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https://sites.google.com/a/umich.edu/alan-wald-homepage/

Also, check out Wikipedia entry for Alan Maynard Wald:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_M._Wald

 1968                                                                       1998                                                                                                                                     

2003--With Angela in Spain                                                                                           2012



2016, Eugene, Oregon--Day Before Sarah's Wedding
Alan at Like Michigan
Angela and Alan at Lake Michigan July 2018


Hi. I'm Alan and this is my Homepage-in-progress.  Over four years ago, in June 2014,  I retired from teaching at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) in order to pursue scholarly research, write full-time, and perhaps stir up some political trouble where I can. This was originally my first-choice as a way of life, but one has to make compromises to earn a living.  

Here is a report about some of my latest activities with the Campus Anti-Fascist Network (CAN):
Community anti-fascist activists talk community organizing, solidarity
Alan Wald, professor of American Culture and English, presented first on the panel, bringing attention to the history of fascism and its existence within the current political climate. “Fascism has never been actually halted from taking power in any country wherever it has been able to develop a mass base ...
https://www.michigandaily.com/section/campus-life/politics-solidarity


Before this happy reincarnation as a "retiree,"  I was on the U-M faculty for 39 years in the Department of English Literature and the Program (now Department) of American Culture;  in 2007 I became a Collegiate Professor with a chair named in honor of H. Chandler Davis.  To learn more about the remarkable Chan Davis, a one-time political prisoner who stands as a model for committed Left scholars, click on the section called "Collegiate Professor Lecture" on the left side of this page. You can also read Chan's Wikipedia entry or the Chris Hedges article about him:    


From 2000-2003 I was the Director of the U-M Program in American Culture, and I also did a lot of mentoring, program-building, and innovative teaching. For this "service work" I was awarded lifetime membership in the American Studies Association (the Mary Turpie prize) in 2012.

While teaching,  I was one of the lucky ones in winning year-long fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, American Council of Learned Societies, and other institutions.   These leaves are what allowed me to carry out extensive primary research in the history of the U.S. literary Left, including hundreds of  personal interviews and visits to archives.  The result was eight scholarly books of my own work (so far) and hundreds of other publications and public presentations, along with the editorship of the University of Illinois Press Series of paperback reprints,  "The Radical Novel Reconsidered."  One of my books, The New York Intellectuals:  The Rise and Decline of the Anti-Stalinist Left from the 1930s to the 1980s (1987), received around 70 reviews in the popular and scholarly press. A 30th anniversary edition, with a new introduction, will appear in 2017.  See this link:  

Recently I completed a trilogy--Exiles From a Future Time (2002), Trinity of Passion (2007), and American Night (2012)--that is available in paperback as well as a large e-book.   Since these and the other books can be found relatively easily in inexpensive paperbacks and used copies, or in libraries,  I am devoting much of this page to making accessiblharder-to-locate materials  to those who do not have access to the various websites and in some cases obscure publications where such writings appeared. This process will take some time to complete.

Concurrently with writing and research, I have been a radical activist since I attended Antioch College (1964-69), joining SDS in mid-1965 and participating in its Economic Research and Action Project in Cleveland from December 1965 to April 1966. (For more details, see "Wald SDS Memoir" in the section of this homepage called "Some Essays By Me.")  Here I am at Antioch (in the chair with the typewriter) engaged in one of my favorite activities:





In 1968 I met the Belgian Marxist Ernest Mandel who was touring the United States, joined the Young Socialist Alliance,  and became a devoted reader of New Left Review.  While a graduate student in English Literature at UC Berkeley I ran for Berkeley City Council in April 1971 as an anti-war candidate on the Socialist Workers Party ticket.  In 1986 I helped to found a Marxist-Feminist-Antiracist group called Solidarity, and after that time have served as an editor of the journal it sponsors, Against the Current.   Since 1997 I have also served as a member of the editorial board of Science & Society:  A Journal of Marxist Thought and Analysis, which was founded in 1936.  

At the University of Michigan I have been active in the Washtenaw County Coalition Against Apartheid, Latin American Solidarity Committee, Palestine Human Rights Campaign, United Coalition Against Racism, and more. Although I have never served as much jail time as anticipated, on 16 March 1986 I was arrested for sitting in at the office of Rep. Carl Pursell (R-Ann Arbor) to protest his support for President Reagan's plan to send $100 million to the counter-revolutionary Contras in Nicaragua, after which I was tried and convicted:  




I traveled to Nicaragua in November of that same year, during the Contra War, to deliver supplies to a Sister City;  to Cuba in 1992 to speak the at the University of Havana during the embargo; and to Haiti in 1993 to investigate human rights at the time of the Cedras coup against Aristide, when there was martial law and UN sanctions.  My guess is that most of my writings on these matters will be mainly of historical interest rather than a guide to immediate action.  I have always been a bit player in these events, never a leader (due to lack of talent, and desire), and the problems of social change turn out to be far more durable than the solutions that we veterans of the 1960s have proposed.  I doubt I've ever been more than 55% right about very much.  At best, perhaps 60%.  Like the Old Jew of Galicia, I get suspicious of those claiming 75%, and I run as if from devils when I encounter those asserting 100%.  As they say, "Try again, fail better."

I am designing most of this Homepage to make such materials about my present and past scholarly work, and socialist involvements, available to students (until June 2016 I was still directing U-M dissertations,  and I continue to assist graduate students in various places), scholars, and political activists who are attracted to the Marxist cultural tradition in the U.S. As it develops, I hope to have special sections about my research on writers such as James T. Farrell; topics such as the Jewish American and African American Left; and the history of radicalism at U-M since 1975.  The Homepage also contains photographs and other items about my personal and political life, most of which will be only of interest to friends and comrades. 

I'm also available to give public lectures at universities now and then, although my retirement status means that an appropriate honorarium and the coverage of expenses are required:

From INDIANA DAILY STUDENT, September 17, 2015

Indiana University Lecture unites Themester, Lilly library Max Eastman Exhibit

carace01web

Professor Alan Wald began his lecture with a trigger warning for those who lean to the right of the American political spectrum.

“The content of this evening’s lecture may contain a certain amount of capitalist-bashing, mostly of a bare-knuckled variety,” he said. “Listeners who find this offensive and potentially traumatizing should locate themselves close to the exit signs so that they can be directed to a safe space — the lobby of the JP Morgan Chase Bank over on 3rd street. Defibrillators will be provided and martinis served by butlers in formal 
attire.”

Wald, a professor at the University of Michigan, visited IU at 5:30 p.m. Thursday to lecture on the presence of the radical left in American literature. 

The event was a part of Themester, the semester-long themed events series put on by the College of Arts and Sciences every fall semester. This year’s theme is ”@Work: The nature of labor on a changing planet.” The lecture also 
coincided with an exhibit at the Lilly Library, which presents works and personal items of Max Eastman, a leftist American writer.

“Labor includes labor activism, commitment to workers’ rights, and that has, for better or worse, been the province of people coming from the political left who advocated for workers’ rights, often also for women’s rights — some of these things were connected,” said Christoph Irmscher, professor of English and curator of the exhibition on Max Eastman. “Some of the writers that especially Alan has recovered were workers themselves, so that, of course, is intimately connected to the theme of labor.”

The Lilly Library recently received new material for the collection after Eastman’s last wife, Yvette Eastman, died in 2014. Irmscher said Wald’s lecture contextualizes the work of Eastman and how he fits among the history of people campaigning for equal rights in the United States.

Irmscher also said he feels Wald is a part of a community studying radical writing 
focused on reaching 
audiences.

“One of the great things about the scholarship of radical writing in the U.S. is that these people really want to reach audiences, really want to make a difference,” Irmscher said. “Therefore, you will find them writing in a style that is not dense, not intended just to reach a few scholars. These are people who want to make a difference with that kind of writing.” 

During the lecture, Wald discussed the bond between literary radicalism and radical politics. He said the two are related, but the exact nature of their relationship is debated.

“In my own rendition, literary radicalism is not the arm of political radicalism, but the two operate in tandem,” Wald said.

Wald also discussed the aim of literary radicalism, which he said is “to endow history with meaning.”

“Literary radicalism is less a noun than a verb,” Wald said. “It’s a work in progress, an evolving tradition of activism and commitment obsessed with its own identity. Its orders, its achievements, its efficacy.”


A few special links are indicated underneath these remarks, and some preliminary sections of the Homepage are listed at the far left-- just click on whatever interests you.  Suggestions are welcome, as long as they are not too complicated for my meagre skills.  I'm still a Facebook Refusenik and lack the talent to blog, tweet, and so on:  awald@umich.edu 





B)  Click on the two links below to read a recent Interview with Alan in a socialist cultural journal:  “Outlaws, Rebels and the Revolutionary Imagination:  A Two-Part Interview with Alan Wald,” Grant Mandarino, Red Wedge:



C)  Click the link below to hear two of Alan's lectures at ISO Socialism Conferences 

2013, "African American Writers in the Cold War":  
2015, "Marxism in Noir:  The Culture of Class Struggle and Anti-Racism in the 1940s": 


D) New radio interview, illustrated and with music:   



E) RECENTLY PUBLISHED--  Lineages of the Literary Left:  Essays in Honor of Alan M. Wald, edited by Howard Brick, Robbie Lieberman, and Paula Rabinowitz.  Contributors include Tariq Ali, Michael Löwy, and many others.  Here is announcement with information on ordering from Amazon and access to a FREE e-book version:  http://www.publishing.umich.edu/2015/07/10/announcing-new-maize-book-lineages-of-the-literary-left/

SUMMER 2015.  Contributors include Tariq Ali, Michael Löwy, Mary-Helen Washington, Dayo Gore, Rachel Rubin, Bill Mullen, Julia Mickenberg, E. San Juan, Konstantina Karageoorgos, and more!
                                

Latest Book Review of "Lineages"---

SOCIALISM AND DEMOCRACY, FALL 2016

Review by Bryan D. Palmer, "Lineages of the Literary Left:  Essays in Honor of Alan M. Wald,"  edited by Howard Brick, Robbie Lieberman, and Paula Rabinowitz (Ann Arbor, Michigan:  Michigan Publishing,  2015).


Few figures on the left have managed to so define a field of study that their absence would seem incomprehensible to anyone looking at research and writing in the area. It is the accomplishment of Alan M. Wald to have positioned himself, after decades of writing encompassing eight books, hundreds of book chapters, journal articles, and essays, and a constant outpouring of reviews, obituaries and reflections, as the undisputed authority on America's literary left from its unprecedented era of arrival during the Great Depression to its difficult denouement in what the blacklisted Hollywood writer Dalton Trumbo designated the Cold War “time of the toad.”

Wald achieved this authority via a somewhat circuitous, if understandable, political route. It could easily have been scapegoated as sectarian. Instead it consolidated a deserved and undeniable stature. Wald's first books, ordered by overtly Trotskyist sensibilities and substance, addressed thinkers and doers unmistakably associated with the dissident minority communists of the Left Opposition. His 1978 study of James T. Farrell's revolutionary socialist years was followed by a path-breaking 1983 account of the contrasting revolutionary imaginations of John Wheelwright and Sherry Mangan, graduates of the Harvard Poetry Society and the Socialist Party who became committed Trotskyists in the Socialist Workers Party during the later 1930s. Wald's brilliant expositions of dissident communist literature were capped by his influential account of Trotskyism's decisive importance in shaping the iconic cohort responsible for founding Partisan Review, Commentary, Politics, and Dissent. These magazines of critique, commentary, and creative expression were nurtured in the crucible of Jewish internationalism, radical modernism, dissident revolutionary left currents within the Communist Party, and non-partisan labor-political defense campaigns such as the John Dewey-chaired hearings (held in Mexico City in 1937) on the Moscow Trials.

Wald's The New York Intellectuals: The Rise and Decline of the Anti-Stalinist Left from the 1930s to the 1980s (1987) utilized interviews and biographical detail to mount a historically informed and politically poised account of a formidable intellectual circle. It included Farrell, Philip Rahv, Mary McCarthy, Irving Kristol, Dwight Macdonald, Norman Podhoretz, Sidney Hook, Hannah Arendt, Max Eastman, Edmund Wilson, Lionel Trilling and others. But Wald also expanded the boundaries of conventional literary studies by including other figures such as the maverick Harvey Swados, two of the founders of American Trotskyism, James P. Cannon and Max Shactman, and the mercurial James Burnham. It was the latter's political movement from left to right that captured the sad trajectory of the New York intellectuals over their longue durée from the 1930s to the 1980s.

Wald's literary criticism and his conception of lineages, then, was not much marked by the ‘high theory’ of Marxists like Fredric Jameson, or the postmodern pyrotechnics of 1990s scholarship with its recourse to abstract (often French) authority. Rather it was biographical and historical, scrutinizing and evaluating the aesthetics of specific texts and emerging genres within a contextualization both personal and unashamedly political.

Having spent the first phase of his career challenging literary studies to both include the revolutionary imagination and expand its compass beyond circles recognized within official Communism, Wald shifted the accent of his inquiries in the 1990s. He turned his attention to writers whose affiliations were less dissident than they were congruent with the Stalinized CP milieu, albeit doing so in ways that often addressed writers on the margins of mainstream leftism. Wald's subjects were now more likely to combine their aesthetic and Marxist commitments with other attachments, among them affinities to collective experiences of ethnicity, race, and sexual orientation. The culmination of this project, a wonderfully evocative trilogy, appeared from 2002–2012: Exiles from a Future Time: The Forging of the Mid-Twentieth Century Literary LeftTrinity of Passion: The Literary Left and the Antifascist Crusade; and American Night: The Literary Left in the Era of the Cold War.

This rather potted synopsis does anything but justice to Wald's contribution. But it does suggest his range. That long reach, and his growing stature as the authority on the American literary left, insured that graduate students would flock to Wald. They would find in him an inspiring teacher, a committed mentor, an open-minded and diligent supervisor, an enthusiast whose curiosity and passion proved infectious. Wald's rise as a scholarly authority also meant that he was routinely sought out by colleagues. He was legendary for the help he provided, and for his encyclopedic knowledge. Small wonder, then, that as Wald prepared for his retirement as the H. Chandler Davis Collegiate Professor of English Literature and American Culture at the University of Michigan in 2014, where he had taught for almost four decades, former graduate students organized an impressive symposium in his honor. The resulting festschrift, Lineages of the Literary Left, is an appropriately expansive collection, organized in suitably chosen sections addressing poetry, fiction, history, and biography. The book closes with Wald's autobiographical reminiscences and a comprehensive bibliography of his writings.

The editors, all former students of Wald, introduce the volume with an essay that explores how their mentor's method of searching out the biographical details of a writer's life and relating this to political affiliations and involvement in specific movements influenced students and their approach to a wide array of subjects. Of the 21 essays in the volume, many deal with the experiences of blacks and women, a reflection of how important race and gender became in Wald's excavations of narrative structures and popular culture.

The scope of the collection is wide. In the poetry section Sarah Ehlers' exploration of the significance of New Masses poet Genevieve Taggard and Rachel Rubin's discussion of how two radical poets of the 1940s, one an African American (Langston Hughes) and the other a white southerner (Don West), used their classrooms in Atlanta universities to conduct a dialogue around an activist poetics, is particularly noteworthy. Dayo F. Gore looks at the unexamined 1950s poetic and CP activist life of Beulah Richardson, who would later, under the name Beah Richards, go on to a celebrated career as a stage and television actress, an early milestone being her 1967 Oscar-nominated role as Sidney Poitier's mother in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. Charlotta Bass, editor of the venerable voice of west coast blacks, the California Eagle, is the centerpiece of Robbie Lieberman's study of the peace movement and the African American left in the early years of the Cold War. If iconic novels such as Ellison's Invisible Man receive treatment by one of Wald’s students, Nathaniel Mills, so too does the pulp fiction of the more obscure Len Zinberg (Ed Lacy), whose boxing novel, Walk Hard – Talk Loud (1950) appears briefly in Wald's Trinity of Passion and is addressed usefully and deeply as a class-inflected Popular Front production by Joseph G. Ramsey. Heather Bowen-Struyk addresses the reprinting of an eighty-year-old proletarian novella, Kobayashi Takiji's The Crab Cannery Ship (1929), and how it resonates today with Japan's youthful precariat, while Howard Brick offers a discussion of Eric Wolf, Immanuel Wallerstein and visions of global capitalism.

No short review could possibly summarize and comment substantively on all the essays and issues on offer in this collection. This in itself is a reflection of Wald's reach, and how he translated that to young scholars. What is perhaps surprising, however, is how little most of the essays seem to have been affected by the political stance which figured forcefully in Wald's initial scholarly project, anti-Stalinism. The editors note in their introduction that many of the essays in the volume “raise the vexed question of Stalinism” (xix). A few essays, to be sure, address Stalinism, among them Julia L. Mickenberg's “Dancing for Stalin: Pauline Koner’s ‘Russian Days’ and the Question of Stalinism,” and Bill Mullen's “Wrestling with the Legacy of Stalinism: Recent Scholarship on W.E.B. Du Bois and the Left.” Nonetheless, the analytics and politics of this interrogation of “the revolution betrayed” are underdeveloped at best. Wald's evolving perspective on Stalinism, insisting that the term, if utilized as a shibboleth, can oversimplify, reducing the artistic imagination of those associated with a political organization to stereotypical caricature, is nuanced and sophisticated. In the writings collected in this volume, however, Stalinism often appears as little more than unfortunate background noise.

This is also the case with respect to Stalinism's Left Opposition, Trotskyism. Indeed, in Cary Nelson's “Marx, Stalin, and Derrida: The Continuing Tension among Marxist Theory, Soviet Communism, and the Poststructuralist Revolution,” Trotskyism is represented as having passed “into the abyss of historical marginality.” Nelson declares that both he and Wald have had to “confront this recognition,” with Nelson concluding that Trotskyism, while it may once have had a place in the pantheon of the American left, is now “largely an antiquarian interest” (322).

This is a confident denigration, and one that sits uncomfortably, in my view, with Nelson's ultimate conclusion that the Red decade of the 1930s has lessons that still resonate today, a pedagogy of the oppressed and the dissident that – in both chastening and inspiring ways – we dismiss at our peril. Whether Wald himself shares Nelson's view of Trotskyism's present-day irrelevance is open to question. Wald's closing statement, an elegant evocation of his development as a political being and scholar, is sufficiently reflective to insist that a central issue on the left remains “how to prevent power from being abused” (364). This is not separable from the issue of Stalinism and the actuality of Trotskyism as an alternative. It can also be posed against Trotskyism itself, although not necessarily in ways that relegate it entirely to Nelson's postmodern dustbin. To be sure, Wald sees the signs in the streets defiantly pointed against traditions associated with the Left Opposition. He states, plaintively I think, that if the populist anarchism of our times manages to displace socialism in the parlance of the future American left, then his recent work, encapsulated in his trilogy addressing communism and modernism from the 1930s into the 1960s, would be little more than an “archaeological treatise” (375). It follows that an even earlier body of work, in which Wald addressed anti-Stalinism, would be even more arcane.

But history, fortunately, does not work this way. What is seemingly buried is never really dead. It can always be resurrected. Ideas and recovered experiences are more than relics, to be carefully dredged up and placed in museums. Revolutionary traditions and perspectives ebb and flow with changing circumstances. What today seems lost and abandoned can, tomorrow, be revived and used. Socialism and its many wellsprings, including the lineages of the literary left that Wald has done so much to reclaim for those of us who believe that a better world is always possibly in birth, are available to us as critical resources in our futures, uncertain as these may be.