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Edited by Peter Iver Kaufman and Kristin M.S. Bezio

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Tracy Fessenden

In Chapter 8, Tracy Fessenden situates Billie Holiday within a context of proscription and oppression, a context which both constrained Holiday and was rejected by her. A black woman in early twentieth-century America, Holiday faced racial and gendered oppression and segregation, but her career as a jazz icon firmly denied the kinds of limitations that should otherwise have defined her identity.

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Edited by Peter Iver Kaufman and Kristin M.S. Bezio

Contributions to this book probe the contexts–both social and spiritual–from which select iconic figures emerge and discover how to present themselves as innovators and cultural leaders as well as draw material into forms that subsequent generations consider innovative or emblematic. The overall import of the book is to locate producers of culture such as authors, poets, singers, and artists as leaders both in their respective genres and of culture and society more broadly through the influence exerted by their works.
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Cyrena N. Pondrom

In the seventh chapter, Cyrena N. Pondrom addresses what she calls T.S. Eliot’s attempt “to engage in right action” through the writing of poetry. Like both Shelley and Dickinson, Eliot’s writings struggle to reconcile his desire to promote new forms of culture and social responsibility with his sense of personal unworthiness, a duality which caused him to reject his own role as iconic poet in favor of the more proactive role of dramatic cultural leader.

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Evyatar Marienberg

The final chapter addresses the influence of religious symbolism, and Roman Catholicism specifically, on the work and persona of Gordon Sumner, better known in the music world as Sting. Marienberg details the atmosphere of Catholic education which permeated Sting’s English childhood, arguing that his childhood experiences resonate in his recent Broadway musical and the album upon which it is based, The Last Ship.

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Yaakov Ariel

The ninth chapter discusses Allen Ginsberg’s direct, even aggressive, advocacy for freedom of expression in linguistic, artistic and sexual modes within the context of the countercultural revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. Through public speech and poetry, Ginsberg became an icon of the Beat generation and a proponent of Eastern spiritualism while retaining close—often conflicted—ties to his Jewish–American cultural heritage.

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W. Clark Gilpin

The fifth chapter addresses a figure of cultural leadership who was largely isolated from her own culture, but whose work has come to reshape the face of American poetry: Emily Dickinson. Clark Gilpin argues that Dickinson’s poetry, known for its unconventional spelling, punctuation and style, was a direct response to the formative chaos of the American Civil War. Through her radical style, Dickinson demarcates the before-and-after of American identity relative to the Civil War and initiates a new American cultural period.

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Lasse Gerrits and Peter Marks

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Evolution in collective decision making

A Fitness Landscape Model Approach

Lasse Gerrits and Peter Marks

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Stephanie Paulsell

Chapter 6 discusses the profound influences of sectarian religion on the writing and thoughts of Virginia Woolf, an icon of early feminist literature. In part, this religious background left Woolf with a deep anxiety about the relationship between pleasure and shame. Yet despite Woolf’s indebtedness to the religions of both her grandfather and her aunt, Woolf, like her parents, was deeply agnostic, a belief which led her to question cultural and social conventions. However, Paulsell also suggests that for both Woolf and the evangelicals of her grandfather’s generation, identity and art were formed out of fragments, a mixture of “chaotic materials” combined to create new forms and ideas which could reshape society.