Edwidge Danticat on Art and Injustice

Haitian repression inspires Danticat

by Reilly Kiernan, The Daily Princetonian

An immigrant author must be brave enough to “create dangerously,” said Haitian writer Edwidge Danticat, who delivered the second annual Toni Morrison Lecture last night in Richardson Auditorium and received a standing ovation from the audience.

Danticat discussed how dealing with injustice in her native Haiti inspired her writing and cultivated her belief in the importance of art in coping with oppression and conflict.

Continue reading Edwidge Danticat on Art and Injustice

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Public Effects of Fiction

P. D. Smith:

…Ken Kolsbun’s new book, Peace: The Biography of a Symbol. There’s also a fascinating article about it on the BBC.

They interview peace historian Lawrence S. Wittner who says that “it is still the dominant peace sign,” a fact partly due to its beautiful simplicity. It’s perfect for spraying on walls and is a universally recognised symbol of peace and resistance to repression.

Continue reading Public Effects of Fiction

Iraq War Novels and Iraq Conquest Novels – Where They Are and Are Not

“Where’s the first wave of Iraq War fiction?” – asked at Paper Cuts: A Blog About Books, at the New York Times

There are number of good comments there on a variety of matters, though some that are wanting. In answer to that central question, the first waves of Iraq War fiction are in the movies, on TV, in plays and novels and short stories… While there is not nearly as much as one might hope to see, it hasn’t been too difficult to compile a list of dozens of such works, plus works on closely connected US militancy in the “Middle East,” Afghanistan in particular: https://apragmaticpolicy.wordpress.com/2007/11/05/iraq-war-fiction-3/

Continue reading Iraq War Novels and Iraq Conquest Novels – Where They Are and Are Not

Sociology, Art, Health – Susan Bell

 “Talking Bodies“:

“Works of art can anchor social movements,” says Bell, Bowdoin’s A. Myrick Freeman Professor of Social Sciences. “Think of the AIDS quilt, or the Clothesline Project that is used to bring attention to issues of sexual assault and domestic violence against women. Images can be a powerful way to signal, engage, shock. People respond viscerally. It opens up a conversation.”

In a surprising twist on her discipline, Bell has turned to analyses of works of art to guide her in her research. In recent publications in journals including Health, Sociology of Health and Illness, and Qualitative Research in Psychology, Bell has made a case for incorporating the analysis of visual narratives into sociological work as documents and barometers of human experience.

The First Great Work of American Culture Inspired by the Iraq War?

Title, above, of a long skimming post at Daily Kos.

Video of Steve Earle’s referenced City of Immigrants.

Some corrective remarks, in my view, regarding the assessment of Three Kings: John Pilger’s view in Hollywood Hurrah.

Lists of Iraq and Afghanistan war fiction – novels, graphic novels, plays, film and video – also, nonfiction.

The Powerful Art of Polemics and Other Political Films

Caryn James

Not so long ago, the documentary feature category was among the snooziest at the Oscars, the target of jokes that said you couldn’t lose by making a film about the Holocaust. That backward-looking pattern began to morph when Michael Moore won the 2002 award with “Bowling for Columbine,” and exploded with last year’s win for Al Gore’s one-man show, “An Inconvenient Truth.” Odd though it sounds, Michael Moore and Al Gore have made the image of documentaries – O.K., maybe not sexy, but hot.

This year all five nominees are politically charged, four are about war, and amazingly, only one feels like homework. Spurred by global conflict and by technology that allows filmmakers to turn out movies in months rather than years, these works carry urgent messages. With their pointed arguments, though, this year’s nominees also raise an inescapable question: Can they have any real political impact?

They try in extremely varied ways. Mr. Moore’s “Sicko” is wildly comic while tearing apart the country’s health care system. Alex Gibney’s “Taxi to the Dark Side,” about American abuses of prisoners in the war on terror, is eloquent.

And even the less artistic films vividly present the faces and voices of people who have witnessed some of today’s most anguishing conflicts. Continue reading The Powerful Art of Polemics and Other Political Films