Tag Archives: Literature

Exhibit: African American Women’s Literary Societies


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“They Kept Their Word: African American Women’s Literary Societies and Their Legacy” is a fascinating new exhibit that has opened at the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society. The exhibit traces the development and influence of African Americans in Buffalo, particularly with regard to women’s efforts to improve their economic and intellectual conditions.

The remarkable growth and accomplishments that took place in the Buffalo area during the 1830s and 1840s were due to many factors, including expansion of communication through transportation, newspapers, pamphlets, study groups, and lecture series.


Photo: Mary Church Terrell was an influential African American woman in Buffalo in the 1900s. Photo provided.

Communipaw Story Marathon in Jersey City


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A Communipaw Story Marathon will be presented tomorrow, Friday, June 4, as part of Jersey City’s quarterly arts and culture festival, JC Fridays. There will be dramatic readings by professional actors of several short stories by Washington Irving, including three set in Communipaw, from his 1855 collection, Wolfert’s Roost And Miscellanies.

Also included will be an excerpt from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Trish Szmanski will be reading A Tale of Communipaw / Guests from Gibbet Island, the story on which she is adapting a script for theater. According to Trish “The play is coming along well, not done, but close to final in form. Lots of new characters, dialogue, drama, four acts – exciting!”

Communipaw is the historic European place of origin for Jersey City begun in 1634 when one of the first “bouweries”, or farnmsteads, in New Netherland was built there. The homestead was part of Pavonia, a patroonship of Amsterdam businessman Micheal Pauw. Plantations, worked by enslaved Africans, were located there. The Tappan and Wecquaesgeek took refuge there in 1643 before being attacked by the Dutch in the Pavonia Massacre, which led in part to Kieft’s War.

The village of Communipaw was originally part of the Dutch West India Company holdings. After the British takeover it became part of the Province of New Jersey although it retained its Dutch character for hundreds of years. Washington Irving visited the area often and referred to Communipaw as the stronghold of traditional Dutch culture.

Illustration: Joan Vinckeboons (Johannes Vingboon), “Manatvs gelegen op de Noot [sic] Riuier”, 1639. “Manhattan situated on the North Rivier” with numbered key showing settlements at Communipaw.

Chemung County Celebrates Mark Twain in 2010


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The year 2010 will mark the 175th anniversary of the birth of Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), the Centennial of his death, and the 125th anniversary of the release of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Elmira, New York, also known as Mark Twain Country, will be celebrating his life with a year of Twain themed events and special promotions. During this celebration year of Twain, one thousand copies of Twain’s iconic American novel will be distributed, courtesy of the Community Foundation.

The following events will take place from April 21, the death date, through April 24, the day he was laid to rest at Elmira’s Woodlawn Cemetery:

* Wednesday, April 21, (Death Centennial) Hal Holbrook to perform his Emmy & Tony award-winning performance of Mark Twain Tonight at Clemens Center for the Performing Arts.

* Saturday, April 24, Re-enactment of Twain’s gravesite service and burial at Woodlawn Cemetery. The event will use details provided by articles from the New York Post and New York Times along with other historical sources, and will include a horse drawn carriage transporting the casket.

* Wednesday, April 21 – Saturday, April 24, Trolley into Twain Country Tours Centennial Excursions, One hour guided tours that will include a stop to go inside the Mark Twain Study (where Twain penned such classics as Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn while summering in Elmira with his in-laws for 22 years) and the Clemens family burial site at Woodlawn Cemetery.

* Wednesday, April 21 – Friday, April 23, Dine like Twain dinners to be offered at Hill Top Restaurant. Feast on Twain’s favorite foods while overlooking the exact same view of the Chemung River Valley that inspired him while writing his classics.

* April 22 & 24, Twain Notes, A theatrical reading of the personal correspondence of Samuel Clemens and those closest to him. Held at The Park Church, of which Twain was a member.

* Saturday April 24, Tom Sawyer & Becky Thatcher Day at Harris Hill, Harris Hill, the Soaring Capital of America, welcomes Twain enthusiasts to take a glider ride over Mark Twain Country and view the Twain Exhibit at the National Soaring Museum, or join in a Tom Sawyer & Becky Thatcher in a game of putt-putt at Harris Hill Amusement Park.

Other events during in Mark Twain Country during 2010 include scenic glider, vintage plane and helicopter rides over the spectacular views that inspired the author; the dedication of a Twain hiking trail overlooking the Chemung River and complete with Twain quotes; Trolley into Twain Country Tours throughout July and August, the release of a commemorative Twain-labeled Riesling from award-winning Glenora Wine Cellars, and more. Visitors are also encouraged to pay their respects to this American Classic at Woodlawn Cemetery, enjoy a tour of the Mark Twain Study, or visit the permanent display a the Chemung Valley History Museum. A complete calendar of events can be found at www.MarkTwainCountry.com//Twain2010.asp.

For more details on this event or Twain-themed events throughout the year, visit www.MarkTwainCountry.com or contact Cynthia Raj at the Chemung County Chamber of Commerce at cynthia@chemungchamber.org or 800.627.5892.

Illustration: Commemorative Mark Twain poster designed by Finger Lakes artist Brandi Smith.

Exhibition Celebrates Important Literary Couple


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A new exhibit which will run for the next year at the The New York Society Library. “Literary Lives: The World of Shirley Hazzard and Francis Steegmuller” will feature Shirley Hazzard, award-winning author, and Francis Steegmuller, award-winning author, Flaubert expert and translator along with unique images from Hazzard’s private collection.

Shirley Hazzard, author of The Transit of Venus and The Great Fire, unlocks her private collection of personal photographs and books that gives a first-ever look at the life she shared with her husband, Francis Steegmuller, whose pioneering work on Flaubert, Cocteau, and de Maupassant brought him worldwide acclaim.

On view at The New York Society Library, this FREE exhibition will also display photographs of European landmarks taken by Steegmuller, a gifted photographer whose work behind the lens has not been seen before. A 44-page catalogue accompanies the exhibit which will run from March 24, 2010 to January 31, 2011 at the New York Society Library’s, Peluso Family Exhibition Gallery, 53 East 79th Street, between Madison and Park Avenues, New York, NY. Admission is free.

US Cultural History Fellowships Announced


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The Library Company of Philadelphia and Historical Society of Pennsylvania have announced research fellowships in Colonial and U.S. History and Culture for 2010-2011. The fellowships, outlined below, include generally orientated one-month visiting fellowships, and long term dissertation fellowships, and a dissertation fellowship for the study of Early American Literature and Material Texts.

One-Month Visiting Research Fellowships

These two independent research libraries will jointly award approximately thirty one-month fellowships for research in residence in either or both collections during 2010-2011. The two institutions, adjacent to each other in Center City Philadelphia, have complementary collections capable of supporting research in a variety of fields and disciplines relating to the history of America and the Atlantic world from the 17th through the 19th centuries, as well as Mid-Atlantic regional history to the present. For information on the collections, visit www.hsp.org and www.librarycompany.org.

One-month fellowships carry a stipend of $2,000 and are tenable for any one-month period between June 2010-May 2011. Two Barra Foundation International Fellowships, each for $2,500 plus a travel allowance, are reserved for foreign national scholars resident outside the U. S. Some of the short-term fellowships provide for study in specific fields, such as ethnic and immigrant history; history of the book; African American History; visual culture; and economic history (through the Library Company’s Program in Early American Economy and Society). For more detailed information about all of these fellowships, go to www.librarycompany.org/fellowships. We invite inquiries about the appropriateness of proposed topics to jgreen@librarycompany.org. The Library Company’s Cassatt House fellows’ residence offers rooms at reasonable rates.

The deadline for receipt of one-month fellowship applications is March 1, 2010, with a decision to be made by April 15. To apply, visit www.librarycompany.org/fellowships, fill out an electronic cover sheet, and submit one portable document format (PDF) containing a résumé and a 2-4 page description of the proposed research. One letter of recommendation should arrive under separate cover in PDF format as well. Please email materials to fellowships@librarycompany.org. If you wish you apply for more than one fellowship, simply check more than one box on your electronic cover sheet.

Library Company Long-term Dissertation Fellowships

The Library Company also supports dissertation research in residence through the Albert M. Greenfield Foundation Fellowship (on any subject relevant to its collections) and the Program in Early American Economy and Society Fellowship (for research in economic history). The term of these fellowships is from September 2010 to May 2011, with a stipend of $20,000. The awards may be divided between two applicants, each of whom would spend a semester in residence. The application deadline and procedures are the same as for the one-month fellowships as described above, with the addition of a second letter of reference and a writing sample of about 25 pages.

Dissertation Fellowships in Early American Literature and Material Texts

The McNeil Center for Early American Studies, in collaboration with the Library Company, offers two dissertation fellowships in early American literature and material texts, supported by a new grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Fellows will be in residence from July 2010 through July 2011. The stipend for a 13-month term will be at least $28,000. To apply go to www.mceas.org. Deadline, March 1, 2010.

NYS Writers Insitute 25th Anniversary Celebration


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To celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the New York State Writers Institute, former New York State Governor Mario Cuomo and Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin will join Institute Executive Director William Kennedy and Director Donald Faulkner on stage to reminisce about the Institute’s past, celebrate its present, and discuss its future. A short video about the Institute highlighting memorable guests and events from its 25 year history will also be screened [you can see some early video samples here]. In addition the Institute will announce the first selections in its list of “25 Uniquely New York Books,” as chosen by 25 renowned New York state writers. The event, which is free and open to the public, will take place on Monday, November 16, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. in Page Hall, 135 Western Ave., on the University at Albany’s downtown campus.

In 1984, Governor Mario Cuomo signed into law the legislation creating the Writers Institute, giving it a mandate to provide “a milieu for established and aspiring writers to work together… to increase the artistic imagination.” Since then the Institute has hosted over 1,000 visiting writer appearances, screened over 400 films, and presented dozens of writing workshops, symposia, and special events, making it one of the premier literary arts organizations in the country.

The video presentation will provide an overview of the history of the Institute, its founding, and growth over the past 25 years. Included will be clips of such memorable guests as Margaret Atwood, Shelby Foote, Joyce Carol Oates, David Sedaris, Hunter Thompson, and Kurt Vonnegut.

“As part of our 25th anniversary, we have invited 25 renowned New York writers to choose their favorite book about New York—state or city,” said Institute Director Donald Faulkner. “Books that focus on New York themes and landscapes have impacted readers for generations. We thought it would be appropriate to draw attention to some of these books to provide a glimpse of the enormous literary traditions that this state and its authors have to offer. This is not intended to be a ‘best of’ list, but a distinctive and slightly unconventional guide to reading more deeply into the spirit of the Empire State,” Faulkner explained. The first ten selections will be released on November 16, with the remaining 15 titles announced throughout the next several months.

Mario Cuomo, one of the great orators and intellectuals of 20th century American politics, served as the 52nd Governor of the State of New York from 1983 to 1994. He has also published several notable books, including political diaries, collections of speeches, and two books on Abraham Lincoln— most recently, “Why Lincoln Matters: Today More Than Ever” (2004). In advance praise, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. called the book, “A thoughtful and challenging meditation on what Lincoln’s wisdom tells us we Americans should be doing today and tomorrow.”

Doris Kearns Goodwin is a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer, author of bestsellers about Lyndon Johnson, the Roosevelts, and the Kennedys. Her newest book is “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln,” which, by many accounts, helped shape President Obama’s political philosophy. A former professor of government at Harvard University, and assistant to President Lyndon Johnson, Doris Kearns Goodwin appears frequently as a political commentator on network and public television. A long-time friend of the Institute, she has made three previous appearances as a Visiting Writer (in 1991, 1995 and 2005). She is currently researching her next book which is set partly in Albany— a new biography of Teddy Roosevelt.

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.

Hudson Valley Edith Wharton Lecture Tonight


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Alan Price, Professor of English at the Pennsylvania State University will offer a lecture entitled “The Hudson Valley Through Edith Wharton’s French Lens” tonight (Tuesday, November 3rd) at Poughkeepsie’s Marist College. The event will begin at 7 pm in the Hudson River Valley Institute‘s Henry Hudson Room. A reception with light refreshments will follow.

Dr. Price is the author of The End of the Age of Innocence: Edith Wharton and the First World War (St. Martins, 1996) and co-editor of Wretched Exotic: Essays on Edith Wharton in Europe. He has published numerous essays situating Wharton in literary Naturalism and exploring the cultural-historical context of her fiction, e.g., “International Responses to Edith Wharton,” “Edith Wharton’s War Story,” “Dreiser’s Cowperwood and Wharton’s Undine,” “Lily Bart and Carrie Meeber: Cultural Sisters,” “The Composition of Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence,” “Edith Wharton at War with the American Red Cross.”

The event is sponsored by the Marist College Honors Program, the School of Liberal Arts, and the Hudson River Valley Institute.

New Pre-1830s America Fellowship


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The C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience and the John Carter Brown Library are pleased to announce a new research and writing fellowship that may be of interest to members of the list. The Hodson Trust-John Carter Brown Fellowship supports work by academics, independent scholars and writers working on significant
projects relating to the literature, history, culture, or art of the Americas before 1830. The fellowship is also open to filmmakers, novelists, creative and performing artists, and others working on projects that draw on this period of history.

The fellowship award supports two months of research (conducted at the John Carter Brown Library in Providence, R.I.) and two months of writing (at Washington College in Chestertown, Md). Housing and university privileges will be provided. The fellowship includes a stipend of $5,000 per month for a total of $20,000.

Deadline for applications for the 2010 fellowship year is *July 15, 2009*. For more information and application instructions, visit the Starr Center’s website at http://starrcenter.washcoll.edu.