FACT-CHECKING #5: article in “Environmental Criticism for the 21st Century” (2011).

Falsehoods fill another “academic” article by Jennifer C. James, Ph.D.:

“Ecomelancholia: Slavery, War, and Black Ecological Imaginings,” in Environmental Criticism for the 21st Century, editors Stephanie LeMenager, Teresa Shewry, and Ken Hiltner (Routledge Press, 2011): 163-178.

FINDINGS: 22+ factual errors in 15 pages.

ITEMS #1 and 3: Fabrications?

enviro  [click to enlarge]

OVERVIEW: In this (edited?) article there is the usual disregard for accuracy/authenticity–with most errata in the author’s claimed areas of expertise. This time the misquoted/misrepresented literary greats include Alice Walker, Lucille Clifton, Virgil, Marvin Gaye, and Sigmund Freud.



1. FABRICATION? page 163 (first page). JAMES WRITES: “A WPA worker collecting narratives from living slaves in the 1930s noted that an elderly man in Mississippi insisted that even bucket [sic] had a spirit.”

CORRECTION: No citation is provided for this very specific/establishing claim in the opening paragraph; is the claim veracious? It would be nearly impossible to find the source–if one exists–since the 1930s Federal Writers’ Project collected more than 2,000 first-person accounts of former slaves.

2. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 164. JAMES WRITES: [Lucille Clifton verses:] “being property once myself/i think I [sic] have a feeling for it.”

CORRECTION: The couplet’s full second line is: “i have a feeling for it.” Throwing in “think I” ruins the poet’s meaning and meter.  http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/books/2012/10/lucille_clifton_s_collected_poems_reviewed_.html

3. FABRICATION? page 165. JAMES WRITES: [Cassandra Y. Johnson and Josh McDaniel passage:] “If African Americans are to return to the land en masse…”

CORRECTION: It turns out the quoted academic essay says “return to the woods en masse” and refers to blacks hiking/camping. Making it read “return to the land” broadens the meaning considerably–and serves a literary theory.  http://boo,ks.google.com/books?id=r9aYPKtP0EgC&pg=PA62&lpg=PA62&dq=%22If+African+Americans+are+to+return+to+the+woods+en+masse…%22&source=bl&ots=JwW-jmpKXe&sig=kl71kOj367JwKVPUZfhYA6zlWMg&hl=en&sa=X&ei=aB2fUrPJJLOmsQSR-YCQBg&ved=0CCkQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22If%20African%20Americans%20are%20to%20return%20to%20the%20woods%20en%20masse…%22&f=false

4. LITERARY ERROR, page 165. JAMES WRITES: [Sigmund Freud passage:] “Once the ego has successfully ‘renounced everything that has been lost,’ the mourner can ‘once more…'” 

CORRECTION: “Mourner” should be libido.  www.freuds-requiem.com/transience.html

5. LITERARY ERROR, page 165. JAMES WRITES: [Freud passage:] “The disposition to fall ill of melancholia lies in the predominance of the narcissistic type of object-choice.”

CORRECTION: “…melancholia or some part of that disposition lies in the predominance…” Yet again a literary passage is adjusted without indication.  http://books.google.com/books?id=3QtZ6gC7QC4C&pg=PA587&lpg=PA587&dq=The+disposition+to+fall+ill+of+melancholia+lies+i&source=bl&ots=E57pHBXatl&sig=BL9oQHfq00L3PMdTvxGTuDqIJAg&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Fh6fUqT6A_PMsQSOyYCABQ&ved=0CEEQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=The%20disposition%20to%20fall%20ill%20of%20melancholia%20lies%20i&f=false

6. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 168. JAMES WRITES: “…a magnolia tree planted by Louvine, a female slave on a Mississippi plantation.”

CORRECTION: These faulty plot details about Alice Walker’s “Meridian” easily raise further doubts the author even read the novel (see Report #4). The major character is Louvinie; and…  

7. …she lives on a Georgia plantation–as well-established by author Walker, who is famously from Georgia and sets many stories there.  http://www.amazon.com/Meridian-Alice-Walker/dp/0156028344 and http://www.georgiawritershalloffame.org/honorees/biography.php?authorID=38

8. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 168. JAMES WRITES: [Walker passage:] “…an old map, yellow and cracked with frayed edge, what showed the ancient settlements of Indians….”

CORRECTION: “…frayed edges that showed…”  http://www.amazon.com/Meridian-Alice-Walker/dp/0156028344

9. LITERARY ERROR, page 170. JAMES WRITES: “…Virgil’s influential but understudied pastoral ‘Eclogues’ (37 BCE) [whose main characters are] the shepherd Titryus [and] another shepherd, Melibeous…”

CORRECTION: The article misnames both characters from the “understudied” [!] classic; they are Tityrus and…

10. Meliboeus.  http://www.jstor.org/stable/642359

11. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 170. JAMES WRITES: “[Lucille] Clifton published her first book of poetry, ‘good times,’ in 1969…”

CORRECTION: The title is capitalized: “Good Times.”

clifton1   clifton2

12. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 170. JAMES WRITES: “[Clifton’s] second book, ‘good news about the earth’ (1972)…” 

CORRECTION: The title is again capitalized: “Good News About the Earth.”

13. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 172. JAMES WRITES: “…the iconic Marvin Gaye song from the 1970s, ‘Mercy, Mercy, Me (The Ecology)’…”

CORRECTION: The title “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” has no commas.

gaye2   gaye3  [click to enlarge]

14. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 173. JAMES WRITES: [Another famous Gaye song:] “Inner-City Blues (Makes Me Wanna Holler).”

CORRECTION: The title is “Inner [no hyphen] City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler).” It’s all one sentence with agreeing subject/verb: “Inner city blues make me wanna holler.”

15. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 173. JAMES WRITES: [Gaye lyrics:] “From the North and south and east…Oil wasted on the ocean and upon our sea.”

CORRECTION: Why capitalize “North” but not “south” and “east”?; and…

16. …”upon our seas [plural].”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9BA6fFGMjI

17. BLACK-HISTORY ERROR, page 173. JAMES WRITES: “…[Gaye’s] concept album, ‘What’s Going On,’ titled after his powerful indictment of the Vietnam War.”

CORRECTION: Rather, famously, the title reflects various major timely concerns–thus the album’s individual songs about war, ecology, poverty, etc.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/What’s_Going_On_(Marvin_Gaye_album)

18. BLACK-HISTORY ERROR, page 174. JAMES WRITES: “…Booker T. Washington, who infamously propagandized a black future in the South and farming (a position which secured his reputation as a black neo-plantationist)….”

CORRECTION: “Infamously propagandized”? “Neo-plantationist”? BTW worked hard to spread the irrefutable message that land is capital–and ex-slaves’ owning/maximizing Southern lands for agriculture, light-industry, and businesses could be a rare strategy for Black America to achieve independent economic and (eventually) sociopolitical power. The article’s characterizations of the preeminent late-19th-century African-American are unwarranted, unfortunate, and, well, ignorant.

19. LITERARY ERROR, page 175. JAMES WRITES: “[Prominent TV journalist] Jeff Zelney…”

CORRECTION: Surname Zelenyhttp://abcnews.go.com/Politics/jeff-zeleny-abc-news-official

20. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 177. JAMES WRITES: “…’Civilization: The Primal Need of the Race.’ ‘The American Academy Occasional Papers 3.’ Washington, DC: The Academy.”

CORRECTION: In one citation are three errata; the title of the historic essay by Alexander Crummell is “Civilization [no colon] the Primal Need of the Race”;…

21. …the journal is “The American Negro Academy Occasional Papers”; and…

22. …the publisher is “The American Negro Academy.”  http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/31268



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