Shelly

  • I’m so glad we watched “Here I Stand,” the documentary film based on Robeson’s autobiography of the same title.  Having read the the book, the film brought to life so many of Robeson’s words–words I understand […]

    • I felt the same way, Shelly. I also felt awe. How could one man possibly be so talented, so committed, over so many years? I also like it that the movie left in the suspicion, by Robeson’s son, that his father had been victimized by CIA-administered psychotics in Russia and then the actual fact that, in England, he was subjected to repeated electro-shock treatments that clearly bent and nearly destroyed him. I plan to watch the film again. It is conventional documentary–and yet not conventional at all.

  • This post will be brief:  following our conversations, I’m writing now to point out the ways in which the Jefferson School regularly appears in the details of our readings.   This time, Claudia Jones mentions th […]

    • HI Shelly, I’m so interested in this Jefferson School of Social Science in NYC. At first, I thought you were talking about the Historically Black Jefferson School in Charlottesville that became a site of contestation after Brown V. Board of Education because it was not “desegregated” but specifically for African Americans. Conservatives had it shut down almost vindictively even though it was a famously great (and famous) school–an alternative to Booker T. Washington’s trade schools– through which many African American intellectuals passed.

      But, no—-the Jefferson School of Social Science in NYC is an entirely different entity and focused on adult education, I see, and specifically Marxist adult education. I’m interested, among many other things, in this:
      “Among the faculty were a number of leftist academics dismissed from the City University of New York, including the school’s director, Howard Selsam.”

      It’s important for students today to be aware of such vulnerabilities. At past historical moments, writers, activists, and professors were all in serious jeopardy (or fired) for their beliefs and their activism. It’s not just “all words” but serious consequences. Salutary to remember this!

      A lot of the Jefferson School Archive appears to be on line: lib.nyu.edu/findingaids/html/tamwag/tam_005/scopecontent.html Fascinating research for someone. I hope someone in class takes it up.

    • Agreed! I plan to visit the archive in the coming weeks, not only because of the CUNY connection, but also because so many of our black listed authors taught at its Harlem location. More soon!

  • As I read Yesterday Will Make You Cry for our class discussion, I kept thinking about the ways in which the scant criticism about the novel focuses on reading the novel as an exploration of a crisis of masculinity […]

    • I am interested in this redaction as well–all that is literally cut “out”–the substance which culminates to a brimming contradiction in U.S. capitalism.

    • Professor,

      You wrote:

      Later, the narrator explains, “he felt that there was something about their relationship which transcended all the sordid aspects of homosexuality, and even attained a touch of sacredness. Because whatever else Rico might have felt, Jimmy knew that he always believed that they were right” (323).

      That this novel has been read primarily as a prison novel or a critique of masculinity instead of as a gay novel is fascinating to me. Throughout the novel, throughout Jimmy’s first interactions with other people, his queer sexuality and his thoughts on queerness are made paramount.

      His relationship with Rico is profound and showcases the depths of his humanity – it’s as if Chester Himes writing awakens in the novel when Jimmy meets Rico. For this novel to have been written, in an almost mockery of heterosexuality and rigid genders, in this time period, is amazing and must be celebrated.