Tuesday, April 23, 2013
The March 2013 issue of American Literature includes a review essay by James Dawes titled "Racism and Violence in Current US Literary and Cultural Criticism" that reviews Living with Lynching along with three other books. Dawes is a very well respected literary and cultural historian who engages violence and trauma. In this review essay, he frames his assessment in terms of theoretical contribution versus historical recuperation. Living with Lynching is viewed as capable of the latter, and the review gives the impression that this is a much more limited contribution because our current historical moment demands the kind of theoretical interventions offered in Jodi Melamed's Represent and Destroy: Rationalizing Violence in the New Racial Capitalism. I very much admire Melamed's work, but that project is very different from trying to do justice to people who lived and wrote while the mob remained a palpable threat.
Though the review did not seem very interested in taking my book on its own terms, I appreciate that Living with Lynching got some space in a journal I value and some attention from a scholar I very much respect.
See American Literature 85.1 (March 2013): 177 - 84.
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
In the Spring 2013 issue of Modern Drama, award-winning theatre historian Harvey Young calls Living with Lynching "insightful and well-researched." He finds, "...Mitchell spotlights the labour and presence of female playwrights in the origination of African American drama and challenges historical studies that identify male authors as the catalysing force in its development. Mitchell’s assertion is bold and persuasive."
See Modern Drama 56.1 (Spring 2013): 137 - 40.
In the Spring 2013 issue of Reviews in American History, historian Dennis Downey, who teaches at Millersville University, sees value in Living with Lynching mostly to the extent that it seems to align with the work of someone he can respect: renowned theologian
James H. Cone. I admire Cone and his work, so I certainly don't mind being put in that company.
With Cone's approaches helping to redeem Living with Lynching, Downey says (among other things), "Mitchell notes with keen insight, African Americans interpreted lynching as a direct assault on individuals, group identity, and domestic stability. 'In all lynching dramas,' she writes in summary, 'homes, not just bodies, are victimized.'"
See Reviews in American History 41.1 (March 2013): 87 - 93.
Monday, April 1, 2013
On Friday, March 22, 2013, I had the honor of delivering a keynote lecture at a Women's History Month banquet at Marietta College. Dr. Richard Danford serves as their Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, and he earned his PhD at Ohio State University. He therefore receives ASCENT magazine and saw the feature in which they highlight my scholarly and community activities. Because I emphasize the role that women played in initiating lynching drama, he immediately recognized my investment in building on the legacy that women in the United States have left us.
The visit was a joy from beginning to end. I met with a literary research methods course taught by my SSAWW colleague Professor Nicole Livengood; I met with an organization for black women students; I spoke to a group of English majors and History majors interested in archival research; and I met with members of Marietta's newly formed Lesbian and Gay Task Force to share the findings of my forthcoming essay on anti-LBGT violence.
This incredibly productive day ended with the lecture itself, a generative Q&A session, and a book signing that their bookstore generously arranged and attendees graciously supported.
Still, there was yet another element that made this trip special. I stayed in an "executive suite" in one of the dorms. Turns out, it was a brand new dorm built in honor of the institution's first black alumnus, Charles Sumner Harrison, Class of 1876. (He also earned an M.D. in 1895 from Howard University.) Two of his brothers later graduated from Marietta as well. It was an humbling treat to walk past these portraits throughout my stay.