American National Biography Update: April 2020

Believing that the life of a nation is told by the lives of its people, the American National Biography consists of over 19,000 scholarly biographies of significant, influential, or notorious figures from American history.

The latest update to the American National Biography features five new essays, with a focus on important American writers and critics. It includes one of the nation’s foremost film critics, Pauline Kael; the noted black nationalist writer and poet Amiri Baraka; Esther Rome, co-author of the feminist bestseller Our Bodies, Ourselves; Chicano poet, artist, and civil rights activist José Montoya; and poet John Ashbery, whose collection Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror won the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award in 1976.

Pauline Kael (1919–2001), one of the most iconoclastic, controversial, and revered film critics in the history of American print journalism. She was known for the exuberant writing style, her vision of the movies as an unparalleled populist national theater, and her desire in the late 1960s and 1970s to generate a new seriousness and sophistication in American film audiences, directors, and critics.  She made movies and movie-going seem at the center of American culture. No critic had done so before with her panache, wit, and zeal.

Amiri Baraka, (1934–2014), born Le Roi Jones, one of the most influential African American writers of the twentieth century. A poet, playwright, and jazz critic, Baraka galvanized the Black Arts Movement, making an indelible contribution to modern African American culture and consciousness.

Esther Rome (1945–1995), women’s health activist who helped found the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective. Its 1973 book Our Bodies, Ourselves was a revelation, arguing that women were the best experts on women’s health at a time when the vast majority of physicians and medical professionals were male. Rome continued to work on women’s health issues for the rest of her life.

José Montoya (1932–2013), who in 1969 co-founded Rebel Chicano Art Front (RCAF), a Chicano artist collective that sought to bring a consciousness towards laborers’ rights and Chicano identity through public art. Montoya also wrote many iconic poems that represented Chicano culture.

John Lawrence Ashbery (1927–2017), part of a group of postwar poets who added new lyrical forms to contemporary American poetry, even as those forms proved inaccessible to many contemporary readers. As he explains in “The Lament upon the Waters” “the problem isn’t how to proceed/ But is one of being.”

 

 

COVID-19: New Primary Resources

[This blogpost will continually be updated with new online primary collections as they become available to Bodleian readers.]

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Bodleian Libraries have been sourcing online collections to assist Oxford students and researchers in their studies. This blogpost contains newly available primary resources that may be of interest to those studying American History, Politics and Culture.

Please note that the resources listed here are separate to the online collections which have already been purchased by the VHL or Bodleian. You can view these collections on our online guide to US Studies at Oxford. 

You can also visit our Diigo page to view our recommended open access resources.

Gale Primary Sources (25/03/2020)

Gale Primary Sources have opened up the a significant number of their collections to readers of the Bodleian Library, without restriction or cost, until the 1st September.

The new resources include thematic collections focused on diverse topics such as legal history, sexuality and gender and forced migration. Individual collections which may be of interest include:

Visit Gale Primary Sources at Oxford to view all the collections now available to Bodleian readers.

Bloomsbury Collections (updated 01/07/2020)

Bloomsbury have kindly provided access to Bodleian readers to their Bloomsbury Collections and Drama Online. This includes over 2,000 e-books which have been added into Solo, on topics as diverse as History, Constitutional and Administrative Law, International Relations and Literature.

Drama Online also includes interviews, critical works and text on key American dramas, such as the works of Eugene O’Neill and Arthur Miller. It also includes audio-recordings and texts of key performances.

Bloomsbury has also opened up a number of their digital platforms for Bodleian readers to access. These collections include edited titles regarding key topics and primary resources, and can be limited by place, time period or themes. Of particular interest includes:

Access to these resources has been extended to 31st July 2020. 

Secret Files from World Wars to Cold War

Our colleagues at the Social Science Library have organised temporary access to Secret Files from World Wars to Cold War: Intelligence, Strategy and Diplomacy, available until the 30th July.

Check our separate blog post on this resource for more information.

If you have any questions about the collections listed above, or would like us to consider purchasing a particular online primary resource, email bethan.davies@bodleian.ox.ac.uk