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Journeys through Mobile
In Back Home: Journeys through Mobile, Roy Hoffman
tells stories--through essays, feature articles, and memoir--of one of
the South's oldest and most colorful port cities. Many of the pieces here
grew out of Hoffman's work as Writer-in-Residence for his hometown newspaper,
the Mobile Register, a position he took after working in New York
City for twenty years as a journalist, fiction writer, book critic, teacher,
and speech writer. Other pieces were first published in the New York
Times, Southern Living, Preservation, and other publications.
Together, this collection comprises a long, second look at the Mobile of
Hoffman's childhood and the city it has since become.
Like a photo album, Back Home presents close-up
portraits of everyday places and ordinary people. There are meditations
on downtown Mobile, where Hoffman's grandparents arrived as immigrants
a century ago; the waterfront where longshoremen labor and shrimpers work
their nets; the back roads leading to obscure but intriguing destinations.
Hoffman records local people telling their own tales of race relations,
sports, agriculture, and Mardi Gras celebrations. Fishermen, baseball players,
bakers, authors, political figures--a strikingly diverse population walks
across the stage of Back Home.
Throughout, Hoffman is concerned with stories and their
enduring nature. As he writes, "When buildings are leveled, when land is
developed, when money is spent, when our loved ones pass on, when we take
our places a little farther back every year on the historical time-line,
what we have still are stories."
Rhetorics of Citizenship, Contagion, and Resistance
The History of an American Institution
Syd Pollock and His Great Black Teams
The National Pastime and American Identity During the War on Terror
Baseball has long been considered America’s “national pastime,” touted variously as a healthy diversion, a symbol of national unity, and a model of democratic inclusion. But, according to Michael Butterworth, such favorable rhetoric belies baseball’s complicity in the rhetorical construction of a world defined by good and evil.
Baseball and Rhetorics of Purity is an investigation into the culture and mythology of baseball, a study of its limits and failures, and an invitation to remake the game in a more democratic way. It pays special attention to baseball’s role in the reconstruction of American identity after September 11, 2001. This study is framed by a discussion that links the development of baseball to the discourses of innocence and purity in 19th-century America. From there, it examines ritual performances at baseball games; a traveling museum exhibit sponsored by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum; the recent debate about the use of performance-enhancing drugs; the return of Major League Baseball to Washington, D.C., in 2005; and the advent of the World Baseball Classic in 2006.
Butterworth argues that by promoting myths of citizenship and purity, post-9/11 discourse concerning baseball ironically threatens the health of the democratic system and that baseball cannot be viewed as an innocent diversion or escape. Instead, Butterworth highlights how the game on the field reflects a more complex and diverse worldview, and makes a plea for the game’s recovery, both as a national pastime and as a site for celebrating the best of who we are and who we can be.
The Battle-Ground, Ellen Glasgow's fourth novel, was her first bestseller, with more than 21,000 copies sold in just two weeks. The novel committed her to a project almost unparalleled in American literary history: a novelistic meditation on the South from the decade before the Confederacy to the middle of the 20th century. The Battle-Ground speaks of a South before and during the Civil War in its struggles to become part of a nation still in the making. The overthrow of the aristocratic tradition, the transfer of hereditary power to a rural underclass, the continued disenfranchisement of African Americans, and the evolving status of women--these topics, which came to bind the more than a dozen volumes of Glasgow's self-styled "social history," initially coalesced in The Battle-Ground.
The Battle-Ground conspicuously departs from the tradition of Southern romances popularized by Thomas Nelson Page, and contemporary reviewers praised the book for its historical accuracy. Glasgow, an ardent Anglophile, bragged that military officers in Great Britain studied its descriptions of battle. With her, realism had not only crossed the Atlantic, it had "crossed the Potomac."
But Glasgow never sensationalizes the Civil War, whose bloodiest scenes she flanks with domestic officers, the sharing of rations, the warmth of camp, and reminders of home. Her vision of the war centers less on its corruption or barbarity than on its occasions for small decencies and their power of humanization. Glasgow cannot separate the war from its greater social implications--it is a place, as her title suggests, that tests the soul of a nation as well as individual men and women. The importance of The Battle-Ground in Southern literary history cannot be overemphasized, for Glasgow's reimagining of the Civil War had a profound impact on the next generation of Southern writers, including Allen Tate, Stark Young, and Margaret Mitchell.
Islander, Japanese, and American Memories of War
Civil Rights and White Backlash in the Modern South
Before Brown details the ferment in civil rights that took place across the South before the momentous Brown vs. Board of Education decision in 1954. This collection refutes the notion that the movement began with the Supreme Court decision, and suggests, rather, that the movement originated in the 1930s and earlier, spurred by the Great Depression and, later, World War II—events that would radically shape the course of politics in the South and the nation into the next century.
This work explores the growth of the movement through its various manifestations—the activities of politicians, civil rights leaders, religious figures, labor unionists, and grass-roots activists—throughout the 1940s and 1950s. It discusses the critical leadership roles played by women and offers a new perspective on the relationship between the NAACP and the Communist Party.
Before Brown shows clearly that, as the drive toward racial equality advanced and national political attitudes shifted, the validity of white supremacy came increasingly into question. Institutionalized racism in the South had always offered white citizens material advantages by preserving their economic superiority and making them feel part of a privileged class. When these rewards were threatened by the civil rights movement, a white backlash occurred.
"A valuable and timely volume . . . particularly welcome for the emphasis it places on the churches, on white women, and on returning black and white veterans, groups whose postwar role has been too long ignored."
—Tony Badger, author of The New Deal: The Depression Years, 1933-1940 and editor of, with Brian Ward, The Making of Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement
Glenn Feldman is Associate Professor of Business in the Center for Labor Education and Research at The University of Alabama at Birmingham and author of Politics, Society, and the Klan in Alabama, 1915-1949. Patricia Sullivan is Associate Professor of History at the University of South Carolina and author of Days of Hope: Race and Democracy in the New Deal Era.