4 Ways to Celebrate the Release of Free State of Jones

Bynum Twitter chat 4pm EST June 24

Today the film Free State of Jones opens in theaters across the United States. Historian Victoria E. Bynum, whose book of the same name helped inspire the film, has been making media rounds this week, talking about what the New York Times has called “the first Hollywood drama to come with footnotes.” Director Gary Ross comes correct on the history in this project, so historians, enjoy!

UNC Press staff are headed to a showing of the film at midday today, so follow us on Twitter (@uncpressblog) for pics and reactions.

If you’re headed out to see the movie, keep an eye out for the historian herself, who makes a cameo appearance (as does her husband, Gregg) within the first five minutes of the film. She writes:

It begins with the battle of Corinth, which really gets you on the edge of your seat. Within a few minutes of the battle, Newt Knight rushes a wounded young boy into the hospital tent. Gregg’s face (wearing hat) appears fleetingly at the tent door. Soon after, my scene appears. I’m easy to spot, center screen, quietly reading Bible verse. All is chaos around us and the scene quickly shifts to entrance by Newt. If you look hard, you can see me very briefly in background behind Newt, looking the other way.

Here are 4 ways you can celebrate the opening of Free State of Jones:

1. Watch this film clip, which, yes, features plenty of Matthew McConaughey

2. Watch this interview with Bynum on Mississippi Public Broadcasting’s “Conversations”

3. Join the #askFSOJ Twitter Chat TODAY at 4:00 pm EST.

twitter logo white on blueBynum (@vikki_bynum) and the NEH (@NEHgov) will chat on Twitter today, 6/24, at 4pm EST. Follow and chime in using #askFSOJ. The historian used an NEH grant to finish the research that helped her complete the book.

4. Download a FREE ebook—while they last!

The Free State of Jones, Movie Edition: Mississippi's Longest Civil War, by Victoria E. BynumTo celebrate the release of the film, we’re making 100 ebooks available for download FREE through the BookGrabbr social media platform. Just use your Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn profile to post about it, and you are granted access to download the ebook for free.

Yes please! I want to Grabb an ebook!

Excerpt: The Ashley Cooper Plan, by Thomas D. Wilson

The Ashley Cooper Plan: The Founding of Carolina and the Origins of Southern Political Culture, by Thomas D. WilsonThomas D. Wilson offers surprising new insights into the origins of the political storms we witness today. Wilson connects the Ashley Cooper Plan—a seventeenth-century model for a well-ordered society imagined by Anthony Ashley Cooper (1st Earl of Shaftesbury) and his protégé John Locke—to current debates about views on climate change, sustainable development, urbanism, and professional expertise in general. In doing so, he examines the ways that the city design, political culture, ideology, and governing structures of the Province of Carolina have shaped political acts and public policy even in the present.

In the following excerpt from The Ashley Cooper Plan: The Founding of Carolina and the Origins of Southern Political Culture (pp. 142-146), Wilson outlines three theories of American political culture, the moralistic political culture of New England, the individualistic political culture of the Mid-Atlantic, and the traditional political culture of the South.

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Theories of American Political Culture

Theories of American political culture began with Alexis de Tocqueville, the French political historian who toured the United States extensively in the early 1830s. The tour resulted in publication of Democracy in America, which analyzed the regional character of the young nation. Of particular note, Tocqueville traced the essence of the American spirit of democracy to the Puritans, who he found exemplified the values of honest work, civic responsibility, and a more level society. Those admirable traits, he maintained, survived the course of time to become a permanent part of American character, outliving the tarnish of wars with Native Americans and other colonists, intolerance of dissenters, and infamous witch trials. Puritan ideals, Tocqueville believed, were the transformative principles that enabled the United States to eliminate royalty and nobility while lifting all classes of society to greater liberty, economic opportunity, and social mobility.

The political scientist Daniel J. Elazar identified three traditions of political culture in America, generally consistent with Tocqueville’s characterizations. New England political culture of the Puritans evolved to become moralistic political culture. This component of American character emphasizes community and civic virtue over individualism. It promotes the idea of participatory democracy and the positive role of government in addressing common problems. The Mid-Atlantic region produced individualistic political culture, which views government as a utilitarian necessity and seeks to limit its intrusion into private activities. Private initiative is held to be of higher importance than the public sphere. The South produced traditionalistic political culture, which elevates social order and family structure to a prominent role. It embraces a hierarchical society as the natural order of things, consistent with Gothic society and the Great Chain of Being. Elected leaders are respected men who use the reins of government to secure and perpetuate the existing social order. Leaders are expected to preserve traditional values and maintain limited government; they are not expected to be reformers or innovators.[1]

Continue reading ‘Excerpt: The Ashley Cooper Plan, by Thomas D. Wilson’ »

  1. [1] Elazar, American Federalism, 93–102.

Recipe: Summer Blueberry Cobbler

Savor the South Sampler header image

Buttermilk cover photo

Every Tuesday this summer we’re featuring a new recipe on the blog from one of our Savor the South® cookbooks. Each little cookbook in our Savor the South® cookbook collection is a big celebration of a beloved food or tradition of the American South. From buttermilk to bourbon, pecans to peaches, bacon to catfish, one by one each volume will stock a kitchen shelf with the flavors and culinary wisdom of this popular American regional cuisine. Written by well-known cooks and food lovers, each book brims with personality, the informative and often surprising culinary and natural history of southern foodways, and a treasure of some fifty recipes—from delicious southern classics to sparkling international renditions that open up worlds of taste for cooks everywhere. You’ll want to collect them all.

Today’s recipe is from Debbie Moose’s Buttermilk. Moose is an award-winning food writer and author of five cookbooks, including Deviled Eggs: 50 Recipes from Simple to Sassy and Potato Salad: 65 Recipes from Classic to Cool, as well as another Savor the South® volume: Southern Holidays. You can follow her on Twitter @DebbieMoose. Her recipe for Summer Blueberry Cobbler is as delicious as it is easy!

Don’t forget to “like” the Savor the South® book page on Facebook for more news and recipes. Also, check back here next Tuesday for another Savor the South® Sampler recipe!

Continue reading ‘Recipe: Summer Blueberry Cobbler’ »

University of Virginia Press and Cork University Press Select Longleaf Services for Fulfillment and Publishing Services

Longleaf Services logo

Longleaf Services is pleased to welcome the University of Virginia Press as a full-service fulfillment and publishing services client and Cork University Press as a U.S. sales, marketing, and fulfillment client. University of Virginia Press books will be available from Longleaf beginning October 1, 2016 and Cork University Press books will be available beginning January 1, 2017.

“Longleaf allows us to focus on our strategic priorities by offering a suite of services that is exceptionally well positioned in the digital and physical production and distribution supply chain,” said Mark Saunders, director of the University of Virginia Press. “We are proud to be a part of their innovative, collaborative, and transparent solution for university presses.”

“When we were looking for distribution in North America it was important that the distributor understood our business. We found the perfect fit in Longleaf Services as their niche is working with university presses. In addition we were also looking for marketing services and Longleaf also provides this option,” added Mike Collins, director of Cork University Press.

Robbie Dircks, president of Longleaf Services, added “We’re pleased to welcome the University of Virginia Press and Cork University Press to the growing list of Longleaf client publishers. The addition of new publishers under the Longleaf umbrella provides greater economies and efficiencies in our operations, letting us fulfill our mission of providing fulfillment and publishing solutions which allow our client publishers to focus on their core mission of content acquisition and dissemination.” Continue reading ‘University of Virginia Press and Cork University Press Select Longleaf Services for Fulfillment and Publishing Services’ »

Recipe: Green Beans with Fingerling Potatoes

Savor the South Sampler header image

Sunday Dinner cover image

Every Tuesday this summer we’re featuring a new recipe on the blog from one of our Savor the South® cookbooks. Each little cookbook in our Savor the South® cookbook collection is a big celebration of a beloved food or tradition of the American South. From buttermilk to bourbon, pecans to peaches, bacon to catfish, one by one each volume will stock a kitchen shelf with the flavors and culinary wisdom of this popular American regional cuisine. Written by well-known cooks and food lovers, each book brims with personality, the informative and often surprising culinary and natural history of southern foodways, and a treasure of some fifty recipes—from delicious southern classics to sparkling international renditions that open up worlds of taste for cooks everywhere. You’ll want to collect them all.

Today’s recipe is from Bridgette A. Lacy’s Sunday DinnerLacy is a journalist who writes about food for The Independent Weekly and the North Carolina Arts Council. She also served as a longtime features and food writer for the Raleigh News & Observer. Follow her on Twitter @bridgettealacy.

Lacy’s recipe features classic southern staples—green beans and potatoes—in a hearty and flavorful dish. It’s sure to bring the whole family together around the table!

Don’t forget to “like” the Savor the South® book page on Facebook for more news and recipes. Also, check back here next Tuesday for another Savor the South® Sampler recipe!

Continue reading ‘Recipe: Green Beans with Fingerling Potatoes’ »

Video: Mahershala Ali on Narrating ‘The Free State of Jones’ for Audible

The Free State of Jones, Movie Edition: Mississippi's Longest Civil War, by Victoria E. BynumBetween late 1863 and mid-1864, an armed band of Confederate deserters battled Confederate cavalry in the Piney Woods region of Jones County, Mississippi. Calling themselves the Knight Company after their captain, Newton Knight, they set up headquarters in the swamps of the Leaf River, where they declared their loyalty to the U.S. government.

The story of the Jones County rebellion is well known among Mississippians, and debate over whether the county actually seceded from the state during the war has smoldered for more than a century. Adding further controversy to the legend is the story of Newt Knight’s interracial romance with his wartime accomplice, Rachel, a slave. From their relationship there developed a mixed-race community that endured long after the Civil War had ended, and the ambiguous racial identity of their descendants confounded the rules of segregated Mississippi well into the twentieth century.

In the following video, Actor Mahershala Ali (House of Cards) shares the experience of transforming The Free State of Jones: Mississippi’s Longest Civil War into an audiobook for Audible. He talks about the importance of bringing stories to life through narration, particularly in documenting such a significant part of history. Ali recounts stories from Free State of Jones that grabbed his attention, and describes the appeal of these stories to twenty-first century audiences. (Running time 2:27)

Listen to Ali in a sample of The Free State of Jones audiobook on SoundCloud here:

Longleaf Services Announces New Partnerships to Better Serve University Presses

Longleaf Services logo

 

Longleaf Services has announced strategic partnerships with Westchester Publishing Services, a trusted provider of editorial, production, and digital conversion services, and Supadü, a global leader in the design and development of websites. These partnerships further Longleaf’s mission of providing high-quality, affordable, and à la carte publishing services specifically designed for university presses.

Longleaf has developed an exclusive agreement with Westchester Publishing Services focusing on the Standard Monograph Program—designed to reduce the costs associated with the editing, design, and production of scholarly works by increasing efficiencies at every stage of the process, from the handover of the manuscript through the delivery of final files. With this streamlined process, presses are assured of dependable, high-quality work at an affordable cost. The savings in time and resources will allow the participating presses to more easily add to their title counts and to provide more focus on their nonstandard projects. “Westchester is proud to partner with Longleaf on the Standard Monograph Program. It’s a logical extension of the work we’ve done for years in the university press space, providing quality editorial, composition, and digital services to our clients on projects ranging from simple monographs to textbooks to complex titles and journals. By leveraging a templated approach to simple monographs, Longleaf and Westchester are able to provide some efficiencies to the market. We’re excited to see the growth of this program,” says Westchester’s Director of Business Development Tyler M. Carey.

Supadü is currently in the process of building websites for several Longleaf clients, including sites for the University of Nebraska Press, the University of North Carolina Press, and Rutgers University Press, as well as a new website for the journal Southern Cultures. Longleaf will continue to project manage these and future websites and will work closely with Supadü to build new tools that specifically address the needs of scholarly publishing—for both books and journals. “Supadü’s web and marketing tools combined with Longleaf’s wealth of experience in scholarly publishing will enable nontechnical users to exert more control over the content and setup of their websites without relying on costly agencies or having to write code,” says Mark Harvie-Watt, CEO of Supadü.

Clay Farr, Executive Director of Longleaf, said, “We have been working closely with both Supadü and Westchester for some time, but in each case it was clear that it would be beneficial for all parties concerned to strengthen and expand our partnership agreements to bring additional savings and efficiencies to the presses we serve.”

Both of these services are available to current Longleaf fulfillment clients as well as to any other university press that wishes to participate. Continue reading ‘Longleaf Services Announces New Partnerships to Better Serve University Presses’ »

Recipe: Cajun Hen Gumbo

Savor the South Sampler header image

Gumbo: a Savor the South® cookbook, by Dale CurryEvery Tuesday this summer we’re featuring a new recipe on the blog from one of our Savor the South® cookbooks. Each little cookbook in our Savor the South® cookbook collection is a big celebration of a beloved food or tradition of the American South. From buttermilk to bourbon, pecans to peaches, bacon to catfish, one by one each volume will stock a kitchen shelf with the flavors and culinary wisdom of this popular American regional cuisine. Written by well-known cooks and food lovers, each book brims with personality, the informative and often surprising culinary and natural history of southern foodways, and a treasure of some fifty recipes—from delicious southern classics to sparkling international renditions that open up worlds of taste for cooks everywhere. You’ll want to collect them all.

Today’s recipe is from Dale Curry’s Gumbo. Curry, who served as the New Orleans Times-Picayune food editor for twenty years, is also author of New Orleans Home Cooking. She now writes about food for New Orleans Magazine. Curry’s recipe features a favorite gumbo ingredient in southwest Louisiana: hen! Enjoy this gumbo over rice for a hearty meal with family and friends.

Don’t forget to “like” the Savor the South® book page on Facebook for more news and recipes. Also, check back here next Tuesday for another Savor the South® Sampler recipe!

Continue reading ‘Recipe: Cajun Hen Gumbo’ »

Brian Craig Miller: “Civil War America” and a Side of Tomato Soup

We welcome to the blog a guest post from Brain Craig Miller, Civil War historian and author of recently published Empty Sleeves: Amputation in the Civil War South 

In today’s post, Miller reflects on the Civil War America series and how it shaped his views of the Civil War. 

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Cover of Gettysburg: the Second Day, by Harry W. Pfanz

It was the morning prior to battle. I knew that the engagement for the day was to take place in the Peach Orchard. Well, it was the family orchard with a few peach trees that would stand in for the famed grove of trees at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania—it really was more of a peach/apple/cherry/nectarine/pear/plum orchard (call us the Jamba Juice of northeastern Pennsylvania). I knew that if I wanted to gain the upper hand against my foe in battle, my brother, who would be a Union soldier, then I needed to read a little bit about Confederate strategy at Gettysburg on July 2. On a recent trip to the famed battlefield, I had purchased Harry Pfanz’s Gettysburg: The Second Day. I had been reading the book ever since I got back (#civilwarnerd) and could not wait to utilize the knowledge I had gained in our re-enactment of the battle. As my Confederate line stood ready to advance (well, me) towards the Union line (my brother) through the peach/apple/cherry/nectarine/pear/plum trees, the battle took some unexpected turns. First, my brother furnished his Rambo sword and duct taped it to his musket to engage in a bayonet charge. Second, we decided to have a cavalry sword fight (no horses, just the family German shepherd Brandy, whom sailors did think was a fine girl, who seemed completely disinterested in the military affairs surrounding her). Third, the battle ceased when a call came for a hearty lunch of grilled cheese and tomato soup (no hardtack here—#farbs). Little did I know that reading Pfanz’s exploration of Gettysburg would only be the first of many superb titles that I would digest in the University of North Carolina Press’s Civil War America series.

Continue reading ‘Brian Craig Miller: “Civil War America” and a Side of Tomato Soup’ »

James J. Broomall: Reflections on “Civil War America”

We welcome to the blog a guest post from James J. Broomall, Civil War historian and director of the George Taylor Moore Center for the Study of the Civil War at Shepherd University. 

In today’s post, Broomall writes about how the Civil War America series has guided his studies over the years.

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Like any good historian, I surround myself with books. The organizational system defies the conventions of traditional cataloging, instead falling into idiosyncratic categories that I am too embarrassed to reveal in print. Nevertheless, I am willing to relate that a good number of titles from the Civil War America series hold dear places in my holdings. Ultimately, they were—and indeed are—works that resonated with me over time. They became titles that were repeatedly pulled down and placed into piles over the years while writing essays, gathering thoughts, preparing for lectures or presentations, or simply because I wanted questions answered. Although I have counted more of the authors as friends over the years, I always felt personally connected to the titles because the topics under discussion were shared passions and the writing of history a common pursuit.

Cover of Reconstruction's Ragged Edge: the Politics of Postwar Life in the Southern Mountains, by Steven E. Nash

All that being said, why does Civil War America matter? Certainly the diversity of subject matter, which has grown considerably over the past two decades, deserves merit and comment. The series has introduced regional and class diversity in studies of the American South as exhibited especially in Steven E. Nash’s Reconstruction’s Ragged Edge, Mark Wetherington’s Plain Folk’s Fight, and Noel Fisher’s War at Every Door. Some of the most important works on wartime Confederate nationalism and its limitations or strengths—including those by Aaron Sheehan-Dean, Peter S. Carmichael, Kenneth W. Noe, and Jaime Amanda Martinez—have come out of Civil War America. And a good number of titles engaging memory studies—Caroline E. Janney’s work on the Virginia Ladies’ Memorial Associations and Joan Waugh’s on U.S. Grant being among my favorites—demonstrate that the series has kept pace with, indeed shaped, the evolving historiography.

Continue reading ‘James J. Broomall: Reflections on “Civil War America”’ »

Laura Visser-Maessen: Bob Moses’s Lessons on the Meaning of Citizenship We Need in Today’s Race Debates

Robert Parris Moses: A Life in Civil Rights and Leadership at the Grassroots, by Laura Visser-MaessenWe welcome to the blog a guest post by Laura Visser-Maessen, author of Robert Parris Moses: A Life in Civil Rights and Leadership at the Grassroots. One of the most influential leaders in the civil rights movement, Robert Parris Moses was essential in making Mississippi a central battleground state in the fight for voting rights. As a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Moses presented himself as a mere facilitator of grassroots activism rather than a charismatic figure like Martin Luther King Jr. Examining the dilemmas of a leader who worked to cultivate local leadership, Visser-Maessen explores the intellectual underpinnings of Moses’s strategy, its achievements, and its struggles.

In today’s post, Visser-Maessen explores Robert Parris Moses’s Algebra Project as a valuable example of Civil Rights Movement strategies employed to create social change.

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After the 2015 riots in Baltimore and elsewhere, I was struck—though not surprised—by many of the media’s depictions of its black inhabitants, as if they were irrational, self-defeating hoodlums, rather than emphasizing stories like that of Wayne, one of several hundred students in Baltimore’s public schools who participate in the Algebra Project (AP). Wayne had been kicked out of several schools until his AP involvement made him realize “what I can do inside of school and how I can help other people.”

The AP is a nationwide nonprofit educational program for underprivileged public school children founded by civil rights activist Bob Moses in the 1980s. Its story shows that there are effective ways of remedying these communities’ problems, largely because they build on the models African Americans set before them, especially Moses himself in 1960s Mississippi. But it also harbors intriguing lessons for American society today, about democracy, race, and class, by posing vital questions like: who is deemed worthy by society to be invested in and when? And what do working-class minorities need to do before white taxpayers will join their struggle for meaningful citizenship in the same vein as during the 1960s?

Historically, literacy was quintessential for blacks to escape subordinate conditions, but they also conceived of education as a preparation for responsible citizenship. Citizenship was not just a right, but it had substance to it, so they emphasized creating a sense of personhood and seeing themselves as agents of social change, thereby intrinsically linking the fight for education to community building.

That these agents could also come from the bottom of society was a lesson the 1960s civil rights movement reinforced. Continue reading ‘Laura Visser-Maessen: Bob Moses’s Lessons on the Meaning of Citizenship We Need in Today’s Race Debates’ »

Recipe: Penne with Sausage and Collard Greens

Savor the South Sampler

Greens: a Savor the South cookbook, by Thomas HeadEvery Tuesday this summer we’re featuring a new recipe on the blog from one of our Savor the South® cookbooks. Each little cookbook in our Savor the South® cookbook collection is a big celebration of a beloved food or tradition of the American South. From buttermilk to bourbon, pecans to peaches, bacon to catfish, one by one each volume will stock a kitchen shelf with the flavors and culinary wisdom of this popular American regional cuisine. Written by well-known cooks and food lovers, each book brims with personality, the informative and often surprising culinary and natural history of southern foodways, and a treasure of some fifty recipes–from delicious southern classics to sparkling international renditions that open up worlds of taste for cooks everywhere. You’ll want to collect them all.

Today’s recipe is from Thomas Head’s Greens. Head, a native of Louisiana, lives in Washington, D.C. He is coeditor of The Happy Table of Eugene Walter: Southern Spirits in Food and Drink. In today’s recipe, Head begins with a southern staple—collard greens—and takes it to another level by preparing it with parmesan, penne, and pork! This dish is a breeze to prepare, and is a splendid substitute for “spaghetti night” during hectic summer months.

Don’t forget to “like” the Savor the South® book page on Facebook for more news and recipes. Also, check back here next Tuesday for another Savor the South® Sampler recipe! Continue reading ‘Recipe: Penne with Sausage and Collard Greens’ »

Catherine A. Stewart: Looking Backward: On Memory and the Challenges of Oral History

Long Past Slavery: Representing Race in the Federal Writers' Project, by Catherine A. StewartWe welcome to the blog a guest post by Catherine A. Stewart, author of Long Past Slavery: Representing Race in the Federal Writers’ Project. From 1936 to 1939, the New Deal’s Federal Writers’ Project collected life stories from more than 2,300 former African American slaves. These narratives are now widely used as a source to understand the lived experience of those who made the transition from slavery to freedom. But in this examination of the project and its legacy, Stewart shows it was the product of competing visions of the past, as ex-slaves’ memories of bondage, emancipation, and life as freedpeople were used to craft arguments for and against full inclusion of African Americans in society. By shedding new light on a critically important episode in the history of race, remembrance, and the legacy of slavery in the United States, Stewart compels readers to rethink a prominent archive used to construct that history.

In a previous post, Stewart addressed the ongoing need for conversation about slavery in America’s history. In today’s post, she recounts her experiences with oral histories both personal and professional.

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Looking Backward: On Memory and the Challenges of Oral History

In memory of Stetson Kennedy

My mother and her only sibling, my aunt, are losing their memories. Though their short-term memory has all but disappeared, their shared memories of childhood still remain vivid. One of their neurologists described the brain’s storage of memory and the onset of dementia as a file cabinet, with the most recently filed folders disappearing first, and the ones stored long ago as the last to go.

As a historian interested in public and private memories of slavery and the Civil War, this image has helped me reflect on the memories of elderly ex-slaves, whose memories and the story of collecting them through oral history interviews are at the heart of my book, Long Past Slavery. By the 1930s, most of the former slaves interviewed by employees of the WPA’s Federal Writers’ Project were in their nineties; some were over one hundred years old. This last generation to bear witness to the experience of enslavement would have been slaves for twelve to fifteen years at most, and many were freed at the age of seven or eight. Their memories of childhood were memories of slavery, and their experience of slavery was that of children.

A childhood game my mother and aunt still recall with pleasure was one they invented called “People Riddles.” In the dark, lying across from each other in their twin beds in their shared bedroom, after my grandmother had turned out the lights and forbidden further talking, they would whisper clues about the friends and acquaintances they both knew, telling signs that would identify the person to her equally observant sister: “This person rocks back in his chair in school,” my aunt would state; “Billy Hawking,” my mom would answer with glee. Doing oral history is a bit like playing “People Riddles,” but backwards.You know the person’s identity, but you look for tell-tale signs and clues to help you understand and evaluate the stories they tell you, and if you’re wise, you also observe how your subject is seen through eyes other than yours, refracted through the perceptions of those who know your subject better and closer and more fiercely than you ever will. Continue reading ‘Catherine A. Stewart: Looking Backward: On Memory and the Challenges of Oral History’ »

Recipe: Catfish Burgers

Savor the South Sampler

Catfish: a Savor the South® cookbook, by Paul Knipple and Angela KnippleEvery Tuesday this summer we’re featuring a new recipe on the blog from one of our Savor the South® cookbooks. Each little cookbook in our Savor the South® cookbook collection is a big celebration of a beloved food or tradition of the American South. From buttermilk to bourbon, pecans to peaches, bacon to catfish, one by one each volume will stock a kitchen shelf with the flavors and culinary wisdom of this popular American regional cuisine. Written by well-known cooks and food lovers, each book brims with personality, the informative and often surprising culinary and natural history of southern foodways, and a treasure of some fifty recipes–from delicious southern classics to sparkling international renditions that open up worlds of taste for cooks everywhere. You’ll want to collect them all.

Today’s recipe is from Paul and Angela Knipple’s Catfish: a Savor the South® cookbook. Paul and Angela are coauthors of The World in a Skillet: A Food Lover’s Tour of the New American South and Farm Fresh Tennessee. Frequent contributors to Edible Memphis and other periodicals, they live in Memphis. They also make a mean catfish burger, which is the star of today’s post! Whether you’re a seasoned catfisher or prefer to purchase fillets at your local market, catfish burgers are the perfect way to make your summer simply scrumptious. Enjoy them with family and friends this weekend for a savory Southern feast!

Connect with the Paul on Twitter @PaulKnipple, and “like” the Savor the South® book page on Facebook for more news and recipes. Also, check back here next Tuesday for another Savor the South® Sampler recipe!

Stan Ulanski: Sperm Whales: Demons of the Sea?

The California Current: A Pacific Ecosystem and Its Fliers, Divers, and Swimmers, by Stan UlanskiWe welcome to the blog a guest post by Stan Ulanski, author of The California Current: A Pacific Ecosystem and Its Fliers, Divers, and Swimmers. The California Current—part of the large, swirling North Pacific gyre—flows slowly southward along the west coast of North America, stretching nearly 2,000 miles from southern British Columbia to the tip of Baja California in Mexico. To a casual observer standing on the shore, the vast current betrays no discernible signs, yet life abounds just over the horizon. Ulanski takes us into the water on a journey through this magnificent, unique marine ecosystem, illuminating the scientific and biological marvels and the astonishing array of flora and fauna streaming along our Pacific coast.

In a previous post, Ulanski shares a glimpse into the world of Pacific sea turtles. In today’s post, Ulanski debunks a popular myth about sperm whales passed down by mariners and sailors that inspired books and movies.

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In the movie In the Heart of the Sea, based upon Nathaniel Philbrick’s best-selling book of the same title, an enraged sperm whale twice rams the whale ship Essex. In a matter of minutes, the Essex starts sinking and capsizes on its port side, leaving its crew stranded on the vast Pacific in three small and under-provisioned whale boats.

But about ten years before the sinking of the Essex in 1820, an even more cunning and fearsome whale received widespread notoriety throughout the whaling community and even among the general public. The whale, Mocha Dick, was a massive seventy-foot-long albino sperm whale that had purportedly killed more than thirty men and had attacked numerous whaling vessels over the span of almost thirty years. The whale was named for the island of Mocha off the coast of Chile, where he was first sighted; while the “Dick” part is thought to be the practice among nineteenth-century whalers to assign common names, like “Dick” or “Tom,” to certain notorious whales. Mocha Dick most assuredly would have gotten the attention of Herman Melville, who was familiar with the whaling profession, having sailed on the whaling ship Acushnet in 1841. Historians believe that it was Mocha Dick and the Essex disaster that provided Melville with the insight to write the novel Moby Dick.

If the above incidents were indeed the model for Melville’s own malicious creature, can we also conclude that Melville’s description of an enraged Moby Dick attacking whalers and ships alike is correct? A watery demon bent on vengeance against his tormentors? According to present-day whale researchers, the historical view of the sperm whale as an evil monster is incorrect, one that most likely has been embellished over time by mariners and sailors.

What we know about these whales is that they are generally shy and easily startled about anything new in their environment. Even as far back as the nineteenth century, Thomas Beale, a whaling ship surgeon, published this description: “The sperm whale is a most timid and inoffensive animal . . . readily endeavoring to escape from the slightest thing which bears an unusual appearance.” The captains of numerous whaling vessels also reported that while Mocha Dick was relentless in his attacks on whaling ships, he left all other ships alone since he rarely attacked unless provoked. He was observed to docilely swim along and around ships at times.

But can we summarily dismiss the eyewitness accounts by whalers of sperm whales exhibiting aggressive behavior? Were these rogue whales outliers from the norm? A look back to the whaling era may provide some answers. Continue reading ‘Stan Ulanski: Sperm Whales: Demons of the Sea?’ »

Interview: John W. Troutman on Kīkā Kila

Author John W. Troutman talks with Gina Mahalek about his new book, Kīkā Kila: How the Hawaiian Steel Guitar Changed the Sound of Modern Music.

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Gina Mahalek: What is Kīkā Kila? What does it sound like?

John W. TroutmanJohn W. Troutman: Kīkā Kila is a Hawaiian expression for describing both a type of guitar and a technique for playing it. The instrument, also known as a “steel guitar,” a “lap steel,” a “dobro,” or a “Hawaiian guitar,” among other names and associations, developed in the Islands in the 1880s and 1890s. Players would physically modify a “standard” guitar, add steel strings to it, and fabricate finger picks and a steel bar, about 3” in length (the instrument is named after this bar). After creating new, open tunings for the guitar, players would place the guitar in their laps, pluck the strings with finger picks on one hand, and then, with their other hand, slide the steel bar along the strings, located high above the fretboard. The technique created an entirely new sound for the guitar, one that better mimicked both the gentle rising and falling of a somber human voice as well as the melodic acrobatics that Hawaiian falsetto singers were becoming known for at the time. Hawaiians soon began creating all sorts of other sound effects on the steel guitar, and very quickly, it became the most important accompanying (as well as lead melodic) instrument in Hawaiian music.

GM: How did you get interested in this topic?

JWT: I became interested in this topic for reasons that relate to my specialization as a historian of indigenous, popular music, but I gravitated to this project, first and foremost, as a pedal steel guitarist. I took up the pedal steel nearly twenty years ago and toured off and on for several years in Americana bands. It took a while for me to realize, as I struggled to learn the instrument, that the pedal steel descended directly from a Native Hawaiian instrument, the kīkā kila. Comparatively little information was available at the time on the history of the steel guitar, and the more I discovered, the more engrossed I became in this story. I was also interested in the fact that so few people in our audiences knew much of anything about this steel guitar contraption—I’ve heard it called a “table top guitar,” a keyboard, even a xylophone. But as a huge fan of popular music, I also know that you can’t jog through the radio dial (or browse Spotify, I should say), without hearing the steel guitar. So the relationship between these elements—the indigenous history of the instrument, its near ubiquity in popular music, and its near absence in public consciousness, even among music fans, really intrigued me.

GM: Is the steel guitar the same as the “slack key” guitar that is so well known today in Hawaiian music?

JWT: The kīkā kila is related to the kī hōʻalu, or slack key guitar, but they are played in fundamentally different ways. Kī hōʻalu similarly uses open tunings, but the neck is fretted just as you would fret any “standard” guitar. The style was developed around the same time as the kīkā kila, however, and their histories remain intertwined today. Whereas the Hawaiian steel guitar was exported out of the Islands almost as soon as it was invented, the slack key guitar style, up until the 1970s, remained largely confined to the Islands.

Kīkā Kila: How the Hawaiian Steel Guitar Changed the Sound of Modern Music, by John W. TroutmanGM: Where do we hear the steel guitar today?

JWT: Today we hear the steel guitar . . . everywhere! The book chronicles how Hawaiians took the steel guitar all over the world in the early twentieth century. In the United States alone, the instrument quickly assumed a prominent role in just about every genre of popular music—from Tin Pan Alley sentimental songs to jazz. In the U.S. South, it figured prominently in the creation of “hillbilly” (later known as country) music, and in fact Native Hawaiians played the steel guitar on some of that genre’s most formative recordings. I argue that southerners of all colors embraced the Hawaiian steel guitar, and that it directly inspired the development of the African American delta blues “slide guitar” style that soon followed. In the 1930s, it seemed as if everyone in the country was familiar with the Hawaiian guitar, and hundreds of thousands of boys and girls, men and women, enrolled in Hawaiian guitar schools, often run by Native Hawaiian guitarists.

Today country artists continue to rely on the Hawaiian steel guitar (or its direct descendant, the pedal steel) to pull on audiences’ heartstrings—it remains the iconic sonic signifier of country music. Likewise, it continues to feature as the “dobro” in bluegrass, while rock stars and jam bands have featured the steel (including the slide guitar) on thousands of albums. You hear it in the landmark recordings of artists and groups such as Son House, Muddy Waters, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Neil Young, Duane Allman, the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, George Harrison, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Ben Harper, Robert Randolph—the list seems endless. But then, the Hawaiian steel guitar also came to play a very prominent role in Bollywood and contemporary pop music genres in India, and you find it in popular Nigerian music, in New Zealand and Australia, in Japan, and all over Europe. And of course, you can still hear it in the Hawaiian Islands.

GM: When did standard guitars first arrive in Hawaiʻi, and why did they become so popular?

JWT: I spent a great deal of time in various archives in Hawaiʻi in order to uncover this history, and yet the guitar’s very first appearance remains elusive. We do know that by the 1840s the guitar was appearing, with great frequency, in the hands of diverse groups of arrivals, from Hawaiians returning home from work in the Americas or in whaling ships, to white missionaries, to blackface minstrels from California. Guitars made a lot of sense to Hawaiians—they were lightweight, portable, relatively inexpensive, and seemed perfectly adaptable to Hawaiian music. Soon Hawaiians began building them out of Koa and other local woods. By the 1870s, what I call an entire “guitar culture” had formed in the Islands, and by the 1880s, King Kalākaua busily promoted an entirely new genre of Hawaiian music, called Hula Kuʻi, which was defined by the very inclusion of guitars. Hula Kuʻi took the Islands by storm. Hawaiians then developed the kīkā kila, as well as the ʻukulele, adapted from a recently introduced Portuguese instrument, and Hawaiian music has never sounded the same since.

GM: Who invented the kīkā kila, and how did they come up with it?

JWT: This is a great question. In Hawaiʻi’s archives, and in interviews with descendants of the earliest guitarists, I discovered a wide range of possible inspirations for the steel guitar, from kids accidentally bouncing metal combs on their guitar strings, to an escaped Hindu indentured servant from South Africa playing the guitar with a metal knife on the streets of Honolulu. Contemplating these origins was one of the most exciting and difficult phases of my research. By most accounts, however, it is clear that one individual, Joseph Kekuku, is responsible for developing the technique into a form that sounded good and was readily adaptable by others, and it was he who first physically altered the standard guitar to accommodate the technique. He began working on it in the 1880s, while he was a teenager living in Lāʻie, a community near Oʻahu’s North Shore. Kekuku fabricated the finger picks and the steel bar while he was a student at the Kamehameha School for Boys, in Honolulu. He soon shared the technique and the technology with his classmates, and they quickly dispersed it throughout several of the Islands. In the 1890s Hawaiians took the steel guitar abroad, and in 1904 Kekuku joined them, when he sailed for San Francisco to make a living as a musician. He quickly set up shop there to teach this new guitar technique, and within a year or so he was working all over the region, and then the country, as a highly sought after guitarist.

GM: According to your research, Hawaiian music became incredibly popular in the U.S. and abroad shortly after Kekuku left the Islands. How did it spread?

JWT: Kekuku left the Islands just as the music industry modernized through the advent of vaudeville touring circuits and recording technology. Interestingly, Hawaiian music became incredibly popular in the U.S. in the years that followed, and soon enough, hundreds of Hawaiians were working vaudeville circuits not just in the U.S., but also throughout the rest of the world. Kekuku’s troupe, known as Toots Paka’s Hawaiians, soon signed with one of the most powerful agents in New York. The band relocated to the East Coast and remained on tour for the next several years, recording for Edison on commercial wax cylinders along the way. Before Kekuku and his fellow Hawaiian guitarists had arrived, no one on the vaudeville stage was using the guitar as a lead, melodic instrument, and no one had seen a guitarist sliding an object along the strings in this manner. By 1916, Hawaiian guitar music was outselling all other genres of recorded music in the U.S.

GM: Most accounts of the delta blues slide guitar trace its origins to Africa. But you argue that Hawaiians introduced the style to black southerners. Where did you find your evidence?

JWT: When I dove into the research for this book, about eight years ago, I was not sure what I would find, and I certainly did not assume that such a strong relationship existed between Hawaiian musicians and the origins of the blues slide guitar. In fact, blues scholars for decades have claimed that the style originated in West Africa on simple, one-stringed instruments that survived both the Middle Passage and centuries of slavery.

For that reason, I was blown away but what I found in the archives. Continue reading ‘Interview: John W. Troutman on Kīkā Kila’ »

Benjamin René Jordan: “Are you a Boy Scout?” The Youth Historian’s Dilemma

Modern Manhood and the Boy Scouts of America: Citizenship, Race, and the Environment, 1910-1930, by Benjamin René JordanWe welcome to the blog a guest post by Benjamin René Jordan, author of Modern Manhood and the Boy Scouts of America: Citizenship, Race, and the Environment, 1910-1930. In this illuminating look at gender and Scouting in the United States, Jordan examines how in its founding and early rise, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) integrated traditional Victorian manhood with modern, corporate-industrial values and skills. While showing how the BSA Americanized the original British Scouting program, Jordan finds that the organization’s community-based activities signaled a shift in men’s social norms, away from rugged agricultural individualism or martial primitivism and toward productive employment in offices and factories, stressing scientific cooperation and a pragmatic approach to the responsibilities of citizenship.

In a previous post, Jordan approaches the gun control debate from an unexpected angle. In today’s post, Jordan shares the modern and historical dilemmas that drew him to write about the Boy Scouts of America.

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“Are you a Boy Scout?” I am frequently asked this question at history conferences or during social conversations after stating that I study early American Boy Scouting. Perhaps it’s my short haircut, or my normative white guy appearance. The question may also stem from an (accurate) perception that many current and former Boy Scouts and adult leaders are enthusiastic readers and amateur producers of histories of the organization and their local councils, troops, and summer camps. Scout history associations, newsletters, websites, networks, and historical memorabilia swap meets facilitate the exchange and consumption of such histories and memories.

Thus, conference audiences and other people I meet are often confused when I report that I was not a Boy Scout. They seem surprised that somebody would study a youth organization like Scouting if that person had not been a member. I suspect other historians who study youth organizations and summer camps get similar queries.

I have both a personal answer and an academic answer to the usual follow-up question I receive, “So, what did lead you to spend the last decade studying and publishing a history of Scouting if you weren’t a member?” Although I never went to a summer camp of any kind as a child, years of counseling as a young adult at a traditional Catholic summer camp as well as working at a rustic behavioral drug and treatment center prompted my initial interest in the history of American and other modern societies using nature milieus to teach character development and civic responsibility to both “normal” and “at-risk” youth—often in very different ways for boys and girls.

My academic answer stems from my graduate history readings, when I noticed how the brief, reoccurring interpretations of early American Boy Scout gender and environmental teachings contrasted with my own analysis of the organization’s early publications and local practices. Which of the two answers I give sometimes depends on who is asking.

Benjamin René Jordan is visiting associate professor of history at Christian Brothers University. His book Modern Manhood and the Boy Scouts of America: Citizenship, Race, and the Environment, 1910-1930 is now available.

Recipe: Sweet Potato Hummus

Savor the South Sampler header image

Cover of Sweet Potatoes

Every Tuesday this summer we’re featuring a new recipe on the blog from one of our Savor the South® cookbooks. Each little cookbook in our Savor the South® cookbook collection is a big celebration of a beloved food or tradition of the American South. From buttermilk to bourbon, pecans to peaches, bacon to catfish, one by one each volume will stock a kitchen shelf with the flavors and culinary wisdom of this popular American regional cuisine. Written by well-known cooks and food lovers, each book brims with personality, the informative and often surprising culinary and natural history of southern foodways, and a treasure of some fifty recipes–from delicious southern classics to sparkling international renditions that open up worlds of taste for cooks everywhere. You’ll want to collect them all.

Today’s recipe is from April McGreger’s Sweet PotatoesApril McGreger is founder-chef of Farmer’s Daughter Brand Pickles and Preserves, a farm-driven artisan food business in Hillsborough, North Carolina. Her recipe is a southern take on hummus, with sweet potatoes instead of traditional chickpeas. This hummus makes an excellent dish for parties!

Connect with McGreger on Twitter @farmersdaughtr, and “like” the Savor the South® book page on Facebook for more news and recipes. Also, check back here next Tuesday for another Savor the South® Sampler recipe!

Continue reading ‘Recipe: Sweet Potato Hummus’ »

Tamara Plakins Thornton: The Global Village, Eighteenth-Century Style

Nathaniel Bowditch and the Power of Numbers: How a Nineteenth-Century Man of Business, Science, and the Sea Changed American Life, by Tamara Plakins ThorntonWe welcome to the blog a guest post by Tamara Plakins Thornton, author of Nathaniel Bowditch and the Power of Numbers: How a Nineteenth-Century Man of Business, Science, and the Sea Changed American Life. In this engagingly written biography, Thornton delves into the life and work of Nathaniel Bowditch (1773-1838), a man Thomas Jefferson once called a “meteor in the hemisphere.” Bowditch was a mathematician, astronomer, navigator, seafarer, and business executive whose Enlightenment-inspired perspectives shaped nineteenth-century capitalism while transforming American life more broadly. By examining Bowditch’s pathbreaking approaches to institutions, as well as the political and social controversies they provoked, Thornton’s biography sheds new light on the rise of capitalism, American science, and social elites in the early republic.

In today’s post, Thornton describes Nathaniel Bowditch’s observations of the Indian Ocean island known as Ile de Bourbon, or Réunion today—a popular destination for U.S. merchants following the American Revolution.

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Last July, when wreckage from Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 washed ashore on Réunion, a typical response was something like “where?” The New York Times described the Indian Ocean island as “a French department about 4,000 miles from Europe,” adding that “if people had heard about it before, it was most likely because of bad publicity surrounding shark attacks or an epidemic of chikungunya.” So much for the world getting ever smaller. Over two centuries earlier, in the seaport town of Salem, Massachusetts, the island was well known. Many was the Salem vessel that set sail for this isolated speck round the Cape of Good Hope.

With national independence, American merchants were shut out of the British Caribbean, the bread-and-butter of their prerevolutionary commerce, and were forced to seek other markets. Some went to Russia, India, or China. Others found their opportunities in this remote French colony. What tea was to China, coffee was to Réunion. So single-minded were the island’s French colonial planters on producing coffee—with enslaved African laborers—that they soon came to rely on American vessels for life’s necessities. No surprise, then, that when the Salem ship Henry dropped anchor off St. Denis in 1795, it soon found a ready market for its cargo of everything from butter to boots.

La culture du café à l'île de Bourbon [Réunion], watercolor attributed to J. J. Patu de Rosemont, 18th century (Paris, Musée national des arts d'Afrique et d'Océanie) [Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.]

Coffee culture on the Ile de Bourbon (Réunion), watercolor attributed to J. J. Patu de Rosemont, 18th c. (Paris, Musée national des arts d’Afrique et d’Océanie) [Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.]

As a native of a globally engaged seaport, Nathaniel Bowditch, the Henry’s clerk, did not need to ask where Réunion was. But that did not make the island any less exotic to him, a twenty-two-year-old Yankee who had never before ventured outside New England. It was all novel, the island’s customs as much as its physical environment, and Bowditch observed both with keen interest, the strange practice of waxing floors no less than the eruption of a volcano.

Most often, his curiosity ended in shock and disgust. Continue reading ‘Tamara Plakins Thornton: The Global Village, Eighteenth-Century Style’ »

J. Michael Butler: Confederate Symbolism and School Integration

Beyond Integration: The Black Freedom Struggle in Escambia County, Florida, 1960-1980, by J. Michael ButlerWe welcome to the blog a guest post from J. Michael Butler, author of Beyond Integration: The Black Freedom Struggle in Escambia County, Florida, 1960-1980In 1975, Florida’s Escambia County and the city of Pensacola experienced a pernicious chain of events. A sheriff’s deputy killed a young black man at point-blank range. Months of protests against police brutality followed, culminating in the arrest and conviction of the Reverend H. K. Matthews, the leading civil rights organizer in the county.

Viewing the events of Escambia County within the context of the broader civil rights movement, J. Michael Butler demonstrates that while activism of the previous decade destroyed most visible and dramatic signs of racial segregation, institutionalized forms of cultural racism still persisted.

In today’s post, Butler points to two 1970s court cases from Escambia High School to show how Confederate symbols signified white supremacy after integration.

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Symbols have historical meaning, and few are as polarizing as those identified with the Confederacy. Discourse concerning Confederate images has intensified since a white supremacist massacred nine African Americans during a prayer service in Charleston almost one year ago, and many Southern communities have questioned the appropriateness of having public schools, military bases, streets, and buildings named after notable Confederates. The trend shows no signs of slowing, as the Southern Poverty Law Center recently identified over 1,500 Confederate place names and monuments in public spaces throughout the country. Historians, bloggers, and other editorialists have had a metaphorical field day pontificating about the power of memory, cultural identity, Lost Cause mythology, and other themes that this issue illuminates. What, then, can yet another piece on Confederate iconography reveal about the topic that we do not already know?

I discovered the two court cases while investigating several episodes of racial unrest during the 1970s at Escambia High School (EHS) in Pensacola, Florida. I quickly realized that one issue linked the numerous school closures, student boycotts, and racially-based rioting over the nearly five-year period: EHS’s Confederate imagery. Continue reading ‘J. Michael Butler: Confederate Symbolism and School Integration’ »