Abigail Hall: Musings on a Beautiful and Mysterious Industry: A Publishing Intern Reflects

Abigail Hall, Hollins University publishing intern at UNC Press, January 2019

Abigail Hall, Hollins University publishing intern at UNC Press, January 2019

This past January, I was able to live out a lifelong dream of mine: wearing business casual clothes five days a week. I own so many sweaters and I was ecstatic to finally be able to do something with them.

But this past month was more than just a chance to try out my office fashion. January 2019 was also the month I interned in the UNC Press Publicity Department.

I applied to the one-month internship through my school, Hollins University in Roanoke, VA, so I could get a taste of the kind of real-world jobs that English majors like myself regularly seek out. The short timeframe for the internship is due to Hollins’ month long J-Term, in which students can partake in a wide array of activities, such as taking classes or going abroad. I decided to intern in breezy little Chapel Hill to learn a little bit about a mysterious industry. Since I’m a senior, it was my last chance to take advantage of a January Signature Internship, and I sure am glad I didn’t chicken out.

Before going into the internship, I knew very little about publishing. I supposed the employees worked in offices and cubicles; I suspected that there was a lot of paperwork. That’s about as far as my knowledge went. Honestly, all of the information I knew about publishing came from the movie The Proposal, but I barely even paid attention to that until after Sandra Bullock went through at least a little character development. Needless to say, I didn’t know much.

Obviously, I was a little worried about my first day. Being an absolute industry newbie was frightening, even despite the fact that I knew deep down nobody expected me to be an expert. Thankfully, when I walked through the doors, I was greeted by a whole slew of people who really love books, and I felt right at home. I strained my neck trying to read all the titles on the various shelves as I was led through the building, impressed by the variety of subjects and the quality of covers.

I quickly came to realize that my initial thoughts about publishing were pretty much on point, but that there was more to the industry than what I had imagined. Every department, from Marketing to Production to Editorial—Acquisitions and Manuscript—worked together to create a singular organism of book creation and distribution. The constant moving through various departments meant that I learned a lot of faces, but, unfortunately, not as many names.

Continue Reading Abigail Hall: Musings on a Beautiful and Mysterious Industry: A Publishing Intern Reflects

David Gilbert: James Reese Europe at the Grammys

The Product of Our Souls, book and CDToday we welcome a guest post from David Gilbert, author of The Product of Our Souls:  The Product of Our Souls: Ragtime, Race, and the Birth of the Manhattan Musical Marketplace. The CD companion to the book came out in the summer of 2018 and his liner note essay has been nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Album Notes category ).

The Grammy Awards will be presented this Sunday, February 10, 2019 in Los Angeles.

The Product of Our Souls is available now in both print and ebook editions.

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James Reese Europe at the Grammys

One hundred years ago this May, James Reese Europe died. Having survived mustard gas and German sneak attacks along the Rhine as a member of the Harlem Hell Fighters during World War I, Europe was murdered by one of his own regiment band’s drummers from the war while the Hell Fighters Marching Band took a set break in Boston’s Mechanic’s Hall. Europe’s death in 1919, both untimely and tragic as it was, perhaps partly explains why he is not better remembered. Although he had as much influence on laying the groundwork for the rise of jazz in New York City as anyone, James Reese Europe missed out on the 1920s, and the historical monographs.

Yet James Europe remains relevant, not only because Archeophone Records recently released a complete collection of Europe’s Society Orchestra recordings from 1913 and 1914—a collection that is up for a Grammy Award this weekend. Europe’s struggles in navigating America’s burgeoning, early-twentieth-century entertainment markets, and the ways he negotiated the racial opportunities and racist expectations of popular music and stage performance, offered blueprints for thousands of African-American entertainers in the century since. His successes and failures can help us understand the complex predicaments today’s pop stars often face.

Continue Reading David Gilbert: James Reese Europe at the Grammys

David Gilbert: Pre-war Ragtime, From UNC Press to the Grammys

We are very proud that two UNC Press authors are nominated for Grammy Awards this year.

William Ferris (), noted folklorist who has written and contributed to several publications from UNC Press on Southern history, the oral tradition, and the blues, is nominated for Best Historical Album for “Voices of Mississippi” on .

David Gilbert is nominated for Best Album Notes for “The Product of Our Souls” ), a companion to his 2015 UNC Press book The Product of Our Souls: Ragtime, Race, and the Birth of the Manhattan Musical Marketplace.

Today, David Gilbert offers some background on his book and the companion CD project.

The Grammy Awards will be presented Sunday, February 10, 2019 in Los Angeles.

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The Product of Our Souls, book and CDIn the second week of 1914, New York Age entertainment columnist Lester Walton described an unprecedented event. “Last Monday afternoon,” he wrote, “for the first time in the history of New York, theatre-goers witnessed the unusual spectacle of a colored orchestra playing in the pit of a first class theatre for white artists.” Walton explained that this unorthodox occurrence happened not once, but twice in a single afternoon. At both Hammerstein’s Victoria Theatre and the Palace Theatre, white audiences listened to a black band as it accompanied white dancers. “Such an unusual condition was due to the insistence of Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Castle, known in the Four Hundred as society dancers, that James Reese Europe’s Society Orchestra, play their dance music.”

The Castles surely demanded James Reese Europe’s dance orchestra because they admired its innovative sounds and Europe’s skill as conductor. Yet by 1914, Europe and his various iterations of African American music ensembles had been playing for affluent white New Yorkers for a decade. Through his organizing of New York musicians, his branding of the Clef Club Inc., as well as his own self-promotion and artistic ingenuity, Europe was already one of New York’s leading musicians.

Continue Reading David Gilbert: Pre-war Ragtime, From UNC Press to the Grammys

Gene R. Nichol: Fighting for Literacy in North Carolina

Orange Literacy logoGene R. Nichol is arguably our state’s leading expert on the subject of poverty. His new book, The Faces of Poverty in North Carolina, reveals the many years of interviews and research he’s done on the subject. Nichol will be interviewed by the best-selling novelist John Grisham at Orange Literacy’s annual fundraiser, Writers for Readers. In today’s post, Nichol discusses the link between poverty and literacy, and invites all of us to consider supporting Orange Literacy. More information can be found at: http://orangeliteracy.org/wfr19/.  Follow them on Twitter at @OrangeLiteracy.

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I’ve spent a good deal of time, over the last decade, in low income communities in North Carolina. That work has taught me, close up, that the economic hardship experienced by many of our sisters and brothers is more intense, more constraining, more debilitating than most of us imagine. Wrenching poverty amidst great plenty is, no doubt, this state’s greatest challenge.

But it’s also true that in every locale and corner of North Carolina remarkable folks are to be found who – with few resources, but with strong skills, unyielding determination and stout hearts – struggle selflessly to sustain and empower those who are, at least temporarily, having a tough time of it. Orange Literacy shares both those roots and those aspirations. And it makes a bold and decided difference in the opportunities and life chances afforded to many of our most determined, resilient and clearly heroic colleagues.

Continue Reading Gene R. Nichol: Fighting for Literacy in North Carolina

African American History Month Reading List for 2019

The study of African American history is a year-round endeavor for UNC Press, but in honor of African American History Month 2019, we’d like to highlight some of the great new books we’ve been published in this field recently. Here are books on African American history, culture, and modern society from UNC Press over the past year, plus a few that will be available later this spring and are available for pre-order now.

Here’s our reading list for 2019.  To browse our complete African American Studies collection, visit the UNC Press website.

Use promo code 01DAH40 to get 40 percent discount, and free shipping for orders over $75.00

Happy African American History Month from UNC Press!


Jenny Tone-Pah-Hote: Massalena Ahtone, American Indian Exposition, 1940

Today we welcome a guest post from Jenny Tone-Pah-Hote, author of Crafting an Indigenous Nation:  Kiowa Expressive Culture in the Progressive Era, just published by UNC Press.

In this in-depth interdisciplinary study, Jenny Tone-Pah-Hote reveals how Kiowa people drew on the tribe’s rich history of expressive culture to assert its identity at a time of profound challenge. Examining traditional forms such as beadwork, metalwork, painting, and dance, Tone-Pah-Hote argues that their creation and exchange were as significant to the expression of Indigenous identity and sovereignty as formal political engagement and policymaking. These cultural forms, she argues, were sites of contestation as well as affirmation, as Kiowa people used them to confront external pressures, express national identity, and wrestle with changing gender roles and representations.

Crafting an Indigenous Nation is available now in both print and ebook editions.

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Cover Story:  Massalena Ahtone, American Indian Exposition, 1940

June 2006.  I am sitting at a long table at the Oklahoma Historical Society just behind a shelf packed with thick binders of photographs of American Indians in Oklahoma.  As I flip through the “A” binder of Kiowa photographs, I saw the picture labeled “Massalena Ahtone, later Mrs. Tone-Pah-Hote.” She stares back at me.  I have seen that look before. But, in my memory, the woman is elderly, wears maroon and brown dresses, knee high stockings, and hair pinned in a bun.  I sent a copy of it to my father, Preston.

“Is this really Grandma?”

The woman in the photo the one with stare I recognized was, in fact, his mother.

Her English name was Massalena Ahtone.  She was born in 1912 to Sam Ahtone and Tah-do, a beadwork artist.  By the time she posed for the photograph, she had married my grandfather, Murray Tone-Pah-Hote, and they had three children, including my father.  She possessed a sharp wit and sternness in equal measure.  Grandma posed for this photograph in 1940 at the American Indian Exposition held each year in Anadarko, Oklahoma, a small town sixty miles southwest of Oklahoma, City.  The exposition run by local Native people combined a county fair feel with intertribal dancing, pageants, a parade, and an all-Indian baseball tournament.  Kiowa men and women, like my grandmother, played major roles in the event displaying livestock, painting, and beadwork. It became a place where Kiowa people asserted their own unique identities in a deeply intertribal and intercultural space.

Continue Reading Jenny Tone-Pah-Hote: Massalena Ahtone, American Indian Exposition, 1940

Andrew Newman: Captivity Narratives and The Handmaid’s Tale, Part 2

Allegories of Encounter: Colonial Literacy and Indian Captivities by Andrew NewmanToday we welcome the second of his two-part guest post from Andrew Newman, author of Allegories of Encounter:  Colonial Literacy and Indian Captivities, just published by UNC Press and the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture.

Presenting an innovative, interdisciplinary approach to colonial America’s best-known literary genre, Andrew Newman analyzes depictions of reading, writing, and recollecting texts in Indian captivity narratives. While histories of literacy and colonialism have emphasized the experiences of Native Americans, as students in missionary schools or as parties to treacherous treaties, captivity narratives reveal what literacy meant to colonists among Indians. Colonial captives treasured the written word in order to distinguish themselves from their Native captors and to affiliate with their distant cultural communities. Their narratives suggest that Indians recognized this value, sometimes with benevolence: repeatedly, they presented colonists with books.

Allegories of Encounter is available now in both print and ebook editions.

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Captivity Narratives and The Handmaid’s Tale
Part 2: “The Past is a Great Darkness”

In the first installment of this blog post, I discussed the implications of my analysis of colonial captivity narratives in Allegories of Encounter  for the reading of dystopian fiction, especially Margaret Atwood’s neo-captivity narrative The Handmaid’s Tale, in the so-called “Age of Trump.” Allegories of Encounter is also about methodological considerations in the interpretation of nonfictional narrative accounts, and this second post takes up The Handmaid’s Tale’s suggestive treatment of this subject.

The Handmaid’s Tale is the first person account of Offred, formerly June, a handmaid or procreative slave who risks death by recording her ongoing story. Her explanation of her motives for doing so expresses Atwood’s insights about the roles of narrative in organizing one’s perception of experience and also in affiliating with one’s community. Such effects, Allegories of Encounter suggests, can be produced by reading as well as writing (or otherwise narrating). Offred explains that she records her spoken testimony (on cassette tapes) “because I have nothing to write with and writing is in any case forbidden.” She consciously indulges in a discursive illusion: “If it’s a story I’m telling,” she suggests, “then I have control over the ending. Then there will be an ending, to the story, and real life will come after it. I can pick up where I left off.” Moreover, “if it’s a story, even in my head, I must be telling it to someone. You don’t tell a story only to yourself. There’s always someone else.” Thus Atwood emphasizes what devotees of literature necessarily find to be a sympathetic language ideology, one she elaborates on in a 2017 essay on “What ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Means in the Age of Trump”: With reference to Robinson Crusoe, Samuel Pepys, Anne Frank, and the Rwandan genocide witness Roméo Dallaire, she argues that producing “the literature of witness” is “an act of hope”: “Every recorded story implies a future reader.” Thus keeping a journal, or even mentally composing a narrative, anticipates survival.

Continue Reading Andrew Newman: Captivity Narratives and The Handmaid’s Tale, Part 2

LaKisha Michelle Simmons: Surviving R. Kelly: Church and Gendered Respectability in the 1990s

Crescent City Girls: The Lives of Young Black Women in Segregated New Orleans, by LaKisha Michelle SimmonsWe welcome a guest post today from LaKisha Michelle Simmons, author of Crescent City Girls: The Lives of Young Black Women in Segregated New Orleans.

What was it like to grow up black and female in the segregated South? In Crescent City Girls, Simmons blends social history and cultural studies, recreating children’s streets and neighborhoods within Jim Crow New Orleans and offering a rare look into black girls’ personal lives. Simmons argues that these children faced the difficult task of adhering to middle-class expectations of purity and respectability even as they encountered the daily realities of Jim Crow violence, which included interracial sexual aggression, street harassment, and presumptions of black girls’ impurity.

Crescent City Girls is available in both print and ebook editions.

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Surviving R. Kelly: Church and Gendered Respectability in the 1990s

On January 3rd, Lifetime television began a three-day event, Surviving R Kelly, a docu-series focusing on R&B singer R. Kelly’s alleged pedophilia and sexual and domestic abuse of black girls and young women.  After watching the allegations, listening to survivors, and seeing evidence mount, many viewers wondered how did R. Kelly’s sexual abuse of black girls continue unchecked for so long? How did we—as a society—allow this to happen?

Scholars of black girlhood have carefully documented how black girls are not granted childhood innocence in American culture. Black girls are pushed out, overpoliced, and underprotected.  As a young Black teenager, Tressie Mcmillan Cottom listened to family reactions to the 1992 boxer Mike Tyson’s rape trial and learned: “black girls like me can never truly be victims of sexual predators.”

There are a multitude of cultural narratives—both within the Black community and within American society at large— that have left Black girls underprotected, making sure that they can never be seen as victims of sexual predators. After watching Surviving R Kelly, I was reminded of how R. Kelly maintained his reputation by drawing support for himself and his music from the Black church. Feminist theologian Candace Benbow recently documented some of this support by pastors and well-known gospel singers, much of it after R. Kelly was charged with child pornography in June 2002. How did R. Kelly manage this relationship?

Continue Reading LaKisha Michelle Simmons: Surviving R. Kelly: Church and Gendered Respectability in the 1990s

Patricia de Santana Pinho: Traveling Brazil

Mapping Diaspora by Patricia de Santana PinhoToday we welcome a guest post from Patricia de Santana Pinho, author of Mapping Diaspora:  African American Roots Tourism in Brazil, just published by UNC Press.

Brazil, like several countries in Africa, has become a major destination for African American tourists seeking the cultural roots of the black Atlantic diaspora. Drawing on over a decade of ethnographic research as well as textual, visual, and archival sources, Patricia de Santana Pinho investigates African American roots tourism, a complex, poignant kind of travel that provides profound personal and collective meaning for those searching for black identity and heritage. It also provides, as Pinho’s interviews with Brazilian tour guides, state officials, and Afro-Brazilian activists reveal, economic and political rewards that support a structured industry.

Mapping Diaspora is available now in both print and ebook editions.

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Traveling Brazil

Brazil has long fascinated foreigners, even before it was known as Brazil. The first Europeans to ever set foot on that vast stretch of land were Portuguese explorers/exploiters in 1500. In a letter to the king of Portugal, the scribe Pero Vaz de Caminha detailed the wonders of the newfound territory and its exotic inhabitants. He was particularly struck by the magnificent natural landscape and the nonchalant nudity of the indigenous women. 518 years later, we hear echoes of Caminha’s depictions in tourism representations of Brazil as a tropical paradise and of Brazilians as a naturally sensual people.

An average of six million international tourists visit Brazil per year. To make sense of why so many people travel to Brazil, it is important to consider how Brazil itself travels. The images of the country that circulate in global mediascapes have a powerful effect on either repelling or attracting visitors as well as in shaping their gazes and expectations. The way a country travels to the potential tourist may deeply inform the way the tourist travels to that country. As polysemic as potentially any other destination, Brazil appeals to a wide variety of types of tourists, whose respective imaginaries reveal more about where they are coming from than where they are going. From the European ecotourists, who travel in search of a pristine natural environment inhabited by noble savages, to the African American roots tourists, who envision Bahia as a “closer Africa” where they can encounter their diasporic counterparts, Brazil is a magnet also for international sex tourists, white and black, who fantasize about the stereotypical Brazilian woman, fully adorned with a Brazilian butt lift, hair styled in a Brazilian blow-out, and possibly also sporting a Brazilian wax.

Continue Reading Patricia de Santana Pinho: Traveling Brazil

Andrew Newman: Captivity Narratives and The Handmaid’s Tale, Part 1

Allegories of Encounter: Colonial Literacy and Indian Captivities by Andrew NewmanToday we welcome the first of a two-part guest post from Andrew Newman, author of Allegories of Encounter:  Colonial Literacy and Indian Captivities, just published by UNC Press and the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture.

Presenting an innovative, interdisciplinary approach to colonial America’s best-known literary genre, Andrew Newman analyzes depictions of reading, writing, and recollecting texts in Indian captivity narratives. While histories of literacy and colonialism have emphasized the experiences of Native Americans, as students in missionary schools or as parties to treacherous treaties, captivity narratives reveal what literacy meant to colonists among Indians. Colonial captives treasured the written word in order to distinguish themselves from their Native captors and to affiliate with their distant cultural communities. Their narratives suggest that Indians recognized this value, sometimes with benevolence: repeatedly, they presented colonists with books.

Allegories of Encounter is available now in both print and ebook editions.

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Captivity Narratives and The Handmaid’s Tale
Part I. Reception Allegories

Why did sales of George Orwell’s 1984 and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale surge in 2017? The immediate answer to this question, that the grim forebodings of these works of speculative fiction are seemingly being fulfilled by current events, is not sufficient. It does not explain the shared impulse to seek out parallels to one’s experience in one’s reading, or the recourse to reading in response to disorienting, upsetting events. A more thoroughgoing explanation emerges through the study of colonial captivity narratives.

Allegories of Encounter is about representations of literacy practices in the narrative accounts of colonists who were captured by Native Americans during colonial wars. It argues that for these captives, reading and writing were part of a reassertion of a cultural identity under duress – even as they were stripped of their European clothes, famished and fatigued, they remained ideationally connected to their estranged communities by reading, writing, recollecting, and meditating on texts.

Moreover, these texts became part of their experience of captivity. That is, a conventional model of intertextuality focuses on the relations between texts, but I argue that stories also inform experiences, and even influence behaviors. I develop the concept of the “reception allegory,” in which the story one is reading, a story about others in other times and places, is also understood as the story of oneself.

Many instances of reception allegory in accounts of captivity extend the Christian interpretive practice of typology. Early New England captives understood the story of the Old Testament Jews who were carried away captive to Babylon as a literal account of an event that occurred in the remote past, as a prefiguration of the story of Christ in the New Testament, and as a pattern for their own experience. For example, the following passage is from Mary Rowlandson’s famous – to early Americanists – 1682 account of captivity during King Philip’s War, The Sovereignty and Goodness of God. It recounts the moment soon after Narragansetts and Wampanoags captured her in a raid on Lancaster, when they brought her across the Connecticut River and into a re-enactment of the 137th Psalm.

Although I had met with so much affliction, and my heart was many times ready to break, yet could I not shed one tear in their sight; but rather had been all this while in a maze, and like one astonished. But now I may say as Psalm 137.1, “By the Rivers of Babylon, there we sate down: yea, we wept when we remembered Zion.”

Continue Reading Andrew Newman: Captivity Narratives and The Handmaid’s Tale, Part 1

The end is near — the last days to shop the UNC Press Holiday Gift Books sale!

UNC Press Holiday Gift Books SaleYes, the holidays are over, the lights and decorations are all put away, and the eggnog (and the Scout Elf) disappear for eleven months.

So too must end the UNC Press Holiday Gift Books sale.  Just one week left — for you to save 40 percent off all UNC Press print books.  And, if your order totals $75, the domestic shipping is FREE!

Click here to start shopping …. and use promo code 01HOLIDAY at checkout to see your discount.

So don’t delay — if you haven’t shopped our sale yet, you only have a few more days left.

And, if you haven’t checked out our newest releases for Spring, click here to browse the full list.

Happy New Year — and happy shopping!

Announcing the Early American Literature Book Prize for 2018

In the Neighborhood: Women’s Publication in Early America by Caroline Wigginton, winner of the 2018 Early American Literature Book PrizeProfessor Caroline Wigginton of the University of Mississippi has been selected to receive the 2018 Early American Literature Book Prize, which is awarded in even calendar years to a first monograph published in the prior two years, and in odd years to a second or subsequent book. Wigginton’s In the Neighborhood: Women’s Publication in Early America was published by the University of Massachusetts Press in 2016.

According to prize committee members, In the Neighborhood “combines media studies with literary analysis to highlight women’s expressive networks,” thereby “showing them to be savvy participants in complex, dense scenes of intercultural encounter.” The study’s innovative approach encourages readers to resist the tendency to think of early American women primarily in symbolic terms related to nationhood monolithically conceived. Instead, it delivers on its titular promise to relocate us “in the neighborhood,” a common phrase in early America used to refer to a smaller geographic region comprised of diverse peoples.

Continue Reading Announcing the Early American Literature Book Prize for 2018

Interview with Keith Allen, owner of Allen & Son Barbecue Restaurant in Chapel Hill, on the occasion of its closing

This past month, the renowned Chapel Hill restaurant, Allen & Son Barbecue, quietly closed its doors for the final time.  It’s owner, Keith Allen, was interviewed in depth by John Shelton Reed, Dale Volberg Reed and William McKinney, in their book, Holy Smoke:  The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue.

For those of us who will forever miss this landmark eatery, we re-run the interview here.

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On the  Fault Line:  Allen & Son, Chapel Hill

“I keep cooking with wood because I’m chasing that flavor.”

Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue, by John Shelton Reed and Dale Volberg ReedKeith Allen has served fine barbecue to a couple of generations of UNC students and locals at Allen & Son, on Highway 86 north of Chapel Hill.  (There’s another Allen & Son on 15-501 toward Pittsboro, but someone else runs it and they no longer cook with wood.)  The hunting and fishing trophies that decorate the walls are almost as memorable as the barbecue, smoked over hickory wood that Mr. Allen splits himself.  Given his location right near the Eastern-Piedmont divide, it’s fitting that Mr. Allen serves Piedmont-style shoulders with an Eastern-style sauce.  In 2007 the Southern Foodways Alliance honored him with its Tabasco Guardian of the Tradition Award.

I started cooking barbecue because I needed money. I was hungry and I needed work and I know how to do the job and somebody was going to pay me to do it.  So in order to eat beans I split wood.  I’m hoping my daughter will be smarter and don’t have to do that — do whatever you could do — in order to make a living.  So many times in the late fifties and sixties that was the major concern.  Around here there were still one-horse farms and board houses — there was just not a lot of money around.  Jobs were just jobs; you just did what you could do every day to make things work that week. And you usually had a garden, and put food in the freezer and lived out of that freezer in the wintertime. A lady called me one time and asked me if I had a recycling program.  I said I’ve had a program like that ever since I’ve been alive. We didn’t throw anything away. My grandmother would take the wrapper out of a cornflake box and use it to line her cake pans with.

In the mid-fifties my family had a little hotdog joint and gas station with two tables, and the owner of the building introduced barbecue there.  [They cooked] just a shoulder or two and had a block and they’d pull that one shoulder out and they’d beat it up and make a sandwich – that’s the way it was done at that time. And every sandwich was different because they’d chop up different portions and then somebody’d just ladle some sauce on it and throw it on a bun and throw some slaw on it and hand it to you and you’re out the door.

I must have been twelve or thirteen, and that was the first time I’d ever seen barbecue actually done. My father went down to what is now our [Pittsboro] location and bought the business out and went into work down there and I started cooking. I don’t remember how, actually.  Maybe I didn’t learn; maybe I just started doing it and it just happened.

Continue Reading Interview with Keith Allen, owner of Allen & Son Barbecue Restaurant in Chapel Hill, on the occasion of its closing

Holiday Recipe: Country Ham Cheesecake from Southern Snacks by Perre Coleman Magness

Perre Coleman Magness is the author of Southern Snacks:  77 Recipes for Small Bites with Big Flavors, published this fall by UNC Press. You can follow her on Twitter.

Here she shares a favorite recipe for your holiday get-together.  Southern Snacks is available now in both print and ebook editions.

(And, during our Holiday Gift Books Sale, you can get Southern Snacks for 40 percent off!  Just use the promo code 01HOLIDAY at checkout.)

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Savory cheesecakes are a thing. I’ve had them at parties all my life. When I submitted the manuscript for Pimento Cheese: The Cookbook to my New York–based publisher, the editors and copy editors were sure that a pimento cheese cheesecake would cause great confusion. When I first conceived this salty, savory, country ham version, I knew it would be good, but in truth, it is better than good. It even surprised me. The added bonus of this treat is that it serves a crowd. And a little pepper jelly on the side is not a bad thing.

Country Ham Cheesecake from Southern Snacks by Perre Coleman MagnessCountry Ham Cheesecake

Serves a crowd

1 sleeve buttery crackers (such as Townhouse), about 34 crackers
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
6 ounces center-cut country ham biscuit slices
4 green onions, white and light green parts
1 clove garlic
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 large eggs
1¼ cups sour cream
8 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce (such as Crystal)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Generous grinds of black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray. Wrap a piece of foil around the bottom of the pan to catch any dripping butter from the crust.

Process the crackers and pecans to fine crumbs in a small food processor. Add the melted butter and process until it all comes together. It will be very wet—don’t worry. Press the crumbs onto the bottom of the springform pan, pressing a little bit up the sides of the pan. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool.

Continue Reading Holiday Recipe: Country Ham Cheesecake from Southern Snacks by Perre Coleman Magness

E. Patrick Johnson: Black. Queer. Southern. Women.

Black. Queer. Southern. Women.: An Oral History by E. Patrick JohnsonToday we welcome a guest post from E. Patrick Johnson, author of Black. Queer. Southern. Women.:  An Oral History, just published by UNC Press.

Drawn from the life narratives of more than seventy African American queer women who were born, raised, and continue to reside in the American South, this book powerfully reveals the way these women experience and express racial, sexual, gender, and class identities–all linked by a place where such identities have generally placed them on the margins of society. Using methods of oral history and performance ethnography, E. Patrick Johnson’s work vividly enriches the historical record of racialized sexual minorities in the South and brings to light the realities of the region’s thriving black lesbian communities.

Black. Queer. Southern. Women. is available now in both print and ebook editions.

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One of the most important lessons I have learned in conducting oral histories is one instilled in me by my now deceased colleague, mentor, and friend, Dwight Conquergood, whose famous line still rings true today: “Opening and interpreting lives, is not the same as opening and closing books.” Indeed, when a scholar solicits a life history from someone—for academic or nonacademic purposes—they have a responsibility to acknowledge the extraordinary gift that they have been given. Trust is never a given and must always be earned. This is particularly true when there is a divide between the one who shares their story and the one who bears witness to it. As a male scholar on a quest to chronicle the lives of black southern women who love women, I was keenly aware of the tightrope I had to walk to represent these stories that would honor these women without making them too “precious.”

E. Patrick Johnson, Book Launch Event for Black.Queer.Southern.Women at Charis Books, Atlanta, GA

E. Patrick Johnson, Book Launch Event for Black.Queer.Southern.Women at Charis Books, Atlanta, GA

My “come to Jesus” moment happened at the book launch of Black. Queer. Southern. Women.:  An Oral History on Saturday, November 10 at Charis Books in Atlanta. Charis is one of the oldest feminist bookstores in the country and just happens to be the site of much black lesbian organizing in the South—where the likes of Audre Lorde, Alice Walker, and Pat Parker first read their work or were part of LGBTQ grassroots organizing. Six of the women I interviewed for the BQSW participated on a panel discussion about their experience of being interviewed for the book and about their lives in general. Aida Rentas, the octogenarian from Puerto Rico; Pat and Cherry Hussain, Mary Anne Adams, and Darlene Hudson from Atlanta; and, Michelle Wright from Winston Salem, NC, all had the audience of over one hundred people smashed in the tiny bookstore, spellbound as they, one by one, shared their stories about how, at first, they were suspicious of my motives for collecting their stories, to warming up to me, to being honored to be included in the book. For Cherry Hussain and Michelle Wright, in particular, this occasion proved very emotional, as they both recounted how important it was for them to share their stories of sexual abuse to the world with the hope that their stories might save lives.

Continue Reading E. Patrick Johnson: Black. Queer. Southern. Women.

Nina Silber: The Lost Cause in the New Deal Era

This War Ain't Over by Nina SilberToday we welcome a guest post from Nina Silber, author of This War Ain’t Over:  Fighting the Civil War in New Deal America, just published by UNC Press.

The New Deal era witnessed a surprising surge in popular engagement with the history and memory of the Civil War era. From the omnipresent book and film Gone with the Wind and the scores of popular theater productions to Aaron Copeland’s “A Lincoln Portrait,” it was hard to miss America’s fascination with the war in the 1930s and 1940s. Nina Silber deftly examines the often conflicting and politically contentious ways in which Americans remembered the Civil War era during the years of the Depression, the New Deal, and World War II. In doing so, she reveals how the debates and events of that earlier period resonated so profoundly with New Deal rhetoric about state power, emerging civil rights activism, labor organizing and trade unionism, and popular culture in wartime.

This War Ain’t Over is available now in both print and ebook editions.

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The Lost Cause in the New Deal Era

The Lost Cause, that fantastical story white Southerners have long told about their antebellum and Civil War past, has received more than its share of historical scrutiny.  What tends to get less notice is how the Lost Cause has adapted to suit different historical circumstances. During the 1930s and 40s, the Lost Cause morphed in noteworthy ways, especially as memory of the war became more untethered from first-person experiences and as new memory-makers felt less constraint about prodding the war’s memory into something that fit their present-day purposes.

During the 1930s, membership in the nation’s premier Lost Cause organization, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, declined significantly but the group still found ways to shift its influence to new and somewhat unexpected venues. Hollywood producers, for example, sometimes adopted the UDC’s stamp of approval to market films to audiences across the South. The organization also pursued partnerships with Roosevelt’s New Deal, including collaborations with the CCC and the WPA, which provided funding for UDC pet projects.  Additionally, UDC members got jobs as writers and state directors for the Federal Writers Project, giving Daughters positions as interviewers and editors in the ex-slave oral history project and a chance to inject their nostalgia for the kindly relations of slavery into an official historical record.  In 1936 the WPA’s Federal Theater Project staged its first production in New York’s Times Square with a play, fully vetted by the UDC, on the life and times of the Confederacy’s one and only president. Apparently not content with one Jefferson Davis play, the UDC also pitched a musical pageant on the Jefferson Davis National Highway for consideration by the Federal Theatre.

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It’s the Holiday Season 2018 — and time for the annual UNC Press Holiday Gift Books sale!

UNC Press Holiday Gift Books Sale

Our annual Holiday Gift Books sale is going on now!  You can save 40 percent on all UNC Press print books.  And, if your order totals $75 or more, the domestic shipping is free!

Save on great gift books for everyone on your list — cookbooks, illustrated books, guidebooks, ground-breaking (and award-winning) books in history, religion, etc — truly something for everyone.  Browse our site and find lots of great gifts (and even some for yourself, too).

Use promo code 01HOLIDAY at checkout to see your discount.  Order by December 7 for delivery before December 24th.

Here’s a small sample of what you’ll find — and happy holidays!  Click here to start shopping!

Campaign of Giants, The Battle for Petersburg, Volume 1Blackbeard's Sunken PrizeEdna LewisDistilling the South: A Guide to Southern Craft Liquors and the People Who Make Them by Kathleen Purvis Pie: A Savor the South Cookbook by Sara Foster River of Death--The Chickamauga Campaign: Volume 1: The Fall of Chattanooga Carolina Catch by Debbie MooseCity of a Million Dreams by Jason Berry Stone Free by Jas Obrecht

Samira K. Mehta: Beyond Chrismukkah

Beyond Chrismukkah: The Christian-Jewish Interfaith Family in the United StatesToday is the first day of Hanukkah, and we welcome a post from Samira K. Mehta, author of Beyond Chrismukkah:  The Christian-Jewish Interfaith Family in the United States, published by UNC Press.

The rate of interfaith marriage in the United States has risen so radically since the sixties that it is difficult to recall how taboo the practice once was. How is this development understood and regarded by Americans generally, and what does it tell us about the nation’s religious life? Drawing on ethnographic and historical sources, Samira K. Mehta provides a fascinating analysis of wives, husbands, children, and their extended families in interfaith homes; religious leaders; and the social and cultural milieu surrounding mixed marriages among Jews, Catholics, and Protestants.

Beyond Chrismukkah is available now in both print and ebook editions.

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Beyond Chrismukkah

I was sitting in the kitchen with an interfaith couple. She is Mormon, he is Jewish. They were explaining their approach to their two traditions. Their children attend preschool at the JCC and Sunday School in the local Mormon ward. They have Shabbat dinner as a family, they go to synagogue as a family, and they go to Mormon worship services together. They also celebrate their holidays together. The Jewish spouse explained that he had an “allergy” to Christmas trees, particularly a tree in his own home. The tree was not of central importance to her—she was happy to avoid the commercialism of Christmas, and so they had no tree. She did, however, want the day to celebrate the promise in Christ’s birth, and so they had a crèche on their mantel throughout the holiday season.

Why could Jewish husband accept a nativity scene but found a Christmas tree to be an unacceptable Christian incursion into his home?

The Christmas tree, as it turns out, is a particularly fraught symbol for interfaith families—one that they have confronted year after year.

It is not just about the tree, of course.  Objections to interfaith marriage follow two main arguments.  Among Jews, a longstanding worry suspects that interfaith marriages will pull Jews, and their interfaith children, away from Judaism. The second, which applies beyond the Jews and Christians, objection stems from the belief that intermarriage undercuts marital happiness and leads to divorce.

The truth is more complicated–and more hopeful.  Instead of conflict, negotiating the Christmas tree can create something that benefits all families: an occasion to discuss what they really value.

Though the Christmas tree dilemma features Christians and Jews, the issue increasingly touches Americans of all traditions.  Since 2010, almost 40 percent of Americans have married across religious lines of some sort or another. These families have to decide how (or whether) to continue celebrating the holidays that each of them cherish, and which practices and traditions will have a place in their homes.

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Michael E. Staub: Ghosts of Bell Curves Past

The Mismeasure of Minds by Michael E. StaubToday we welcome a guest post from Michael E. Staub, author of The Mismeasure of Minds:  Debating Race and Intelligence between Brown and The Bell Curve, just published by UNC Press.

The 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision required desegregation of America’s schools, but it also set in motion an agonizing multi-decade debate over race, class, and IQ. In this innovative book, Michael E. Staub investigates neuropsychological studies published between Brown and the controversial 1994 book, The Bell Curve. In doing so, he illuminates how we came to view race and intelligence today.

The Mismeasure of Minds is available now in both print and ebook editions.

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Ghosts of Bell Curves Past

It is an anniversary unlikely to prompt much celebration: The Bell Curve turns 25 in 2019. Published in the early autumn of 1994, and co-authored by psychologist Richard Herrnstein (who died the same month the book appeared) and political scientist Charles Murray, The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life, swiftly took America by storm. The book – no light read by any stretch – leaped into the best-seller list, selling 400,000 copies in its first two months after publication. Just as significant was that the book received the sort of wall-to-wall coverage publicists only dream about, even as it provoked (also helpfully, at least for marketing) the most contentious of cultural controversies. Not since Daniel Moynihan published his report on the black family close to a generation earlier had the country seen such an embittered dispute over how and why poverty was so deeply racialized in America.

The Bell Curve is remembered – and reviled – for a key set of interwoven propositions: that intelligence tests provide an excellent means of cognitive assessment; that IQ tests are not biased against minorities; that differences in IQ do exist within racial or ethnic groups, but also that differences in IQ exist between racial and ethnic groups; that these group differences in intelligence were likely due far more to “genetics” and much less to “environment”; and that the average IQ for white people was 100, while the average IQ for African Americans was 85. The Bell Curve also – and just as perniciously – proposed that “racial differences in intelligence” had tremendous consequences for public policy. The book argued that it was an error to invest so heavily in compensatory educational programs for low-achieving students, since these students were unlikely to benefit meaningfully from these expenditures. It was not, Herrnstein and Murray maintained, that a high IQ guaranteed success in life, or that a low IQ preordained defeat. Rather it was that there existed a strong correlation between one’s IQ and one’s rung on the socioeconomic ladder. Therefore U.S. society had evolved, “naturally,” it might be said, into a hereditary meritocracy. According to The Bell Curve, policy makers and educational reformers had to come to grips with the consequences of this scientific truth.

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Max Felker-Kantor: Resisting Police Power: The Roots of Anti-Police Abuse Movements in Los Angeles

Policing Los Angeles by Max Felker-Kantor Today we welcome a guest post from Max Felker-Kantor, author of Policing Los Angeles:  Race, Resistance, and the Rise of the LAPD, just published by UNC Press.

Felker-Kantor narrates the dynamic history of policing, anti-police abuse movements, race, and politics in Los Angeles from the 1965 Watts uprising to the 1992 Los Angeles rebellion. Using the explosions of two large-scale uprisings in Los Angeles as bookends, he highlights the racism at the heart of the city’s expansive police power through a range of previously unused and rare archival sources. His book is a gripping and timely account of the transformation in police power, the convergence of interests in support of law and order policies, and African American and Mexican American resistance to police violence after the Watts uprising.

Policing Los Angeles is available now in both print and ebook editions.

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Resisting Police Power: The Roots of Anti-Police Abuse Movements in Los Angeles

In recent years, anti-police abuse activists have struggled to combat state-sanctioned police violence directed at communities of color. Through the use of social media and cellphone video recordings, activists, many associated with the #BlackLivesMatter movement, have shed light on the near-weekly episodes of police violence experienced by people of color. While contemporary anti-police abuse activism represents a new era of protest, these movements also reflect a long history of resistance to police abuse and demands for an end to racially disparate police practices in American cities.

In researching and writing Policing Los Angeles: Race, Resistance, and the Rise of the LAPD, I followed a rich history of activists and residents of color who routinely challenged the discriminatory practices of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) during the latter half of the twentieth century. Residents and activists of color in Los Angeles routinely demanded greater civilian oversight of the police in hopes of making the department more accountable to the people it served.

Sparked by an episode of police abuse, the 1965 Watts uprising confirmed the criticisms of the LAPD made by many African American and Mexican American activists throughout the post-war period. Residents and activists used the crisis of policing created by Watts to push for changes in how the LAPD policed communities of color. The uprising also mobilized a renewed anti-police abuse movement in Los Angeles. Through groups such as the Black Panthers and Brown Berets, African Americans and Mexican Americans organized not only to expose police violence but also an alternative vision of policing for their communities.

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