Early American Literature Invites Nominations for Its 2017 Book Prize

The editors of Early American Literature are pleased to announce the third annual Early American Literature Book Prize, which is given for the best newly released academic book about American literature in the colonial period through the early republic (roughly 1830). The prize is offered in collaboration with the University of North Carolina Press, the Society of Early Americanists, and the MLA’s Forum on American Literature to 1800.

This year’s prize will be awarded to an author’s SECOND OR SUBSEQUENT book. Monographs published in 2015 or 2016 are eligible for the 2017 prize, which carries a cash award of $2,000.

The deadline for nominations is February 15, 2017. Please send a single copy of any books nominated for the 2017 prize to:

EAL Book Prize
c/o Professor Sandra M. Gustafson Editor, Early American Literature Department of English
University of Notre Dame
356 O’Shaughnessy Hall
Notre Dame, IN 46556

Additional copies of books that make the short list may be requested from the publisher.

The book prize selection committee consists of the journal’s editor, advisory editor, and book review editor, as well as one representative from the SEA, appointed by the SEA executive committee, and one representative from the executive committee for the MLA’s forum on American literature to 1800.

Inquiries may be directed to Professor Sandra M. Gustafson at Gustafson.6@nd.edu. See also the journal’s website at earlyamlit.nd.edu.

Early American Literature is published by the University of North Carolina Press.

Cuba Scholars Respond to the Death of Fidel Castro

The death of Fidel Castro marks the end of an era. There are no simple obituaries for this man in American media; indeed, there is no way to talk about him in American culture without thinking critically about his role in history, his political power, and his relationship to the United States.

UNC Press has published an extensive list of outstanding books about the history, culture, and politics of Cuba. Many of the expert authors have been called on by media outlets in recent days both to respond to the death of an important political figure and to examine the political moment in which we now find ourselves. Here, we share their perspectives. We’ve included brief excerpts below; click the headlines to read the full articles.

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After Surviving 600 Assassination Attempts & Outlasting 11 U.S. Presidents, Fidel Castro Dies at 90 – Democracy Now!

“Well, the world has lost one of the most famous leading and dynamic and dramatic revolutionaries who ever lived. He’s going to have a very controversial legacy, but it is indisputable that he took a small Caribbean island and transformed it into a major actor on the world stage, far beyond its geographic size. He stood up to the United States. He became the David versus Goliath, withstood all of the efforts to kill him, overthrow him. And that is what he will go down in history for, in many ways.”
Peter Kornbluh (co-author, with William M. LeoGrande, of Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations between Washington and Havana)

“What resonates in the world, at least as much as Fidel Castro, is the Cuban revolution. And the Cuban revolution itself is a historical process that comes out of 100 years of struggle. The Cuban revolution represents the culmination of Cuban history. And behind Fidel Castro, or perhaps even ahead of Fidel Castro, are a people, a people who have been struggling for self-determination and national sovereignty for the better part of a century. So Fidel Castro happens to be the person who has the capacity to summon and bring to fruition, in culmination, a long historical process.”
Louis A. Pérez Jr. (author of Intimations of Modernity: Civil Culture in Nineteenth-Century CubaThe Structure of Cuban History: Meanings and Purpose of the Past, and other books on Cuba)

How Fidel Castro maintained a communist stronghold – PBS

“Well, when he took power in 1959, he had two objectives — one was to totally reform Cuba’s corrupt and unequal social order, and the other was to gain independence from the United States. And in the early years, he made a lot of progress on both of these. He kicked the Americans out and he abolished capitalism in Cuba, replacing it with Soviet-style communism.”
William M. LeoGrande (co-author, with Peter Kornbluh, of Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations between Washington and Havana)

Fidel: What’s in a Name? – The National Interest

“His name itself was totemic. The cipher and symbol for a whole host of political dreams born and then, for many, broken; for new world imaginaries erected and slowly unspun; for the Manichean struggle of a small Caribbean island that dared to confront imperialism while consuming some of its own in the process: Fidel Castro was a man who bore an entire universe of meaning on his shoulders. Meaning, of course, that he had heaped there himself in conflating the island’s destiny with his own personalistic rule, an equation perfectly captured in the literal translation of his name—’Fidel,’ which in Spanish means ‘faithful.'”
Jennifer Lambe (author of Madhouse: Psychiatry and Politics in Cuban History) Continue reading ‘Cuba Scholars Respond to the Death of Fidel Castro’ »

Lisa A. Lindsay: The Enduring Allure of Emigration

Atlantic Bonds: A Nineteenth-Century Odyssey from America to Africa, by Lisa A. LindsayWe welcome a guest post today from Lisa A. Lindsay, author of Atlantic Bonds: A Nineteenth-Century Odyssey from America to Africa. A decade before the American Civil War, James Churchwill Vaughan (1828–93) set out to fulfill his formerly enslaved father’s dying wish that he should leave America to start a new life in Africa. Over the next forty years, Vaughan was taken captive, fought in African wars, built and rebuilt a livelihood, and led a revolt against white racism, finally becoming a successful merchant and the founder of a wealthy, educated, and politically active family. Tracing Vaughan’s journey from South Carolina to Liberia to several parts of Yorubaland (present-day southwestern Nigeria), Lindsay documents this “free” man’s struggle to find economic and political autonomy in an era when freedom was not clear and unhindered anywhere for people of African descent.

In the following post, Lindsay responds to contemporary murmurs of emigration from disaffected American voters by looking at an earlier period of organized emigration in the country’s history.

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The day after the American presidential election, Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration website crashed. Faced with a Trump presidency or despondent about the America that had elected him, an estimated 100,000 Americans were at least exploring the idea of leaving. If this seems to recall the Vietnam War era exodus to Canada, it is also worth remembering a much earlier mass movement out of the United States, especially considering the vulnerability in Trump’s America of those least able to move—the poor, the undocumented, the discriminated against. It was the most disadvantaged Americans who undertook the first large-scale voluntary exile in our history. Their stark choices are thankfully distant from most of ours today, but they offer a reminder of the persistent dilemma between flight and fight in American political life.

Between 1820 and 1880, more than 13,000 African Americans left the United States to settle on the west coast of Africa. The American Colonization Society, which made their emigration possible, had been founded in 1816 by a coalition of white opponents of slavery who believed that black people could only be truly free elsewhere, and supporters of the institution who hoped to rid the country of free blacks. Most African Americans who knew about it opposed the scheme. David Walker’s 1829 Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World insisted that “This country is as much ours as it is the whites”; decades later, Frederick Douglass called the ACS “the arch enemy of the free colored citizens of the United States.”

Yet desperation—starker than most of us can imagine today—pushed many to leave. After Nat Turner’s rebellion in 1831, when whites launched violent reprisals against free people of color, more than 1,100 African Americans, mostly from Turner’s home state of Virginia, set out for Africa. In 1850, Congress enacted the Fugitive Slave Act, mandating that authorities and ordinary people even in non-slave states help to apprehend runaways, in practice endangering all African Americans. Enrollment in the ACS scheme skyrocketed, as more than 2,000 free black people fled the United States for Africa by 1860. Emigration surged again in the late 1870s, as the promise of Reconstruction became the realization that, as one prospective African settler put it, “We are down here & can’t rise up.”

The outcome of this nineteenth-century emigration movement offers little comfort for those who would leave today. Continue reading ‘Lisa A. Lindsay: The Enduring Allure of Emigration’ »

Nora E. Jaffary: Ancient Abortifacients in Modern Mexico

Reproduction and Its Discontents in Mexico: Childbirth and Contraception from 1750 to 1905, by Norah E. Jaffary, cover imageWe welcome a guest post today from Nora E. Jaffary, author of Reproduction and Its Discontents in Mexico: Childbirth and Contraception from 1750 to 1905. In this history of childbirth and contraception in Mexico, Jaffary chronicles colonial and nineteenth-century beliefs and practices surrounding conception, pregnancy and its prevention, and birth. Tracking Mexico’s transition from colony to nation, Jaffary demonstrates the central role of reproduction in ideas about female sexuality and virtue, the development of modern Mexico, and the growth of modern medicine in the Latin American context.

In the following post, Jaffary describes the history of medical abortion in Mexico and compares this practice to modern ideas and debates about abortion.

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Abortion is back in the news. Donald Trump told us this past spring that he believes women who had abortions in the United States should be “punished,” and the Supreme Court ruled in late June against the constitutionality of Texas’ restrictive abortion law, HB2. This legislation (brilliantly satirized by comedian Samantha Bee https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eSMXwzH-moc) severely limits access to abortion by requiring costly building upgrades for all clinics providing abortions to meet surgical-grade standards, even when the services they provide entail administering medical abortions, which induce miscarriage through oral medications rather than through surgical procedures.

That the Texas legislature was able to pass HB2 is partly because of the extent to which both sides of the current abortion debate in the United States and elsewhere have oriented themselves around the relatively recent phenomenon of surgical abortion. Pro-Choice advocates point to the potentially fatal health risks run by women who are forced, when abortion is prohibited rather than regulated, to seek “back alley” abortions. Unsafe surgical abortions are symbolized on the traditional pro-choice emblem: a coat hanger. The Anti-Abortion campaign also focuses on the imagery of surgical abortion in its political and visual rhetoric, presenting images of the bloody butchery of innocent babies that its campaign associates with the act of surgical abortion. But in much of the world and in much of history, abortion has taken a medical rather than surgical form.

I spent the past decade in various archives researching the history of childbirth and contraception in colonial and nineteenth-century Mexico and I found some surprising things. Continue reading ‘Nora E. Jaffary: Ancient Abortifacients in Modern Mexico’ »

Lorien Foote: How Slaves Prayed for Yankees during the Civil War

Yankee Plague, by Lorien FooteWe welcome a guest post today from Lorien Foote, author of The Yankee Plague: Escaped Union Prisoners and the Collapse of the ConfederacyDuring the winter of 1864, more than 3,000 Federal prisoners of war escaped from Confederate prison camps into South Carolina and North Carolina, often with the aid of local slaves. Their flight created, in the words of contemporary observers, a “Yankee plague,” heralding a grim end to the Confederate cause. In a fascinating look at Union soldiers’ flight for freedom in the last months of the Civil War, Foote reveals new connections between the collapse of the Confederate prison system, the large-scale escape of Union soldiers, and the full unraveling of the Confederate States of America.

In today’s post, Foote considers the heritage of prayer that has long accompanied the Thanksgiving holiday.

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President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving to be a federal holiday in 1863, a day set aside for “thanksgiving and praise,” a phrase that all Americans at the time understood to mean prayer. During the deep distress and suffering of the Civil War, Americans of faith regularly engaged in prayer in order to seek God’s will and to lift up petitions for His help. The governments of both the Union and the Confederacy proclaimed several days of fasting and prayer, soldiers held prayer meetings in the tents of their camps, and families gathered to pray for absent loved ones. And in the fall of 1864, slaves prayed with and for hundreds of Yankee soldiers who sought refuge in their cabins. The words of these prayers reveal slaves’ powerful faith that God would intervene in history to defeat the Confederacy and bring about their freedom.

In September and October, 1864, more than 900 prisoners of war escaped from Confederate prisons in Florence and Columbia, South Carolina. They traveled at night in parties of 2-6 men and headed toward the Union lines at Knoxville, Tennessee, or Hilton Head, South Carolina. These Yankees sought out slaves in order to obtain directions, food, and shelter. At first slaves responded on an individual basis with generous hospitality, giving the escaped prisoners what food they had and often guiding them several miles down the road. When a Rhode Island lieutenant tried to pay for the food a slave provided, he was rebuffed. “This is the charity the Lord says must be given to those who suffer,” she responded firmly.

By February of 1865, more than 2800 prisoners had escaped, and by then slaves had organized across space to assist the Yankees.  Continue reading ‘Lorien Foote: How Slaves Prayed for Yankees during the Civil War’ »

University Press Week 2016 Blog Tour Day 5: #FF UNC Press Publishing Partners

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We have celebrated the theme of Community for the past several days with our sibling publishers in the Association of American University Presses’ #UPweek. Today we invite you into our own virtual rolodex to introduce you to just some of the many partner organizations with whom we have collaborated to make many of your favorite books and journals possible.

It’s #FollowFriday, and we want to celebrate some of our long term relationships. These LTRs help make up the UNC Press community of thinkers and doers, instigators and activators, marathoners and sprinters. They help make us who we are, and they help us bring excellent work into print. We’re lucky to work with them.

@UNCSouth – The UNC Center for the Study of the American South, a UNC campus neighbor with a great house (and great porch parties!), our partner in publishing books like Dixie Highway, Lumbee Indians in the Jim Crow South, and Freedom’s Teacher, and the fabulous Southern Cultures journal (@SCquarterly).

@OIEAHC – The Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, Virginia, with whom we have published hundreds of volumes, including classics like The Adams-Jefferson Letters, White over Black, and Women of the Republic. Continue reading ‘University Press Week 2016 Blog Tour Day 5: #FF UNC Press Publishing Partners’ »

Excerpt: Written/Unwritten, by Patricia A. Matthew

cover photo fro written/unwritten by patricia a. matthewThe academy may claim to seek and value diversity in its professoriate, but reports from faculty of color around the country make clear that departments and administrators discriminate in ways that range from unintentional to malignant. Stories abound of scholars–despite impressive records of publication, excellent teaching evaluations, and exemplary service to their universities–struggling on the tenure track. These stories, however, are rarely shared for public consumption. Written/Unwritten reveals that faculty of color often face two sets of rules when applying for reappointment, tenure, and promotion: those made explicit in handbooks and faculty orientations or determined by union contracts and those that operate beneath the surface. It is this second, unwritten set of rules that disproportionally affects faculty who are hired to “diversify” academic departments and then expected to meet ever-shifting requirements set by tenured colleagues and administrators. Patricia A. Matthew and her contributors reveal how these implicit processes undermine the quality of research and teaching in American colleges and universities. They also show what is possible when universities persist in their efforts to create a diverse and more equitable professorate. These narratives hold the academy accountable while providing a pragmatic view about how it might improve itself and how that improvement can extend to academic culture at large.

In the following except from Written/Unwritten: Diversity and the Hidden Truths of Tenure (pages 223-228), Matthew explores what it means to be a professor involved with “activism” in today’s society.

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To some degree, all of the contributors to this volume are engaged in some form of what might be called “activism,” though almost no one will apply the label to themselves or their work. They may call it “community service,” “community building,” or, as I prefer, “community engagement.” Or they may resist labels by not calling it anything at all. All, however, are rooted in the understanding that their research and teaching need to have a material impact on the world outside of the work the academy recognizes. The challenge, then, is to think through the implications, through the risks and stakes. As Jafari Sinclair Allen notes, it’s a different thing to sit on the board of a benevolent and politically neutral community group than it is to organize protests to challenge the things that make charitable groups necessary in the first place. “What,” he asks, “does it mean to be a political citizen in the neoliberal university?” How does this work matter in academic careers when, as George Lipsitz observes: “Evaluation, recognition, and reward in academic life usually proceed through relentlessly individual and individualizing processes. . . . Prevailing professional practices encourage scholars to seek distinction for themselves as atomized individuals rather than as participants in a collective and collaborative conversation.”[1] As the protests that reached a new level of intensity in Ferguson move from neighborhood blocks and street corners to university hallways and classrooms, and institutional leaders assemble task forces and committees in response to issues that will be around for a while, it’s essential that administrators and faculty leaders remain mindful of what this labor costs faculty who engage in this work, particularly faculty of color. Talk of task forces and diversity initiatives, meetings with students and administrative leaders are essential, but they come at a cost. It isn’t easy for anyone to participate in these conversations, in this work. White faculty worry about missteps and misunderstanding and simply may not have much practice thinking about these issues in real time, even if their research focuses on the exact same questions that are physically manifested in protests. Faculty of color can face both the burden of representation Continue reading ‘Excerpt: Written/Unwritten, by Patricia A. Matthew’ »

  1. [1] Lipsitz, “Breaking the Chains and Steering the Ship: How Activism Can Help Change Teaching and Scholarship.”

University Press Week 2016: Blog Tour Day 4

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University Press Week continues with blog tour day 4’s theme of Throwback to the Future. Today’s posts:

Thursday, November 17

Yale University Press Mass Media and the Global Village

Indiana University Press The Bicentennial Bookshelf

Seminary Co-op Bookstores Throw Back to the Future

University of Michigan Press “Throw Back to the Future” AAUP Blog Tour: Special University Press Week Post

IPR License How IPR License is Working with and Supporting Univerity Presses Around the World

Columbia University Press The SAAD Series and Collaberative Publishing: A #UPWeek 2016 Blog Tour Post

MIT Press

University of Toronto Press Journals Out with the Old. In with the New: Throwing it Back to the Future of Online Scholarly Journals

University of Georgia

 

Blog tour day 3 theme: Staff Spotlight

Blog tour days 1 & 2 themes: Indie bound and the People in Our Neighborhood.

 

Join us tomorrow for Day 5! #ReadUp

Michael Jarrett: John Hammond’s Golden Ears

Pressed for All Time: Producing the Great Jazz Albums by Michael JarrettWe welcome a guest post today by Michael Jarrett, author of Pressed for All Time: Producing the Great Jazz Albums from Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday to Miles Davis and Diana Krall. In histories of music, producers tend to fall by the wayside–generally unknown and seldom acknowledged. But without them and their contributions to the art form, we’d have little on record of some of the most important music ever created. Discover the stories behind some of jazz’s best-selling and most influential albums in this collection of oral histories gathered by music scholar and writer Michael Jarrett. Drawing together interviews with over fifty producers, musicians, engineers, and label executives, Jarrett shines a light on the world of making jazz records by letting his subjects tell their own stories and share their experiences in creating the American jazz canon.

In the following post, Jarrett explores John Hammond’s contribution to the history of American music. 

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John Hammond’s knack for discovering talent was so uncanny, so unparalleled in the history of American music, that it’s regularly celebrated. It is, however, rarely examined. Perhaps, that’s because scrutiny can come off as suspiciousness poisoned by ungratefulness. What, after all, is gained by slinging pebbles at giants? Does it matter that Hammond glided through life on a path described in his autobiography as “smoothed by inherited wealth”? His maternal grandmother was the granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt. And so, Hammond was touched by the trickle-down economics of an American Midas. From the day he was born in 1910, until his death in 1987, he never lacked for a source of money. Or furthermore, does it matter if Hammond’s demonstrations of magnanimity and humility were scarcely more than noblesse oblige? On balance, he gave us far more than we gave him. We inherit his legacy: the phenomenal recordings he produced. To Columbia Records, Hammond signed Billie Holiday, Count Basie, Lester Young, Teddy Wilson, Charlie Christian, Benny Goodman (who ended up marrying Hammond’s sister Alice), Bob Dylan, George Benson, Aretha Franklin, Leonard Cohen, Bruce Springsteen, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. As artist rosters go, it’s far from shabby.

Still, the question remains: What could explain a career of unerring judgments? Continue reading ‘Michael Jarrett: John Hammond’s Golden Ears’ »

University Press Week 2016: Blog Tour Day 3

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University Press Week continues with the blog tour day 3’s theme of UP Staff Spotlight. Today’s posts:

Wednesday, November 16

Seminary Co-op Bookstores UP Staff Spotlight: John Eklund

Wayne State University Press

University of Washington Press

University Press of Mississippi Staff Spotlight: Valerie Jones

University of Wisconsin Press A Community of Printmakers: Wisconsin & UW Press

Johns Hopkins University Press UP Week 2106: Why I Work at a University Press

University of Chicago Press Staff Profile: Levi Stahl on Commmuntiy and the Parker Novels

Princeton University Press UP Week Blog Tour: Staff Sportlights Roundup

Purdue University Press Beyond the Press: The Human-Animal Bond – Guest Post by Dianna Gilroy

Duke University Press Duke and UNC Press Staff Collaborate on Building Equitable and Inclusive Workplace Communities

 

Be sure to read up on yesterday’s post on Day 1 and Day 2’s themes: Indie bound and the People in Our Neighborhood.

University Press Week 2016: Blog Tour Day 2

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Community is at the center of AAUP members’ missions: from the community of a discipline to a regional home and culture, from the shared discourse of a campus to a bookstore’s community of readers. We celebrate #UPweek 2016 with the annual blog tour, where each day several UPs post about a particular theme. Our contribution will go live on Friday. Until then, we’ll share our colleagues’ posts. #ReadUP!

Indie Bound

Tuesday, November 15

University of Texas Press Find Community at Your Local Independant Bookstore

University of Calgary Press

Cornell University Press It Takes a Village

University Press of Colorado Bookstores We Love

Seminary Co-op Bookstores Indie Bound: Selections from The Front Table

McGill-Queen’s University Press For University Press Week, Let Us Now Praise the Booksellers

Duke University Press

NYU Press Indie bound: Brooklyn Book Festival Recap

University Press of Kentucky

University Press of Kansas An Ode to the Independents

The People in Our Neighborhood

Monday, November 14

Northwestern University Press AAUP Blog Tour: People in Our Neighborhood

Rutgers University Press Rutgers 250: A Reflection on the Past Year’s Conversations, Celebrations, and the Books that They Inspired – Part of the 2016 Universiy Press Week Blog Tour

Fordham University Press Before the Fires – A True Community Product

University of Toronto Press Shared Values: A Partnership Between UTP and the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre

University of Toronto Press Journals University Press Week 2016: The People in Our Neighborhood

Seminary Co-op Bookstores  the People in Your Neighborhood: A #UPWeek Reading List

Athabasca University Press University Press Week: the People in Our Neighborhood

University Press of Florida

Greta de Jong: Who Lost the War on Poverty?

You Can't eat Freedom by Greta de Jong

We welcome a guest post from Greta de Jong, author of You Can’t Eat Freedom: Southerners and Social Justice after the Civil Rights Movement. Two revolutions roiled the rural South after the mid-1960s: the political revolution wrought by the passage of civil rights legislation, and the ongoing economic revolution brought about by increasing agricultural mechanization. In You Can’t Eat Freedom, de Jong focuses on the plantation regions of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. She analyzes how social justice activists responded to mass unemployment by lobbying political leaders, initiating antipoverty projects, and forming cooperative enterprises that fostered economic and political autonomy. These efforts encountered strong opposition from free market proponents who opposed government action to solve the crisis.

In the following post de Jong explores successes and failures of the war on poverty.

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For President Lyndon B. Johnson and his advisors in the 1960s, poverty was a national embarrassment. In the richest nation on earth, at the height of the ideological struggle between communism and capitalism that dominated U.S. foreign policy in the mid-twentieth century, the 40 million Americans living without adequate food, clothing, or shelter provided troubling evidence of the failures of free enterprise. Johnson believed the United States could do better, leading him to declare an “unconditional war on poverty” in his State of the Union address of January 1964. A few months later, Congress passed the Economic Opportunity Act, which authorized new federal initiatives designed to attack the problem on multiple fronts: adult education and job training, youth employment programs, economic development initiatives, expanded access to public assistance, and community action programs that encouraged citizens to work together in solving social problems at the local level.

For President Ronald Reagan and his supporters in the 1980s, poverty was a matter of individual choice. Continue reading ‘Greta de Jong: Who Lost the War on Poverty?’ »

Anne M. Blankenship: Pilgrimage to the WWII Japanese American Incarceration Centers: Championing Civil Rights for All

Morality, Politics, and Compromise: The Plight and Prospects of the Moderate, Then and Now by Anne. M BlankenshipToday we welcome a guest post by Anne M. Blankenship, author of Christianity, Social Justice, and the Japanese American Incarceration during World War II. Blankenship’s study of Christianity in the infamous camps where Japanese Americans were incarcerated during World War II yields insights both far reaching and timely. While most Japanese Americans maintained their traditional identities as Buddhists, a sizable minority identified as Christian, and a number of church leaders sought to minister to them in the camps. Blankenship shows how church leaders were forced to assess the ethics and pragmatism of fighting against or acquiescing to what they clearly perceived, even in the midst of a national crisis, as an unjust social system. These religious activists became acutely aware of the impact of government, as well as church, policies that targeted ordinary Americans of diverse ethnicities.

In today’s post, Blankenship shows how present-day pilgrimages to historic sites of incarceration have become opportunities to champion civil rights for all by creating a communal memory of a painful past. 

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Last summer, over 1,000 people took pilgrimages to the sites of former Japanese American incarceration centers.  Pilgrimages have become sites of resistance not only by reshaping the memory of an ethnicity’s disenfranchisement, but by employing remembrance in the fight for the civil rights of first themselves and then others.

The groups who first visited the remains of California’s two camps in 1969 saw their project as one of not just healing, but a way to organize the Japanese American community for social justice work. The pilgrims campaigned for official recognition of the sites, first as state historical monuments and eventually as national historic landmarks within the National Park System. They also headed successful initiatives for redress movements to force the U.S. government to admit their constitutional violation and try to make amends. Since the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, the defense of Muslim and Arab Americans has become a central theme within the Manzanar pilgrimage in southern California.

The annual Manzanar Pilgrimage includes a keynote address, cultural programs, ondo (traditional Japanese group dancing) and taiko (drumming), tours of the camp site, updates from the National Park Service, intergenerational small group discussions where former incarcerees share their stories, and interfaith services to commemorate Nikkei who died during the war, either in camp or on the battlefield.

The committee chairs of Manzanar’s program consciously shape the communal memory of incarceration to embrace the experiences of other minority groups and define remembrance as an obligation to support the rights of others. To close the 2015 ceremonies, Bruce Embrey, co-chair of the Manzanar pilgrimage and son of Manzanar Committee founder Sue Kunitomi Embrey, told pilgrims:

Remembering is not passive. We must act on our memories. We must stand, today, with all those who face civil rights abuses, stand with those who are unjustly accused or persecuted simply because of their faith, their birthplace, or ancestry. We must stand up for others if we are to truly honor the sacrifices of our families . . . and all the sacrifices they made so that we may pursue our dreams. . . . We remember and work to preserve our story so that our people, our country can learn from our past and not be condemned to repeat it. This is why we remember.

Continue reading ‘Anne M. Blankenship: Pilgrimage to the WWII Japanese American Incarceration Centers: Championing Civil Rights for All’ »

Matthew Mason: Morality, Politics, and Compromise: The Plight and Prospects of the Moderate, Then and Now

apostle of union by matthew masonWe welcome a guest post today from Matthew Mason, author of Apostle of Union: A Political Biography of Edward Everett. Known today as “the other speaker at Gettysburg,” Edward Everett had a distinguished and illustrative career at every level of American politics from the 1820s through the Civil War. In this new biography, Matthew Mason argues that Everett’s extraordinarily well-documented career reveals a complex man whose shifting political opinions, especially on the topic of slavery, illuminate the nuances of Northern Unionism.

In today’s post, Mason discusses parallels between modern and antebellum religious leaders. This article was originally published at common-place.org.

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Angry voices rising at the intersection of morality and politics. Boycotts of businesses, localities, and even whole states led by passionate supporters of one side of the issue. Talk of nullification as an acceptable tactic given the apocalyptic stakes involved. This could be the 1850s and the issues surrounding slavery. It is also the 2010s and issues surrounding hot-button topics like immigration and LGBT rights. As groups ranging in size from congregations to the nation grapple with how to preserve community as totalizing rhetoric flies around and within them, there are contrasts and parallels with the American sectional conflict that may prove instructive.

One moral of the story of attempted compromises in the past is that the path of the moderate is certainly not that of least resistance. In polarizing times, there is a price to be paid—at the polls and otherwise—for attempting to chart a middle path. The career of Edward Everett may prove an apt case study. A man of deep moral conviction who sought to chart a middle path on the tortuous issue of slavery across four decades at every level of American political life, Everett left his position as a Unitarian minister in the 1820s and served as a representative and senator in Congress, as Massachusetts’ governor, as U.S. minister to Great Britain, and as secretary of state. He pursued cultural and political means toward national reconciliation in this fractured era, notably by his nationwide speaking tour to hold up George Washington as a unifying figure while raising money to purchase Mount Vernon as a national shrine of Union. A confirmed Whig dedicated to the ethic of Improvement, he sought to balance his commitment to reform and to constitutional Union through a conservative antislavery position that at different moments emphasized “conservative” or “antislavery.” As such he rallied great masses, especially with his Mount Vernon campaign in the late 1850s, but he also exasperated hardcore antislavery and proslavery men and women. His career in formal politics thrived during times of relative sectional quietude, but his very health (alongside his political prospects) suffered greatly during times such as the sectional hurricane sweeping the nation while he was senator during the Kansas-Nebraska debates.

The crisis that produced and surrounded the Compromise of 1850 proved especially wrenching for Everett. Gathering as much information about debates in Washington as he could from his semi-private position as recently retired president of Harvard, Everett expressed unequivocal fear for the Union’s survival. But in March 1850, when his close friend and political ally Daniel Webster came out in favor of Southern-friendly compromise measures including a harsh new Fugitive Slave Act (FSA), Everett experienced wrenching indecision. When he received an incomplete early version of Webster’s highly anticipated Seventh of March speech explaining his position, Everett felt he could support its overall tenor. On March 11, he recorded in his diary that it was “an exposition of great ability, well calculated if moderate counsels prevail to pilot the country through the broken & stormy sea: – but _____.” The dissent with parts of the discourse that Everett could not bring himself to register even in his diary emerged slowly in the coming weeks. When he read a fuller version, he was mortified especially by its passage supporting the fugitive bill. To oppose Webster was no small step, so he initiated a confidential correspondence with friend and congressional leader Robert C. Winthrop to talk through how to deal with the matter. “I always support him at the expense of my own” judgment, Winthrop responded, “when my conscience will allow me.” But this was not such an occasion, in part because the FSA was so gratuitously pro-Southern. Everett responded that his own reaction had been precisely the same: “habitual deference” to Webster’s “authority” coming face to face with massive qualms about the FSA. The old law had been “against the feeling of the People,” and this new one was even worse. “I could not vote for it, were I a member of Congress; nor as a citizen would I perform the duty which it devolves ‘on all good citizens.’” By March 22, Everett decided he had to send Webster a modified retraction of his assent to the speech. He found he had “misgivings” about the new FSA, for two basic reasons. One was that it was manifestly inhumane. Another, stronger reason from a political point of view was because runaway slave renditions were “the incident of Slavery . . . which is most repugnant to the Public Sentiment of the Free States.” In this and a follow-up letter in April, Everett wished “it were possible to arrange some extradition bill that would be less likely to excite the North.” “Southern gentlemen, who wish the Union preserved, must make that allowance for Northern feeling, which they claim for Southern feeling.”

In anguished expressions such as this, Everett offered an insight that would benefit modern would-be moderates: for a compromise to take hold, it has to be a true compromise. Continue reading ‘Matthew Mason: Morality, Politics, and Compromise: The Plight and Prospects of the Moderate, Then and Now’ »

John Mac Kilgore: Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story: An Early American Scholar’s Response to Hamilton

mania for freedom by john mac kilgoreWe welcome a guest post today from John Mac Kilgore, author of Mania for Freedom: American Literatures of Enthusiasm from the Revolution to the Civil War“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm,” wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson in 1841. While this statement may read like an innocuous truism today, the claim would have been controversial in the antebellum United States when enthusiasm was a hotly contested term associated with religious fanaticism and poetic inspiration, revolutionary politics and imaginative excess. In analyzing the language of enthusiasm in philosophy, religion, politics, and literature, Kilgore uncovers a tradition of enthusiasm linked to a politics of emancipation. The dissenting voices chronicled here fought against what they viewed as tyranny while using their writings to forge international or antinationalistic political affiliations. 

In today’s post, Kilgore discusses the realities of the real Alexander Hamilton versus the Hamilton of the critically acclaimed musical.

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Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway musical Hamilton is undeniably great. I love its wit, its verve, its inventiveness. Nevertheless, I’m troubled by its wild popularity. And I’m not the only early American scholar who feels that way.

Why are some of us troubled? There are many reasons, but I’ll stick to the obvious one: Alexander Hamilton. In today’s parlance, Hamilton is the voice of “the 1%” par excellence. This is a man who wanted to create a “fiscal-military state.” A man who opposed a Bill of Rights. A man who desired to integrate banking interests, patrician power, and the federal government. A man who encouraged the suppression—by force—of any and all popular dissent against federal bureaucracy, whether it was the “wicked insurgents of the West,” as he called members of the so-called Whiskey Rebellion, or the “head Quarters of Faction,” as he called the state of Virginia when its legislature opposed the 1798 Alien and Sedition Acts on constitutional grounds. And let’s tarry here for a second with the Alien and Sedition Acts. They were not only xenophobic, they also criminalized criticism of the government, what Hamilton dubbed “incendiary and seditious” speech. This is Hamilton: “Renegade Aliens conduct more than one of the most incendiary presses in the UStates. . . . Why are they not sent away?”

None of these realities, of course, show up in the musical. And they couldn’t. Why? Because Hamilton’s exercise in Founder’s hagiography relies heavily on the portrait of Hamilton as an immigrant himself, a self-made man of humble origins, as if this bootstrap narrative were crucial to his political identity. The opposite is true. Continue reading ‘John Mac Kilgore: Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story: An Early American Scholar’s Response to Hamilton’ »

UNC Press Announces First Recipients of Thomas W. Ross Fund Publishing Grants

UNC Press OSPS logoThe University of North Carolina Press has named the recipients of its first round of Thomas W. Ross Fund publishing grants. The grants are administered by the Press’s Office of Scholarly Publishing Services (OSPS), which serves the UNC system by providing access to a range of sustainable, mission-driven publishing models and solutions. The Press has successfully completed a $50,000 challenge grant from the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust to create the $100,000 Ross Fund.

The grants will help UNC system departments, centers, and libraries publish scholarly material generated on their campuses. The five projects being funded represent a range of scholarly work being created at four different institutions.

  • Winston-Salem State University will receive funding to support their Journal of Best Practices in Health Professions Diversity: Research, Education, and Policy and to create an ongoing and sustainable relationship with the Press for its publication. The journal is edited by Peggy Valentine, Dean of the School of Health Sciences.
  • The Writing for the Screen and Stage minor program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will use funds to offset the costs of publishing an anthology of student plays chosen for production from five years of the Long Story Shorts One Act Play Festival. Dana Coen, Director of the program, will serve as editor for the book.
  • North Carolina Central University will apply funds toward its effort to launch a new journal of undergraduate research that will be available in an open-access digital edition and in a print format. The journal will be overseen by Gerrelyn C. Patterson, Associate Professor and Middle Grades Education Program Coordinator; Julie D. Nelson, Assistant Professor Department of Language and Literature; and Theodosia T. Shields, Director of Library Services at the James E. Shepard Memorial Library.
  • The Hunter Library at Western Carolina University will use funding to reissue Samuel Hunnicutt’s Twenty Years of Hunting and Fishing in the Great Smokies, a rare item from their collection originally published in 1926 that is much sought after by scholars and general readers alike. Liz Skene, Special and Digital Collections Librarian, will lead the project.
  • The Department of Romance Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will use a grant to help fund a major project to reissue more than 250 out-of-print monographs from the North Carolina Studies in the Romance Languages and Literatures series in new print and digital editions. The series is edited by Frank Dominguez, Professor of Spanish.

“We are very excited about the quality and diversity of these initial projects,” said John McLeod, Director of the OSPS. “We are looking forward to working with faculty and staff to help these five initiatives get off the ground, and we couldn’t be happier to have this funding available to help in the effort.”

“Changes in technology are creating new opportunities for universities to publish and make research widely accessible. We’re very pleased to see this cutting-edge collaboration within the university system,” said Junius Gonzales, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of North Carolina.

The OSPS will be offering grants quarterly through the remainder of the academic year. The next deadline for applications is November 15, 2016. Spring 2017 deadlines are February 15 and May 15. UNC system faculty or staff interested in learning more should visit http://www.uncpress.unc.edu/browse/page/897 for information.

Stephen D. Engle: IL Governor Richard Yates and the Union’s Cooperative Federalism

Gathering to Save a Nation: Lincoln and the Union's War Governors by stephen engleToday we welcome a guest post from Stephen D. Engle, author of Gathering to Save a Nation: Lincoln and the Union’s War Governors. In this rich study of Union governors and their role in the Civil War, Engle examines how these politicians were pivotal in securing victory. In a time of limited federal authority, governors were an essential part of the machine that maintained the Union while it mobilized and sustained the war effort. Charged with the difficult task of raising soldiers from their home states, these governors had to also rally political, economic, and popular support for the conflict, at times against a backdrop of significant local opposition.

In today’s post, Engle discusses how we should view the American Civil War as a lesson in cooperative federalism.

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On July 11, 1862, Illinois governor Richard Yates sent Abraham Lincoln a letter expressing his frustration with what appeared to be an administration paralyzed by limited war aims that were conciliatory toward Confederates, embraced conservative military commanders, and failed to emancipate enemy slaves or enlist black troops in the conflict. Yates lectured the president on why appointing more aggressive commanders, liberating slaves, and using all male troops of military age were needed to weaken the Confederacy and quickly bring an end to the war.

“Mr. Lincoln,” Yates declared, “the crisis demands greater efforts and sterner measures. Continue reading ‘Stephen D. Engle: IL Governor Richard Yates and the Union’s Cooperative Federalism’ »

David S. Brown: Jimmy Carter and the Origins of an Era of Democratic Party Dominance

Moderates: The Vital Center of American Politics, from the Founding to Today, by David S. Brown, cover imageThe fierce polarization of contemporary politics has encouraged Americans to read back into their nation’s past a perpetual ideological struggle between liberals and conservatives. However, in Moderates: The Vital Center of American Politics, from the Founding to Today, David S. Brown advances an original interpretation that stresses the critical role of moderate statesmen, ideas, and alliances in making our political system work. Beginning with John Adams and including such key figures as Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Cabot Lodge Jr., and Bill Clinton, Brown charts the vital if uneven progress of centrism through the centuries.

In today’s guest post, Brown explains how the Democratic Party under Jimmy Carter began to move closer to the political center.

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Much of our conventional wisdom on Jimmy Carter’s presidency goes something like this: he was a failed one-termer who got steamrolled in the Reagan Revolution and stands in line with a number of similarly out-of-touch “liberal” Democratic candidates from the 1970s and 1980s including George McGovern, Walter Mondale, and Michael Dukakis. But there is another and, to my mind, more historically important way to view Carter’s brief leadership of the Democratic Party, and that is as a centrist who anticipated the type of to-the-center politics that did so much to embolden the Party’s fortunes in the 1990s and after. While Republicans have struggled in recent decades on the national stage—losing the popular vote in most national elections since 1992—Democratic candidates have been deemed by the electorate as more nearly right than their opponents on a number of vital cultural issues. And this is a huge turn-around from the party that Carter inherited in 1976.

That year, Democrats were still regarded in many quarters as the party of “Acid, Amnesty, and Abortion,” a smear hurled at McGovern four years earlier and one meant to more generally tag Democrats as radicals on the losing side of the 1960s culture wars. On the economic front, Democrats were attacked as advocates of tax-and-spend policies designed to finance a huge social welfare state. The party had gone through a number of permutations during its history, moving from the agrarian-states’ rights stance of Thomas Jefferson to the New Deal state of Franklin Roosevelt. But by the 1970s, the social welfare philosophy had lost much of its potency, even to many Democratic voters, and it was evident that if the party were to find political success in national elections, it would have to once again reinvent itself.

Carter had no deep loyalties to the New Deal. He ran for his party’s nomination as an outsider to the Washington establishment but also eschewed the radical race politics practiced by southern Dixiecrats who, as recently as 1968, had championed the third-party presidential candidacy of George Wallace. He resisted ideological labels and told reporters that he was a liberal on some issues (civil rights, the environment) and conservative on others (fiscal policy).  While in the presidency he sought to reduce government expenditures, balance budgets, and refused to push for a new New Deal. Anticipating a key theme of Ronald Reagan’s successful 1980 presidential bid, Carter, in his 1978 State of the Union Address, insisted, “government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.”

Continue reading ‘David S. Brown: Jimmy Carter and the Origins of an Era of Democratic Party Dominance’ »

D. H. Dilbeck: What is a Just War? How the Union’s “Lieber Code” Answered a Perennial Question

A More Civil War cover imageDuring the Civil War, Americans confronted profound moral problems about how to fight in the conflict. In his innovative book, A More Civil War: How the Union Waged A Just War, D. H. Dilbeck reveals how the Union sought to wage a just war against the Confederacy. He shows that northerners fought according to a distinct “moral vision of war,” an array of ideas about the nature of a truly just and humane military effort. Dilbeck explores how Union soldiers abided by official just-war policies as they battled guerrillas, occupied cities, retaliated against enemy soldiers, and came into contact with Confederate civilians.

In today’s guest post, Dilbeck explains how Lieber’s code for the Union Army attempted to define “just war” during the American Civil War.

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We’re living through an age of rapid innovation in military technology. To cite only one of many possible examples, the swift embrace of “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles” over the past decade has transformed the United States’ military presence throughout the world. And yet, despite all the revolutions in technologies and tactics, an old question remains with us: What is a just war?

A century and a half ago, Civil War Americans pondered this question. Today’s wars would be practically unrecognizable to them, but the underlying moral dilemmas wrapped up in modern military conflicts would surely seem all too familiar. Historians have written a lot lately about how terribly destructive the Civil War was—a scholarly effort not without merit. But quite often overlooked are the sincere efforts made by Civil War Americans to define and wage a just war.

The most consequential example to do exactly that resulted in “Instructions for the Government of Armies of the United States in the Field,” a military code of conduct for Union soldiers issued in May 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln as General Orders No. 100. The document quickly became known informally as the Lieber code, named after its principal author, Francis Lieber.

Continue reading ‘D. H. Dilbeck: What is a Just War? How the Union’s “Lieber Code” Answered a Perennial Question’ »

Lon Kurashige: When Buddhism Was an Enemy Religion

Two Faces of Exclusion: The Untold History of Anti-Asian Racism in the United States, by Lon KurashigeWe welcome a guest post today from Lon Kurashige, author of Two Faces of Exclusion: The Untold History of Anti-Asian Racism in the United States. From the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 to the Immigration Act of 1924 to Japanese American internment during World War II, the United States has a long history of anti-Asian policies. But Kurashige demonstrates that despite widespread racism, Asian exclusion was not the product of an ongoing national consensus; it was a subject of fierce debate. This book complicates the exclusion story by examining the organized and well-funded opposition to discrimination that involved some of the most powerful public figures in American politics, business, religion, and academia.

In a previous guest post, Kurashige considered how Teddy Roosevelt might approach today’s immigration debates. In today’s post, he blends his own family history with America’s history of the intersection of religion and politics.

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My grandfather immigrated to the United States from Japan in 1928, four years after Congress banned the Japanese from doing so. As a Buddhist missionary, he was one of the few who could enter the country legally as a “non-immigrant” accompanied by his wife (my grandmother). This was a small concession Congress granted because it did not want Japan to enact quid pro quo exclusion against American missionaries. My grandfather was sent by one of Japan’s largest schools of Buddhism to minister to Japanese immigrants and spread the faith among them, all the while, in true missionary spirit, seeking to share his religion with an entire nation of not-yet-Buddhists. He ended up in Fresno, California, and after a brief return to Japan, settled in Seattle until World War II.

A few months after the Pearl Harbor attack, the FBI took my grandfather away from his wife and seven children and confined him and hundreds of other Buddhist priests apart from their families and congregations. Their main “crime” was to be leaders of an enemy religion. There was no evidence produced to implicate my grandfather or any Buddhist priest of wrongdoing.

The incarcerated priests were joined by leaders of many Japanese faiths, including Shinto (Japan’s state religion at the time), and new religions such as Tenrikyo and Konkokyo, but not Christianity. There were no Japanese Protestant ministers or Catholic priests incarcerated with my grandfather. They were not separated from their families and congregations, even though they were included in the mass incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans held by the government’s War Relocation Authority (WRA).

This view of enemy religion informed the WRA’s crucial determination of internee loyalty. Continue reading ‘Lon Kurashige: When Buddhism Was an Enemy Religion’ »