Category: Books

Eugene O’Neill: A Life in Four Acts

Eugene O'NeillFour seems to be Eugene O’Neill’s lucky number. He was the recipient of four Pulitzer Prizes for Drama, the most won by any single playwright. His most famous play, Long Day’s Journey Into Night, was written in four acts. Robert Dowling’s new biography Eugene O’Neill: A Life in Four Acts, forthcoming this October continues that theme, highlighting how the stories he told through his plays interweave with his life, divided out into four episodes. We sat down with Dowling to talk about writing the biography of such an immense figure in American theater.

Yale University Press: You have long been a fan of O’Neill’s work, but what prompted you to write a book about his life?

Robert M. Dowling: In the final session of the first O’Neill seminar I taught, I asked my students, “Which plays did you enjoy the most?” Without missing a beat, one raised his hand and said that O’Neill’s life was his greatest play. Many others nodded in agreement. That moment planted the seed for this book. It turns out that the dramatic structure of O’Neill’s life uncannily matches that of his best plays. And, even more fascinating for a biographer, nearly every fictional story O’Neill told interweaves with actual stories from his own life.

YUP: O’Neill won the Nobel Prize for Literature—the only American playwright to do so. How is his literary achievement viewed today, some 60 years after his death?

RMD: O’Neill also won four Pulitzers, yet he probably received more bad reviews than any other major American author. However, having scrutinized virtually every review of his premieres and books, I can say that even his so-called clunkers were still credited with breakthroughs that offered something unique, something never before attempted on the American stage. O’Neill is enjoying a new “renaissance,” with dozens of revivals over the past decade. American and international audiences alike show an unquenchable desire for his plays, and there’s no end in sight for this playwright’s potential to speak to contemporary audiences as he once spoke to his own.

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What SUP From Your Favorite University Presses, August 22, 2014

What Sup from your favorite University PressesWelcome to our weekly roundup of news from university presses! Once again, there is a lot to share this week from our fellow academic publishing houses and much to learn on What SUP at the social university presses. This week, we explore several facets of history, from the light-hearted to the sobering: romance strategies, economics, warfare, and racial violence. What did you read this week?

The University of Chicago Press examines a topic that hits close to home, “The State of the University Press.”

Columbia University featured a series of posts on  The Kenneth J. Arrow Lecture Series this week. They offered a chance to win a copy of the first three books in the series and shared several excerpts to help you brush up on the latest economic theory.

John’s Hopkins University Press explained how linen armor can stop an arrow in a guest post by Scott Bartell, author of Reconstructing Ancient Linen Body Armor. Bartell risked his own flesh to test the ancient Greek and Roman warrior’s version of Kevlar.

Harvard University Press offered a drawing lesson from William Kentridge, an artist of many mediums whose stop-motion charcoal drawing animations gained him international renown.

Louisiana State University Press shared a Thoreau-esque description of a Louisiana summer day – something to savor here in New Haven as fall rapidly heads our way.

University of Minnesota Press launched a new weekly blog series from comedian Lorna Landvik. In this fist installment Landvik wonders if being the youngest child made her funnier.

MIT Press spoke with Margaret Murray, author of Women Becoming Mathematicians, on the impact that the first female winner of the Fields medal will have.

NYU Press reflected on the disturbing events in Ferguson and the history of racial tension and state-sanctioned violence in St. Louis.

Oxford University Press asks if we are “too ‘smart’ to understand how we see?”

Stanford University Press shares New York  Sephardi-Ashkenazi Jewish dating advice from 1916.

Marx, Lenin, and the Soviet Theater

Laurence Senelick—

The Soviet Theater Edited by Laurence Senelick and Sergei OstrovskyOnly in societies where art and literature are taken so seriously are they regarded as potent and dangerous. The Soviet conviction that culture matters was evident in the attention paid to even minor details of theatrical activity by the highest levels of the state bureaucracy. Unilateral decisions by theater staff were out of the question: every measure taken had to be scrutinized, discussed, and approved, starting with the theater’s Party committee and moving up through various censorship bodies before reaching the Politburo or the Central Committee.

Marx had held that in the communist utopia, artists as a separate caste would cease to exist. Conditions would be such that everyone would be free to be an artist: it was a world in which all workers were Sunday painters, poets, or actors. Lenin, more pragmatically and, perhaps, more cynically, did not trust to the organic evolution of this condition. The proletariat needed guidance by an intellectual elite. As early as his pamphlet What Is to Be Done (1902), he had stated that the economic struggle can “generate only a trade-union consciousness” in reforming existing society. To radicalize the movement and to provide a “revolutionary consciousness” that could create a new society, there needed to be a “vanguard party” of full-time “professionals” “from without” that would lead the proletariat to this end. True revolution required the “profound scientific knowledge … born in the brains” of Marxists sprung from the “bourgeois intelligentsia” (Lenin’s emphasis).

So, from the very outset of the Revolution, these two concepts were set on the road to a head-on collision. Lenin and his chief deputy in the art world, Lunacharsky, maintained the importance of the high culture of the past and the value of the bourgeois intelligentsia in preserving it until such time as the proletariat was mature enough (and socialist enough) to take over. Those further to the Left took the position that art had to be made by and for the proletariat and that all vestiges of bourgeois culture should be extirpated. Expediency and maximalism were at loggerheads. Neither side had a clear victory. At the same time, when Stalin eliminated that stalwart of the utopian position the Proletkul’t and repudiated the policy of “proletarianization” of the culture, he was also calling for writers to be “engineers of the soul” by submerging their need for individual expression in service to a greater cause. Both the bourgeois intellectual and the proletarian amateur were transformed into cogs in the machine for perfecting socialism. Creative activities, to be orthodox, had to contribute to building that movement; the best way to take part in the struggle was to join the Communist Party and trumpet its policies.

Moscow Art Theater
Moscow Art Theater, Fyodor Schechtel, 1902 via Wikimedia Commons

Subsuming all artistic endeavor into one giant purpose had been stipulated in another of Lenin’s statements: “In the Soviet Workers’ and Peasants’ Republic, every educational endeavor, both in politics and in education generally—and in art particularly—must be permeated with the spirit of the proletariat’s class struggle for successfully accomplishing the aims of its dictatorship.”2 The theater, of all the arts the one that speaks most immediately to the public, therefore required intense supervision and repression. The reactions of spectators had to be foreseen and regimented so that the correct political lesson could be learned. Paradoxically, the twentieth-century Russian theater has long been considered, and with some justice, a cornucopia of invention, innovation, and unbridled creativity. The names Stanislavsky, Meyerhold, Mayakovsky, Tairov, Eisenstein, Bulgakov, Okhlopkov, Éfros, and Lyubimov are bywords for theatrical brilliance. Nevertheless, every action in the theater between 1917 and 1992, whether traditional or experimental, Party dictated or dissenting, amateur or professional, was taken in reaction to a political event, decree, or atmosphere. Unlike a painter who might hide his most personal creations in the cellar, showing them only to trustworthy visitors, the theater artist had to work out in the open. That so many extraordinary accomplishments saw the light of day is all the more remarkable given the obstacle course set in their path.

Lenin grew irritated by theater that seemed to shirk its civic responsibility; he blamed both the bourgeois Art Theater for wasting its talents on such sentimental trash as Cricket on the Hearth and the futurists for perversion and obscurantism. Such “deviations” had to be brought into line. In 1919 a decree was enacted to “unite the theatrical field,” and a Central Theatrical Committee was created as part of the People’s Commissariat of Enlightenment. This was part of a general trend as the Soviet government began to centralize, indeed, to overcentralize, every aspect of society, including the realms of art and culture. Political ideology became the touchstone of worth. Artists were refashioned as “cultural workers” and, as individuals, had to be subordinated to the collective. Companies were given more importance than stars, and the greatest merit was attached to works that furthered the social struggle. Ideology trumped aesthetics in matters of art.

Excerpted from The Soviet Theater: A Documentary History.

Copyright © 2014 by Yale University. All rights reserved.

Laurence Senelick is Fletcher Professor of Drama at Tufts University and a world-renowned scholar of Russian theater. His latest book, edited with Sergei Ostrovsky, is The Soviet Theater.

2 Vladimir Lenin, draft of resolution “O proletarskoy kul’ture” [On proletarian culture], in Sochineniya [Works] (Moscow: Gos. Izd-vo, 1926–27), 14:409.

What can the Nobelman case tell us about the next financial crisis?

Other People's Houses: How Decades of Bailouts, Captive Regulators, and Toxic Bankers Made Home Mortgages a Thrilling Business

To address the 2008 financial crisis, congress passed the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to bailout out the banks and the federal government committed trillions of dollars to save the entire system. Fed chairman Ben Bernanke defended the massive government intervention to rescue the banks.  He said, “it wasn’t to help the big firms that we intervened. . . . When the elephant falls down, all the grass gets crushed as well.” Jennifer Taub, author of Other People’s Houses, argues that the subsequent Dodd-Frank reform legislation was unsuccessful in addressing the underlying causes of the financial crisis. In drawing connections between the Savings and Loan crisis of the 1980′s, she warns that the pattern will continue and we will be faced with yet another financial crisis that will disproportionately affect lower income individuals.

“Taub’s beginning is a surprise: A 1993 Supreme Court decision about how bankruptcy law applies to mortgages.”—Pat Regnier, Money Magazine

Jennifer Taub opens Other People’s Houses with the story of Harriet and Leonard Nobelman. Taub uses their supreme court case as a starting point to understanding the current financial crisis. She makes a compelling argument for action against these “too big to fail” banks. Learn about how the story of the Nobelmans mortgage and bankruptcy still affects homeowners today in the video below.

For further reading on the subject, our online Q&A with Jennifer Taub will tell you everything you need to know about the housing market collapse.

Angry Birds: Russian Censorship of the Arts

Janice Ross—

“Ballerinas dance anti-Putin Swan Lake in Odessa.”  The headline sounds like a set-up for a sketch comedy routine but it was deadly earnest. This past May, four Ukranian ballerinas donned tutus and pointe shoes and interlaced arms to dance the four little swans quartet from Swan Lake as an act of protest against Russian president Vladimir Putin.

“We are here to send a message that by unleashing aggression against Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has made a fatal mistake,” regional lawmaker Oleksiy Honcharenko told Ukrainian television cameras when introducing the Swan Lake excerpt. “Today Odessa, as a cultural capital, performs for him this portentous composition.”

Staged outdoors, and with a military tank as the backdrop, the choice of Swan Lake was a deliberately satiric nod by the Ukranians to the Soviet-era tradition of televising the ballet Swan Lake to signal a change in the country’s leadership. In 1982, 1984, 1985, and 1991 the announcement of the deaths of Leonid Brezhnev, then Yuri Andropov, Konstantin Chernenko, and, finally, the failed coup against Mikhail Gorbachev,were all heralded by official silence and a TV broadcast—Swan Lake in its full-length, four-act, three-hour expanse, preempting all regular programming.

This pairing of Russian ballet classicism with Soviet power shifts through TV broadcasts of Swan Lake at crisis points may seem puzzling to outsiders. However, those who experienced it within the Soviet system say it rapidly came to trigger just what it was supposedly intended to defuse—heightened anxiety about an imminent political shift and the awareness that someone (or something) had died:

When seasoned lawmaker Sergey Filatov, a leader of a group defending the Russian White House from the August 1991 anti-perestroika coup, turned on the TV while relaxing at the southern resort of Zheleznovodsk on August 19, 1991 he recounts his rising anxiety: “[I] saw the swans dancing. For five minutes, ten minutes, for an hour. Then I realized that something had happened because we learned to read between the lines in Soviet times,” he said.[i] Those looping Swans made Filatov jump on the next plane to Moscow where indeed an anti-perestroika coup by Communist Party hardliners was in progress.

Russian censorship may be considered a vestige of the Soviet years and its use of a ballet to portend traumatic events may be dated, but this summer, not too long after the Ukranian Swan Lake protest, these practices came roaring back.

Last year Putin had banned the use of curse words in Russian media—primarily words describing male and female reproductive organs, copulation, and “women of loose morals” according to the BBC. On July1, new prohibitions were signed into law by Putin, censoring the use of curse words in the arts and restricting the freedom of speech, artistic expression and criticism of the Russian government. These newest censorship laws, in targeting artists, carry a particular chill.

The prohibitions were conceived in the shadow of the 2012 arrest of the punk protest group, Pussy Riot, whose members were incarcerated after they performed a song in Moscow’s main cathedral that was considered offensive.  Affecting books, films, music, theatre productions among other art forms, the new law punishes any artist or cultural institution that uses curse words with fines of $70 and $1400 respectively.

Dating from the Russian Revolution, the political force of the arts in Russia has been viewed by leadership as both symbolic and deeply practical. Through the reign of Stalin and into the present moment the arts, and particularly time-based art like film, theatre and dance, were considered important mediums of ideological persuasion.

Swan Lake was used as hedge against saying anything in a time of political emergency, but to the astute dance observer, Swan Lake actually did offer an explanation. Through the medium of dance a vision of idealized nationalism can be performed – a trigger for sentiments of kinship at the inherent “Russianness” of these bodies on that stage, in those formations. There are few stronger visceral images of social harmony on stage than an ensemble of bodies rehearsed into that tight unison of the corps de ballet and few more seductive images for the spectator that prompt the illusion of vicarious participation, than the assembly and dispersing of circles/lines and diagonals of identically costumed women in swan feathers. It is like some primordial flock to which we all secretly yearn to belong.

This rising censorship against the arts in Russia however, suggests artists there may do well to revisit the strategies that enabled their artistic predecessors to survive and make art under totalitarian rule in the previous century as they ponder the growing shadows.


Janice Ross, Professor of Theatre and Performance Studies at Stanford University, is the  author of Like A Bomb Going Off: Leonid Yakobson and Ballet as Resistance in Soviet Russia, (January 2015), Yale University Press.

[i] Bratersky, A. (2011). Yeltsin Ally Saw ‘Swan Lake’ as Call to Arms. Moscow Times. Moscow, August 19. P. 5

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons.

What SUP From Your Favorite University Presses, August 15, 2014

sup-300x209Welcome to our weekly roundup of news from university presses! Once again, there is a lot to share this week from our fellow academic publishing houses and much to learn on What SUP at the social university presses. This week, we stop meddling, participate in citizen science, and evaluate research on inequality. What did you read this week?

Columbia University Press asks why Roberto Bolaño’s novels, especially The Savage Detectives and 2666, were so widely read and so well regarded in the United States. Chris Andrews, author of Roberto Bolaño’s Fiction, gives a brief history of the writer’s reception and lists seven possible reasons for his popularity.

New York University Press celebrates the end of summer with a giveaway of Books That Cook, a collection of American literature written about food and organized like a cookbook. It includes pieces by Maya Angelou, Sherman Alexie, and Nora Ephron, among many others.

Indiana University Press encourages everyone to mind their own business with the latest episode of the Press’s podcast. John Lachs discusses his book, Meddling, and distinguishes between helping people and intruding on their private lives and decisions.

Johns Hopkins University Press considers reactions to neoliberalism in Central America with a guest post by Paul Almeida. In his books, Waves of Protest and Mobilizing Democracy, he focuses on economic conflicts in El Salvador with attention to Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and other countries as well.

Temple University Press tells the life story of Albert M. Greenfield, a Jewish immigrant who shook up business practices in the 1920s and ’30s. In an interview, Dan Rottenberg discusses The Outsider, his book about Greenfield, and the challenge of separating fact from myth when writing about a man who described himself in many different ways at different times.

Oregon State University Press explores the new and interrelated ways policy makers, professional researchers, and enthusiastic amateurs engage with science. Sharman Apt Russell, author of Diary of a Citizen Scientist, shares her reflections on the first national conference for citizen science and mentions some of the ongoing projects in which she and others participate.

Oxford University Press argues that laughter and aggression might have more in common than we usually think with an excerpt from Comedy, Matthew Bevis’s contribution to their series of Very Short Introductions. Bevis shows how near oxymorons like “playful anger” and “outrageous outrage” capture key emotional realities.

Stanford University Press evaluates the success and importance of research on inequality with a post by David Grusky. He explains that questions about systemic change remain largely unanswered and calls for study in the field to continue. Grusky acknowledges that academics trends shift unpredictably, but hopes that inequality will remain a mainstream concern.

Yale Drama Series Still Accepting Submissions!

It’s not too late to submit your manuscript for the 2015 Yale Drama Series competition. You could be awarded the David Charles Horn Prize of $10,000, publication of your play, and a staged reading at Lincoln Center Theater. The 2015 and 2016 competitions will be judged by Nicholas Wright, who has written over 30 plays, libretti, and screenplays, including  Vincent in Brixton,  Mrs. Klein, and Traveling Light. Manuscripts for the 2015 competition must be submitted no later than August 15, 2014. You can find the full guidelines here.


The Yale Drama Series is an annual, international competition for emerging playwrights that attracts over a thousand submissions each year and boasts a remarkable list of previous winners. Most recently, Janine Nabers won for her play Serial Black Face. In Serial Black Face, it’s Atlanta 1979. A serial killer is on the loose and a single black mother’s relationship with her young daughter grows more hostile when a handsome stranger enters their lives. Yale University Press is hard at work preparing the manuscript for production and publication, and in the meantime you can get to know the playwright and the 2014 judge, Marsha Norman.

StillIn 2013, Norman selected Jen Silverman‘s play Still. It’s a darkly comic exploration of loss, intimacy, and motherhood centered around three women and a baby who never lived. Silverman has said that winning the prize had both personal and political meaning for her, as the play ventures into unsafe territory with its discussion of women’s bodies and the demands our culture feels entitled to make on them. It was an amazing year for Silverman, as one of her other plays was selected for the 2013 National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O’Neill CenterStill comes out September 9th and we can hardly wait.

Clarence Coo won the competition in 2012 with his play Beautiful Province. It’s the story of a fifteen-year-old boy who decides to accompany his severely depressed high school French teacher on a road trip to Quebec. The play mixes farce with tragedy, the wildly inventive with the heartbreakingly sad, and the lofty and the fantastic with the cold, the mundane, and the all too real. Clarence Coo and John Guare, the judge who selected Beautiful Province, comment on the marks of a good play and the power of a prestigious award here.

Guare chose New Light Shine by Shannon Murdoch as 2011′s prize winner. Murdoch focused her play on four characters trapped in an argument of memory that threatens to turn perception to truth. As they sort through years of silence and half-truths they raise provocative questions about female and child sexuality as well as the responsibilities of government and community in raising children. Guare called it “raw, haunting, richly poetic, [and] deeply emotional.”

Virginia Grise won the 2010 competition with her play blu. In the play, the myth-inspired character Soledad and her partner, Hailstorm, redefine family on their own terms after the death of their eldest son in Iraq. The play challenges us to imagine a time before war through a series of prayers, rituals, and dreams. Grise is, according to contest judge David Hare, “a blazingly talented writer.”

LidlessDavid Hare picked Lidless by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig as 2009′s winning play. Lidless addresses our national political amnesia with a stylishly written interrogation of guilt’s place in moral reckoning. Hare praised the tightly controlled blend of realism and metaphor, as well as the political urgency that can propel writers and audiences to the theater.

In 2008, Neil Wechsler‘s Grenadine won the competition with a fantastical story of a man’s quest for love in the company of three devoted friends. Edward Albee lauded the play’s originality, the provocative nature of the drama’s questions and answers, and the way Grenadine stretched the minds of its readers and audience.

The Yale Drama Series kicked off in 2007 when Albee selected The Boys from Siam by John Austin Connolly as the competition’s first winner. The play is the haunting and lyrical story of Pigg and Pegg, conjoined twins loosely based on Chang and Eng Bunker (the brothers who gave rise to the term “Siamese twins”). Albee described Connolly’s work as “a beautifully realized concentrated universe.”

Yale University Press is always pleased and proud to read such wonderful submissions and publish such talented new playwrights. We’re eager to see what this year’s competition will bring and to find out which highly-deserving play will win the prize. And remember, if you submit a manuscript by August 15th, it could be yours. Best of luck!

Celebrate Book Lovers Day with 10 Books about Books!

Unpacking My LibraryAugust 9th is Book Lovers Day! It’s a time to curl up with a book or three and read your heart out, and Yale University Press is here to help you celebrate. We know that choosing what to read next can be both sweetly intoxicating and totally overwhelming, so we’ve picked out some appropriate and entertaining titles for the holiday.

If you’re a book lover looking to read about other book lovers, we’d suggest Unpacking My Library: Writers and Their Books edited by Leah Price. The book spotlights the personal libraries of thirteen novelists with photographs, interviews, and top ten lists from each. The featured bibliophiles include Alison Bechdel, Junot Díaz, Lev Grossman and Sophie Gee, and Gary Shteyngart.

If the books in your home library are chock full of highlights, sticky notes, and scribbles, then Marginalia by H.J. Jackson might be the title for you. Jackson reflects on the cultural and historical value of writing in the margins, examines works that have invited passionate annotation, and presents examples of the most provocative marginalia. Jackson’s enthusiasm will be all too familiar to those who read with a pen or pencil in hand.

manguel_pbcoverIf you’re looking for some friendly and passionate encouragement to crack open a book, we’d recommend A Reader on Reading by Alberto Manguel. Manguel is a prize-winning writer and a well-decorated reader, and in this collection of essays he considers the ways reading defines our species. To Manguel, narrative is the underlying structure of consciousness, and books provide an intellectual home.

If you’ve wondered how books became so widely available, you might be interested in James Raven‘s The Business of Books. Raven traces the development of English literary commerce to explain how the book went from a luxury item to a mass market commodity. In a similar spirit, Andrew Pettegree reconstructs the first 150 years of the world of print in The Book in the Renaissance. He shows that the printed book had to straddle financial and religious imperatives from the very beginning.

If you’d like to know how the book in your hands came to be so comfortable to hold and pleasant to look at, then you should check out Richard Hendel‘s On Book Design. Hendel explains how he and other designers make decisions about size, shape, typeface, arrangement, and much more as they help transform a manuscript into a finished product.

If you want to understand not just books but Great Books, let How to Read Literature by Terry Eagleton and A Little History of Literature by John Sutherland be your guides. Eagleton poses and addresses questions of evaluation and interpretation while commenting on movements including classicism, Romanticism, modernism, and postmodernism. Sutherland introduces great classics with his own twist of humor and wit, and he includes plenty of digressions into less than canonical territory (everything from Anglo-Saxon runes to The Da Vinci Code).

SeverinaIf, at the end of the day, what you’re really looking for is a well-told story, we’d recommend Severina, written by Rodrigo Rey Rosa and translated by Chris Andrews. The gripping novel centers on a bookseller and the enigmatic thief who throws his world into disarray. It’s a must-read book by a contender for Guatemala’s most prominent literary figure.

If you are interested in the history of Yale University Press and the challenges of university press publishing in general, we’d point you to A World of Letters by Nicholas A. Basbanes. The book recounts the various successes and controversies of Yale University Press’s first one hundred years (1908-2008).

Regardless what you choose to page through next, we hope you have a great Book Lovers Day. And let us know what you’re currently reading in the comments section below!

Breaking Down Racial Barriers in Dance: Then and Now

The Dance Claimed Me by Peggy and Murray SchwartzAfrican-American ballet dancer Misty Copeland has been in the news a lot in recent months. From her now viral Under Armor commercial to the pages of Vogue, from network and cable talk shows to So You Think You Can Dance, from the New York Times bestseller list to Jacobs Pillow, Ms. Copeland seems to be everywhere. She has captured the public’s often fickle attention, and she is using her time in the spotlight to raise tough questions about race in dance and to defy ideas about what a ballerina looks like. Everywhere she goes, she speaks about the lack of racial diversity in ballet and about the particular challenges faced by black female dancers.

Misty’s moment in the spotlight brings to mind an earlier black dancer who leaped into public consciousness, shattering stereotypes about dancers’ bodies and challenging Americans to see and understand how race operated in her world. When Pearl Primus made her concert debut in New York 1943, she stunned the audience and critics. Here was a dancer who broke the rules, defying the boundaries of both expectation and gravity. Short, muscular, and dark-skinned, she challenged ideas about what a modern dancer looked like. With her incredible leaps, she seemed to transcend physics. In her works of racial protest, she danced the parts of men and women, white and black, conveying experiences that were both specifically African American and universally human.

In The Dance Claimed Me: A Biography of Pearl Primus, Peggy and Murray Schwartz show us a woman who ignored limits imposed by others throughout her life, breaking barriers in both dance and in academia, and using her visibility to speak loudly and often about racial injustice. It is hard to overstate Pearl Primus’s impact. She taught Maya Angelou, inspired Langston Hughes, performed with Paul Robeson, coached Judith Jamison, seeded the ground for Alvin Ailey, and provided opportunities and instruction for countless dancers, choreographers, percussionists, anthropologists, and educators. She studied traditional African dances and introduced many of these dances to America, establishing rich and enduring connections between African dance and American modern dance. Generations of dancers and teachers, and some of today’s most important choreographers, are connected by her web of influence.

Pearl Primus’s frank and insistent talk about racial inequality made many people uncomfortable. Some of Misty Copeland’s critics seem to wish she would stop making such a big deal about race. After all, she has one of the most coveted jobs in ballet, soloist with American Ballet Theatre. But barrier breakers with the biggest impact are often the ones who keep on speaking, who make injustice visible for those who have trouble seeing it.

When we say we don’t want to talk about race in dance, preferring instead to be “color blind”, we ignore the fact that race has already been a part of ballet’s story. White skin has been an explicit advantage for female ballet dancers, essentially a job requirement. Overturning a long established and specifically racial preference takes effort. That’s why Misty Copeland keeps talking about race. She’s joined of course by many other important voices—check out Virginia Johnson’s brilliant statement in the trailer for the new documentary Black Ballerina.

What SUP From Your Favorite University Presses, August 1, 2014

sup-300x209Welcome to our weekly roundup of news from university presses! Once again, there is a lot to share this week from our fellow academic publishing houses and much to learn on What SUP at the social university presses. This week, we wish Emily Brontë a happy birthday, study eighteenth century French smugglers, and examine race riots.

Columbia University Press responds to the ongoing strife in the Middle East by posting an episode of the podcast This is Hell! Joel Migdal, author of Shifting Sands: The United States in the Middle East, provides historical context and argues that neither new maps nor American presidents will resolve the conflict.

Duke University Press celebrates the birthday of Emily Brontë with two journal articles about her work. Tiffany Tsao analyzes Brontë’s treatment of colonization while Kevin A. Morrison attends to her portrayal of male suffering.

New York University Press explores the meanings attached to diamonds with a guest post by Susan Falls, the author of Clarity, Cut, and Culture. She focuses on ways people come to associate the precious gems with the deaths of loved ones.

Harvard University Press considers the origins of global capitalism by telling the story of Louis Mandrin, a French smuggler. In doing so, Michael Kwass, author of Contraband, draws comparisons between eighteenth and twenty-first century wars on drugs.

Oregon State University Press shares Justin Wadland’s reflections on his search for the location of Home, Washington’s famous tree house. Wadland is the author of Trying Home: The Rise and Fall of an Anarchist Utopia on Puget Sound.

Oxford University Press offers a behind the score listen to 1987′s Bond film The Living Daylights with an excerpt from John Burlingame’s The Music of James Bond. Burlingame reveals that the female lead took cello lessons and that the composer appeared in the film as a conductor.

The University of Pennsylvania Press kicks off a new series of Q&A’s with an interview with Cathy Lisa Schneider, author of Police, Power, and Race Riots. Schneider studies a 1964 riot in New York City and a 2005 riot in Paris in order to illustrate their common factors.

The University of California Press sheds light on the child victims of America’s border disaster with two short narratives recounted by Susan Terrio. Terrio is the author of Whose Child Am I? which will be released May 2015.