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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.
Stevens, Cummings, Frost, and Williams in the 1930s
Different as they were as poets, Wallace Stevens, E. E. Cummings, Robert Frost, and Williams Carlos Williams grappled with the highly charged literary politics of the 1930s in comparable ways. As other writers moved sharply to the Left, and as leftist critics promulgated a proletarian aesthetics, these modernist poets keenly felt the pressure of the times and politicized literary scene. All four poets saw their reputations critically challenged in these years and felt compelled to respond to the new politics, literary and national, in distinct ways, ranging from rejection to involvement.
Beleaguered Poets and Leftist Critics closely examines the dynamics of these responses: what these four poets wrote—in letters, essays, lectures, fiction (for Williams), and most importantly, in their poems; what they believed politically and aesthetically; how critics, particularly leftist critics, reviewed their work; how these poets reacted to that criticism and to the broader milieu of leftism. Each poet’s response and its subsequent impact on his poetic output is a unique case study of the conflicting demands of art and politics in a time of great social change.
An Interpretive Guide
A Black Doctor Remembers Life, Medicine, and Civil Rights in an Alabama Town
Beside the Troubled Waters is a memoir by an African American physician in Alabama whose story in many ways typifies the lives and careers of black doctors in the south during the segregationist era while also illustrating the diversity of the black experience in the medical profession. Based on interviews conducted with Hereford over ten years, the account includes his childhood and youth as the son of a black sharecropper and Primitive Baptist minister in Madison County, Alabama, during the Depression; his education at Huntsville’s all-black Councill School and medical training at Meharry Medical College in Nashville; his medical practice in Huntsville’s black community beginning in 1956; his efforts to overcome the racism he met in the white medical community; his participation in the civil rights movement in Huntsville; and his later problems with the Medicaid program and state medical authorities, which eventually led to the loss of his license.
Hereford’s memoir stands out because of its medical and civil rights themes, and also because of its compelling account of the professional ruin Hereford encountered after 37 years of practice, as the end of segregation and the federal role in medical care placed black doctors in competition with white ones for the first time.
The Savannah Squadron, 1861-1865
The Best Station of Them All is the story of the Confederate navy’s Savannah Squadron, its relationship with the people of Savannah, Georgia, and its role in the city’s economy.
In this well-written and extensively researched narrative, Maurice Melton charts the history of the unit, the sailors (both white and black), the officers, their families, and their activities aboard ship and in port.
The Savannah Squadron worked, patrolled, and fought in the rivers and sounds along the Georgia coast. Though they saw little activity at sea, the unit did engage in naval assault, boarding, capture, and ironclad combat. The sailors finished the war as an infantry unit in Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, fighting at Sayler’s Creek on the road to Appomattox.
Melton concentrates on navy life and the squadron’s place in wartime Savannah. The book reveals who the Confederate sailors were and what their material, social, and working lives were like.
Freemasonry in the American Civil War