As Sanford Pinsker observes at the outset of his examination of “America’s Conspiratorial Imagination,” no one “doubts that conspiracy theory is a sure-fire moneymaker. Indeed, for those who specialize in new installments of “Who Shot JFK?”, conspiracy-spinning is a growth industry and this is a boom time.”
A frequent VQR contributor, Mr. Pinsker is Shadek Professor of Humanities at Franklin & Marshall College. His most recent book is Jewish-American Fiction, 1917—1987. His latest VQR essay is part of a larger study tentatively entitled Imagining American Reality, 1950—1990. Mr. Pinsker recently observed that he began his foray into the American obsession with conspiracies “in the hope that it might explain why I am neither rich nor famous, but certainly deserving both. Alas, none of the conspiracies I investigated could account for this.”
Vincent Fitzpatrick, who unearthed the unpublished yet quite timely essay by the late Gerald W. Johnson, received his B.A. from the University of Virginia and his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He is the assistant curator of the H.L. Mencken Collection at the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore. He is the compiler of the second supplement to H.L.M.: The Mencken Bibliography (1986), author of H.L. Mencken (1989), and co-author of The Complete Sentence Workout Book (1991). He is currently writing a critical biography of Gerald W. Johnson for the University Press of Virginia and hence came across one of the last essays written by the prolific Mr. Johnson, who during his long career never lost his faith in America.
A longtime member of the faculty at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Virginia, James Lott taught 18th-century and romantic literature before becoming dean of the college at that institution. Besides appearing in VQR, others of his stories have been published in The South Carolina Review, The Southern Humanities Review, and Shenandoah. Mr. Lott is also a poet and has contemplated becoming a novelist if his administrative duties ever permit the time.
The Trollope of literary biographers, Jeffrey Mevers is well qualified to examine the “Splendors and Miseries of Literary Biography.” He has published biographies of Katherine Mansfield, Wyndham Lewis, Ernest Hemingway, Robert Lowell and his circle, D.H. Lawrence, and Joseph Conrad. His Life of Edgar Alan Poe is due to be published by Scribners this fall, and he is now working on a biography of F. Scott Fitzgerald. His D.H. Lawrence: A Biography was recently republished as a Vintage Book. Of the Lawrence biography The Boston Globe observed, “splendidly written . . .a powerfully addictive tale. . . . Meyers writes gracefully, with a novelistic sense of narrative progression, never losing sight of Lawrence as artist.”
Debra Kaufman’s poems have appeared in such literary magazines as Minnesota Review, Pembroke, and Helicon Nine. He chapbook, Family of Strangers, was published in 1990 by Nightshade Press. An Iowa native, she now lives in Mebane, North Carolina.
Martha Rhodes is the Director of the Civic Center Synagogue Reading Series (CCS Readings) in New York City. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Agni, The Beloit Poetry Journal, The Jacaranda Review, and elsewhere.
Jane Kenyon publishes frequently in The New Yorker and other distinguished magazines. Her most recent collection, Let Evening Come, was published in 1991 by Graywolf Press.
Connie Wanek was raised in New Mexico, where she was poetry editor for Puerto Del Sol. She has had poems in Poetry, Poetry East, Prairie Schooner, and other magazines. She now lives with her husband and two children in Minnesota.
A fiction writer as well as a poet, Roger Shillings is the author of three collections of stories, Alternative Lives (1974), P-Town Stories (1980), and In a Murderous Time (1984). He lives in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
A native of Australia, George Watson is a Fellow of St. John’s College, Cambridge. He has been a visiting professor of English at New York University and at the University of Georgia, and has also lectured at the University of Virginia. He is the author of The Idea of Liberalism and British Literature since 1945 (St. Martin’s). He is also a frequent contributor to The Hudson Review.
Jeanne Schinto’s first collection of stories entitled Shadow Banks was published by Ontario Review Press in 1988. Her first novel, Children of Men was published in 1990 by Persea Books/George Braziller. Ms. Schinto is currently working on a nonfiction book about Lawrence, Massachusetts.
Joseph Hynes is a professor of English at the University of Oregon where he specializes in modern British fiction. He has published on such writers as Dickens, James, Greene, Lessing, J.F. Powers, Waugh, and Boll. His critical study The Art of the Real: Muriel Spark’s Novels was published by Fairleigh Dickinson Press in 1988. He is editing Critical Essays on Muriel Spark for G.K. Hall’s series of Critical Essays on British Literature.
Carole Vopat teaches fiction writing and women’s studies at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, lives in Milwaukee, and is currently writing a novel.
Bettina Drew is the author of Nelson Algren: A Life on the Wild Side (Putnam, 1989), a biography nominated for Book of the Year by The Chicago Sun-Times. Her articles have appeared in Chicago Tribune Sunday Magazine, Missouri Review, Black American Literature Forum, In These Times, and elsewhere, her poetry in Another Chicago Magazine, The Pennsylvania Review, and Central Park. She was a runner-up for the PEN Gerard Fund Award for Creative Non-Fiction in 1988, and is the recipient of a 1990 Fellowship in Non-Fiction Literature from the New York Foundation for the Arts.
John Bovey made his first contribution to VQR in the autumn of 1978, an essay entitled “Boats against the Current: Notes of a Returning Exile.” At the time, he was a retired American diplomat living in Paris. He later returned to this country, where he now resides in Boston, and he has been producing a steady stream of fiction since his return to his native land. He is a two-time winner of VQR’s Balch Prize for Short Fiction.
A professor of English and American studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Philip F. Gura is the author of A Glimpse of Zion’s Glory: Puritan Radicalism in New England 1620—1660, published by Wesleyan. He is a member of the national council of the Institute of Early American History and Culture in Williamsburg and serves on the editorial board of the American Antiquarian Society’s multivolume study of the role of the book in American culture.
Paul Barolsky is a professor of art history in the McIntire Department of Art at the University of Virginia. He is the author of a trilogy on Renaissance art and ideas, the titles being Michelangelo’s Nose (1990), Why Mono Lisa Smiles (1991), and Giotto’s Father (1992), all published by Penn State.
Patrick Samway, S. J. , the literary editor of America, a weekly journal of opinion published by the Jesuits of North America, has edited Walker Percy’s essays and lectures in a volume entitled Signposts in a Strange Land (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1991). He is also the author of a book on William Faulkner and co-editor with Ben Forkner for four anthologies of Southern literature.
Jefferson Hunter is a professor of English at Smith College, but he spent the past academic year in Bristol, England where he reported at the end of 1991 “the television weatherman announced the other night that in the month of November we had a total of 13 hours of full sunshine. I hope such a figure makes you feel better about whatever fogs and damps Virginia brings. . . .”
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