This year American scholar Patricia J. Williams was invited to Britain to speak as Reith Lecturer, only the fourth woman and the third black speaker to contribute to the prestigious series of lectures which has a 49-year history. Her chosen subject was as topical as it proved controversial. Professor Williams’s subtle and measured discussion of the persistence of racism in daily life – and in even the most liberal of consciousnesses – struck a chord in British society. The furore that broke in the press was based as much in a certain ‘British’ intransigent refusal to allow that the persistence of prejudice could possibly be as ‘bad’ here as across the Atlantic as it was in a basic reluctance to address distinctive realities in contemporary society. Richard H. King and I interviewed Williams immediately following the transmission of the lecture series on Radio 4 and the transcripts, published by Virago as Seeing a Colour-Blind Future: The Paradox of Race, are reviewed in this issue by Larry Brown. Brown places Williams alongside fellow African-American scholar bell hooks in order to assess the different perspectives they take on issues of race and the politics of identity, and in order to decide on nature of the often very different roles of contemporary black intellectuals.
South to a New Place
Suzanne W. Jones and Sharon Monteith
In 1971 Albert Murray published South To A Very Old Place. Commissioned by the editor of Harper’s magazine, Willie Morris, to write about ‘home’ in a series of articles, the African American writer produced much more: South To A Very Old Place is memoir, travelogue, social commentary. Orchestrated as a jazz and blues composition, it is a meditation on the American South. Taking his title as our starting point, in this issue of Critical Survey we have gathered contributors who continue the work of critically and creatively mapping the American South, a region that exasperates as it inspires definition(s). Murray’s blues forms are open-ended and improvised so the blues metaphor and the jazz form are key in a collection called ‘South To A New Place’. It begins to chart connections with ‘other’ Souths in ways that open up spaces and places from which we might read the South as a site of exchange – the South of Italy in Michael Kreyling’s essay; the South as shaped and commodified by the best-selling magazine Southern Living in Amy Elias’s essay; and the literary South of Walker Percy and Richard Ford’s making in Martyn Bone’s essay, for example.
Pat Wheeler, Sharon Monteith, and Livi Michael
Livi Michael has written four highly acclaimed novels, Under a Thin Moon (London: Minerva, 1993), Their Angel Reach (London: Martin, Secker and Warburg Ltd, 1994), All the Dark Air (London: Martin, Secker and Warburg Ltd, 1996) and Inheritance (London: Penguin, 2000). This interview was conducted prior to the publication of Inheritance. She has been shortlisted for the John Steinbeck and the John Llewellyn Rhys Awards and is a winner of the Royal Society of Literature Arthur Welton Scholarship. Michael has also been awarded by the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize and the Society of Authors Award.
Talking to Patricia J. Williams Following the Reith Lectures.
Richard H. King, Sharon Monteith, and Patricia J. Williams
This year’s Reith Lecturer was Patricia J. Williams, a lawyer and Professor of Law at Columbia and author of the award-winning The Alchemy of Race and Rights (1993) and The Rooster’s Egg: The Persistence of Prejudice (1995) as well as numerous essays and articles in law journals and in The Village Voice, The Nation and Ms. Magazine. Professor Williams was invited to speak in this the European Year Against Racism but she found herself and the topic of her lectures the subject of heated media debate in Britain. Tabloids and broadsheets alike reviled her as ‘a militant black feminist who thinks all whites are racist and the family is wrong’ (Daily Mail) and her lectures were even described as ‘mumbo-jumbo’ in the Daily Telegraph. Britain’s newspapers and Melvyn Bragg on Radio 4’s ‘Start the Week’ combined to demonise the first black woman speaker in the 49-year history of the Reith Lectures.
Suzanne W. Jones, Sharon Monteith, Rosalind Poppleton-Pritchard, John Place, Kate Fullbrook, Dennis Brown, and Brenda McKay
Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy by Annette Gordon-Reed. Charlottesville and London: University Press of Virginia, 1998. paper ISBN 0-8139-1833-2.
Fictions of Labor: William Faulkner and the South’s Long Revolution by Richard Godden, New York and Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997, pp. 288. ISBN 0521- 56142-6 (hardback), £37.50.
The Green Breast of the New World: Landscape, Gender, and American Fiction, by Louise H. Westling. Georgia: University of Georgia Press, 1998. ISBN 0-8203-2080-3. paper £14.50.
Inventing Southern Literature, by Michael Kreyling. Jackson: Univ. of Mississippi Press, 1998, Pp. xviii + 200. $17.00. ISBN 1-57806-045-1.
Dixie Debates: Perspectives on Southern Cultures Richard H. King and Helen Taylor, Eds. London: Pluto Press, 1996. Pp. xii, 242, ISBN 0 7453 0958 5 (HB), 0 7453 0957 7 (PB).
Literature, by PeterWiddowson. Routledge £8.99 ISBN 0-415-16914-3
The Feminine Political Novel in Victorian England, by Barbara Leah Harman. Charlottesville and London: University Press of Virginia, 1998. ISBN 0-8139-1772-7.
Paul Bentley, James Booth, Mark Forshaw, Judy Hayden, Sharon Monteith, Jill Terry, Pat Wheeler, and Joanna Zylinska
Notes on contributors
Martyn Bone, Amy Elias, Carolyn M. Jones, Suzanne W. Jones, Michael Kreyling, Barbara Ladd, Sharon Monteith, and Scott Romine
Notes on contributors
David Siar, Anna Tripp, T. J. Lustig, John Simons, Sharon Monteith, Peter Stoneley, Tina M. Kelleher, Alison Sweeney, Alison Chapman, Dennis Brown, Maurice Rutherford, Michael Murphy, and Matt Simpson
The Illusions of Postmodernism by Terry Eagleton. Oxford: Blackwell, 1996. Pp. X + 147, $44.95 hb.; $15.95 pb.
Mother Love by Rita Dove. New York: Norton, 1996. pp. 78, ISBN 0393314448 £7.95.
Distinguished Discord: Discontinuity and Pattern in the Critical Tradition of ‘The Turn of the Screw’ by Robin P. Hoople, Lewisburg, Pa.: Bucknell University Press; London: Associated University Presses, 1997, £34.50). Pp. 328. ISBN 0-8387-5326-4.
European English Now, European Journal of English Studies, 1. 1. Swets and Zeitlinger, 132 pp., $69 / Dfl 115 to individuals, Dfl. 70 to ESSE members.
The Norton Anthology of African American Literature, Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Nellie Y. McKay et al., New York: Norton, 1997, pp. 2,665 Paper with CD 0393959082 £21.00.
Mark Twain in the Company of Women, by Laura E. Skandera- Trombley, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1994; paper £15.50. Pp. xxiii, 219. ISBN 0 8122 1619 9.
Monsters in the Closet: Homosexuality and the Horror Film by Harry M. Benshoff. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1997. Cloth £45.00 ISBN 0719044723, paper £14.99 ISBN 071904473.
Kate M. Cleary. A Literary Biography with Selected Works by Susanne K George. Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press, 1997. 250 pp. Cloth £28.50, ISBN: 0-8032-2164-9.
Consuming Subjects: British Women and Consumer Culture in the Eighteenth-Century by Elizabeth Kowalski-Wallace. New York: Columbia University Press, 1997. cloth £32.00 ISBN 0231105789; paper £12.00 ISBN 0231105797.
Paul Oppenheimer, An Intelligent Person’s Guide To Modern Guilt, (London: Duckworth, 1997), pp. 127, cloth £12.95 ISBN 0-7156- 2759-7.
Passing Through Glass by Hugh Underhill. (National Poetry Foundation, 1997) ISBN 1 900726 10 6, £5.00
The Vigil by C K Williams. (Bloodaxe Books, 1997) ISBN 1 85224 402 X, £7.95
Yeah Yeah Yeah by Roddy Lumsden. (Bloodaxe Books, 1997) ISBN 1 85224 403 8, £7.95
Kiosk by Hans Magnus Enzensberger, translated by Michael Hamburger. Bloodaxe Books, 1997.
La Jeune Parque by Paul Valéry. French - English Bilingual Edition, translated by Alistair Elliot. Bloodaxe Books, 1997.
Nantucket and the Angel by Gillian Allnutt. Bloodaxe Books. ISBN I - 8 5224 - 382 1 £6.95
The Sky Behind the Forest – Selected Poems by Liliana Ursu. Bloodaxe Books. ISBN I - 85224 - 386 - 4 £7.95
Larry Brown, Jeanne Heuving, Suzanne W. Jones, Richard H. King, T. J. Lustig, Sharon Monteith, Linden Peach, Rosalind Poppleton-Pritchard, Alan Shima, John Simons, Peter Stoneley, and Helen Taylor
Notes on contributors