UNC Press July 2021 Author Events

Adrian Miller
Black Smoke
Thursday, July 1, 2021 | 6:45pm ET
Smithsonian Associates Evening Lecture/Seminar

Kent Masterson Brown
Meade at Gettysburg
Friday, July 2, 2021 | 6:00pm ET
Gettysburg Heritage Center – in-person book talk and signing

Heather Berg
Porn Work
Tuesday, July 6, 2021 | 6:00pm ET
P&P Live! Work, Inequality, Gender, and Capitalism in Modern America Panel

Crystal Webster
Beyond the Boundaries of Childhood
Thursday, July 8, 2021 | 5:30pm ET
Massachusetts Historical Society

Shanna Greene Benjamin
Half in Shadow
Thursday, July 8, 2021 | 6:30pm ET
Charlotte Mecklenburg Library

Kevin Waite
West of Slavery
Thursday, July 8, 2021 | 6:30pm ET
American Civil War Museum – virtual event

Jane Hong
Opening the Gates to Asia
Sunday, July 11, 2021 | 2:00pm ET
Gilder Lehrman Book Breaks – virtual event

Kathleen Purvis
Distilling the South
Sunday, July 11, 2021 | 3:00pm ET
ASW Distillery – in person event

Allyson P. Brantley
Brewing a Boycott
Wednesday, July 14, 2021 | 6:30pm MT
Boulder Book Store – in-person event

Finis Dunaway
Defending the Arctic Refuge
Thursday, July 15, 2021 | 12:00pm ET
Natural Resources Council of Maine

Carolyn Eastman
The Strange Genius of Mr. O
Thursday, July 15, 2021 | 12:00pm ET
Virginia Museum of History and Culture – in-person and streaming

Adrian Miller
Black Smoke
Sunday, July 18, 2021 | 6:00pm PT
Post & Beam Los Angeles

Katherine Carté 
Religion and the American Revolution
Thursday, July 22, 2021 | 7:00pm ET
George Washington’s Mount Vernon

Van Gosse
The First Reconstruction
Thursday, July 22, 2021 | 2:00pm ET
Maine Historical Society

Van Gosse
The First Reconstruction
Thursday, July 22, 2021 | 2:00pm ET
Maine Historical Society

Van Gosse
The First Reconstruction
Friday, July 23, 2021 | 5:00pm ET
Westport Museum of History and Culture “Chats on the Past”

Billy Coleman
Harnessing Harmony
Thursday, July 29, 2021, 2:00 pm ET
The American Antiquarian Society – Virtual book talk

The Last News Story of Colonial America

Guest blog post by Robert G. Parkinson, author of Thirteen Clocks: How Race United the Colonies and Made the Declaration of Independence

What was the tipping point that pushed Americans into taking the step of declaring their independence? After all, the colonies had been at war with Britain for more than a year by the end of the spring of 1776. The other factor most attributed to causing independence, Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, was five months old by that time. What changed in May 1776 to encourage patriot political leaders in both the Continental Congress and in many of the separate colonial assemblies to support severing ties with Britain? What produced a sudden support for independence?

The Germans were coming.

The news that King George had arranged for the purchase of upwards of ten thousand mercenaries from the German states of Hesse-Cassel, Hanau, Brunswick, and Hanover struck the American colonies like a tsunami in early May 1776. When Americans learned that the King had made these arrangements—instead of sending over peace commissioners or negotiators—they rapidly embraced independence as the only course of action to take. The last news story of colonial America was that the Germans were coming. Before, there had only been wild speculation about the Crown trying to buy soldiers to put the rebellion down. Rumors about Russians circulated in the fall of 1775. But before May 1776—long after the King had actually signed treaties with the German princes—none of it could be considered fact.

Then, on May 2, 1776, a ship captain named John Lee steered his vessel into a slip in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and scampered down the wharf in search of the closest patriot leader to tell about a massive British fleet he had spotted already on its way across the Atlantic, bound for Manhattan. On board, he reported to patriot leader Timothy Pickering, were not only scores of British soldiers, but also twelve thousand German mercenary troops. Letters documenting Lee’s testimony flew out of New England, headed for General Washington’s headquarters in New York and to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. Within two days colonial newspapers had the story, telling their readers all about the coming invasion.

Then, just two weeks after Lee’s eyewitness report reached Congress, a man with an even more amazing story arrived in Philadelphia. It hadn’t been that long ago, but it surely felt like a lifetime since George Merchant tried to keep out the cold Canadian wind on sentry duty outside Montreal just that past November. The Virginia frontiersman was part of Daniel Morgan’s rifleman unit, then assigned to aid in the conquest of Canada. Something happened and he found himself captured, questioned, and soon enough, bound across the Atlantic, headed to England as a prisoner of war. Once there, he suffered further interrogation and jail in Bristol, but found succor from a few sympathizers of the American “cause” who helped arrange for his escape. Before they did, they gave him a number of important papers for him to secret away in the lining of his clothing.

Upon reaching Nova Scotia, Merchant managed to get to New Hampshire, where he found John Langdon, a leading patriot authority. Langdon took one look at Merchant’s papers and flew to his writing table to let everyone know what they contained: the official treaties that arranged terms by which King George had negotiated with the German princes for thousands of professional soldiers. Like Lee’s testimony, Langdon sent letters recounting Merchant’s texts all over America. He also sent Merchant himself south, where he was to go to Philadelphia to seek out Josiah Bartlett, Langdon’s colleague and friend from New Hampshire. On May 20, Merchant introduced himself to Bartlett at a Philadelphia coffeehouse. The two of them went immediately up the street to spread the texts on the table in front of the Continental Congress.

This was the final straw. Almost instantly, the news of Lee’s testimony and Merchant’s documents raced through American newspapers. For the rest of May and early June, patriot printers documented the news of the German invaders. As Benjamin Franklin wrote late in May, “The German Auxiliaries are certainly coming. It is our Business to prevent their Returning.”

It was just at this moment that the colonial rebellion turned into a movement of national independence. In the ten days between Lee’s testimony and Merchant’s documentation arriving in the city, Congress passed a resolution ordering any colony that had not yet done so to start drafting state constitutions, a move that John Adams thought was essentially American independence. From Williamsburg, Virginia patriots ordered their delegates in Philadelphia to bring the question of independence to the floor for formal debate. Within two weeks of George Merchant presenting his secret documents, Congress had not only voted unanimously to leave the British Empire but had assigned Thomas Jefferson to draft a declaration of independence.

Near the climax of that Declaration, Jefferson would write that one of the King’s chief crimes was “transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation, and tyranny already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy unworthy the head of a civilized nation.” His colleagues wanted more to that accusation, adding that the King’s actions were “scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages.”

The news of thousands of German mercenaries supplementing British forces would turn out to be the last news story of colonial America. It convinced Americans, both within the patriot leadership and without, that what Common Sense had advised seven long months ago was now inescapable: “’Tis Time to Part.”

It wasn’t natural rights or abstract concepts of consent or representation that made conditions right for the founding of the United States. It was the intervention of thousands of “proxies,” men hired to fight on behalf of King George, into the Revolution that provoked Jefferson, Franklin, and their colleagues to declare American independence. When we celebrate the Fourth of July we forget these tiny details—and the vital participation of men like Captain John Lee or the rifleman George Merchant—but they, too, were essential in bringing Independence Day about on July 4, 1776.

Robert G. Parkinson is associate professor of history at Binghamton University. 

“Colored Conventions Show Us Where Democracy Really Happens”, Democracy Works Podcast featuring P. Gabrielle Foreman and Jim Casey

In April, P. Gabrielle Foreman and Jim Casey, contributors to The Colored Conventions Movement: Black Organizing in the Nineteenth Century, were featured on Penn State’s Democracy Works podcast. If you’re not already familiar with these two, they’ve been doing some incredible work to detail the history of The Colored Conventions movement, the nineteenth century’s longest campaign for Black civil rights. The Colored Conventions Movement was also featured on part two of our JuneTeenth recommended reading list, click here to see the other titles featured on that list.

P. Gabrielle Foreman is the Paterno Chair of Liberal Arts and professor of English, African American studies, and History at the Pennsylvania State University. 

Jim Casey is assistant professor of African American studies, history, and English at the Pennsylvania State University. 

Sarah Lynn Patterson is assistant professor of African American literature and culture at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. 

Unruly Bodies: tyranny of the visual

This week we’re sharing an excerpt from Susannah B. Mintz’s Unruly Bodies: Life Writing by Women with Disabilities to celebrate Disability Pride Month. The excerpt is titled tyranny of the visual, written by Lucy Grealy and Georgina Kleege. Earlier this month we published a recommended reading list featuring Mintz’s Unruly Bodies and other titles highlighting and sharing the experiences of self-identified disabled people.

The textual display of a disabled female body places in especially high relief the role of the visual in subject making, at once disclosing and disobeying what is nearly an axiomatic relationship between female identity, sexuality, and the gaze. From psychoanalytic theories of mirroring to the regulatory mechanism of Foucauldian surveillance, from feminist critiques about the specularity of cinema to the erotic watching of sexual encounters, and from the theatrics of autobiography to the importance granted visibility in identity politics, the dynamics of vision tend to hold primacy of place in contemporary theorizing about selfhood. The texts to be considered in this chapter both accord with and complicate that privileged cultural status of sight. Autobiography of a Face (1994), Lucy Grealy’s account of numerous attempts to surgically restore a jaw lost to cancer, and Sight Unseen (1999), Georgina Kleege’s collection of personal essays about partial blindness, are at once trained on looks and looking as barometers of self-worth and are concerned to devise alternate modes of self-knowledge and intersubjective communication. Because neither Grealy nor Kleege “looks like” anyone else, their stories expose the fallacy of a presumably universal visual dynamic, not only to claim the possibility of a reciprocal or female-authored exchange of looks but, more crucially, to disrupt the relationship between seeing and selfhood altogether.

Looking as an instrument of power that guarantees both an able-bodied and masculine subject position is a staple feature of psychoanalytically informed feminist film theory as well as histories of the freak show. In the well-rehearsed formulation of Laura Mulvey, the scopophilic encounter of film empowers an active male gaze that objectifies and controls a passive female surface. Male viewers’ looking coincides with that of the camera and of male heroes, while women must take the position of either the men in the audience (thus contorting their subjective position) or the women on-screen (thus colluding in their own objectification). The pleasures of looking are wholly enjoyed by the man, who participates with the idealized male protagonist of the narrative in gazing at the eroticized female image and who thus determines both the course and the meaning of the narrative. The female figure, in contrast, is a troubling and even stalling presence, soothing through erotic fantasy the terrible threat of castration that her own displayed body provokes. The scene of looking has thus come to be understood as marked by inequities of power: by the male subject’s desire to penetrate, know, and dominate and by the silencing of the female object.

Critics since Mulvey have protested against the apparent impossibility of a legitimate female gaze, a look-back from the woman that neither dissolves in narcissistic self-appraisal nor serves to dismember a now-immobilized male—or, for that matter, that even involves men at all. Jackie Stacey contends that psychoanalytic readings of film operate within a binary model of sexual difference according to which the structure of desire is always heterosexual; the rigid distinction  between either desire or identification,” Stacey writes, requires that the complex exchange of gazes between women in the audience and women on-screen must either “be collapsed into simple identification” or mapped onto masculine heterosexual desire. Stacey argues for a more complex understanding of female looking, one that exceeds the limitations of the “three rather frustrating options of masculinisation, masochism or marginality” while maintaining the space of difference between women. Critics have also reexamined texts in which women are the main characters and whose perspective thus directs the narrative. Lorraine Gamman, for example, has suggested that female characters who control point of view “don’t invert power relations, claiming total mastery for themselves, but instead subtly displace such relations.”

A similar reclaiming of representational perspective characterizes contemporary disability theater, performance art, and photography. Rosemarie Garland-Thomson writes that in an “ocularcentric era,” “the stare sculpts the disabled subject into a grotesque spectacle.” Freak shows literally commodified human “oddities” or “nature’s mistakes,” displaying physical anomalies in carefully packaged exhibits that conferred transparent normalcy upon viewers. In a modern scientific age, the medical gaze isolates and pathologizes deviant or deformed body parts. Charity posters sentimentalize disabled children whose infirmity cries out for rescuing from benevolent “normates.” And everyday encounters enforce the categorical separation between disabled and nondisabled through what Thomson calls a “stare-and-tell ritual” in which the disabled are called upon to explain “what happened.” Such objectifying scenes of looking may be counteracted, however, by visual art by people with disabilities that stares back at an ableist audience, challenging its assumptions about corporeal difference. The photographs in Alexa Wright’s series I, for example, in which different forms of congenital disability are digitally superimposed onto images of the artist, pry apart the correspondence between body trait and character inherent in acts of stigmatizing, problematize conventional notions of beauty and artistic value, and challenge viewers to question what they think they know based on what they see. Performance artists such as Mary Duffy and Cheryl Marie Wade similarly confront spectators with unabashed displays of female, disabled bodies that invite only to invalidate the power of the ableist stare, the look that constructs disability as oddity, medical abnormality, or pitiable misfortune. And in a theater piece called Go Figure, Katie Rodriguez Banister negotiates changes in her experience of sexuality after becoming quadriplegic, not simply to affirm a disabled sexual identity but, more critically, to prod viewers to reconsider normative presumptions about sexual behavior. In these various media, being looked at is dramatized as part of what materializes both gender and disability but then reorganized as an intersubjective dynamic, one in which autobiographical storytelling asks nondisabled viewers to interrogate their biases and fears about anomalous bodies.

Susannah B. Mintz is associate professor of English at Skidmore College. She is author of Threshold Poetics: Milton and Intersubjectivity

The Roanoke Voyages (1584-1590), First of Five Roanoke Voyages with Emphasis on Geographic Naming – Part 2

The third segment of a guest blog post series by Roger L. Payne, author of The Outer Banks Gazetteer: The History of Place Names from Carova to Emerald Isle. Click here to view Roger Payne’s entire guest blog series.

A continuation of the incidents and information regarding the first Roanoke Voyage.

It cannot be confirmed that Amadas and Barlowe did or did not stop at Ocracoke Island on their voyage of reconnoiter as Amadas’ logs are not clear on the matter. However, reports exist that a member of the party named Richard Butler, in his deposition to the Spanish 12 years after the voyage, claimed “[W]e disembarked in central Florida at a place called Ococa, so named by the nature of the country. Twenty Leagues further on, toward the northern part we disembarked again in another place known to the English as Puerto Fernando and to the savages as Ataurras.” This leads Quinn (1971) to suggest Ococa refers to Ocracoke and Puerto Fernando to Hatarask (area just south of present Oregon Inlet) with Ataurras likely being a phonetic rendition of Hatarask. It is unclear why the generic Puerto was used by Butler since Fernandes was Portuguese and would have used Porto, but perhaps it was in deference to Fernándes’ training in Spain or because Butler was giving his deposition to the Spanish. Butler’s reference to central Florida is plausible because then the English applied the name Florida to anything Spanish in coastal North America. Twenty leagues would be approximately 60 miles, which would be almost to former Gunt Inlet (Port Ferdinando just north of Oregon Inlet). If this is so, it implies the inlet was named Port Ferdinando in 1584, during the 1st Roanoke Voyage, and it, rather than Trinety Harbor, might have been the one used by Amadas and Barlowe when encountering indigenous peoples at Roanoke Island. The inlet was named for Simon Fernándes, Portuguese pilot on the first, second, and fourth Roanoke voyages, and importantly was the first English place name given in what is now the United States (inlets for a short time used Port as the generic term because at that time it referred to anywhere that ships could ride at anchor in relative safety). However, Butler’s deposition was not given until 1596, so possibly he was citing the place (inlet) but named later, possibly referring to having been labeled on the later version of White’s map (date unknown). In fact, Port Ferdinando, is shown on White’s map (1585) and the numerous versions of De Bry’s map of 1590, but without any name. Indeed, this seems more likely, as it remains unclear if the English visited this inlet in 1584 (Port Ferdinando and referred to incorrectly by many researchers as Hatarask). The reference Hatarask appears on White’s 1585 map considerably south of the inlet’s location suggesting that the island or area was referred to (by indigenous peoples) as Hataraske and the inlet was unnamed. Further, the label Hataraske had been shifted northward on De Bry’s 1590 map accounting for many authors mistakenly using this name for the inlet that was, in fact, named Port Ferdinando. Also, Cape Kenrick (now Wimble Shoals just east of Rodanthe) was a major feature impeding closely following the coast and could have been a factor for missing the inlet. So, still not clear whether Port Ferdinando was named during the 1stRoanoke Voyage (Amadas and Barlowe, with Butler) or on the 2nd Roanoke Voyage (Grenville – 1585). Amadas’ logs are less clear on the initial entry, and unfortunately no directional references are in the logs. Butler’s deposition is vague and often contradictory, Quinn (1985) believes from Amadas and Barlowe’s log they must have encountered the inlet at the north tip of Hatarask, but the comments are vague and could have been Trinety Harbor (at what is now northern Duck; known notto have been named until the second Roanoke Voyage). Butler then indicates later from Hatarask they “moved 12 leagues to the north and found a port… which the savages call Ca-cho Peos… and these savages were enemies of those at Puerto Fernando [Hatarask].” Twelve leagues (about 35 miles) would be just beyond former Trinety Harbor (just north of Duck) from Port Ferdinando, further supporting that location possibly being the entry used by Amadas and Barlowe (1584). On the other hand, the reference to Ca-cho Peos strongly suggests mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, another 30 leagues (90 miles) from Hatarask, but known not to have been visited by Amadas and Barlowe. Amadas’ log is inconclusive regarding naming of Port Ferdinando (Gunt Inlet near present Oregon Inlet), and neither his log nor Butler’s later deposition provide the definitive location of the initial entry inlet on this first Roanoke Voyage. Further and importantly, there is an historical marker at the site (maintained by The North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program) that suggests no proof one way or the other, and indeed, indicates “Roanoke Voyages 1585–1590,” thereby discounting Amadas and Barlowe’s 1584 voyage visiting this location. The accompanying essay at the historical marker program indicates “considerable doubt exists as to the course followed by expedition scouts Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe in 1584…”  and continues indicating “Not until July 27 (1585) did (Sir Richard) Grenville anchor at Hatoraske, off the barrier island, a short distance southeast of Roanoke Island. Here at a break in the barrier reef, almost due east of the southern tip of Roanoke Island, Simon Ferdinando [sic] discovered a “port,” named Port Ferdinando in his honor and considered the best port along that stretch of coast.” So, researchers at the North Carolina Historical Marker Program seem convinced that the initial inlet of entry was not Port Ferdinando, and that the inlet was not named until the second voyage in 1585.

When Amadas and Barlowe returned to England they had “invited” two Native Americans, Manteo (Croatoan or Hatteras Indians) and Wanchese (Roanoke Tribe at Roanoke Island). While in England, Wanchese became suspicious of the English and became uncooperative and left the English upon his return to Roanoke during the second Roanoke Voyage with Captain Grenville, April 19, 1585, and later caused trouble for future colonists while Manteo remained friendly and provided assistance to colonists. Manteo was knighted for his efforts as Lord of Roanoke the first English titled granted in the New World. 

Roger L. Payne is executive secretary emeritus of the U.S. Board on Geographic Names. 

OTD: Why we should remember July 20, 1775

Guest blog post by Katherine Carté, author of Religion and the American Revolution: An Imperial History

John Adams described the American Revolution as a time when “thirteen clocks were made to strike together” when he reflected on the era in 1818. Though he did not say it, if that description could be applied to a single moment, the best candidate would likely have been July 20, 1775.

Most people have never heard of that date, but the time delays in early modern transportation made it nearly impossible for people across the country to share in Revolutionary events that weren’t planned in advance. For that reason, the July 20 national day of fasting declared by the Continental Congress, in effect our first national holiday, was probably one of the only moments of the Revolutionary War that Americans experienced simultaneously. Held just over a year before the Declaration of Independence, it was an explicit effort by political leaders to create national unity at a time of crisis and division. The Second Continental Congress passed the resolution calling for the fast on Monday, June 12, 1775, just a few weeks into its sessions and while Boston was still under siege from British troops. The revolutionary governments in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire supported the precarious and extralegal Continental Congress by declaring concurrent fasts. So too did British North America’s largest Presbyterian body, the Synod of New York and Philadelphia.

The day was widely commemorated, even if it was not universally celebrated. As Adams wrote of Philadelphia: “The Fast was observed here with a Decorum and solemnity, never before seen ever on a Sabbath.” In Newport, minister Ezra Stiles noted that the day saw “the most crouded Assembly that I ever preached to in my Meetinghouse. It has been a serious and solemn and I hope sincere Fast!” Another preacher, William Piercy, reported from New York that he “never remembered to have seen a Day that was observed with so much seriousness and solemnity as in this City. Every Thing and every Person wore the Appearance of Mourning and Lamentation.” On the other hand, many Anglican clergy who had sworn allegiance to the King either avoided the day or marked it in protest.  As historian Spencer McBride has described, Samuel Seabury (of Hamilton fame) closed the doors of his church in protest on the date. The event was widely shared, but its meaning was disputed.

Why did so many people mark that day? The key point here is that the moment of unity achieved in 1775 was a relic of the colonial era, not a harbinger of political or religious unity in the future United States. When Congress proclaimed the fast day in 1775, its members banked on the fact that religious leaders in the rebelling colonies would support them.  It was a safe gamble, because in 1775, the Congress was still operating within the British Empire’s structures of religious establishment. In that system, political leaders determined the boundaries of legitimate religion by supporting certain denominations, tolerating others, and outlawing religious behavior that was disruptive or divisive. Colonial religious leaders had embraced the privileges they gained from Britain’s Protestant establishment, and they had eagerly supported Britain in its endless wars against Catholic France and Spain. In 1775, colonial clergy were quite accustomed to addressing political crises from the public pulpit, and residents of the colonies were used to having political agendas—even war—cast in religious terms. The scale of the shared experience produced on July 20, 1775, and the success of the national fast resulted from the structures of the ancient regime, rather than (principally) from enthusiasm for the Revolutionary cause.

Tracing national days of fast and thanksgiving forward through the Revolutionary era helps explain why the widespread commemoration of July 20, 1775, was not repeated. Although numerous such days were proclaimed by Congress between 1775 and 1784, the process of the Revolution wrenched Americans away what British called their “Constitution in Church and State.” Amidst the disruptions of war, political leaders chose not to attempt the establishment of a national church for the United States. A major reason for their reticence was the knowledge that public religion, while an important inheritance from the British empire, could also be divisive at a time when unity was essential. For example, in a much earlier usage of the “thirteen clocks” metaphor, John Adams told a correspondent shortly before the Declaration of Independence: “remember you cant make thirteen Clocks, Strike precisely alike, at the Same Second.”  With the next breath he advocated for “Toleration of all Denominations of Religionists,” and said that he “hope[d] that Congress [would] never meddle with Religion, further than to Say their own Prayers, and to fast and give Thanks, once a Year. Let every Colony, have its own Religion, without Molestation.” 

The fact that the most dramatic moment of unity during the Revolutionary era came about through the deployment of a colonial era tool provides important evidence of how disruptive the American Revolution was to political and religious structures. In the absence of institutional links between governments and Protestant institutions, both sides in that equation had to find new ways to legitimize their actions and shape a public agenda. As they struggled to build a new nation, the founding generation left public religion by the wayside and, eventually, severed all formal ties between religious institutions and the federal government with the First Amendment in 1791. When they did so, they forced Americans to find new ways to create a shared culture.

Katherine Carté (who previously published as Katherine Carté Engel) is associate professor of history at Southern Methodist University, with affiliations in the Religious Studies department. 

The Right to Live in Health: A Blessed Formula for Progress

Recently, we published a recommended reading list in support of Cuba’s most recent demand for liberation. Today we chose to publish an excerpt from one of the titles from that reading list, Daniel A. Rodríguez’s The Right to Live in Health: Medical Politics in Postindependence Havana. Out of the many reasons people in Cuba have chosen to protest, medical resources was one of the major issues; so this excerpt is very fitting for the current times.

On May 15, 1902, just days before the Cuban Republic was formally inaugurated, the social, political, and scientific elite of Havana gathered to celebrate the new home of the Cuban Academy of Science. That evening, many “elegant ladies and distinguished men of science” crowded into the academy’s stately dark wood lecture hall illuminated by the warm glow of electric lights. At the front of the room sat the guests of honor, including the military governor of Cuba Leonard Wood and president-elect Tomás Estrada Palma, alongside two of the evening’s invited speakers: the noted bacteriologists and physicians Juan Santos Fernández and Enrique Barnet. They came together that evening to celebrate the recent renovations that transformed the former San Agustín convent into this “new temple of science” for the Cuban people. The timing of the event and the symbolism of its location seemed to suggest that an age of rationalism and national science had eclipsed colonial superstition and empiricism. Science and medicine would no longer be relegated to the margins of public consciousness or the nation’s political priorities. Indeed, they could no longer be ignored, for the reality of tropical disease and Cuba’s uneasy relationship to the United States required that the Cuban people embrace science, modernity, and the responsibilities of hygienic self-discipline. At the cusp of independence and the dawn of a new century, medicine represented more than a set of healing practices and technologies: it was a blueprint for a modern and healthy republic, a “blessed formula for progress” for the Cuban nation.

For the men and women gathered that evening, medical science and a government committed to public health action were the keys to the redemption of a tropical island long known as a hotbed of disease and death. As Juan Santos Fernández reminded his audience, “Our country, until yesterday, was considered on par with others in the tropical Americas, as poisoned ground that made civilized men pay with their lives for daring tread” upon Cuban soil. Just months before, a joint effort of Cuban and U.S. scientists and health officials had finally managed to rid the island of yellow fever, the disease that targeted the foreign-born and had since the eighteenth century done profound damage to Cuba’s economy and international reputation. The extirpation of yellow fever proved that environment was not destiny, that the tropics were not necessarily coterminous with disease, death, and backwardness.

For Cuban health advocates, the success of the yellow fever campaign was vivid proof that once the cause of disease was determined, concerted state action could reduce or even eliminate infectious disease. For Enrique Barnet, this meant that governments had a responsibility to do everything in their power to protect their citizens from disease, for “society has the right not to have … disease in their midst.” But this right came with its own responsibilities, for Cuban citizens would have to assimilate the new lessons of the laboratory and adopt the hygienic bodily practices that would protect them and one another from infection. Barnet warned that citizens would have to be led, by force if necessary, into this hygienic modernity, for “the neglect of personal habits, [and] lack of cleanliness and personal hygiene are very common among the ignorant classes.” He therefore urged his audience to embrace the task of popular health education, likening it to a religious calling, “so that science comes to be like the priesthood” for those that preached the life-saving “good news” of modern hygiene.

If medicine was to have a privileged place in postcolonial Cuban life, however, it was not just because it could help Cuba achieve health and national modernity. Not far from the surface of this discussion was the pervasive threat that disease could pose to Cuban independence under the provisions of the Platt Amendment, imposed on Cuba as a precondition for the withdrawal of U.S. forces. Its fifth article required the Cuban government to maintain “acceptable” health conditions in its cities in order to prevent the spread of disease to southern U.S. ports. Failure to do so risked another military intervention. With the Cuban president-elect standing before him, Santos Fernández demanded that the new political leadership “turn their attention even more than they have to the importance of our health problems,” for with the loss of sovereignty hanging over the island, “one would have to close their eyes to reason to not grasp that we will not have a country if we cannot maintain our public health.”

Daniel A. Rodríguez is assistant professor of history at Brown University. 

Mount Vernon’s Virtual Book Talk with Author Tamika Nunley

Tamika Nunley, author of At the Threshold of Liberty: Women, Slavery, and Shifting Identities in Washington, D.C., was featured on Mount Vernon’s virtual book talk series earlier this year. During the talk, Tamika discusses her book, the portrait of Elizabeth Keckley used as the books cover, the tradition of education amongst enslaved people and even answers some questions asked by the viewers. Tamika’s book was also featured on part two of our JuneTeenth recommended reading list.

Tamika Y. Nunley is assistant professor of history and comparative American studies at Oberlin College. 

Performing Politics from Sin permiso to Patria y vida

Guest blog post by Elizabeth Schwall, author of Dancing with the Revolution: Power, Politics, and Privilege in Cuba . Elizabeth’s book was also featured on our recent recommended reading list entitled “Cuba’s Fight For Freedom”.

On Sunday July 11, 2021, unprecedented protests erupted across Cuba. People have taken to the streets due to an escalating COVID-19 crisis, food scarcity, limited access to medicine, and state repression among other issues. Much already has been and inevitably will be written about the protests. Commentators have already explained the causes and early government responses to the protesters. Although only time will tell the full impact of these demonstrations, here, I want to direct attention to an important rallying cry for the movement—a rap song Patria y vida—and to connect that anthem with the histories of dance and politics detailed in my book, Dancing with the Revolution: Power, Politics, and Privilege in Cuba. 

As reported, Miami-based Cuban musicians released an anti-Communist anthem, Patria y vida (Homeland and Life), which revised the popular revolutionary slogan “patria o muerte” (homeland or death). The song went viral and has inspired protesters. “Patria y vida” has appeared on placards, and #PatriaYVida has flooded social media feeds. The fact that a performance, in this case a song, has a mobilizing political message comes as no surprise. Other Cuban performers, more specifically dancers, have used their bodies to convey political ideas for decades. 

In my book, I discuss a range of political choreographies enacted by professional dancers in revolutionary Cuba. Their output was incredibly diverse. Some staged productions that passionately supported the Revolution. Others choreographed works that subtly critiqued racism and traditional gender norms. A few dances metaphorically questioned the state. Many other performances were apolitical, spotlighting topics like unrequited love or African sculpture. However, dancers operated within nationalized institutions and performed against a highly politicized backdrop. As a result, they always had to contend with the Revolution on and off the stage. They navigated their relationship with this political project as one would a dancing partner. They literally and metaphorically danced with the Revolution, not marching in lockstep behind it, but dynamically and physically shaping its trajectory. 

Navigating this partnership made Cuban dancers (not to mention cultural producers and everyday citizens more broadly) agile and clever. Choreographers managed to lament suffocating state control in highly public ways. For instance, in 1988 Cuban choreographer Marianela Boán and her company Danza Abierta (Open Dance) premiered Sin permiso (Without Permission) about the permission required, granted, or denied to perform in Cuba. The choreography included dancers raising a hand as though asking permission to speak, pushing down that hand to represent regular refusals, and covering their mouth to dramatize disrupted communication. In these and other productions, dancers powerfully performed politics, nonverbally intervening in broader discussions about freedom.

Thirty-three years later, Cubans continue to move sin permiso, now under the banner of patria y vida. Thinking about historical dances reminds us that the political performances today have precedents. Cuban artists have long been movers and shakers, then and now. A group of artists in fact paved the way for the current demonstrations by forming the San Isidro Movement in 2018 and calling on the government to eliminate new expressive strictures. People have used and continue to use their bodies, movements, and voices to perform politics. These performances reveal a great deal about people’s frustrations and aspirations. As the protests unfold, I encourage the world to watch and listen carefully. 

Elizabeth B. Schwall is assistant professor of history at Northern Arizona University. 

The Roanoke Voyages (1584-1590), First of Five Roanoke Voyages with Emphasis on Geographic Naming – Part 1

The second segment of a guest blog post series by Roger L. Payne, author of The Outer Banks Gazetteer: The History of Place Names from Carova to Emerald Isle . Click here to view Roger Payne’s entire guest blog series.

The first Roanoke Voyage is divided into two parts to convey necessary information regarding this historically controversial topic.

Voyages two through five are well documented, but this first voyage while thoroughly documented, is missing certain critical information to determine specifically the inlet entered initially as no inlets were “apparently” named on this voyage and directional references are conspicuously missing in the log entries. The controversy will likely never be solved. Additionally, of debate is whether Port Ferdinando was named on this voyage or the second voyage.

In 1584, Sir Walter Raleigh (knighted by Queen Elizabeth I in 1585) was granted a patent (official document granting sole rights) by Queen Elizabeth to establish an English colony in the New World and specifically North America, north of the Spanish colonies. Ostensibly, the English wanted to establish commerce in the New World, but in reality, England desperately wanted to limit Spanish dominion in North America. So, under Raleigh’s charter, Amadas and Barlowe set sail with two ships on April 27, 1584 for the North American coast to reconnoiter in preparation for establishing an English colony. Their report to Raleigh was a glowing report (as expected) leading Raleigh to prepare for colonization. 

The ship’s logs indicate: “…we arrived upon the coast, which we supposed to be a continent and firme lande, and we sayled along the same for a hundred and twentie English miles before we could finde any entrance…”  

The ships’ logs do not define clearly the location where the 120 English mile measurement begins, therefore, it is not possible to determine specifically the inlet used for initial entry. The logs indicate (“encountering shole [sic] water”), which could be Cape Lookout making Port Ferdinando (just north of Oregon Inlet) a candidate, or around Ocracoke Inlet making Trinety Harbor the candidate. But distances found in the logs after entering the inlet describing Roanoke Island can only fit from Trinety Harbor. So, the specific inlet used will likely never be known and unfortunately neither feature is mentioned by name because evidence indicates no name had yet been given to either inlet. Further, the English mile was not standardized to 5,280 feet until 1593. In fact, in 1584, the English mile used would almost assuredly have been 5,000 feet (based on the old Roman mille) but making a difference of only a few miles by current measurements.

Furthermore, the ship’s logs upon arrival indicate: “We passed from the Sea side towards the toppes of those hilles next adjoining, being but of meane highth, and from thence wee beheld the Sea on both sides to the North, and to the South, finding no ende any of both ways.”  

If they had passed through Port Ferdinando (Gunt Inlet formerly just south of Oregon Inlet), then surely, they would have seen some part of southern Roanoke Island or the sound marshes of what is now Bodie Island as these features are only a few miles from the former inlet. If they had passed through Trinety Harbor, just north of Duck (about 35 miles north of Port Ferdinando), then not seeing land in either direction might fit.

The ships’ log continues “This land lay stretching it selfe to the West, which after we found to bee but an island of twentie miles long, and not above sixe miles broade.” Theoretically, this could only be Roanoke Island (unless… see below), as there is no large island now or then except Roanoke, which suggests only Port Ferdinando (Gunt Inlet). But even though a bit larger in 1585, Roanoke Island is only 12 miles long and 3.5 miles wide. 

There is another possibility, perhaps somewhat speculative, but worth noting as a possibility, especially for those who support Trinety Harbor as the one through which Amadas and Barlowe passed. The island to which Amadas and Barlowe referred might not have been an island at all, but instead misinterpretation from the indigenous peoples or a misjudgment on the part of Amadas and Barlowe. They could have mistaken the peninsula, Powells Point for an island, which is and was then a peninsula of about 16 to 21 miles long, though at its widest is just over four miles (a small misjudgment based upon information at the time, perhaps). This is a tantalizing topic perhaps for consideration, though the only map showing Powells Point as an island is that of Keulen (1682). If this scenario is correct, then it would fit generally with the distance factor for both the “unnamed” island upon arrival and the distance from the inlet of arrival to northern Roanoke Island (“twentie mile into the River that runneth towarde the City of Skicoak,”) which must be Currituck Sound since Skicoak was actually on what is now the James River in Virginia (DeBry 1590). Roanoke Island was not mentioned in the logs until three days after arrival at about 21 miles, the distance from then Trinety Harbor. Regardless of how tempting to consider this possibility might be, there is no evidence beyond Keulen’s map, which must be considered purely coincidental as proof. Nevertheless, Amadas and Barlowe could have (easily) made such a mistake, and which lends credence to the expedition not being noticed by the indigenous peoples for three days.

So, directions are not provided, but the English were more likely simply heading south on Currituck Sound (later versions of DeBry’s 1590 map are hand-colored and depict the English in a boat approaching Roanoke Island from the north). The indigenous peoples referred to all this area of sound as Occam (as mentioned in the ships’ logs) where Albemarle, Currituck, Croatan, and Roanoke Sounds generally mix. And so, to what island were they referring initially if they are now just being told the name of the island is Roanoke?  Seven leagues are about 21 miles, which fits from Trinety Harbor (formerly just north of Duck) and not from Port Ferdinando (formerly just south of Oregon Inlet).

Roger L. Payne is executive secretary emeritus of the U.S. Board on Geographic Names. 

Announcing the UNC Press Presents Podcast Network

We are excited to announce the newly launched UNC Press Presents Podcast website, a partnership with New Books Network.

Featuring UNC Press authors that have been interviewed since the launch of the New Books Network podcast, and from across all the disciplines that UNC Press publishes, UNC Press Presents Podcast allows one to search for and listen to approximately 250 (and counting) discussions. The podcasts are hosted by scholars in the same or related field of academic specialization, and offer rich background and context to publications written by UNC Press authors.

Recent podcast episodes of note include Van Gosse (The First Reconstruction: Black Politics in American from the Revolution to the Civil War), Katherine Carté (Religion and the American Revolution, published with Omohundro Institute), Katrinell M. Davis (Tainted Tap: Flint’s Journey from Crisis to Recovery), and Heather Berg (Porn Work: Sex, Labor, and Late Capitalism).

UNC Press Presents Podcast episodes can be streamed directly from the website (sign up for email alerts), as well as from major podcast distribution platforms Spotify, Stitcher, and Apple Podcasts.

About New Books Network (NBN): The New Books Network is a consortium of author-interview podcast channels dedicated to raising the level of public discourse by introducing scholars and other serious writers to a wide public via new media. Covering 90+ subjects, disciplines, and genres, we publish 55 episodes every week and serve a large, worldwide audience. 

Harriet, the Moses of Her People: Preface

In celebration of Disability Pride Month, I decided to post an excerpt from one of the titles from our recommended reading list published last week. This excerpt is the preface from Sarah Hopkins Bradford’s Harriet, the Moses of Her People.

The title I have given my black heroine, in this second edition of her story, viz.: THE MOSES OF HER PEOPLE, may seem a little ambitious, considering that this Moses was a woman, and that she succeeded in piloting only three or four hundred slaves from the land of bondage to the land of freedom.

But I only give her here the name by which she was familiarly known, both at the North and the South, during the years of terror of the Fugitive Slave Law, and during our last Civil War, in both of which she took so prominent apart.

And though the results of her unexampled heroism were not to free a whole nation of bond-men and bond-women, yet this object was as much the desire of her heart, as it was of that of the great leader of Israel. Her cry to the slave-holders, was ever like his to Pharaoh, “Let my people go!” and not even he imperiled life and limb more willingly, than did our courageous and self-sacrificing friend.

Her name deserves to be handed down to posterity, side by side with the names of Jeanne D’Arc, Grace Darling, and Florence Nightingale, for not one of these women, noble and brave as they were, has shown more courage, and power of endurance, in facing danger and death to relieve human suffering, than this poor black woman, whose story I am endeavoring in a most imperfect way to give you.

Would that Mrs. Stowe had carried out the plan she once projected, of being the historian of our sable friend; by her graphic pen, the incidents of such a life might have been wrought up into a tale of thrilling interest, equaling, if not exceeding her world renowned “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

The work fell to humbler hands, and the first edition of this story, under the title of “Harriet Tubman,” was written in the greatest possible haste, while the writer was preparing for a voyage to Europe. There was pressing need for this book, to save the poor woman’s little home from being sold under a mortgage, and letters and facts were penned down rapidly, as they came in. The book has now been in part re-written and the letters and testimonials placed in an appendix.

For the satisfaction of the incredulous (and there will naturally be many such, when so strange a tale is repeated to them), I will here state that so far as it has been possible, I have received corroboration of every incident related to me by my heroic friend. I did this for the satisfaction of others, not for my own. No one can hear Harriet talk, and not believe every word she says. As Mr. Sanborn says of her, “she is too real a person, not to be true.”

Many incidents quite as wonderful as those related in the story, I have rejected, because I had no way in finding the persons who could speak to their truth.

This woman was the friend of William H. Seward, of Gerritt Smith, of Wendell Phillips, of William Lloyd Garrison, and of many other distinguished philanthropists before the War, as of very many officers of the Union Army during the conflict.

After her almost superhuman efforts in making her own escape from slavery, and then returning to the South nineteen times, and bringing away with her over three hundred fugitives, she was sent by Governor Andrew of Massachusetts to the South at the beginning of the War, to act as spy and scout for our armies, and to be employed as hospital nurse when needed.

Here for four years she labored without any remuneration, and during the time she was acting as nurse, never drew but twenty days’ rations from our Government. She managed to support herself, as well as to take care of the suffering soldiers.

Secretary Seward exerted himself in every possible way to procure her a pension from Congress, but red-tape proved too strong even for him, and her case was rejected, because it did not come under any recognized law.

The first edition of this little story was published through the liberality of Gerritt Smith, Wendell Phillips, and prominent men in Auburn, and the object for which it was written was accomplished. But that book has long been out of print, and the facts stated there are all unknown to the present generation. There have, I am told, often been calls for the book, which could not be answered, and I have been urged by many friends as well as by Harriet herself, to prepare another edition. For another necessity has arisen and she needs help again not for herself, but for certain helpless ones of her people.

Her own sands are nearly run, but she hopes, ‘ere she goes home, to see this work, a hospital, well under way. Her last breath and her last efforts will be spent in the cause of those for whom she has already risked so much.

Sarah Hopkins Bradford (1818-1912) of Geneva, New York, was a writer and a teacher. Her writings helped raise funds for support of a legendary fugitive slave who led some 180 slaves to freedom. 

Cuba’s Fight for Freedom: A Recommended Reading List

Due to the protests happening in Cuba currently, we’ve decided to publish a recommended reading list pertaining to Cuba’s fight for freedom. This isn’t the first time revolts have taken place in Cuba, but what’s going on now has been referred to as the biggest protests Cuba has seen in decades. When I began researching what was going on in Cuba and got deeper into the details, I realized there were two stories at play here: one story says Cuban people are protesting against socialism and another story says Cuban people support socialism, but are against the U.S. blockade that has gotten even worse for Cubans during the pandemic. The common thread through all of what I’ve seen the Cuban people protesting over is the lack of food, medical resources for COVID-19, poor government leadership and an overall lack of freedom. Before you label this as a cry out against socialism, understand the full involvement of the U.S. in what Cuba is today. Below you’ll see a list of titles touching on various topics related to Cuba’s liberation struggle.



Building on nineteenth-century discourses that imagined Cuba as a raceless space, revolutionary leaders embraced a narrow definition of blackness, often seeming to suggest that Afro-Cubans had to discard their blackness to join the revolution. This was and remains a false dichotomy for many Cubans of color, Benson demonstrates. While some Afro-Cubans agreed with the revolution’s sentiments about racial transcendence–“not blacks, not whites, only Cubans”–others found ways to use state rhetoric to demand additional reforms. Still others, finding a revolution that disavowed blackness unsettling and paternalistic, fought to insert black history and African culture into revolutionary nationalisms. Despite such efforts by Afro-Cubans and radical government-sponsored integration programs, racism has persisted throughout the revolution in subtle but lasting ways.



Daniel A. Rodríguez’s history of a newly independent Cuba shaking off the U.S. occupation focuses on the intersection of public health and politics in Havana. While medical policies were often used to further American colonial power, in Cuba, Rodríguez argues, they evolved into important expressions of anticolonial nationalism as Cuba struggled to establish itself as a modern state. A younger generation of Cuban medical reformers, including physicians, patients, and officials, imagined disease as a kind of remnant of colonial rule. These new medical nationalists, as Rodríguez calls them, looked to medical science to guide Cuba toward what they envisioned as a healthy and independent future.



For many Cubans, Fidel Castro’s Revolution represented deliverance from a legacy of inequality and national disappointment. For others—especially those exiled in the United States—Cuba’s turn to socialism made the prerevolutionary period look like paradise lost. Michael J. Bustamante unsettles this familiar schism by excavating Cubans’ contested memories of the Revolution’s roots and results over its first twenty years. Cubans’ battles over the past, he argues, not only defied simple political divisions; they also helped shape the course of Cuban history itself. As the Revolution unfolded, the struggle over historical memory was triangulated among revolutionary leaders in Havana, expatriate organizations in Miami, and average Cuban citizens. All Cubans leveraged the past in individual ways, but personal memories also collided with the Cuban state’s efforts to institutionalize a singular version of the Revolution’s story.



Elizabeth B. Schwall aligns culture and politics by focusing on an art form that became a darling of the Cuban revolution: dance. In this history of staged performance in ballet, modern dance, and folkloric dance, Schwall analyzes how and why dance artists interacted with republican and, later, revolutionary politics. Drawing on written and visual archives, including intriguing exchanges between dancers and bureaucrats, Schwall argues that Cubans dancers used their bodies and ephemeral, nonverbal choreography to support and critique political regimes and cultural biases.

UNC Libraries’ Off The Shelf Author Talk with Finis Dunaway

In May, Finis Dunaway, author of Defending the Arctic Refuge: A Photographer, an Indigenous Nation, and a Fight for Environmental Justice, was featured on UNC Libraries’ Off the Shelf series. In the Author Talk below, Finis discusses how his book wasn’t exactly the book he planned to write, how one image sparked the concept for his book and other topics. On July 15th, Finis will be speaking with the Natural Resources Council of Maine about how grassroots environmentalists took on the oil industry, including how that fight came to Maine; RSVP Here.

Finis Dunaway is professor of history at Trent University. 

UNC Press Open Access Vision and Policy

“In an effort to clarify and explain the reasons behind our Open Access (OA) positions, we are publishing our Open Access Vision and Policy Statement. OA has multiple dimensions and means different things to many people, so we expect and encourage feedback and dialog. You can write to our director John Sherer (john.sherer@uncpress.org) or tweet to us @unc_press.”

Open-access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.

At UNC Press, the broad dissemination of scholarship is core to our mission, so we enthusiastically share the vision of many OA advocates. Despite the opportunities afforded by digital formats, most traditional academic publishing models reinforce networks of privilege where scholars and students at well-resourced universities can read our books and journals, but anyone outside that network must overcome significant financial obstacles to access our publications. Expanding access must be a primary goal for any organization that claims to espouse progressive views of social justice and equity.

But we also must emphasize that the creation and marketing of high-quality scholarship requires significant investments in time and money from the Press and from our authors. Without a significant transformation in how humanities publishing is funded, we may never be able to align with the most ambitious versions of OA.

Currently less than 8 percent of our publishing expenses are funded through stipends or institutional/state subsidies. As a result, cost-recovery transactions are a fundamental aspect of our sustainability. We acknowledge that charging libraries, scholars, and students for print and digital access is simply shifting the financial burdens within a small and under resourced ecosystem. But like all university presses, we are not-for-profits who return value back into that ecosystem in both time and money. For example, we pay our authors (almost all of whom are active academics) up to half a million dollars in royalties annually. Individual books that generate surpluses help to reduce the prices and deficits for the larger majority of our list. We are actively raising money for endowments to directly support the publication of scholarly books and journals. There are no stockholders or executive bonuses at the Press. All income goes to support our larger scholarly mission.

To expand access, we are actively experimenting with models where digital editions are free for downloading, reading, and sharing. But many restrictions on reuse remain in place to protect authors’ legal rights and preserve our ability to do cost-recovery through print sales. And there is indeed income on print sales, even when digital editions are openly available. That income allows us to consider opening even more of our scholarship. In the spring and summer of 2020 during the COVID-19 crisis, we opened most of our scholarship in order to support students, scholars, and libraries whose access to collections was diminished during the pandemic. Ironically, print sales actually increased during this time.

UNC Press has been a leader in OA among university presses. We are actively participating in numerous programs, including two NEH/Mellon Open Book grants, the NEH Fellowship Open Book Program, TOME (Toward an Open Monograph Ecosystem), Knowledge Unlatched, as well as a number of open educational resources being developed within the UNC System. We are also the primary investigator in the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation–funded Sustainable History Monograph Pilot (SHMP). This pilot is supporting the publication of open digital editions of high-quality books from university presses in the field of history. Led by UNC Press’s subsidiary, Longleaf Services, we are helping our twenty-three partner presses ultimately produce at least seventy-five OA monographs. You can find the published SHMP books indexed on the OAPEN platform and the Internet Archive. Our web site has a list of all our OA book projects at UNC Press.

We support the posting of electronic theses and dissertations into open institutional repositories, even though we have seen for-profit commercial enterprises take advantage of open licenses by selling these manuscripts, usually without compensating the author or host institution. We also have noted how some publishers try to suppress or otherwise disguise the reality that many university press books originate as dissertations (that are frequently available in open repositories). Our publishing process at UNC Press transforms and enhances these manuscripts so significantly that the existence of the original version is not a significant concern for us. In 2019, the Press published a revised dissertation that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and on the long list for the National Book Award.

We have not yet identified a specific fee or stipend that would be required to “open” a book. Various pilots have suggested amounts ranging from $3,000 (for previously published books) to as much as $15,000 and more (for new books). OA stipends have no impact on our decision to publish. Instead, they provide us with options for how we would publish. Any author who wishes their book to be published OA should reach out to us to explore options.

We permit authors to post preprints of book chapters that appear in anthologies of edited collections. We entertain individual requests for posting final pdfs of chapters, but authors should expect there to be an embargo period before we will permit that.

Currently, only one of our journals is published OA (Gold). We actively invite publishers who want to publish an OA journal to reach out to us for partnerships. We permit authors of journal articles to post preprint versions in their institutional repositories or on their own websites.

We strive hard to ensure that our journals are available to institutions at modest prices either unbundled and sold directly by the Press, or in aggregations from third-party vendors like J-STOR and Project MUSE.

While removing pay barriers is the key to expanding access for many readers, we also acknowledge that ensuring access to readers with disabilities must be part of our commitment. We currently partner with a number of vendors to accommodate all requests we receive.

The landscape around OA is rapidly shifting. We need to be prepared to respond to mandates like Plan S and its Rights Retention Policies. As a result, this policy will evolve.

In the meantime, we are proud of the efforts and investments we have made in opening our scholarship. This work is not without risk, as it has the potential to erode our already limited cost-recovery channels. But accessibility is a cornerstone of a broad and equitable distribution model.

Happy Disability Pride Month! A Recommended Reading List

If you didn’t know already, July is Disability Pride month. The celebration of Disability Pride began in 1990 and has held on strong ever since. “This annual observance is used to promote visibility and mainstream awareness of the positive pride felt by people with disabilities.” Below are a few titles that align with that point of view; shedding light on a wide range of experiences from those who identify as disabled.



In 1869, Sarah Hopkins Bradford published Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman. Though often disjointed, this account presented to the public a legendary figure of the Underground Railroad. In 1886, Bradford substantially rewrote the biography at the request of Tubman, who hoped its sales would raise enough funds for the building of a hospital for old and disabled colored people. This second edition, Harriet, the Moses of Her People, provided little new information, but arranged the jumbled narrative of Scenes in chronological order, providing a clearer account of Tubman’s life.



During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Americans with all sorts of disabilities came to be labeled as “unproductive citizens.” Before that, disabled people had contributed as they were able in homes, on farms, and in the wage labor market, reflecting the fact that Americans had long viewed productivity as a spectrum that varied by age, gender, and ability. But as Sarah F. Rose explains in No Right to Be Idle, a perfect storm of public policies, shifting family structures, and economic changes effectively barred workers with disabilities from mainstream workplaces and simultaneously cast disabled people as morally questionable dependents in need of permanent rehabilitation to achieve “self-care” and “self-support.”



The first critical study of personal narrative by women with disabilities, Unruly Bodies examines how contemporary writers use life writing to challenge cultural stereotypes about disability, gender, embodiment, and identity. 

Combining the analyses of disability and feminist theories, Susannah Mintz discusses the work of eight American autobiographers: Nancy Mairs, Lucy Grealy, Georgina Kleege, Connie Panzarino, Eli Clare, Anne Finger, Denise Sherer Jacobson, and May Sarton. Mintz shows that by refusing inspirational rhetoric or triumph-over-adversity narrative patterns, these authors insist on their disabilities as a core–but not diminishing–aspect of identity. They offer candid portrayals of shame and painful medical procedures, struggles for the right to work or to parent, the inventive joys of disabled sex, the support and the hostility of family, and the losses and rewards of aging. Mintz demonstrates how these unconventional stories challenge feminist idealizations of independence and self-control and expand the parameters of what counts as a life worthy of both narration and political activism. Unruly Bodies also suggests that atypical life stories can redefine the relation between embodiment and identity generally.



Junius Wilson (1908-2001) spent seventy-six years at a state mental hospital in Goldsboro, North Carolina, including six in the criminal ward. He had never been declared insane by a medical professional or found guilty of any criminal charge. But he was deaf and black in the Jim Crow South. Unspeakable is the story of his life.

Using legal records, institutional files, and extensive oral history interviews–some conducted in sign language–Susan Burch and Hannah Joyner piece together the story of a deaf man accused in 1925 of attempted rape, found insane at a lunacy hearing, committed to the criminal ward of the State Hospital for the Colored Insane, castrated, forced to labor for the institution, and held at the hospital for more than seven decades. Junius Wilson’s life was shaped by some of the major developments of twentieth-century America: Jim Crow segregation, the civil rights movement, deinstitutionalization, the rise of professional social work, and the emergence of the deaf and disability rights movements. In addition to offering a bottom-up history of life in a segregated mental institution, Burch and Joyner’s work also enriches the traditional interpretation of Jim Crow by highlighting the complicated intersections of race and disability as well as of community and language.

Time to Reset Your Syllabi, Vast Early America

Guest blog post by Catherine E. Kelly of the Omohundro Institute

I came to the project that would become Thirteen Clocks: How Race United the Colonies and Made the Declaration of Independence the hard way – through the college classroom.

Before joining the Omohundro Institute, I taught American history first at Case Western Reserve University and then at the University of Oklahoma. I knew from experience that finding cutting-edge scholarship that could fit into an undergraduate syllabus was no small challenge. This dilemma isn’t special to early Americanists, of course; it’s built into teaching. Still, it was especially acute for the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, the period that stands at the heart of #VastEarlyAmerica.  I was always struck by how the number of assignable choices increased once I cleared the 1820s.

Length was one problem—short books on colonial history remain in short supply—but it was not the only one.  Scholars working in early American studies writ large have produced dazzling work precisely because they were committed to stretching disciplinary, chronological, and geographic boundaries, because they were committed to exhaustive archival research and to exquisite, close reading.  Yet many of those books were directed at specialists. And many of the best of those books resisted the logic of syllabi that were built into the spine of a survey textbook.  As a scholar, I devoured that work. But as a teacher, I found myself translating it, pulling a couple of lectures from this book and a couple more from that one.  That was fine; it was my job, after all.  But I wanted my students to encounter more of these transformative scholars on their own, without me in the middle.  Not surprisingly, when I became Editor of Books at the OI, bringing the best early American scholarship into classrooms was a key part of my agenda.

Enter Rob Parkinson. 

Parkinson’s prize-winning The Common Cause: Creating Race and Nation in the American Revolution was an obvious candidate for some kind of classroom-friendly makeover. Hailed as “vitally important,” and “brilliant, timely, and indispensable,” Common Cause was arguably the most important book on the American Revolution in a generation. By meticulously retracing patriots’ communications networks, Rob demonstrated how patriot leaders, from the storied to the obscure, leveraged information systems to heighten fears of slave insurrection and Native American treachery and how they deliberately linked those fears to British rule.  Racial fear, it turned out, was at the heart of Americans’ pursuit of independence.  Common Cause was a brilliant intervention. At 742 pages, including three appendices, it had not been written for college classrooms.

During the first real conversation I had with Rob, I pitched the idea of publishing a teachable riff on The Common Cause.  What kind of riff might that be? There were notable precedents for straightforward abridgments. Consider Winthrop Jordan’s landmark OI book White over Black: American Attitudes toward the Negro, 1550-1812 (1968), which was abridged six years after its initial publication as The White Man’s Burden; I read the latter as a college sophomore and the former in graduate school. As the Books staff warmed to the idea of what we then called CC2.0, we studied abridgments, trying to game out editorial strategies. Nadine Zimmerli, then Associate Editor, discovered, for example, that Jordan had slashed length more by removing examples and eliminating citations (!) than by recrafting sentences; a remarkably large percentage of the text that appeared in the second book was identical to that in the first.

In the event, Rob rejected a straightforward abridgment and instead returned with the first draft of Thirteen Clocks, a manuscript that had more new content than old and that focused on the tense months leading up to the Declaration of Independence:  a steady diet of news stories about proxy enemies kept colonists on edge through 1775. And when news arrived in 1776 that Parliament had deployed thousands of Hessian mercenaries to quash rebellion, a declaration of independence was all but guaranteed. The manuscript’s tight focus explains why patriots declared independence when they did, something I always struggled with when teaching the American Revolution. But in Rob’s hands, the focus also provides the scaffolding for a taut narrative. The manuscript was an “abridgment of sorts,” as Rob put it, one that promised to convey the most compelling arguments of his first book in an accessible, highly readable format.  

Figuring out how to deliver on that promise stretched us all.  We knew immediately that the concept was terrific. Execution was trickier.  Even Rob, one of the hardest-working writers I’ve met, was occasionally taken aback by the scale and detail of revision.  We worked on framing and pace. We debated what terms, individuals, and dates needed explication.  We worked on voice, a lot.  Rob is a fine stylist in any genre. But Thirteen Clocks needed a slightly different voice than the one he adopted in Common Cause: accessible but not colloquial. Threading that narrative voice through the whole manuscript was a key part of the final polishing that Rob and Manuscript Editor Kathy Burdette gave the book.  And because we know that folks really do judge books by their covers, the whole OI reviewed and rejected a series of covers.  The winning design was roughed out by Editorial Assistant Emily Suth during a Zoom meeting with our publishing partners at UNC Press.

Along the way, we road tested the manuscript. In addition to sending a complete draft out for formal peer review, we ran parts of it by teaching faculty who weighed in on everything from course adoption potential to chapter length to relative desirability of subheads. We created a course adoption packet.  Rob drafted two sample syllabi, one for a U.S. survey course and the other for an upper-level class on war and race.  This level of explication might seem excessive to readers of this blog.  But faculty who are not trained in early American history and who are nevertheless tasked with teaching it can find it helpful to see how a book looks in action. Finally, we sent the page proofs to more than a dozen scholar-teachers working in R1 universities, teaching-intensive colleges, and private high schools, asking them to consider the book’s appeal for their courses and their students. 

Thirteen Clocks is just beginning to make its way out into the world. It’s too soon to know exactly what shape its progress will take, especially as the OI launches its AcrossAmerica1776 initiative and as the nation prepares for the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.  For now, though, I’m happy to think about college students like the ones I used to teach as they encounter some of #VastEarlyAmerica’s most transformative scholarship on their own.

Catherine E. Kelly is an affiliated professor of history and Editor of Books at the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture

The Roanoke Voyages (A Series Culminating in The Lost Colony)

The introduction of a guest blog post series by Roger L. Payne, author of The Outer Banks Gazetteer: The History of Place Names from Carova to Emerald Isle

The Roanoke Voyages took place between 1584 and 1590. Much has been written and documented regarding these voyages, which represent the first attempts at English colonies in North America before the first permanent colony at Jamestown in Virginia. The particulars of these voyages are presented as they define place-naming activities and its relation to the history of the Outer Banks area, especially the Roanoke Island area.

Firstly, it should be noted that Giovanni da Verrazzano (1524) was first to record a visit to the Outer Banks, though reportedly John Cabot sailed along a portion (1497) but without landfall or report. Verrazzano, an Italian captain was in the employ of Francis I, King of France who funded the voyage at the request of French merchants seeking trade routes. Verrazzano first stopped briefly at the Cape Fear area (southeast North Carolina near Wilmington). Later he describes an encounter with indigenous peoples probably at Cape Lookout, though some researchers believe this to have been Cape Hatteras because there was a known permanent Indian village there; the Hatteras or Croatoan Indians who later figured prominently in the tales of The Lost Colony.  However, it is known that the Coree Indians maintained a permanent village (Coranine Town) on Harkers Island and visited Cape Lookout frequently.

The description by Verrazzano in the ship’s log, “turning northward found there an isthmus one mile wide and about two hundred miles long,” fits from Cape Lookout to Cape Henry in Virginia, where the isthmus ends. Some scholars analyzing Verrazzano’s letter indicate “Verrazzano’s hand-written lettering in Italian . . . highlights the beginning of a marginal note referring to ‘Annunciata,’ identified as Cape Lookout in the Carolina Outer Banks” (Verrazzano Letter 1524). From Cape Hatteras, 200 miles crosses the opening of Chesapeake Bay (11 miles wide) almost to Chincoteague Island, Virginia, near Maryland. It would be very difficult not to notice the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, but presumably possible. One turns north from Cape Hatteras as well as from Cape Lookout. So, most authors are noncommittal on the matter, and unresolved as to whether Verrazzano stopped at Cape Lookout or Cape Hatteras. Further, it seems strange why Verrazzano would have used miles, or more specifically, English miles. The English mile was not standardized to 5,280 ft. until 1593, and if Verrazzano was using miles (possibly surfacing through translation errors), length of the mile used could vary considerably. So, a distance of “200 miles” could be from Cape Lookout to Cape Henry or from Cape Hatteras to Cape Henry. Regardless of which cape was his landfall, he named the area Annunciata. Verrazzano states, “We left this place [We called it ‘Annunciata’] from the day of arrival, and found there an isthmus one mile wide and about two hundred miles long, in which we could see the east sea from the ship (author insert – Core Sound or Pamlico Sound), halfway between west and north.” 

Verrazzano was at the Outer Banks in late March, and his quote referring to naming was a probable reference to the Feast of Annunciata. Verrazzano continued to New England before returning home to Italy. Later, Verrazzano’s brother labeled the Outer Banks from Cape Lookout to Cape Henry (Virginia) Varazanio (sic – supporting Cape Lookout landfall) and the entire area “discovered” Francesca in honor of Francis I, King of France, who financed the voyage. Other names were known to be applied on Verrazzano’s voyage, but none were ever used, and with 60 years until the Roanoke Voyages, these names were forgotten.

Roger L. Payne is executive secretary emeritus of the U.S. Board on Geographic Names. 

UNC Press Author Dr. Heather Berg in Conversation with femi babylon, Cassandra Troy, Kathi Weeks and Connor Habib

Hosted by Seattle-based community Red May (“Your one month vacation from capitalism”), Dr. Heather Berg, author of Porn Work: Sex, Labor, and Late Capitalism, spoke on a panel recently about anti-work politics, sex work and some other great topics. Next Tuesday, catch Heather at Politics and Prose’ P&P Live! Work, Inequality, Gender, and Capitalism in Modern America Panel. Click here to RSVP and learn more about the event.

Heather Berg is assistant professor of women, gender, and sexuality studies at Washington University in St. Louis. 

Statement from Lisa Levenstein, Vice Chair of the Board, and John Sherer, Director of The University of North Carolina Press

Thank you to the individuals and organizations who have expressed concern about recent events surrounding the election of board members at UNC Press. Many of you rightfully voiced support for the reelection of Eric Muller to the Press’s Board of Governors. Eric served tirelessly and brilliantly as chair of the board during one of the most successful periods in the history of the Press. He was twice elected by the UNC System board and was unanimously nominated by the Press’s board to serve a third term. 

The Press was founded in 1922, decades prior to the existence of the UNC System. Members of the faculty and staff at UNC Chapel Hill established it as an independent not-for-profit company to ensure the Press would have the autonomy and independence it would need to successfully support the creation and dissemination of cutting-edge scholarship. In the 1970s, the Press’s board chose to affiliate itself with the UNC System. They amended the board’s bylaws to allow the UNC System board to approve its members, so that in return, the UNC campuses across the state would benefit from partnering with a world-class university press. But even with this affiliation between the UNC System and the Press, the only organization that can nominate UNC Press board members is the Press’s board. The Press’s board is solely responsible for oversight of the Press’s editorial program and strategic plans. The Press’s bylaws may only be changed by authority of the Press’s board. 

We continue to believe that the Press’s affiliation with the UNC System is mutually beneficial. The Press deeply values its role as the press for the state of North Carolina, and it has worked in a spirit of cooperation and entrepreneurship to support publishing efforts at every campus in the system. In its efforts to lower the costs of materials for students and libraries, the Press is harnessing new technologies and strategies to reinvent academic publishing. Former UNC System president C. D. Spangler once called the Press “the crown jewel of the UNC System.” We know he’d be proud of the work we’re doing today on behalf of the people of North Carolina. 

There are currently two openings on the Press’s board, and we have formed a nominating committee to identify candidates for service. The Press has benefited enormously from having board members who are leaders in their fields, who speak on matters of public importance, and who value the free exchange of ideas.

As we embark on the next nomination cycle, we regret that the UNC System Board of Governors has not responded to our queries about their refusal to consider Eric Muller’s nomination. We call for greater communication and transparency. The involvement of the UNC System board in our process, as prescribed by our bylaws, can continue to be an important signal of the Press’s commitment to serving the statewide system. But the System board’s involvement must include a commitment to communication as well as respect for the Press board’s expertise and century-long track record of success in independently identifying its own members.