Literary Criticism/Cultural Studies

Natasha Sajé, “In Praise of Dispraise”

by Meredith Kahn August 7, 2014
Cover of Natasha Saje's Windows and Doors

Natasha Sajé, author of Windows and Doors: A Poet Reads Literary Theory, was recently featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education‘s blog The Conversation on the importance of critique: When creative writers are offered only praise, including the default praise of publication, they aren’t pushed to improve. By contrast, at a toastmasters’ meeting, the audience gives feedback on both argument and delivery. Similarly, a scholar’s argument and its assumptions would be rigorously questioned by more than one person due to the critical response built into both scholarly-conference presentations and peer-reviewed publication. Sajé’s nine essays in Windows and Doors cover foundational topics for creative […]

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Ellen Handler Spitz to speak on the Nature of Translation

by Phillip Witteveen July 21, 2014

On the first two days of August, the Austen Riggs Center will be hosting its annual Creativity Seminar. This year, Ellen Handler Spitz will be holding court, directing the conference, and bringing her experience as an aesthetician and student of psychoanalysis to a re-evaluation of the nature of translation. “Translation,” is the conference’s theme, and what for two days the attendees will be tweaking and re-adjusting their shared concept of. As an engine of description describing itself, the conference released a sound-byte, stating their intentions: “to stimulate our use of these ideas in our various clinical, educational, and other settings.” […]

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Daniel Stein Explores Jazz as Cold War Diplomacy

by Phillip Witteveen July 11, 2014

“Studies of the jazz tours sponsored by the American State Department have reconstructed moments of resistance,” begins Daniel Stein in a sentence that puts landing gear down on “largely unexplored territory.” That territory is in the Honalee of convening spaces where Cold War jazz, race relations and international relations intercede in tectonic symphony. Stein, whose work on Louis Armstrong has already coalesced at least once into Music is My Life, takes the space afforded to him in Americana: The Journal of American Popular Culture, to tease apart a lesser known fringe of his research interest. A marginal inclusion in either […]

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Poet Allen Grossman has died

by Phillip Witteveen June 30, 2014

Allen Grossman, cherished poet and teacher of poets, died this past Friday at age 82 due to “complications from Alzheimer’s.” He was held in high regard by those few who knew him: his students and others in a small community of like-minded people. Authoring, or anthologized in over 20 publications, Grossman’s poetry had many tributaries, taking from Stevens, Lowell, Blake, Auden, Descartes, and others, but his voice was distinctly his own, and of course, distinctly American. His writing was not only in the company of great artists before him, and also in the recognition of those alongside, as the winner of […]

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Craig Maki talks ‘Detroit Country Music’ on Stateside

by Phillip Witteveen June 30, 2014

On Michigan Public Radio, Detroit Country Music co-author Craig Maki recently exhibited Detroit’s lesser-known country and bluegrass roots. Stemming from Appalachia to the West, intranational immigration to Southeast Michigan brought with it the blues-infused soul of  “the end of the 19th century cowboy experience.” Lured to Detroit “not only at the invitation of the automakers, but also family members would call their cousins or their in-laws to come up and join them,” a migrated, country culture made a kind of tensile contact with our more Northern sensibilities. Artists like the York Brothers re-imagined a Michigan of “Hamtramck Mama,” a single which was banned by that eponymous city’s mayor, […]

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