Books Acquired Recently: More Mennonites Edition

I’ve spent the entire summer reading, thinking, and writing about Mennonite literature, which I have come to realize is now my primary field of study. As a part of this studying I’ve been reading a lot of Mennonite literary criticism, which has been tremendously enriching. The one problem with reading literary criticism, though, is that there are always books cited that I haven’t read before which sound interesting, so of course I have to buy them. These two books were acquired as a result of this process.

I have mentioned before how I strongly dislike the new MLA formatting, and most Mennonite studies journals use Chicago Style, so I have decided to start using Chicago Style in all of my writing, including here.

Vermette, Katherena. North End Love Songs. Winnipeg: The Muses’ Company, 2012.

Vermette is of mixed Mennonite and First Nations heritage, which makes her one of the very few Mennonite writers of color. Her work is thus right in my scholarly wheelhouse. This poetry collection was nominated for the Governor General’s Award, which is the Canadian equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize, so it should be a good read.

Weaver-Zercher, David L. “Martyrs Mirror”: A Social History. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016.

Thieleman J. van Braght’s Martyrs Mirror is the ur-text of Mennonite literature, and is a book that has fascinated me ever since I was a teenager. It remains an influential book in both the field of Mennonite literature and Mennonitism as a whole. I was thus especially excited to hear about Weaver-Zercher’s book, which is a history of both van Braght’s book itself and how readers have interacted with it.

Published by danielshankcruz

I grew up in New York City and lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Goshen, Indiana; DeKalb, Illinois; and Salt Lake City, Utah before coming to Utica, New York. My mother’s family is Swiss-German Mennonite (i.e., it’s an ethnicity, not necessarily a theological persuasion) and my father’s family is Puerto Rican. I have a Ph.D. in English and currently teach at Utica College. I have also taught at Northern Illinois University and Westminster College in Salt Lake City. My teaching and scholarship are motivated by a passion for social justice, which is why my research focuses on the literature of oppressed groups, especially LGBT persons and people of color. While I primarily read and write about fiction, I am also a devoted reader of poetry because, as William Carlos Williams writes, “It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet [people] die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there.” Thinkers who influence me include Marina Abramovic, Kathy Acker, Di Brandt, Ana Castillo, Samuel R. Delany, Percival Everett, Essex Hemphill, Jane Jacobs, Walt Whitman, and the New York School of poets. I am also fond of queer Mennonite writers such as Stephen Beachy, Jan Guenther Braun, Lynnette Dueck/D’anna, and Casey Plett. In my free time I’m either reading, writing the occasional poem, playing board games (especially Scrabble, backgammon, and chess), watching sports (Let’s Go, Mets!), or cooking (curries, stews, roasts…).

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