Author: Don Rothwein

“The Dead Stay Dead”

In his book Cities of the Dead: Circum-Atlantic Performance, Joseph Roach titles a chapter “Echoes in the Bone.” Roach himself acknowledges the title as a nod to a play by Jamaican playwright Dennis Scott entitled An Echo in the Bone. The allusion is fitting for the chapter in Roach’s book that deals primarily with remembering, forgetting, and the deceased, as Scott’s play is centered around a Nine-Night Ceremony. The Nine-Night Ceremony, according to Roach, “welcomes the spirit of a deceased person back into his or her home on the ninth night after death has occurred.” It is a ceremony that engages in the wider, cross-cultural discourse on the remembering and forgetting of the dead. Read more

Autochthony and the Imagined Community

Our class discussion about allochthony and autochthony reminded me of something we talked about in the Civil War Historical Novel class I took last semester with Dr. Rutkowski. In the class, we focused heavily on the divide between Union and Confederate, North and South. The border that separated the two and divided America was a contrived boundary that grouped together two groups: “Americans” and “other Americans.” These communities that did not exist in name before the advent of the American Civil War were fabrications. Though geography and stance on slavery linked a majority of people in these communities, to say that the two were dichotomous is an exaggeration. Read more