Emily Suzanne Clark: I Don’t Believe in No Ghosts: America and Spirits

Whether or not you reading this post believe in them, ghosts fascinate Americans. A century and a half before the popularity of ghost-hunter shows on the SyFy Network and NBC’s award-winning show “Medium,” belief in spirit communication was serious and widespread in the United States. Spiritualism swept across the United States in the mid-nineteenth century and remained popular into the twentieth century. Put simply, a Spiritualist is one who believes that communication with the spirits of the dead is not only possible but also desirable. Popularized by the Fox Sisters and their “Rochester rappings,” Spiritualism interested Americans young and old, white and black, male and female, rich and poor. Much of this appeal came from Spiritualism’s ability to bridge the world of the living and the world of the dead. Continue Reading Emily Suzanne Clark: I Don’t Believe in No Ghosts: America and Spirits

Emily Suzanne Clark: 150 Years After the Mechanics’ Institute Riot

Thus on July 30 as a group of supporters paraded towards the Mechanics’ Institute with drum and fife, they were followed by a white mob. That mob was then joined by local police and members of the fire department who helped storm the Mechanics’ Institute and allowed the mob access to the convention-goers, most of whom were unarmed. By the end of the day over forty black Republicans lay dead, along with three white Republican allies and one white rioter. Many of the slain African American men were Union veterans. The violence spread beyond the Mechanics’ Institute as blacks across the city were attacked and their property vandalized. According to the U.S. House Select Committee on the riot, “Scores of colored citizens bear frightful scars more numerous than many soldiers of a dozen well-fought fields can show.” Continue Reading Emily Suzanne Clark: 150 Years After the Mechanics’ Institute Riot

LaKisha Michelle Simmons: Landscapes, Memories, and History in Beyoncé’s Lemonade

Some writers have noted the presence of the “southern gothic” or the “southern porch” in Beyoncé Knowles-Carter’s visceral visual album Lemonade. But the landscapes are unambiguously part of the geography of Louisiana; the visual album is haunting because of its specificity to place. Barely visible, in the discussion thus far, is the history of slavery—and its remnants—all over the landscape of the album. Continue Reading LaKisha Michelle Simmons: Landscapes, Memories, and History in Beyoncé’s Lemonade

Excerpt: The Strange History of the American Quadroon, by Emily Clark

Abolitionists, fed on the fictional fare of the tragic mulatto, expected New Orleans to be filled with “white” slaves catering to the sexual appetites of immoral men. Other visitors to the city, informed by sensationalized travelers’ accounts, hoped for a glimpse of one of its renowned kept women of color, and perhaps contemplated engaging one for themselves. Continue Reading Excerpt: The Strange History of the American Quadroon, by Emily Clark

Gordon M. Sayre: The Founding of New Orleans: A City of Floods

A large portion of New Orleans lies below sea level, although the historic and touristic French Quarter, the part of the city that dates to the French period in the mid-eighteenth century, is just barely above sea level and suffered the least from Katrina. The reasons for New Orleans’ vulnerability, and the reasons why the city was established where it is, are revealed in the narrative of Jean-François Benjamin Dumont de Montigny. Continue Reading Gordon M. Sayre: The Founding of New Orleans: A City of Floods

Avatar, Southern Gateways, & Disney Princesses: Around the Internet

Happy Friday, readers! Here at UNC Press, we’re finishing up our book launch week–planning out our titles for Fall 2010. The books we plan to put on the shelves in 2010 have us very excited, and we know you’ll enjoy them. In the meantime though, we thought it would be good to highlight some of… Continue Reading Avatar, Southern Gateways, & Disney Princesses: Around the Internet

Gustav Update from New Orleans

The following is an email sent on 4 Sep 2008 by UNC Press author Lance Hill to his mailing list of friends. Lance, as some of you may remember from my entry on the anniversary of Katrina, is not only an acclaimed author, but also a professor at Tulane University and a long-time New Orleans… Continue Reading Gustav Update from New Orleans

Hurricane Katrina: August 29, 2005

When Hurricane Katrina moved northwest through the Gulf of Mexico, hitting the Gulf Coast of the US in late August of 2005 I had only the briefest of connections to the city: my parents had attended a convention there in the late 60s, a friend I had grown up with lived there with his wife… Continue Reading Hurricane Katrina: August 29, 2005