Archive for May 23rd, 2008

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The Humanities: “A Preseverve for the Elite?”

May 23, 2008

Speaking of literary magazines: I know I’ve recently mentioned the Virginia Quarterly Review as one of the most relevant and exciting literary journals available but I feel that I should do so again. Here’s Ted Genoways defending his publication (VQR) against an attack from Zyzzyva editor Howard Junker. I wouldn’t bring it up except 1) I think he’s absolutely right and 2) he speaks to a problem that many arts and humanities organizations have, namely that all of us in those fields think our work is important.

Certainly our work is personally fulfilling, but we also feel it deserves a wider audience and that a wider audience deserves access to those works. In an age of thinning endowment dollars for arts and humanities print publications, it seems impossible to me that Junker would be going out of his way to limit his readership, so he probably isn’t. Rather, it seems that Genoways’ comment is more accurate and Junker’s comments are the talk of “the last place finisher who says he never really wanted to win anyway.”

This entry was posted by: Jim
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Hoosier History Live Website is Live!

May 23, 2008

I met Nelson Price a couple of weeks ago when he stopped by to check out the Meredith Nicholson home in advance of the reception that Hoosier History Live and Too Many Cooks are holding here on June 6th. I’ve been waiting for his website to be ready so I could link to it right away. Well it’s up now and good timing too.

The May 31 show is going to feature Norman Krapf, who we’ve already talked about here. His latest book is being published by the Indiana Historical Society Press. He and Nelson will be discussing German immigration to Indiana and how it’s shaped our culture and our communities, which fits in perfectly with this years 2008 theme of Immigration in Indiana.

I would be remiss if I didn’t also link to Too Many Cooks’ website as well since the reception is for both shows and, of course, the crew of TMC is hard at work celebrating Hoosier food culture. A facet of culture that my ever decreasing pool of pants that fit bears witness of my love. I’m sure I will be linking to both fairly frequently.

So check out the websites, check out the shows, and come out for the reception on June 6th (be sure to RSVP).

This entry was posted by: Jim
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Always the Last to Know

May 23, 2008

Seriously.

I graduated from Ball State’s English Department over 10 years ago and I had to find out by accident that two English professors there, Andrew Scott and Victoria Barrett, just launched a new online (and free) literary journal. Isn’t that the sort of thing that should make its way into an alumni newsletter or magazine or something?

I’ve just skimmed the PDF version of it (cuz I’m often old skool like that) and I can already tell you I’ll be back to read “Stones” by Alberto E. Martinez, “Attention Passengers” by Alexander Parsons, and Sarah Leyden’s “Sleeping Woman.” And, honestly, if I go that far, I’ll probably just go ahead and read the other eight stories too.

Best of luck to them both in this adventure.

If you get a chance to check them out, I’m curious what you have to say about the online format. Some of the stories are long by e-standards and the editors chose not to break stories across multiple pages (or for that matter provide printable versions–other than the downloadable PDF). As readers, what you would you like to see in your full-length e-stories?

This entry was posted by: Jim
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Typographer on Display

May 23, 2008

One of the intriguing things–to me–about the humanities, is the way it so easily turns its critical faculties on itself. In history, for example, students will study as much about past events as they will study the manner in which past events were understood and explained in the past. The same is true in literature where the shifting gaze of the critic bounces easily from author to reader and back again. Novels of today regularly feature characters who are aware they are characters alive only because they are currently being read and vanished when not. Disturbing stuff, in a “Through the Looking Glass” sort of way.

A perfect example of this inwardly reflective quality is the study of typography, where, among other things, the way type is set on a page and the font that is used are critical elements in the understanding of a text–as well as being appreciated as an art in itself.

From now until mid July Ball State’s Bracken Library is exhibiting Howdy Goudy: Frederic W. Goudy and the Private Press in the Midwest. The exhibit is the final project of senior Amy E. Duncan and

…focuses mainly on Goudy and includes three other Midwestern printers: Bruce Rogers, Edwin and Robert Grabhorn. Although all four eventually moved away, they all learned their trade and got their start here, all showing the influence of the Midwest in the Private Press Movement.

This entry was posted by: Jim
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Meandering Indiana – 1

May 23, 2008

One of my schemes for this blog is, as they say, to wander Indiana, which I plan to do through history and memory. We Hoosiers have no shortage of history, and I have a great many memories of days spent in corners, pockets, byways, forests, landmarks, and (let’s be honest) cafes and restaurants throughout Indiana.

I’ll start with Perry County. A genealogist cousin in San Diego says that our branch of the Conners first crossed into the state via Perry County on the Ohio River. More recent history says that a notorious battle went on for years between Cannelton and Tell City to wrest the county seat from each other, and you can still raise the ire of Perryites by mentioning it.

Cannelton is the home of the Indiana Cotton Mill, once the most impressive industrial structure west of the Alleghenies, rival to the textile factories of New England. Tell City, named after William Tell, was a stop on the Indiana Humanities Council’s “Always a River” exhibition barge tour. I remember it for its flood wall, now decorated with a mural. The Ohio River is all about stories of legendary floods, the most devastating in 1937.

My favorite memory of Perry County is an oral history project that was simplicity itself: a high school gym (on the wall, the still-prized banner of a long-ago sectional championship–do I even have to say “in basketball”?), a group of septua- and octogenarians seated at a table with recording equipment, and an entire school’s worth of children, mustered in ranks on the floor. The old timers talked and the kids listened, so fascinated by the stories that the kindergarteners and first-graders refused to leave for their lunchtime. Eventually, though, we all had sandwiches while pondering the riddle of the small African American community that vanished from the environs, long before the young people and most of the teachers were born.

Perry County has an excellent website for visitors.

This entry was posted by: Nancy