In the course of my research, I found an article by Tom J. Lewis in a 1917 International Socialist Review. Strangely enough, this Portland-based socialist organizer was writing about hipness decades before I would have expected to see anything about the concept in a political periodical, let alone the socialist periodical of note in the early twentieth century. Lewis urged workers to “get hip!”

I wrote about Lewis’s vision of hipness and its relationship to contemporary understandings of the concept for the latest issue of Quarterly Horse: A Journal of Brief American Studies.  Quarterly Horse is a really great project. It is an open-access peer-reviewed journal that publishes short form creative scholarship. Check out my article and then check out the rest of the issue:

I’ve been a pretty negligent when it comes to updating this blog (though  I try to keep the rest of the website up to date). Since the last post, I moved to New York City, finished my PhD, and have otherwise been pretty busy. I have a handful of writing projects in the works, I got a new job, and I’m starting my second dive  into the academic job market.

I’d like to keep writing in this space. In an effort to jump start a triumphant return, here’s another edition of Shameless Self-Promotion!  I published an article a few months back in the Spring 2016 issue of the the Journal for the Study of Radicalism. Titled “A Paradoxical, Discrepant, and Mutant Marxism: Imagining a Radical Science Fiction in the American Popular Front,” it explores the ways self-described communist science fiction fans hoped to radicalize science fiction as a genre and community in the 1930s, suggesting that such idiosyncratic irruptions of radical activity have much to tell us about the history of American radicalism.  Feel free to reach out if you can’t access the journal.

Here’s the citation information if that’s helpful:  “A Paradoxical, Discrepant, and Mutant Marxism: The Emergence of a Radical Science Fiction in the American Popular Front,” The Journal for the Study of Radicalism 10, no. 1 (Spring 2016): 63-106.

I love doing archival research, but it’s kind of a pain: it’s costly, time consuming, and logistically difficult. However, archivists are digitizing more and more material having to do with the history of the American left, making a lot of otherwise inaccessible material readily and easily available. Of course, there’s the Marxist Internet Archive ( and the Early American Marxism online archive ( but there are tons of smaller ones out there. There isn’t really any centralized database of these things (at least none that I’m aware of), so I’ve decided I’m going to start posting them to this blog. Nobody really reads this website, so this is mostly for my benefit, but hopefully someone will stumble upon this and find it useful.

I found this today:

It’s the online American Left Ephemera Collection in the Archives Services Section at the University of Pittsburgh. Tons of great material here from across the 20th century. A range of leftist movements and eras are represented here. A fantastic resource worth checking out.

I did some research a few months back in the Archives and Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, CT.  Fantastic archives, fantastic archivists — a productive trip all around.

I wrote this about the experience:

I’m a member of the editorial collective of The End of Austin, a digital humanities project based in the Department of American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.  The End of Austin explores the ideas of endings, real and imagined, in the city of Austin.  It’s an attempt bring different intellectual, artistic, and political communities together, and features traditional scholarly writing, informal essays, short stories, poetry, photography, interviews with local writers and artists, and much more.  It’s a really fantastic project that I’m proud to be a part of (I’ve also written for it, check here and here).

The latest issue went up a few weeks back, and features a lot of amazing work:

Check it out!

From Friedrich von Hardenburg, Henry of Ofterdingen:  A Romance (1842):

The patents had already retired to rest; the old clock ticked monotonously from the wall; the windows rattled with the whistling wind, and the chamber was dimly lighted by the flickering glimmer of the moon. The young man lay restless on his bed, thinking of the stranger and his tales. “It is not the treasures,” said he to himself, “that have awakened in me such unutterable longings. Far from me is all avarice; but I long to behold the blue flower. It is constantly in my mind, and I can think and compose of nothing else. I have never been in such a mood. It seems as if I had hitherto been dreaming, or slumbering into another world; for in the world, in which hitherto I have lived, who would trouble himself about a flower?–I never have heard of such a strange passion for a flower here. I wonder, too, whence the stranger comes? None of our people have ever seen his like; still I know not why I should be so fascinated by his conversation. Others have listened to it, but none are moved by it as I am. Would that I could explain my feelings in words! I am often full of rapture, and it is only when the blue flower is out of my mind, that this deep, heart-felt longing overwhelms me. But no one can comprehend this but myself. I might think myself mad, were not my perception and reasonings so clear; and this state of mind appears to have brought with it superior knowledge on all subjects. I have heard, that in ancient times beasts, and trees, and rocks conversed with men. As I gaze upon them, they appear every moment about to speak to me; and I can almost tell by their looks what they would say. There must yet be many words unknown to me. If I knew more, I could comprehend better. Formerly I loved to dance, now I think rather to the music.”

From Walter Benjamin, “Dream Kitsch” (1925):

No one really dreams any longer of the Blue Flower.  Whoever awakes as Heinrich von Ofterdingen today must have overslept.  The history of the dream remains to be written, and opening up a perspective on this subject would mean decisively overcoming the superstitious belief in natural necessity by means of historical illumination.  Dreaming has a share in history.  The statistics on dreaming would stretch beyond the pleasures of the anecdotal landscape in the barrenness of a battlefield.  Dreams have starred wars, and wars, from the very earliest times, have determined the propriety and impropriety — indeed, the range — of dreams.

Philip K. Dick, A Scanner Darkly (1977):

Such lovely little blue flowers.You’re seeing the flower of the future,” Donald, the Executive Director of New-Path, said. “But not for you.”

“Why not for me?” Bruce said.

“You’ve had too much of a good thing already,” the Executive Director said. He chuckled. “So get up and stop worshipping–this isn’t your god any more, your idol, although it was once. A transcendent vision, is that what you see growing here? You look as if it is.” He tapped Bruce firmly on the shoulder, and then, reaching down his hand, he cut the sight off from the frozen eyes.”

Gone,” Bruce said. “Flowers of spring gone.”

“No, you simply can’t see them. That’s a philosophical problem you wouldn’tcomprehend. Epistemology–the theory of knowledge.”

Bruce saw only the flat of Donald’s hand barring the light, and he stared at it athousand years. It locked; it had locked; it will lock for him, lock forever for dead eyes outside time, eyes that could not look away and a hand that would not move away. Time ceased as the eyes gazed and the universe jelled along with him, at least for him, froze over with him and his understanding, as its inertness became complete. There was nothing he did not know; there was nothing left to happen.

“Back to work, Bruce,” Donald, the Executive Director, said.

“I saw,” Bruce said. He thought, I knew. That was it: I saw Substance D growing. I saw death rising from the earth, from the ground itself, in one blue field, in stubbled color.

The farm-facility manager and Donald Abrahams glanced at each other and then down at the kneeling figure, the kneeling man and the  Mors ontologica planted everywhere, within the concealing corn.

“Back to work, Bruce,” the kneeling man said then, and rose to his feet.

Donald and the farm-facility manager strolled off toward their parked Lincoln.  Talking together; he watched–without turning, without being able to turn–them depart.

Stooping down, Bruce picked one of the stubbled blue plants, then placed it in his right shoe, slipping it down out of sight. A present for my friends, he thought, and looked forward inside his mind, where no one could see, to Thanksgiving.

Dr. Octagon, “Blue Flowers,” Dr. Octagonecologyst (1996):

Dr. Octagon, “Blue Flowers Revisted,” Dr. Octagonecologyst (1996):