Memory, Movement and Action

Posted on behalf of Karen M. Huck, Library Specialist

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Cover art for The Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. Click the image to see it in the Library catalog.

Location: Undergrad
Call Number: PS3573.H4768 U53 2016

There is another copy at the Ikenberry Residence Hall Library and an online audiobook is also available (access on-campus or with UIUC NetID).

An important work that grapples with issues of movement, both physical and psychological, for Blacks, Whites and Native Americans during the early 1800s, Underground Railroad bleeds with relevance. Reimagining the Underground Railroad as a physical train, Whitehead follows Cora, the protagonist, on a subterranean escape, from stop to stop, encountering varied degrees of oppression above ground and even below. Painful yet hopeful, the story propels readers towards new understandings of both blatant and subtle racism that permeates society at that time. But how far have we come since those early days? Not far enough. Cora’s opinion that “Poetry and prayer put ideas into people’s heads that got them killed, distracted them from the ruthless mechanism of the world” illustrates how action and movement matter more than words and ideas. In contemporary terms, voting proves stronger and more potent than believing. Once each American embraces “doing” over “hoping, praying and thinking,” the true wishes of the people will prevail. Underground Railroad is Whitehead’s call to action for every American.

Photo of the author

Photo by Madeline Whitehead.

Read reviews from The New York Times, The Guardian, or The Denver Post.

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Celebrate African American History Month with Natasha Trethewey’s Monument: Poems New and Selected

Posted on behalf of Matthew Roberts, English Librarian

The Literatures and Languages Library celebrates African American History Month with Natasha Trethewey’s retrospective volume, Monument: Poems New and Selected. The monograph, which features poems from Domestic Work (2000), Bellocq’s Ophelia (2002), and the Pulitzer Prize winning, Native Guard (2006), introduces readers to Trethewey’s unflinching ability to observe how the remnants of both personal and historical traumas live on in the American landscape and imagination.

Cover art for Monument

Cover art for Monument., by Natasha Trethewey. Links to Catalog record.

Location: Literatures & Languages New Books
Call Number: PS3570.R433 A6 2018

In this work, the reader will confront a complex poetic engagement with the topic of memory, as Trethewey’s poetry poignantly observes how the past and future survive contemporaneously in the present. This feature of Trethewey’s work appears explicitly throughout Native Guard, a collection that, among other things, examines the legacy of the all black Louisiana Native Guard, which protected the Union fort on Ship Island during the American Civil War. For instance, the poem “Theories of Time and Space,” informally addresses the reader, and offers some direction as to the roads that one might take while reading the collection:

You can get there from here, though
there’s no going home.

Everywhere you go will be somewhere
you’ve never been. Try this:

head south on Mississippi 49, one—
by—one mile markers ticking off

another minute of your life. Follow this
to its natural conclusion—dead end

at the coast, the pier at Gulfport where
riggings of shrimp boats are loose stitches

in a sky threatening rain. Cross over
the man-made beach, 26 miles of sand

dumped on a mangrove swamp—buried
terrain of the past. Bring only

what you must carry—tome of memory
its random blank pages. On the dock

where you board the boat for Ship Island,
someone will take your picture:

the photograph—who you were—
will be waiting when you return

This photograph of who you were will be waiting for you, waiting for you in some future time and some future place. And yet, the past always waits, waits for one to return to it. But insofar as it waits, the past is not solidified, not set in stone like a monument. In this regard, the subjects of Trethewey’s poetry—for instance slavery, miscegenation, the Civil War, or socio-economic disparity—do not capture who ‘we’ as a nation were, but rather portray who ‘we’ as a nation are. Rather than a reference to the past and a symbol of completion, Monument waits for its readers, sending them on a journey from which there is no return.

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New Arrivals – Books to Break the Ice

Posted on behalf of Karen Huck

Hope this chilly season is treating you well! Here are some books on our new arrivals shelf that you might enjoy.

1. The Winter Solder – Daniel Mason

Winter Soldier Cover art

The Winter Soldier cover. Links to Catalog record.

Location: Literatures & Languages New Books
Call Number: PS3613.A816 W56 2018

When WWI breaks out in Austria, 3rd-year medical research student, Lucius, is sent to the front to treat wounded soldiers, not knowing anything practical about how to care for them.  Under the tutelage of a young nun who has no medical training, but who has gleaned necessary procedures on the fly from Lucius’ predecessor, Lucius slowly learns the intricacies of casualty care.  Shell shock, however, a new phenomenon to this medical team, remains a mystery that the two struggle to relieve.  The ramifications of war and medicine clash in ways never imagined in this atmospheric novel that will draw you in and keep you rooting for young Lucius and his nun.

Headshot of Daniel Mason

Author Daniel Mason, Photo Credit Sara Houghteling

You don’t have to take our word for it. Here are reviews in:

The Washington Post

The New York Times

Publisher’s Weekly

2. America for Beginners by Leah Franqui

Cover art for America for Beginners

America For Beginners cover. Links to Library Catalog entry.

Location: Literatures & Languages New Books
Call Number: PS3606.R422578 A78 2018

Planning a reconciliatory trip to America to see her son, Pival Sengupta, a newly widowed Bengali from Kolkata embarks on her first foray into the world against the unwanted advice from her servants. Her journey is guided by a Bangladeshi twenty year old and an American “companion” who take her to sights she has only heard of and ultimately to the home of her son’s lover, Jake. All parties learn about the intricacies of human interaction and relating in ways none of them would have imagined. A darkly humorous story of love. You will not be disappointed.

Photo of author Leah Franqui

Photo by Priyam Dhar.

Read more reviews here:

USA Today

Broad Street Review

The Washington Times

3. Stella: A Play for Lovers by Goethe

Cover art for Stella

Stella, a Play for Lovers cover. Links to Catalog record.

Location: Literatures & Languages New Books
Call Number: PT2026 .S813 2018

A shocking new translation of a love triangle in 1776, the year The United States of America was born! When a young woman and her mother travel to escape from poverty and enter the service of a young woman who’s been left by her husband three years prior, the three bond quickly over lost love stories and the plight of women in that age. The story remains suspenseful throughout, and the denouement surprises with all of the force no doubt originally intended.

More reviews:

Medium

Rochester

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Encyclopedia of Modernism Trial – Through Nov. 16, 2018

Screenshot of the Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism headerHello all,

The Literatures and Languages Library is running a trial of the Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism until November 16, 2018.

The Encyclopedia of Modernism has 1,900 articles from experts in the field, and over 100 images. The General Editor, Professor Stephen Ross (former President of the Modernist Studies Association), and over 1500 contributors worked to build a comprehensive resource on modernism.

Content is cross-referenced and covers eight key subject areas (Literature, Architecture, Visual Arts, Music, Dance, Theatre, Film, and Intellectual Currents). Articles on people include a biography and explanation of theories, a list of works, and further reading. Overviews of concepts include an abstract, definitions and history of the concept or term, related terms and concepts, major periods, selected manifestos, and further reading.

The advanced search option allows researchers to limit searches by subject and use Boolean operators (and shortcuts like +, -, and &).

Screenshot of the advanced search form

The browse options allow researchers to peruse subjects (the eight mentioned above), movements (including Abstract Expressionism, Bauhaus, Cubism, Dada, Expressionism, Futurism, Montage, and Social Realism), and places (Modernism in Africa, Asia, and more).

Please email Paula Carns (pcarns@illinois.edu) with any questions or feedback.

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Literatures and Languages Library to Participate in Ithaka SR

This academic year the Literatures and Languages Library (LLL) will participate in a joint Ithaka S+R and Modern Languages Association project to gather data on how local faculty carry out their research. Over the course of the year, Paula Carns, Head of LLL, and Matt Roberts, Librarian for English, will work closely with UIUC faculty to learn about their research habits and in response will create services to better meet their needs.

More on the project can be found here: http://www.sr.ithaka.org/blog/announcing-a-new-project-on-language-and-literature/

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University Library expands its holdings of Early American Imprints Online

The University Library now has 2 supplements to Early American Imprints, Series I. Evans

Early American Imprints, Series I. Evans, Supplement from Library Company of Philadelphia, 1670-1819

Early American Imprints, Evans and Shaw-Shoemaker—the definitive resource for researching every aspect of 17th-, 18th-, and early 19th-century America—have been dramatically expanded. From the acclaimed holdings of the Library Company of Philadelphia comes a broad range of recently uncovered books, pamphlets and broadsides, most of which were not included in Charles Evans’ monumental work, Roger Bristol’s supplement, or “American Bibliography,… Learn more.

Early American Imprints, Series I. Evans, Supplement from American Antiquarian Society, 1652-1819

This dramatic expansion of the venerable Evans and Shaw-Shoemaker digital collections of Early American Imprints makes available more than 5,350 rare and unique early American printed documents, all catalogued by the American Antiquarian Society. For today’s students and scholars of early American history, literature and culture, no other collections offer the opportunity to view and search newly available publications spanning the Colonial… Learn more.

 

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RBdigital

The University Library subscribes to RBdigital, eAudio books from Recorded Books, which allows unlimited simultaneous users for each title. I tried the app out for the past few weeks, and I enjoyed using it. There are 5714 eAudio books from which a user can browse from, and the selections are pretty good, with many genres to chose from. I was lucky to find the newest Expanse novel on there, Persepolis Rising by James S.A. Corey. You can download the app on both Apple and Android phones/devices and on Amazon Kindle. Having the app at your fingertips on your phone is a really easy way to have access to audio books, and that it can be on both Apple and Android phones was a huge plus for me. At the time that I was trying the application out I was in between those two phones and using a tablet. The only big downside to this app was that the devices never synced together; I usually only got so far in one device by the time I moved on to the next, and the places where I left out where not automatically saved. I had to put a bookmark to save my place, which logically makes sense but I was expecting the application to just do that without any interference from me (sort of like Netflix or Hulu).
The layout of the platform is bordered by red with a background of black, which is a nice way for the covers of the books to be really seen and noticed. While browsing, the digital bookshelves allow you to see the covers of the books, along with the title, author and availability in plain text underneath them. You can search books by keyword, title, author or narrator while doing an easy search. There’s also an advanced search option that has genre, availability, or audience as search options (there will be dropdown menus for all of them with options to select from). You get to check out the books for three weeks, and as long as no one is checking that some ebook out, you can check it out again after those three weeks are over if you need more time. 
While listening to your books, at the bottom of your screen you will have 4 selections: the playback speed, chapter list, bookmarks and sleep timer. You have playback speed options from 0.5x to 2.0x, with 0.25x increments. Clicking on the chapter list tells you how long each chapter is, and allows you to move from chapter to chapter. The bookmarks lets you view and save multiple bookmarks. The sleep timer has the options of 15, 30, 45, 60 and 90 minutes before the app stops playing. 
Overall, I had a good experience using the app, and you should give at a try too. You’ll need to create an individual account to check out books. For more information on how to use this, you can use the following resource page: http://guides.library.illinois.edu/eAudio
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Kendrick Lamar’s Pulitzer Prize Win

One of the many covers of articles circulating the web, from CNN Money

A few days ago, the Pulitzer Prizes where announced, and one winner in particular surprised many people: Kendrick Lamar for his album Damn. I for one was not surprised at all because if you, like me, have listened to his amazing albums, you knew that this was coming. His lyrics in sweet tempo with his sound choices is so relevant and representative of today’s black culture that I am honestly surprised that this has not happened earlier. All of his albums have explored very similar themes, and have also recreated (at least for me) what poetry is. To Pimp A Butterfly at times reads more like a complex poetic piece exploring life than actual music, and is in his ability to create deep, and sometimes even, analytic pieces what makes Kendrick Lamar one of the best artists out there. It’s in his formidable capability to recreate the rough gang world from which he comes from and intermesh it with his feelings, contemplations, and most importantly, hope, that makes him so worthy of a Pulitzer and the public fame he is now under.

If you don’t believe me, or haven’t checked out his dope music yet, I recommend you do!

Here is where you can get To Pimp a Butterfly.
Here is where you can get Damn.
If you want to check out all that’s available by Kendrick, click here.
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