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Humanities at GBC

While the HC@gbc is new, the committment of GBC's students, faculty, and staff is long-standing. Below are some of the many humanities activities being undertaken at GBC.

Featuring

Living Room Travel Guide

Living Room Travel Guide, bookshelf with books, games, telephone, and other items graphic.
Photo Credit: Juliane Liebermann

Dr. Sam Lackey English Professor photo.Sam Lackey, PhD

Title: The Rainy Season by Amy Wilentz
Format: Book
Why: In this intimate and often gut-wrenching portrait of Haiti’s political and cultural upheaval following the overthrow of President Jean-Claude Duvalier in 1987, Wilentz, an award-winning journalist, offers first-hand accounts of the violence in the Port-Au-Prince slums and the desperation of the deforested countryside. She deftly combines her own experiences in-country with detailed portraits of an activist priest, street kids, corrupt politicians, and the journalists and embassy officials who watch the whole messy transition of power unfold. Ultimately, she offers an unsparing look at how the governments and economic institutions of the U.S. and western Europe have long exacerbated the island nation’s struggles.

Title: Play it as it Lays by Joan Didion
Format: Book
Why: If you’re looking for something light or uplifting to get you through quarantine...don’t read this! Didion’s novel is a brutal takedown of Hollywood and American culture at the end of the 1960s, as seen through the eyes of Maria Wyeth, a jaded actress moving through a transactional, surface-level world full of nihilistic hedonism and endless despair. Best known for her essays, Didion brings her familiar unsparing eye for detail and quietly devastating prose to bear in this searing, era-defining novel.

Title: BUtterfield 8 by John O’Hara
Format: Book
Why: O’Hara is not as well-remembered as contemporaries like Hemingway & Fitzgerald, but he was a best-selling author adept at chronicling class distinctions, the difficulties of upward mobility, and the emptiness of the moneyed elite. The novel’s protagonist, Gloria Wandrous, utilizes charm and sex to survive on her own in New York City, but an affair with a bored upper-class man sets in motion a chain of events that she can neither anticipate nor control. O’Hara was more prolific than he was consistently good but, along with 1934’s Appointment in Samarra, this 1935 novel is generally regarded as his best work. The 1960 film adaptation starring Elizabeth Taylor is also worth checking out.

Title: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Format: Book
Why: White liberals throughout the U.S. have been flocking to buy this book since last summer, and I was no different. But after bringing it home in June, I put off reading it for several months. To be frank, I was afraid of the book, afraid of the guilt and shame I assumed it would make me feel. I had it all wrong, though. Coates is addressing his teenage son in the form of a letter, and in precise, magisterial prose, he weaves together elements of memoir, history, and social commentary. From the West Baltimore of his youth, to meeting his wife at Howard University, to the dawn of his journalism career, Coates takes his son on a tour of the people, places, and cultural traditions that shaped him, while also speaking directly of the dangers in store for a young Black man trying to find himself “within a country lost in the Dream.”

Title: The Mangrove
Format: Film
Why: This is the first installment of Small Axe, British writer/director Steve McQueen’s film anthology about the experiences of London’s West Indian community in the 1960s and 70s as members fight for an equal place in a frequently hostile society. Depicting real events, The Mangrove centers around the eponymous Caribbean restaurant owned by Frank Crichlow, a Trinidadian immigrant and musician who later becomes a reluctant civil rights leader in the face of constant police harassment and systemic racism. A poignant reminder that the U.S. hasn’t cornered the market on institutional bigotry and white nationalism, the film is both somber courtroom drama and vibrant celebration of West Indian culture and perseverance.

Title: The New World
Format: Film
Why: Terrence Malick’s lyrical re-creation of the Jamestown settlement in seventeenth century Virgina and the mythical love affair between John Smith and Pocahantas was a bit too slow and ponderous for many viewers when it debuted in theaters in 2005. But if you have some time on your hands and the patience for lingering, beautiful camera shots and philosophical voice-overs, this is the movie for you! We all know the basic story here, but Malick strips away the heroic fantasies and presents the English settlement as it really was: ill-conceived, squalid, disease-ridden, and presided over by opportunists & scoundrels (and that includes Smith). Colin Farrell brings a sad-eyed believability to his portrayal of the brave but not quite virtuous explorer, and Q’orianka Kilcher delivers physical grace and real pathos as the curious, kind Powhatan princess. Malick’s style isn’t for everyone, but his art-house sensibilities are surprisingly well-suited to this prosaic and quintessentially American tale.

with significant support from...National Endowment for the Humantities logo graphic.

“To the man who only has a hammer in the toolkit, every problem looks like a nail.” -Abraham Maslow

…a digital humanities center developed by great basin college because 'humanities matter' ♥