Judy Kutulas: How Mary Tyler Moore Helped 1970s America Imagine a New Future

cover image for After Aquarius Dawned: How the Revolutions of the Sixties Became the Popular Culture of the Seventies, by Judy KutulasToday we welcome a guest post from Judy Kutulas, author of After Aquarius Dawned: How the Revolutions of the Sixties Became the Popular Culture of the Seventies. In this book, Kutulas complicates the common view that the 1970s were a time of counterrevolution against the radical activities and attitudes of the previous decade. Instead, Kutulas argues that the experiences and attitudes that were radical in the 1960s were becoming part of mainstream culture in the 1970s, as sexual freedom, gender equality, and more complex notions of identity, work, and family were normalized through popular culture—television, movies, music, political causes, and the emergence of new communities. Seemingly mundane things like watching The Mary Tyler Moore Show, listening to Carole King songs, donning Birkenstock sandals, or reading Roots were actually critical in shaping Americans’ perceptions of themselves, their families, and their relation to authority.

In today’s post, Kutulas remembers Mary Tyler Moore’s (1936-2017) character Mary Richards as a role model who helped 1970s Americans imagine a new future.


Minnesotans are perhaps skeptical of the ways we are perceived in the popular culture. Far too often we are portrayed as way too quirky, driven crazy by the frozen landscape, and prone to the overuse of phrases like “you betcha,” living in towns with names like Lake Woebegon and Frostbite Falls. And while we appreciate native sons Joel and Ethan Coen, it’s taken us a long time to get over Fargo. We embrace without hesitation, however, Mary Richards, played by Mary Tyler Moore, the heroine of the CBS sitcom, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Moore’s recent death has made Minnesotans particularly prideful of our connection to such a wonderful character. Indeed, I claimed Mary as the symbolic cover image of the theme of my book, After Aquarius Dawned, because she so embodied the spirit of the 1970s to me. She is throwing her hat into the air joyously, celebrating her possibilities in the midst of an era—the 1970s—stereotyped as dismal and demoralizing. There is even a statue in Minneapolis that commemorates that hat-tossing. People way too young to remember the actual program pose with it, mimicking the gesture. Moore herself posed there when the statue was commemorated, on a bleak, cold stereotypically Minnesotan day, soldiering on in the face of adversity, just like her fictional self.

Mary Tyler Moore 2002

Mary Tyler Moore (photo: Joe Rossi, St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch, May 8, 2002)

Mary Richards had “spunk,” noted her fictional boss, Lou Grant (Ed Asner), who added that he “hated spunk.” But spunk, a sort of underdog version of courage, is precisely what bonded fictional Mary to millions of Minnesotans and Americans.

Fictional Mary worked at a television station in Minneapolis even she knew was second rate. Yet it was also so beyond how she imagined her future unfolding that she embraced it with a mixture of gusto and relatable fear. So many of us were in that predicament in the 1970s, jarred out of what was supposed to be our future by the revolutions of the 1960s. Americans identified with Mary far more personally than most previous characters. As someone who studies sitcoms, I could explain to you the structural set-up that facilitated that bonding, but the outcome is what’s more relevant here: that Americans regarded fictional Minnesotan Mary Richards as a real person. They sent letters to the Minneapolis post office addressed to her and made so many pilgrimages to knock on the door of the house featured in the opening credits that they exhausted and angered the actual owners of the house. Real people showed up in the series playing themselves, including first lady Betty Ford, who loved Mary as much as the rest of us.

Role models and mentors help us imagine new futures. Our best heroes are underdogs. Mary Richards was one such underdog. Continue reading ‘Judy Kutulas: How Mary Tyler Moore Helped 1970s America Imagine a New Future’ »

New Books for Spring and Summer 2017

What's in Store from UNC Press for Spring and Summer 2017


A new season means, of course, new books! Here we have provided an interactive catalog that you can browse through to see what’s in store for spring and summer 2017. You can visit our website to see what’s already available in the subject areas that interest you. The easiest way to stay up to date is to sign up for our monthly eNews announcements.

Here are a few titles that will be available. Browse the catalog to see more!

miller_presidents giesberg_sex ewoodzie_break_pb

griest_all_fpo blevins_north knapp_william

Lisa A. Lindsay: The “Truth” Behind Our Ancestors

cover art for atlantic bonds by lisa lindsayToday we welcome a guest post by 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 (1828–1893) 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), Lisa 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 today’s post Lindsay explores the human tendency to shape our ancestors into who we need them to be.  


Forty years ago CBS aired the miniseries Roots, based on Alex Haley’s 1976 bestseller in which he traced his own ancestors back to West Africa, followed them to the United States as slaves, and took them forward into freedom. For the first time, a massive audience—roughly half the country’s population—confronted slavery and its legacies through an African American perspective. Roots prompted Americans to search out their own ancestors, particularly in subsequent years as digitization and personal computing brought resources to searchers’ fingertips. Now genealogy’s popularity—attested by the success of ancestry.com and the television show Who Do You Think You Are—makes it tempting to forget that we often shape our ancestors ourselves, even at the expense of historical evidence. Professional historians, in fact, were quick to point out fictions within Roots, a charge Haley accepted by originally calling his book a work of “faction.” I (re)learned this lesson about historical memory myself when it almost derailed the project that became my book, Atlantic Bonds. Continue reading ‘Lisa A. Lindsay: The “Truth” Behind Our Ancestors’ »

Stephen Cushman: Stephen Crane, Historical Researcher

cover for Belligerent Muse: Five Northern Writers and How They Shaped Our Understanding of the Civil WarToday we welcome a guest post by Stephen Cushman, author of Belligerent Muse: Five Northern Writers and How They Shaped Our Understanding of the Civil War. War destroys, but it also inspires, stimulates, and creates. It is, in this way, a muse, and a powerful one at that. The American Civil War was a particularly prolific muse–unleashing with its violent realities a torrent of language, from soldiers’ intimate letters and diaries to everyday newspaper accounts, great speeches, and enduring literary works. In Belligerent Muse, Stephen Cushman considers the Civil War writings of five of the most significant and best known narrators of the conflict: Abraham Lincoln, Walt Whitman, William Tecumseh Sherman, Ambrose Bierce, and Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. Considering their writings both as literary expressions and as efforts to record the rigors of the war, Cushman analyzes their narratives and the aesthetics underlying them to offer a richer understanding of how Civil War writing chronicled the events of the conflict as they unfolded and then served to frame the memory of the war afterward.

In the following post Cushman explores the historical and aesthetic layers to Stephen Crane’s approach to writing The Red Badge of Courage.


Belligerent Muse: Five Northern Writers and How They Shaped Our Understanding of the Civil War tries to show “what can happen when discussions of historical detail, generally absent from treatments of Civil War writings as ‘literature,’ complement discussions of verbal artistry, generally absent from works of history and historiography” (6). Chapters on Abraham Lincoln, Walt Whitman, William Tecumseh Sherman, Ambrose Bierce, and Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, each of whom was self-conscious about his powers as a writer, approach their historical writings from the assumption that we should not view those writings “simply as transparent windows on the past” but instead as stained-glass windows, “sometimes only faintly tinted, sometimes richly colored” (3). The goal of such discussions is to develop both a historically informed aesthetic sensibility and an aesthetically informed historical one. The reason that we in the twenty-first century need to develop these complementary sensibilities is that the Civil War erupted against a standard of literacy different from our own, one with increasingly unfamiliar conventions of reading and writing. Because most of us know what we know about the war primarily through the medium of writing, understanding the war we read about depends to a large extent on our understanding as many historical and aesthetic layers of its writings as possible.

Stephen Crane tests this last statement in instructive ways. Born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1871, he was closer to the war than we are, but like us he did not witness the war years first hand, as did the writers considered in Belligerent Muse. With publication of the newspaper version of The Red Badge of Courage: An Episode of the American Civil War in 1894, the year he turned twenty-three, and publication of the full book by D. Appleton and Company the following year, Crane was suddenly an established writer, Continue reading ‘Stephen Cushman: Stephen Crane, Historical Researcher’ »

UNC Press Distributing the North Carolina Office of Archives and History’s Historical Publications

NCDNCR logoThe University of North Carolina Press is now distributing the North Carolina Office of Archives and History’s Historical Publications—more than 150 books about the state’s history, people, and culture.

Housed within the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources and Parks, the Office of Archives and History has earned a reputation for offering well-researched and affordably-priced works of nonfiction for general readers, scholars, and students. The Office was first established as the North Carolina Historical Commission in 1903 with the mission of collecting, editing, and publishing the state’s historical documents. Its first book, Literary and Historical Activities in North Carolina, 1900-1905, was published in 1907.

Some of the Office’s most popular titles include From Ulster to Carolina: The Migration of the Scotch-Irish to Southwestern North Carolina; A History of African Americans in North Carolina; and Native Carolinians: The Indians of North Carolina. Their publications also include reference works that are a valuable resource for scholars, including the series, North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865: A Roster and the recently published The Old North State at War: A North Carolina Civil War Atlas.

“UNC Press has long been a valued partner of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources,” said Dr. Kevin Cherry, Deputy Secretary of the Office of Archives & History. “We are pleased to have entered into a more formal and expanded partnership as we continue to document the history of the state and its people.”

“UNC Press is uniquely positioned to partner with the Office of Archives and History as we both have long traditions of publishing for audiences interested in the history of North Carolina and the South. By taking advantage of our infrastructure—state-of-the-art warehouse, on-demand printing, digital publishing platforms, and strong regional sales channels—the Office can focus on acquiring and editing new books while the Press helps them reach the broadest possible audiences,” said John Sherer, Spangler Family Director of the University of North Carolina Press.

In addition to selling Historical Publications titles that are currently in print, the Press and the Office will work together to reissue out-of-print titles and will make many of the books available in digital formats through a wide array of eBook vendors.

The Historical Publications continue to be sold through bookstores, museum stores, and gift shops at parks and historic sites around the state. For more information visit www.uncpress.org.

Karina Biondi: The Extinction of Sexual Violence in the Prisons of São Paulo, Brazil

sharing this walk by Karina Biondi

Today we welcome a guest post by Karina Biondi,  author of Sharing This Walk: An Ethnography of Prison Life and the PCC in Brazil. The Primeiro Comando do Capital (PCC) is a São Paulo prison gang that since the 1990s has expanded into the most powerful criminal network in Brazil. Biondi’s rich ethnography of the PCC is uniquely informed by her insider-outsider status. Prior to his acquittal, Biondi’s husband was incarcerated in a PCC-dominated prison for several years. During the period of Biondi’s intense and intimate visits with her husband and her extensive fieldwork in prisons and on the streets of São Paulo, the PCC effectively controlled more than 90 percent of São Paulo’s 147 prison facilities. 

In the following post Biondi explains the origins of the PCC and how the ethical code of the prisoners’ organization helped end sexual violence in Brazil’s prison system. 


In 1992, in order to contain a riot, police forces invaded the largest prison in Latin America and killed 111 prisoners. The event, known as the Carandiru Massacre, was illustrated in the Brazilian film Carandiru, directed by Hector Babenco. The film also seeks to portray the daily life of that prison, a space marked by violence among detainees, where physical force was one of the main factors in determining the material possessions and the sexual activities of the prisoners. Episodes of sexual violence were frequent, as were violent disputes over material goods and the conquest of spaces within the prison. Another factor that defined the life inside the prison was the financial capacity of the prisoner. There were, therefore, two ways of obtaining material goods and sexual services in prison: money or physical violence.

In the year following the Massacre, a group of prisoners at one of the most rigid penitentiaries in the country founded the First Command of the Capital (PCC). Continue reading ‘Karina Biondi: The Extinction of Sexual Violence in the Prisons of São Paulo, Brazil’ »

David S. Brown: America’s Sunbelt Politics: The Story of Three Centuries

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 tells the story of Sunbelt politics and puts current events into detailed historical context.


There is a familiar narrative in twentieth-century American political history and it goes something like this: the New Deal State predominated in the period 1930-1970 as it proved to be more in tune than its GOP opposition to the emerging liberal-urban-northeastern turn in the United States. Conversely, the rise of the New Right, which crystalized in the 1980s under the reign of Ronald Reagan, capitalized on the emerging conservative-suburban-sunbelt character of much of the electorate. This, to my mind, is a strong argument touching upon issues not simply of political success, but of the broader ethnic, economic, and regional factors that have shaped national politics. But what it lacks, I believe, is a broader historical perspective.

Historians and social scientists such as Richard Hofstadter and Daniel Bell first began to use the term “Radical Right” in the 1950s as something of a reaction to McCarthyism. A decade later, with the unexpected presidential candidacy of the Republican Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater accompanied by the growth in wealth, population, and thus political power of many southern states, the term “Sunbelt Right” came into vogue. While many commentators have made much of President Barack Obama’s race, Kenyan father, and post-Boomer identification, his greatest historical footnote might, in fact, be that he was the first non Sunbelt presidential candidate elected in nearly fifty years – since John F. Kennedy. In that span, a trio of Texans (Johnson and the two Bushes), two Californians (Nixon and Reagan), a Georgian (Carter) and an Arkansan (Clinton) have all captured national elections.

Continue reading ‘David S. Brown: America’s Sunbelt Politics: The Story of Three Centuries’ »

Katrinell M. Davis: Hoodwinked, Bamboozled, and Led Astray: Adjunct Professors’ Struggle for Job Security in the United States

Hard Work Is Not Enough: Gender and Racial Inequality in an Urban Workspace, by Katrinell M. Davis We welcome a guest post from Katrinell M. Davis, author of Hard Work Is Not Enough: Gender and Racial Inequality in an Urban Workspace. Drawing on archival material and interviews with African American women transit workers in the San Francisco Bay Area, Davis grapples with our understanding of mobility as it intersects with race and gender in the postindustrial and post–Civil Rights United States. Considering the consequences of declining working conditions within the public transit workplace of Alameda County, Davis illustrates how worker experience—on and off the job—has been undermined by workplace norms and administrative practices designed to address flagging worker commitment and morale. Providing a comprehensive account of how political, social, and economic factors work together to shape the culture of opportunity in a postindustrial workplace, she shows how government manpower policies, administrative policies, and drastic shifts in unionization have influenced the prospects of low-skilled workers.

In today’s post, she discusses the precarity of employment among highly educated workers—scholars. Wasn’t more education supposed to increase employability?


Whether graduate programs are theory based or applied in nature, these programs function to reproduce the next generation of professors. Back when I started graduate school in the late 1990s, most of us assumed that our journeys would resemble our advisors’ or other mentors’ journeys in the field. So we paid close attention to how they managed department politics. We would take note of how they engaged students during office hours. We watched them prepare teaching assistants charged with leading discussion and review sessions. We even allowed ourselves to imagine how we would personalize our office and where we might place our plants, quirky travel trinkets, and posters of choice.

Professors in training, particularly prior to the Great Recession, never imagined long stretches of unemployment after proving their mastery of skill and commitment to their discipline. They did not see themselves entering the job market as an “adjunct” professor or having to apply for “professional lecturer” or “non-tenure” positions that did not come with job security or a decent wage. They didn’t see themselves meeting a long line of students during mid-terms at Starbucks and being asked to leave by an audacious employee who is attempting to make room for paying customers. They didn’t see themselves regularly teaching classes with over 100 students with no course support in the form of assigned readers or teaching assistants. They didn’t know that, despite several years of dedicated service as an overworked but underpaid adjunct professor, they would be overlooked for the tenure-track position when a tenure line for the department became available. They did not see themselves needing the food stamps for which they qualify, despite long days of work. They just didn’t know. They didn’t know that they had been, as Malcolm X once told African Americans, “Hoodwinked! Bamboozled! Led astray!” Continue reading ‘Katrinell M. Davis: Hoodwinked, Bamboozled, and Led Astray: Adjunct Professors’ Struggle for Job Security in the United States’ »

Say Goodbye to 2016, Hello to UNC Press Book Sale

Our Biggest Holiday Sale Ever! Save 40% on ALL books, plus free shipping on orders of $75 or more!

There’s still time to make the year a happy one—save 40% on ALL UNC Press books in print. For just a few more days, our sale is still rocking. On orders of $75 or more, the shipping is free! You can even pre-order books to be published in spring 2017 at these great savings, and we’ll ship as soon as books are available.

Use discount code 01HOLIDAY at checkout and start 2017 off with a good book. Visit the Sale page at UNC Press to start browsing.


Gregg A. Brazinsky: Sino-American Competition Past and Present

Winning the Third World: Sino-American Rivalry during the Cold War, by Gregg A. BrazinskyWe welcome a guest post today from Gregg A. Brazinsky, author of Winning the Third World: Sino-American Rivalry during the Cold War (April 2017). In the book, Brazinsky examines afresh the intense and enduring rivalry between the United State and China during the Cold War. He shows how both nations fought vigorously to establish their influence in newly independent African and Asian countries. By playing a leadership role in Asia and Africa, China hoped to regain its status in world affairs, but Americans feared that China’s history as a nonwhite, anticolonial nation would make it an even more dangerous threat in the postcolonial world than the Soviet Union. Drawing on a broad array of new archival materials from China and the United States, Brazinsky demonstrates that disrupting China’s efforts to elevate its stature became an important motive behind Washington’s use of both hard and soft power in the “Global South.”

In the following post, Brazinsky offers insight into how President-Elect Donald Trump’s recent phone call with the president of Taiwan could affect American relations with China.


Although President-elect Donald Trump has yet to take office, he has already put U.S.-China relations on a more dangerous footing. Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, candidate Trump vilified China as a pernicious competitor that has “ripped us absolutely to shreds.” During debates and public rallies Trump vowed repeatedly that if victorious he would take a tougher stance against China. Most recently, the president-elect’s decision to accept a phone call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen demonstrated that he refuses to be bound by many of the protocols that have kept ties between Beijing and Washington stable if not always warm during the last forty years.

Trump’s campaign rhetoric and willingness to aggravate the thorny Taiwan issue have raised hackles in Beijing. Part of the reason for this is that China’s view of itself and its role in the international community differs starkly from Washington’s. China does not see itself as an amoral and unfair competitor intent on replacing American hegemony but as a developing country that has been carved up and humiliated by the West in the not so distant past. When American politicians criticize China—especially on issues where it has made concessions—Chinese leaders inevitably view it as another form of Western bullying.

Most troubling from the perspective of a historian is that Trump’s actions seem to portend a return to a more competitive relationship between the United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Through much of the Cold War, China and the United States were locked in a bitter rivalry—competing for power and status around the world. From the time the Chinese Communist Party first defeated the U.S.-backed Guomindang and established the PRC in 1949, American policymakers took the position that the new government was illegitimate and refused to recognize it. For more than two decades, Washington sought to isolate the PRC—encouraging its allies to shun diplomatic contact with the communist regime and imposing harsh economic controls. Mutual animosity between the two countries led to direct military confrontation in Korea and exacerbated the war in Vietnam. More American lives were lost in both conflicts than would have likely been the case if the United States and China had been more willing to talk.

In my forthcoming book, Winning the Third World: Sino American Rivalry during the Cold War, I examine how this heated rivalry gave rise to a fierce competition in newly independent Afro-Asian countries during the 1950s and 1960s. China emerged as a powerful new force for world revolution and Afro-Asian solidarity during these years because many postcolonial nations admired the Chinese Communist Party’s successful struggle to end foreign domination of its homeland and build a new state. But for American officials, Beijing represented a threatening combination of socialism and anti-colonial nationalism that could turn the Global South against the United States.  The two rivals quickly became ensnared in a bitter, protracted contest for influence that extended over much of Asia and Africa.

Who won this competition? Continue reading ‘Gregg A. Brazinsky: Sino-American Competition Past and Present’ »

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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. 


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.