movies (3rd edition; with a new foreword by Manohla Dargis), complete with outstanding captions, such as, ON ROSALIND RUSSELL: “NOT A FAVORITE WITH MEN.” Here’s a choice excerpt, which gives you a taste of Haskell’s contribution to writing film, a mix of ferociously idiosyncratic critical insight and bona fide enthusiasm that ran across taste, time, and genre: TCM viewers who are enjoying “Trailblazing Women” should check out the new, third edition of From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies by film historian Molly Haskell. Haskell, who sometimes cohosts on TCM, covers the silent era to the late 20th century, the same time frame as “Trailblazing Women.” While there is some overlap between the series and the book, Haskell’s focus is on the image of women in the movies, the stars who embodied these images, and the relationship of these images to women in society. Long ago, when I was in film school, I was introduced to feminist film theory, particularly the work . . .

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RIP Mary D. Sheriff (1950–2016)

October 25, 2016
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RIP Mary D. Sheriff (1950–2016)

Mary D. Sheriff, internationally celebrated art historian and educator, died on October 19, 2016, at the age of 66. From Susan Bielstein, executive editor at the University of Chicago Press: We’re sad to report that our beloved author Mary Sheriff died on October 19, 2016, after a short, intense fight with pancreatic cancer. Sheriff was the W.R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Art History in the Art Department of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. A leader in the study of eighteenth-century art, she published three books with the Press: Fragonard: Art and Eroticism (1990), The Exceptional Woman: Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun and the Cultural Politics of Art (1996), and Moved by Love: Inspired Artists and Deviant Women in Eighteenth-Century France (2004). We expect to publish her new book, Enchanted Islands: Picturing the Allure of Conquest in Eighteenth-Century France, and will announce a publication date in due course. From Sheriff’s partner, Keith Luria: specialized in eighteenth-century French art and transformed the field by re-evaluating rococo painting, introducing feminist perspectives, and examining European art in a global context. She published widely on artists such as Fragonard and Vigée-Lebrun, as well as on questions of art and gender. She taught at the . . .

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RIP Jacob Neusner (1932–2016)

October 24, 2016
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RIP Jacob Neusner (1932–2016)

Jacob Neusner (1932-2016), one of the world’s premier scholars of Jewish rabbinical texts, died earlier this month, on October 8, 2016. Neusner was the author or editor of more than 900 books for students, scholars, and general readers in Judaism, comparative religion, and the history and analysis of rabbinic texts, including the landmark, 35-volume The Talmud of the Land of Israel, published by the University of Chicago Press. Among those institutions he taught at during his distinguished academic career were Dartmouth College, Brown University, the University of South Florida, and Bard College. Below follow some remembrances of Nesuner’s life and works. From Aaron Hughes for the American Academy of Religion: Jacob Neusner was born to Samuel and Lee Neusner on July 12, 1932, in West Hartford, Connecticut. His father owned the Connecticut Jewish Ledger, a Jewish weekly that continues to serve the Connecticut region and western Massachusetts. The young Neusner received his first typewriter at age twelve and, by his junior year in high school, could do all the jobs associated with a newspaper. From a young age he could write both quickly and to make deadlines. Neusner grew up attending public school as opposed to Jewish day school, and his values . . .

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Mark Goble on Bill Brown’s Other Things

October 21, 2016
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Mark Goble on Bill Brown’s Other Things

An excerpt from Mark Goble’s review of Bill Brown’s latest take on the literary and humanistic chops of material culture, Other Things, from the most recent issue of Modernism/Modernity: As a series of essays reflecting Brown’s own shifting intellectual commitments and the various objects that have patterned them, Other Things is structurally predisposed toward cases and examples. Every chapter in the book save one is parenthetically named for a writer or artist (from Woolf and Man Ray to Shawn Wong and Spike Lee) whose works occasion Brown’s more sweeping meditations on materiality and more. Yet Brown’s investment in the singular example is no mere consequence of how this book is engineered. He has a very sharp eye for things that can appear wonderfully “obtuse,” and Brown is especially insightful on the lump of glass at the center of Woolf’s “Solid Objects” or Man Ray’s creepy, all-observing metronome “Object to be Destroyed” (decorated with a photographic eye). Brown does brilliant labor excavating the historical situation of the English glass industry after World War One to give a rationale for Woolf’s material motivations, and engages Michael Fried to argue that a difference between “art” and “objecthood” is seriously hard to maintain both within a surrealist tradition, and within a book . . .

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Alice Kaplan on the (titular) history of Camus’s The Stranger

October 19, 2016
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Alice Kaplan on the (titular) history of Camus’s The Stranger

From a recent piece by Alice Kaplan for the Guardian, on the strange history of title decisions behind Albert Camus’s classic existential text, The Stranger, drawn from her recent critical biography of the book: Readers were never informed that the two titles were an accident, and for years, no one has been able to explain why Camus’s L’Étranger is sometimes The Stranger, sometimes The Outsider. And while political questions were not part of the original decision, the titles do resonate differently and lend themselves to conflicting political interpretations. An Algerian critic argued recently, in a review of Sandra Smith’s 2013 translation of L’Étranger, that the title The Outsider is politically scandalous, for it effaces the ambiguity in the French word “étranger” and substitutes a more banal idea of someone being “excluded”. He thought Smith’s 2013 title was new – not realising that the British have used it since 1946. In the end, I prefer The Stranger to The Outsider. Yet Meursault, the narrator of the novel, is not a foreigner; he is a Frenchman in colonial Algiers, a “petit colon”, and his strangeness is more like the strangeness of an outsider than the strangeness of an alien. So I question my own . . .

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RIP David Antin (1932–2016)

October 17, 2016
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RIP David Antin (1932–2016)

The University of Chicago Press published David Antin’s Radical Coherency: Selected Essays on Art and Literature, 1966 to 2005, in 2011. The book collected Antin’s singular talk pieces and lecture-performances, as well as a variety of critical takes on everything from his art world contemporaries to exhumations of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s minor philosophical asides. It was a big deal to me to get to work on the book and to exchange emails with David, and it’s certainly the only piece of marketing copy for which the work triggered my use of the phrase, “trademark antiformalist panache.” I’ll miss David, and talking with David—it was talking, after all, that was truly his medium, made all the more inimitable by the combination of a ceaseless curiosity and real sense of living in (and writing one’s self into) history. That said, rather than the usual series of formal obits (though you can read them here, and here, and also here), here’s a couple of remembrances from Antin’s friends, Charles Bernstein and Marjorie Perloff, another way of paying tribute to and honoring his conversations. From Charles Bernstein, at Jacket2: A great inspiration, radical model, dearest friend, and ever an iconoclast. David Antin was one of the great American . . .

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Letter of Recommendation: The Life of Marshall Hodgson

October 14, 2016
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Letter of Recommendation: The Life of Marshall Hodgson

From a New York Times “Letter of Recommendation” piece on the late Marshall Hodgson (1922–68) and his three-volume collection, The Venture of Islam, by Millions editor Lydia Kiesling: One of these was Marshall Hodgson, a great American scholar of Islam who died in 1968 while jogging on the University of Chicago campus. He was 46, and he left behind a manuscript that would become a magisterial three-volume book, “The Venture of Islam,” published posthumously through the efforts of his widow and colleagues. Before “The Venture,” there was no English-language textbook, no unified history, about the many linked empires that emerged out of the revelation received by the Prophet Muhammad in 610 A.D. Before 1957, when Hodgson founded his yearlong course on Islamic civilizations at Chicago, there was no course like it. Islamic studies in America was an outgrowth of European Orientalist thought, which focused on Arabic language and literature and the core Arab lands of Islam. Persianate and Turkic dynasties were considered backwaters: Persians were important for their pre-Islamic achievements, Ottomans for their role in European diplomatic history. Sufism — the vast mystical current of Islam — was a blip in European and American historiography. A roughly 500-year period was glossed as a time . . .

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Virginia Dwan and Dwan Gallery

October 12, 2016
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Virginia Dwan and Dwan Gallery

Philip Kennicott, writing for the Washington Post, where he serves as art and architecture critic, recently reviewed Los Angeles to New York: Dwan Gallery, 1959-1971, an exhibition curated by James Meyer at the National Gallery of Art, in Washington, DC: The art galleries operated by Virginia Dwan from 1959 to 1971 were no ordinary white boxes selling decorative daubing to rich people. And the promise of some 250 works from Dwan’s personal collection to the National Gallery of Art is no ordinary gift. She played an instrumental role in the development of postwar American art, championing pop art, minimalism, ­language-based and conceptual work, and land art. She sponsored “The Lightning Field” by Walter De Maria and “Spiral Jetty” by Robert Smithson and paid for the land on which Michael Heizer carved his monumental earth work “Double Negative.” Fortunately, the exhibition surveying this gift is not the usual celebratory overview of a rich person’s trophies, either. “Los Angeles to New York: Dwan Gallery, 1959-1971” allows visitors to follow the intellectual path Dwan pursued during more than a decade of rapid change in American culture. In dialogue with the artists she championed, Dwan eventually talked herself out of the gallery business altogether, as the . . .

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Sara Goldrick-Rab on The Daily Show and NPR’s Marketplace

October 10, 2016
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Sara Goldrick-Rab on The Daily Show and NPR’s Marketplace

  Sara Goldrick-Rab really made a mark on the past two weeks. She started off on September 27th with a sit-down interview at The Daily Show with host Trevor Noah about the arguments central to her book Paying the Price—that a combination of escalating college costs and neoliberal higher education policies have made the dream of a college education all but out of reach for most Americans—which ended in Noah exclaiming, “Honestly one of the most exciting books I’ve read, because as I’ve said you’ve got solutions. It’s a manual that I’d recommend to anyone out there, if you’re a parent, if you’re a teacher, if you’re a student.” See video of their interview below (if there’s a glitch, head here to watch in full): Goldrick-Rab followed up by headlining a segment on NPR’s Marketplace, in collaboration with PBS’s Frontline and NewsHour, entitled “When Going to College Becomes a Financial Risk.” The radio story is part of a larger series on the American economy,“How the Deck Is Stacked,” and goes on to chronicle the lives of some forty-two million Americans burdened by student loan debt, just one segment of citizens in economic crisis. Initially concentrating on debt accrued from a proliferation of for-profit institutions, “When Going to . . .

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An excerpt from Mary Cappello’s Life Breaks In

October 6, 2016
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An excerpt from Mary Cappello’s Life Breaks In

From Mary Cappello’s Life Breaks In: A Mood Almanack, as excerpted at Berfrois: To have such mood-cloud experiences or vice versa is one thing; to make art from such encounters quite another. “We are the first generation to see the clouds from both sides,” Saul Bellow’s narrator remarks in his novel, Henderson the Rain King, “First people dreamed upward. Now they dream both upward and downward. This is bound to change something, somewhere.” Henderson is a many-times-married millionaire who has this thought as he’s purveying the clouds from the vantage point of an airplane on an ostensible pleasure trip: en route from the United States to Africa, he’s accompanying friends who are traveling there on their honeymoon. A kind of lost soul who feels guilty about his wealth and insulated from the truth of things, he wanders in search of a purpose trying to get in touch with the world—for example, getting really earthy, he tries pig farming, but that fails. “I like the idea of clouds from both sides and some other things from both sides,” singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell says after offering this préçis of Bellow’s character in her introduction to her 1967 performance of the song that she composed . . .

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