Fellows Lectures Archive (2007-2008)

Shakespeare, Soapboxes, and Socialism:The Emerging Radicalism of A. Philip Randolph

A. Philip Randolph was one of the twentieth century’s most important activists in the arenas of civil rights and organized labor. From the 1910s to the 1960s, he conducted countless campaigns against racial discrimination, cultivated a new political sensibility among African Americans, challenged the color line in organized labor, and contributed to the forging of an organizational approach to social change that relied more on confrontation than conciliation. Despite the failure to accomplish many of his goals, Randolph contributed centrally to nothing less than a revolution in labor and race relations in America. This paper focuses on the early years of Randolph’s life, tracing his geographical journey from Jacksonville to Harlem, his professional journey from theatre to journalism, and his ideological passage from the A.M.E. Church to the Socialist Party. It will also explore the origins and evolution of his emerging radicalism, that challenged established civil rights leaders, Marcus Garvey’s nationalism, and the sectarian confrontationalism of the new Communist party.

Eric Arnesen is Professor of History and African American Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His many publications include Waterfront Workers of New Orleans: Race, Class, and Politics, 1863-1923 (Oxford University Press, 1991); Brotherhoods of Color: Black Railroad Workers and the Struggle of Equality (Harvard University Press, 2001); Black Protest and the Great Migration: A Brief History with Documents (Bedford/St. Martin’s Press, 2002); and The Encyclopedia of U.S. Labor and Working Class History (Routledge, 2006), for which he was the general editor. His research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Fulbright Foundation, among others, and his publications have received multiple national recognitions.

 

Futures and Ruins in Eighteenth-Century Paris

Focusing on a select group of paintings by Hubert Robert, this paper proposes that the cult of antiquity that enveloped eighteenth-century Paris absorbed the anxieties of living in an age of risk. In contradistinction to the construction of neoclassical monuments that triumphantly presented the French capital as the new Rome, Robert’s paintings featuring contemporary urban ruins tapped into sentiments that Paris was poised to go the way of antiquity’s decimated cities. For at a time of unhinging convulsions in monetary life “from fluctuations in the credit economy to volatility in the city’s real estate market” Parisians viewed their modernizing metropolis with a combination of hope and dread that took expression in the aesthetics of antiquity.

Nina Dubin is Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 2006 and joined the UIC faculty the same year. Her publications include articles on the painter Hubert Robert. She has received research support with a Getty Research Institute Residential Fellowship in 2005-2006 and a David E. Finley Fellowship, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art, from 2002-2005.

 

Occupations, Deportations and Dirty Wars: Staging the Traumas of Vichy France and the Algerian War of Independence

Two unresolved, separate but related periods of recent French history continue to haunt France’s present: the German occupation and Vichy government (1940-1944) and the Algerian War (1954-62). Historians such as Pierre Nora and Henry Rousso have suggested that both national traumas have played a seminal role in fracturing a contemporary sense of French national identity, in which they now feature as contested sites of memory. Both literature and film have made important contributions to our sense of these periods and have on that account attracted significant critical commentary. Theater has been much less studied. I want to suggest that theater has played a seminal cultural role in reflecting on and containing violence since its earliest associations with sacrificial ritual and Greek myth. Although contemporary dramatic theory and practice seem far removed from the issues that fuelled classical tragedy, I contend that in their varied theatrical responses to these two dark periods of French history, French and Francophone playwrights such as Sartre, Gatti, Atlan, Aba, and Kateb Yacine reconnect with and revitalize drama’s earliest preoccupations.

John Ireland is Associate Professor of French in the Department of Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is the author of Sartre: Un Art de loyala the trail et engagement (Editions Place, 1994) and co-editor of Jean-Paul Sartre, Kean, in Theatre complet (Bibliotheque de la Pleiade, 2005). He was named Chevalier dans l’ Ordre des Palmes Académiques by the French Government in 2006.

 

Creative Civic Participation

Political participation has previously been described in four separate theoretical conversations: (1) as within a forum jointly discussing the future of the polis; (2) as the pursuit of self-interest within the context of interest-aggregative political institutions; (3) as civic engagement within face-to-face social interactions; (4) as within social movements critical of established political institutions. I propose to identify and develop a fifth such discussion, regarding the situation in which scattered individuals separately want to rectify some injustice to the community in general, but lack established political institutions for doing so. Sometimes such scattered citizens engage in civic innovation by creating new participatory institutions. Civic innovation is taken to describe U.S. public interest lobbies, protests against governmental corruption, transnational advocacy networks, and political consumerism.

Andrew McFarland is Professor of Political Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His many publications include Power and Leadership in Pluralist Systems (Stanford University Press, 1969); Common Cause: Lobbying in the Public Interest (Chatham House 1984);Cooperative Pluralism: The National Coal Policy Experiment (University Press of Kansas, 1993); and Neopluralism: The Evolution of Political Process Theory (University Press of Kansas, 2004. His research has been supported by the Russell Sage Foundation and the Ford Foundation.

 

On Sonnet Thought: A Discussion and Reading

This talk will present selections from a book of poems in progress, introduced by a literary-critical analysis of the sonnet form as these poems’ most important literary and formal forebear. The presentation will discuss the sonnet’s unique formal capacity for condensing wide-ranging peregrinations of the mind and will then include a reading of poems which practice this variety of “sonnet thought” without following the restrictions of any particular sonnet form. My poems do not seek a one-to-one correspondence with the sonnets that have inspired them, but they also may recast Eliot’s “ghost of meter” as conceptual or syntactic, rather than residually metrical.

Christina Pugh is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Publications of her poetry include Rotary (Word Press, 2004) and Restoration (Northwestern University Press, forthcoming 2008). In addition, she has published numerous critical articles on poetry and poetics. Her work has been has been supported by a 2000 Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship and a 2005 Ucross Foundation Residency Fellowship, and has been recognized by the Grolier Poetry Prize (2000) and four nominations for the Pushcart Prize.

 

Searching for an Inca? Wounded Men in the Dysfunctional Nation.

This talk will explore the impact of postcoloniality and historical trauma on the way masculinity is depicted in Peru and how, in turn, the image of a wounded manhood incarnates a pessimistic image of the nation. Peruvian males were supposed to embody authority and power in their own society, but they were subjected first to the Spanish crown, and then to the external forces of international politics and market regulations. An analysis of literary works, film, and photographs will illustrate how the equation of manhood and power has resulted in a series of images of inadequacy regarding the ideal, unattainable, hegemonic masculinity.

Margarita Saona is Associate Professor of Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is the author of Novelas Familares: Figuraciones de la nación en la novella latinoamericana contemporanea (Beatriz Viterbo Editora, 2004) in addition to numerous articles in journals and edited volumes. She also writes and publishes shorts stories. She received teaching recognition from the Council for Excellence in Teaching and Learning in 2004 .

 

Prague Palimpsest: Writing, Memory, and the Holocaust in Postwar German Literature

Prague was one of the few major cities to escape the devastation inflicted on Central Europe during World War II. This lecture examines the powerful role played by the city in the imagination of postwar German and Austrian writers as a site of nostalgia for a time and place when different ethnic groups (Jews and Gentiles, Germans and Czechs) lived side by side in relative peace and harmony. Focusing on selected works by Leo Perutz, Ingeborg Bachmann, Paul Celan, and W. G. Sebald, Alfred Thomas argues that for these writers Prague is more than just a mythical “elsewhere” they dream of visiting but a palimpsest of textual and cultural associations which abolishes the distinction between past and present, history and fiction, memory and invention.

Alfred Thomas is Professor of English and Germanic Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His many publications include The Labyrinth of the Word: Truth and Representation in Czech Literature (Oldenbourg Verlag, 1995); Anna’s Bohemia: Czech Literature and Society, 1310-1420 (University of Minnesota Press, 1998); The Bohemian Body: Gender and Sexuality in Modern Czech Culture (University of Wisconsin Press, 2007); and A Blessed Shore: England and Bohemia from Chaucer to Shakespeare (Cornell University Press, 2007). He was a Henry Rutgers Research Fellow at Rutgers University from 1989-91, and the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University, 1996-2002, before joining the UIC faculty in 2003.