Athenaeum Review News
The summer 2020 issue of Athenaeum Review includes new work from several faculty members and alumnae of the School of Arts and Humanities. Find out more at athenaeumreview.org, and hear from the contributors at a virtual event on Tuesday, June 16th.
Artist and former UT Dallas professor Kazuya Sakai (1927-2001) is the subject of a detailed study by Lillian Michel, who explores “how an Argentine artist, critic, translator, jazz expert, radio host, graphic designer, professor, and pioneer of geometric abstraction in Mexico” came to the university. While Sakai’s artwork was shown here as early as the 1959 exhibition, South American Art Today, at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, he only joined the School of Arts and Humanities faculty in 1980, teaching courses in studio art and aesthetics studies until his retirement in 1997.
A. Kendra Greene, Visiting Assistant Professor of Creative Writing, engages in a dialogue with the new novel Seven Samurai Swept Away in a River by Jung Young Moon (Deep Vellum Publishing), set in a Texas arts residency. Responding to the novel, Greene writes, “Moon is saying it’s really important for you to decide what kind of writing to pursue; there are entertainers and there are writers of literature.”
Visual artists have also contributed several stunning works to the new issue. Aluminum RRGG #2, a work by Marilyn Waligore, Professor of Visual and Performing Arts, leads off the ‘Folio’ section of the issue, which also features notable works by alumnae Ciara Bryant (BA 2016), and Lauren Christlieb (BA 2013). The front cover is a detail of 2012 NYC, by Jessica Fuentes (BA 2004).
The life of Lord Byron, the Romantic poet, is explored by Kenneth L. Brewer, Clinical Associate Professor of Arts and Humanities. Brewer writes: “It is tempting to claim that we live in a golden age of Byron biography, but it has pretty much always been a golden age of Byron biography since his death.” In a new biography of the poet which emphasizes Byron’s private life, including his concerns with dieting and body image, the author writes that “Dieting for Byron represented a heroic endeavour, to free the spirit from the body, a battle for independence that paralleled (if it did not also reflect) his enthusiasm for other struggles for independence.”
Robert J. Stern, Professor of Geosciences, writes about the first motto to have appeared on U.S. coinage: “Liberty—Parent of Science and Industry.” First used by Thomas Jefferson in a 1789 letter, Stern writes, “The phrase was a blessing and a premonition. U.S. science and industry rose together all through the 19th and 20th centuries, leading to the invention of the telegraph, accelerated by the U.S. Civil War and the growth of the railroads; blossoming into electricity, the telephone, the internal combustion engine…”
Athenaeum Review is published twice yearly by the School of Arts and Humanities and the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History. Featuring essays, reviews and podcasts by leading scholars in the arts and humanities, all issues of the journal may be freely read online, or ordered in print from the UT Dallas Marketplace.
“Painful Remembrance” is the subject of the Winter 2020 issue of Athenaeum Review, with five articles exploring how difficult memories are shaped and passed on through literature, the arts, and public monuments. The special issue is guest-edited by Nils Roemer, interim dean of the School of the Arts and Humanities, director of the Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies, and the Stan and Barbara Rabin Professor in Holocaust Studies.
The capital city of Germany is the subject of Roemer’s article. In “Berlin, Intersecting Traumas,” Roemer shows how the German capital’s urban landscape reveals layer upon layer of the city’s past. Monuments such as the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe offer testimony to the victims of the Holocaust, while the very “tormented and twisted zig-zag structure” of Daniel Libeskind’s Jewish Museum building offers a clue as to the history it exhibits. “It is witnessing,” Roemer writes, “that allows for the representation of past traumas and anguish.”
Through examples from ancient Rome, China, and contemporary America, Dennis M. Kratz explores how myths shape our collective memory of the past in his article, “Mythremembering: Memory and Its Fictions.” According to Kratz, the Ignacy and Celina Rockover Professor of Humanities, Senior Associate Provost, and Director of the Center for Asian Studies, “The transformation of memories emerges from the creativity of the human mind and our indomitable dissatisfaction with limits.” Mythremembering, he writes, “involves a pattern of departures from accuracy or evidence to enhance the power of a story, usually to the advantage of the person telling the story.”
Combining personal experience with historical analysis, Richard R. Brettell explores the differing responses to two American national tragedies in “A Tale Of Two Memorials: Dallas And New York,” comparing the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza in Dallas with the National September 11 Memorial in New York. “In the case of the Kennedy Assassination, there was a greater inclination on the part of the city of Dallas and of the Kennedy family to forget than to be reminded of the location of this event, to take away the inevitable stain on the city’s reputation,” writes Brettell, who is the Margaret M. McDermott Distinguished Chair of Art and Aesthetic Studies, Edith O’Donnell Distinguished Chair of Art History, and Founding Director of the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History.
Sarah da Rocha Valente contributes “Exile At Home, or At Home in Exile,” a reflection on belonging, family and history, centered on a visit to her sister’s gravesite in Brazil. Valente, visiting assistant professor in the School of Arts and Humanities, uses her experience to reflect on the meaning of exile, as expressed in the literature of Victor Hugo, Josef Brodsky, and Mario Benedetti. Remembering her experience across different languages and literatures, Valente writes, “Portuguese provides the perfect possibility of missing the unknown, the yet-to-be, the never been, the gone already. The word saudade is all these things and more.”
The issue also includes “Blinded,” an excerpt from Jane Saginaw’s memoir, Because the World is Round, which chronicles the author’s 1970 trip around the world with her father, brother, and mother who was wheelchair-bound from polio. In the memoir, Saginaw remembers meeting Holocaust survivors in Tel Aviv and Dallas as a young person, and grappling with how to understand their stories. Recalling an encounter with Mr. Hausman, a survivor, neighbor and shopkeeper in Tel Aviv, she writes, “I felt less like a nuisance and more like an intruder now, entering personal territory where I didn’t belong and wasn’t wanted.” Saginaw, now a student in the Ph.D. Program in Humanities, was formerly a trial attorney with Baron and Budd in Dallas, and later a regional administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Athenaeum Review is published twice yearly by the School of Arts and Humanities and the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History. Featuring essays, reviews and podcasts by leading scholars in the arts and humanities, the journal is availalable online, as well as in print at local bookstores or through the UT Dallas Marketplace.
Modeled somewhat after The New Yorker, the Athenaeum Review will provide local, national and international readers with reviews and commentary that highlight the arts at UT Dallas and beyond, as well as provoke thought.
“We want this to be a place for critical, thoughtful conversations,” said Dr. Dennis Kratz, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities and the Ignacy and Celina Rockover Professor. “It’s to enlighten people about a wide range of subjects and also to annoy — to shake us out of our complacency.”
Dr. Ben Lima, editor of the Athenaeum Review, said the journal is not intended “for just a narrow circle of academics, but it should appeal to anyone who is interested in art, literature and culture.”
Printed copies of the Athenaeum Review will be available on campus, online, at local bookstores and, eventually, through bookstores around the country. In addition, the journal’s website will feature all of its essays and articles, while providing additional content, such as podcasts.
The first issue is 160 pages and includes articles by such UT Dallas professors as Dr. Charissa Terranova, associate professor of aesthetic studies; Dr. Ming Dong Gu, professor of Chinese and comparative literature; Dr. Thomas Riccio, professor of performance and aesthetic studies; and Dr. Kenneth Brewer, clinical associate professor of arts and humanities. Kratz and Dr. Richard Brettell, founding director of the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History and the Margaret M. McDermott Distinguished Chair of Art and Aesthetic Studies and the Edith O’Donnell Distinguished University Chair, also contributed.
Additional contributors will come from other universities around the world.
Lima cited an essay about Frankenstein as an example of the thoughtful and thorough treatment that topics will receive. In the first issue, the author explores the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” an upcoming Dallas Theater Center production of the novel and other societal aspects of the monster.
The first issue also will feature essays on democracy promotion, African performance, bioaesthetics, David Hume and Adam Smith, and much more.
“There’s a lot of really good material,” Lima said. “I’m excited that this journal is a way to showcase in a thoughtful way the many things happening at UTD and throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area to a different slice of the public than is already seeing it.”
Kratz said the name of the journal comes from ancient Rome.
“The first Athenaeum was a school in ancient Rome. In the 19th century the term was adopted by learned societies in Europe and America dedicated to discussing science and literature. That’s what we are trying to do — create a discussion about the arts,” he said. “Not everyone will be interested in everything in every article, but you’ll find something in the issue that you don’t know and that you want to read more about.
“It’s something very different, which is what the University needs.”
The Athenaeum Review is a collaboration of the major centers in the school and will be published semiannually. The first issue will launch with two events, one Thursday, Sept. 27, at Interabang Books in Dallas and another Friday, Sept. 28, at the SP/N Gallery at Synergy Park North 2.