Ronny Regev: On Film History and Labor Contracts

Working in Hollywood by Ronny RegevToday we welcome a guest post from Ronny Regev, author of Working in Hollywood:  How the Studio System Turned Creativity into Labor, just published by UNC Press.

A history of the Hollywood film industry as a modern system of labor, this book reveals an important untold story of an influential twentieth-century workplace. Ronny Regev argues that the Hollywood studio system institutionalized creative labor by systemizing and standardizing the work of actors, directors, writers, and cinematographers, meshing artistic sensibilities with the efficiency-minded rationale of industrial capitalism. The employees of the studios emerged as a new class: they were wage laborers with enormous salaries, artists subjected to budgets and supervision, stars bound by contracts. As such, these workers–people like Clark Gable, Katharine Hepburn, and Anita Loos–were the outliers in the American workforce, an extraordinary working class.

Working in Hollywood is available now in both print and ebook editions.

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On Film History and Labor Contracts

“I have two words to leave you with tonight, ladies and gentlemen: ‘inclusion rider.’” This is how actress Frances McDormand chose to end her acceptance speech after winning the Oscar for Best Actress in 2018. Her plea did not go unheard. Merriam-Webster tweeted a few hours later that “inclusion” was their top search for the night followed by “rider.” This moment was exceptional in Academy Award history not only because of McDormand’s call for equality but also because of her determination to talk shop.

Since the earliest days of the Hollywood studio system, the people working in the film industry consistently preferred to keep the mechanisms behind the production process, for example contracts, cloaked in a shroud of mystery. Like trained illusionists, in public they constantly spoke about their trade in terms of randomness and wonder rather than expertise and practice. “It isn’t possible to make a successful picture [only] by selecting any good director and by engaging any good actors or actresses who happen to fit the parts for which they are selected – except, perhaps, by luck,” affirmed Irving Thalberg, the legendary executive in charge of production at MGM back in 1933. About a decade later, his colleague at Warner Bros., Hall Wallis added that “If there is an unpredicted business, it’s motion pictures. Make one bad bet … and you’ll find yourself in the unenviable position of having a picture on your hands in which people are no longer interested.”

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Kenneth Joel Zogry: The lost historical context missing in the debate over Silent Sam

Print News and Raise Hell by Kenneth Joel ZogryToday, October 12, is University Day at UNC-Chapel Hill, and we welcome a guest post from Kenneth Joel Zogry, author of Print News and Raise Hell:  The Daily Tar Heel and the Evolution of a Modern University.

For over 125 years, the Daily Tar Heel has chronicled life at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and at times pushed and prodded the university community on issues of local, state, and national significance. Thousands of students have served on its staff, many of whom have gone on to prominent careers in journalism and other influential fields. Print News and Raise Hell engagingly narrates the story of the newspaper’s development and the contributions of many of the people associated with it.

Print News and Raise Hell is available in both print and ebook editions.

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The lost historical context missing in the debate over Silent Sam

As we await the ultimate decision regarding the fate of Silent Sam by the UNC Board of Trustees on November 15, it is important to place the monument into its “lost” historical context.  The year 1913 has been recently marked as one of shame in UNC’s history: the monument was unveiled during commencement weekend that year, and was christened by Julian Carr with perhaps the most vile, racist and misogynistic speech ever made on Tar Heel soil.  While those facts are true, 1913 also marks the beginning of progressivism and a slow path to egalitarianism at the nation’s oldest public university, which is little understood today and wholly ignored in the fierce public debate over the statue’s meaning in the 21st century.

Interestingly, 1913 was the exact mid-point in the century between the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 and the zenith of the Modern Civil Rights Movement in 1963 (the March on Washington and President Kennedy’s introduction of the Civil Rights Act, which would become law in 1964).   Coincidentally, several events in 1913 signaled the start of the university’s progressive activism, alternately celebrated and condemned in our politically and socially bi-polar “purple” state. Most notably and relevant to this discussion, in 1913 a few of UNC’s faculty and students first began questioning the South’s racial prejudices, including white-on-black violence, social and economic discrimination, and political disfranchisement.  These actions were small and slow at first, but at any level should be viewed as the antithesis of the intentions of those people associated with UNC who erected the Confederate Soldiers Monument – mostly aged alumni, white supremacist state leaders, and the outgoing university president, Francis Venable.

Continue Reading Kenneth Joel Zogry: The lost historical context missing in the debate over Silent Sam

Oscar de la Torre: The Backlash Against Reparations for Slavery in Brazil

The People of the River by Oscar de la TorreToday we welcome a guest post from Oscar de la Torre, author of The People of the River:  Nature and Identity in Black Amazonia, 1835–1945, just published by UNC Press.

In his history of the black peasants of Amazonia, Oscar de la Torre focuses on the experience of African-descended people navigating the transition from slavery to freedom. He draws on social and environmental history to connect them intimately to the natural landscape and to Indigenous peoples. Relying on this world as a repository for traditions, discourses, and strategies that they retrieved especially in moments of conflict, Afro-Brazilians fought for autonomous communities and developed a vibrant ethnic identity that supported their struggles over labor, land, and citizenship.

The People of the River is available now in both print and ebook editions.

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The Backlash Against Reparations for Slavery in Brazil

After a long history of denial, during the last twenty-five years Brazil has finally recognized the existence of racism in the country. Thanks to the relentless pressure of black social movements and other organizations, the government has slowly adopted a series of programs to try to compensate black people for the legacies of five centuries of slavery and racial injustice. Two legislative initiatives in particular have become the flagship of Brazil’s anti-racist agenda: the affirmative action program adopted by public universities, and the official recognition of black rural communities or quilombos, as they are called in Brazil. Unfortunately, the 2007 recession and the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff of the Workers’ Party in 2016 ushered in an intense conservative backlash against these programs. So far affirmative action has endured the legal and political attacks, but the policies for Brazil’s black rural communities came under heavy fire during 2017.

In order to understand those attacks, we need to go back in time to 1988. That year, the new Brazilian Constitution established that the communities descending from runaway slaves, known as in Brazil as quilombos, would receive official recognition and a collective title to their lands. While few people imagined that this constitutional article would have any significance, during the 1990s and 2000s a number of black towns all over the country claimed for their recognition, leading the Lula administration (Workers’ Party) to deploy the constitutional article. Thus, Decree 4887 from 2003 established that any community that designated itself as Afro-descendant could apply for the status of quilombo and receive a collective land deed, effectively creating a program of reparations for slavery for all Afro-Brazilians living in predominantly black villages, and even urban neighborhoods.

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William Glenn Robertson: Notecards and Curiosities

River of Death--The Chickamauga Campaign: Volume 1: The Fall of ChattanoogaToday we welcome a guest post from William Glenn Robertson, author of River of Death–The Chickamauga Campaign:  Volume 1: The Fall of Chattanooga, just published by UNC Press.

The Battle of Chickamauga was the third bloodiest of the American Civil War and the only major Confederate victory in the conflict’s western theater. It pitted Braxton Bragg’s Army of Tennessee against William S. Rosecrans’s Army of the Cumberland and resulted in more than 34,500 casualties. In this first volume of an authoritative two-volume history of the Chickamauga campaign, William Glenn Robertson provides a richly detailed narrative of military operations in southeastern and eastern Tennessee as two armies prepared to meet along the “River of Death.”

River of Death–The Chickamauga Campaign:  Volume 1: The Fall of Chattanooga is available now in both print and ebook editions.

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Notecards and Curiosities

When I began my research on the Chickamauga Campaign in early 1983, I didn’t own a personal computer and instead used notecards to organize my research materials.  For my first two books I utilized 4X6 cards, but for Chickamauga I decided that 5X8 cards would work better, holding more material.  In order to prevent inadvertent plagiarism, I photocopied the materials and attached them in manageable chunks on individual cards with tape.  When I began the Chickamauga process, I guessed 25,000 cards would suffice.  I wanted to find literally everything relevant to the Chickamauga Campaign in order to have the largest possible database from which to craft my narrative and analysis.  Now, thirty-five years later, I am still finding Chickamauga-related materials in a variety of places, and my notecard count has risen to the current number of 41,643, with more to go.  While my system is certainly not recommended for everyone, it works for me.  Cards are organized chronologically and by regimental, brigade, division, and corps units.  The only drawback is that the file boxes consume a lot of space.

One of the virtues of gathering so much material is that I often run across many curious facts, usually representing human stories too small to be noticed in a work focusing solely on large issues.  The Chickamauga Campaign is replete with such stories, most of which have been neglected in earlier works on the subject.  I’ll briefly describe three of my discoveries here.  They are not “game changers” in the conventional sense, but each topic adds a bit to the Chickamauga story, and may be of interest to readers.

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Malinda Maynor Lowery: A Nation of Nations

The Lumbee Indians by Malinda Maynor LoweryToday is Indigenous People’s Day, and we welcome a guest post from Malinda Maynor Lowery, author of The Lumbee Indians:  An American Struggle, just published by UNC Press.

Jamestown, the Lost Colony of Roanoke, and Plymouth Rock are central to America’s mythic origin stories. Then, we are told, the main characters–the “friendly” Native Americans who met the settlers–disappeared. But the history of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina demands that we tell a different story. As the largest tribe east of the Mississippi and one of the largest in the country, the Lumbees have survived in their original homelands, maintaining a distinct identity as Indians in a biracial South. In this passionately written, sweeping work of history, Malinda Maynor Lowery narrates the Lumbees’ extraordinary story as never before. Their fight for full federal acknowledgment continues to this day, while the Lumbee people’s struggle for justice and self-determination continues to transform our view of the American experience.

The Lumbee Indians is available now in both print and ebook editions.

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A Nation of Nations

My Lumbee Indian community is a kind of microcosm of what the United States has been and could be. Every year we celebrate Independence Day at our weeklong Lumbee Homecoming celebration in southeastern North Carolina. We have beauty pageants, a powwow, gospel music performances, a parade, sports events, and collard sandwiches (one of our local delicacies). American flags fly everywhere, and our military veterans receive places of honor at every event. Family reunions abound. During Homecoming, Lumbees celebrate what we share with our non-Indian neighbors, alongside what makes us unique. We don’t fret over whether multiculturalism and national unity can co-exist. We value individual self-expression as well as shared land and values, which gives our Homecoming a distinct multicultural and regional flavor. This year’s Junior Miss Lumbee and Teen Miss Lumbee sang the most striking version of the national anthem I had ever heard. They arranged it in perfect harmony; their tribute to our fight for independence resonated not just with the American nation but with our own Lumbee nation.

The long lens of American Indian history reveals not only our nation’s consistent sins, but our consistent work to make this a more free and equal nation, especially when families are the focus.

American Indian nations did not need Europeans to teach us about family values, independence, or freedom. But we can’t forget that Europeans and some of their descendants have repeatedly tried to teach us about exclusion and betrayal. The descendants of Jamestown, Plymouth, St. Augustine, and other early illegal migrants established their own laws about immigration without gaining permission from the indigenous nations into which they had entered.

Continue Reading Malinda Maynor Lowery: A Nation of Nations

Hannah Gill: Silent Sam in Carolina del Norte

The Latino Migration Experience in North Carolina, Revised and Expanded Second EditionToday we welcome a guest post from Hannah Gill, author of the new revised and expanded edition of The Latino Migration Experience in North Carolina:  New Roots in the Old North State, just published by UNC Press.

Now thoroughly updated and revised—with a new chapter on the Dreamer movement and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA)—Hannah Gill’s book offers North Carolinians a better understanding of their Latino neighbors, illuminating rather than enflaming debates on immigration. In the midst of a tumultuous political environment, North Carolina continues to feature significant in-migration of Mexicans and Latin Americans from both outside and inside the United States. Drawing on the voices of migrants as well as North Carolinians from communities affected by migration, Gill explains how larger social forces are causing demographic shifts, how the state is facing the challenges and opportunities presented by these changes, and how migrants experience the economic and social realities of their lives.

The Latino Migration Experience in North Carolina is available now in both print and ebook editions.

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Silent Sam in Carolina del Norte

The Silent Sam upheaval this fall at UNC Chapel Hill coincided with an international visit from four Mexican colleagues, all oral historians and community organizers who work in Mexico City and Guanajuato. This group has formed strong connections to North Carolina in recent years as more people from Latin American countries settle in the state and we have worked together on several binational projects. It is always an honor to host them when they visit UNC, especially as they have supported numerous learning opportunities for my students (and me) in Mexico over the years.

My colleagues arrived in early September just a couple weeks after protesters toppled the statue on August 20, following years of controversy. On the first day of their visit, they went to McCorkle Place to take photos, unaware the statue was gone. They were surprised to find an empty space where Silent Sam once stood. “We wondered where he was,” they later told me.

I was curious about what the statue meant to my colleagues. We often hear many of the same narratives in various local, state, and national media, that for some Silent Sam is a remembrance of their ancestors who fought in the U.S. Civil War; for others, he is a symbol of racism, slavery, and oppression in the United States that persists in many forms to this day. Of course, there are many more perspectives (for example, see the op-ed by Malinda Maynor Lowery, member of the Lumbee Indian Tribe).

Continue Reading Hannah Gill: Silent Sam in Carolina del Norte

Benjamin T. Smith: Por Qué, Por Qué?

The Mexican Press and Civil Society, 1940–1976: Stories from the Newsroom, Stories from the Street by Benjamin T. SmithToday we welcome a guest post from Benjamin T. Smith, author of The Mexican Press and Civil Society, 1940–1976:  Stories from the Newsroom, Stories from the Street, just published by UNC Press.

Mexico today is one of the most dangerous places in the world to report the news, and Mexicans have taken to the street to defend freedom of expression. As Benjamin T. Smith demonstrates in this history of the press and civil society, the cycle of violent repression and protest over journalism is nothing new. He traces it back to the growth in newspaper production and reading publics between 1940 and 1976, when a national thirst for tabloids, crime sheets, and magazines reached far beyond the middle class.

The Mexican Press and Civil Society, 1940–1976 is available now in both print and ebook editions.

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Por Qué, Por Qué? How one magazine evaded state censorship and published the only coverage of the Tlatelolco Massacre

Mario Menéndez never wanted to put out a radical magazine. He wanted, he told his friends, to make a Mexican version of Paris Match or the New York Times Magazine. Though he had cut his teeth exposing peasant exploitation in the henequen fields of Yucatán and gained international fame following left-wing guerrillas throughout Latin America, by early 1968 he wanted to leave this kind of confrontational journalism behind. Just six months earlier the Mexican government had bailed him out of a Colombian jail where he was accused of providing funds to insurgents. The experience had left him chastened, maybe even frightened. His new publication, Por Qué?, was meant to be a way out, a way to build bridges with the family members, politicians, and journalists that made up world. But, it was not to be. Like so many Mexicans, the student massacre on 2nd October 1968 changed his vision of the country and his role in it.

Por Qué? Mark 1

On 28 February 1968 Por Que? hit the newsstands. It was glossy and expensive. In fact, at 5 pesos it was 2 pesos more than most political magazines. As U.S. consular officials noticed, this was no rabble-rousing flysheet, this was elite fare. The funding came from Mario’s inheritance and a smattering of Yucatán’s businessmen and playboys. The writers were a mixture of family members, old reporter friends, and journalists from the upmarket magazine Gente that he had invited to join the staff after meeting them at a cocktail party.  The contents were a strange mix, which reflected Mario’s devotion to serious investigative journalism and his new aim to appeal to an elite, moneyed audience.

Continue Reading Benjamin T. Smith: Por Qué, Por Qué?

Mary-Elizabeth B. Murphy: Supreme Court Matters

Jim Crow CapitalToday we welcome a guest post from Mary-Elizabeth B. Murphy, author of Jim Crow Capital:  Women and Black Freedom Struggles in Washington, D.C., 1920–1945, which UNC Press will publish in November.

In her new book, Murphy tells the story of how African American women in D.C. transformed civil rights politics in their freedom struggles between 1920 and 1945. Even though no resident of the nation’s capital could vote, black women seized on their conspicuous location to testify in Congress, lobby politicians, and stage protests to secure racial justice, both in Washington and across the nation. Women crafted a broad vision of citizenship rights that put economic justice, physical safety, and legal equality at the forefront of their political campaigns. Black women’s civil rights tactics and victories in Washington, D.C., shaped the national postwar black freedom struggle in ways that still resonate today.

Jim Crow Capital can be pre-ordered now at the UNC Press website.

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Supreme Court Matters

The confirmation process of Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, once thought to be swift and smooth, has now become dramatic and uncertain.  As the ninth justice, Judge Kavanaugh would cast the deciding vote on crucial issues, including reproductive choice, marriage equality, labor organizing, immigration, and voting rights.  Reports that Judge Kavanaugh, as a high school and college student, may have assaulted women, has raised serious concerns about whether these alleged actions constitute acceptable behavior for a justice of the Supreme Court, arguably one of the most significant positions in American government with a lifetime appointment.  The fate of Kavanaugh’s confirmation rests, in part, on the willingness of women to come forward and testify, and whether members of the Senate will take that testimony seriously.

Eighty-eight years ago, African Americans living in the United States confronted a similar crisis.  In March 1930, Supreme Court Justice Edward T. Sanford died in office, prompting Republican President Herbert Hoover to nominate North Carolina Judge John J. Parker to the Supreme Court.  Even in an era when news traveled at a slower pace and the views of nominees were harder to pinpoint, African Americans knew that Parker’s ascension to the Supreme Court would be dangerous.

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Author Interview: A conversation with Jennifer Brulé, author of The New Vegetarian South

The New Vegetarian South by Jennifer BruleToday UNC Press publicity director Gina Mahalek chats with Jennifer Brulé, author of The New Vegetarian South: 105 Inspired Dishes for Everyone.

In her enlightening cookbook, chef Brulé brings southern-style food together with plant-based approaches to eating. Her down-to-earth style and 105 recipes will immediately appeal to vegetarians, vegans, and meat-eaters alike. These dishes are also a boon for those who simply love southern food and want to learn more about options for flexitarian eating. Brulé deliciously demystifies meat substitutes and flavors up familiar vegetables. Imagine vegetarian barbecue: Brulé’s recipe for spicing, saucing, and oven-roasting jackfruit offers a robustly tasty alternative to pulled pork. Tofu is the perfect base for crispy Southern Fried Buttermilk Nuggets, and cauliflower beautifully fills in for shrimp in a Cajun-inspired étouffee.

The New Vegetarian South is available now in both print and ebook editions.

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Gina Mahalek: Your book, The New Vegetarian South, is dedicated to recreating traditional southern dishes vegetarian-style. Did you find it difficult to transition some of the South’s trademark recipes into ones that are meatless? If so, what was most challenging?

Jennifer Brulé: Some dishes easily lent themselves to becoming vegetarian or vegan; Buttermilk Fried Tofu Nuggets, for instance, works beautifully. However, the idea of transitioning some dishes to be plant-based was daunting. Brunswick Stew is a great example—it’s known for all the different meats involved, from chicken, to pork, to beef to squirrel. How does one turn meat stew into a vegetarian dish while keeping it delicious? But, as I said, it was merely the idea that was daunting. Using texturized vegetable protein (TVP) and lots of layers of flavors resulted in a satiating, mouthwatering recipe.

GM: Did your professional background as a classically trained chef provide you with much of your knowledge on vegetarian alternatives for meaty dishes, or did you gain insight from recipe experimentation and creation?

JB: Being a classically trained chef helped, for sure, but more than anything it’s my unquenchable thirst for food knowledge that informed me about meat alternatives. I am a student of food and cooking, constantly curious about ingredients. I research and study food every day. Having two vegetarian daughters, of course has made me quite deliberate in finding, and working with, meat alternatives.

GM: What was the main reason you decided to adopt a more plant-based diet?

JB: Two things: my aforementioned children (one of whom became vegetarian when she was five years old), but also my love of animals. It seems stranger and stranger to me that we, as a society, eat living beings. That said, I’m a sucker for a properly fried piece of chicken. But, I figure if can eat plant-based meals most of the time and indulge in eating critters only occasionally, I’m headed in the right direction.

GM:  Was the process of reducing your meat intake difficult?

JB: No, it truly wasn’t. If you think about it, a wonderful cheese pizza is vegetarian. A bowl filled with hearty grains, grilled slaw, pickled pink onions, roasted black beans and a creamy lemon-tahini dressing (like the ones we serve at my restaurant, Davidson Ice House) tastes AMAZING and happens to be vegan. I honestly think that it’s mostly a mental game, a perception that it’s not a meal without meat in the center of the plate. With some creativity, it’s EASY to eat a primarily plant-based diet.

Continue Reading Author Interview: A conversation with Jennifer Brulé, author of The New Vegetarian South

Pamela Grundy: In Search of Ora Washington

Today we welcome a guest post from historian Pamela Grundy, whose work helped lead to the nomination, and upcoming enshrinement, of Ora Washington, who was credited as the greatest female athlete of her time and was a part of 11 straight Women’s Colored Basketball Championship teams, into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame later this week.

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Pamela Grundy: In Search of Ora Washington

It is the summer of 2003 and I am sitting in the heart of Philadelphia, at a microfilm reader in the archives at Temple University. I squint at the dim screen as I crank through issues of the African American Philadelphia Tribune, tracking the five-game basketball series played by the Germantown Hornets and the Philadelphia Tribune Newsgirls back in 1932. I am having a fine time. The contest see-saws back and forth before my eyes, and the writing is a joy to read.

“The cash customers fanned to fever heat by the ardor and closeness of combat gave outlet to all kinds of riotous impulses,” Tribune sportswriter Randy Dixon wrote after Game 5 went into overtime, and the Newsgirls scored eight unanswered points to triumph 31-23. “They stood on chairs and hollered. Others hoisted members of the winning team upon their shoulders and paraded them around the hall. They jigged and danced, and readers believe me, they were justified. It was just that kind of a game.”

I have come to Temple in search of Ora Washington, the finest black female athlete of the early twentieth century. Basketball fans considered her “the greatest girl player of the age.” In tennis, the Chicago Defender once observed, her “superiority” was “so evident that competitors are frequently beaten before the first ball crosses the net.” Watching her play, one advertisement claimed, could “make you forget the Depression.”

And then she disappeared.

Continue Reading Pamela Grundy: In Search of Ora Washington

Georgann Eubanks: Bigger is Rarely Better

The Month of Their Ripening by Georgann EubanksToday we welcome a guest post by Georgann Eubanks, author of The Month of Their Ripening:  North Carolina Heritage Foods through the Year, just published by UNC Press.

Telling the stories of twelve North Carolina heritage foods, each matched to the month of its peak readiness for eating, The Month of Their Ripening takes readers on a flavorful journey across the state. Georgann Eubanks begins in January with the most ephemeral of southern ingredients—snow—to witness Tar Heels making ice cream. In March, she takes a midnight canoe ride on the Trent River in search of shad, a bony fish with a savory history. In November, she visits a Chatham County sawmill where the possums are always first into the persimmon trees.

The Month of Their Ripening is available now in both print and ebook editions.

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Bigger is Rarely Better

Clara Brickhouse grows scuppernongs to sell at farmer's markets in and around Tyrrell County.

Clara Brickhouse grows scuppernongs to sell at farmer’s markets in and around Tyrrell County.
Photo by Donna Campbell

Miss Clara Brickhouse is a tall and dignified woman in her eighties. She lives in a community called Travis in North Carolina’s smallest county, Tyrrell. Her home is not far from the source of the Scuppernong River, so named by white settlers in the late 1600s because of the proximity and profusion of the grape that would eventually be designated the state’s official fruit in 2001.  (The Algonquin Indian word askuponong actually means “the place of the sweet bay tree,” which is another prolific plant in the region, but the wild bronze grapes were what the first explorers fancied and thus named.)

Miss Clara, as she prefers to be called, grows several varieties of these indigenous, hard-hulled grapes that belong to the larger muscadine family. Her eighteen vines are arranged on trellises in her backyard garden, which also features blueberries, blackberries, apples, and an occasional visiting snake. Her immaculate rows of plantings are visible from U.S. 64 East, along the route to Manteo and the Outer Banks.

Miss Clara's favorite variety of smaller grapes.

Miss Clara’s favorite variety of smaller grapes.
Photo by Donna Campbell

“These little ones are my favorites,” Miss Clara says, bringing a plastic carton of ripened scuppernongs from her kitchen. We could smell the fruit’s musky sweet perfume as Miss Clara offered a sample. Scuppernongs are a taste from my childhood, and the flavor instantly takes me back to my grandfather’s handbuilt trellis of galvanized pipes.

That day with Miss Clara was one of many adventures photographer Donna Campbell and I shared as we traveled across North Carolina, marking the months in which certain reliable foods spring forth, contributing to our state’s history and identity over the centuries.  Some common themes along our route emerged–notably, that today’s consumers seem to prefer the biggest version of everything they might eat.

Of course, trying to catch the biggest fish or grow a hefty pumpkin has always been a source of competitive pride. But time and again we heard from farmers and fishmongers, cooks and horticulturalists, that the public always wants “the big ones,” even in something as relatively small as grapes.

Continue Reading Georgann Eubanks: Bigger is Rarely Better

Mushroom of the Month, September 2018: Cortinarius argentatus

A Field Guide to Mushrooms of the CarolinasHere’s the final entry in our series, Mushroom of the Month, brought to you by Michael W. Hopping, co-author of A Field Guide to Mushrooms of the Carolinas:  A Southern Gateways Guide — this month it’s Cortinarius argentatus.

Mushrooms in the wild present an enticing challenge: some are delicious, others are deadly, and still others take on almost unbelievable forms. A Field Guide to Mushrooms of the Carolinas introduces 650 mushrooms found in the Carolinas–more than 50 of them appearing in a field guide for the first time–using clear language and color photographs to reveal their unique features.

A Field Guide to Mushrooms of the Carolinas is available now in both print and ebook editions.

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Cortinarius argentatus

Vision is a curious thing. There is seeing, and then there’s awareness of what’s being seen. It’s as if our minds were in the habit of serving us executive summaries, omitting a lot of potentially irrelevant detail. Your co-worker, Alex, seemed tired this morning. What color was his belt? Was he wearing one? The summaries simplify life, usually in a helpful way. But mushroom hunters learn the inadequacy of any summarizing habits we have about fungi. Awareness of color, size, and the presence of a cap and stalk is simply not enough. We need details, the sort of details that may remain invisible until we turn off our mental summarizers.

Cortinarius argentatusTake silver-violet, gilled mushrooms for instance. If you’ve never seen such a thing, September is prime time to remedy that. Try deciduous woods with rich soils or moist and shaded landscaped areas. Well-watered lawns are another possibility. This package of season, color, and habitat preference fits a popular edible species, Lepista nuda, aka the Blewit. But not so fast. Blewits share the autumn woodlands with silver-violet members of the genus Cortinarius. Corts can be poisonous. Among the Blewit’s closest lookalikes is Cortinarius argentatus.

Continue Reading Mushroom of the Month, September 2018: Cortinarius argentatus

#HistoryMatters: A roundup of UNC Press authors on the Silent Sam monument controversy

From our offices on the edge of the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, UNC Press staff have had an especially close vantage point to observe the events and debates surrounding the fall of the university’s Confederate monument, known as “Silent Sam.” It’s no surprise that a number of Press authors have written and spoken in many prominent locations as the wider public seeks to understand what’s happening on our campus and what it means for our collective engagement with the past and its legacies. We are proud to publish scholars who regularly bring their research and knowledge to bear in a way that can illuminate moments such as this, and we look forward to playing our part as dialogue continues.

Here’s a sample of recent pieces by Press authors on troubled history of Silent Sam’s initial placement, the long controversy over its ongoing position on campus, the activism that called for change and ultimately toppled the monument off its pedestal, and the debates over how the university and the community should respond. These authors’ books offer deeper engagement on many of these issues for those who want to read more, so links are provided below.


Blain Roberts, author of Pageants, Parlors, and Pretty Women: Race and Beauty in the Twentieth-Century South, co-wrote an opinion article in The New York Times with Ethan J. Kytle titled “The ‘Silent Sam’ Confederate Monument at UNC Was Toppled. What Happens Next?”

Joseph T. Glatthaar, author of Soldiering in the Army of Northern Virginia: A Statistical Portrait of the Troops Who Served under Robert E. Lee, wrote an op-ed in The Daily Tar Heel titled “Silent Sam from a historian’s perspective.”

James L. Leloudis, co-author of To Right These Wrongs: The North Carolina Fund and the Battle to End Poverty and Inequality in 1960s America, wrote an op-ed in The News & Observer titled “Silent Sam was a symbol of mob violence itself.”

Eric Muller, author of American Inquisition: The Hunt for Japanese American Disloyalty in World War II and editor of Colors of Confinement: Rare Kodachrome Photographs of Japanese American Incarceration in World War II, wrote an opinion piece in The News & Observer titled “No, the law doesn’t require Silent Sam to be returned to his pedestal in 90 days.”

Fitzhugh Brundage, editor of Beyond Blackface: African Americans and the Creation of American Popular Culture, 1890-1930, was interviewed not long after the statue fell in an NPR segment titled “Protesters Knock Down Confederate Status on UNC Campus.” He was also interviewed for an article in The Charlotte Observer titled “The unfinished story of Silent Sam, from ‘Soldier Boy’ to fallen symbol of a painful past.”

UNC Press’s close friends and partners at the Center for the Study of the American South published a statement on the toppling of the statue titled “On Silent Sam and the Study of the South.”

#SilentSam; #ReadUP

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Pageants, Parlors, & Pretty WomenSoldiering in the Army of Northern Virginia by Joseph T. GlatthaarTo Right These Wrongs

American InquisitionBeyond Blackface

For a fuller listing of UNC Press books on history and memory, visit our website.

 

 

Author Interview: A Conversation with Jeff Wiltse, author of Contested Waters: A Social History of Swimming Pools in America

Contested Waters by Jeff WiltseAs we approach the Labor Day weekend and the end of the summer swimming pool season, UNC Press publicity director Gina Mahalek talks to Jeff Wiltse, author of Contested Waters:  A Social History of Swimming Pools in America.

From 19th-century public baths to today’s private backyard havens, swimming pools have been a provocative symbol of American life. In this social and cultural history of swimming pools in the U.S., Wiltse relates how, over the years, pools have served as asylums for the urban poor, leisure resorts for the masses, and private clubs for middle-class suburbanites. As sites of race riots, shrinking swimsuits, and conspicuous leisure, swimming pools reflect the tensions and transformations that have given rise to modern America.

Contested Waters is available in paperback and ebook editions.

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Gina Mahalek: How did you get the idea for this book? What inspired your research?

Jeff Wiltse: The idea literally came to me in a dream over Thanksgiving weekend in 1996. I awoke early Saturday morning in the midst of a dream in which I was writing about the swimming pool I frequented as a child. I immediately wondered what the history of swimming pools was more generally and presumed it must be interesting and worth researching. The first person I mentioned the idea to—my then girlfriend and now wife—laughed at me incredulously. I told her to wait and see. When I soon discovered that no one had previously written on the topic, I knew I was onto something.

GM: Are you a swimmer?

JW: I never swam competitively, but I spent countless summer days at the local pool during my childhood. I vaguely understood even then, as I snuck glances at pretty girls and chatted with friends and neighbors, that swimming pools were uniquely intimate and sociable spaces. My most vivid memories from childhood are of time spent at the pool: being thrown up in the air and into the water by my father, showing off to impress girls, beating all comers at pickleball, and trading baseball cards on the pool deck. In many ways I grew up at the local swimming pool.

GM: Contested Waters focuses primarily on the northern United States. Why?

A: I quickly realized that the research for this project would require me driving from city to city and town to town searching for sources in local libraries and archives. Limiting the project to the northern United States made this type of on-the-road research more manageable. I also focused on the North because I wanted to tell a coherent story rather than interpret regional variations. As it turned out, what happened at swimming pools throughout the North, whether in Chicago and St. Louis or Newton, Kansas and Elizabeth, New Jersey, was all quite similar.

Continue Reading Author Interview: A Conversation with Jeff Wiltse, author of Contested Waters: A Social History of Swimming Pools in America

Anne Balay: If your feminism isn’t intersectional, it isn’t feminism

Semi Queer by Anne BalayToday we welcome a guest post from Anne Balay, author of Semi Queer:  Inside the World of Gay, Trans, and Black Truck Drivers, just published this month by UNC Press.

Long-haul trucking is linked to almost every industry in America, yet somehow the working-class drivers behind big rigs remain largely hidden from public view. Gritty, inspiring, and often devastating oral histories of gay, transsexual, and minority truck drivers allow award-winning author Anne Balay to shed new light on the harsh realities of truckers’ lives behind the wheel. A licensed commercial truck driver herself, Balay discovers that, for people routinely subjected to prejudice, hatred, and violence in their hometowns and in the job market, trucking can provide an opportunity for safety, welcome isolation, and a chance to be themselves–even as the low-wage work is fraught with tightening regulations, constant surveillance, danger, and exploitation. The narratives of minority and queer truckers underscore the working-class struggle to earn a living while preserving one’s safety, dignity, and selfhood.

Semi Queer is available now in both print and ebook editions.

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If your feminism isn’t intersectional, it isn’t feminism.

At each protest I’ve been to since Trump, I see a sign saying: If your feminism isn’t intersectional, it isn’t feminism.

I agree with the sentiment, but I feel compelled to add that intersectional thinking is genuinely difficult. The insight of intersectionality (Crenshaw) is not that we all live within an interlocking system of oppressions, but rather that these oppressions pull us in different directions, causing divided loyalties – internalized conflict and tension. Intersectional identity leaves each person feeling ripped apart at the core. AND each person who theorizes or does activism intersectionally feels that, too.

Writing Semi Queer, my book about gay, trans, and black truckers, encouraged me to think about visibly stigmatized bodies putting themselves out in dangerous public spaces as part of their jobs. And to think about public perceptions of and knowledge about truck drivers and other disrespected, blue-collar workers. I literally wrote the book on this subject, but it remains difficult for me to think about these two threads at the same time.

For example, during the Pittsburg protests about the murder of Antwon Rose, a 17-year old boy shot in the back as he fled from police, traffic was stopped on the highway. A news reporter interviewed two drivers who left their trucks to talk to protestors. They interview Gene, and “another guy who was driving one of the larger trucks.” The entire news segment avoids the word trucker, though both interviewees are white, middle-aged men with beards and ball caps. The journalist seems surprised that these men support the protestors, even though they’re inconvenienced by them.

Continue Reading Anne Balay: If your feminism isn’t intersectional, it isn’t feminism

Recipe: Crunchy Buttermilk Fried Pickle Chips from Jennifer Brulé

The New Vegetarian South by Jennifer BruleWe haven’t featured a recipe on our blog in a while, so today we bring you a tasty treat from Jennifer Brulé, author of The New Vegetarian South: 105 Inspired Dishes for Everyone.

In her enlightening cookbook, chef Brulé brings southern-style food together with plant-based approaches to eating. Her down-to-earth style and 105 recipes will immediately appeal to vegetarians, vegans, and meat-eaters alike. These dishes are also a boon for those who simply love southern food and want to learn more about options for flexitarian eating. Brulé deliciously demystifies meat substitutes and flavors up familiar vegetables. Imagine vegetarian barbecue: Brulé’s recipe for spicing, saucing, and oven-roasting jackfruit offers a robustly tasty alternative to pulled pork. Tofu is the perfect base for crispy Southern Fried Buttermilk Nuggets, and cauliflower beautifully fills in for shrimp in a Cajun-inspired étouffee.

Jennifer Brulé is the executive chef and owner of the flexitarian restaurant Davidson Ice House, in Davidson, North Carolina. She is also the author of author of Learn to Cook 25 Southern Classics 3 Ways.  For more, follow her on Twitter, on Instagram, or visit her website.

The New Vegetarian South is available now in both print and ebook editions.

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Video Book Trailer: Our Higher Calling by Holden Thorp and Buck Goldstein

As we approach the beginning of another academic year, UNC Press is proud to be publishing the latest book by Holden Thorp and Buck Goldstein, Our Higher Calling:  Rebuilding the Partnership between America and Its Colleges and Universities.

Here’s the book trailer the authors have prepared for the book:

Our Higher Calling by Holden Thorp and Buck GoldsteinThere is a growing sense of crisis and confusion about the purpose and sustainability of higher education in the United States. Despite efforts to integrate business-oriented thinking and implement new forms of accountability in colleges and universities, Americans from all backgrounds are losing confidence in the nation’s institutions of higher learning, and these institutions must increasingly confront what has proven to be an unsustainable business model. In their important new book, Holden Thorp and Buck Goldstein draw on interviews with higher education thought leaders and their own experience, inside and outside the academy, to address these problems head on, articulating the challenges facing higher education and describing in pragmatic terms what can and cannot change–and what should and should not change.

Our Higher Calling is available now in both print and ebook editions.

For more information about the book, visit the book website, www.ourhighercalling.com.

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Holden Thorp is provost and Rita Levi-Montalcini Distinguished University Professor of Chemistry and Medicine at Washington University in St. Louis.  You can follow him on Twitter at @holdenWU.

Buck Goldstein is Professor of the Practice and University Entrepreneur in Residence in the Department of Economics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  You can follow him on Twitter at @buckgold1.

Together, they are the authors of Engines of Innovation:  The Entrepreneurial University in the Twenty-First Century, now in its second edition.

 

 

Georgann Eubanks: Marking the Textures of a Year

Today we welcome a guest post by Georgann Eubanks, author of The Month of Their Ripening:  North Carolina Heritage Foods through the Year, just published by UNC Press.

Telling the stories of twelve North Carolina heritage foods, each matched to the month of its peak readiness for eating, The Month of Their Ripening takes readers on a flavorful journey across the state. Georgann Eubanks begins in January with the most ephemeral of southern ingredients—snow—to witness Tar Heels making ice cream. In March, she takes a midnight canoe ride on the Trent River in search of shad, a bony fish with a savory history. In November, she visits a Chatham County sawmill where the possums are always first into the persimmon trees.

The Month of Their Ripening is available now in both print and ebook editions.

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Marking the Textures of a Year

Fresh figs have a complex texture. When ripe, they can become a muddle of flesh and juice if seized in the hand too roughly. The peak of ripeness is so ephemeral for every single fruit that picking figs becomes both art (handling) and science (timing). This vulnerability is what makes a ripe fig so precious. According to British food scholar David C. Sutton, only three percent of the figs consumed on the planet are eaten fresh. They simply don’t keep well. It is far easier to dry out the little punching bags of sugar and seed than to sell them fresh at market.

To celebrate the August Fig Festival on Ocracoke Island, Dajio Restaurant offered a pizza with figs, caramelized onions, blue cheese, and prosciutto.

To celebrate the August Fig Festival on Ocracoke Island, Dajio Restaurant offered a pizza with figs, caramelized onions, blue cheese, and prosciutto.
Photo by Donna Campbell

As my own fig tree grew and I suddenly had fresh, imminently perishable figs aplenty to share with my neighbors in Carrboro every August, I was surprised to learn how many people I know have never tasted a fresh fig. Most only know the fruit by its association with the Nabisco cookie.

A little research revealed, incidentally, that Fig Newtons were named for the town where they were first baked in 1891–Newton, Massachusetts–not some contrived association with the first proponent of the theory of gravity, which I somehow believed as a child. According to the New York Times, the global food conglomerate that now manufactures these cookies actually dropped “fig” from the name in 2012, after market research revealed that younger consumers associate figs with prunes, a fruit believed to be synonymous with old age.

“Newtons” as they are called are still square and about a half-inch tall with the same nondescript, chewy cookie crust, and now filled with a rubbery infusion of fruits such as strawberries, apples, apricots, or peaches. Because of this substitution, I suspect that children today–at least in the United States–may be even less likely than my peers to know what a fresh fig tastes like, but I am sure the fruit’s value will prevail. The crunchy sweetness is undeniable.

Continue Reading Georgann Eubanks: Marking the Textures of a Year

Cameron B. Strang: What’s so American about American Science?

Frontiers of Science by Cameron B. StrangToday we welcome a guest post from Cameron B. Strang, author of Frontiers of Science:  Imperialism and Natural Knowledge in the Gulf South Borderlands, 1500-1850, just published by the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and UNC Press.

Frontiers of Science offers a new framework for approaching American intellectual history, one that transcends political and cultural boundaries and reveals persistence across the colonial and national eras. The pursuit of knowledge in the United States did not cohere around democratic politics or the influence of liberty. It was, as in other empires, divided by multiple loyalties and identities, organized through contested hierarchies of ethnicity and place, and reliant on violence. By discovering the lost intellectual history of one region, Strang shows us how to recover a continent for science.

Frontiers of Science is available now in both print and ebook editions.

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What’s so American about American Science?

Americans love pondering how things in the United States differ from those in other countries. The answer—for topics ranging from politics to art—is often something like “liberty,” “freedom,” or “democracy.” American science is no exception. After reading every book about science in the early United States I could get my hands on, I found most authors agreed that it was a post-independence context of freedom and democratic government that, for better or for worse, set American science off on its own path.

But such a conclusion depends on some pretty bold (if nevertheless widely accepted) assumptions. It assumes that U.S. territory was a place defined primarily by liberty and democracy. It assumes that the American people studying nature were free and independent citizens. And it therefore tends to assume that the only truly American intellectuals were white Anglo men living on the eastern fringe of the continent.

Continue Reading Cameron B. Strang: What’s so American about American Science?

Mushroom of the Month, August 2018: Ravenel’s Stinkhorn Phallus ravenelii

A Field Guide to Mushrooms of the CarolinasHere’s the next entry in our monthly series, Mushroom of the Month, brought to you by Michael W. Hopping, co-author of A Field Guide to Mushrooms of the Carolinas:  A Southern Gateways Guide — this month it’s Ravenel’s Stinkhorn Phallus ravenelii.

Mushrooms in the wild present an enticing challenge: some are delicious, others are deadly, and still others take on almost unbelievable forms. A Field Guide to Mushrooms of the Carolinas introduces 650 mushrooms found in the Carolinas–more than 50 of them appearing in a field guide for the first time–using clear language and color photographs to reveal their unique features.

A Field Guide to Mushrooms of the Carolinas is available now in both print and ebook editions.

Look for more Mushroom of the Month features on the UNC Press Blog in the months ahead.

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Ravenel’s Stinkhorn Phallus ravenelii

Phallus ravenelii (Photo by Michael W. Hopping)

Phallus ravenelii (Photo by Michael W. Hopping)

In the life sciences, the practice of naming a new species in honor of a colleague, the use of an eponym, goes way back. Eponyms don’t help anyone picture the species in question, but that’s usually the worst that can be said of them. There are, however, exceptions. Two 19th century pillars of Carolinas mycology were involved in what surely ranks among the most backhanded eponymic compliments in history.

Rev. Moses Ashley (M. A.) Curtis, an Episcopal priest and amateur botanist based in Hillsborough, published his first mushroom paper in 1848. Later, during a church assignment in Society Hill, SC, he began a long-distance collaboration with the English mycologist, Rev. Miles Joseph Berkeley. It was highly productive. Few author citations for mushroom species are as common as the abbreviation, Berk. & M.A. Curtis.

Continue Reading Mushroom of the Month, August 2018: Ravenel’s Stinkhorn Phallus ravenelii