The Sunday dozen

24th March 2024

John Wyver writes: the weekend’s selection of articles, audio and video that especially engaged me over the past week.

The dinner party that started the Harlem Renaissance: a wonderful slice of archival research about a 1924 New York dinner party that was arguably the origin moment of the profoundly significant cultural movement; presented online by The New York Times [gift link], with a stylish introduction (detail above), this is written by Veronica Chambers, the paper’s editor of Projects and Collaborations, and curator and writer Michelle May-Curry, lecturer of engaged and public humanities at Georgetown University.

Laughter over comedy: from the Introduction to Death by Laughter: Female Hysteria in Early Cinema: courtesy of filmint, a generous section of Maggie Hennefeld’s much-anticipated book about early film and much more; see also the full review by Paul Joyce at his ithankyou blog.

“I Learned an Awful Lot in Little Rock”: Laura Mulvey reflects on her Gentlemen Prefer Blondes remix: this is just great, from the videographic journal [in]Transition, and the fruit of decades of learning and thinking and creating by two scholars who I am proud to count as friends. Here’s the formal description, but do just watch and enjoy:

Retiring [in]Transition founding co-editor Catherine Grant reflects on her curation of Laura Mulvey’s remix of a sequence from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) in the opening editorial of our journal’s inaugural issue in 2014. Here she presents a new videographic study of this remix that she made in collaboration with Mulvey herself in 2024, which includes this foundational scholar’s audio commentary on her work.

In memory of David Bordwell, the ‘Aristotle of cinema study’: another terrific tribute to the late critic, historian and teacher, here from James Naremore for the BFI.

3 Body Problem‘s failure of imagination: Phillip Maciak for The New Republic on visual style, or lack of, in Netflix’s new sci-fi extravaganza, drawn from Liu Cixin’s bestselling novels.

The Ordinal Society: details of, and a free download of the Introduction to [click on ‘Look inside’], Marion Fourcade and Kieran Healy‘s forthcoming important study that makes the argument ‘that technologies of information management, fueled by the abundance of personal data and the infrastructure of the internet, transform how we relate to ourselves and to each other through the market, the public sphere, and the state.’

I will give thee Madonna: Richard Beck for the LRB [£, but limited free access] on the 1993 Waco siege and its fall-out.

How Lucy Sante became the person she feared: a fascinating article by Emily Witt speaking with the noted writer about her transition and accepting her identity as a transgender woman; Sante, whose work I have followed and admired for decades has just published a memoir, I Heard Her Call My Name.

Edith Piaf in Five Songs: five short, rich and delightful editions of The Essay with five women responding to one song as performed by the great chanteuse, including Muriel Zagha speaking movingly about ‘Les Amants d’un jour’, and especially about this archival fragment:

Researching, talking and writing about British colonialism in a time of culture war: the text of a talk by the excellent Alan Lester, Professor of Historical Geography, that draws in part from the draft Introduction to his forthcoming The Truth About Empire.

The magnificent unreality of Barbara Comyns: for Engelsberg Ideas, and reviewing a new biography by Avril Horner, Oliver Soden thoughtfully and elegantly celebrates the works of a writer I’d never heard of and who he characterises as ‘the missing link between Sylvia Townsend Warner’s Lolly Willowes (whose heroine escapes patronising relatives for a rural life of witchery) and the early novels of Angela Carter.’ Which is definitely good enough for me.

Talking dirty: Will Wiles seeks a positive in the ghosts of the Underground: I enjoyed these, as it were, off-the-wall reflections about the shadows of the Elizabeth Line for The RIBA Journal; they are, Wiles suggests, ‘a strangely intimate communion with other Londoners, including those of the deeper past: real ghosts. These traces say you are not the first and will not be the last.’ 

And finally…: for the week in which we lost Steve Harley, here he is with Cockney Rebel and a timeless class from 1975:

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