Colonial Strangers revolutionizes modern British literary studies by showing how our interpretations of the postcolonial must confront World War II and the Holocaust. Phyllis Lassner’s analysis reveals how writers such as Muriel Spark, Olivia Manning, Rumer Godden, Phyllis Bottome, Elspeth Huxley, and Zadie Smith insist that World War II is critical to understanding how and why the British Empire had to end.
Drawing on memoirs, fiction, reportage, and film adaptations, Colonial Strangers explores the critical perspectives of writers who correct prevailing stereotypes of British women as agents of imperialism. They also question their own participation in British claims of moral righteousness and British politics of cultural exploitation. These authors take center stage in debates about connections between the racist ideologies of the Third Reich and the British Empire.
Colonial Strangers reveals how the literary responses of key artists represent not only compelling reading, but also a necessary intervention in colonial and postcolonial debates and the canons of modern British fiction.
Dorothy West is best known as one of the youngest writers involved in the Harlem Renaissance. Subsequently, her work is read as a product of the urban aesthetics of this artistic movement. But West was also intimately rooted in a very different milieu—Oak Bluffs, an exclusive retreat for African Americans on Martha’s Vineyard. She played an integral role in the development and preservation of that community. In the years between publishing her two novels, 1948’s The Living is Easy and the 1995 bestseller The Wedding, she worked as a columnist for the Vineyard Gazette.
Dorothy West’s Paradise captures the scope of the author’s long life and career, reading it alongside the unique cultural geography of Oak Bluffs and its history as an elite African American enclave—a place that West envisioned both as a separatist refuge and as a space for interracial contact. An essential book for both fans of West’s fiction and students of race, class, and American women’s lives, Dorothy West’s Paradise offers an intimate biography of an important author and a privileged glimpse into the society that shaped her work.
Learn how Fran and Frederick Hamerstrom worked to save the greater prairie chicken from extinction in the Wisconsin Historical Society Press’s new book for young readers, "Fran and Frederick Hamerstrom: Wildlife Conservation Pioneers." Fran and Frederick grew up in New England, and married in 1935. They both loved nature and wanted to dedicate their lives to understanding and preserving wildlife. As students of the famous naturalist, Aldo Leopold, they learned about new ways for humans to think about saving land for animals. Fran was a brave, outgoing woman who cared more about interacting with animals than wearing pretty dresses. Frederick was a calm, thoughtful man who loved to study and conduct research. Together, they spent over thirty years mentoring many future scientists, and working to save the greater prairie chicken, and other animals, from extinction. "Fran and Frederick Hamerstrom: Wildlife Conservation Pioneers" is the newest addition to the Society Press’s Badger Biographies Series.
Harlem Renaissance writer Dorothy West led a charmed life in many respects. Born into a distinguished Boston family, she appeared in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, then lived in the Soviet Union with a group that included Langston Hughes, to whom she proposed marriage. She later became friends with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, who encouraged her to finish her second novel, The Wedding, which became the octogenarian author’s first bestseller.
Literary Sisters reveals a different side of West’s personal and professional lives—her struggles for recognition outside of the traditional literary establishment, and her collaborations with talented African American women writers, artists, and performers who faced these same problems. West and her “literary sisters”—women like Zora Neale Hurston and West’s cousin, poet Helene Johnson—created an emotional support network that also aided in promoting, publishing, and performing their respective works. Integrating rare photos, letters, and archival materials from West’s life, Literary Sisters is not only a groundbreaking biography of an increasingly important author but also a vivid portrait of a pivotal moment for African American women in the arts.
Winner of The 2019 Waclaw Lednicki Humanities Award
Screening Auschwitz examines the classic Polish Holocaust film The Last Stage (Ostatni etap), directed by the Auschwitz survivor Wanda Jakubowska (1907–1998). Released in 1948, The Last Stage was a pioneering work and the first narrative film to portray the Nazi concentration and extermination camp complex of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Marek Haltof’s fascinating book offers English-speaking readers a wealth of new materials, mostly from original Polish sources obtained through extensive archival research.
With its powerful dramatization of the camp experience, The Last Stage established several quasi-documentary themes easily discernible in later film narratives of the Shoah: dark, realistic images of the camp, a passionate moral appeal, and clear divisions between victims and perpetrators. Jakubowska’s film introduced images that are now archetypal—for example, morning and evening roll calls on the Appelplatz, the arrival of transport trains at Birkenau, the separation of families upon arrival, and tracking shots over the belongings left behind by those who were gassed. These and other images are taken up by a number of subsequent American films, including George Stevens’s The Diary of Anne Frank (1959), Alan Pakula’s Sophie’s Choice (1982), and Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List (1993).
Haltof discusses the unusual circumstances that surrounded the film's production on location at Auschwitz-Birkenau and summarizes critical debates surrounding the film’s release. The book offers much of interest to film historians and readers interested in the Holocaust.
Despite her strong associations with Massachusetts—her upbringing in Roxbury, her lifelong connection with Martha's Vineyard, and two novels documenting the Great Migration and the rise and decline of Boston's African American community—Dorothy West (1907–1998) is perhaps best known as a member of the Harlem Renaissance. Between 1927 and 1947, West and her cousin, the poet Helene Johnson, lived in New York City where West attended Columbia University, worked as a welfare investigator, wrote for the WPA, traveled to Russia, and established a literary magazine for young black writers. During these years, West and Johnson knew virtually everyone in New York's artistic, intellectual, and political circles. Their friends included Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Carl Van Vechten, Richard Wright, Arna Bontemps, Claude McKay, and many others. West moved easily between the bohemian milieu of her artistic soul mates and the bourgeois, respectable soirees of prominent social and political figures. In this book, Professors Mitchell and Davis provide a carefully researched profile of West and her circle that serves as an introduction to a well-edited, representative collection of her out-of-print, little-known, or unpublished writings, supplemented by many family photographs. The editors document West's "womanist" upbringing and her relationships with her mother, Rachel Benson West, and other strong-minded women, including her longtime companion Marian Minus. The volume includes examples of West's probing social criticism in the form of WPA essays and stories, as well as her interviews with Southern migrants. A centerpiece of the book is her unpublished novella, Where the Wild Grape Grows, which explores with grace and gentle irony the complex relationship of three retired women living on Martha's Vineyard. Several of West's exquisitely observed nature pieces, published over a span of twenty years in the Vineyard Gazette, are also reprinted.