Category Archives: 5 Titles

5 Titles: Horror Films from African American Directors

The 5 Titles series highlights books, music, and films in the library’s collection featuring topics related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and/or highlighting the work of authors from diverse backgrounds. Each post is intended to provide a brief sampling of titles rather than a comprehensive overview of the topic. This month, the five titles have been selected by Stephen Conrad, Team Lead for Western Languages in the Monograph Acquisitions Department.

With Halloween upon us, it seems like a fitting time to showcase five horror films from Black directors. The recent attention garnered by Jordan Peele’s films, and even more recently Nia DaCosta’s Candyman, is certainly warranted, but we’re here to take a dive into some older and perhaps overlooked spooky films lurking in the stacks.


Ganja & Hess - WikipediaGanja & Hessdirected by Bill Gunn (1973). A/K/A Blood Couple, a vampiric story of an old dagger’s germs infecting a couple with an insatiable taste for blood. Bill Gunn’s psychedelic, experimental and surreal saga eclipses all bounds of genre and form and has rightfully come to be acknowledged as a masterpiece. Playing the lead role of the anthropologist Hess Green is none other than Duane Jones, who was the iconic and tragi-heroic lead character in George Romero’s classic 1968 Night of the Living Dead. To quote critic James Monaco: “If Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song is Native Son, Ganja and Hess is Invisible Man.” Also to note, it was remade by Spike Lee in 2014 with the title Da Sweet Blood of Jesus.


Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde - WikipediaDr. Black, Mr. Hyde, directed by William Crain (1976). In mid-70s Los Angeles. Dr Henry Pride (Bernie Casey) is a successful doctor who develops a formula to cure liver ailments, but with disastrous side effects, especially when he begins experimenting on himself. Once injected, the doctor becomes a murderous white-skinned monster, turning his evil intentions specifically upon pimps and sex workers. The director of 1972’s Blacula crafted his second Blaxploitation horror classic with this take on the Stevenson tale, updated for the streets of Watts. One of the coolest features is extensive inclusion of the Watts Towers towards the end, where Pride/Hyde meets his demise.


Def by Temptation - WikipediaDef by Temptationdirected by James Bond III (1990). A minister-to-be travels from North Carolina to New York City where he encounters a deeply evil succubus prowling on Black men, including his brother, in a swank bar. James Bond III’s only directorial effort, this Troma Films production features a cast that includes Kadeem Hardison, Bill Nunn, Melba Moore, Samuel L Jackson and Freddie Jackson. The neon-strewn sets, inclusion of the comedic and terrific period soundtrack elevate this above the typical Troma schlock fare. But don’t get it twisted, this is still bizarrely gory and gloriously off-kilter. And, it seems like an entire dissertation could be built on the cultural ramifications of Dwayne Wayne, in 1990, being consumed and regurgitated a-la-Cronenberg by a television set that has a cartoonish bust of Ronald Reagan sitting on top of it.


Tales from the Hood - WikipediaTales from the Hooddirected by Rusty Cundieff (1995). Four ultra-violent horror vignettes hosted by a Mr. Simms (Clarence Williams III) in his funeral home as he gives a tour and tells tales to three hoods in search of stashed drugs. Director Rusty Cundieff (also at the helm of the riotous 1993 hip hop docu-spoof Fear of a Black Hat) unleashes the stories in classic Tales from the Crypt fashion but with a definite moral bent. Perhaps best of all is the one starring Corbin Bernsen as a flag-clutching racist politician named Duke, who is beset by a foul end at the hands of small dolls in his mansion that was formerly a plantation owner’s house. The segment even manages to tie in media manipulation, reparations, and ancestral folklore. Bonus points for an excellent soundtrack featuring the likes of Wu-Tang Clan and Gravediggaz.


Amazon.com: Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror : Jordan Peele, Rusty Cundieff, Ernest Dickerson, Tony Todd, Xavier Burgin: Movies & TVHorror Noire: The History of Black Horrordirected by Xavier Burgin (2019). A documentary survey through the history of Black horror films and the African American role in the genre from Birth of a Nation through the present day. This is a film version of the book by Robin Means Coleman, Horror Noire: Blacks in American Horror Films from the 1890s to Present. A terrific introduction that will surely leave the viewer wanting to watch and know much more.


If you’re looking for more horror films this Halloween, be sure to check out Lilly Library’s current collection spotlight on scary movies, also curated by Stephen Conrad!


5 Titles is directed by the Research & Instructional Services (RIS) Department at Duke University Libraries.

5 Titles: Environmental Justice

Janil MillerThe 5 Titles series highlights books, music, and films in the library’s collection featuring topics related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and/or highlighting the work of authors from diverse backgrounds. Each post is intended to provide a brief sampling of titles rather than a comprehensive overview of the topic. This month, the five titles have been selected by Janil Miller, Librarian for Marine Science and Coordinator, Pearse Memorial Library at Duke Marine Laboratory, and Brittany Wofford, Librarian for the Nicholas School of the Environment.

Brittany WoffordBlack Americans and other minority populations have long been disproportionately affected by toxic chemicals in the workplace and communities. Multiple studies have found that race is a major factor in siting hazardous waste facilities. In fact, activists and scholars often identify 1982 as the start of the modern environmental justice movement when the residents of Warren County, North Carolina protested against the siting of the Warren County PCB Landfill in their county. Afterwards, organizers and activists moved so-called mainstream environmental organizations to include environmental justice as a priority and worked within the government to create the EPA’s Office of Environmental Equity, now known as the Office of Environmental Justice. Today, the environmental justice movement encompasses many issues that most strongly burden communities of color, including water access, sanitation, exposure to toxins, air quality, displacement and climate change.

These titles range from foundational texts to works by a new generation of activists, researchers and filmmakers. While different in format and focus, they all highlight the power of community activism in the fight against environmental racism and moving toward a more just future.


Dumping In Dixie: Race, Class, And Environmental Quality, Third Edition:  Bullard, Robert D.: 9780813367927: Amazon.com: BooksDumping in Dixie: Race, Class, and Environmental Quality by Robert D. Bullard (1990). Bullard’s work is a foundational text in environmental justice literature, identifying a shift in the environmental movement, which had previously focused on wildlife conservation and pollution abatement. Focusing on the efforts of five Black communities, he details the social and psychological impacts associated with the siting of polluting facilities and the mobilization of those communities, empowered by the civil rights movement, to fight against those injustices. In doing so, he situates environmentalism as a key social justice issue. Bullard is currently a Distinguished Professor of Urban Planning and Environmental Policy at Texas Southern University, having previously served as Dean of the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs. In 2020, he was honored with the UN Environment Programme’s Champions of the Earth Lifetime Achievement Award.


There's Something In The Water | Columbia University PressThere’s Something in the Water: Environmental Racism in Indigenous and Black Communities by Ingrid R. G. Waldron (2018). In this work, Waldron, an associate professor in the Faculty of Health at Dalhousie University and the Director of the Environmental Noxiousness, Racial Inequities & Community Health Project, details the efforts of Mi’kmaq and African Nova Scotians fighting racism and environmental hazards in their communities. Using settler colonialism as an overarching theory, Waldron unpacks how environmental racism “operates as a mechanism of erasure enabled by the intersecting dynamics of white supremacy, power, state-sanctioned racial violence, neoliberalism and racial capitalism in white settler societies.” This work is unique in its exploration of intersectionality and calls attention to the ways race can be excluded or downplayed in environmental justice work and narratives.


Waste: One Woman's Fight Against America's Dirty Secret: Flowers, Catherine  Coleman, Stevenson, Bryan: 9781620976081: Amazon.com: BooksWaste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret by Catherine Coleman Flowers (2020). Catherine Coleman Flowers is an extraordinary woman with a powerful story to tell. The book details the varied life experiences that shaped her into a tireless champion for the far-too-numerous poor Americans across this country that suffer from inadequate sanitation. Ms. Flowers’ story begins in the Black Belt of Alabama, a region that played a pivotal role in the fight for civil and voting rights in the mid-1960s. This struggle was deeply personalized through the witness of her parents’ commitment to and support of these social justice movements. Her activism and advocacy blossomed early and continued to grow organically out of persistent exposure to a wide spectrum of injustices. In 2008, she met and accepted support in her fight to reduce disparities in the healthcare system from Bryan Stevenson and his Equal Justice Initiative in nearby Montgomery. While her life’s work has exposed her to celebrities and numerous advocates, she keeps her focus on those whose daily struggle is safe and proper sanitation. Inspired by powerful role models like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bryan Stevenson, Ms. Flowers is surely inspiring the next generation in their quest for social justice.


Docuseek | Global Environmental Justice CollectionGEJ: Global Environmental Justice Documentaries. This platform is an academic streaming source for the best in social issue and documentary film, with hundreds of titles in all major disciplines. In browsing the titles, films newest to the platform are clearly highlighted. Films can be discovered through the subject index while advance search allows for limiting results by keyword, film length, language, awards, appropriate audience, etc. Guides associated with many films provide additional details, selected excerpts if time for viewing is limited, discussion questions and supplementary information. Two included works are:

    • People of the Feather (2011), directed by Joel Heath with the community of Sanikiluaq inhabitants of the Belcher Islands in Hudson Bay. This film looks at the many changes to their way of life as upstream dams/hydro-energy facilities release warm, fresh water in the winter season, changing the sea-ice nature and currents.
    • Tar Creek (2012), directed by Matt Meyers. This film is “the story of the worst environmental disaster you’ve never heard of in northeastern Oklahoma,” the far, far reaching consequences of the transformation of the Quapaw Tribe’s reservation “into one of the largest lead and zinc mines on the planet.”

The Routledge Handbook of Environmental Justice (Routledge International  Handbooks): Holifield, Ryan, Chakraborty, Jayajit, Walker, Gordon:  9781138932821: Amazon.com: BooksThe Routledge Handbook of Environmental Justice, edited by Ryan Holifield, Jayajit Chakraborty and Gordon Walker (2018). This volume “presents an extensive and cutting-edge introduction to the diverse, rapidly growing body of research on pressing issues of environmental justice and injustice. With wide-ranging discussion of current debates, controversies, and questions in the history, theory, and methods of environmental justice research, contributed by over 90 leading social scientists, natural scientists, humanists, and scholars from professional disciplines from six continents, it is an essential resource both for newcomers to this research and for experienced scholars and practitioners.” The 51 chapters are divided into four broad sections: (1) “Situating, analyzing, and theorizing environmental justice,” (2) “Methods in environmental justice research;” (3) “Substantive issues” and (4) “Global and regional dimensions.” The online book allows for keyword searching; results can be further refined by selecting subject or geographic filters. The chapters are easily navigated by menu, are well referenced, and available as PDFs.

Chapter 30, Urkidi, Leire and Mariana Walter’s, “Environmental justice and large-scale mining,” looks at environmental justice in the climate of expanding global demand and rapid growth in the resource extraction industry. It is arranged in three broad areas: the biophysical characteristics of large-scale mining; the distribution of burden/benefits; and lastly a granular look at social “struggles, movements, and discourses” surrounding the industry.


5 Titles is directed by the Research & Instructional Services (RIS) Department at Duke University Libraries.

5 Titles: Unsung Black Women in the Olympics

 

 

 

 

 

The 5 Titles series highlights books, music, and films in the library’s collection featuring topics related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and/or highlighting the work of authors from diverse backgrounds. Each post is intended to provide a brief sampling of titles rather than a comprehensive overview of the topic. This month, the five titles have been selected by RIS intern Tashiana Scott-Cochran.

When one thinks of Black women in the Olympics, we might immediately reflect on the celebrity, acolytes, achievements, and athletic prowess of tennis prodigies Venus and Serena Williams. However, dating back to 1936, many Black women have competed and won in their respective sports. Tennessee State University, under the tutelage of Coach Ed Temple, has the distinction of being home to the first Black Women’s Track team. It is no coincidence that several Black women in the Olympics, including Wilma Rudolph and Wyomia Tyus both featured in this month’s 5 Titles selections, achieved the milestone due to Temple’s legendary coaching.

The 5 Titles selected from the Duke University Libraries reflect the stories of Black women who mitigated their race, class, gender, sexuality, and their expectation of White America, Black America, and the world at large. These women — Alice Coachman, Theodora “Tidye” Pickett, Wilma Rudolph, Wyomia Tyus, and Althea Gibson, among others — have made significant contributions in their respective sports without receiving their just due.


Before Jackie Robinson: The Transcendent Role of Black Sporting Pioneers:  Gems, Gerald R.: 9780803266797: Amazon.com: BooksBefore Jackie Robinson: The Transcendent Role of Black Sporting Pioneers, edited and with an introduction by Gerald R. Gems (2017). This volume, edited by Gerald R. Gems, is an important introduction to Black athletes. The title provides pertinent information on athletes, who, in many instances, have not received the treatment of full-length scholarly biographies. Gems’ work highlights the impact of African American athletes on US black-white relations from the 1890s to the 1940s. Robert Pruter, author of one chapter, examines the life of Theodora “Tidye” Pickett, one of the first African American women to participate in the Olympic games and a track and field star in the 1930s. Tidye Pickett is considered the first woman to compete in the Olympic games in 1932 in Los Angeles and one of two Black women (Louise Stokes the other) who competed in the 1936 games in Berlin, Germany.


Tigerbelle: The Wyomia Tyus Story: Tyus, Wyomia, Terzakis, Elizabeth:  9781617756580: Amazon.com: BooksTigerbelle: the Wyomia Tyus Story by Wyomia Tyus and Elizabeth Terzakis, with a foreword by Joy Reid (2018). Worthy of examination of her overlooked monumental accomplishments, Tyus is the first person to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals, setting a new world record in both the 1964 and 1968 Olympics for the 100-meter track and field event. Tyus’ life speaks to growing up in Georgia during Jim Crow, to social activism, gender equity, and inclusiveness. A finalist for the Track and Field Writers of America’s 2018 Armory Foundation Book Award and A Women’s National Book Association selection for the National Reading Group Month Great Group Reads for 2018, it is clear why this book has been a contender for many accolades and awards. In the decorated imagery, for example, the readers can “see” Tyus loosening up, “shaking it off”, and dancing in preparation for a competition. The author establishes Tyus as a dominating presence, a graceful sprinter who possessed the focus and accuracy of a mercenary.


A Spectacular Leap: Black Women Athletes in Twentieth-Century America:  Lansbury, Jennifer H.: 9781557286581: Amazon.com: BooksA Spectacular Leap: Black Women Athletes in Twentieth-Century America by Jennifer H. Lansbury (2014). Jennifer H. Lansbury studies the experiences of six Black women who participated in competitive sports in the twentieth century through the lens of race and gender. “Lansbury places the biographical narrative of each woman in the social context and describes the increasing role of women in sport.” She aptly notes that these Black women, while breaking racial barriers, were simultaneously facing criticisms about their sexuality and femininity. In the 1940s, Alice Coachman participated in integrated meets while confirming her sexuality in an era when women in track and field faced concerns about being a tomboy or were described as mannish. This is a shared experience for Wilma Rudolph, whose coach Ed Temple implored her and her teammates to be “young track ladies first and track girls second” so that they would be “foxes” not “oxes” (pp. 132-33).


Amazon.com: Game Changers: The Unsung Heroines of Sports History  (9781501137105): Schiot, Molly: BooksGame Changers: The Unsung Heroines of Sports History by Molly Schiot (2016). Before the term “instafamous” and the immediate, instant gratification society we have become accustomed to, there have been many Black women who have made contributions to their chosen sport that have been unnoticed. This is the impetus for Schiot’s work. Her two-year endeavor is a full-length text consisting of extravagant illustrations and summaries, varying in length and depth. Her work is a conversation piece that does not dismiss the cultural context for these Black female athletes in lieu of twenty-first century revisionist perspectives of race, gender, and athleticism. Ironically, these Black women Olympians, women such as Ora Mae Washington, Wyomia Tyus, Wilma Rudolph, and Althea Gibson, would have continued to remain obscure were it not for the reach of social media.


Passing the Baton: Black Women Track Stars and American Identity (Sport and  Society): Ariail, Cat M.: 9780252043482: Amazon.com: BooksPassing the Baton: Black Women Track Stars and American Identity by Cat M. Ariail (2020). Cat M. Ariail’s work, as described by the University of Illinois Press blog, looks at how “black American women track athletes used the Olympic stage to insert blackness and femaleness into the image of Americanness.” It is in that vein that Ariail situates the pivotal role played by these unsung Black women, who shattered boundaries and created records, yet found themselves rendered invisible, with their contributions and sacrifices rendered null. In her work on Black female athletes, Ariail lifts many Black women Olympians’ names out of obscurity, thereby making their lived experience of race, gender, sexism and their athletic achievements inextricably bound to one another.


5 Titles is directed by the Research & Instructional Services (RIS) Department at Duke University Libraries.

5 Titles: Southern African American Outsider Artists

 

 

 

 

 

The 5 Titles series highlights books, music, and films in the library’s collection featuring topics related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and/or highlighting the work of authors from diverse backgrounds. Each post is intended to provide a brief sampling of titles rather than a comprehensive overview of the topic. This month, the five titles have been selected by RIS intern Megan Koslofsky.

This month’s 5 Titles highlights the visual art of African American outsider artists who lived and worked in the American South. These artists, working with traditional or unconventional materials, documented and commented on the world around them during the Jim Crow era and beyond. Their work visually preserves the stories and experiences of African Americans living in the American South contributing to a deeper and more inclusive understanding of our nation’s shared history.


Souls Grown Deep, Vol. 1: African American Vernacular Art of the South: The  Tree Gave the Dove a Leaf: Paul Arnett, William S. Arnett: 9780965376600:  Amazon.com: BooksSouls Grown Deep: African American Vernacular Art of the South, edited by Paul Arnett and William Arnett (2001). This title is a comprehensive overview of forty African American artists living and working in the American South. The book includes 800 color photographs and autobiographical accounts of their lives and works. Essays by scholars, civil rights leaders, and individuals working in the art profession examine the importance of these artists and their works. No longer neglected or diminished as primitive, unschooled or folk art, the book places these artists and their work firmly in the pantheon of 20th century American art. You can find out more about the Souls Grown Deep Foundation here.


Between Worlds: The Art of Bill Traylor: Umberger, Leslie, Marshall, Kerry  James, Stebich, Stephanie: 9780691182674: Amazon.com: BooksBetween Worlds: The Art of Bill Traylor by Leslie Umberger with an introduction by Kerry James Marshall (2018). Bill Traylor, born into slavery in 1853, spent the majority of his post-emancipated life as a sharecropper near Selma, Alabama. Eventually moving to segregated Montgomery at the age of 85 in 1938, he began painting and drawing scenes of urban life during Jim Crow and remembered scenes of rural life, ultimately creating more than one thousand works. While his work received limited attention during his life, it was not until thirty years after his death, in 1949, that his work was no longer marginalized and received the consideration it deserved. This exhibition catalog of the retrospective of his work at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in 2018 includes 204 color plates. The introduction by artist Kerry James Marshall considers Traylor’s marginalization as an African American self-taught artist and curator Leslie Umberger’s essay explores Traylor’s veiled and coded commentary on issues of race and class.


Clementine Hunter: Her Life and Art: Shiver, Art, Whitehead, Tom:  9780807148785: Amazon.com: BooksClementine Hunter: Her Life and Art by Art Shiver and Tom Whitehead (2012). Born in Louisiana in late 1886 or early 1887 at Hidden Hill Plantation, Clementine Hunter, at fifteen, left to work as a sharecropper with her family at Melrose Plantation. It was at Melrose Plantation in the 1930’s, using the leftover paints of a visiting artist, that Hunter began to paint her experiences of plantation life as a field laborer and domestic servant and documenting the culture of the local African American community. After the death of her husband, Hunter began to sell her work. Living to the age of 101, she had achieved significant acclaim with museum shows and honors. This book includes reproductions of her work, photographs of the artist and her process, and extensive biographical information. This book confirms her rightful place in the canon of American art. You can learn more about Clementine Hunter here and here.


Amazon.com: Hard Truths: The Art of Thornton Dial (9783791350585): Cubbs,  Joanne, Metcalf, Eugene W.: BooksHard Truths: The Art of Thornton Dial, edited by Joanne Cubbs and Eugene W. Metcalf with essays by Joanne Cubbs, David C. Driskell, and Greg Tate (2011). Thornton Dial, born in 1928 on a former cotton plantation in Alabama, gained prominence in the early 21st century with his monumental works inspired by the rural American South which have been showcased in numerous museum shows and collections. In the 1980’s, Dial committed himself to making large scale paintings, drawings, sculptures and assemblages utilizing found materials after the Pullman factory he worked at closed. Dial’s work explores themes of racism, class, war, poverty, and civil rights. This exhibition catalog, for a show featuring Dial’s work at the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 2011, features seventy of Dial’s works and includes essays by scholars of African American art. You can learn more about Dial’s works here and here.


Gee's Bend: The Women and Their Quilts: Arnett, William, Wardlaw, Alvia,  Livingston, Jane, Beardsley, John: 9780971910409: Amazon.com: BooksGee’s Bend: The Women and Their Quilts by John Beardsley (2002). Located in the bend of the Alabama River, the area known as Gee’s Bend was settled in 1816 as a cotton plantation. The artists featured in this title are former sharecroppers and descendants of the enslaved Africans originally brought to the plantation. Working in isolation, the women created quilts reusing fabrics and designing their own patterns. This title, published in conjunction of the exhibition of the quilts at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, includes 350 color illustrations. The traveling exhibit brought these artists to national attention, while the quilts, with their vibrant colors and abstract designs, established a uniquely American art form born from the experiences of their African American female creators.


5 Titles is directed by the Research & Instructional Services (RIS) Department at Duke University Libraries.

5 Titles: Beyond Lucky Charms

Ciara HealyThe 5 Titles series highlights books, music, and films in the library’s collection featuring topics related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and/or highlighting the work of authors from diverse backgrounds. Each post is intended to provide a brief sampling of titles rather than a comprehensive overview of the topic. This month, the five titles have been selected by Ciara Healy, Librarian for psychology & neuroscience, mathematics, and physics.

The Irish are a diasporic culture, though colonized by their nearest neighbors, the British, for almost 800 years. The urge to resist British rule lasted all of those years. Ireland became self-governing with the establishment of the Irish Free State on December 6, 1922. Prior to the establishment of the Free State, the Potato Famine led to the deaths of 1 million Irish, 12.5% of the country’s population. In the years after – 1845 to 1855 – 1.5 million Irish emigrated, many of them to the United States, forming one of the largest émigré populations in the US. Difficult times, colonialism, lack of industrialization, violence, and indifference to the health and welfare of the Irish by the British contributed to the diasporic dreams of the Irish. In the titles below, both Irish fiction and nonfiction, emigration, travel, violence, oppression and family are common themes. The 5 titles below include these themes across a diverse variety of fiction, nonfiction/research, and a current podcast.


How the Irish Became White: Ignatiev, Noel: 9780415963091: Amazon.com: BooksHow the Irish Became White by Noel Ignatiev (2009). “A Frenchman named Gustave de Beaumont traveled the country in the 1830s and wrote about his travels. He compared the conditions of the Irish to those of “the Indian in his forest and the Negro in chains. . . . In all countries, . . . paupers may be discovered, but an entire nation of paupers is what was never seen until it was shown in Ireland.” Initially, upon arriving to the U.S., the Irish were not considered white. Signs offering work read, “Irish need not apply.” Spoiler: How the Irish Became White is not a heroic coming to terms with their class, race or ethnicity.


Milkman: Burns, Anna: 9781644450000: Amazon.com: BooksMilkman by Clare Burns (2018). A novel set in Northern Ireland during “The Troubles” (1968-1998), the narrator is a nameless young woman coming of age in a claustrophobic house in the violent, politicized city of Belfast. She unwittingly captures the attention of a man called the Milkman, putting herself and her family in danger. Her attempts to avoid all contact with the Milkman and the Troubles is thwarted by her frequent walking around town while reading. This mild eccentricity draws attention and puts her and all of her relationships in danger. The book details how deeply The Troubles insinuated itself into every aspect of life, with nothing left untouched by repression, violence and dread. Milkman is saved from being entirely ominous by the narrator’s insight and dark humor. There is some echo of our own current, divisive political situation. Burns’ book won the 2018 Man Booker Prize and the 2018 Nation Book Critics Circle award.


City of Bohane: A Novel: Barry, Kevin: 9781555976453: Amazon.com: BooksCity of Bohane by Kevin Barry (2011). A speculative fiction novel set in 2053 in a Western city in Ireland is beset by violence, horrible fog, rival gangs and excellent descriptions of what everyone is wearing to the fight. This is a particularly delightful book to listen to via audiobook, read by the author. Surreal, stylized violence runs through almost every aspect of the novel. The action is fast paced and complex, with double-crossing, paranoia, rifts, grudges, treachery, murder and revenge.

 


Pints of MaltPints of Malt, a podcast (March 2019 to present). There has been a wave of Nigerian immigration to Ireland beginning in 2002-2006, and this podcast turns the diasporic Irish emigration narrative inward by discussing immigrants in Ireland and their Irish identity, among other topics such as race, popular culture, and growing up Black in Ireland. Per the Apple Podcasts description, “Pints of Malt Podcast is brought to you by four Nigerian/Irish lads. They share their experiences growing up and living in Ireland. The podcast is full of laughs from the get go: from childhood memories to day-to-day shenanigans, there’s never a dull moment on the podcast with Femi, Kenny, Charlie and Jibbz”.


Saints, Scholars, and Schizophrenics by Nancy Scheper-Hughes - Paperback - University of California PressSaints, Scholars, and Schizophrenics: Mental Illness in Rural Ireland by Nancy Scheper-Hughes (2001). As the Journal Ethnography describes, “When Saints, Scholars and Schizophrenics: Mental Illness in Rural Ireland was published some 20 years ago, it was promptly made a classic of psychological and medical anthropology by academics in the United States and simultaneously broadly and heatedly criticized in the Irish press as an egregious violation of community and cultural privacy, a debate that has blown hot and cold over the intervening decades. Following a recent return to `Ballybran’ in the summer of 1999 which ended in her expulsion from the village, Nancy Scheper-Hughes recounts her attempts to reconcile her responsibility to honest ethnography with respect for the people who once shared their homes and their secrets with her, thereby offering candid and vivid reflections on balancing the ethics and the micropolitics of anthropological work.”


5 Titles is directed by the Research & Instructional Services (RIS) Department at Duke University Libraries.

5 Titles: Memoirs by African American Men

headshot of Kim DuckettThe 5 Titles series highlights books, music, and films in the library’s collection featuring topics related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and/or highlighting the work of authors from diverse backgrounds. Each post is intended to provide a brief sampling of titles rather than a comprehensive overview of the topic. This month, the five titles have been selected by RIS head Kim Duckett.

This month’s 5 Titles highlights a variety of memoirs by African American men published in the last decade. These authors share their own unique life experiences while providing valuable insights into how racism in the United States has impacted not only their own lives and but also the lives of their families, friends, students, colleagues, and clients.


Image result for heavy an american memoirHeavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon (2018; available in print or as an Overdrive ebook). The “Heavy” of Laymon’s powerful memoir refers to many kinds of heaviness: the weight of his body, the challenges of his personal history growing up, and the complexities of being Black and male in the United States. He writes of the heaviness of his mother’s deep and challenging love and the heaviness of physical and sexual abuse and racism around him as a youth in Mississippi. From his single mother, a poverty-stricken professor who is abused by the men in her life, he learns the “gifts of reading, rereading, writing, and revision.” Now, a writing professor himself, Laymon has shared a highly personal account with a focus on the weight of truth, heavy as it is to look at it squarely. Heavy: An American Memoir was named one of the 50 best memoirs of the past 50 years by the New York Times.


Image result for Notes from a Young Black Chef: A MemoirNotes from a Young Black Chef: A Memoir by Kwame Onwuachi with Joshua David Stein (2019). In this memoir Onwuachi shares his story of growing up in the Bronx, steering towards drug-dealing in college, and finding his passion in cooking and exploring his family’s roots through food. His cooking talent leads him from scraping the resources together to open his own catering business, graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, competing on Top Chef, and realizing his dream of opening his own fine dining restaurant in Washington, D.C. All by the time he turned 27! Throughout he learns from the knowledge, skill, and tenacity of his mother, also a chef, whose roots are in Louisiana as well as his Nigerian heritage from his father, including time he spent in Nigeria as a boy. Onwuachi’s story provides valuable insight into the ups and downs of becoming a chef while also exploring issues of race in a very white male dominated profession. Each chapter is paired with one of Onwuachi’s recipes, which creatively ties his life story to the plate, a major theme of his approach to cooking.


Image result for What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker: A Memoir in EssaysWhat Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker: A Memoir in Essays by Damon Young (2019; available in print or as an Overdrive ebook). Young is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Very Smart Brothas, which the Washington Post coined “the blackest thing that ever happened to the internet,” and a columnist for GQ. In this insightful and often funny set of essays he shares stories from his life while exploring a wide range of issues that in one way or another highlight racism in the United States. Young’s self-reflection is notable for how insightfully he weaves together his personal experiences with commentary on systemic racism and reflections on masculinity.


Image result for Street Shadows: A Memoir of Race, Rebellion, and RedemptionStreet Shadows: A Memoir of Race, Rebellion, and Redemption by Jerald Walker (2010). In this memoir Walker, a professor of creative writing at Emerson College, traces how he turned away from drug use and crime in his youth towards education and a move into the middle-class. He was raised by two blind parents on the South Side of Chicago and grew up as part of doomsday cult that shaped his early life. He interweaves chapters from his early life and teenage years with stories of attending community college in his late-twenties, graduating from the Iowa Writers Workshop, finding his way as a writer and academic, becoming a husband and father, and traveling to Africa. Throughout he explores issues of race and identity while considering the impacts of choices he and others – friends and family – make. Walker’s most recent book How to Make a Slave and Other Essays was a National Book Award 2020 finalist for nonfiction.


Image result for just mercyJust Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson (2014). Stevenson, the visionary founder and executive director of the Montgomery-based Equal Justice Initiative, is undeniably one of the most important voices in U.S. criminal justice reform. Even this statement feels like an understatement. In this powerful memoir, Stevenson recounts his work as a lawyer and tireless advocate for the wrongfully convicted, the unfairly tried, and the guilty deserving mercy. He weaves together details from specific cases to illustrate systematic failures in the criminal justice system with how he and his colleagues worked with their clients. His stories and the important historic context and legal background he provides are invaluable for shining a clear light on how the criminal justice system can be so unmerciful, so unjust, and so racist. Although a movie was made based on Just Mercy, nothing compares to hearing Stevenson speak for himself and give voice to the incarcerated he has worked with through reading his own words.


5 Titles is directed by the Research & Instructional Services (RIS) Department at Duke University Libraries.

5 Titles: Nonfiction on Neurodiversity

The 5 Titles series highlights books, music, and films in the library’s collection featuring topics related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and/or highlighting the work of authors from diverse backgrounds. Each post is intended to provide a brief sampling of titles rather than a comprehensive overview of the topic. This month, the five titles have been selected by RIS humanities intern Anna Twiddy.

In this first installment of our 5 Titles series, we’re taking a look at nonfiction* works on neurodiversity. As a concept, neurodiversity refers not just to the existence of a broad range of neurological disabilities, such as autism, dyslexia, ADHD, dyspraxia, and others, but also to the contributions people with these disabilities make to society and culture at large. Neurodiversity takes a wide variety of forms, and as an identity, it is inevitably intersectional, existing in conjunction with an individual’s race, gender, sexual orientation, and so on. The titles in this post thus seek to reflect the diversity inherent to the neurodivergent identity, focusing on intersections with some other identities as well as the varying ways neurodiversity interacts with society more broadly.


Amazon.com: Uncomfortable Labels: My Life as a Gay Autistic Trans Woman eBook: Dale, Laura Kate: Kindle StoreUncomfortable Labels: My Life as a Gay Autistic Trans Woman by Laura Kate Dale. In this memoir, Dale, a British woman in her 20s, tells the story of her life as, per the title, a gay autistic trans woman. She describes the expectations placed on her from birth to become a neurotypical, heterosexual man, and all the consequences, positive and negative, of failing to meet those rigid expectations. The witty double entendre of the title, which at once alludes to Dale’s sensory issues regarding clothing labels as well as the labels that define her identity, foretells the humor with which she tells her story – while she is unflinching in her discussion of the myriad difficulties she has faced, she is also quick to note the humor present in her day-to-day life. In discussing the events of her life, including the mundane and the extraordinary, Dale richly describes the way in which her gender, sexual orientation, and autism all intersect and relate to each other. It is this discussion of the interaction between these marginalized identities, along with Dale’s unique voice and storytelling, that make it such a compelling read.


Teaching Strategies for Neurodiversity and Dyslexia in Actor Training:Teaching Strategies for Neurodiversity and Dyslexia in Actor Training: Sensing Shakespeare by Petronilla Whitfield. In this guide, acting professor Whitfield draws on the perspectives and experiences of her dyslexic acting students performing Shakespeare as case studies in constructing practical strategies for neurodivergent actors on the stage. Rather than seeking to minimize or ignore the ways neurodivergent actors differ from their neurotypical peers, Whitfield emphasizes working directly with the modes of processing, sensory and otherwise, that come with neurodivergence in order to bring out the unique, authentic voice of the neurodivergent actor. While the book derives much of its content from the perspectives of dyslexic actors in particular, its strategies are also largely applicable to actors with other neurodivergent conditions, as the title suggests. Though it is rather specific in its focus, being a manual on acting, Whitfield’s writing is noteworthy for its portrayal of neurodivergent people in the arts, actively challenging the assumption that acting is a realm exclusive to the neurotypical, while also avoiding over-dramatizing or fetishizing the experiences of her neurodivergent students. For these reasons, it is a worthwhile read for actors and non-actors alike.


All the Weight of Our Dreams: On Living Racialized Autism: Brown, Network, Inc., Autism Women's, Ashkenazy, E., Onaiwu, Morénike Giwa: 9780997504507: Amazon.com: BooksAll the Weight of Our Dreams: On Living Racialized Autism, edited by Lydia X. Z. Brown. This anthology, edited by Brown and sponsored by the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, features the work of 61 autistic writers of color from seven countries. Being the first published anthology to focus exclusively on the experiences of autistic people of color, the book explores the intersection of autism and race from a vast number of angles, and through a wide variety of mediums, including essays, short fiction, poetry, painting, and photography. The anthology melds the personal and the political, with many works expounding on the everyday experiences of their authors while also highlighting the compounded, systemic marginalization and disadvantages faced by autistic people of color more broadly. But while the subject matter of the book is often difficult to read about in its discussion of the intersection of racism and ableism, the authors are also eager to celebrate the existence of autistic people of color, focusing on the joy, passion, and resilience that defines their lives and experiences.


Divergent Mind: Thriving in a World That Wasn't Designed for You: Nerenberg, Jenara: 9780062876799: Amazon.com: BooksDivergent Mind: Thriving in a World That Wasn’t Designed for You by Jenara Nerenberg. In this book, journalist Nerenberg provides a useful overview of experiences common to neurodivergent women, at once describing how various neurodivergent conditions tend to manifest specifically in women while also serving as a guide for neurodivergent women navigating a world primarily designed around neurotypical men. Nerenberg breaks down many of the systemic barriers neurodivergent women face when seeking support, writing extensively on the ways women have largely been excluded from studies on neurodivergence; in noting the diagnostic gap that exists between neurodivergent men and women, for example, she draws on her own experience of a late diagnosis in adulthood. As with many of the books on this list, this focus on marginalization makes the book a troubling read at points, but Nerenberg offsets this difficult subject matter by validating the experiences of her neurodivergent audience, and by providing practical pointers on living everyday life as a neurodivergent woman. In providing a clear overview on the history of neurodivergence in women, Nerenberg’s book proves to be a valuable resource.


Welcome to Biscuit Land: A Year in the Life of Touretteshero: Thom, Jessica: 9780285641273: Amazon.com: BooksWelcome to Biscuit Land: A Year in the Life of Touretteshero by Jessica Thom. In this book, British comedian and playwright Thom documents a full year of her life as a woman with Tourette syndrome, often with searing wit and humor. The book comprises excerpts from her long-running blog, Touretteshero, which documents her day-to-day experiences. These experiences take a variety of forms, but are uniformly punctuated by her numerous tics, both motor and vocal (her compulsive uttering of the word “biscuit” lends the book its title). Thom describes in detail what living with these tics is like, not shying away from the difficulty it brings her – ranging from incurring the judgment of strangers for her compulsive swearing to her regular use of padded gloves to prevent hurting herself – but at the same time, she does much to break down the stigma that often accompanies the disorder through her warmth and humor. In this way, the book is a vivid portrait of her experience with Tourette’s that proves appealing to those with and without the disorder.


*Mostly nonfiction. It should be noted that All the Weight of Our Dreams is an anthology that includes some fiction as well as nonfiction.

5 Titles is directed by the Research & Instructional Services (RIS) Department at Duke University Libraries.