African American Studies at Beinecke Library

Elements of Style

Posted in African American Studies at Yale, announcements, Beinecke Collections, Events, Exhibitions by beineckepoetry on January 30, 2010

New Exhibition: Elements of Style: Fashion and Form at the Beinecke
on view January 19 through March 27, 201. Exhibition Opening Event: Tuesday, February 2, 2010 at 4:00 pm
“My Soul Finds Comfort in This False Hope” a talk by Maira Kalman.

About the Exhibition

This exploration of fashion and literary culture pays playful homage to Strunk and White’s now classic grammar primer, The Elements of Style, first published in its current guise fifty years ago. The “little book,” as it has come to be called, has offered prosaic advice on all things prose to generations of college students. Yet its emphasis on “style,” on the ease, clarity, and distinctive flair of good writing, reveals, at the same time, how the component parts of composition similarly mirror the characteristic stamp of a signature look, be it Fitzgerald’s fictional Gatsby or the Jazz Age icon Josephine Baker. The exhibition considers, then, the idea of style as it relates to sartorial expression and prose/poetic form—the role of clothing and design in literature and everyday life, and the artful way in which words appear upon the page. We discover that clothing, and the meaning of dress, remains a compelling literary subject, just as fashion itself is highly dependent on written language, on the power of description and, in turn, of persuasion. With a focus on the concept of the modern, “Elements of Style” highlights literary artifacts such as Gertrude Stein’s embroidered waistcoats and Muriel Draper’s hats, while it also draws attention to the evocative relationship between text and texture, fabric and paper, as well as the book artist’s continued fascination with sewing and the decorative arts.

Materials exhibited from the James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection of African American Arts and Letters  include photographs by James VanderZee and Roy DeCarava, artworks by Aaron Douglas, manuscripts by Zora Neale Hurston, personal objects such as Langston Hughes’s cigarette case, theater programs and promotional materials featuring Josephine Baker, important early and special editions of key texts by African American writers from the colonial period to the present. Exhibition news release:

About Maira Kalman

Maira Kalman was born in Tel Aviv and moved to New York with her family at the age of four. She has worked as a designer, author, illustrator and artist for more than thirty years without formal training. Her work is a narrative journal of her life and all its absurdities. She has written and illustrated twelve children’s books including Ooh-la-la- Max in Love, What Pete Ate, and Swami on Rye. She often illustrates for The New Yorker magazine, and is well known for her collaboration with Rick Meyerowitz on the NewYorkistan cover in 2001. Recent projects include The Elements of Style (illustrated), and a monthly on-line column entitled Principles of Uncertainty for The New York Times. She teaches a graduate seminar in design at the School of Visual Arts and is represented by the Julie Saul Gallery in NYC.
Event posting:
More information on Maira Kalman:

Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Yale University, 121 Wall Street, New Haven, CT

Free and open to the public

Images: Langston Hughes photographed by Carl Van Vechten; Josephine Baker. Photographs by Carl Van Vechten are used with permission of the Van Vechten Trust; the permission of the Trust is required to publish Van Vechten photographs in any format. To contact the Trust email: Van Vechten Trust.

New Scholarship from the JWJ Memorial Collection

Posted in African American Studies at Yale, announcements, Beinecke Collections by beineckepoetry on January 13, 2010

Boy of the Border: An unpublished children’s book by Langston Hughes and Arna Bontemps

Boy of the Border, a previously unpublished children’s book co-authored by Arna Bontemps and Langston Hughes, was published by Sweet Earth Flying Press in December 2009.

Though the story was published in the July 1956 issue of Jack and Jill magazine in a condensed version called “Broncos over the Border,” the new edition of Boy of the Border is the first complete publication of the text. Editors and publishers Dr. Maceo Dailey and Sōndra Banfield Dailey located manuscripts related to the current volume in in the Langston Hughes Papers (JWJ MSS 26) at the Beinecke Library, including two versions of Boy of the Border in manuscript (the original, written between 1939 and 1941, and Hughes’s 1955 revision — JWJ MSS 26 Box 289, Folder 4718). The Library collections also include unpublished letters between Bontemps and Hughes, discussing aspects of their collaboration.

For more information about Boy of the Border (ISBN: 978-0-9790987-0-3), visit Sweet Earth Flying Press: