Dalia Antonia Muller: Our America? Whose América?

Cuban Émigrés and Independnece in the Nineteenth-Century Gulf World by Dalia Antonia MullerToday, we welcome a guest post from Dalia Antonia Muller, author of Cuban Émigrés and Independence in the Nineteenth-Century Gulf World.

During the violent years of war marking Cuba’s final push for independence from Spain, over 3,000 Cuban émigrés, men and women, rich and poor, fled to Mexico. But more than a safe haven, Mexico was a key site, Dalia Antonia Muller argues, from which the expatriates helped launch a mobile and politically active Cuban diaspora around the Gulf of Mexico. Offering a new transnational vantage on Cuba’s struggle for nationhood, Muller traces the stories of three hundred of these Cuban émigrés and explores the impact of their lives of exile, service to the revolution and independence, and circum-Caribbean solidarities.

Cuban Émigrés and Independence in the Nineteenth-Century Gulf World is available now in both print and e-book editions.

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Our America? Whose América?: What We Have to Learn from Nineteenth-Century Inter-American transnational solidarities

 

Primitive and modern, simple and complex,
With something of Washington and more of Nimrod
You are the United States
You are the future invader
Of naïve America…

That America that trembles with hurricanes and lives on love
Men with saxon eyes and barbarous souls, she lives.
And dreams….

–Rubén Dario, To Roosevelt, 1904.

The Nicaraguan poet Ruben Dario comes to mind as I contemplate the misplaced and ill-informed disdain with which some U.S. Americans perceive the men, women and children who cross “our” southern border. In a poem dedicated to Theodore Roosevelt in 1904, at a time when the United States was rapidly extending its power and influence in the Caribbean and across the Pacific, Dario highlighted the central paradox of our existence as a nation: The United States, was at once the epitome of modernity and progress, and also fundamentally barbarous, brutal and willfully ignorant.  I want to draw attention to the persistence of this particular mix of brutality and ignorance in our political culture, for our current president’s plan to “make America great again” hinges on it. During his campaign and in his first year in power, President Donald Trump has given voice to a widespread callous contempt for immigrants and asylum-seekers perceived, among other things, as criminals, rapists and terrorists—“bad hombres.” The policies the administration is putting into place as an answer to the mis-perceived threat posed by “hoards” of border-crossers are having brutal effects for vulnerable peoples and families, while the xenophobic and racist rhetoric that emanates from Washington legitimizes hate and intolerance.

While Dario’s poem lambastes the U.S government in the person of Roosevelt for its cruel ignorance, readers might be surprised that his answer to Roosevelt’s barbarism was Walt Whitman’s grace– “it is with the verse of Walt Whitman/ that I must reach you, hunter.” We should not be surprised for Dario was not the first to draw a firm and clear distinction between the U.S. government and its people.

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Steven M. Stowe: Lives Written Larger than War

Keep the Days by Steven M. StoweToday we welcome a guest post from Steven M. Stowe, author of Keep the Days:  Reading the Civil War Diaries of Southern Women, out now from UNC Press.

Americans wrote fiercely during the Civil War. War surprised, devastated, and opened up imagination, taking hold of Americans’ words as well as their homes and families. The personal diary—wildly ragged yet rooted in day following day—was one place Americans wrote their war. Diaries, then, have become one of the best-known, most-used sources for exploring the life of the mind in a war-torn place and time. Delving into several familiar wartime diaries kept by women of the southern slave-owning class, Steven Stowe recaptures their motivations to keep the days close even as war tore apart the brutal system of slavery that had benefited them. Whether the diarists recorded thoughts about themselves, their opinions about men, or their observations about slavery, race, and warfare, Stowe shows how these women, by writing the immediate moment, found meaning in a changing world.

Keep the Days is now available in both print and ebook editions.

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Lives Written Larger than War

When it comes to the history of U.S. Civil War, we think of personal diaries as among the key sources.  A diary is an especially readable text, colorful and down-to-earth.  A soldier, a mistress of slaves, an army surgeon—each has a war story to tell.  And all tell the war plot: the Big War sweeping up their lives and changing them.

But is this what diarists write?  Is this what diaries do?  Yes and no.  Diarists do show how the war blew destruction into their lives.  They show stirring change, too, and new times coming.  I started reading diaries for this, looking for the war plot and how individuals fit their lives inside monster war.  But diaries also do the opposite.  A diary is a kind of perpetual first draft of the ordinary.  Even in war, the homely weight of a diarist’s habits and heart serve to fit war into her life.  Amazingly, on the page, we see that her life is larger than the war.

This can pose a problem for editors—and readers—who want the excitement of the Big War plot.  I like it, too, but I’ve learned to like even more how the diary makes its own, patient and watchful way through the writer’s days.  Diaries are good at putting the war off-center and not cutting to the chase.  Some editors are impatient with the diary’s way, and this has consequences for what we read when we read published war diaries.

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John M. Coggeshall: Big T or little “t’s”: The Contingent Nature of History

Liberia, South Carolina by John M. CoggeshallToday we welcome a guest post from John M. Coggeshall, author of Liberia, South Carolina: An African American Appalachian Community, just published by UNC Press.

In 2007, while researching mountain culture in upstate South Carolina, anthropologist John M. Coggeshall stumbled upon the small community of Liberia in the Blue Ridge foothills. There he met Mable Owens Clarke and her family, the remaining members of a small African American community still living on land obtained immediately after the Civil War. This intimate history tells the story of five generations of the Owens family and their friends and neighbors, chronicling their struggles through slavery, Reconstruction, the Jim Crow era, and the desegregation of the state. Through hours of interviews with Mable and her relatives, as well as friends and neighbors, Coggeshall presents an ethnographic history that allows members of a largely ignored community to speak and record their own history for the first time.

Liberia, South Carolina is available now in both print and ebook editions.

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Big T or little “t’s”: The Contingent Nature of History

One of the challenges I face when presenting African American history to a primarily European-American audience is helping my listeners to differentiate between the traditional way of viewing history and a more holistic way of viewing history.  To many traditionalists, history is Truth (capital T); that is, there is only one “correct” way to relate and explain events.  Kings and presidents governed, decisions were made, policies enacted, wars won and lost, territories exchanged, censuses taken, and events reported by chroniclers or correspondents.

On the other hand, more recent views of historical (and anthropological) documentation focus on “truths” (in quotes and with a lower case t).  From this perspective, there are alternate ways of viewing and interpreting rulers, policies, victories, colonization, numbers, and observations.  Historical and cultural events are filtered through numerous lenses: gender, class, education, ethnicity, and time (to name a few).  Furthermore, not all documents are preserved, not all items counted, and not all observations unbiased.  Thus, the responsibility of the historian (and anthropologist) is to tell multiple stories, or to present alternate interpretations of stories, to provide a more nuanced, but more accurate, portrayal of the past.

In my new book, Liberia, South Carolina: An African American Appalachian Community, I present the anthropologically-grounded history of an African American freedom colony established by former slaves after the Civil War on land still owned by their descendants today.  In this book, I challenge the prevailing Truth of local white/black interaction by presenting primarily the black perspective on life under enslavement, during Reconstruction, Jim Crow, and desegregation.  By doing so, I challenge the prevailing white Truth that the Liberia community has peacefully coexisted with their white neighbors through the centuries, and that large numbers of blacks have no legitimate place in an area seen as traditionally a Euro-American landscape (the southern Appalachians).  By presenting multiple “truths,” I provide readers with a more accurate portrayal of life in South Carolina and in the American South more generally.  Moreover, readers are also made aware of the ability of a minority group to use myriad strategies to preserve their land, their identity, their independence, and their dignity for the past 150 years.

While I believe African American readers will appreciate the alternate perspective on South Carolina (and national) history, I suspect some of my local white audience may find their Truth challenged and their reality disturbed.  At the very least, I hope they find their minds opened and their perspectives changed.  As all readers will discover, the story of Liberia has a powerful message that will resonate with a wider national audience.  I believe it is a story worth telling.

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John M. Coggeshall is professor of anthropology at Clemson University.

 

Sally Dwyer-McNulty: Fashioning Catholicism and Jewish Allies

Common Threads: A Cultural History of Clothing in American CatholicismToday we welcome a guest post from Sally Dwyer-McNulty, author of Common Threads: A Cultural History of Clothing in American Catholicism available in paperback from UNC Press.

A well-illustrated cultural history of the apparel worn by American Catholics, Dwyer-McNulty’s book reveals the transnational origins and homegrown significance of clothing in developing identity, unity, and a sense of respectability for a major religious group that had long struggled for its footing in a Protestant-dominated society often openly hostile to Catholics. Focusing on those who wore the most visually distinct clothes—priests, women religious, and schoolchildren—Dwyer-McNulty tracks and analyzes changes in Catholic clothing all the way through the twentieth century and into the present, which finds the new Pope Francis choosing to wear plain black shoes rather than ornate red ones.

Common Threads is available in both print and ebook editions.

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Fashioning Catholicism and Jewish Allies

Journalists covering the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s much anticipated exhibit, “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination,” note that Christine and Stephen A. Swarzman, generous contributors to the exhibit and its festivities, are themselves not all Catholic. Christine is Catholic, but Stephen A. Swarzman is Jewish. Nevertheless it is through their support, as a couple, that this display of Catholic aesthetics and fashion comes to the public’s attention. Nearly a century ago, other Jewish allies lent their talents toward illuminating Catholicism visual presence in the form of school uniforms. Victor and Emil Eisenberg, Jewish clothiers in Philadelphia, held the first diocesan uniform contract with the Superintendent of Catholic Schools, and dressed generations of high school girls with their first uniforms. While it’s not the Catholic couture one will find in the Met’s galleries, the school girl’s uniform, nevertheless, deserves a place in the wardrobe history of Catholic clothing. And once again, it was with Jewish assistance that Catholic fashion or perhaps unfashion, reached the public eye.

Victor Eisenberg’s parents, Moses Aisenberg (later Morris Eisenberg and Katherine Scherman (later Katherine Sherman Eisenberg), emigrated to the United States in 1886 and 1891, respectively. Moses came from Kiev, part of the then Russian Empire and Katherine from Russia controlled Poland. Jews in Russia suffered severe discrimination at the turn-of-the-twentieth-century, especially after the passage of the 1882 May Laws. Through these edicts, the Czar’s government restricted Jewish access to professional occupations, higher education, and property. Sewing was one of the acceptable occupations that Jews could pursue, and many, women and men, made their livelihoods in tailoring. Even worse, violent and death-dealing pogroms threatened the Russian Jewish settlements. The Aisenbergs and the Schermans joined the wave of over two million Jews who fled Russia between the years 1881 and 1914. Both Moses and Katherine readily found employment in the needle trade, met, and married in the United States. Two of their sons, Emil born in 1902, and Victor in 1905 grew up in Philadelphia, and followed their parents into the garment business.

Continue Reading Sally Dwyer-McNulty: Fashioning Catholicism and Jewish Allies

Courtney Elizabeth Knapp: Reckoning with Local Legacies of Racialized Violence

Constructing the Dynamo of Dixie by Courtney Elizabeth KnappToday we welcome a guest post from Courtney Elizabeth Knapp, author of Constructing the Dynamo of Dixie:  Race, Urban Planning, and Cosmopolitanism in Chattanooga, Tennessee, just published this month from UNC Press.

What can local histories of interracial conflict and collaboration teach us about the potential for urban equity and social justice in the future? Courtney Elizabeth Knapp chronicles the politics of gentrification and culture-based development in Chattanooga, Tennessee, by tracing the roots of racism, spatial segregation, and mainstream “cosmopolitanism” back to the earliest encounters between the Cherokee, African Americans, and white settlers. By weaving together archival, ethnographic, and participatory action research techniques, she reveals the political complexities of a city characterized by centuries of ordinary resistance to racial segregation and uneven geographic development.

Constructing the Dynamo of Dixie is available now in both print and ebook editions.

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Reckoning with Local Legacies of Racialized Violence: From Symbolic to Structural Transformation

On June 27 2015, Bree Newsome made international headlines after being arrested for climbing a 30-foot flagpole at the South Carolina state house and removing the Confederate flag that hung there.  Newsome’s action was a response to the tragedy that had occurred ten days earlier in Charleston, where Dylann Roof entered the historic Emmanuel A.M.E. Church and murdered nine black parishioners.

The white supremacist values that motivated Roof’s attack reinvigorated public outcry and debate about the persistence of white supremacy, and anti-blackness in particular, in contemporary U.S. society.  In April 2016, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) published the results of a major study that examined the history of Confederate memorialization from the end of the U.S. Civil War (1865) to today. They discovered most Confederate memorabilia was installed in the 20th century, during distinct periods of white backlash against social progress acheived by black Americans (especially 1900-1920s and the 1960s).  During these periods, empowered racist citizen groups and policymakers organized the installation of Confederate iconography into public spaces; these hostile placemaking gestures meant precisely to intimidate and provoke fear and alienation among Black residents and visitors to the city.

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Jason W. Smith: Creating Matthew Fontaine Maury’s Wind and Current Charts

To Master the Boundless Sea by Jason W. SmithToday we welcome a guest post from Jason W. Smith, author of To Master the Boundless Sea:  The U.S. Navy, the Marine Environment, and the Cartography of Empire, just published by UNC Press in our Flows, Migrations, and Exchanges series.

As the United States grew into an empire in the late nineteenth century, notions like “sea power” derived not only from fleets, bases, and decisive battles but also from a scientific effort to understand and master the ocean environment. Beginning in the early nineteenth century and concluding in the first years of the twentieth, Jason W. Smith tells the story of the rise of the U.S. Navy and the emergence of American ocean empire through its struggle to control nature. In vividly told sketches of exploration, naval officers, war, and, most significantly, the ocean environment, Smith draws together insights from environmental, maritime, military, and naval history, and the history of science and cartography, placing the U.S. Navy’s scientific efforts within a broader cultural context.

To Master the Boundless Sea is available now in both print and ebook editions.

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Crowd-Sourcing for the Nineteenth Century: Creating Matthew Fontaine Maury’s Wind and Current Charts

The World Wide Web may now fundraise your chihuahua’s emergency surgery or track the migrations of eastern meadowlarks. The power of the Internet to bring people together in the service of a cause—charitable, intellectual, political, or otherwise—may in many ways be unprecedented, but crowd-sourcing, in fact, long pre-dates the advent of the internet.

During the 1840s and 1850s, Matthew Fontaine Maury, a lieutenant in the US Navy and superintendent of the Naval Observatory and Hydrographic Office in Washington, D.C., summoned a vast network of mariner-observers to report environmental data of the ocean from which he created his Wind and Current Charts, massive cartographically-organized representations of hydrographic, biological, atmospheric, and meteorological information. The result was an extraordinary leap in knowledge about the oceans and, ultimately, the birth of modern oceanography.

Maury sought primarily to improve navigation at sea, which remained unsystematic, the purview of navigators who drew on experience and shared folklore as much as or more than science. Unsatisfied, Maury used his position at the Observatory to solicit data from mariners all over the world. Using an abstract log designed to organize observations of winds, currents, weather, barometric pressure, whale sightings, among others, Maury and his staff received logs, organized and charted the data, and then distributed those charts free to all who contributed.

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Rebecca Tuuri: Black Women’s Political Power (and Pragmatism)

Strategic Sisterhood by Rebecca TuuriToday we welcome a guest post by Rebecca Tuuri, author of Strategic Sisterhood: The National Council of Negro Women in the Black Freedom Struggle, just published by UNC Press.

When women were denied a major speaking role at the 1963 March on Washington, Dorothy Height, head of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), organized her own women’s conference for the very next day. Defying the march’s male organizers, Height helped harness the womanpower waiting in the wings. Height’s careful tactics and quiet determination come to the fore in this first history of the NCNW, the largest black women’s organization in the United States at the height of the civil rights, Black Power, and feminist movements of the 1960s and 1970s. Offering a sweeping view of the NCNW’s behind-the-scenes efforts to fight racism, poverty, and sexism in the late twentieth century, Rebecca Tuuri examines how the group teamed with U.S. presidents, foundations, and grassroots activists alike to implement a number of important domestic development and international aid projects.

Strategic Sisterhood is now available in both print and ebook editions.

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Black Women’s Political Power (and Pragmatism)

Alabama Democrat Doug Jones’s surprise win over Republican Roy Moore in the December 2017 special election for Jeff Session’s vacant Senate seat has been explained by many factors, but one of the most important has been the crucial role that black women played in Jones’s victory. According to a Washington Post exit poll, 98% of black women voted for Jones. In the days leading up to the election, the controversial judge Moore, expecting to defeat his opponent in spite of sexual misconduct allegations against Moore, claimed that the election was in God’s hands. After Jones’s victory, author J.K. Rowling quipped that God must be a black woman. Twitter and Facebook were buzzing with surprise at and praise for the powerful mobilization of black women voters, but black women have long been highly engaged in both formal and informal political activity. My book Strategic Sisterhood: The National Council of Negro Women in the Black Freedom Struggle seeks to illuminate the longstanding political and social justice work of the National Council of Negro Women, one of the oldest and largest black women’s organizations at the height of the civil rights, Black Power, and feminist movements.

In 1935 Mary McLeod Bethune called together representatives from nearly thirty black women’s sororities, social organizations, and auxiliaries to create the NCNW as an organization of organizations. Bethune was a powerful presence in Washington, D.C. and the Deep South, as she helped found a school for black girls in 1904 (with only $1.50 and five students) that would eventually become Bethune-Cookman University. She also served in appointed positions under presidents Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Her most famous appointment was that of Director of Negro Affairs in the National Youth Administration under Roosevelt. As a highly respected black leader with access to the president, she led the group of black political appointees and consultants known as the “Black Cabinet,” despite being the only woman of the group. Her newly created NCNW was meant to act as a lobbying body to speak on behalf of black women’s concerns, becoming involved in anti-lynching, voter registration, and desegregation activism, and serving as the only black women’s organization represented at the formation of the United Nations. In short, NCNW ensured that black women’s interests were represented both at home and abroad.

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Karin Alejandra Rosemblatt: Wakanda Mexicana

The Science and Politics of Race in Mexico and the United States, 1910–1950Today we welcome a guest post from Karin Alejandra Rosemblatt, author of The Science and Politics of Race in Mexico and the United States, 1910–1950, just published by UNC Press.

In this history of the social and human sciences in Mexico and the United States, Karin Alejandra Rosemblatt reveals intricate connections among the development of science, the concept of race, and policies toward indigenous peoples. Focusing on the anthropologists, sociologists, biologists, physicians, and other experts who collaborated across borders from the Mexican Revolution through World War II, Rosemblatt traces how intellectuals on both sides of the Rio Grande forged shared networks in which they discussed indigenous peoples and other ethnic minorities. In doing so, Rosemblatt argues, they refashioned race as a scientific category and consolidated their influence within their respective national policy circles.

The Science and Politics of Race in Mexico and the United States, 1910–1950 is available now in both print and ebook editions.

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Wakanda Mexicana

(This post contains spoilers.)

I saw Black Panther just weeks after the publication of my new book, which assesses the work of intellectuals committed to the well-being of Native peoples. The Science and Politics of Race in Mexico and the United States, 1910-1950, echoes the themes of Marvel’s blockbuster in exploring the tension between more insular identities and broader solidarities, local custom and global science.

Black Panther movie posterBlack Panther focuses on the African polity of Wakanda, a place with vibrant traditions and artistry but also—surprisingly, given its reputation as a backward African nation—extraordinary scientific and technological sophistication. Wakanda has kept quiet about its intellectual and natural riches, including its extensive supply of the valuable metal Vibranium. By avoiding contact with the outside world, it has remained moored to its own distinct past. It nevertheless possesses resources and knowledge that humanity as a whole urgently needs. Panther’s plot hinges on whether the Wakandan leader T’Challa will continue on this insular path or lend Wakandan expertise to the disenfranchised peoples of the globe.

Critics have interpreted Black Panther as illuminating the dilemmas of Black political mobilization. Philosopher Christopher Lebron has chided writer-director Ryan Coogler for elevating the less militant T’Challa over his cousin, the violent, revolutionary, Oakland-bred Eric Killmonger, who seeks to overturn a global social order that has oppressed people of African descent. Lebron suggests, quite correctly, that the film perpetuates lamentable US stereotypes of ghetto masculinity in its depiction of gangster Oakland resident Killmonger. And it dismisses radical politics.

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Steven M. Stowe: Was Love Trivial in the Civil War?

Keep the Days by Steven M. StoweToday we welcome a guest post from Steven M. Stowe, author of Keep the Days:  Reading the Civil War Diaries of Southern Women, just published by UNC Press.

Americans wrote fiercely during the Civil War. War surprised, devastated, and opened up imagination, taking hold of Americans’ words as well as their homes and families. The personal diary—wildly ragged yet rooted in day following day—was one place Americans wrote their war. Diaries, then, have become one of the best-known, most-used sources for exploring the life of the mind in a war-torn place and time. Delving into several familiar wartime diaries kept by women of the southern slave-owning class, Steven Stowe recaptures their motivations to keep the days close even as war tore apart the brutal system of slavery that had benefited them. Whether the diarists recorded thoughts about themselves, their opinions about men, or their observations about slavery, race, and warfare, Stowe shows how these women, by writing the immediate moment, found meaning in a changing world.

Keep the Days is now available in both print and ebook editions.

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Was Love Trivial in the Civil War?

Reading the Civil War diary of Emma LeConte, a young, well-to-do white woman in Columbia, S.C., awaiting the arrival of Gen. William Sherman’s army in January 1865,  you suddenly hear a new voice, set off by parentheses.  It turns out to be the voice of a much older LeConte, who tells you that she is at this moment re-copying her diary in case others might read it.  Copying it and editing it:  she’s removing her emotional “speculations” about religious faith and the state of her youthful soul.  She’s embarrassed by her 17-year-old self and a little bored by her rambling, dark-night-of-the-soul thoughts.  So out they go.  We might think of diaries as texts where private emotion finds a home, but LeConte’s editorial knife shows us that war diaries may be a special case.  What does this mean for how we read such diaries?

Consider romantic love.  Even more than the emotions surrounding religion, the emotions of love flowed easily into young southern women’s war diaries.  War transformed local men and brought new ones—exciting men dressed to the nines and talking heroism.  The chances for love became brilliant and scattershot, a match for war.  Even when war’s destruction set in, many diarists wrote their hope that both men and love would counter it.  In one way or another, they wrote a great deal about love.  Then, years later, thinking that others might want to read their wartime pages, they decided to lower love’s volume.  Never mind that the embrace of love and war is the stuff of world literature, the women saw their love talk as not fitting into the Civil War’s deadly seriousness.  Love seemed callous and trivial.  Eliza Andrews prepared her war diary for publication in 1908 and says straight-out that she’s removing “silly flirtations.”  So did Emma LeConte.  Emma Holmes and Sarah Morgan thought they should do the same before anyone saw their embarrassing lines, though it seems they didn’t do much of it.

Continue Reading Steven M. Stowe: Was Love Trivial in the Civil War?

Craig Bruce Smith: Claims of a “Very Honorable” Kim Jong Un are Trump-ed Up

American Honor by Craig Bruce SmithToday, we welcome a guest post from Craig Bruce Smith, author of American Honor: The Creation of the Nation’s Ideals during the Revolutionary Era, just published by UNC Press.

The American Revolution was not only a revolution for liberty and freedom, it was also a revolution of ethics, reshaping what colonial Americans understood as “honor” and “virtue.” As Craig Bruce Smith demonstrates, these concepts were crucial aspects of Revolutionary Americans’ ideological break from Europe and shared by all ranks of society. Focusing his study primarily on prominent Americans who came of age before and during the Revolution—notably John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington—Smith shows how a colonial ethical transformation caused and became inseparable from the American Revolution, creating an ethical ideology that still remains.

American Honor is available now in both print and ebook editions.

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Claims of a “Very Honorable” Kim Jong Un are Trump-ed Up

For most of recent memory, the rogue state of North Korea has loomed as a specter threatening the safety of the world and its own citizens. Yet last week, President Donald Trump declared that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is “very honorable.”

Long used within international diplomacy, honor as a term sounds archaic to the modern ear, conjuring up images of duels at ten paces. Honor has been contemporarily relegated to the military, noble families, or rappers in a certain Broadway musical. Today it is often dismissed as violent or aristocratic. However, during the Revolutionary era, America created its own understanding of honor—one that embraced ethics and a devotion to the greater good. To be honorable was to be ethical. But what changed?

In the early twentieth century, the use of these two words literally swapped places. Honor still exists in America, but we just know it by another name: ethics. Based on this and the Founders’ ideals, the oppressive dictatorship of North Korea and its leader cannot be considered honorable by the United States’ historical and ideological standards.

The recent conflict between Trump and Kim Jong Un began not with missiles, but rather with a flurry of insults that flew back and forth between the United States and North Korea over recent months. President Trump launched a mocking offensive against the “Little Rocket Man,” while the North Korean counterattacked with a volley tipped, not with plutonium and uranium, but with the venomous words, “mentally deranged dotard.”

Duels (and wars) have been fought over less, but soon overtures of nuclear negotiations appeared. Now, suddenly, the same regime that George W. Bush included within the “axis of evil” during his 2002 State of the Union Address has been praised. This leaves one to ask: how can Kim Jong Un be “honorable”?

While the concept is ancient, the problem with the word honor is that it has always proved difficult to accurately define. In fact, its meaning has varied greatly, with individuals invoking the concept to justify virtually anything.

In regards to honor’s definition, “it is no easy undertaking to explain a word,” said eighteenth-century Cambridge University professor Thomas Rutherford, “which is used by all men very unsteadily, and by most without any meaning at all.”

Born out of the struggles against monarchical British tyranny, honor in Revolutionary America became linked instead with justice, freedom, and morality. In the Declaration of Independence, the Second Continental Congress jointly pledged “our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” But the shift to an ethical understanding occurred before 1776, shaped by what American Patriots considered Britain’s unethical violation of their fundamental rights to life and liberty. For the new United States, honor was therefore a promise to maintain its moral supremacy and to serve the best interests of the nation and its people.

George Washington stated, “I should hope every post would be deemed honorable, which gave a man opportunity to serve his country.” Serving a cause beyond oneself was honorable. While similar words have been usurped by dictatorships around the globe and cast as blind loyalty and justification for brutal policies (such as the Nazi’s SS and their “Blood and Honor” oath), Washington’s version centered on ethical behavior on and off the battlefield. Benjamin Franklin’s version of honor dismissed its elitist and exclusionary elements based on birth or status and allowed individuals to advance in society through service to the nation. Meanwhile, Thomas Jefferson’s understanding of honor was similar to the modern day equivalent of conscience. “Never suppose that in any possible situation or under any circumstance that it is best for you to do a dishonorable thing however slightly it may appear to you,” he wrote, for each person should behave as if “all the world” was watching.

And now the world is watching.

It is watching the United States, which has stood as a beacon of freedom for 242 years and protected global democracy for nearly a century. And our President has stated that a dictator is “very honorable.” Words matter and so does the meaning behind them.

So what then could Trump mean by his words?

At its most basic, honor centers on telling the truth. If Kim Jong Un is indeed following through with on his overtures for peaceful negotiation, then perhaps the President believes he is acting honorably. Maybe, it was all just a ploy to bring North Korea into the just announced peace summit? However, when we apply the Founders’ concept of honor as ethics, weighed against years of oppression, broken promises, dynastic reign, and aggression, there is absolutely no basis for such a claim. The documented human rights violations of North Korea can hardly vouch for the honesty or honor of their leadership.

It’s interesting to note that President Trump made this comment only a day after visiting George Washington’s Mount Vernon. It is difficult to envision that Founder sharing similar sentiments. “I cannot tell a lie,” the definition of honor being used by President Trump for Kim Jong Un simply does not fit with America’s founding ideals.

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Craig Bruce Smith is an assistant professor of history at William Woods University.  You can visit his website at www.craigbrucesmith.com.

Author Interview: A conversation with Douglas Reichert Powell, author of Endless Caverns

Endless Caverns by Douglas Reichert PowellUNC Press Publicity Director Gina Mahalek talks with Douglas Reichert Powell, author of Endless Caverns: An Underground Journey into the Show Caves of Appalachia.

For generations, enterprising people in the southern Appalachians have turned the region’s extensive network of caves into a strange, fascinating genre of tourist attraction. Show caves, as Douglas Reichert Powell explains in Endless Caverns, are at once predictable and astonishing, ancient and modern, eerie and sentimental. Their story sparks memories of a fleeting cool moment deep underground during a hot summer vacation, capturing in microcosm the history and culture of a region where a deeply rooted sense of place collides with constant change.

Endless Caverns is now available in both print and ebook editions.

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Gina Mahalek: First things first: what exactly is a show cave?

Douglas Reichert Powell: A show cave is, most basically, any cave that has been fixed up so people can visit it. It’s definitely going to have lights. It’s probably going to have pathways, handrails, and a tour of some kind led by a guide. Typically, that tour is going to begin and end in a gift shop, because most show caves are privately-held, for-profit, commercial operations, and they’d like for you to part with a little more money beyond the admission ticket.  Looking at the whole bunch of caves in Appalachia as a group, I’ve come to think of show caves as something like a genre of art: the cave itself is the canvas; lights and paths and narration are the medium.

GM: When did people first think to give a tour of a cave?

DRP: Really, who knows? There are a lot of ways you can answer that question. Cave art is the oldest creative work on the planet; I think the current record are some paintings in Indonesia believed to be over 35,000 years ago. Maybe that was the very first show cave? It’s hard to say exactly where the show cave as such started, since the line between show caves and the use of caves for cultural purposes like art or rituals is kind of blurry.  Many of the caves in the Appalachian Valley that I write about have been in continuous use for pretty much as long as there have been people. Indigenous people decorated the inside of many of the region’s caves from the Paleolithic to the Cherokee Removal in 1830s. Sometimes the caves that have indigenous art in them were not used by Native people for anything else, like minerals or burial—meaning they went deep inside them just to express themselves creatively. The oldest full-fledged show cave in North America is Grand Caverns in Grottoes, Virginia, which opened for business as Weyer’s Cave in 1807 and has operated pretty much continuously since then. It’s a real gem of a show cave, once a standard stop for plantation gentry summering in the mountains, and now owned by the town and operated as a public park.                                       

GM: How did you first think of writing about it?

DRP: My work has all centered on how people relate to the landscape around them, so one time, between projects, I found myself wondering, “what’s the most place-specific form of expression there is?” Show caves can happen only where they are: you can’t move them one inch. So I went to visit some caves and think about this some more. On that trip I realized two things. First, that there’s a whole network of show caves in the Appalachian Mountains, three dozen or more all related by history and culture as well as geology and geography. And second, nobody’s written a book about them.

GM: Why Appalachian show caves?

DRP: Well, I had to put some boundaries around the project, as there are show caves all around the world. But I have a particular interest in the landscape and the people of the Appalachian Mountains, which I have studied for many years, and where I was born and raised. When I played my little thought experiment at the beginning of the project, I was definitely trying to think of an Appalachian example. I like to think about the ways that these show caves, each one unique, sketch out a map of a region.  

GM: When did you first go to a show cave?

DRP: The earliest trip I can remember is visiting Bristol Caverns, about twenty miles from my hometown, when I was in second grade or so. I think if you ask a lot of kids of my generation who went to elementary school in upper East Tennessee, they’d give the same answer. Bristol Caverns was the Cadillac of end-of-the-year school field trips as far as I was concerned. I have an indelible image in my head of a spot there on the hill that the cavern is in: there’s a grating on the ground and you can look through it down into the cavern’s largest room, which they said the Cherokees would use as an escape route. It’s a great cave, really gorgeous, and it’s still going; the last time I saw the folks who run it, they said that GPS had been a real godsend for them, making it a lot easier for folks to find them out in the country. 

GM: So are you a spelunker now?

DRP: That’s a great word, isn’t it? Whenever I talk to people about this project, their eyes practically light up at the opportunity to use it.  It’s just fun to say. But people who are serious about caving really don’t like that word. They use it in a pejorative way, to describe people who don’t know what they’re doing. I think the fact that the rest of the world likes that word so much is part of what cavers don’t like about it. I picked up a t-shirt at one place along the way that says, “What’s the difference between a caver and a spelunker?” and on the back it says, “Cavers rescue spelunkers.”

But in that respect, I guess I kind of am a spelunker.

GM: Do show caves damage caves?

DRP: Show caves certainly do change the ecosystem in the cave. Algae grows on cave walls around lights; spores and seeds ride in with visitors. Of course there’s litter even in the best-run caves and changes in the air pressure and circulation. [There’s] redirection of drainage and streams, introduction of stocked fish, disruption of potential bat habitats. Running a show cave, you can face some peculiar challenges. In drier caves like Mammoth, they have to deal with lint rubbing off of visitors’ clothes. And when you change a cave, it stays changed. They keep a record of everything that gets done to them. Whether or not you call that “damage” can be kind of a philosophical question. Why is some graffiti considered a valuable historical artifact and other [graffiti] considered vandalism?

But show caves are oddly resilient—a renewable natural and cultural resource. When a show cave goes out of business, as they often do, often the whole apparatus is still there. Sooner or later, somebody will take another shot. Show caves have stuck it out while entire ways of life have come and gone in the Appalachian Valley.

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Douglas Reichert Powell is associate professor of English at Columbia College Chicago.

Time for another UNC Press book giveaway: Enter to win two new books in Native American and Indigenous studies!

UNC Press is raffling off the two inaugural volumes in our new series, Critical Indigeneities.

Two new books in the UNC Press' Critical Indigeneities seriesTo help us celebrate, enter to win copies of:

Defiant Indigeneity:  The Politics of Hawaiian Performance by Stephanie Nohelani Teves

The Sound of Navajo Country:  Music, Language, and Diné Belonging by Kristina M. Jacobsen

To enter, simply follow us on Twitter (@uncpressblog), re-Tweet this contest, or send us your email address.

The winner will be selected randomly from all entries received.  Winner will be selected at the conclusion of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association Annual Meeting in Los Angeles — May 19, 2018.

Click here to enter.

Good luck!

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Click for more information on our Critical Indigeneities series.

Mushroom of the Month, May 2018: Hemlock Varnish Shelf, Ganoderma tsugae

A Field Guide to Mushrooms of the CarolinasToday we initiate a new monthly series, Mushroom of the Month, brought to you by Michael W. Hopping, co-author of A Field Guide to Mushrooms of the Carolinas:  A Southern Gateways Guide, just published by UNC Press. 

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

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

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

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Hemlock Varnish Shelf, Ganoderma tsugae

Hemlock Varnish Shelf, Ganoderma tsugae

Hemlock Varnish Shelf, Ganoderma tsugae (Photo by Michael W. Hopping)

The polypores or bracket fungi are a diverse assemblage of wood rotters whose members typically dress in bureaucratic browns, grays, or dirty whites. Timid nonconformists might opt for a striped cap, decorative scales, a hairy upper surface, or mossy accents. But even here, among the ranks of work-a-day polypores, can be found a few in open rebellion against drab expectations. In the Southern Appalachians the little red corvette of these miscreants is the Hemlock Varnish Shelf, Ganoderma tsugae, also known as Hemlock Reishi.

As a group, young varnish shelf mushrooms set themselves apart with a dry but shiny (varnished) upper surface. Four species are currently recognized in the Carolinas. Two inhabit deciduous trees, one prefers pine. Not surprisingly, the Hemlock Varnish Shelf specializes in Eastern Hemlock but can also occur in firs and possibly other conifers.

Each spring a new crop of brackets, first appearing as soft white balls, sprout on the trunk or at the base of an infected tree, log, or stump. The developing mushrooms morph into fan-shaped caps up to 31 cm wide. These are anchored by short, stout stalks to the fungus hidden in the wood or tree roots. The shiny upper surface of growing caps is brightly colored, often in flaming shades of red or orange and peripherally zoned with a band of yellow then white at the cap margin. The underside is also whitish, consisting of a densely packed field of tiny (4-6/mm) pore openings. Damage to the pore surface causes a brown discoloration. Although white parts of the Hemlock Varnish Shelf are edible when young, the flesh soon becomes tough and unpleasantly bitter.

Continue Reading Mushroom of the Month, May 2018: Hemlock Varnish Shelf, Ganoderma tsugae

Steven M. Stowe: Understanding People We Don’t Like

Keep the Days by Steven M. StoweToday we welcome a guest post from Steven M. Stowe, author of Keep the Days:  Reading the Civil War Diaries of Southern Women, just published by UNC Press.

Americans wrote fiercely during the Civil War. War surprised, devastated, and opened up imagination, taking hold of Americans’ words as well as their homes and families. The personal diary—wildly ragged yet rooted in day following day—was one place Americans wrote their war. Diaries, then, have become one of the best-known, most-used sources for exploring the life of the mind in a war-torn place and time. Delving into several familiar wartime diaries kept by women of the southern slave-owning class, Steven Stowe recaptures their motivations to keep the days close even as war tore apart the brutal system of slavery that had benefited them. Whether the diarists recorded thoughts about themselves, their opinions about men, or their observations about slavery, race, and warfare, Stowe shows how these women, by writing the immediate moment, found meaning in a changing world.

Keep the Days is now available in both print and ebook editions.

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Understanding People We Don’t Like

I read the personal diaries of slave-owing white women during the U.S. Civil War because I want to learn how it was to live their lives, especially the linchpin experience of an enslaver:  to live comfortable, thoughtful days believing herself a good person while helping to make a murderous, racist slave regime.  I look to diaries to shed light on how this worked in a woman’s daily life.

A diary isn’t a simple piece of writing, though it might seem so.  It’s a sleepy text, wandering and slow to focus, a kind of on-going rough draft of a life.  The diarist is not scamming anyone or preening herself for us.  She has not a thought for us, or for consistency, and her urge to tell things is not an urge to have readers.  Often she just drops a scene onto the page, impulsive or careless.  Even from the pen of a long-dead slave-owning woman, such frank moments invite curiosity.

Reading, I realized that there were grounds for empathy with these diarists.  Not sympathy—closeness and caring—for these are very unsympathetic women.  Empathy turns on difference, not likeness.  Openings for empathy are a way into a foreign, even alienating, frame of mind.  It’s a touchy move to make because you have to spend a lot of time with people you don’t like.  But I wanted some ground cleared between the women and me where I could understand their world as they lived it.  Understanding follows from empathy, not the other way around.

Continue Reading Steven M. Stowe: Understanding People We Don’t Like

Joanna Ruth Marsland: In Memoriam: Dick Jenrette (1929-2018)

In Memoriam: Dick Jenrette (1929-2018)

Dick Jenrette, Photo Courtesy of Classical American Homes Preservation Trust

Photo Courtesy of the Classical American Homes Preservation Trust

On Sunday, April 22nd, UNC Press lost a dear friend with the death of Dick Jenrette. In honor of the Press and his passion, Dick endowed the Richard Hampton Jenrette Series in Architecture and the Decorative Arts during the Press’s 75th anniversary campaign in the mid-1990s, supporting works on American architecture, material culture, and craftsmanship.  You can read his full obituary here.

Soon after joining the Press, I shared with then Press director Kate Torrey some small world connections I had to Dick. Kate encouraged me to write to him, stating, “He loves stories like these.” So I did. A week or so later, my phone rang. It was Dick. We chatted for almost an hour, like long-lost friends. We spoke of my time at Winterthur Museum; the keynote address his curator gave at the Tryon Palace Decorative Arts Symposium; the tie between the Coor-Gaston house, my home in New Bern, and Edgewater, his home in New York; and, of course, the Press and books. From that moment, I was as charmed by Dick as I was deeply respectful of his work in preserving and celebrating American classical architecture and decorative arts.

I welcomed every opportunity to share with him news of the books his series made possible, and I relished the times we worked together on other projects. When our mutual friend Wyndham Robertson led the Press’s effort to endow what is now the Spangler Family Directorship of UNC Press, Dick Jenrette was the first to step forward. More recently, I had hoped that he would help lead the effort to honor Wyndham and endow the Press’s editorial directorship in her name. His health would not allow this. Yet he was very much a part of that monumental moment in the life of the Press, as he had been for so many others.

I will forever be grateful for Dick’s curiosity, kindness, and generosity, and I am proud that through the Richard Hampton Jenrette Series in Architecture and the Decorative Arts, superior UNC Press titles will continue to be published in his name in the subjects he held dear.

Joanna Ruth Marsland
Director of Development

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Click more information about the Richard Hampton Jenrette Series in Architecture and the Decorative Arts.

Thomas Day: Master Craftsman and Free Man of Color by Patricia Phillips Marshall and Jo Ramsay LeimenstollNorth Carolina ArchitectureThe Beauty of Holiness

 

Millington W. Bergeson-Lockwood: How to Escape the Graveyard of History

Race Over Party by Millington W. Bergeson-LockwoodToday, we welcome a guest post from Millington W. Bergeson-Lockwood, author of Race Over Party:  Black Politics and Partisanship in Late Nineteenth-Century Boston, just published from UNC Press.

In late nineteenth-century Boston, battles over black party loyalty were fights over the place of African Americans in the post–Civil War nation. In his fresh in-depth study of black partisanship and politics, Bergeson-Lockwood demonstrates that party politics became the terrain upon which black Bostonians tested the promise of equality in America’s democracy. Most African Americans remained loyal Republicans, but Race Over Party highlights the actions and aspirations of a cadre of those who argued that the GOP took black votes for granted and offered little meaningful reward for black support. These activists branded themselves “independents,” forging new alliances and advocating support of whichever candidate would support black freedom regardless of party.

Race Over Party is now available in both print and ebook editions.

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How to Escape the Graveyard of History: Remembering the Dead to Expose America’s Demons

If you walk up the hill northeast to the right of the chapel at Woodlawn Cemetery in Everett, Massachusetts you reach the oldest part of the graveyard. On a small unlabeled and unpaved path beneath a giant oak tree sits the small weathered headstone of Edwin Garrison Walker; the name barely legible. Eroded and shrunken by age, the memorial does not do justice to the man interred beneath. Not far from Walker’s resting place are monuments to other black freedom fighters Lewis Hayden and John Rock; their graves well marked and maintained. Famous and well known for their anti-slavery activism, they are featured on the cemetery’s historical walking tour. The contrast between the well-maintained memorials of Rock and Hayden and the seemingly forgotten monument to Walker raises the question: What is at stake in privileging the commemoration of one life over another?

Walker's Gravestone

Walker’s Gravestone Today (Photo by Author)

Hayden's Gravestone

Hayden’s Gravestone Today (Photo by Author)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the early years of the 20th century, African American playwright, novelist, and journalist Pauline Hopkins authored a series of biographies in Colored American Magazine profiling “Famous Men of the Negro Race.” Among the essays, Hopkins told of the lives and deeds of such well-known figures as Booker T. Washington and Frederick Douglass. She also included Bostonians like Lewis Hayden and Robert Morris. There were others, however, who are less widely recognized today. Among these famous men was Edwin Garrison Walker. Walker was widely-known in African American political circles and especially in his native Boston area, where he lived most of his life until his death. Despite this notoriety during his life, beyond a few scholars and journalists, few know of Walker today. He died in January 1901 and in 1902 the recently inaugurated Edwin G. Walker Tabernacle of the Brothers and Sisters of Love and Charity purchased and placed a headstone upon his grave at Woodlawn Cemetary.

Continue Reading Millington W. Bergeson-Lockwood: How to Escape the Graveyard of History

Just published: The first book in a new open-access series, Studies in Latin America

Tropical TonguesThe University of North Carolina Press, the Institute for the Study of the Americas and the UNC University Libraries have just published the first title in their collaborative open-access series, Studies in Latin America.

Tropical Tongues: Language Ideologies, Endangerment, and Minority Languages in Belize by Jennifer Carolina Gómez Menjívar and William Noel Salmon is expected to be followed up by another monograph published this year. The new series will increase the availability of scholarly literature focused on the social sciences in Latin America and the Caribbean. As an open-access series, the books will be made available digitally to a wide audience, particularly for use in classroom settings.

The collaboration was announced in 2015 with a goal of two publications per year and is among the first open-access initiatives UNC Press has undertaken. The Studies in Latin America series publishes short monographs between 20,000 to 35,000-words from senior and junior scholars, covering subjects that include anthropology, geography, history, political science and sociology, with a focus on historical and contemporary Latin American and Caribbean issues.

The Institute for the Study of the Americas selects the works and conducts an internal and external peer review. UNC Press distributes the print edition, and the University Libraries hosts the open-access e-book editions in the Carolina Digital Repository. UNC Press and the University Libraries work together to disseminate information about the books.

Louis A. Pérez Jr., Institute for the Study of the Americas director and J. Carlyle Sitterson Professor of History at UNC-Chapel Hill, believes it is important to provide a large platform for a growing body of scholarly work in Latin American social sciences.

“This series and our collaboration with UNC Press and the University Libraries works to meet the needs of an expanding area of scholarship by providing a platform for high-level, peer reviewed research and literature on social science issues important to Latin America and the Caribbean,” said Pérez. “These open-access monographs provide a new and incredibly accessible resource for the dissemination of original research to a massive audience.”

The Studies in Latin America series was funded in part by a grant from the UNC College of Arts and Sciences.  You can read more about the series here.

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Nora Doyle: How Motherhood in America became White and Middle Class

Maternal Bodies by Nora DoyleToday, we welcome a guest post from Nora Doyle, author of Maternal Bodies:  Redefining Motherhood in Early America, publishing this month from UNC Press.

In Maternal Bodies, Nora Doyle shows that depictions of motherhood in American culture began to define the ideal mother by her emotional and spiritual roles rather than by her physical work as a mother. As a result of this new vision, lower-class women and non-white women came to be excluded from the identity of the good mother because American culture defined them in terms of their physical labor.

Maternal Bodies is now available in both print and ebook editions.

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How Motherhood in America became White and Middle Class

Women from all backgrounds and all walks of life in American society become mothers, yet the image of motherhood that predominates in American society today is deeply rooted in race- and class-specific identities. Doing a quick internet image search of “motherhood” or paying attention to television commercials for domestic products is instructive: nearly all of the many images that emerge are of a very particular kind of mother. She is almost uniformly white or light-skinned, young, attractive, healthy, and her clothing and surroundings (not to mention the time that she has to dedicate to her children) suggest a comfortable, or even affluent, economic status. Women of color, women with disabilities, older women, heavy women, sick women, poor women (the list could go on) are often absent from common cultural depictions of motherhood in magazines, advertisements, television, and other popular media. When did the popular American vision of motherhood become so narrowly defined?

The figure of the mother emerged as a mainstay of American popular culture in the nineteenth century. Thanks to advances in printing technology, by the 1830s publications such as magazines and books became both more abundant and cheaper than ever before. Moreover, for the first time much of this new print culture was directed at a specifically female audience. Women’s magazines became a new and booming sphere in American popular culture, and they provided an important venue for representations of motherhood. It was in this context that a very specific vision of motherhood emerged.

Continue Reading Nora Doyle: How Motherhood in America became White and Middle Class

Author Interview: A conversation with Lucy K. Bradley, co-editor of the North Carolina Extension Gardener Handbook

The North Carolina Extension Gardener Handbook

Lucy K. Bradley discusses the publication of the North Carolina Extension Gardener Handbook with John McLeod, director of the Office of Scholarly Publishing Services at UNC Press. The book was published by the NC State Extension earlier in April, and is available now in both print and ebook editions.

The North Carolina Extension Gardener Handbook was developed especially for Master Gardener volunteers and home gardeners and is a primary source for research-based information on gardening and landscaping successfully in North Carolina and the Southeast.

A fundamental reference for any seasoned gardener, it is also written to appeal to beginners just getting their hands dirty. It explains the “why and how” basics of gardening from soils and composting to vegetable gardening and wildlife management. Advice on garden design, preparation, and maintenance covers all types of plantings including lawns, ornamentals, fruits, trees, and containers.

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John McLeod: First of all—congratulations to you and Kathleen Moore on the publication! You mention in the book that the North Carolina Extensions Master Gardener sm Program was started in 1979 and now boasts over 4,500 Master Gardenersm volunteers in the state. Can you explain how this book evolved and how it fits into the state’s Master Gardener sm Program?

Lucy K. Bradley, co-editor of the North Carolina Extension Gardener Handbook

Lucy K. Bradley, co-editor of the North Carolina Extension Gardener Handbook

Lucy Bradley: The book began as a new edition of the NC Extension Master Gardenersm (NC EMG) program training text. The previous version was a loose leaf binder with black and white text and line drawings that had not been updated for twenty years. Our first goals were to update and expand the content; add color images; and make it available online as a searchable tool. Since our IT department was not prepared to manage password access for 4,500 volunteers we decided to make it available to the public. We changed the name to the North Carolina Extension Gardener Handbook to reflect its wider distribution and to protect the NC EMG brand. In its new form, in addition to being the primary text for the NC EMGV program, it will be used in a variety of other programs including school, professional, and prison training programs. The online version was created to automatically resize to fit phone, tablet and computer screens and is great for quickly finding answers to specific questions, however, it is not as beautiful, or user-friendly for reading entire chapters at a time. Our next step was to convert the online document in to a hardback book. Graphic designer John Buettner was the mastermind behind the transformation. The final step was creating a digital copy of the print version of the book which retains the beauty of the hardback book, but has the easy search features and portability that come with being digital. So the handbook is available in three different formats to meet the varied needs of our clients.

Continue Reading Author Interview: A conversation with Lucy K. Bradley, co-editor of the North Carolina Extension Gardener Handbook

Michael Hopping: Mycophagy

A Field Guide to Mushrooms of the CarolinasToday we welcome a guest post from Michael Hopping, who along with Alan E. Bessette and Arleen R. Bessette, is co-author of A Field Guide to Mushrooms of the Carolinas:  A Southern Gateways Guide, just published by UNC Press.

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

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

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Mycophagy

Are you a mycophagist? Never fear, it’s not a practice too shameful to admit in church. The Greek prefix “myco” refers to fungi or mushrooms; “phagy” means to eat. Most people have at least tried Agaricus bisporus, the Button/Cremini/Portobello. If your mushroom eating extends to Shiitakes or other commercially available species, you’re aware that their flavor profiles are different. Has that revelation tempted you to regard a wild mushroom with lustful eyes and wonder, Can I eat it?

In mushrooming lore the edibility question has what amounts to a patron saint. Captain Charles McIlvaine survived his service in the Civil War (Union) and had the further distinction of dying in old age from causes other than his obsession for testing the edibility of “toadstools.” ’Ole Ironguts, as he was also known, tried several hundred species and poisoned himself more than a few times along the way. His book became a classic. The Preface to One Thousand American Fungi opens with memorable lines:

A score of years ago (1880-1885) I was living in the mountains of West Virginia. While riding on horseback through the dense forests of that great unfenced state, I saw on every side luxuriant growths of fungi, so inviting in color, cleanliness and flesh that it occurred to me they ought to be eaten.

McIlvaine says his flash of inspiration was born of a monotonous diet—bacon and potatoes—and a magazine article entitled, “Toadstool Eating.” Soon disappointed by the sparseness of the mycological literature, he resolved to address that shortcoming through personal experiment. If today’s wild mushroom eater knows more about what she’s doing, it is partly because she stands on the hunched shoulders of this iconic wretch.

Continue Reading Michael Hopping: Mycophagy