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Congress, State Legislatures, and the Future of Legislative Studies
Although legislative studies is thriving, it suffers from one glaring weakness: a lack of truly comparative, cross-institutional research. Instead, research focuses overwhelmingly on the U.S. Congress. This unfortunate fixation limits the way scholars approach the testing of many compelling theories of legislative organization and behavior, and it ignores the invaluable research possibilities that comparison with the 99 American state legislative chambers offers. State legislatures are easily compared to Congress: They arise out of the same political culture and history. Their members represent the same parties and face the same voters in the same elections using the same rules. And the functions and roles are the same, with each fully capable of initiating, debating, and passing legislation. None of the methodological problems found when comparing presidential system legislatures with parliamentary system legislatures arise when comparing Congress and the state legislatures. However, while there are great similarities, there are also important differences that provide scholars leverage for rigorously testing theories. The book compares and contrasts Congress and the state legislatures on histories, fundamental structures, institutional and organizational characteristics, and members. By highlighting the vast array of organizational schemes and behavioral patterns evidenced in state legislatures, the authors demonstrate that the potential for the study of American legislatures, as opposed to the separate efforts of Congressional and state legislative scholars, is too great to leave unexplored.
The Misplaced Heritage
As a result of a series of court cases, by the mid-1960s the U.S. post office could no longer interdict books that contained homosexuality. Gay writers were eager to take advantage of this new freedom, but the only houses poised to capitalize on the outpouring of manuscripts were “adult” paperback publishers who marketed their products with salacious covers. Gay critics, unlike their lesbian counterparts, have for the most part declined to take these works seriously, even though they cover an enormous range of genres: adventures, blue collar and gray flannel novels, coming-out stories, detective fiction, gothic novels, historical romances, military stories, political novels, prison fiction, romances, satires, sports stories, and spy thrillers—with far more short story collections than is generally realized. Twelve scholars have now banded together to begin a recovery of this largely forgotten explosion of gay writing that occurred in the 1960s. Descriptions of these pulps have often been inadequate and misinforming, the result of misleading covers, unrepresentative sampling of texts, and a political blindness that refuses to grant worth to pre-Stonewall writing. This volume charts the broader implications of this state of affairs before examining some of the more significant pulp writers from the period. It brings together a diverse range of scholars, methodologies, and reading strategies. The evidence that these essays amass clearly demonstrates the significance of gay pulps for gay literary history, queer cultural studies, and book history.
Vol. 24 (2009) through Vol. 28 (2013)
a/b: Auto/Biography Studies is a journal of scholarship devoted to autobiography, biography, diaries, letters and relations between lifewriting and other discourse. The editors invite manuscript submissions dealing with any aspect of lifewriting. Subject matter may be drawn from any period or genre but must show clear connections to the theory and practice of lifewriting. In addition to scholarly articles we invite contributions in the form of book reviews, calls for papers, announcements of conferences and the like.
Sympathy and Privacy in the Postwar African American White-Life Novel
Abandoning the Black Hero is the first book to examine the postwar African American white-life novel—novels with white protagonists written by African Americans. These fascinating works have been understudied despite having been written by such defining figures in the tradition as Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin, Ann Petry, and Chester Himes, as well as lesser known but formerly best-selling authors Willard Motley and Frank Yerby.
John C. Charles argues that these fictions have been overlooked because they deviate from two critical suppositions: that black literature is always about black life and that when it represents whiteness, it must attack white supremacy. The authors are, however, quite sympathetic in the treatment of their white protagonists, which Charles contends should be read not as a failure of racial pride but instead as a strategy for claiming creative freedom, expansive moral authority, and critical agency.
In an era when “Negro writers” were expected to protest, their sympathetic treatment of white suffering grants these authors a degree of racial privacy previously unavailable to them. White writers, after all, have the privilege of racial privacy because they are never pressured to write only about white life. Charles reveals that the freedom to abandon the “Negro problem” encouraged these authors to explore a range of new genres and themes, generating a strikingly diverse body of novels that significantly revise our understanding of mid-twentieth-century black writing.
Traditional narratives of the period leading up to the Civil War are invariably framed in geographical terms. The sectional descriptors of the North, South, and West, like the wartime categories of Union, Confederacy, and border states, mean little without reference to a map of the United States. In Abolitionist Geographies, Martha Schoolman contends that antislavery writers consistently refused those standard terms.
Through the idiom Schoolman names “abolitionist geography,” these writers instead expressed their dissenting views about the westward extension of slavery, the intensification of the internal slave trade, and the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law by appealing to other anachronistic, partial, or entirely fictional north–south and east–west axes. Abolitionism’s West, for instance, rarely reached beyond the Mississippi River, but its East looked to Britain for ideological inspiration, its North habitually traversed the Canadian border, and its South often spanned the geopolitical divide between the United States and the British Caribbean.
Schoolman traces this geography of dissent through the work of Martin Delany, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Wells Brown, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, among others. Her book explores new relationships between New England transcendentalism and the British West Indies; African-American cosmopolitanism, Britain, and Haiti; sentimental fiction, Ohio, and Liberia; John Brown’s Appalachia and circum-Caribbean marronage. These connections allow us to see clearly for the first time abolitionist literature’s explicit and intentional investment in geography as an idiom of political critique, by turns liberal and radical, practical and utopian.
Exploring a variety of topics—including health, politics, education, art, literature, media, and film—Aboriginal Canada Revisited draws a portrait of the current political and cultural position of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples. While lauding improvements made in the past decades, the contributors draw attention to the systemic problems that continue to marginalize Aboriginal people within Canadian society. From the Introduction: “[This collection helps] to highlight areas where the colonial legacy still takes its toll, to acknowledge the manifold ways of Aboriginal cultural expression, and to demonstrate where Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people are starting to find common ground.” Contributors include Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal scholars from Europe and Canada, including Marlene Atleo, University of Manitoba; Mansell Griffin, Nisga’a Village of Gitwinksihlkw, British Columbia; Robert Harding, University College of the Fraser Valley; Tricia Logan, University of Manitoba; Steffi Retzlaff, McMaster University; Siobhán Smith, University of British Columbia; Barbara Walberg, Confederation College.
In this lively and provocative book, cultural critic Marjorie Garber, who has written on topics as different as Shakespeare, dogs, cross-dressing, and real estate, explores the pleasures and pitfalls of the academic life. Academic Instincts discusses three of the perennial issues that have surfaced in recent debates about the humanities: the relation between "amateurs" and "professionals," the relation between one academic discipline and another, and the relation between "jargon" and "plain language." Rather than merely taking sides, the book explores the ways in which such debates are essential to intellectual life. Garber argues that the very things deplored or defended in discussions of the humanities cannot be either eliminated or endorsed because the discussion itself is what gives humanistic thought its vitality.
Written in spirited and vivid prose, and full of telling detail drawn both from the history of scholarship and from the daily press, Academic Instincts is a book by a well-known Shakespeare scholar and prize-winning teacher who offers analysis rather than polemic to explain why today's teachers and scholars are at once breaking new ground and treading familiar paths. It opens the door to an important nationwide and worldwide conversation about the reorganization of knowledge and the categories in and through which we teach the humanities. And it does so in a spirit both generous and optimistic about the present and the future of these disciplines.
Memoir, Cultural Theory, and the University Today
Franklin considers how academic memoirs have engaged with a core of defining concerns in the humanities: identity politics and the development of whiteness studies in the 1990s; the impact of postcolonial studies; feminism and concurrent anxieties about pedagogy; and disability studies and the struggle to bring together discourses on the humanities and human rights. The turn back toward humanism that Franklin finds in some academic memoirs is surreptitious or frankly nostalgic; others, however, posit a wide-ranging humanism that seeks to create space for advocacy in the academic and other institutions in which we are all unequally located. These memoirs are harbingers for the critical turn to explore interrelations among humanism, the humanities, and human rights struggles.
Fashion and the Feminine in Nineteenth-Century France
Accessories to Modernity explores the ways in which feminine fashion accessories, such as cashmere shawls, parasols, fans, and handbags, became essential instruments in the bourgeois idealization of womanhood in nineteenth-century France. Considering how these fashionable objects were portrayed in fashion journals and illustrations, as well as fiction, the book explores the histories and cultural weight of the objects themselves and offers fresh readings of works by Balzac, Flaubert, and Zola, some of the most widely read novels of the period.
As social boundaries were becoming more and more fluid in the nineteenth century, one effort to impose order over the looming confusion came, in the case of women, through fashion, and the fashion accessory thus became an ever more crucial tool through which social distinction could be created, projected, and maintained. Looking through the lens of fashion, Susan Hiner explores the interplay of imperialist expansion and domestic rituals, the assertion of privilege in the face of increasing social mobility, gendering practices and their relation to social hierarchies, and the rise of commodity culture and woman's paradoxical status as both consumer and object within it.
Through her close focus on these luxury objects, Hiner reframes the feminine fashion accessory as a key symbol of modernity that bridges the erotic and proper, the domestic and exotic, and mass production and the work of art while making a larger claim about the "accessory" status—in terms of both complicity and subordination—of bourgeois women in nineteenth-century France. Women were not simply passive bystanders but rather were themselves accessories to the work of modernity from which they were ostensibly excluded.
Accounted For is a collection of lyrical poems voiced by a multi-faceted persona negotiating the transience of self and the social and psychological illusions of time. Other selves are encountered—mirrored, intimated, drawn, or fully detailed, each opening a view to the fractures of psyche. Prayers, dreams, invocations, and meditations suggest a relationship with the Unseen that can breach the natural world with the power of image. Endless contingency and depth of vision characterize these poems, open wholly to the mysteries of life and death.