Editor's Introduction

By Goodman, Greg S. | Making Connections, October 1, 2014 | Go to article overview

Editor's Introduction


Goodman, Greg S., Making Connections


August Wilson

This issue celebrates the life and work of Pittsburgh-born poet and playwright, August Wilson. Wilson is important to the world for his honest and heart-wrenching cries for social justice and equality. Although he died in 2005, his work stands as evidence of a life dedicated to telling the stories of both individuals and places in the life of African-Americans from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (with the exclusion of Ma Rainey). For Wilson, Pittsburgh's Hill District provided dramatic settings for his stories of lives profoundly affected by the pernicious forces of racism and poverty.

In this special issue of Making Connections: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Cultural Diversity, the Editors have assembled a polymath collection of artists and scholars to celebrate Wilson's artistic contributions. As with Frederick Douglass, the renowned abolitionist and feminist we honor with Pennsylvania's Frederick Douglass Collaborative, Wilson is an icon in the history of courageous and creative forces who fought for freedom and equality by raging against modern forms of mental and economic slavery. Wilson brought'the blues' to the world of literature, and he sang of the lives of those who struggled to overcome oppression.

This themed issue, dedicated to Wilson, is significant for Making Connections insofar as Wilson's work resonates with everyone who is interested in drama, art, scholarship, and social justice. Wilson demonstrated the perezhivanie (Vygotsky's term for lived experience') of Pittsburgh's black community, and those who bear witness to Wilson's work can viscerally connect to the pain his protagonists portray. Because of Wilson's Pennsylvania roots and his eternal influence on the Pittsburgh Hill District, as proxies for the Pennsylvania Frederick Douglass Collaborative, we are excited to present this issue's art, poems and critical essays celebrating Wilson's work.

This issue opens with the art of John Sokol. John was born in Canton, Ohio and completed an MFA at Kent State in 1973. His word portrait, "August Wilson as Fences," beautifully reflects the depth and creativity of Wilson's work, particularly emphasizing the connection between language and character.

Kimmika Williams-Witherspoon's essay, "No One Size Fits: Womanhood, Feminism, and Female Archetypes in August Wilson's JoeTurner's Come and Gone" tests Wilson scholar Harry Elam's hypothesis that the Black women that people August Wilson's plays are "memorable and powerful because they challenge notions of social rules of behavior and depict Black women who fight (even though they sometimes lose) against their own historical and gendered limitations."

Nathan Oliver's "Poem for August" captures the soul and rhythm of August Wilson. …

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