There was a lot written about and by women on the internet this week. Highlights: Betye Saar gets her due, so much to love about Lupita Nyong’o, Coco Gauff and Naomi Osaka win at the US Open, the ubiquity of Céline Dion, the measurable pain of a fake rejection, Lana Del Rey’s feud with a music critic, The Handmaid’s Tale continues, Chanel Miller has revealed her identity, Stephanie Barber’s new book of haiku poems, and a handy spreadsheet of adjunct pay at colleges across the country.
1. New York Times: ‘It’s About Time!’ Betye Saar’s Long Climb to the Summit
At 93 years old, Betye Sarr is finally getting her due and has two upcoming solo shows—the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Saar has been making work since she was in her 30s, and “for half a century, Ms. Saar has been one of the country’s most inventive and influential makers of intimately scaled assemblage. And she has brought a distinctive range of content to the medium, encompassing global culture, popular mysticism, personal history and American racism.” Saar began working during the time of “a male-dominated Black Power movement and a white-dominated feminist movement” forging her own path into an art world that was “until very recently, unwelcoming to African-American art.”
This is very exciting and it is about damn time!
2. Vanity Fair: For the Love of Lupita Nyong’o
Kimberley Drew profiled Lupita Nyong’o for Vanity Fair and OMG! These photos are almost too beautiful for words, and Drew wrote an engaging piece that didn’t just fangirl, but discussed how Nyong’o “deeply investigating and exploring and analyzing a lot of sociopolitical dynamics,” in college has influenced her acting and choice of roles.
I know this happened last week but it was after my filing deadline and it is too wonderful not to include! After Naomi Osaka bested 15-year-old Coco Gauff in the third round of this year’s US Open, Osaka invited Gauff to join her for the on-court postmatch interview, something normally reserved for the victor. The two fangirled over each other, and Osaka commended Gauff’s parents. It will possibly be the most memorable part of the tournament which concludes today.
4. The Walrus: Céline Dion is Everywhere
Céline Dion is a spectacle and, at times, takes kitsch so seriously it doesn’t even read as kitsch. Her Las Vegas residency is Caesar’s Palace is the ____ most successful in history, and has changed them from a place where stars go to die to where greatness goes be to reborn. She is an enigma: “Parents love her, grandparents adore her, and now the younger generation is discovering that not only is she endlessly talented but also endlessly memeable.” Everyone can (attempt to) belt one of her songs. She is everywhere, becoming elemental to culture, and “trying to understand Céline’s resurgence after a lifetime of fame feels like trying to pinpoint when exactly weather becomes climate.”
5. Gay Magazine: The Rejection Lab
We respond to emotional pain the same way in which we respond to physical pain. In social rejection, the brain releases opioid painkillers. Professor David T. Hsu researches rejection, and how we cope with it, at Stonybrook University. While for now, Hsu’s lab focuses on rejections in dating, the implications are much larger as “life itself is a rejection lab that is not entirely under our control, where the rejector isn’t a randomized app, and we can’t walk away knowing that it was all just an experiment.”
“Not all rejections are equal. Some of us are rejected from access to fundamental human rights; some of us are rejected by prom dates,” and people react to rejection differently: “some people withdraw, some get depressed, some turn to drugs and alcohol, and some lash out.” Hsu also wants to understand why people react differently, and “practical treatment options” and “direct applications for treating patients within dynamic, ongoing social environments that don’t necessarily offer healing or improvement once they’ve walked out of the lab.”
6. NPR: Lana Del Rey Lives In America’s Messy Subconscious
It always takes at least a week for any decent reviews of new music to come out. Over the last few days reviews of Lana Del Rey’s most recent album, Norman Fucking Rockwell! which was released on August 30th, have come out in spades, and I have fallen down the rabbit hole of attempting to read all of them. The reviews are largely favorable, but on Thursday, Del Rey took aim at Ann Powers’ review on NPR, much to the dismay of her fans and other music critics, leading to a conversation on the state of music criticism.
Del Rey seemed to take issue with Powers’ assertion that her persona can be a “step away from an authentic or even consistent narrative,” and that some of her lyrics sounded like “half-formed thoughts about words she cannot speak” and “uncooked,” drawing an apt comparison to Joni Mitchell. However, for most of the review Powers dwells on Del Rey’s lyric growth in the album and her ability to harness slippage and “her compulsion to collapse logic, to violate boundaries musically, through imagery and within her storytelling,” and how NFR! “resonates not in its straightforwardness, but because of all the pings it sets off in the listener’s brain, each one hitting like a nearly-erased memory.”
I think a large part of the tension between the two, or Del Rey’s discomfort with the review, is due to the complexity of NFR!, and history of critics dismissing her previous work. Del Rey’s earlier work didn’t require the same kind of nuanced analysis Powers provides and being receptive to a strong and thoughtful critique takes practice and time. If Del Rey makes another album, it will be influenced by Powers, either accepting or rejecting some of the offered critiques. And at the end of the day, Powers’ and her review do exactly what they should: engage the audience and artist in a conversation about the work.
7. The New Yorker: Margaret Atwood Expands the World of “The Handmaid’s Tale”
I’ve never read The Handmaid’s Tale, nor have I watched the Hulu series based on Margaret Atwood’s novel. The novel is set in Gilead, and based on a seemingly not so fictitious future where women are a Handmaiden, “forced to live as a breeding concubine,” or “are Marthas, who cook and clean, or Aunts, who indoctrinate other women into the life style of subjugation, or Wives, obedient trophies who smile graciously while other women do all the work.” In the wake of Trump’s election women wearing the Handmaids uniform of “a scarlet dress, a long cloak, and a face-obscuring white bonnet” have shown up at protest around the world, but as the visibility of the show increased, “the Handmaid seemed to evolve from a symbol of advocacy for victims into a way of playacting victimhood.”
The Testaments, Atwood’s new sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, is set 15 years after the first book ended, and is “inspired by readers’ questions about the inner workings of Gilead, and also by ‘the world we’ve been living in.'” And Atwood “seems to have another aim as well: to help us see more clearly the kinds of complicity required for constructing a world like the one she had already imagined, and the world we fear our own might become.”
8. New York Times: You Know Emily Doe’s Story. Now Learn Her Name.
Previously known as Emily Doe, Chanel Miller has revealed her identity as the woman in the sexual assault case People v. Brock Turner. Turner, then a student at Stanford University “was found guilty of three counts of felony sexual assault, for which the maximum sentence was 14 years. But the presiding judge, Aaron Persky, sentenced Mr. Turner to six months in county jail, of which he served three.” The highly publicized case was very controversial, and the leniency of Persky highly criticized. In Miller’s new memoir—Know My Name, out September 24th—she gets to tell her own story and pieces “together the totality of what happened the night she was assaulted.”
9. Ctrl+P: Status Update Volume I by Stephanie Barber & Lauren Bender
I’ve been waiting for this book since I became friends with Stephanie Barber on Facebook in January of 2017. Every day since 2010 Stephanie has posted a haiku on Facebook. On multiple occasions, I have wondered how I might be able to include some of her haikus on my weekly lists but never came up with a good solution.
Complied by Amber Eve Anderson, “Status Update Volume I is a catalog of that first year, at once quotidian and monumental.” The book also includes illustrations by “Lauren Bender, which are not illustrations at all, but rather descriptions of drawings she would do if she were to illustrate each haiku.” While some people never update their status, “Barber persistently responds to the platform’s incessant query, ‘What’s on your mind?’”
I am so excited about this book!
10. Google Docs: Adjunct Rates
We all know that adjunct professors are underpaid and overworked. But it is hard to know just how underpaid and how overworked the linchpins of many academic institutions are. This spreadsheet, which allows adjuncts to self-report how much they get paid and other pertinent information gives a further glimpse into how dire the situation is.
*All images taken from reference articles*
Have a suggestion for next week? Email [email protected] with the subject line “The Internet is Exploding.”