Strange Victories: Grove Press, 1951–1985 Special Collections Research Center

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Bird Library

01-17-2013 to 06-22-2013

Opening Reception: January 17, 6 p.m.

Strange Victories: Grove Press, 1951-1985 is the first major exhibition on the notorious American publisher Grove Press. Founded by Barney Rosset in 1951, Grove Press became one of the 20th-century’s great avant-garde publishing houses. What began as a small independent publisher on Grove Street in New York City’s Greenwich Village grew into a multimillion dollar publishing company that has been credited with introducing important authors from around the world to American readers during the postwar period.

Taking its cue from the 1948 film Strange Victory, which Rosset produced in collaboration with left-wing documentary filmmaker Leo Hurwitz after WWII, the exhibition traces the history and evolution of Grove Press, from its role at the center of national censorship trials over the first American editions of Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Tropic of Cancer, to its publication of politically-engaged works including The Wretched of the Earth, Red Star over China, and The Autobiography of Malcolm X, to its scandalous and very profitable, “Victorian Library.” Each book published by Grove, the exhibition reveals, was in its own way, a “strange victory.” For while Grove altered the American literary landscape and its relationship to social mores, equality, and freedom of expression, Grove also aggressively deployed savvy marketing strategies, became embroiled in labor union battles, floundered in its own success, and offended the sensibilities of not only “squares,” but feminists, Marxists, academics, and many others. Strange Victories tells the complicated story of Grove’s many literary and political achievements, whose profound influence on American culture endures today.

This exhibition reveals the tremendous wealth of this newly available collection, and includes a series of public programs organized in conjunction with students and faculty from across the SU campus.

Programs include:

Public Lecture
Counter-Culture Colophon: Grove Press, the Evergreen Review, and the Incorporation of the Avant-Garde
January 16, 6 p.m., Peter Graham Scholarly Commons, Bird Library, 1st Floor

Panel Discussion
Remembering Grove
January 17, 5 p.m., Peter Graham Scholarly Commons, Bird Library, 1st Floor
Loren Glass will moderate a panel discussion with former employees of Grove Press, including, Judith Schmidt Douw (foreign rights), Fred Jordan (editorial), Claudia Menza (Evergreen Review), Nat Sobel (sales), and Martin Garbus (legal representation).

Exhibition Reception
January 17, 6 p.m., Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries

Film Screening
Dissent on Film
February 21, 7 p.m., The Palace Theater, 2384 James Street, Syracuse
A screening of avant-garde films distributed by Grove in the 1960s and 1970s.

Community Reading
Reading Grove
April 18, 6 p.m., XL Projects, 307-313 South Clinton Street, Syracuse
Students, faculty and community members will select and read excerpts from the roster of radical, canonical, international, and sometimes obscure authors published by Grove Press.

Strange Victories: Grove Press, 1951-1985 is part of the 2012-2013 Ray Smith Symposium “Positions of Dissent,” for more information on the symposium visit

These events form part of the 2012-2013 Ray Smith Symposium Positions of Dissent, co-sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences, Humanities Center, School of Architecture, LGBT Studies, and the departments of English, History, African American Studies, and Art, Design, and Transmedia.