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New Books in the American South
52 minutes | 16 hours ago
Jason Berry, "City of a Million Dreams: A History of New Orleans at Year 300" (UNC Press, 2018)
In City of a Million Dreams: A History of New Orleans at Year 300 (University of North Carolina Press, 2018), Jason Berry delivers a history of New Orleans at its tricentennial. Beyond its ancient streets, jazz, and Carnival lies a richer, more textured New Orleans than anyone imagined. Berry spotlights the tension between a culture of spectacle, rooted in African burial dances, and a city of laws anchored in white supremacy. Discussing how culture and law grind against each other, the narrative is a parade of New Orleanians faced with these tensions.Learn more about the forthcoming documentary City of a Million Dreams here.Jason Berry is an independent writer, documentary film producer, and journalist living in New Orleans.Emily Ruth Allen (@emmyru91) is a PhD candidate in Musicology at Florida State University. She is currently working on a dissertation about parade musics in Mobile, Alabama’s Carnival celebrations.
34 minutes | 6 days ago
Chris Hamby, "Soul Full of Coal Dust: The True Story of an Epic Battle for Justice" (Little Brown, 2020)
Today I talked to Chris Hamby about his book Soul Full of Coal Dust: The True Story of an Epic Battle for Justice (Little Brown, 2020). Hamby looks into why there has been a surge in black-lung disease in West Virginia and elsewhere in recent years. Poor self-policing and rapacious business practices go a long way in explaining the upsurge. Add in a tradition of fatalism caused by King Coal, and it becomes a minor miracle –but a miracle all the same—that some miners have been able to secure a measure of justice.Chris Hamby is an investigative reporter for the New York Times. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Journalism in 2014 and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in International Reporting in 2017.Dan Hill, PhD, is the author of eight books and leads Sensory Logic, Inc. (https://www.sensorylogic.com). To check out his related “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight” blog, visit https://emotionswizard.com.
62 minutes | 22 days ago
Elizabeth Catte, "Pure America: Eugenics and the Making of Modern Virginia" (Belt, 2021)
Between 1927 and 1979, more than 8,000 people were involuntarily sterilized in five hospitals across the state of Virginia. From this plain and terrible fact springs Elizabeth Catte's Pure America: Eugenics and the Making of Modern Virginia (Belt, 2021), a sweeping, unsparing history of eugenics in Virginia, and by extension the United States. Virginia's twentieth-century eugenics program was not the misguided initiative of well-meaning men of the day, writes Catte, with clarity and ferocity. It was a manifestation of white supremacy. It was a form of employment insurance. It was a means of controlling "troublesome" women and a philosophy that helped remove poor people from valuable land. It was cruel and it was wrong, and yet today sites where it was practiced like Western State Hospital, in Staunton, VA, are rehabilitated as luxury housing, their histories hushed up in the service of capital. As was amply evidenced by her acclaimed 2018 book What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia, Catte has no room for excuses; no patience for equivocation. What does it mean for modern America, she asks here, that such buildings are given the second chance that 8,000 citizens never got? And what possible interventions can be made now, repair their damage?
69 minutes | 23 days ago
Queer Voices of the South: Year in Review
In this final episode of 2020, New Books Network hosts and fellow authors take a look back at the evolution of their podcast Queer Voices of the South, recount their conversations with authors during the first six episodes, offer listeners a taste of what to expect in 2021, answer listener questions, and share their resolutions for a new year.About the Co-Hosts: Each of the books by the three co-hosts was published by the University Press of Mississippi. John Marszalek is clinical faculty of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program at Southern New Hampshire University and the author of COMING OUT of the MAGNOLIA CLOSET - SAME SEX COUPLES in MISSISSIPPI. https://johnmarszalek3.com/ Twitter: @marsjf3. Pip Gordon is Associate Professor of English, and Gay Studies Coordinator at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, and the author of GAY FAULKNER - UNCOVERING a HOMOSEXUAL PRESENCE in YOKNAPATAWPHA and BEYOND. Follow him on Instagram: gayfaulknerthebook and his blog: http://gayfaulknerthebook.blogspot.com. Morris Ardoin is author of STONE MOTEL – MEMOIRS OF A CAJUN BOY. A communications practitioner, his work has appeared in regional, national, and international media. His blog, Parenthetically Speaking, can be found at www.morrisardoin.com. Twitter: @morrisardoin. Happy New Year, everyone!The Queer Voices of the South (QVOTS) podcast is part of the New Books Network. We interview the writers, editors, and publishers of recent books in the Nonfiction LGBT+ genre who cover the Southern U.S. LGBT+ experience within their work. To inquire about appearing on the podcast, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Find us on Facebook and Twitter: @voices_south.
62 minutes | a month ago
Ashon T. Crawley, "The Lonely Letters" (Duke UP, 2020)
In The Lonely Letters (Duke UP, 2020), A tells Moth: “Writing about and thinking with joy is what sustains me, daily. It nourishes me. I do not write about joy primarily because I always have it. I write about joy, Black joy, because I want to generate it, I want it to emerge, I want to participate in its constant unfolding.” But alongside joy, A admits to Moth, come loneliness, exclusion, and unfulfilled desire. The Lonely Letters is an epistolary blackqueer critique of the normative world in which Ashon T. Crawley—writing as A—meditates on the interrelation of blackqueer life, sounds of the Black church, theology, mysticism, and love. Throughout his letters, A explores blackness and queerness in the musical and embodied experience of Blackpentecostal spaces and the potential for platonic and erotic connection in a world that conspires against blackqueer life. Both a rigorous study and a performance, The Lonely Letters gestures toward understanding the capacity for what we study to work on us, to transform us, and to change how we inhabit the world.Ashon T. Crawley is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and African American Studies at the University of Virginia and author of Blackpentecostal Breath: The Aesthetics of Possibility.John Marszalek III is author of Coming Out of the Magnolia Closet: Same-Sex Couples in Mississippi (2020, University Press of Mississippi). He is clinical faculty of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program at Southern New Hampshire University.
51 minutes | 2 months ago
Carl Rollyson, "The Life of William Faulkner: This Alarming Paradox, 1935-1962" (U Virginia Press, 2020)
By 1935 William Faulkner was well established as an author of critically praised novels, yet the low volume of his sales forced him to seek work in Hollywood. As Carl Rollyson details in The Life of William Faulkner: This Alarming Paradox, 1935-1962 (University of Virginia Press, 2020), this led to an itinerant life divided between Mississippi and Hollywood. Rollyson shows how his encounters with the politicized writers and European refugees who populated the film industry helped broaden his outlook, which was reflected in the injection of anti-fascist elements into his scripts and novels. By the end of the Second World War, Faulkner enjoyed a growing international status that culminated with receiving the award of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950, which cemented his place at the forefront of American literature. Though a reluctant celebrity, Faulkner embraced his status by becoming an informal ambassador of American values abroad, while using his position as an unofficial spokesperson of the South to criticize the mistreatment of Blacks in the region and call for improvements in race relations.
65 minutes | 2 months ago
Pip Gordon, "Gay Faulkner: Uncovering a Homosexual Presence in Yoknapatawpha and Beyond" (UP Mississippi, 2019)
The life and works of William Faulkner have generated numerous biographical studies exploring how Faulkner understood southern history, race, his relationship to art, and his place in the canons of American and world literature. However, some details on Faulkner’s life collected by his early biographers never made it into published form or, when they did, appeared in marginalized stories and cryptic references. The biographical record of William Faulkner’s life has yet to come to terms with the life-long friendships he maintained with gay men, the extent to which he immersed himself into gay communities in Greenwich Village and New Orleans, and how profoundly this part of his life influenced his “apocryphal” creation of Yoknapatawpha County.Gay Faulkner: Uncovering a Homosexual Presence in Yoknapatawpha and Beyond (U Mississippi Press, 2019) explores the intimate friendships Faulkner maintained with gay men, among them Ben Wasson, William Spratling, and Hubert Creekmore, and places his fiction into established canons of LGBTQ literature, including World War I literature and representations of homosexuality from the Cold War. The book offers a full consideration of his relationship to gay history and identity in the twentieth century, giving rise to a new understanding of this most important of American authors.Phillip "Pip" Gordon was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and grew up in nearby Jackson. A proud West Tennessean, he holds degrees from the University of Tennessee-Martin (BA, 2005) and the University of Mississippi (MA, 2008; PhD, 2013). He currently lives and works in Platteville, Wisconsin, where he teaches American Literature, Film, and Gay and Lesbian Studies. He lives with his dog, Scout.Morris Ardoin is the author of Stone Motel: Memoirs of a Cajun Boy, (2020, University Press of Mississippi). He writes the blog “Parenthetically Speaking,” focusing on food from Louisiana and life as a Cajun New Yorker. Website: morrisardoin.com Twitter: @morrisardoinJohn Marszalek III is author of Coming Out of the Magnolia Closet: Same-Sex Couples in Mississippi (2020, University Press of Mississippi). He is clinical faculty of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program at Southern New Hampshire University. Website: Johnmarszalek3.com Twitter: @marsjf3
70 minutes | 2 months ago
John Garrison Marks, "Black Freedom in the Age of Slavery: Race, Status, and Identity in the Urban Americas" (U of South Carolina Press, 2020)
Prior to the abolition of slavery, thousands of African-descended people in the Americas lived in freedom. Their efforts to navigate daily life and negotiate the boundaries of racial difference challenged the foundations of white authority—and linked the Americas together.In Black Freedom in the Age of Slavery: Race, Status, and Identity in the Urban Americas (U of South Carolina Press, 2020), John Garrison Marks examines how these individuals built lives in freedom for themselves and their families in two of the Atlantic World's most important urban centers: Cartagena, along the Caribbean coast of modern-day Colombia, and Charleston, in the low country of North America's Atlantic coast. Marks reveals how skills, knowledge, reputation, and personal relationships helped free people of color improve their fortunes and achieve social distinction in ways that undermined whites' claims to racial superiority.Built upon research conducted on three continents, this book takes a comparative approach to understanding the contours of black freedom in the Americas. It reveals in new detail the creative and persistent attempts of free black people to improve their lives and that of their families. It examines how various paths to freedom, responses to the Haitian Revolution, opportunities to engage in skilled labor, involvement with social institutions, and the role of the church all helped shape the lived experience of free people of color in the Atlantic World.As free people of color worked to improve their individual circumstances, staking claims to rights, privileges, and distinctions not typically afforded to those of African descent, they engaged with white elites and state authorities in ways that challenged prevailing racial attitudes. While whites across the Americas shared common doubts about the ability of African-descended people to survive in freedom or contribute meaningfully to society, free black people in Cartagena, Charleston, and beyond conducted themselves in ways that exposed cracks in the foundations of American racial hierarchies. Their actions represented early contributions to the long fight for recognition, civil rights, and racial justice that continues today.Adam McNeil is a third year Ph.D. in History student at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.
59 minutes | 3 months ago
Connor Towne O’Neill, "Down Along with That Devil’s Bones" (Algonquin Books, 2020)
In Down Along with That Devil’s Bones: A Reckoning with Monuments, Memory, and the Legacy of White Supremacy (Algonquin Books, 2020), journalist Connor Towne O’Neill takes a deep dive into American history, exposing the still-raging battles over monuments dedicated to one of the most notorious Confederate generals, Nathan Bedford Forrest. Through the lens of these conflicts, O’Neill examines the legacy of white supremacy in America, in a sobering and fascinating work sure to resonate with readers of Tony Horwitz, Timothy B. Tyson, and Robin DiAngelo.When O’Neill first moved to Alabama, as a white Northerner, he felt somewhat removed from the racism Confederate monuments represented. Then one day in Selma, he stumbled across a group of citizens protecting a monument to Forrest, the officer who became the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and whom William Tecumseh Sherman referred to as “that devil.” O’Neill sets off to visit other disputed memorials to Forrest across the South, talking with men and women who believe they are protecting their heritage, and those who have a different view of the man’s poisonous history.O’Neill’s reporting and thoughtful, deeply personal analysis make it clear that white supremacy is not a regional affliction but is in fact coded into the DNA of the entire country. Down Along with That Devil’s Bones presents an important and eye-opening account of how we got from Appomattox to Charlottesville, and where, if we can truly understand and transcend our past, we could be headed next.Connor Towne O’Neill’s writing has appeared in New York magazine, Vulture, Slate, RBMA, and the Village Voice, and he works as a producer on the NPR podcast White Lies, which was a finalist for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in Audio Reporting. Originally from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, he lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and teaches at Auburn University and with the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project. This is his first book.Dr. Christina Gessler’s background is in American women’s history, and literature. She specializes in the diaries written by rural women in the 19th century. In seeking the extraordinary in the ordinary, Gessler writes the histories of largely unknown women, poems about small relatable moments, and takes many, many photos in nature.
56 minutes | 3 months ago
Robert Fieseler, "Tinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation" (Liveright, 2018)
An essential work of American civil rights history, Tinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation (Liveright, 2018) mesmerizingly reconstructs the 1973 fire that devastated New Orleans’ subterranean gay community. Buried for decades, the Up Stairs Lounge tragedy has only recently emerged as a catalyzing event of the gay liberation movement. In revelatory detail, Robert W. Fieseler chronicles the tragic event that claimed the lives of thirty-one men and one woman on June 24, 1973, at a New Orleans bar, the largest mass murder of gays until 2016. Relying on unprecedented access to survivors and archives, Fieseler creates an indelible portrait of a closeted, blue- collar gay world that flourished before an arsonist ignited an inferno that destroyed an entire community. The aftermath was no less traumatic—families ashamed to claim loved ones, the Catholic Church refusing proper burial rights, the city impervious to the survivors’ needs—revealing a world of toxic prejudice that thrived well past Stonewall. Yet the impassioned activism that followed proved essential to the emergence of a fledgling gay movement. Tinderbox restores honor to a forgotten generation of civil-rights martyrs.Robert W. Fieseler is the 2019 National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association "Journalist of the Year" and the acclaimed debut author of Tinderbox-- winner of the Edgar Award and the Louisiana Literary Award, shortlisted for the Saroyan International Prize for Writing. Queer literary icon Andrew Holleran reviewed Tinderbox as "far more than just a history of gay rights," and Michael Cunningham praised it as "essential reading at any time." Fieseler graduated co-valedictorian from the Columbia Journalism School and is a recipient of the Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship. Born and raised in Chicago, Fieseler now lives with his husband and dog in New Orleans.Morris Ardoin is the author of Stone Motel - Memoirs of a Cajun Boy, published in April 2020 by the University Press of Mississippi. His blog, "Parenthetically Speaking," about the food and culture of Louisiana and his life as a New Yorker, can be found at morrisardoin.com. John Marszalek III is author of Coming Out of the Magnolia Closet: Same-Sex Couples in Mississippi (2020, University Press of Mississippi). He is clinical faculty of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program at Southern New Hampshire University. Website: Johnmarszalek3.com Twitter: @marsjf3
63 minutes | 3 months ago
Karlos K. Hill, "The Murder of Emmett Till: A Graphic History" (Oxford UP, 2020)
The image of Emmett Till’s open coffin, revealing the 14-year old’s horrifically disfigured face, is one of the most heart-wrenching images of the Civil Rights Era. The Chicago teenager was murdered while visiting relatives in the Mississippi Delta in the summer of 1955. Enraged white men kidnapped, tortured, and killed him for having dared to have whistled at a white woman. In an equally horrific miscarriage of justice, only two men stood trial and the all-white jury quickly found them not guilty. The photograph of Emmett Till served to mobilize a campaign against the violence of the late Jim Crow South. Professor Karlos K. Hill’s The Murder of Emmett Till: A Graphic History (Oxford UP, 2020) tells the story of this crime, placing it in the context of both the African American experience and the practice of white supremacy. As part of Oxford University Press’ acclaimed Graphic History Series, Hill’s book is a comic rendering of Emmett Till’s death and the frustrating struggle for justice. The book captures Emmett Till’s humanity in the face of inhumane evil.Dr. Karlos K. Hill is an Associate Professor and Department Chair of African and African-American Studies at the University of Oklahoma. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2009 and has taught at St. Olaf College, Luther College, and Texas A&M. Professor Hill specializes in the history of anti-Black violence and its legacies. In addition to scores of articles, he is the author of Beyond the Rope: The Impact of Lynching on Black Culture and Memory, out in 2016 with Cambridge University Press. He is also the author of a forthcoming book The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre: A Photographic History, out next year with the University of Oklahoma Press.Michael G. Vann is a professor of world history at California State University, Sacramento. A specialist in imperialism and the Cold War in Southeast Asia, he is the author of The Great Hanoi Rat Hunt: Empires, Disease, and Modernity in French Colonial Vietnam (Oxford University Press, 2018). When he’s not reading or talking about new books with smart people, Mike can be found surfing in Santa Cruz, California.
55 minutes | 3 months ago
Morris Ardoin, "Stone Motel: Memoirs of a Cajun Boy" (UP of Mississippi, 2020)
In the summers of the early 1970s, Morris Ardoin and his siblings helped run their family's roadside motel in a hot, buggy, bayou town in Cajun Louisiana. The stifling, sticky heat inspired them to find creative ways to stay cool and out of trouble. When they were not doing their chores—handling a colorful cast of customers, scrubbing motel-room toilets, plucking chicken bones and used condoms from under the beds—they played canasta, an old ladies’ game that provided them with a refuge from the sun and helped them avoid their violent, troubled father.Morris was successful at occupying his time with his siblings and the children of families staying in the motel’s kitchenette apartments but was not so successful at keeping clear of his father, a man unable to shake the horrors he had experienced as a child and, later, as a soldier. The preteen would learn as he matured that his father had reserved his most ferocious attacks for him because of an inability to accept a gay or, to his mind, broken, son. It became his dad’s mission to “fix” his son, and Morris’s mission to resist—and survive intact. He was aided in his struggle immeasurably by the love and encouragement of a selfless and generous grandmother, who provides his story with much of its warmth, wisdom, and humor. In Stone Motel: Memoirs of a Cajun Boy (UP of Mississippi, 2020), the reader will also find suspense, awkward romance, naughty French lessons, and an insider’s take on a truly remarkable, not-yet-homogenized pocket of American culture.Morris Ardoin earned a bachelor’s in journalism from Louisiana State University and a master’s in communication from the University of Louisiana. A public relations practitioner, his work has appeared in regional, national, and international media. He divides his time between New York City and Cornwallville, New York, where he does most of his writing. His blog, Parenthetically Speaking, can be found at www.morrisardoin.com.John Marszalek III is author of Coming Out of the Magnolia Closet: Same-Sex Couples in Mississippi (2020, University Press of Mississippi). He is clinical faculty of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program at Southern New Hampshire University. Twitter: @marsjf3
47 minutes | 4 months ago
Denise E. Bates, "Basket Diplomacy: Leadership, Alliance-Building, and Resilience among the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, 1884-1984" (U Nebraska Press, 2020)
Before the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana became one of the state’s top private employers—with its vast landholdings and economic enterprises—they lived well below the poverty line and lacked any clear legal status.After settling in the Bayou Blue in 1884, they forged friendships with their neighbors, sparked local tourism, and struck strategic alliances with civic and business leaders, aid groups, legislators, and other tribes. Coushattas also engaged the public with stories about the tribe’s culture, history, and economic interests that intersected with the larger community, all while battling legal marginalization exacerbated by inconsistent government reports regarding their citizenship, treaty status, and eligibility for federal Indian services.Well into the twentieth century, the tribe had to overcome several major hurdles, including lobbying the Louisiana legislature to pass the state’s first tribal recognition resolution (1972), convincing the Department of the Interior to formally acknowledge the Coushatta Tribe through administrative channels (1973), and engaging in an effort to acquire land and build infrastructure.Basket Diplomacy: Leadership, Alliance-Building, and Resilience among the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, 1884-1984 (University of Nebraska Press) demonstrates how the Coushatta community worked together—each generation laying a foundation for the next—and how they leveraged opportunities so that existing and newly acquired knowledge, timing, and skill worked in tandem.Denise E. Bates is a historian and an assistant professor of leadership and interdisciplinary studies at Arizona State University.David Dry is a PhD student in the Department of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
54 minutes | 4 months ago
B. Heersink and J. A. Jenkins, "Republican Party Politics and the American South, 1865-1968" (Cambridge UP, 2020)
Prior to the 1960s, Democrats were seen as having a lock on the South in national and local electoral politics, while Republicans had strengths in other parts of the country. While this was the case for some time, Boris Heersink and Jeffrey A. Jenkins, in their new book,Republican Party Politics and the American South, 1865-1968 (Cambridge University Press, 2020), look a bit more deeply into the role of the Republican Party in the Southern states following the Civil War, and they find some interesting dynamics at play across the next hundred years. Heersink and Jenkins argue that the overly simplified view of the “solid Democratic South” creates an incomplete narrative. Outlining the role of the Republican Party in the former states of the Confederacy, they explain how Southern Republicans had meaningful roles in selecting Republican presidential candidates even if few of those candidates carried any electoral college votes from Southern states.Heersink and Jenkins describe how Southern Republicans, despite their unpopularity in the South, remained nationally important through their regular participation at the Republican national conventions. They explain that Southern delegates made up a sizable portion of the conventions, and candidates often vied for support from these delegates. Southern delegates were so valuable that candidates often turned to corrupt practices, including bribery, to win over these delegates. As a result, many GOP delegates were able to leverage their support for candidates for patronage appointments back home, even if they couldn’t produce broad-based state support for Republican presidential candidates. Heersink and Jenkins created a complex data set that came from census records, delegate rosters, local newspaper articles from the time, and information about patronage appointments. This is a fascinating multi-methods analysis, and they are continuing to expand the analysis to look more closely at these questions of patronage appointments.Additionally, Heersink and Jenkins discuss electoral strategies of the Republican Party over the century that followed the Civil War. They recount the different ways that the GOP, in different states, approached party building and political engagement. This dimension of the research and the book is particularly rich since it dives into how the parties operated at the state level and how the approach of those operations also changed and shifted over time. As Reconstruction ended and as Southern states began to institute laws and regulations that would come to form the Jim Crow era, the various state-level Republican parties (and Democratic Parties) pursued support among voters, especially white voters as Black voters were pushed out of active political participation in the South. This hundred-year span is both nuanced and complex, and Heersink and Jenkins guide the reader through the evolution of the Republican Party, how this paved the way for Richard Nixon’s Southern Strategy and partisan realignment of the South in the latter part of the 20th century.Adam Liebell-McLean assisted with this podcast.Lilly J. Goren is professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012), as well as co-editor of Mad Men and Politics: Nostalgia and the Remaking of Modern America (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015).
31 minutes | 5 months ago
John F. Marszalek III, "Coming Out of the Magnolia Closet: Same-Sex Couples in Mississippi" (U Mississippi Press, 2020)
In Coming Out of the Magnolia Closet: Same-Sex Couples in Mississippi (University of Mississippi Press, 2020), John F. Marszalek III shares conversations with same-sex couples living in small-town and rural Mississippi. In the first book of its kind to focus on Mississippi, couples tell their stories of how they met and fell in love, their decisions on whether or not to marry, and their experiences as sexual minorities with their neighbors, families, and churches. Their stories illuminate a complicated relationship between many same-sex couples and their communities, influenced by southern culture, religion, and family norms.As Marszalek guides readers into the homes of diverse same-sex couples, he weaves in his own story of meeting his husband and living as a married gay man in Mississippi. Both the couples and he explain why they remain in one of the most conservative states in the country rather than moving to a place with a large, vibrant gay community.In addition to sharing his own experiences, Marszalek reviews the literature on the topic, including writings from southern and rural queer studies, history, sociology, and psychology, to explain how the couples’ relationships and experiences compare to those of same-sex couples in other areas and times. Consequently, Coming Out of the Magnolia Closet is written for both the scholar of southern and queer studies and for anyone interested in learning about the experiences of same-sex couples.John F. Marszalek III is clinical faculty of the online clinical mental health counseling program at Southern New Hampshire University. He is author of Coming Out of the Magnolia Closet: Same-Sex Couples in Mississippi, published by University Press of Mississippi. He lives in Mississippi with his husband and their two dogs.Chris Babits is a Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow at Utah State University. In addition to teaching, he’s feverishly writing his book, To Cure a Sinful Nation: A History of Conversion Therapy in the United States (University of Chicago Press).
41 minutes | 5 months ago
Colin Woodard, "Union: The Struggle to Forge the Story of United States Nationhood" (Viking, 2020)
Colin Woodard's new book Union: The Struggle to Forge the Story of United States Nationhood (Viking, 2020) tells the story of the struggle to create a national myth for the United States, one that could hold its rival regional cultures together and forge, for the first time, an American nationhood. It tells the dramatic tale of how the story of our national origins, identity, and purpose was intentionally created and fought over in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. On one hand, a small group of individuals--historians, political leaders, and novelists--fashioned and promoted a history that attempted to transcend and erase the fundamental differences and profound tensions between the nation's regional cultures. America had a God-given mission to lead humanity toward freedom, equality, and self-government and was held together by fealty to these ideals.This emerging nationalist story was immediately and powerfully contested by another set of intellectuals and firebrands who argued that the United States was instead an ethno-state, the homeland of the allegedly superior "Anglo-Saxon" race, upon whom Divine and Darwinian favor shined. Their vision helped create a new federation--the Confederacy--prompting the bloody Civil War. While defeated on the battlefield, their vision later managed to win the war of ideas, capturing the White House in the early twentieth century, and achieving the first consensus, pan-regional vision of U.S. nationhood in the years before the outbreak of the first World War. This narrower, more exclusive vision of America would be overthrown in mid-century, but it was never fully vanquished. Woodard tells the story of the genesis and epic confrontations between these visions of our nation's path and purpose through the lives of the key figures who created them, a cast of characters whose personal quirks and virtues, gifts and demons shaped the destiny of millions.Colin Woodard is a New York Times bestseller writer-historian, and journalist who has reported from more than fifty foreign countries and six continents. A longtime foreign correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor and The San Francisco Chronicle, he is a reporter at the Portland Press Herald, where he received a 2012 George Polk Award and was a finalist a 2016 Pulitzer Prize. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, Smithsonian and Politico. He is the author of American Nations, American Character, The Lobster Coast, The Republic of Pirates, and Ocean’s End.Diana DePasquale is an Associate Teaching Professor at Bowling Green State University. She teaches courses on race, gender, sexuality, and American culture. Diana has been published in Studies in American Humor, and online at In Media Res. She is also a proud winner of The Moth Story Slam in Detroit.
55 minutes | 5 months ago
Aaron Carico, "Black Market: The Slave's Value in National Culture after 1865" (UNC Press, 2020)
On the eve of the Civil War, the estimated value of the U.S. enslaved population exceeded $3 billion--triple that of investments nationwide in factories, railroads, and banks combined, and worth more even than the South's lucrative farmland. Not only an object to be traded and used, the slave was also a kind of currency, a form of value that anchored the market itself. And this value was not destroyed in the war. Slavery still structured social relations and cultural production in the United States more than a century after it was formally abolished.As Aaron Carico reveals in Black Market: The Slave's Value in National Culture after 1865 (UNC Press, 2020), slavery's engine of capital accumulation was preserved and transformed, and the slave commodity survived emancipation. Through both archival research and lucid readings of literature, art, and law, from the plight of the Fourteenth Amendment to the myth of the cowboy, Carico breaks open the icons of liberalism to expose the shaping influence of slavery's political economy in America after 1865. Ultimately, Black Market shows how a radically incomplete and fundamentally failed abolition enabled the emergence of a modern nation-state, in which slavery still determined--and now goes on to determine--economic, political, and cultural life.Aaron Carico received his PhD in American Studies from Yale University.Derek Litvak is a Ph.D. student in the department of history at the University of Maryland.
64 minutes | 5 months ago
Jennifer Atkins, "New Orleans Carnival Balls: The Secret Side of Mardi Gras, 1870-1920" (LSU Press, 2017)
In New Orleans Carnival Balls: The Secret Side of Mardi Gras, 1870-1920 (LSU Press, 2017), Dr. Jennifer Atkins draws back the curtain on the origin of the exclusive Mardi Gras balls, bringing to light unique traditions unseen by outsiders.The oldest Carnival organizations emerged in the mid-nineteenth century and ruled Mardi Gras from the Civil War until World War I. For these organizations, Carnival balls became magical realms where krewesmen reinforced their elite identity through sculpted tableaux vivants performances, mock coronations, and romantic ballroom dancing.They used costume and movement to reaffirm their group identity, and the crux of these performances relied on a specific mode of expression—dancing. Using the concept of dance as a lens for examining Carnival balls, Atkins delves deeper into the historical context and distinctive rituals of Mardi Gras in New Orleans.Jennifer Atkins is graduate program director at Florida State University’s School of Dance.Emily Ruth Allen (@emmyru91) is a Ph.D. candidate in Musicology at Florida State University. She is currently working on a dissertation about parade musics in Mobile, Alabama’s Carnival celebrations.
57 minutes | 5 months ago
J. Browning and T. Silver, "An Environmental History of the Civil War" (UNC Press, 2020)
This sweeping new history recognizes that the Civil War was not just a military conflict but also a moment of profound transformation in Americans' relationship to the natural world.To be sure, environmental factors such as topography and weather powerfully shaped the outcomes of battles and campaigns, and the war could not have been fought without the horses, cattle, and other animals that were essential to both armies. But in An Environmental History of the Civil War (University of North Carolina Press, 2020), Judkin Browning and Timothy Silver weave a far richer story, combining military and environmental history to forge a comprehensive new narrative of the war's significance and impact.As they reveal, the conflict created a new disease environment by fostering the spread of microbes among vulnerable soldiers, civilians, and animals; led to large-scale modifications of the landscape across several states; sparked new thinking about the human relationship to the natural world; and demanded a reckoning with disability and death on an ecological scale.And as the guns fell silent, the change continued; Browning and Silver show how the war influenced the future of weather forecasting, veterinary medicine, the birth of the conservation movement, and the establishment of the first national parks.In considering human efforts to find military and political advantage by reshaping the natural world, Browning and Silver show not only that the environment influenced the Civil War's outcome but also that the war was a watershed event in the history of the environment itself.Judkin Browning is Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of History at Appalachian State University and has written two military histories of the Civil War: Shifting Loyalties: The Union Occupation of Eastern North Carolina (2011) and The Seven Days’ Battle: The War Begins Anew (2012).Timothy Silver is Professor of History at Appalachian State University and the author of Mount Mitchell and the Black Mountains: An Environmental History of the Highest Peaks in Eastern America and A New Face on the Countryside: Indians, Colonists, and Slaves in South Atlantic Forests, 1500-1800, a foundational work in the field of environmental history.Brian Hamilton is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Wisconsin–Madison where he is researching African American environmental history. He lives in Western Massachusetts and teaches at Deerfield Academy. Twitter. Website.
36 minutes | 5 months ago
Alex Sayf Cummings, "Brain Magnet: Research Triangle Park and the Idea of the Idea Economy" (Columbia UP, 2020)
Beginning in the 1950s, a group of academics, businesspeople, and politicians set out on an ambitious project to remake North Carolina’s low-wage economy. They pitched the universities of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill as the kernel of a tech hub, Research Triangle Park, which would lure a new class of highly educated workers. In the process, they created a blueprint for what would become known as the knowledge economy: a future built on intellectual labor and the production of intellectual property.In Brain Magnet: Research Triangle Park and the Idea of the Idea Economy (Columbia UP, 2020), Alex Sayf Cummings reveals the significance of Research Triangle Park to the emergence of the high-tech economy in a postindustrial United States. She analyzes the use of ideas of culture and creativity to fuel economic development, how workers experienced life in the Triangle, and the role of the federal government in bringing the modern technology industry into being. As Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill were transformed by high-tech development, the old South gave way to a distinctly new one, which welded the intellectual power of universities to a vision of the suburban good life. Cummings pinpoints how the story of the Research Triangle sheds new light on the origins of today’s urban landscape, in which innovation, as exemplified by the tech industry, is lauded as the engine of economic growth against a backdrop of gentrification and inequality. Placing the knowledge economy in a broader cultural and intellectual context, Brain Magnet offers vital insight intDr. Alex Sayf Cummings is a historian of law, technology, and American political culture at Georgia State University. She earned a BA in History at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and her PhD in History from Columbia University.Chris Babits is an Andrew W. Mellon Engaged Scholar Initiative Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin. He researches the intersecting histories of medicine, religion, and gender and sexuality and is currently working on his book about the history of conversion therapy in the United States.
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