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“I Like the Way You Die, Boy”

IU Press Journals Indiana University Press ePub

fantasy’s role in Django Unchained

Glenda R. Carpio

“And I am taking the story of a slave narrative and blowing it up to folkloric proportions . . . worthy of high opera. So I could have a little fun with it. One of the things I do is when the bad guys shoot people the bullets usually don’t blow people apart. They make little holes and they kill them and wound them, but they don’t rip them apart. When Django shoots someone, he blows them in half.”

—QUENTIN TARANTINO

DJANGO UNCHAINED IS not supposed to be experienced or understood as a historically accurate representation of slavery; surprisingly, this point has been lost on many a viewer. It is, as the film critic Chris Vognar rightly notes, a typical Tarantino movie, which is to say that it is “more concerned about movies than anything else.” At the same time, the film is deeply situated in both the history of cinema and historical fantasy. Tarantino has “a little fun” telling the story of a slave named Django, a reference to the titular hero of Sergio Corbucci’s 1966 spaghetti Western, himself named after the virtuoso jazz musician Django Reinhardt. Tarantino also makes multiple visual and narrative allusions to the blaxploitation tour de force, the 1975 film Mandingo, and other films in this genre—The Legend of Nigger Charley (1972) and its sequels, The Soul of Nigger Charley (1973) and Boss Nigger (1975), as well as direct and oblique references to Norse mythology, to D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation (1915) and the novel that inspired it (Thomas Dixon’s 1905 The Clansman), to the slave narrative genre, and a host of other cultural artifacts. But Django Unchained also jolts viewers with scenes of chattel slavery that are so violently horrific that watching without squirming is impossible, as when a slave is torn apart by dogs or when two slaves are made to fight each other to death with bare hands. The combination of Tarantino having “a little fun” and his subject matter, arguably the mostly explosive and, especially from a contemporary perspective, most earnestly treated topic in American history, risks trivialization. Yet Django Unchained is also a richly allusive cultural text that, through its intertextuality and its arguably excessive use of violence, makes vivid the brutality of American chattel slavery.

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Medium 9780253356468

Introduction

Jarrod Tanny Indiana University Press ePub

DURING THE CHAOS of the Russian Revolution and civil war, Konstantin Paustovskii witnessed a curious and somewhat comical incident. Observing a street-corner queue in Odessa, Paustovskii noted the presence of

a short, old, Jewish gentleman in a dusty bowler and a worn black coat reaching to his ankles. Smiling and nodding benevolently, he observed the queue through unusually thick spectacles. Now and then he took out of his pocket a small black book with the Star of David embroidered in gold on the cover, read a page or two and returned the book to his pocket.

Paustovskii was certain that he must have been “a scholar, perhaps even a tsaddic, an old philosopher from Portofrank Street,” a figure not uncommon in early-twentieth-century Ukraine. Suddenly, a young rather insolent-looking man appeared wearing a black skullcap and canary-colored leather shoes. “The young man,” Paustovskii continues,

was wondering how to jump the queue without causing a fuss and a row. He saw the old gentleman with the book, and naturally took him for the very embodiment of mildness and non-resistance to evil. Making up his mind, he skillfully inserted his shoulder between him and his neighbour in the queue and, pushing the old man, muttered casually:

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3. Awake

Robert B. Ray Indiana University Press ePub

Morning is when I am awake and there is a dawn in me. Moral reform is the effort to throw off sleep.… To be awake is to be alive. I have never yet met a man who was quite awake. How could I have looked him in the face?

We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn. (64)

Walden’s rich mysteriousness often derives from Thoreau’s own ambivalence. “The fact is,” he reported to his journal, “I am a mystic, a transcendentalist, and a natural philosopher to boot” (J, 5 March 1853). Emerson’s Neoplatonic transcendentalism had regarded the material world as a set of signs pointing to more important spiritual truths, and Walden often reflects that lesson. Thus, although Thoreau provides the exact details of planting and nurturing his crops, insisting “I was determined to know beans,” he immediately shifts registers: “Not that I wanted beans to eat … but, perchance, as some must work in fields if only for the sake of tropes and expression, to serve a parable-maker one day” (111). In “Brute Neighbors,” a chapter nominally devoted to the pond’s wildlife, Thoreau strikes the same note, proposing that “animals … are all beasts of burden, in a sense, made to carry some portion of our thoughts” (153).

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11 Cosmopolitan Women: Marlene Dietrich, Anna May Wong, and Leni Riefenstahl

Jennifer M Bean Indiana University Press ePub

Patrice Petro

RECENT YEARS HAVE witnessed new scholarly interest in concepts and practices of cosmopolitanism across a range of disciplines, even as the term itself remains contested and elusive. As Steven Vertovec and Robin Cohen argue,

For some contemporary writers on the topic, cosmopolitanism refers to a vision of global democracy and world citizenship; for others it points to the possibilities for shaping new transnational frameworks for making links between social movements. Yet others invoke cosmopolitanism to advocate a non-communitarian, post-identity politics of overlapping interests and heterogeneous or hybrid publics in order to challenge conventional notions of belonging, identity, and citizenship. And still others use cosmopolitanism descriptively to address certain socio-cultural processes or individual behaviors, values or dispositions manifesting a capacity to engage cultural multiplicity.1

Humanists as well as social scientists have explored the multiple meanings of the term “cosmopolitan,” as evidenced by the variety of scholarly books published in the past decade and more that explore cosmopolitanism in relationship to nationalism, transnationalism, and globalization. Particularly noteworthy in this regard are Pheng Cheah and Bruce Robbins’s collection of essays Cosmopolitics: Thinking and Feeling beyond the Nation (1998) and Kwame Anthony Appiah’s monograph Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers (2006).2

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7. Death

Robert B. Ray Indiana University Press ePub

Walden lives up almost entirely to the purpose Thoreau announces in the epigraph: “I do not intend to write an ode to dejection.” (5) However varied his moods may have been during the book’s nine-year gestation, Thoreau produced a consistently optimistic work by sticking to a strict compositional plan: “I put the best face on the matter.” As a result, in the midst of so much high spirits, the famous penultimate paragraph of “Where I Lived and What I lived For” seems not only obscure but unexpected:

If you stand right fronting and face to face to a fact, you will see the sun glimmer on both its surfaces, as if it were a cimiter, and feel its sweet edge dividing you through the heart and marrow, and so you will happily conclude your mortal career. Be it life or death, we crave only reality. If we are really dying, let us hear the rattle in our throats and feel cold in the extremities; if we are alive, let us go about our business. (70)

Thoreau had written like this before. Using the same odd phrase, “to front a fact,” he had previously imagined his enterprise as another kind of life-and-death struggle:

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Medium 9780253019059

Evansville

Edited and with an Introduction by Owen Indiana University Press ePub

Century-old physician interviewed by Ernie: Likes his pipe and the news, and is becoming fond of highballs; he knows most folks are crazy

EVANSVILLE, Ind.—Gentility is a characteristic that is hard to describe. I don’t know whether people are born with it, or whether it can be acquired. But if I could reach up into a tree, and pick off a characteristic for myself, I would pick gentility.

I am talking like this because I have just spent the afternoon in a home here, talking with three of the most genteel people I have ever met.

One is an old, old man, the oldest in Evansville. He will be 100 in September. Another is his daughter, a woman of middle age. The third is his grand-daughter, in her 30’s. The three live together in a fine old house.

I never knew it was possible to talk with a man 100 years old and enjoy it. I mean talk normally, discuss things, make jokes, talk about the present as you would talk with someone your own age.

This old man is Dr. C. P. Bacon. I talked with him for two hours. There was not an “old man’s phrase” in his entire conversation. He is an aristocratic, well-to-do retired physician—courteous, understanding, sharp-minded. He doesn’t look nor act a century old. He has the sense of humor of a man 70 years younger. He “gets” everything.

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Medium 9780874216349

Coffee Talk: A Chat with Terry Tempest Williams Aria Seligmann, Eugene Weekly, 2003

Michael Austin Utah State University Press ePub

Environmental writer and poet Terry Tempest Williams sat at a table at the Excelsior Inn about 8 o’clock on a Friday morning a couple of weks ago. In town to lecture and lead some writing workshops at the UO, she squeezed me into her busy schedule. Too early for me, I’d arrived at the restaurant several minutes prior just to get enough coffee down my gullet to be able to ask some questions. Williams, on the other hand, was already put together and naturally beautiful at that early hour, her unique combination of wisdom and grace readily apparent.

A lifetime resident of Utah, environmental writer and poet Terry Tempest Williams writes from her own experiences as a Mormon woman living in that state. She has authored six books, as well as An Unspoken Hunger, a collection of essays, and two children’s books.

Her work has been anthologized widely and reproduced in The New Yorker, The Nation, Outside, Audubon and Orion and she’s best known for Refuge, a book that tells the parallel tales of the degradation of the environment and her mother’s battle with cancer.

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Medium 9780253372048

8. Logic. Chapter I. Thinking as Cerebration

Peirce, Charles S. Indiana University Press PDF

Thinking as Cerebration, 1880

45

Logic. Chapter I. Thinking as

Cerebration

MS 354: Winter-Spring 1880

Can mind be defined in terms of mechanics? If the mind will do something that a machine cannot do, since mechanics can describe in general terms what machines are capable of doing, it should be able to describe what effects mental action produces that machines cannot produce. A man is sitting in church listening to the sermon, in complete quiescence: the thunders of the pulpit affect his action not the least: but somebody comes behind him and whispers some faint sounds, "Your house is on fire." The man is instantly roused to energetic muscular work. There is, in the first place, no relation between the mechanical energy of the whisper and that of the muscular contractions; but this is often the case in pure mechanical action. Thus, a slender wooden cylinder is sometimes set up on end to detect earthquake-shocks; but, if it falls, it falls with the same force, whether the overturning shock was less or more violent. So a piece of phosphorus burns with the same energy whether the friction that set it on fire were less or greater, so long as it was sufficient. What really distinguishes intelligent action is that it is directed towards ends (as all vital action is) and varies as the ends vary, with a facility that does not belong to other vital processes. There is, perhaps, nothing which absolutely distinguishes the action of the nerves from that of other tissues; and intelligent action seems to be nothing but nervous action of a high grade. Still, it must be remembered that these matters have not yet been completely elucidated by science.

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Medium 9780253003102

3 Voice of the Gutter: Comics in the Academy / Tanis MacDonald

PAUL BUDRA Indiana University Press ePub

TANIS MACDONALD

 

In none of the books on comics I have looked into . . . have I come on any real attempt to understand comic books: to define the form, midway between icon and story; to distinguish the subtypes. . . . It would not take someone with the talents of an Aristotle, but merely with his method, to ask the rewarding questions about this kind of literature that he once asked about an equally popular and bloody genre: what are its causes and its natural form?

LESLIE FIEDLER, “THE MIDDLE AGAINST BOTH ENDS”

 

[C]omics are a wandering variable, and can be approached from many perspectives. The restless, polysemiotic character of the form allows for the continual rewriting of its grammar; each succeeding page need not function in the exact same way as its predecessor. The relationship between the various elements of comics (images, words, symbols) resists easy formulation. The critical reading of comics . . . involves a tug-of-war between conflicting impulses: on the one hand, the nigh-on irresistible urge to codify the workings of the form; on the other, a continual delight in the form’s ability to frustrate any airtight analytical scheme.

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Medium 9780253019622

10. Zionism’s Ethnographic Knowledge: Leo Motzkin’s and Heinrich York-Steiner’s Narratives of Palestine (1898–1904) / Alexander Alon

Edited by Andreas Kilcher and Gabriella Indiana University Press ePub

Leo Motzkin’s and Heinrich York-Steiner’s
Narratives of Palestine (1898–1904)

ALEXANDER ALON

Knowledge and science took on a central role in the Zionist movement. On the one hand, they were of practical use in the mass settlement of Palestine, and on the other hand, they were employed by the movement to culturally define Jewish identity. In 1895 Theodor Herzl wrote in his programmatic essay Der Judenstaat:

When the peoples used to wander in historical times, they let themselves be carried, pulled, and hurled. Like locust swarms they used to go down unconsciously. The reason for this is because the earth was not known in the historical times.

The new wandering of the Jews must happen according to scientific principles.1

Science is thus understood to guarantee the success of the Zionist project: the settlement of a land can only be successful if it is based on “scientific principles,” and the very usage of these principles marks, for Herzl, a turning point in the history of the Jewish people from being a passive object of nature to becoming its active master. Simultaneously invoking different meanings of the Latin term colere,2 Herzl charges science with the objectives of both cultivating the land and elevating “the Jews” to cultural agents.

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Medium 9780253012463

8 Sounding the Past: The Music in Between the Acts

Adriana L. Varga Indiana University Press ePub

Trina Thompson

VIRGINIA WOOLFS LAST NOVEL, BETWEEN THE ACTS, WAS FIRST published in 1941, the year of her death. Begun before Britain’s engagement in World War II, the novel retains the imprint of the time of its historical inception. Although fictional, this work seems to follow Roland Barthes’s dictum on the writing of history and the effect of historical time. In his essay “The Discourse of History,” Barthes postulates that “the nearer we are to the historian’s own time, the more strongly the pressure of the uttering makes itself felt, and the slower the history becomes. There is no such thing as isochrony – and to say this, is to attack implicitly the linearity of the discourse” (9). Thus, while Woolf must suffer the war, the residents and guests of fictional Pointz Hall remain poised before the violence. This temporal bifurcation plays an important role in constructing the complex texture of the novel.

In fact, the mere act of prying apart the strands of history – the creation of space – is a sonic act, one that allows for echoes, for the noisy layering of sounds. Judith Greenberg notes that the novel “is full of echoes – repeated words and noises, fragmented music and phrases, and disembodied voices” (52). And, as we shall see, Woolf’s preoccupation with music and aural imagery is an especially arresting aspect of this work. Indeed, as Avrom Fleishman explains, the provisionally “solid world of Pointz Hall” is splintered into multiple, simultaneous narratives, a “juggling of illusion and reality” (247) that is engendered by conflicting, vertiginous mise-en-abîme framing. The most obvious of these frames is the novel’s equivocal division between real(istic) life and an unfolding pageant, a play within a play. Understanding both of these aspects as novelistic fictions, what are we to make of the real-life voices that encroach on the integrity of the pageant? This duality is complicated again by the novel’s final line, which suggests that the entire novel has itself been an “entr’acte” in yet another play (247). These “mutually framed and framing visions of the novel and the play” (McWhirter 799) emphasize the importance of the interval, of that which comes to life in between.

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Medium 9780253020444

2 Going Native: When the Academic Is (Also) the Fan

Catherine M. Roach Indiana University Press ePub

Here’s a moment. I am in Tuscaloosa, Alabama’s one really good seafood restaurant—fish trucked in daily from the Gulf of Mexico—having lunch with Eloisa James/Mary Bly. She’s the guest of the University of Alabama; we invited her down in her capacity as Dr. Mary Bly, Shakespeare and Renaissance scholar at Fordham University, but also in her capacity as Eloisa James, New York Times–bestselling author of historical romance novels. She delivered a campus-wide talk in the English department, visited my gender studies seminar, and spoke with my students about romance fiction. Mary is a respected academic with scholarly publications and degrees from Harvard, Oxford, and Yale. Eloisa is a high-level, successful romance writer. I am there in that moment eating lunch as a fan of Eloisa James, asking when her next book is coming out. I am there as an academic who works in popular romance studies, talking with Mary over shrimp salad about American cultural ambivalences around women’s sexuality. And I am also there as a beginner writer—what’s called a wannabe—eager for and honored by Eloisa’s volunteered advice on my own historical romance manuscript. She reads and critiques my first chapter over key lime pie: “Core idea intriguing, but opening scene no good—not enough tension! Raise the stakes! Make the heroine suffer more! And the hero, his eyes could be sky blue.” All great advice, except I keep his eyes brown, “chocolate brown,” influenced I suspect by an early boyfriend.

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Medium 9780874216349

A Conversation with Terry Tempest Williams: Delicious Living magazine, 2003

Michael Austin Utah State University Press ePub

Naturalist, writer, and conservationist Terry Tempest Williams has written numerous books including the esteemed Refuge (Pantheon, 2000) and her most recent books Leap (Pantheon, 2000) and Red (Pantheon, 2001). Williams is currently on the board of directors of the Murie Center and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. This month she is also a featured speaker at the 2003 Bioneers Conference in San Rafael, California. She spoke with us from her home among the red rocks of Castle Valley, Utah.

______________

“A Conversation with Terry Tempest Williams,” Delicious Living, October 2003. Copyright © 2003 Delicious Living magazine, New Hope Natural Media, a division of Penton Media, Inc. All rights reserved

DELICIOUS LIVING: You recently returned from the Arctic. What was that experience like?

TERRY TEMPEST WILLIAMS: The Arctic was life-changing in ways I am still trying to understand. It had been a 30-year dream to visit the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a dream I had been holding ever since I met Mardy Murie at the Teton Science School when I was 18 years old. Mardy gave a slideshow of the trip she and her husband, Olaus, took to the Sheenjek River in 1956. It was this trip taken with friends like George Schaller that inspired the creation of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and its protection in 1960. After imagining this landscape for so long, to actually stand there and breathe in that kind of vast, pure, raw, wild beauty, well, it took the Arctic from a place of abstraction to a place of the real. When the plane dropped us off in the heart of the Brooks Range, the first thought that came into my mind was that I was perfectly safe. Never have I felt that kind of calm and deep peace.

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Medium 9780253006257

2 - “The Historical Burden that Only Oprah can Bear”: African American Satirists and the State of the Literature

Edited by Lovalerie King and Shirley Moo Indiana University Press ePub

DARRYL DICKSON-CARR

Deep within Paul Beatty's most recent novel, Slumberland (2008), the reader will find tucked neatly but auspiciously in a footnote the narrator's droll comment that around the time of the Berlin Wall's fall, Oprah Winfrey was “in the process of buying the rights to the life story of every black American born between 1642 and 1968 as a way of staking claim to being the legal and sole embodiment of the black experience from slavery to civil rights. Thus carrying the historical burden that only she has the strength to bear.”1 While we certainly have no proof that Ms. Winfrey has attempted to acquire any such rights, Beatty's footnote betrays two anxieties. The first regards Oprah Winfrey's real acquisition of film rights to or involvement in the adaptations of many revered or well-known African American literary texts, including Gloria Naylor's The Women of Brewster Place (1982), Sapphire's Push (1996), Toni Morrison's Beloved (1987), and Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937). Garnering mixed reviews, each of these productions has caused no small amount of controversy. The televised film of The Women of Brewster Place (broadcast in 1989), in which Winfrey played a starring role and for which she served as executive producer, simultaneously achieved considerable success and generated widespread criticism within African American communities for its depiction of black males in arguably limited or simplistic roles. Winfrey's production of the Jonathan Demme–directed Beloved (1998) suffered negative reviews for its more literal interpretation of the source material, while the televised Their Eyes Were Watching God (2005) shared the same fate for Winfrey's considerable deviances from the film's textual source. Beatty's novel emerged, of course, well before the production and release of Precious (2009), the adaptation of Push that Winfrey also coproduced, so he clearly could not anticipate that film's runaway critical and commercial success. Nevertheless, his novel reflects an apprehension that Oprah Winfrey tends to compromise the artistry of the works she adapts well beyond the necessary changes that television and media demand.

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Medium 9780253211903

7. Laws of Nature (1901)

Edited by the Peirce Edition Project Indiana University Press ePub

 

MS and TS from the Smithsonian Institution Library (doc. 3804.10). [Published in Philip P. Wiener’s Charles S. Peirce: Selected Writings, pp. 289–321. From a longer paper, “Hume on Miracles and Laws of Nature” and eventually retitled “The Laws of Nature and Hume’s Argument against Miracles,” written at the end of May 1901 at the invitation of Samuel P. Langley, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. After many revisions, Langley declined to publish it.] Peirce aims here to explain to non-specialists what laws of nature are and how they have been conceived—his foil being the nominalist conception typical of Hume’s thought and of modern empiricism. Every genuine law of nature is an objective generalization from observations and must support verifiable predictions about future observations. Subjective generalizations put forward as laws of nature cannot pass the test of predictability. In explaining how predictability is possible, Peirce introduces a theme that will come to dominate his later thought: “Must we not say that . . . there is an energizing reasonableness that shapes phenomena in some sense, and that this same working reasonableness has molded the reason of man into something like its own image?” Peirce points out that his evolutionary conception of law is that of the scientific man, claiming that the reliability of laws of nature leads scientists to accept them as facts, “almost to be called [things] of power,” although with the caveat that any such law might be falsified.

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