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Brief History of Male Nudes in America

Stories by Dianne Nelson Oberhansly

In these stories, Dianne Nelson illuminates that vast territory of pleasure and pain created within modern families. Whether it is a father trying to kidnap his young son from his estranged ex-wife or a woman celebrating her ability to produce babies without any help from men, Nelson's characters reveal the dark, haunting and sometimes comic dilemmas of kinship.

In the title story, seventeen-year-old April is an involuntary witness to the seemingly endless parade of lovers who frequent her mother's bed. "I don't know why my mother finds no lasting peace" she muses. Opening a book and trying to find her peace in "facts, dates, the pure honesty of numbers," April is overwhelmed finally by the sounds of lovemaking from the adjoining room. "The walls of this house aren't thick enough to keep that kind of sadness contained." In "The Uses of Memory," Netta and Carlene are engaged in a different sort of mother-daughter drama. The issue at hand is the fate of Franklin, their husband and father, who lies in bed in a near comatose state, oblivious to the nurturings or pleadings of either woman.

The past, with its countless repercussion on the present, tugs relentlessly at many of the characters. In "Chocolate," the lingering pain of an impoverished childhood plagues Janice; she recalls, in particular, the birthday and Christmas celebrations, the meager gifts wrapped in the same brown twine that was used to hold the door shut. Hillary, the narrator of "Dixon," is spurred into action by the memory of her dead brother. When a local barfly with "silt for brains" persists in telling outlandish lies about Dixon, Hillary takes up karate training with an eye to defending her brother's name the truth of what she knew him to be. Dee, in "Paperweight," can pinpoint the exact moment at which she came to think of the body as an earthbound trap, "a hopeless house with the doors all locked"; she traces it back to a grade-school theatrical performance and a classmate's luckless efforts to open the cumbersome stage curtains. "If it weren't for my body," she laments, "I could fly, I could go anywhere, I could be anything."

Ranging in setting from a restaurant in St. Louis to the rain-soaked streets of San Francisco, from a boisterous family reunion beneath the broad Kansas sky to a ranch in Utah where a young father dreams of becoming a movie star, these fifteen stories show men and women pondering--and often struggling against--the mysteries of their own circumstances, especially the bonds of flesh and blood.

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Bright Shards of Someplace Else

Monica McFawn

In the eleven kaleidoscopic stories that make up Bright Shards of Someplace Else, Monica McFawn traces the combustive, hilarious, and profound effects that occur when people misread the minds of others. The characters—an array of artists, scientists, songwriters, nannies, horse trainers, and poets—often try to pin down another’s point of view, only to find that their own worldview is far from fixed.

The characters in McFawn’s stories long for and fear the encroachment of others. A young boy reduces his nanny’s phone bill with a call, then convinces her he can solve her other problems. A man who works at a butterfly-release business becomes dangerously obsessed with solving a famous mathematical proof. A poetry professor finds himself entangled in the investigation of a murdered student. In the final story, an aging lyricist reconnects with a renowned singer to write an album in the Appalachian Mountains, only to be interrupted by the appearance of his drug-addicted son and a mythical story of recovery.

By turns exuberant and philosophically adroit, Bright Shards of Someplace Else reminds us of both the limits of empathy and its absolute necessity. Our misreadings of others may be unavoidable, but they themselves can be things of beauty, charm, and connection.

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Brothers and Friends

Kinship in Early America

Natalie R. Inman

By following key families in Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Anglo-American societies from the Seven Years’ War through 1845, this study illustrates how kinship networks—forged out of natal, marital, or fictive kinship relationships—enabled and directed the actions of their members as they decided the futures of their nations. Natalie R. Inman focuses in particular on the Chickasaw Colbert family, the Anglo-American Donelson family, and the Cherokee families of Attakullakulla (Little Carpenter) and Major Ridge. Her research shows how kinship facilitated actions and goals for people in early America across cultures, even if the definitions and constructions of family were different in each society. To open new perspectives on intercultural relations in the colonial and early republic eras, Inman describes the formation and extension of these networks, their intersection with other types of personal and professional networks, their effect on crucial events, and their mutability over time.

The Anglo-American patrilineal kinship system shaped patterns of descent, inheritance, and migration. The matrilineal native system was an avenue to political voice, connections between towns, and protection from enemies. In the volatile trans-Appalachian South, Inman shows, kinship networks helped to further political and economic agendas at both personal and national levels even through wars, revolutions, fiscal change, and removals.

Comparative analysis of family case studies advances the historiography of early America by revealing connections between the social institution of family and national politics and economies. Beyond the British Atlantic world, these case studies can be compared to other colonial scenarios in which the cultures and families of Europeans collided with native peoples in the Americas, Africa, Australia, and other contexts.

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Brown Decision, Jim Crow, and Southern Identity

James C. Cobb

The 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling was a watershed event in the fight against racial segregation in the United States. The recent fiftieth anniversary of Brown prompted a surge of tributes: books, television and radio specials, conferences, and speeches. At the same time, says James C. Cobb, it revealed a growing trend of dismissiveness and negativity toward Brown and other accomplishments of the civil rights movement. Writing as both a lauded historian and a white southerner from the last generation to grow up under southern apartheid, Cobb responds to what he sees as distortions of Brown’s legacy and their implied disservice to those whom it inspired and empowered.

Cobb begins by looking at how our historical understanding of segregation has evolved since the Brown decision. In particular, he targets the tenacious misconception that racial discrimination was at odds with economic modernization--and so would have faded out, on its own, under market pressures. He then looks at the argument that Brown energized white resistance more than it fomented civil rights progress. This position overstates the pace and extent of racial change in the South prior to Brown, Cobb says, while it understates Brown’s role in catalyzing and legitimizing subsequent black protest.

Finally, Cobb suggests that the Brown decree and the civil rights movement accomplished not only more than certain critics have acknowledged but also more than the hard statistics of black progress can reveal. The destruction of Jim Crow, with its “denial of belonging,” allowed African Americans to embrace their identity as southerners in ways that freed them to explore links between their southernness and their blackness. This is an important and timely reminder of “what the Brown court and the activists who took the spirit of its ruling into the streets were up against, both historically and contemporaneously.”

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Calculating Property Relations

Chicago's Wartime Industrial Mobilization, 1940–1950

Robert Lewis

<p>Combining theories of calculation and property relations and using an array of archival sources, this book focuses on the building and decommissioning of state-owned defense factories in World War II–era Chicago. Robert Lewis’s rich trove of material—drawn from research on more than six hundred federally funded wartime industrial sites in metropolitan Chicago—supports three major conclusions. First, the relationship of the key institutions of the military-industrial complex was refashioned by their calculative actions on industrial property. The imperatives of war forced the federal state and the military to become involved in industrial matters in an entirely new manner. Second, federal and military investment in defense factories had an enormous effect on the industrial geography of metropolitan Chicago. The channeling of huge lumps of industrial capital into sprawling plants on the urban fringe had a decisive impact on the metropolitan geographies of manufacturing. Third, the success of industrial mobilization was made possible through the multi-scale relations of national and locational interaction. National policy could only be realized by the placing of these relations at the local level.</p><p>Throughout, Lewis shows how the interests of developers, factory engineers, corporate executives, politicians, unions, and the working class were intimately bound up with industrial space. Offering a local perspective on a city permanently shaped by national events, this book provides a richer understanding of the dynamics of wartime mobilization, the calculative actions of political and business leaders, the social relations of property, the working of state-industry relations, and the making of industrial space.</p>

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Camille, 1969

Histories of a Hurricane

Mark M. Smith

Thirty-six years before Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans and southern Mississippi, the region was visited by one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to hit the United States: Camille.

Mark M. Smith offers three highly original histories of the storm’s impact in southern Mississippi. In the first essay Smith examines the sensory experience and impact of the hurricane—how the storm rearranged and challenged residents’ senses of smell, sight, sound, touch, and taste. The second essay explains the way key federal officials linked the question of hurricane relief and the desegregation of Mississippi’s public schools. Smith concludes by considering the political economy of short- and long-term disaster recovery, returning to issues of race and class.

Camille, 1969 offers stories of survival and experience, of the tenacity of social justice in the face of a natural disaster, and of how recovery from Camille worked for some but did not work for others. Throughout these essays are lessons about how we might learn from the past in planning for recovery from natural disasters in the future.

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Campus Sexpot

A Memoir

David Carkeet

She tipped her head sideways, her lips offering themselves to his. He remembered the fire those lips contained, the promise her kiss held. . . . In 1962 David Carkeet's drowsy hometown of Sonora, California, snapped awake at the news that it had inspired a smutty potboiler titled Campus Sexpot. Before leaving town on short notice, the novel's author had been an English teacher at the local high school, where Carkeet was a hormone-saturated sophomore. Leaving was a good idea, it turned out, for most of the characters in Campus Sexpot had been modeled after Sonora's citizens.

Carkeet uproariously recaptures his stunned, youthful reaction to the novel's sleazy take on his hometown. The innocent nowhere burg where he despaired of ever getting any "action" became, in the pages of Campus Sexpot, a sink of iniquity echoing with "animal cries of delight." Blood pounded, dams of passion broke, and marriages and careers--not to mention the basics of good writing--went straight to hell.

As Carkeet relates his own romantic fumblings to the novel's clumsy twists and turns, he also evokes the urgently hushed atmosphere in which the book circulated among friends and neighbors. Eventually, Carkeet stumbles into adulthood, where he discovers a truer definition of manhood than the one in the pages of the pulp fiction of his youth. A wry look at middle-class sexual mores and a witty appreciation of the art of the hack novel, Carkeet's memoir is, above all, a poignant and hilarious coming-of-age story sure to revive our own bittersweet teenage memories.

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Can't I Love What I Criticize?

The Masculine and Morrison

Susan Neal Mayberry

Taking a close look at all the key male figures in Toni Morrison's eight novels, this book explores Morrison's admitted, but critically neglected, interest in the relationships between African American men and women and the “axes” on which these relationships turn. Most Morrison scholarship deals with her female characters. Can't I Love What I Criticize? offers a response to this imbalance and to Morrison's call for more work on men, who remain, in her words, “outside of that little community value thing.”

The book also considers the barriers between black men and women thrown up by their participation in a larger, historically racist culture of competition, ownership, sexual repression, and fixed ideals about physical beauty and romantic love. Black women, Morrison says, bear their crosses “extremely well,” and black men, although they have been routinely emasculated by “white men, period,” have managed to maintain a feisty “magic” that everybody wants but nobody else has.

Understanding Morrison's treatment of her male characters, says Susan Mayberry, becomes crucial to grasping her success in “countering the damage done by a spectrum of sometimes misguided isms”--including white American feminism. Morrison's version of masculinity suggests that black men have “successfully retained their special vitality in spite of white male resistance” and that “their connections to black women have saved their lives.” To single out her men is not to negate the preeminence of her women; rather, it is to recognize the interconnectedness and balance between them.

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Canada and the United States

Ambivalent Allies

John Herd Thompson and Stephen J. Randall

The United States and Canada have the world's largest trading relationship and the longest shared border. Spanning the period from the American Revolution to post-9/11 debates over shared security, Canada and the United States offers a current, thoughtful assessment of relations between the two countries. Distilling a mass of detail concerning cultural, economic, and political developments of mutual importance over more than two centuries, this survey enables readers to grasp quickly the essence of the shared experience of these two countries.

This edition of Canada and the United States has been extensively rewritten and updated throughout to reflect new scholarly arguments, emphases, and discoveries. In addition, there is new material on such topics as energy, the environment, cultural and economic integration, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, border security, missile defense, and the second administration of George W. Bush.

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Captured

The Japanese Internment of American Civilians in the Philippines, 1941-1945

Frances B. Cogan

More than five thousand American civilian men, women, and children living in the Philippines during World War II were confined to internment camps following Japan's late December 1941 victories in Manila. Captured tells the story of daily life in five different camps--the crowded housing, mounting familial and international tensions, heavy labor, and increasingly severe malnourishment that made the internees' rescue a race with starvation. Frances B. Cogan explores the events behind this nearly four-year captivity, explaining how and why this little-known internment occurred. A thorough historical account, the book addresses several controversial issues about the internment, including Japanese intentions toward their prisoners and the U.S. State Department's role in allowing the presence of American civilians in the Philippines during wartime.

Supported by diaries, memoirs, war crimes transcripts, Japanese soldiers' accounts, medical data, and many other sources, Captured presents a detailed and moving chronicle of the internees' efforts to survive. Cogan compares living conditions within the internment camps with life in POW camps and with the living conditions of Japanese soldiers late in the war. An afterword discusses the experiences of internment survivors after the war, combining medical and legal statistics with personal anecdotes to create a testament to the thousands of Americans whose captivity haunted them long after the war ended.

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