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Douglas Field

Despite publishing nearly forty books between 1963 and 2003, Jeff Nuttall remains a minor figure in the history of the International Underground of the long 1960s. Drawing on his uncatalogued papers at the John Rylands Library, this article seeks to recoup Nuttall as one of the key architects of the International Underground. In so doing, my article argues that Nuttalls contributions to global counterculture challenge the critical consensus that British avant-garde writers were merely imitators of their US counterparts. By exploring the impact of Nuttalls My Own Mag (1963–67) and Bomb Culture(1968), it can be shown that Nuttall was a central catalyst of, and contributor to, the International Underground. As a poet, novelist and artist, Nuttalls multidisciplinary contributions to art were at the forefront of avant-garde practices that sought to challenge the perceived limitations of the novel as a social realist document and visual art as a medium confined to canvas.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
James Baldwin Review
Abstract only
Douglas Field
and
Luke Walker
Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Douglas Field
and
Jay Jeff Jones

The exhibition Off Beat: Jeff Nuttall and the International Underground (8 September 2016 to 5 March 2017) showcases the archive of Jeff Nuttall (1933–2004), a painter, poet, editor, actor and novelist. As the exhibition illustrates, Nuttall was a central figure in the International Underground during the 1960s through to the early 1970s. During this time he collaborated with a vast network of avant-garde writers from across the globe, as well as editing the influential publication My Own Mag between 1963 and 1967.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Open Access (free)
An Interview with James Campbell
Douglas Field
and
Justin A. Joyce

James Baldwin Review editors Douglas Field and Justin A. Joyce interview author and Baldwin biographer James Campbell on the occasion of the reissue of his book Talking at the Gates (Polygon and University of California Press, 2021).

James Baldwin Review
The Rising Relevance of James Baldwin
Justin A. Joyce
,
Douglas Field
, and
Dwight A. McBride
James Baldwin Review
Art, culture and ethics in black and white

More than a century after its release in 1915, D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation remains one of the most controversial films in cinema history. Drawing together a range of scholars and practitioners, this volume reveals a continued fascination in this film as a gauge of American racism and a milestone of early cinema that allows us to recognise the complex relationship between art, culture and ethics. Through stimulating analyses and new research on its reception, both on its release and one hundred years later, this book offers fresh, engaging perspectives on Birth. Topics include the presence of African American actors in the film, the craft of Griffith’s racist dialectics, public reception of the film in the state of Virginia and re-reading promotion of the film as ‘fake news’. It traces Birth’s legacies through historical and contemporary cinema and art, demonstrating that its significance has not diminished. Vivid relationships are drawn between the film and the art of Kara Walker and Kehinde Wiley. Traditions are found both upheld and challenged in film works by Oscar Micheaux, Matthew McDaniel, DJ Spooky, Nate Parker and Quentin Tarantino. In the context of ongoing struggles over racial inequities in the twenty-first century, with white supremacist activity very much a part of the contemporary world, this book thus offers relevant and productive routes into the study of Griffith’s film.

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The legacy of The Birth of a Nation
Ian Scott
,
Douglas Field
, and
Jenny Barrett

This introduction draws together many of the social, historical and artistic contexts of D. W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation, a film that has continued to elicit reactions more than a century after its release. Griffith's own shifting reputation, from prolific director and producer to much lauded 'father of film' and ultimately to obsolete chauvinist, only partly matches the ongoing story of his most notorious film as it has continued to receive numerous reconsiderations and critical deconstructions. As we argue here, Birth is an ‘unwelcome masterpiece’ that refuses to go away, particularly at times such as the release of Nate Parker’s 2016 film self-consciously titled The Birth of a Nation about the 1831 uprising of enslaved Africans led by Nat Turner. As with the 1915 film, also the cinematic interventions of Oscar Micheaux, DJ Spooky and others, this later release drew sharp focus on contemporary racial injustices, even if only at first, before controversy about the director submerged the film’s popular status. Clearly, for many filmmakers, Griffith’s film is a cultural benchmark, not least for Spike Lee, who has used extracts in a number of his own releases. Together, these and many other cultural expressions offer means by which we can observe and confront a nation’s struggle with its historical, multicultural and multi-ethnic identity. Accordingly, the essays within this collection each seek to build an understanding of the relationship between art, culture and ethics in the context of The Birth of a Nation’s enduring legacy.

in D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation
Open Access (free)
Justin A Joyce
,
Douglas Field
, and
Dwight A McBride
James Baldwin Review