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12 Anne Frank on Crank: Comic Anxieties

Barbara KirshenblattGimblett Indiana University Press ePub

Edward Portnoy

There was a certain actress, a terrible actress, that played Anne
Frank. She was so bad that when the Nazis came on [stage],
the audience yelled out, “She’s upstairs in the attic!”

Fyvush Finkel in Der Komediant, 1999

Making a joke about Anne Frank seems to be widely regarded as an act of bad taste. Why, then, would someone do so? Such jokes may engage some of the same challenging ideas about Anne’s significance in contemporary culture as do works of avant-garde video, performance, or visual art, but joking lacks the protective valence of these “high-culture” media. In addition to being provocative, these jokes are lowbrow; they are vulgar in both senses of the term. Seeking to explain this kind of humor, the psychologist Martin Grotjahn argued that “jokes grow best on the graves of fresh anxieties.”1 What then, are the anxieties on which Anne Frank jokes rely, and what makes them fresh, nearly seventy years after her death?

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6 An Absence of Beauty

Gary M. Lavergne University of North Texas Press PDF


An Absence of Beauty

“You look out the window and wonder and say,

‘Somebody ought to neuter all these people.’”

—J. W. Thompson, Austin Police Department


Interstate Highway 35, the major artery for Central Texas, connects San

Antonio, Austin, Belton, Temple, and Waco. Around Austin, the highway runs along the Balcones Fault, separating alluvial bottoms and agricultural lands to the east, from the rocky sediments of the Hill Country ranches to the west. In his biography of Lyndon Johnson, Robert Caro called the Hill Country “The Trap,” which accurately contrasts its mesmerizing beauty with the hardiness it took to tame the area.

San Antonio and Austin are splendid examples of the power of multiculturalism, and monuments to cooperation among diverse populations. Further north, the hamlets of the Blackland Prairie surround the larger cities of Belton, Temple, and Waco. Baylor University in Waco, the

University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, Southwestern University in nearby Georgetown, and other colleges and technical schools in the area provide splendid educational opportunities to the people who live here. The hard-working, conservative, largely religious people help contribute to and take pride in their neighborhoods and schools. Throughout the area, man-made lakes provide water, recreation, and breathtaking scenery. Central Texas is a beautiful place to live.

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3 Slavery, Ethnogenesis, and Social Resurrection

Walter C. Rucker Indiana University Press ePub

Coramantien, a country of blacks . . . is very warlike and brave, and having a continual campaign, being always in hostility with one neighbouring prince or other.


In the autumn of 1736, hundreds of the inhabitants on the British Caribbean island of Antigua witnessed a series of events purported to be the culmination of months of clandestine planning. Court, an enslaved man in the employ of Thomas Kerby, became the widely recognized leader of a “Coromantee” contingent and he helped forge an alliance with “Eboes” and island-born creoles. Captured and enslaved in the Gold Coast at the age of ten, Court reportedly hailed from a “considerable” family—likely in Ga-speaking Accra—though he was not of royal blood. Despite his high-born natal origin, the leveling influences of capture, social death, and chattel slavery—along with his youth at the time of his transatlantic journey in 1711—reduced Court’s status to that of other Atlantic Africans and creoles he encountered after disembarking in Antigua. Over the course of a quarter century, Court—described in trial records as “artful, and ambitious, very proud, and of few Words”—accumulated money, influence, and an elevated status that led him to assume, “among his Countrymen . . . the Title of King, and had been by them [addressed] and treated as such.” Court’s stature as New World royalty among the Coromantee was evident in the chant his retinue routinely performed in his presence. With raised wooden cutlasses, they would cry “Tackey, Tackey, Tackey, Coquo Tackey which signifies, King, King, King, great King, which Words are used in the Coramantee Country every Morning at the King’s Door.” Indeed, Court was referred to by his Coromantee title “Tackey”—a Ga royal lineage or office—so often that it was mistaken by contemporary witnesses and more recent historians for his personal, Gold Coast name.1

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2 The Potential of Spatial Humanities

David J Bodenhamer Indiana University Press ePub


Space is everywhere, and its definitions are legion. We are inherently spatial beings: we live in a physical world and routinely use spatial concepts of distance and direction to navigate our way through it. But this routine and subconscious sense of space is not the one that engages us as humanists. We are drawn to issues of meaning, and space offers a way to understand fundamentally how we order our world. Here, contemporary notions of space are myriad: what once was a reference primarily to geographical space, with its longstanding categories of landscape and place, is now modified by class, capital, gender, and race, among other concepts, as an intellectual framework for understanding power and society in times near and distant. We recognize our representations of space as value-laden guides to the world as we perceive it, and we understand how they exist in constant tension with other representations from different places, at different times, and even at the same time. We acknowledge how past, present, and future conceptions of the world compete simultaneously within real and imagined spaces. We see space as the platform for multiplicity, a realm where all perspectives are particular and dependent upon experiences unique to an individual, a community, or a period of time.1 This complex and culturally relativistic view of space, the product of the last several decades, has reinvigorated geography as a discipline, just as it has engaged scholars within the humanities.

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CHAPTER III The Spanish Assault

James J. Cozine Jr. University of North Texas Press PDF


The Spanish Assault


he white man’s assault on the Big Thicket region began as a small part of the great struggle between Spain and France for supremacy of the southern regions of what is now the United States. Prior to 1685, the area encompassing the region of present-day Texas was uninhabited by white men. Spain, who claimed Texas, had not attempted to colonize the region. Indeed, only a few Spanish adventurers, such as Cabeza de Vaca and Luis de Moscoso, had traversed even a small portion of the realm.

However, in 1685, an event occurred that would drive the Spanish to establish permanent settlements in East Texas.

In that year, Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, established an illfated French colony of 180 settlers in Texas. The settlement was located on the banks of the Garcitas River about five miles inland from Matagorda

Bay. Even the founding of this small colony in the vast unexplored region of Texas was an accident. La Salle had intended to plant this colony at the mouth of the Mississippi River, which he had explored just a few years earlier. Such a colony would have established French supremacy over the fur-rich Mississippi Valley. Unfortunately, a navigation error caused the

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