Tuesday, November 22, 2016

J. Michelle Coghlan's "Sensational Internationalism"

J. Michelle Coghlan is Lecturer in American literature and culture at the University of Manchester, UK. Her work has appeared in Arizona Quarterly, the Henry James Review, and Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new book, Sensational Internationalism: The Paris Commune and the Remapping of American Memory in the Long Nineteenth Century:
Victoria Woodhull, the freewheeling, free-love socialist publisher who became, in 1872, the first woman to run for the U.S. presidency, was an ardent champion of the Paris Commune. She showed her support for the 1871 uprising by running Marx’s famous dissection of the events in Paris, The Civil War in France, in her weekly newspaper, Woodhull and Claflin’s Weekly, in the summer following the Commune’s suppression, and also by helping to organize a cross-racial, cross-class march in December 1871 in memory of the martyrs of “the Universal Republic” at a moment when the Commune had been otherwise denounced in every major U.S. newspaper and in sermons across the country. If my book became a movie, Jessica Chastain would rock this part.

Lucy Gonzalez Parsons, who Chicago police described as “more dangerous than a thousand rioters” and historian D.G. Kelley has identified as “the most prominent African American woman radical of the nineteenth century,” was born a slave in Texas in 1852 and married future Chicago anarchist and Haymarket martyr Albert Parsons in 1871. For nearly seven decades, Lucy worked tirelessly as a labor organizer, orator, and publisher, championing the cause of working people, anarchism, and later Communism in the face of Haymarket hysteria, ongoing police repression, and a succession of Red scares in the United States. She suggested in her speeches that the Commune had been the spark which first ignited her interest in social questions, and every March until her death she participated in—and often spoke at—celebrations held to honor the start of the ostensibly failed Parisian uprising. In one particularly fiery speech, she told the three thousand people assembled in New York’s Clarendon Hall, “I will carry the red flag of the Commune and plant it everywhere in New England.” Rosario Dawson would be perfect for the part, and her passion for activism would no doubt have made Lucy proud.
Learn more about Sensational Internationalism at the Edinburgh University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue