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Autumn Journal on Autumn Journal: 8

- By Michael Thurston

(Station platform in London. The Independent: Getty Photo)

            “Save my skin and damn my conscience.”
Remember when the sun shone easy, say eight years ago, about this time of year? Remember when life was comfortable, life was fine? Sure, plenty remained undone, but we’d come out of the worst of a disastrous economic downturn, the machinery of electoral politics looked to be functioning smoothly, neither the incumbent president nor his opponent was a raving sociopathic sexual harasser and white nationalist pseudo-fascist, and...


Colloquies

Autumn Journal on Autumn Journal: 7

- By Michael Thurston

Read Part Six here

“a howling radio for our paraclete”

As September winds to a close, leaves beginning to turn color and fall, warm days washed out by rains moving from west to east or up the coast, protests continue in parks and public squares. The cooling air is charged with tension as critical moments of decision loom. Though democratically elected, autocratic leaders have used crises real and manufactured to amass power, they have gutted the institutions long supposed to stand as bulwarks against just such abuses, and they have passionately argued on one occasion for the inviolable...


Colloquies

Autumn Journal on Autumn Journal: 6

- By Michael Thurston

(Photo by Robert Capa/Magnum,
from msnbc.com "Remembering the Spanish Civil War")

Read Part Five here.

“And I remember Spain”

It is, I think, no accident that MacNeice concludes section V of Autumn Journal with “the day is to-day” and then spends section VI remembering Spain, but the juxtaposition requires some explanation. The connection is neither chronologically nor narratively obvious. The poem’s present moment is mid-September, and the trip to Spain recalled...


Colloquies

Asian American Literature: The State of the Art

- By Mai-Linh K. Hong

Literature is, and has always been, a social endeavor. As such, it is also an ethical endeavor, for it has to do with how humans imagine, know, and recognize ourselves and each other. We co-inhabit a searingly unequal world, yet we are also surrounded by awesome beauty, creativity, and possibility. It is through the stories we tell and retell (or not), the spaces we create for art (or not), and the broad range of human experiences we honor (or not) that we will continue to mold a future that might serve us all.

One of the great lessons of American ethnic literatures—here, Asian American literature in particular—is that literary imaginings can constitute public assertions of who is human, who speaks, and who belongs. Our political...


Colloquies

A Response to the Literary Address by Cathy Schlund-Vials

- By Mai-Linh K. Hong

The “tireless telling of alternative stories,” to echo Cathy Schlund-Vials’ words, is how Asian American literature combats xenophobia and closed-mindedness—the stubbornly repeated, and frankly boring, stories told by madmen. Asian Americans have many ways to tell our many stories. And, as we grow into our immense, unwieldy diversity as a social-political community, we will come up with more. Literature doesn’t always look or sound like Literature with a capital L. Part of our task as writers, scholars, and teachers is to name the literary in the world around us—the ordinary and extraordinary acts of language and story-making that texture our lives.

When Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior...


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