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Anne Lovering Rounds

Abstract

The decade after the attacks of 9/11 and the fall of the World Trade Center saw a proliferation of New York-themed literary anthologies from a wide range of publishers. With titles like Poetry After 9/11, Manhattan Sonnet, Poems of New York, Writing New York, and I Speak of the City, these texts variously reflect upon their own post-9/11 plurivocality as preservative, regenerative, and reconstructive. However, the work of such anthologies is more complex than filling with plurivocality the physical and emotional hole of Ground Zero. These regional collections operate on the dilemma of all anthologies: that between collecting and editing. Every anthology, and every anthologist, negotiates the relationship between what is present and what is missing. In light of some of the emerging and established scholarship on the history of the English-language anthology, this article reads closely the declarative paratexts and the silent but equally powerful canonical choices of several different post-9/11 poetry anthologies. In so doing, the article comes to suggest the ways the anthology’s necessary formal incorporation of absence and presence, rather than its plurivocality alone, connects collections of New York’s literature to the fraught discourse of memorialization and rebuilding at the site of the World Trade Center.

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David Allen and Agata Handley

Abstract

In White Noise (1985) by Don DeLillo, two characters visit a famous barn, described as the “most photographed barn in America” alongside hordes of picture-taking tourists. One of them complains the barn has become a simulacrum, so that “no one sees” the actual barn anymore. This implies that there was once a real barn, which has been lost in the “virtual” image. This is in line with Plato’s concept of the simulacrum as a false or “corrupt” copy, which has lost all connection with the “original.” Plotinus, however, offered a different definition: the simulacrum distorts reality in order to reveal the invisible, the Ideal.

There is a real building which has been called “the most photographed barn in America”: the Thomas Moulton Barn in the Grand Teton National Park. The location—barn in the foreground, mountain range towering over it—forms a striking visual composition. But the site is not only famous because it is photogenic. Images of the barn in part evoke the heroic struggles of pioneers living on the frontier. They also draw on the tradition of the “American sublime.” Ralph Waldo Emerson defined the sublime as “the influx of the Divine mind into our mind.” He followed Plotinus in valuing art as a means of “revelation”—with the artist as a kind of prophet or “seer.”

The photographers who collect at the Moulton Barn are themselves consciously working within this tradition, and turning themselves into do-it-yourself “artist-seers.” They are the creators, not the slaves of the simulacrum.

Open access

Brygida Gasztold

Abstract

The focus of my article is a unique place, the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Massachusetts, which connects Yiddish culture with the American one, the experience of the Holocaust with the descendants of the survivors, and a modern idea of Jewishness with the context of American postmodernity. Created in the 1980s, in the mind of a young and enthusiastic student Aaron Lansky, the Yiddish Book Center throughout the years has become a unique place on the American cultural map. Traversing the continents and crossing borders, Lansky and his co-workers for over thirty years have been saving Yiddish language books from extinction. The Center, however, has long stopped to be merely a storage house for the collection, but instead has grown into a vibrant hub of Yiddishkeit in the United States. Its employees do not only collect, distribute, digitalize and post online the forgotten volumes, but also engage in diverse activities, scholarly and cultural, that promote the survival of the tradition connected with Yiddish culture. They educate, offering internships and fellowships to students interested in learning Yiddish from across the world, translate, publish, and exhibit Yiddish language materials, in this way finding new users for the language whose speakers were virtually annihilated by the Holocaust. To honour their legacy, a separate project is aimed at conducting video interviews that record life testimonies of the speakers of Yiddish. Aaron Lansky’s 2004 memoir, Outwitting History, provides an interesting insight into the complexities of his arduous life mission. Today, the Center lives its own unique life, serving the world of academia and Yiddishkeit enthusiasts alike.