Essays

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Breathe: A Letter to My Sons
Perry, Imani. Breathe: A Letter to My Sons. Boston: Beacon Press, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

View eBook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]

"Explores the terror, grace, and beauty of coming of age as a Black person in contemporary America and what it means to parent our children in a persistently unjust world. Emotionally raw and deeply reflective, Imani Perry issues an unflinching challenge to society to see Black children as deserving of humanity. She admits fear and frustration for her African American sons in a society that is increasingly racist and at times seems irredeemable. However, as a mother, feminist, writer, and intellectual, Perry offers an unfettered expression of love--finding beauty and possibility in life--and she exhorts her children and their peers to find the courage to chart their own paths and find steady footing and inspiration in Black tradition. Perry draws upon the ideas of figures such as James Baldwin, W. E. B. DuBois, Emily Dickinson, Toni Morrison, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Ida B. Wells. She shares vulnerabilities and insight from her own life and from encounters in places as varied as the West Side of Chicago; Birmingham, Alabama; and New England prep schools. Breathe offers a broader meditation on race, gender, and the meaning of a life well lived and is also an unforgettable lesson in Black resistance and resilience"-- Provided by publisher.

 

Even If You're Broken: Essays on Sexual Assault and #MeToo
Pryal, Katie Rose Guest. Even If You're Broken: Essays on Sexual Assault and #MeToo. Chapel Hill, NC: Blue Crow Books, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"From the bestselling author of 'Life of the Mind Interrupted' comes an essay collection 'rich in vulnerability and candor.' How do we make a good life in a world where sexual violence always lurks in the shadows? Katie Pryal, a rape survivor, a former law professor, and a bestselling author, takes on the rapidly changing legal and social landscape of \#MeToo, Title IX, and the lawsuits they've empowered women to bring. Moving between the deeply personal and the socially critical, the essays in this collection are incisive dispatches from survivor territory. In these fiery essays, Pryal documents reporting her rape to a university Title IX office, in grim, yet hilarious, detail. She turns her law-trained eye to the Bill Cosby case and to musician Kesha's struggle to break free of her recording contract because of alleged abuse by her producer. This book is for survivors, those who love them, and those who want to make the world a better place for them. These stories strip away shame. They burn off fear. They lay bare the injustices women face and how we can fight them. Most of all, Pryal shows how she has fought those injustices herself-and by showing us, she inspires us to do the same. "Rich in vulnerability and candor, Pryal's evocative essays remind us that the survivor journey is far from linear, and that there is power and beauty in our imperfect journey." -Andrea Pino, co-author of We Believe You: Survivors of Campus Sexual Assault Speak Out"– Provided by publisher.
Life of the Mind Interrupted: Essays on Mental Health and Disability in Higher Education
Pryal, Katie Rose Guest. Life of the Mind Interrupted: Essays on Mental Health and Disability in Higher Education. Chapel Hill, NC: Blue Crow Publishing, 2017. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
The essays in this book cover topics such as disclosure of disabilities, accommodations and accessibility, how to be a good abled friend to a disabled person, the trigger warnings debate, and more. Written for a popular audience, for those with disabilities and for those who want to learn more about living a disabled life, Life of the Mind Interrupted aims to make higher education, and the rest of our society, more humane.
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Nonbinary: Memoirs of Gender and Identity
Rajunov, Micah, and Scott Duane, ed. Nonbinary: Memoirs of Gender and Identity. New York: Columbia University Press, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"What happens when your gender doesn't fit neatly into the categories of male or female? Even mundane interactions like filling out a form or using a public bathroom can be a struggle when these designations prove inadequate. In this groundbreaking book, thirty authors highlight how our experiences are shaped by a deeply entrenched gender binary. The powerful first-person narratives of this collection show us a world where gender exists along a spectrum, a web, a multidimensional space. Nuanced storytellers break away from mainstream portrayals of gender diversity, cutting across lines of age, race, ethnicity, ability, class, religion, family, and relationships. From Suzi, who wonders whether she'll ever "feel" like a woman after living fifty years as a man, to Aubri, who grew up in a cash-strapped fundamentalist household, to Sand, who must reconcile the dual roles of trans advocate and therapist, the writers' conceptions of gender are inextricably intertwined with broader systemic issues. Labeled gender outlaws, gender rebels, genderqueer, or simply human, the voices in Nonbinary illustrate what life could be if we allowed the rigid categories of "man" and "woman" to loosen and bend. They speak to everyone who has questioned gender or has paused to wonder, What does it mean to be a man or a woman--and why do we care so much?"
Just Us: An American Conversation
Rankine, Claudia. Just Us: An American Conversation. Minneapolis, MN: Graywolf Press, 2021. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"At home and in government, contemporary America finds itself riven by a culture war in which aggression and defensiveness alike are on the rise. It is not alone. In such partisan conditions, how can humans best approach one another across our differences? Taking the study of whiteness and white supremacy as a guiding light, Claudia Rankine explores a series of real encounters with friends and strangers - each disrupting the false comfort of spaces where our public and private lives intersect, like the airport, the theatre, the dinner party and the voting booth - and urges us to enter into the conversations which could offer the only humane pathways through this moment of division. Just Us is an invitation to discover what it takes to stay in the room together, and to breach the silence, guilt and violence that surround whiteness. Brilliantly arranging essays, images and poems along with the voices and rebuttals of others, it counterpoints Rankine's own text with facing-page notes and commentary, and closes with a bravura study of women confronting the political and cultural implications of dyeing their hair blonde."--Publisher's description.
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Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity
Serano, Julia. Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity. Second edition. Emeryville, CA: Seal Press, 2007. eBook @ Harvard Library [Harvard Key required]Abstract
In the updated second edition of Whipping Girl, Julia Serano, a transsexual woman whose supremely intelligent writing reflects her diverse background as a lesbian transgender activist and professional biologist, shares her powerful experiences and observations—both pre- and post-transition—to reveal the ways in which fear, suspicion, and dismissiveness toward femininity shape our societal attitudes toward trans women, as well as gender and sexuality as a whole.
The Good Immigrant: 26 Writers Reflect on America
Shukla, Nikesh, and Chimène Suleyman, ed. The Good Immigrant: 26 Writers Reflect on America. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
Presents essays by first- and second-generation immigrant writers on the realities of immigration, multiculturalism, and marginalization in an increasingly divided America.
Whose Story Is This? Old Conflicts, New Chapters
Solnit, Rebecca. Whose Story Is This? Old Conflicts, New Chapters. Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
Who gets to shape the narrative of our times? The current moment is a battle royale over that foundational power, one in which women, people of color, non-straight people are telling other versions, and white people and men and particularly white men are trying to hang onto the old versions and their own centrality. In Whose Story Is This? Rebecca Solnit appraises what's emerging and why it matters and what the obstacles are.
White Privilege
Sullivan, Shannon. White Privilege. Cambridge: Polity, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"Some embrace the idea of white privilege as an important concept that helps us to make sense of the connection between race and social and political disadvantages, while others are critical or even hostile. Philosopher Shannon Sullivan cuts through the confusion and cross-talk to challenge what 'everybody knows' about white privilege"–
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Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion
Tolentino, Jia. Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion. New York: Random House, 2019. eBook @ Harvard Library [Harvard Key required]Abstract
"Jia Tolentino is a peerless voice of her generation, tackling the conflicts, contradictions, and sea changes that define us and our time. Now, in this dazzling collection of nine entirely original essays, written with a rare combination of give and sharpness, wit and fearlessness, she delves into the forces that warp our vision, demonstrating an unparalleled stylistic potency and critical dexterity. Trick Mirror is an enlightening, unforgettable trip through the river of self-delusion that surges just beneath the surface of our lives. This is a book about the incentives that shape us, and about how hard it is to see ourselves clearly through a culture that revolves around the self. In each essay, Tolentino writes about a cultural prism: the rise of the nightmare social internet; the advent of scamming as the definitive millennial ethos; the literary heroine's journey from brave to blank to bitter; the punitive dream of optimization, which insists that everything, including our bodies, should become more efficient and beautiful until we die. Gleaming with Tolentino's sense of humor and capacity to elucidate the impossibly complex in an instant, and marked by her desire to treat the reader with profound honesty, Trick Mirror is an instant classic of the worst decade yet."
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The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays
Wang, Esmé Weijun. The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays. Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
Schizophrenia is not a single unifying diagnosis, and Esmé Weijun Wang writes not just to her fellow members of the 'collected schizophrenias' but to those who wish to understand it as well. Opening with the journey toward her diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, Wang discusses the medical community's own disagreement about labels and procedures for diagnosing those with mental illness, and then follows an arc that examines the manifestations of schizophrenia in her life. In essays that range from using fashion to present as high-functioning to the depths of a rare form of psychosis, and from the failures of the higher education system and the dangers of institutionalization to the complexity of compounding factors such as PTSD and Lyme disease, Wang's analytical eye, honed as a former lab researcher at Stanford, allows her to balance research with personal narrative.
White Magic: Essays
Washuta, Elissa. White Magic: Essays. Portland, OR: Tin House, 2021. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"Throughout her life, Elissa Washuta has been surrounded by cheap facsimiles of Native spiritual tools and occult trends, "starter witch kits" of sage, rose quartz, and tarot cards packaged together in paper and plastic. Following a decade of abuse, addiction, PTSD, and heavy-duty drug treatment for a misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder, she felt drawn to the real spirits and powers her dispossessed and discarded ancestors knew, while she undertook necessary work to find love and meaning. In this collection of intertwined essays, she writes about land, heartbreak, and colonization, about life without the escape hatch of intoxication, and about how she became a powerful witch. She interlaces stories from her forebears with cultural artifacts from her own life -- Twin Peaks, the Oregon Trail II video game, a Claymation Satan, a YouTube video of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham -- to explore questions of cultural inheritance and the particular danger, as a Native woman, of relaxing into romantic love under colonial rule." -- from the publisher.
My Body is a Book of Rules
Washuta, Elissa. My Body is a Book of Rules. Pasadena, CA: Red Hen Press, 2014. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
As Elissa Washuta makes the transition from college kid to independent adult, she finds herself overwhelmed by the calamities piling up in her brain. When her mood-stabilizing medications aren't threatening her life, they're shoving her from depression to mania and back in the space of an hour. Her crisis of American Indian identity bleeds into other areas of self-doubt; mental illness, sexual trauma, ethnic identity, and independence become intertwined. Sifting through the scraps of her past in seventeen formally inventive chapters, Washuta aligns the strictures of her Catholic school education with Cosmopolitan's mandates for womanhood, views memories through the distorting lens of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and contrasts her bipolar highs and lows with those of Britney Spears and Kurt Cobain. Built on the bones of fundamental identity questions as contorted by a distressed brain, My Body Is a Book of Rules pulls no punches in its self-deprecating and ferocious look at human fallibility.
How to fight anti-Semitism
Weiss, Bari. How to fight anti-Semitism. New York: Crown, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"No longer the exclusive province of the far right and far left, anti-semitism finds a home in identity politics and the reaction against identity politics, in the renewal of "America first" isolationism and the rise of one-world socialism. An ancient hatred increasingly allowed into modern political discussion, anti-semitism has been migrating toward the mainstream in dangerous ways, amplified by social media and a culture of conspiracy that threatens us all. This timely book is Weiss's cri de couer: an unnerving reminder that Jews must never lose their hard-won instinct for danger, and a powerful case for renewing Jewish and liberal values to guide us through this uncertain moment. Not just for the sake of America's Jews, but for the sake of America"–from the publisher
Outside the XY: A Bklyn Boihood Anthology
Willis, Morgan Mann, ed. Outside the XY: A Bklyn Boihood Anthology. Riverdale, NY: Riverdale Avenue Books, 2016. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
An anthology of more than 50 stories, memoirs, poems, ideas, essays and letters–all examining what it looks like, feels like, and is like to inhabit masculinity outside of cisgender manhood as people of color in the world.
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The Souls of Yellow Folk: Essays
Yang, Wesley. The Souls of Yellow Folk: Essays. New York: W.W. Norton, 2018. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

"One of the most acclaimed essayists of his generation, Wesley Yang writes about race and sex without the jargon, formulas, and polite lies that bore us all. His powerful debut, The Souls of Yellow Folk, does more than collect a decade's worth of cult-reputation essays – it corrals new American herds of pickup artists, school shooters, mandarin zombies, and immigrant strivers, and exposes them to scrutiny, empathy, and polemical force.

In his celebrated and prescient essay "The Face of Seung-Hui Cho," Yang explores the deranged logic of the Virginia Tech shooter. In his National Magazine Award-winning "Paper Tigers," he explores the intersection of Asian values and the American dream, and the inner torment of the child exposed to "tiger mother" parenting. And in his close reading of New York Magazine's popular Sex Diaries, he was among the first critics to take seriously today's Internet-mediated dating lives.

Yang catches these ugly trends early because he has felt at various times implicated in them, and he does not exempt himself from his radical honesty. His essays retain the thrill of discovery, the wary eye of the first explorer, and the rueful admission of the first exposed."–Dust jacket

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Howard Zinn on Race
Zinn, Howard. Howard Zinn on Race. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2011. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"Howard Zinn on Race is Zinn's choice of the shorter writings and speeches that best reflect his views on America's most taboo topic. As chairman of the history department at all black women's Spelman College, Zinn was an outspoken supporter of student activists in the nascent civil rights movement. In "The Southern Mystique," he tells of how he was asked to leave Spelman in 1963 after teaching there for seven years. "Behind every one of the national government's moves toward racial equality," writes Zinn in one 1965 essay, "lies the sweat and effort of boycotts, picketing, beatings, sit-ins, and mass demonstrations." He firmly believed that bringing people of different races and nationalities together would create a more compassionate world, where equality is a given and not merely a dream. These writings, which span decades, express Zinn's steadfast belief that the people have the power to change the status quo, if they only work together and embrace the nearly forgotten American tradition of civil disobedience and revolution. In clear, compassionate, and present prose, Zinn gives us his thoughts on the Abolitionists, the march from Selma to Montgomery, John F. Kennedy, picketing, sit-ins, and, finally, the message he wanted to send to New York University students about race in a speech he delivered during the last week of his life"–

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