Number 64 (2018)

Edited by Hans-Jürgen Grabbe and Martina Kohl

Martin Luther King, Jr. and America’s Fourth Revolution: The Poor People’s Campaign at Fifty

This essay traces the development of King’s thought and organizational strategies as he came to realize the successes of the first half of the 1960’s civil rights campaigns would not come to fruition unless he was able to mobilize a broader movement built on class as well as racial equality. These efforts culminated in the Poor People’s Campaign in June 1968. King, from 1965 until 1968, struggled to engineer the nation’s willingness to “address” racial inequality into a willingness to realize the injustice, oppression, and anti-democratic nature of poverty as well. A consideration of how King’s class-conscious thought evolved, its vision and ultimate failure in the summer of 1968, have importance today. To understand the history, strategy, and potential of his faith, theory and conviction to challenge capitalism and embrace class as a social movement category is to re-engage King’s consciousness and do justice to his legacy. We conclude with a brief consideration of King’s legacy in the context of contemporary struggles for equality.

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Nuclear Family Emotional System and Family Projection Process in Tennessee Williams’s Period of Adjustment

This article explores the nuclear family dynamics in Williams’s play Period of Adjustment (1960) through Bowen Family Systems Theory: nuclear family emotional system and family projection process. Period of Adjustment is considered one of Williams’s most Southern plays where marriage and family values are comprehensively accentuated. However, on an emotional level, Period of Adjustment connects Williams’s familial works with Bowen’s views on the American family in the mid-twentieth century. The play is mostly neglected by many Williams scholars, and it is described thematically as shallow and superficial. Bowen’s theory provides a perceptive reading of the play that adds a novel interpretation to Williams’s emotional capability of producing a family systems-oriented drama. Furthermore, Period of Adjustment illustrates Dr. Murray Bowen’s concept of a family projection process and the four patterns of the nuclear family emotional system: emotional distance, dysfunction of one spouse, marital conflict, and impairment of one or more children.

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“I don’t know about you, but it all goes through my skin”: War Trauma Writing by Lawrence Joseph

The Arab American poet and professor of law, Lawrence Joseph (b. 1948 in Detroit), devotes a large part of his poetry to dwell on the pervading violence in Near and Middle East war situations, mainly in Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq. Large sections of his poetry in Shouting at No One, Curriculum Vitae, Before Our Eyes (collected in the publication Codes, Precepts, Biases, and Taboos) as well as Into It express the poet’s indignation at and his denunciation of the contemporary savagery. He laments that the “weight of violence/ is unparalleled in the history of species” (Into It 4) and that there is “a state of collectively accepted permanent war” (Game Changed 127). In his poetry, he declares the urgent need to condemn violence: “What needs to be said -/ why not say it?” (Into It 4).

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Stage Rights: Performing Masculinity in the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921

Scholars and history buffs have been experiencing a renewed interest in the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, which resulted in the deaths of as many as three hundred people and destroyed the wealthiest black community in America. This article is not intended to recite well-told histories of the ‘riot,’ or to reveal newly found information. Rather, this work is an attempt to layer into the analysis of the Tulsa Race Riot sociological considerations of gender, with a specific focus on how white men and black men performed their interpretations of masculinity. Attempting to defend and/or lay claim to the benefits of traditional American manhood, white and black male Tulsans engaged in a direct competition steeped in race, class, and gender. So far, studies have focused mostly on race and class. A gender analysis reveals a nuanced yet powerful display of the acquisition, acceptance, and assertion of historic notions of race, authority, strength, and manhood in the Jim Crow South.

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Recycling as Creativity:
An Environmental Approach to Twentieth-Century American Art

Discarded items or waste provide a bountiful, although largely ignored, resource for artists interested in appropriating found objects to give them a second life or share their story. Artists may be inspired to create works from scrap items encountered by chance. In other instances, deliberate scavenging for reusable materials can take them into new environments that spark fresh ideas. The methodology of found materials brings up questions about reconfiguring the appropriation of junk in ways that raise awareness of the nature of objects and products in modern life, consumption practices, recycling, and waste. Discourse surrounding the dichotomy between art and junk focuses largely on the connection between everyday objects and high-art objects with American consumption practices. Recent waste studies by scholars, such as Boscagli, Manco, Morrison, Schmidt, and Whiteley, demonstrate varying aims toward both  elevating the status of trash as material ripe for fine-art making and as a conceptual conduit for raising awareness of the dangers in our rapidly increasing and accelerating consumer habits.

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The Politics of Sports and Protest: Colin Kaepernick and the Practice of Leadership

Many Americans view sports as race-neutral and apolitical. However, sports both influence, and are influenced by, society. Athletes, fans, coaches, and owners are not immune from all of the social ills impacting the larger society, including evidence of racial injustices. Protests in sports are not new (Rhoden; Smith). Tommie Smith and John Carlos, elite American sprinters, famously raised fists of freedom in the air on the medal stand during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, to protest unequal treatment facing black people in America, and other people of color around the globe. More recently, some black athletes have joined, and led efforts to again protest unequal treatment facing people of African ancestry in America with the hopes of bringing about positive social changes. 

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