Dirt in Lillian E. Smith’s “Strange Fruit”

Lillian E. Smith’s Strange Fruit (1944) has been on my shelf for a few years now. Right now, it sits back in the United States, untouched and locked away in a box in a storage room. When I purchased it, at a book sale, it was one of those books that I had heard about and that looked relevant to my research. I bought it, sat it on the shelf, and always picked something else up when I started to read something new. Here in Norway, I am starting work on a new project that explores interracial intimacy in works by African American authors that appeared around the time of the Loving v. Virginia decision. Even though Smith was white, I felt that I needed to finally read Strange Fruit and see what connections I could make between the 1944 novel and the later works. There are many connections, especially to something like Ernest Gaines’ Of Love and Dust.

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#lukecagesyllabus

As I sat down to write my recent posts on Buck Wild in Milestone Comics` Icon, I did not imagine that it would take four posts to discuss a character that appears in maybe four-five issues. Even with those posts, I did not get a chance to cover every aspect of the character. What arose, though, was an interest in a broader discussion around representation in comics that I started looking at with my first posts on Icon and specifically a focus on Luke Cage. Dwayne McDuffie and M.D. Bright created Buck Wild as a satire on Luke Cage, from his origin story to his costume and speech. After speaking with John Ira Jennings “Afrofuturism and Comics” class last week, I thought now may be the time to think a syllabus which would explore these issues in a broader manner. The result is a continuation of Tara Betts’ the #lukecagesyllabus that she started in 2016 after the first season of Luke Cage dropped on Netflix. Make sure to check out her two syllabi below.

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The Unattainable Past in Criminal: The Last of the Innocent

Nostalgia powerfully pulls at us, especially as we get older. Deriving from the Greek words nóstos (homecoming) and álgos (pain), nostalgia relates to a longing for the familiar that has passed away. However, the authenticity of that past is not reality. It exists as a mental construction, one that plays up the feelings of youth and innocence while hiding the realities of the past. This is what Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ Criminal: The Last of the Innocent (2015) addresses. It plays with and satirizes readers’ nostalgic desires.

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