Get to know the TLW Team – New Committee Member Lindsay Middleton

Hi all, bf593d5a-9cd7-4b2e-ba4e-7fa8d66af6b3

I am writing to introduce myself as the newest member of the TLW team. I am very excited to have recently joined as an online committee member! I will be involved in managing the blog and Twitter accounts, as well as organising the wonderful events and bookclubs that TLW have in store.

Over the past few years I have attended the University of Glasgow, getting my MA in English Literature and my MLitt in Victorian Literature there. Over that time I have attended numerous TLW events, so I am thrilled to now be involved in such a valuable and important community.

My current research is slightly at odds with the TLW rubric, in that I consider recipes and literature from nineteenth-century Britain. My PhD project – ‘The Technical Recipe: A Formal Analysis of Nineteenth-century Food Writing – uses a formal reading to chart the development of the recipe as a textual genre, as well as investigating the innovations in material food technology that influenced Victorian eating and cooking. As such, my project sits across the disciplines of English Literature and the History of Technology, and I have one supervisor at the University of Glasgow and another at the University of Aberdeen. It’s fair to say, then, that I’m used to my interests being spread across multiple areas!

One of my core beliefs when it comes to my research, and in general, is that recipes, domestic texts and women’s writing have the ability and power to both highlight the structures that govern society, but also to disrupt them. Given the domestic slant of my work, and the fact that the majority of historical food texts were marketed at and read by women (either housewives or their female servants), I am passionate about uncovering the latent power that is so often overlooked in these texts. Recipes are not normally deemed ‘literary’, and cookbooks – like popular fiction – are too often dismissed as ‘feminine’ unscholarly texts, and are therefore overlooked in scholarship. The gap this creates is one I see as full of potential.
The hidden texts read daily by hidden women do not just represent and strengthen the patriarchal structures those women work within, in the domestic sphere. Those texts also have the potential to upset those systems and create spaces within patriarchal societies in which women can express themselves.

It is this interest that has lead me to the TLW and the events they put on, as they create a space in which women’s writing is at the fore. Having fruitful discussions with likeminded readers is such a rewarding thing, and demonstrates the good that comes from paying attention to women writers who have used their writing to create a space of power and presence. Moreover, my interest in food has always led me to those transatlantic women who adapt and create new culinary trends in their travels. From the endlessly influential Julia Child, to Elizabeth David, to M.F.K Fisher, whose writing about crossing the Atlantic in The Gastronomical Me is incredibly beautiful, these women have always used food as a means of creating community across the ocean – and that is something I find fascinating.

I am therefore very excited to get involved with the TLW team, and be a part of the very necessary conversations they facilitate. And who knows, maybe some tantalising discussions about female foodies lie in our future!

Lindsay

 

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Get to know the TLW Team — New Committee Member Chiara Bullen

Hello everyone! Over the summer, each member of the TLW team will be writing a post to tell you a little bit about what they’re reading and researching at the moment. Today it’s one of our newest committee members, Chiara Bullen.

Hi all,

I’m thrilled to be part of the TLW team and I’m excited for everyone to see the upcoming events we have in store this year — you’re in for a treat!

I currently work in publishing and I am a freelance writer in my spare time. Last year I gained my Masters’ Degree at the University of Stirling in Publishing Studies, and my research focused on the concept of the Author and Publisher brands and how each interacted with readers. I’m fascinated by the impact of publishing and literature on society and how other factors (such as technology and marketing) can influence this, and I’m thinking about pursuing a PhD in this area next year.

Although I’m not currently working on any research projects, I’ve always been interested in women writers who have been overlooked for male writers by the publishing industry during the 20th century, and I’ve been exploring a few of these cases over the summer.

My interest started when I discovered Zelda Fitzgerald for the first time when I was working as a bookseller in Waterstones. As I was shelving away copies of The Great Gatsby, I noticed a copy of Save Me The Waltz next to these copies and wondered why I had never heard of Zelda Fitzgerald or her work. Fast forward a few years and I would come to study Zelda Fitzgerald’s work during my undergraduate degree, and I was spurred on by the unfair treatment she received from prominent writing circles, the publishing industry and her husband, F. Scott Fitzgerald, when it came to her artistic work.

The relationship between the couple is one that has attracted much speculation and glamorisation (demonstrated, for example, with Amazon Prime’s Z: The Beginning of Everything) and there are instances that have come to light over the years that strongly suggest Zelda Fitzgerald was much more than simply inspiration for some of her husband’s work. When she was asked to review F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Beautiful and the Damned in 1922 for the New York Review, she notes:

‘It seems to me that on one page I recognized a portion of an old diary of mine which mysteriously disappeared shortly after my marriage, and, also, scraps of letters which, though considerably edited, sound to me vaguely familiar. Mr Fitzgerald—I believe that is how he spells his name—seems to believe that plagiarism begins at home.’ [1]

Later, the Fitzgeralds’ combined title Bits of Paradise (consisting of twenty-three stories written by the couple) would see most of Zelda Fitzgerald’s stories published with a co-authored by-line, despite her sole ownership of the work. This was due to an agreement between her husband and his literary agent, Harold Ober. Ober also removed her name from her short story Millionaire’s Girl when submitting to publishers looking to strike a deal. These instances are a grim reminder of just how many barriers women writers faced when trying to get their work published and maintain their authorship in the early 20th century.

I also recently came across the case of Sanora Babb, another writer who faced similar barriers. Babb was a writer and journalist who worked with the Farm Security Administration of California in 1938 where she made extensive notes about the Dust Bowl, the Great Depression and its impact on people as research for her novel. These detailed notes were sent by her boss, Tom Collins, to John Steinbeck (who would go on to dedicate the book to Collins) and thus the Grapes of Wrath was published just before Babb could gain a publishing deal for her own novel (titled Whose Names Are Unknown). Babb, furious, focused her career on other areas and became a successful poet and writer. She was eventually convinced to publish Whose Names are Unknown in 2004, before passing away in 2005 at the age of 98.[2]

The injustice faced by these women is truly infuriating, but it is inspiring beyond words to see how they persisted with their writing despite the attempts to be stripped of their authorship and their creativity taken advantage of. I hope to bring my interest in this area and highlight more transatlantic women writers who faced these injustices into events during my time with the TLW team.


References

  • [1] Milford, Nancy, Zelda: A Biography, Harper & Row.
  • [2] Meyer, Michael J. The Steinbeck Review 4, no. 1 (2007): 135-39.

Get to know the TLW team: Kari and the Hollywood Novel

Hello everyone! Over the summer, each member of the TLW team will be writing a post to tell you a little bit about what they’re reading and researching at the moment. Today it’s our resident film buff, Kari Sund!

***

I hope you’re all having a great summer and that everyone has had the chance to enjoy the rare Scottish sunshine! My reading is strictly taking place outdoors now (even in rain – I’m stubborn!) so I thought I would focus this blog post on one of the novels I’ve been reading over the last few weeks, Dorothy B. Hughes’ In A Lonely Place (1949). I’ve just re-read this thrilling American crime novel, and I’m hoping that a small taster will convince anyone who hasn’t encountered it before to give it a read.

In a Lonely Place is both a fitting and an unconventional summer read. It’s set in sunny Los Angeles in the 1940s, and the location plays an important role as we follow the main character, Dix Steele, driving around Hollywood, Beverley Hills, and other well-known West Coast locations. We find out very early in the novel, however, that Dix is a serial killer, and many of these routes are the same ones which he uses at night to stalk his victims before raping and murdering them. What might initially be perceived as a sunny and glamorous setting for a novel quickly becomes an extremely dark and disturbing place.

Dix Steele is an ex-World War II fighter pilot. He is originally from the East coast, was based in England during the war, and now lives in Los Angeles. The opening chapter sets the scene for the rest of the novel: Dix reconnects with Brub, his wartime best friend who is now a detective in the LAPD, and he stalks two girls through the dark streets of the city, murdering one of them. He also bumps into his stunning neighbour Laurel Gray, for the first time, immediately falling for her. The rest of the novel follows Dix’s inner narrative as he juggles his secret life as a serial killer, with the seemingly normal persona of a young man falling in love with a girl, and socialising with his best friend.

What seems like love to the outsider, is arguably a desire to possess and control a woman who commands more respect than him. This is obvious from the first time Dix meets Laurel;

“The girl didn’t move for a moment. She stood in his way and looked him over slowly, from crown to toe. The way a man looked over a woman, not the reverse. Her eyes were slant, her lashes curved long and golden dark. She had red-gold hair, flaming hair, flung back from her amber face, falling to her shoulders. Her mouth was too heavy with lipstick, a copper-red mouth, a sultry mouth painted to call attention to its promise.” (21)

It is evident that gender roles are being reversed in this encounter with Laurel, and Dix’s overbearing need to possess her after this is akin to his urge to kill. It is this element of Hughes’ writing which lead to it being interpreted as a feminist story.

Hughes makes no secret throughout the novel that Dix and “the strangler” are one and the same. Many critics have remarked on the nature of the novel as “less a “whodunit” than what we might term a “whydunnit”” (Telotte). I found, rather, that the pleasure in reading this novel came from the experience of piecing together Dix’s history of murder as he gradually unfolds past events to us. It’s like being in a police interview room and hearing a confession, not necessarily of why a man has killed – because Dix never directly reveals this – but of when and how he has killed, and then being able to draw our own conclusions about why.

Some readers may be familiar with the 1950 film-adaptation of the novel, which diverges from Hughes’ storyline in interesting ways. In Nicholas Ray’s film, the viewer is left in suspense about whether Dix is the serial-killer until the very last scene. Though the movie-version of Dix (appropriately played by Humphrey Bogart) is a flawed man with severe anger issues, he is ultimately **!spoiler warning!** innocent of murder. On first watching the film, I assumed that the reason for this change was due to the Motion Picture Production Code, also known as the Hays Code. The Hays Code laid out industry moral guidelines which American-produced movies had to adhere to. These guidelines dictated what could and could not be depicted on screen. Amongst the many topics prohibited were miscegenation, sex, drug use, and it was also not permitted to show or encourage sympathy for a criminal. This meant that the hero of a film could not be allowed to get away with a crime, especially not murder! The impact that the Hays Code had on scriptwriting, adaptation, and film production during this era was huge, so it was surprising to learn that this plot divergence was completely unrelated, and a directorial preference. In Film Noir, Alain Silver advises that the original script saw Dix trying to strangle Laurel, and claims that it was Ray’s decision to change this, with Ray allegedly saying “I just can’t do it. Romances don’t have to end that way . . . They don’t have to end in violence” (474).

I’m not going to try and argue that this novel is overly transatlantic, but there are definitely aspects of relevance which struck me. The war preoccupies much of Dix’s thoughts and memories, and Hughes juxtaposes the overseas experiences of men like Dix and Brub, who have both killed in a way which was accepted and unquestioned by society, with the difficulty that they often experienced trying to integrate back into “normal” society and behaviour. Furthermore, as we see with Dix, many men experienced a completely different quality of life during the war. Dix reminisces about the days when he was a well-dressed hero who commanded respect regardless of what his social background was. When he returns home, he struggles to move back into the social class he belongs to. Though he is not poor, he is also not wealthy, and is required to work for a living. As an alternative to this, Dix prefers to scrounge off a comfortable uncle under the pretence that he writing a book, all the while longing to have the leisure-class lifestyle which he constantly sees promoted around him in California. By basing Dix in England during the war, Hughes makes the chasm between these two lives even more pronounced. The men’s time in the air force seems completely disconnected from their lives at home in America, and they know very little about each other.

If you have an interest in crime, detective, Los Angeles, or Hollywood fiction then I would highly recommend In A Lonely Place. Not only was it a gripping page-turner on the first reading, but like all my favourite works of literature, it was even better on a second reading. When we think of American crime fiction, we tend to automatically think of authors such as Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, and the hard-boiled style. It’s certainly not a genre often associated with women writers, but Hughes’ work stands at the top for me.

Though quite different from the novel, the film adaptation is also fantastic, and now regarded as a classic film noir. If you are interested in seeing it on the big screen, then the Glasgow Film Theatre have screened it around November-time for the last two years, so do keep your eyes peeled if you think it’s something you might enjoy!

***

Next week we’ll be introducing one of our new committee members, so stay tuned!

 

Additional reading:

You can read a free excerpt from In A Lonely Place here.

I also enjoyed this take on the novel as a feminist story, from Glasgow Women’s Library.

 References:

Telotte, J. P., ‘The Displaced Voice of “In A Lonely Place”’ in South Atlantic Review, Vol. 54, No. 1 (Jan 1989), pp. 1-12.

Silver, Alain, James Ursini et al. Film Noir. Ed. Paul Duncan & Jürgen Müller. Taschen, 2012.

 

Get to know the TLW team: Saskia talks Transatlantic Virginia Woolf

Hello everyone! Over the summer, each member of the TLW team will be writing a post to tell you a little bit about what they’re reading and researching at the moment. Today it’s our Suffrage Centenary organiser, Saskia McCracken.

At TLW HQ, we’re busy working on events for the new session – and we’re excited about them! We’ll be sharing full details later in the summer, but we can tell now you we already have six events in the pipeline, including teaming up with some awesome people and organisations in Glasgow and beyond. We hope you’ll join us in September for what we’re calling our first team road trip, and next month we’re looking forward to introducing two fab new members to Team TLW. We welcome your ideas, so if there’s an event you’d like to see, be part of, a theme you’d like to propose, as always please get in touch with us via twitter or at the email address on this site. All events are free and open to all.

***

Hi all,

I’m currently a PhD candidate at the University of Glasgow, and my research focuses on Woolf’s Darwinian animal imagery. Today however, I’m going to talk a little bit about Woolf’s first novel The Voyage Out (1915). We don’t normally think of Woolf as a transatlantic writer, after all she never crossed the Atlantic in person, but she did write nonfiction about America and American writing (as I discussed in an earlier TLW blog); her  novel The Voyage Out is about a transatlantic journey that begins in London and ends in South America; and she published her work in the American magazine The Atlantic Monthly, including serialised versions of her pacifist feminist polemic Three Guineas (1938), and her biography of Flush (1933) the spaniel.

Most people haven’t heard of, let alone read The Voyage Out. It was Woolf’s first published novel, and is in many ways more conventional and Victorian than her later, famous experimental works such as Mrs Dalloway (1925) and The Waves (1931). The novel is, however, avant-garde in several respects: she explores narrative perspective using free indirect discourse, uses a Wagnerian musical structure (see Davison), and writes about and the ‘curious, unrepresented life’ of women (p.217). The protagonist, a young woman called Rachel Vinrace, travels aboard her father’s ship to the fictional South American port of Santa Marina, where she becomes part of an ex-pat community based in a hotel. The story introduces Mr and Mrs Dalloway who became the well-known characters of her later work. Rachel and the other ex-pats journey into the jungle, where they visit an indigenous village, and are surprised to find that when they stare at the local people, those people stare back:

‘As she drew apart her shawl and uncovered her breast to the lips of her baby, the eyes of [one local] woman never left their faces, although they moved uneasily under her stare, and finally turned away, rather than stand there looking at her any longer.’

The observers become the observed, keenly aware of themselves as over-dressed and unwelcome tourists. After this expedition, everything changes, but I won’t tell you how. I can’t discuss the subversive ending without spoilers.

Woolf’s library held copies of Darwin’s Autobiographies, Journal of Researches (known as The Voyage of the Beagle), On the Origin of Species, and The Descent of Man. Her descriptions of the landscape (as scholars including Gillian Beer and Claire Davison have pointed out) are hard to distinguish from Darwin’s descriptions of the jungles he visited in South America during The Voyage of the Beagle, and it is clear that she used his research as a resource for her fiction. Knowing this changes the way we read and categorise the novel. In terms of genre the book is a coming of age story, a novel of manners, and a satire of Edwardian upper-class British society, but it is also an engagement with colonial travel narratives (such as Darwin’s Voyage and Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness), as well as a feminist critique of the marriage plot. Faced with two suitors, both of whom are trying to educate her (and neither of whom are particularly appealing) Rachel does not get the conventional ending we might expect. But instead of giving away the plot, I’ll end with a few notes on the mixed reception of this novel.

In the UK E. M. Forster called The Voyage Out:

‘a strange, tragic, inspired book whose scene is a South America not found on any map and reached by a boat which would not float on any sea, an America whose spiritual boundaries touch Xanadu and Atlantis’ [i]

A book reviewer for the New York Times, however, was less generous:

‘there is little in this offering to make it stand out from the ruck of mediocre novels which make far less literary pretension’ but ‘there should be a possibility of something worthwhile from the same pen in the future’ [ii]

Forster’s response is far closer to my own than the latter critique. But perhaps you could try reading the novel for yourself and see what you think! You are bound to be surprised with what you find in Woolf’s first, clearly transatlantic, novel.

Sources:

Beer, Gillian. Virginia Woolf: The Common Ground. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 1996.

Davison, Claire. ‘The Ascents and Descents of Man? Darwin, Music and Virginia Woolf’s The Voyage Out.’ Guest lecture. University of Glasgow, 01 October 2015. Print forthcoming.

Woolf, Virginia. The Voyage Out. London: Granada, 1978.

 

[i] Quotes from: http://virginiawoolfblog.com/the-voyage-out/

[ii] Quotes from: http://virginiawoolfblog.com/the-voyage-out/

Get to know the TLW team: Laura’s Summer So Far – And a Reading Spotlight on Josephine Johnson

Hello everyone! Over the summer, each member of the TLW team will be writing a post to tell you a little bit about what they’re reading and researching at the moment. Today it’s our founder, Dr Laura Rattray.

***

At TLW HQ, we’re busy working on events for the new session – and we’re excited about them! We’ll be sharing full details later in the summer, but we can tell now you we already have six events in the pipeline, including teaming up with some awesome people and organisations in Glasgow and beyond. We hope you’ll join us in September for what we’re calling our first team road trip, and next month we’re looking forward to introducing two fab new members to Team TLW. We welcome your ideas, so if there’s an event you’d like to see, be part of, a theme you’d like to propose, as always please get in touch with us via twitter or at the email address on this site. All events are free and open to all.

What else am I up to (apart from the regular summer work of dissertation and theses supervisions, new teaching prep, programme convening, externalling, planning a programme for the university’s Centre of American Studies)? Well, I’m recently back from a conference in Dublin on Transatlantic Women, taking part in a panel on Edith Wharton’s Transatlanticism.  I know colleagues who are dismissive of/ tired of conferences, even if costs are covered by their universities, but for me they remain one of the fun, enjoyable parts of the work. And they’re valuable, sometimes in unexpected ways. Two years ago it was our conversation at a conference that led my US colleague, Mary Chinery, and I to realise that in 1901 Wharton had written a play called The Shadow of a Doubt, a play that none of us had been aware of. Fired up by that conversation we determined to see if we could track it down. And we did, publishing the play and our article in the Edith Wharton Review. It’s been energising to see professional readings of the play in the US this year as a result of that work, and there are more in pipeline, including, fingers crossed, a full-scale production. That simply wouldn’t have happened without the conference.

This week saw the offer of a contract for a new project I’m excited about, and over the summer I’m finishing a book on Wharton, which I’m really enjoying working on. I’ve made a pact with myself in terms of research that I will only do work I care about. I’m not always great at the life/work balance, so if I’m working I figure it better damn well be on stuff I love.

And some of that work I care about is drawing attention to women writers who have been neglected, side-lined, or forgotten. It was one of the reasons I started the Transatlantic Literary Women Series in the first place and one of the reasons I run a course on modern American women’s writing. This summer I’m revisiting the writing of Josephine Johnson. Josephine Who? Exactly! Here’s some more information on the first of my summer reads:

In September 1934, at the height of America’ s Great Depression, twenty-four-year-old Josephine Johnson published her first novel, Now in November. Without giving away any plot spoilers (and there are dramatic events) the story is seen through the eyes of a young protagonist whose family, like millions of Americans, was badly hit by the Depression, and they move out of the city to try and scratch out a living from the land:

We left our other life behind us as if it had not been. Only the part that was of and in us, the things we’d read and the things remembered, came with us . . . We left a world all wrong, confused, and shouting at itself. . .

Reviewers were swept away by the novel, exclaiming somewhat bizarrely that the country had found a talent worthy of comparison to Emily Dickinson, Katherine Mansfield, Willa Cather, and Emily Bronte (all of them? really?). Now in November was even called ‘the American Wuthering Heights’. The novel was both timely and timeless, politically astute without resorting to polemics, and written in a beautifully lyrical prose style.

The following year, Now in November won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and Johnson seemed set. Publishers were clamouring to represent her. A collection of stories, Winter Orchard, swiftly followed. Some of the publicity undoubtedly patronised Johnson – because she was a woman, and because she was young. She was depicted a young naïf, living miles from anywhere, and to an extent Johnson played along with this, claiming in a local interview she was as happy in the kitchen as she was writing, as though she had tossed out a Pulitzer novel between baking pies. In reality, Johnson was a committed activist, involved with unions and groups fighting for the victimised and dispossessed. In June 1936, she would be arrested under suspicion of encouraging cottonfield workers to strike.

Johnson’s eagerly awaited second novel, Jordanstown, published in April 1937, brought the political convictions that were largely on the fringes on Now in Novemberto the fore. Its male protagonist buys a local newspaper to expose injustice and mobilise workers in a protest that is brutally supressed by the police. Reviews, at best, were mixed. Bernard de Voto, writing in the Saturday Review of Literature, concluded: ‘The loss of a first-rate psychological novelist is too high a price to pay for a second-rate sociological novelist, or even for a first-rate one…[I]f she returns to the kind of fiction that she was unquestionably destined to write, she may be the foremost woman novelist of her generation.’[i]

In some ways this was the beginning of the end for Johnson. She would not become the foremost novelist of her generation – woman or otherwise. For a time it seemed that she had abandoned fiction in the 1930s, but when I looked at the records in her archive, there in a box were four surviving chapters of a novel that in 1939 was rejected outright by the publishing house that had nurtured her – along with the advice to ‘take a break’ from writing altogether.

Wounded by the criticism Johnson would do just that and take a prolonged break from her writing career, directing her energies to other concerns: politics, unions, mural painting, government rehabilitation farms, marriage and children. A single novella, Wildwood, would be followed by a publishing hiatus of almost twenty years.

Johnson’s work drifts in and out of print (including re. the latter, *sigh*, an edition for which I wrote a preface years ago). Currently the book is available though, so if you’re looking for a different read, are interested in the 1930s, the Depression from the point of view of woman, or in shining a light on another writer who in many ways has fallen by the wayside, Now in November comes highly recommended. John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, wonderful as it is, doesn’t have a monopoly on indelible pictures of the Depression and Dust Bowl years.

Happy summer!

Laura Rattray

[i]Bernard de Voto, ‘In Pursuit of an Idea’, Saturday Review of Literature, 3 April 1937, pp. 6-7.

Get to know the TLW team: Sarah talks transatlantic speechwriters

Hello everyone! Over the summer, each member of the TLW team will be writing a post to tell you a little bit about what they’re reading and researching at the moment. First up is our resident historian, Sarah.

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Hi TLW readers,

I’m currently writing my Masters dissertation here at the University of Glasgow, while simultaneously preparing for a move back to Edinburgh to start my PhD in September, so I’m having a busy summer! Excitingly, we’ve also started the planning for TLW Season 3, and it’s shaping up to be a fantastic series of events (if we do say so ourselves).

My Masters dissertation explores the transatlantic trip Ronald Reagan made to Europe during the summer of 1984. During his visit Reagan toured Ireland (his ancestral home), then visited London and Normandy, making plenty of stops for photo opportunities along the way. Of course, 1984 was also the year that Reagan ran for re-election, and I’m hoping my dissertation will demonstrate how Reagan used this trip to his political advantage as he sought a second term in the White House. This tactic of implicitly campaigning simply by appearing ‘presidential’ is known as the Rose Garden Strategy, and is one side-effect of the US President being both an elected politician and the head of state. Ultimately, my aim is to offer a contribution to the wider field of presidential studies, by offering a case study of this relatively short episode during Reagan’s presidency.

Though my focus will be on Reagan, while I’m on the TLW blog I’d like to give a quick nod to a different sort of writer than the ones we normally talk about at TLW HQ. Peggy Noonan was one of Reagan’s speechwriters, and she wrote the most famous speech that Reagan delivered during this trip, his remarks commemorating the 40thAnniversary of the Normandy Invasion. She wrote the speech with two audiences in mind, the American people who heard the speech on the breakfast news, and the audience of veterans who served during this mission and accompanied Reagan to Pointe du Hoc for the commemoration.[1] Noonan said of this speech:

“I wanted to sum up the importance of what happened on those Normandy beaches forty years ago, to show its meaning on the long ribbons of history […] I wanted people to have pictures in their mind of what the past had been like. I wanted the president vividly to describe what these men did forty years ago. “These are the boys who took the cliffs” and the TV showing those men” [2]

It’s an incredibly moving speech, which I’d highly recommend you watch to get the full effect of its staging as well as its language. Regardless of how you feel about Reagan, it’s hard to deny that he had a phenomenal team of people around him, and that’s very apparent when you examine the meticulous planning that went into all of Reagan’s public remarks.

Though I’m mostly reading non-fiction works for my dissertation, I’m trying to make time to read some fiction. At the moment the books on my bedside table are Paul Auster’s 4 3 2 1 and Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, but I’m embarrassed to admit how long they’ve been there for… But, as you can probably tell, my fiction reading tends to complement my non-fiction reading!

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Thanks for reading! Next week we’ll have a blog post from our founder, Dr Laura Rattray of the University of Glasgow.

[1]William Ker Muir, Jr. The Bully Pulpit: The Presidential Leadership of Ronald Reagan (San Francisco, CA: Institute for Contemporary Studies Press, 1992), 27.

[2]Ibid.