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Calls and Responses

The American Novel of Slavery since Gone with the Wind

Tim A. Ryan

In this comprehensive, groundbreaking study, Tim A. Ryan explores how American novelists since World War I have imagined the institution of slavery and the experience of those involved in it. Complicating the common assumption that authentic black-authored fiction about slavery is starkly opposed to the traditional, racist fiction (and history) created by whites, Ryan suggests that discourses about American slavery are—and have always been—defined by connections rather than disjunctions. Ryan contends that African American writers didn't merely reject and move beyond traditional portrayals of the black past but rather actively engaged in a dynamic dialogue with white-authored versions of slavery and existing historiographical debates. The result is an ongoing cultural conversation that transcends both racial and disciplinary boundaries and is akin to the call-and-response style of African American gospel music. Ryan addresses in detail more than a dozen major American novels of slavery, from the first significant modern fiction about the institution—Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind and Arna Bontemps's Black Thunder (both published in 1936)—to recent noteworthy novels on the topic—Edward P. Jones's The Known World and Valerie Martin's Property (both published in 2003). His insistence upon the necessity of interpreting novels about the past directly in relation to specific historical scholarship makes Calls and Responses especially compelling. He reads Toni Morrison's Beloved not in opposition to a monolithic orthodoxy about slavery but in relation to specific arguments of controversial historian Stanley Elkins. Similarly, he analyzes William Styron's The Confessions of Nat Turner in terms of its rhetorical echoes of Frederick Douglass's famous autobiographical narrative. Ryan shows throughout Calls and Responses how a variety of novelists—including Alex Haley, Octavia Butler, Ishmael Reed, Margaret Walker, and Frances Gaither—engage in a dynamic debate with each other and with such historians as Herbert Aptheker, Charles Joyner, Eugene and Elizabeth Genovese, and many others. A substantially new account of the development of American slavery fiction in the last century, Calls and Responses goes beyond merely exalting the expression of black voices and experiences and actually reconfigures the existing view of the American novel of slavery.

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Chinese Americans and the Politics of Race and Culture

Edited by Madeline Y. Hsu, and Sucheng Chan

New perspectives on making and writing Chinese American history

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Clio's Battles

Historiography in Practice

Jeremy Black

To write history is to consider how to explicate the past, to weigh the myriad possible approaches to the past, and to come to terms with how the past can be and has been used. In this book, prize-winning historian Jeremy Black considers both popular and academic approaches to the past. His focus is on the interaction between the presentation of the past and current circumstances, on how history is used to validate one view of the present or to discredit another, and on readings of the past that unite and those that divide. Black opens with an account that underscores the differences and developments in traditions of writing history from the ancient world to the present. Subsequent chapters take up more recent decades, notably the post-Cold War period, discussing how different perspectives can fuel discussions of the past by individuals interested in shaping public opinion or public perceptions of the past. Black then turns to the possible future uses of the then past as a way to gain perspective on how we use the past today. Clio’s Battles is an ambitious account of the engagement with the past across world history and of the clash over the content and interpretation of history and its implications for the present and future.

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Closer to the Truth Than Any Fact

Memoir, Memory, and Jim Crow

Jennifer Jensen Wallach

Although historians frequently use memoirs as source material, too often they confine such usage to the anecdotal, and there is little methodological literature regarding the genre's possibilities and limitations. This study articulates an approach to using memoirs as instruments of historical understanding. Jennifer Jensen Wallach applies these principles to a body of memoirs about life in the American South during Jim Crow segregation, including works by Zora Neale Hurston, Willie Morris, Lillian Smith, Henry Louis Gates Jr., William Alexander Percy, and Richard Wright.

Wallach argues that the field of autobiography studies, which is currently dominated by literary critics, needs a new theoretical framework that allows historians, too, to benefit from the interpretation of life writing. Her most provocative claim is that, due to the aesthetic power of literary language, skilled creative writers are uniquely positioned to capture the complexities of another time and another place. Through techniques such as metaphor and irony, memoirists collectively give their readers an empathetic understanding of life during the era of segregation. Although these reminiscences bear certain similarities, it becomes clear that the South as it was remembered by each is hardly the same place.

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Collective Courage

A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice

By Jessica Gordon Nembhard

In Collective Courage, Jessica Gordon Nebhard chronicles African American cooperative business ownership and its place in the movements for Black civil rights and economic equality. Not since Du Bois’ 1907 Economic Cooperation among Negroes has there been a full-length, nation-wide study of African American cooperatives. Collective Courage extends that story into the twentieth century. Many of the players are well-known in the history of the African American experience: W. E. B. Du Bois, A. Philip Randolph and the Women’s Auxiliary of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, Nannie Helen Burroughs, Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Jo Baker, George Schuyler and the Young Negroes Cooperative League, the Nation of Islam, and the Black Panther Party. Adding the cooperative movement to Black history provides a retelling of the African American experience, with an increased understanding of African American collective economic agency and grassroots economic organizing. To tell the story, Gordon Nembhard pores over newspapers, period magazines and journals; co-ops’ articles of incorporation, minutes from annual meetings, newsletters, budgets and income statements; scholarly books, memoirs and biographies to reveal the achievements and challenges of Black co-ops, collective economic action, and social entrepreneurship. She also uses mixed methods economic analysis of quantitative and qualitative data, theoretical analysis and applied theory to understand the effectiveness of the particular practices and/or strategies documented. Themes of economic independence, the critical role of women and youth in the African American cooperative movement, and the use of cooperatives by Black organizations for community economic development are interwoven into a linear treatment of the development of cooperatives among African Americans in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Gordon Nembhard finds that African Americans, as well as other people of color and low-income people, have benefitted greatly from cooperative ownership and democratic economic participation throughout the nation’s history.

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Committing the Future to Memory

History, Experience, Trauma

Sarah Clift

Whereas historical determinacy conceives the past as a complex and unstable network of causalities, this book asks how history can be related to a more radical future. To pose that question, it does not reject determinacy outright but rather seeks to explore how it works. In examining what it means to be "determined" by history, it also asks what kind of openings there might be in our encounters with history for interruptions, re-readings, and re-writings. Engaging texts spanning multiple genres and several centuries from John Locke to Maurice Blanchot, from Hegel to Benjamin Clift looks at experiences of time that exceed the historical narration of experiences said to have occurred in time. She focuses on the co-existence of multiple temporalities and opens up the quintessentially modern notion of historical succession to other possibilities. The alternatives she draws out include the mediations of language and narration, temporal leaps, oscillations and blockages, and the role played by contingency in representation. She argues that such alternatives compel us to reassess the ways we understand history and identity in a traumatic, or indeed in a post-traumatic, age.

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Confessing History

Explorations in Christian Faith and the Historian's Vocation

edited by John Fea, Jay Green, and Eric Miller

At the end of his landmark 1994 book, The Soul of the American University, historian George Marsden asserted that religious faith does indeed have a place in today’s academia. Marsden’s contention sparked a heated debate on the role of religious faith and intellectual scholarship in academic journals and in the mainstream media. The contributors to Confessing History: Explorations in Christian Faith and the Historian’s Vocation expand the discussion about religion’s role in education and culture and examine what the relationship between faith and learning means for the academy today. The contributors to Confessing History ask how the vocation of historian affects those who are also followers of Christ. What implications do Christian faith and practice have for living out one’s calling as an historian? And to what extent does one’s calling as a Christian disciple speak to the nature, quality, or goals of one’s work as scholar, teacher, adviser, writer, community member, or social commentator? Written from several different theological and professional points of view, the essays collected in this volume explore the vocation of the historian and its place in both the personal and professional lives of Christian disciples.

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The Craft of International History

A Guide to Method

Marc Trachtenberg

This is a practical guide to the historical study of international politics. The focus is on the nuts and bolts of historical research--that is, on how to use original sources, analyze and interpret historical works, and actually write a work of history. Two appendixes provide sources sure to be indispensable for anyone doing research in this area.

The book does not simply lay down precepts. It presents examples drawn from the author's more than forty years' experience as a working historian. One important chapter, dealing with America's road to war in 1941, shows in unprecedented detail how an interpretation of a major historical issue can be developed. The aim throughout is to throw open the doors of the workshop so that young scholars, both historians and political scientists, can see the sort of thought processes the historian goes through before he or she puts anything on paper. Filled with valuable examples, this is a book anyone serious about conducting historical research will want to have on the bookshelf.

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A Crooked Line

From Cultural History to the History of Society

Geoff Eley

Eley brilliantly probes transformations in the historians' craft over the past four decades. I found A Crooked Line engrossing, insightful, and inspiring. --Lizabeth Cohen, author of A Consumers' Republic "A Crooked Line brilliantly captures the most significant shifts in the landscape of historical scholarship that have occurred in the last four decades. Part personal history, part insightful analysis of key methodological and theoretical historiographical tendencies since the late 1960s, always thoughtful and provocative, Eley's book shows us why history matters to him and why it should also matter to us." --Robert Moeller, University of California, Irvine "Part genealogy, part diagnosis, part memoir, Eley's account of the histories of social and cultural history is a tour de force." --Antoinette Burton, Professor of History and Catherine C. and Bruce A. Bastian Professor of Global and Transnational Studies, University of Illinois "Eley's reflections on the changing landscape of academic history in the last forty years will interest and benefit all students of the discipline. Both a native informant and an analyst in this account, Eley combines the two roles superbly to produce one of most engaging and compelling narratives of the recent history of History." --Dipesh Chakrabarty, author of Provincializing Europe Using his own intellectual biography as a narrative device, Geoff Eley tracks the evolution of historical understanding in our time from social history through the so-called "cultural turn," and back again to a broad history of society. A gifted writer, Eley carefully winnows unique experiences from the universal, and uses the interplay of the two to draw the reader toward an organic understanding of how historical thinking (particularly the work of European historians) has evolved under the influence of new ideas. His work situates history within History, and offers students, scholars, and general readers alike a richly detailed, readable guide to the enduring value of historical ideas. Geoff Eley is Professor of History at the University of Michigan.

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Crowns and colonies

European monarchies and overseas empires

Robert Aldrich

Queen Victoria, who also bore the title of Empress of India, had a real and abiding interest in the British Empire, but other European monarchs also ruled over possessions 'beyond the seas'. This collection of original essays explores the connections between monarchy and colonialism, from the old regime empires down to the Commonwealth of today. With case studies drawn from Britain, France, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy, the chapters analyse constitutional questions about the role of the crown in overseas empires, the pomp and pageantry of the monarchy as it transferred to the colonies, and the fate of indigenous sovereigns under European colonial control. The volume, with chapters on North America, Asia, Africa and Australasia, provides new perspectives on colonial history, the governance of empire, and the transnational history of monarchies in modern Europe.

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