[If there’s one thing I think we all need as we begin this new year, it’s hope. So this week, I’ve AmericanStudied a handful of cultural works which offer stories and images of that vital emotion, leading up to this crowd-sourced post featuring the responses and suggestions of fellow American Studiers—add yours in comments, please!]
To start us off, here’s Sabrina Marie sharing sentiments with which I very much agree: “We need a lot of hope and encouragement right now in this world. Your requests this week could not be more perfectly timed.”
In response to Monday’s post, musical hope:
Bob Beatty tweets, “‘Dreams’ by the Allman Brothers Band immediately comes to mind. The lyrics are evocative, the band’s playing sympathetic to the emotion but never maudlin, and Duane Allman’s guitar solo (both fretted and slide) shows a path to redemption, beautifully in tune with the last verse.” He adds, “As a cultural work, I've drawn a lot of inspiration the past few months from the Avett Brothers’ the Gleam III.”
Sabrina Marie highlights “Moving On” by Blue October.
Andrew DaSilva makes a whole playlist: “Glenn Miller's ‘In The Mood,’ ‘The Night I Fell in Love’ by the Pet Shop Boys, Bruce Springsteen's ‘Streets of Philadelphia,’ Puccini's Madam Butterfly, in particular ‘Ancora un passo,’ ‘Home from the Sea’ performed by Liam Clancy, ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ performed by Judy Garland, ‘Don't Rain on my Parade’ performed by Barbra Streisand, ‘I Will Survive’ performed by Gloria Gaynor, ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ performed by Sam Cook, ‘Make Your Own Kind of Music’ performed by Mama Cass, ‘This Will Be Our Year’ by The Zombies, ‘If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out’ by Cat Stevens, ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ and ‘Blue Wonderful’ performed by Sir Elton John, ‘New World in the Morning’ performed by Roger Whittaker, ‘In the Land of Beginning Again’ performed by Bing Crosby, ‘The Boxer’ performed by Simon and Garfunkel, ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?’ performed by Roberta Flack, ‘Our House’ performed by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Then there are of course the many Roman Catholic hymns, such as ‘Salve Regina,’ ‘Stabat Mater,’ ‘Ave Maria,’ ‘Panis Angelicus,’ and ‘Ubi Caritas.’”
In response to Tuesday’s post, novels of hope:
Paul Daley shares “The Perks of Being a Wallflower. No book have I ever read where I related so much to the protagonist and felt inspired by his words.”
Lara Schwartz shares Everything Matters! by Ron Currie Jr. She adds, “I'd try to write something to explain the choice but the book is so intimate, I feel like each person will find something different in it.”
Marcy Colalillo shares, “I just finished The Ministry of Utmost Happiness last night. What an amazing book! Not sure why I hadn't picked it up before. Anyway, I guess I would call it bittersweet and uplifting at the same time.”
Katy Covino shares, “A Gentleman in Moscow—I've read this novel many, many times. Each time, I'm vastly comforted by the idea of the hero's rich life and deep impact on others. I think reading it now amplifies both the constraints of our current lives and also our clear ability (and our imperative) to treat each other well. Whether under house arrest or in quarantine, we can still try to make a positive difference in the world. We can still live lives of intelligence, dignity, and worth even if our circle and our reach is small.”
Amanda Lynn nominates Jane Eyre.
Nicole Bjorklund writes, “Oooh, any of Fredrik Backman's books. It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. And I just finished the Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwabb last week and that could definitely fall in the ‘gives me hope’ category too.”
In response to Wednesday’s post, cinematic hope:
Jeff Renye seconds me on Shawshank, and adds the Lord of the Rings Extended Editions.
Amanda Lynn highlights The Fountain.
Michael Greenwood shares Lost Horizon.
Rochelle Davis Gerber (who gets the beautiful last word below) writes, "hot off the Christmas list but still....It’s a Wonderful Life, and for some reason Love Actually."
Glenna Matthews shares a list: “Duck Soup, Bringing Up Baby, Some Like It Hot, Help!, Legally Blonde, and Little Miss Sunshine.”
And so does Andrew DaSilva, highlighting “Star Wars (the 1st 6), the original Star Trek films, Of Gods and Men, The Great Beauty, The V.I.P.s, The Confessions (the Toni Servillo one), Léon Morin, Priest, The Razor's Edge, Silence, Elling, Hostiles, Simon Birch, Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Flawless (the Robert De Niro one not the Michael Caine one), Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, 1985, In the Heat of the Night, Wild Strawberries, and The Bells of Saint Mary’s.
In response to Thursday’s post, poetic hope:
Vicki Ziegler, founder of the wonderful #todayspoem hashtag, writes, “Anne Carson describes hope beautifully in Red Doc> (2013): "this / sensation of hope - like / glimpsing a lake through / trees or that first steep / velvet moment the opera / curtains part.”
Laura Hartmann-Villalta shares Maggie Smith’s “Good Bones,” adding, “I love its acknowledgement of really huge problems that are enough to make a person weep with despair, BUT BUT there are good bones.”
In response to Friday’s post, examples of scholarly and pedagogical hope:
Matthew Teutsch shares, “I find Lillian Smith hopeful, not necessarily her novels, but her writing.” And Angie Maxwell agrees, “She’s my fave.” Matthew adds, “I have another book. Initially, I didn't think about Bitter Root as a hopeful series, but talking with Chuck Brown totally changed my mind.”
Andrew DaSilva highlights “theologians to scholars such as Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, Dom Helder Camara, Fr. Ernesto Cardenal, Fr. Gustavo Gutierrez, Leonardo Boff, Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, Peter Singer, and Reinhold Niebuhr to name a few scholars or teachers who give one hope...”
Emily Hamilton-Honey writes, “There is a lot of American childhood history scholarship that gives me hope. So many new ways of finding unheard voices, new approaches to evidence and interdisciplinarity, etc.”
Shayne Simahk shares Cultivating Genius: An Equity Framework for Culturally and Historically Responsive Literacy by Gholdy Muhammad.
And to conclude on a profoundly 2021 note, Rochelle Davis Gerber, a childhood friend and a frontline worker, highlights “The Beatles’ ‘Here Comes the Sun,’” adding, “We play it every time we discharge a COVID patient.”
Next series starts Monday,
PS. What do you think? Texts or voices which help you find hope?