Faculty Writing: On “Girl Shows”, the Mid-Century American “High Imperial Aesthetic”, and a Life in Classical Music

BISR faculty have for many years been publishing their work in The Baffler, a venue for “interesting and unexpected” writing from the left. This edition of faculty writing features pieces by Jessie Kindig and Nathan Shields from recent issues of “the journal that blunts the cutting edge.” 

In the Domain of Faust is Nathan Shields’ review of a recent memoir of a life in music by classical pianist Jeremy Denk, “a chronicle of disappointment and obscurity, of lives both graced and stunted by music”—“a dirge and a demonology.”

Jessie Kindig, meanwhile, in On the Bally, explores the work of photographer Susan Meiselas, who, turning her lens to the so-called “girl shows” of the New England carnival circuit in the early 1970s, “divests sex work of fantasy and shows it to be what it is: women working a job.” Then, in The Sorrow and the Self-Pity, Kindig discovers in postwar American print culture, from Life magazine to James Michener novels, a “high imperial aesthetic”—“a style that turned foreign policy into a language of everyday life, depoliticizing the spread of American empire and obscuring much of its violence.”

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