Colloquy, the GSAS alumni magazine, is published three times a year and mailed to PhD and master's alumni around the world. It explores the research and impact of Harvard's outstanding faculty, alumni, and graduate students

Featured Review

A Language the Land Is Inventing (WorldTech Editions, 2017) is a collection of poems by Ann Philips (AM ’73, Slavic Languages & Literatures). Philips explores themes that range from family and identity to the infirmities of old age. Her emphasis on location (Missouri, Germany, and Poland), displacement, and loss is particularly moving. She imagines her father alive once more in “I Dream My Father”: "He is pale but walks on faster. I ask my father how he can be alive again. Make an effort, he says. Keep up."

Philips' images are tactile, rooted, and, in a real sense, represent her connection to the land. “Kennebec County, Maine: Losing a House” evokes vivid memories of the sale of a beloved home. Another poem recounts an episode in which Philips anticipates teaching a Palestinian poet, soon to arrive in Missouri, how to whistle a blade of grass held between two thumbs, just as her father had taught her to. She interweaves the voices and perspectives of the poet and Osage people throughout in order to emphasize that they were both dispossessed of their land. 

Flyer for Europe in Crisis

Other Reviews

The current refugee crisis has mainly been cast as an acute social challenge for recipient nations. Patrick Ireland (PhD ’90, government) takes a different tack, investigating the long-term integration or assimilation of immigrants into new societies. In particular, Migrant Integration in Times of Economic Crisis (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017) weighs the impact of the Great Recession of 2008 on distinctive immigrant communities. Ireland’s study analyzes five roughly comparable “global cities”—Chicago, Toronto, Montreal, Barcelona, and Hamburg—which have comparable populations (1.6−2.7 million inhabitants) and numbers of immigrants (11−18 percent of total population). He focuses on five immigrant groups: Poles, Romanians, Serbs, Pakistanis, and Ghanaians. Immigrant enclaves face contradictory impulses from the larger society—celebrated, on one hand, as desirable signs of cultural diversity, yet faced with economic forces and assimilationist policies that challenge their very existence. Although the recession certainly continued the undermining of ethnic communities, the rate of change didn’t noticeably accelerate. Ireland concludes that class is the more salient variable here: gentrification pushed poorer residents out of newly desirable city centers regardless of ethnicity or nationality.

 

Book cover of Remaking Black Power

To an unfortunate extent,  the Black Power Movement (mid-1960s–'70s) has been framed around its hyper-masculinity: Bobby Seale and Huey Newton with big guns and berets; sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos, fists raised, at the ’68 Olympics; Eldridge Cleaver glaring from the cover of Soul on Ice (1968). Ashley Farmer (PhD ’13, African and African American studies) challenges this approach, noting that many women participated in the movement. Moreover, they were instrumental in expanding the Black Power critique to encompass imperialism and sexism as well as racism. Remaking Black Power: How Black Women Transformed an Era (University of North Carolina Press, 2017) places the movement into its historical context. Black women activists drew on longstanding ideas of Black Nationalism, pan-Africanism, and anti-colonialism.  They also identified with outspoken working-class Black women—for Farmer, “militant Negro domestics”—exemplified by the fictional Mildred Johnson, main character in author Alice Childress’s serialized column in the radical Harlem weekly, Freedom. Farmer also discusses illustrations by Black female artists published in Black Panther and Triple Jeopardy (the “triple” here refers to racism, sexism, and imperialism). 

 

Framed photo of Alice Munro

A melding of literary analysis, biography, and artistic appreciation, The Cambridge Companion to Alice Munro (Cambridge University Press, 2016) collects 10 essays, edited by David Staines (PhD ’73, English and American literature and language). Staines contributes an efficient introduction and one of two chapters on the importance of the Canadian setting in Alice Munro’s short stories. Munro herself is well-traveled, from the People’s Republic of China to Scandinavia, but—like Faulkner and his fictional Yoknapatawpha County—her short stories unfold mainly in a microcosm, the rural and small-town world of Huron County, located in southwestern Ontario. What might seem a limited setting offers Munro, recipient of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature, a universe of emotional complexity and well-observed detail.  Notable among the other contributors is Canadian author Margaret Atwood, who focuses her discussion on Munro’s 1971 short-story collection Lives of Girls and Women. Other essays address her writing style, the importance of her own mother in certain stories, and her use of varied cultural tropes, from Greek myths to Norse sagas to Celtic ballads.

PostScript

Marianne Novy, AM ’67, English and American literature and language, published Shakespeare and Feminist Theory, which considers how feminist theory can help analyze the dynamics of Shakespeare’s plays. Feminist theory and the plays deal with issues such as likeness and difference between the sexes, the liberating possibilities of desire, what marriage means and how much women can remake it, and how women can have power through language.

Former Frank Knox Fellow Stephen Banfield, GSASP ’76, has published Music in the West Country: Social and Cultural History across an English Region. Ranging over 700 years, the book explores the soundscape of England’s West Country and examines music-making in tiny villages as well as in more populous areas. What emerges is both a study of the typical— musical practices which would apply to any English region—and a portrait of the unique features born of the region’s physical isolation and charm.

 

Reading List: August 2018