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The World of Childhood

by Phillip Witteveen February 11, 2015

“For centuries, in Western civilization,” says Ellen Handler Spitz, “children were not really understood to have an inner life at all. Nobody paid attention really… childhood was seen as a preparatory stage of life for adulthood. Children were dressed as little adults—and what they produced when they were little was of no interest.” Spitz, the author of Illuminating Childhood, was recently featured on CBC Radio One to discuss this: the scientifically under-specified “inner life” of children: the locus of Spitz’ own research in aesthetics and psychology. Dr. Spitz’ work—and the whole radio hour—are really the same response to the puzzling nature of childhood. Psychologically, childhood is […]

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Simi Linton’s ‘Invitation to Dance’ to Screen at Moscow Film Festival

by Phillip Witteveen October 24, 2014

In 1971, Simi Linton was in a car accident. She lost her husband, her best friend, and the use of her legs. From that day on, she was in a new category. Once a dancer, a student, and an activist—now she would have to navigate all these social places as a disabled person, too—and in an America that didn’t quite know what to think of the disabled, culturally, institutionally. Basically, she did. And with so much personal inertia that she began to align a movement advocating for social justice in her wake. Linton holds a Ph.D., has authored several books, and is the […]

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Francesca Royster talks ‘Sounding Like a No-No’ on Left of Black

by Phillip Witteveen April 29, 2013

Author Francesca Royster appeared on Mark Anthony Neal’s Left of Black  to discuss her recent book  Sounding Like a No-No: Queer Sounds and Eccentric Acts in the Post-Soul Era. On the book’s title, which is taken from Grace Jones’ “Walking in the Rain,” Royster said, “‘sounding like a no-no’ was such a great line, because you just got this sense of taboo.”  This sense of taboo is central to the greater cultural investigation on black queerness the book is a part of, Royster said. Royster uses the word “queer” in a broader sense, to open up the conversation about eccentricity. “Eccentric […]

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Francesca Royster: Music, Identity and Soul

by Phillip Witteveen March 4, 2013

Francesca Royster, author of Sounding Like a No-No: Queer Sounds and Eccentric Acts in the Post-Soul Era, was a featured guest on WBEZ Chicago’s ongoing series for Black History Month. She, along with Richard Steele, discussed the era of soul music, a “coming of age through music.” “Music has always been a space to open up imagination and imagine new identities. But it’s also a kind of snap shot of a cultural movement, that moment after the civil rights movement, and the generation after that — where ideas about blackness and sexuality opened up,” Royster said during her appearance on […]

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New author video: Joseph Geha discusses novel ‘Lebanese Blonde’

by Phillip Witteveen January 29, 2013

Joseph Geha sat down with the Press to discuss Lebanese Blonde, his recently published novel about two Lebanese immigrant cousins who concoct a scheme to import a potent strain of hashish into the United States using the family’s mortuary business as a cover. Set in Toledo, Ohio’s “Little Syria” community in 1975-76, Lebanese Blonde tells the story of Aboodeh, a self-styled entrepreneur, and Samir, his young, reluctant accomplice. In the video, Geha, who immigrated to Toledo with his family when he was two years old in 1946, discusses the role that food plays in the immigrant experience, detaching from one’s native […]

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