Tuesday, November 26, 2013
November 26, 2013: Giving Thanks: New Releases
[A Thanksgiving series on some of the many things for which this AmericanStudier is thankful. Add your thanks-givings in comments!]
On the exciting prospect of newly released works by old friends—and new ones.
John Sayles has a new film; if you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know how thankful I am any time I can write that sentence. Jhumpa Lahiri has a new novel; ditto and ditto. In their different mediums and unique styles (and of course at very distinct points in their respective careers), Sayles and Lahiri reflect, portray, and embody much of the best of American art, culture, community, and identity as I would define them, and I’m incredibly thankful for the chance to see how their bodies of work and perspectives continue to evolve into this second decade of the 21st century. When I get that chance with these two new releases, you can be sure that there’ll be some AmericanStudying to do of both works, so stay tuned!
New releases by old friends are one of life’s great comforts (unless you’re one of those audience members who’s constantly waiting for when the favorite artist “sells out” or otherwise lets us down, in which case I suppose such releases are more nerve-wracking; but I’m an optimist in this, as in most things). But there’s also a great deal to be said for making a new friend, encountering an impressive artist for the first time and adding his or her voice and work into our lives. And for that reason, I’m very thankful for an AmericanStudies film that’s in theaters right now and that I can’t wait to see—Steve McQueen’s Twelve Years a Slave, about which I’ve heard only great things. The fact that the film’s director and its star are both British only amplifies its status as a transnational, 21st century historical and cultural text; the fact that it’s the third relatively recent film (after Spielberg’s Lincoln and Tarantino’s Django Unchained) to deal with issues of slavery in American history only makes it that much more salient and significant as a part of our current cultural conversations.
I’ve spent a while trying to think of what to focus on in this third paragraph, and have decided that I want to leave it open for your thoughts and suggestions: what authors and artists have new releases (or recent releases, or upcoming releases) that you’re looking forward to? Who would you recommed I check out to expand my list of artistic friends? What, in American (or world) literature, art, and culture, are you thankful for? I’d be thankful for your thoughts!
Next giving of thanks tomorrow,
PS. Who or what do you thank?