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Finding Purple America

The South and the Future of American Cultural Studies

Jon Smith

The new southern studies has had an uneasy relationship with both American studies and the old southern studies. In Finding Purple America, Jon Smith, one of the founders of the new movement, locates the source of that unease in the fundamentally antimodern fantasies of both older fields.

The old southern studies tends to view modernity as a threat to a mystic southern essence—a dangerous outside force taking the form of everything from a "bulldozer revolution" to a "national project of forgetting." Since the rise of the New Americanists, American studies has also imagined itself to be in a permanent crisis mode, seeking to affiliate the field and the national essence with youth countercultures that sixties leftists once imagined to be "the future." Such fantasies, Smith argues, have resulted in an old southern studies that cannot understand places like Birmingham or Atlanta (or cities at all) and an American studies that cannot understand red states.

Most Americans live in neither a comforting, premodern Mayberry nor an exciting, postmodern Los Angeles but rather in what postcolonialists call "alternative modernities" and "hybrid cultures" whose relationships to past and future, to stability and change, are complex and ambivalent. Looking at how "the South" has played in global metropolitan pop culture since the nineties and at how southern popular and high culture alike have, in fact, repeatedly embraced urban modernity, Smith masterfully weaves together postcolonial theory, cultural studies, Lacanian psychoanalysis, and, surprisingly, marketing theory to open up the inconveniently in-between purple spaces and places that Americanist and southernist fantasies about "who we are"have so long sought to foreclose.

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First Ladies and American Women

In Politics and at Home

The first book to explore how the actions of first ladies are best understood through the lens of women’s changing relationships to politics and the home.

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God Hates

Westboro Baptist Church, American Nationalism, and the Religious Right

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The Great Unknown

Japanese American Sketches

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Iraq and the Politics of Oil

An Insider's Perspective

After five months of Pentagon planning and six years of implementation in Iraq, Gary Vogler discovered the secret oil agenda that sent the United States to war in the Middle East. His revealing and compelling narrative will both surprise and anger many Americans about neoconservative greed, dishonesty, and treachery. Iraq and the Politics of Oil tells the truth

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The Latino Generation

Voices of the New America

Mario T. García

Latinos are already the largest minority group in the United States, and experts estimate that by 2050, one out of three Americans will identify as Latino. Though their population and influence are steadily rising, stereotypes and misconceptions about Latinos remain, from the assumption that they refuse to learn English to questions of just how "American" they actually are. By presenting thirteen riveting oral histories of young, first-generation college students, Mario T. Garcia counters those long-held stereotypes and expands our understanding of what he terms "the Latino Generation." By allowing these young people to share their stories and struggles, Garcia reveals that these students and children of immigrants will be critical players in the next chapter of our nation's history.

Collected over several years, the testimonios follow the history of the speakers in thought-provoking ways, reminding us that members of the Latino Generation are not merely a demographic group but rather real individuals, as American in their aspirations and loyalty as the members of any other ethnic group in the country.

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Maximum Harm

The Tsarnaev Brothers, the FBI, and the Road to the Marathon Bombing

Michele R. McPhee

In Maximum Harm, veteran investigative journalist Michele R. McPhee unravels the complex story behind the public facts of the Boston Marathon bombing. She examines the bombers’ roots in Dagestan and Chechnya, their struggle to assimilate in America, and their growing hatred of the United States—a deepening antagonism that would prompt federal prosecutors to dub Dzhokhar Tsarnaev “America's worst nightmare.” The difficulties faced by the Tsarnaev family of Cambridge, Massachusetts, are part of the public record. Circumstances less widely known are the FBI’s recruitment of the older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, as a “mosque crawler” to inform on radical separatists here and in Chechnya; the tracking down and killing of radical Islamic separatists during the six months he spent in Russia—travel that raised eyebrows, since he was on several terrorist watchlists; the FBI’s botched deals and broken promises with regard to his immigration; and the disenchantment, rage, and growing radicalization of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar, along with their mother, sisters, and Tamerlan’s wife, Katherine.

Maximum Harm is also a compelling examination of the Tsarnaev brothers’ movements in the days leading up to the Boston Marathon bombing on April 15, 2013, the subsequent investigation, the Tsarnaevs’ murder of MIT police officer Sean Collier, the high-speed chase and shootout that killed Tamerlan, and the manhunt in which the authorities finally captured Dzhokhar, hiding in a Watertown backyard. McPhee untangles the many threads of circumstance, coincidence, collusion, motive, and opportunity that resulted in the deadliest attack on the city of Boston to date.

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The Modern Art of Dying

A History of Euthanasia in the United States

Shai J. Lavi

How we die reveals much about how we live. In this provocative book, Shai Lavi traces the history of euthanasia in the United States to show how changing attitudes toward death reflect new and troubling ways of experiencing pain, hope, and freedom.

Lavi begins with the historical meaning of euthanasia as signifying an "easeful death." Over time, he shows, the term came to mean a death blessed by the grace of God, and later, medical hastening of death. Lavi illustrates these changes with compelling accounts of changes at the deathbed. He takes us from early nineteenth-century deathbeds governed by religion through the medicalization of death with the physician presiding over the deathbed, to the legalization of physician-assisted suicide.

Unlike previous books, which have focused on law and technique as explanations for the rise of euthanasia, this book asks why law and technique have come to play such a central role in the way we die. What is at stake in the modern way of dying is not human progress, but rather a fundamental change in the way we experience life in the face of death, Lavi argues. In attempting to gain control over death, he maintains, we may unintentionally have ceded control to policy makers and bio-scientific enterprises.

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Not Even Past

Barack Obama and the Burden of Race

Thomas J. Sugrue

Barack Obama, in his acclaimed campaign speech discussing the troubling complexities of race in America today, quoted William Faulkner's famous remark "The past isn't dead and buried. In fact, it isn't even past." In Not Even Past, award-winning historian Thomas Sugrue examines the paradox of race in Obama's America and how President Obama intends to deal with it.

Obama's journey to the White House undoubtedly marks a watershed in the history of race in America. Yet even in what is being hailed as the post-civil rights era, racial divisions--particularly between blacks and whites--remain deeply entrenched in American life. Sugrue traces Obama's evolving understanding of race and racial inequality throughout his career, from his early days as a community organizer in Chicago, to his time as an attorney and scholar, to his spectacular rise to power as a charismatic and savvy politician, to his dramatic presidential campaign. Sugrue looks at Obama's place in the contested history of the civil rights struggle; his views about the root causes of black poverty in America; and the incredible challenges confronting his historic presidency.

Does Obama's presidency signal the end of race in American life? In Not Even Past, a leading historian of civil rights, race, and urban America offers a revealing and unflinchingly honest assessment of the culture and politics of race in the age of Obama, and of our prospects for a postracial America.

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Obama, Clinton, Palin

Making History in Elections 2008

Edited by Liette Gidlow

Election 2008 made American history, but it was also the product of American history. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Sarah Palin smashed through some of the most enduring barriers to high political office, but their exceptional candidacies did not come out of nowhere. In these timely and accessible essays, a distinguished group of historians explores how the candidates both challenged and reinforced historic stereotypes of race and sex while echoing familiar themes in American politics and exploiting new digital technologies._x000B__x000B_Contributors include Kathryn Kish Sklar on Clinton's gender masquerade; Tiffany Ruby Patterson on the politics of black anger; Mitch Kachun on Michelle Obama and stereotypes about black women's bodies; Glenda E. Gilmore on black women's century of effort to expand political opportunities for African Americans; Tera W. Hunter on the lost legacy of Shirley Chisholm; Susan M. Hartmann on why the U.S. has not yet followed western democracies in electing a female head of state; Melanie Gustafson on Palin and the political traditions of the American West; Ronald Formisano on the populist resurgence in 2008; Paula Baker on how digital technologies threaten the secret ballot; Catherine E. Rymph on Palin's distinctive brand of political feminism; and Elisabeth I. Perry on the new look of American leadership.

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