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Toward a Black Male Feminist Criticism
Can black males offer useful insights on black women and patriarchy? Many black feminists are doubtful. Their skepticism derives in part from a history of explosive encounters with black men who blamed feminism for stigmatizing black men and undermining racial solidarity and in part from a perception that black male feminists are opportunists capitalizing on the current popularity of black women's writing and criticism. In Breaking the Silence, David Ikard goes boldly to the crux of this debate through a series of provocative readings of key African American texts that demonstrate the possibility and value of a viable black male feminist perspective. Seeking to advance the primary objectives of black feminism, Ikard provides literary models from Chester Himes's If He Hollers Let Him Go, James Baldwin's Go Tell It on the Mountain, Toni Morrison's Paradise, Toni Cade Bambara's The Salt Eaters, and Walter Mosley's Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned and Walkin' the Dog that consciously wrestle with the concept of victim status for black men and women. He looks at how complicity across gender lines, far from rooting out patriarchy in the black community, has allowed it to thrive. This complicity, Ikard explains, is a process by which victimized groups invest in victim status to the point that they unintentionally concede power to their victimizers and engage in patterns of behavior that are perceived as revolutionary but actually reinforce the status quo. While black feminism has fostered important and necessary discussions regarding the problems of patriarchy within the black community, little attention has been paid to the intersecting dynamics of complicity. By laying bare the nexus between victim status and complicity in oppression, Breaking the Silence charts a new direction for conceptualizing black women's complex humanity and provides the foundations for more expansive feminist approaches to resolving intraracial gender conflicts.
An Interdisciplinary Approach
A panorama of past and contemporary southern society are captured in Bridging Southern Cultures by some of the South’s leading historians, anthropologists, literary critics, musicologists, and folklorists. Crossing the chasms of demographics, academic disciplines, art forms, and culture, this exciting collection reaches aspects of southern heritage that previous approaches have long obscured. Virtually every dimension of southern identity receives attention here. William Andrews,Thadious Davis, Sue Bridwell Beckham, Richard Megraw, and Joyce Marie Jackson offer engaging reflections on art, age, race, and gender. Bertram Wyatt-Brown delivers a startling reading of Faulkner, revealing the tangled history of southern modernism. Daniel C. Littlefield, Henry Shapiro, and Charles Reagan Wilson provide important assessments of Africanisms in southern culture, Appalachian studies, and the blessing and burden of southern culture. John Shelton Reed probes the humorous and awkward aspects of the South’s midlife crisis. John Lowe shows how the myth of the biracial southern family complicated plantation-school narratives for both white and black writers. Showcasing the thought of preeminent southern intellectuals, Bridging Southern Cultures is a timely assessment of the state of contemporary southern studies.
Agriculture and Sectional Antagonism in North America
Drawing on the history of the British gentry to explain the contrasting sentiments of American small farmers and plantation owners, James L. Huston's expansive analysis offers a new understanding of the socioeconomic factors that fueled sectionalism and ignited the American Civil War. This groundbreaking study of agriculture's role in the war defies long-held notions that northern industrialization and urbanization led to clashes between North and South. Rather, Huston argues that the ideological chasm between plantation owners in the South and family farmers in the North led to the political eruption of 1854-56 and the birth of a sectionalized party system.
Huston shows that over 70 percent of the northern population-by far the dominant economic and social element-had close ties to agriculture. More invested in egalitarianism and personal competency than in capitalism, small farmers in the North operated under a free labor ideology that emphasized the ideals of independence and mastery over oneself. The ideology of the plantation, by contrast, reflected the conservative ethos of the British aristocracy, which was the product of immense landed inequality and the assertion of mastery over others.
By examining the dominant populations in northern and southern congressional districts, Huston reveals that economic interests pitted the plantation South against the small-farm North. The northern shift toward Republicanism depended on farmers, not industrialists: While Democrats won the majority of northern farm congressional districts from 1842 to 1853, they suffered a major defection of these districts from 1854 to 1856, to the antislavery organizations that would soon coalesce into the Republican Party. Utilizing extensive historical research and close examination of the voting patterns in congressional districts across the country, James Huston provides a remarkable new context for the origins of the Civil War.
Broken Cup brings breathtaking eloquence to what Margaret Gibson describes as "traveling the Way of Alzheimer's" with her husband, poet David McKain. After his initial and tentative diagnosis, Gibson suspended her writing for two years; but then poetry returned, and the creative process became the lightning rod that grounded her and presented a path forward. The poems in Broken Cup bear witness to how Alzheimer's erodes memory and cognitive function, but they never forget to see what is present and to ask what may remain of the self. Moving and unflinchingly honest in the acknowledgment of pain, frustration, and grief, the poems uncover, time and time again, the grace of abiding love. Gibson gives heart as well as voice to an experience that is deeply personal, yet shared by all too many.
The 16th Connecticut's Civil War
A Broken Regiment recounts the tragic history of one of the Civil War's most ill-fated Union military units. Organized in the late summer of 1862, the 16th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry was unprepared for battle a month later, when it entered the fight at Antietam. The results were catastrophic: nearly a quarter of the men were killed or wounded, and Connecticut's 16th panicked and fled the field. In the years that followed, the regiment participated in minor skirmishes before surrendering en masse in North Carolina in 1864. Most of its members spent months in southern prison camps, including the notorious Andersonville stockade, where disease and starvation took the lives of over one hundred members of the unit.
The struggles of the 16th led survivors to reflect on the true nature of their military experience during and after the war, and questions of cowardice and courage, patriotism and purpose, were often foremost in their thoughts. Over time, competing stories emerged of who they were, why they endured what they did, and how they should be remembered. By the end of the century, their collective recollections reshaped this troubling and traumatic past, and the "unfortunate regiment" emerged as "The Brave Sixteenth," their individual memories and accounts altered to fit the more heroic contours of the Union victory.
The product of over a decade of research, Lesley J. Gordon's A Broken Regiment illuminates this unit's complex history amid the interplay of various, and often competing, voices. The result is a fascinating and heartrending story of one regiment's wartime and postwar struggles.
The Journal of Kate Stone, 1861–1868
This journal records the Civil War experiences of a sensitive, well-educated, young southern woman. Kate Stone was twenty when the war began, living with her widowed mother, five brothers, and younger sister at Brokenburn, their plantation home in northeastern Louisiana. When Grant moved against Vicksburg, the family fled before the invading armies, eventually found refuge in Texas, and finally returned to a devastated home. Kate began her journal in May, 1861, and made regular entries up to November, 1865. She included briefer sketches in 1867 and 1868. In chronicling her everyday activities, Kate reveals much about a way of life that is no more: books read, plantation management and crops, maintaining slaves in the antebellum period, the attitude and conduct of slaves during the war, the fate of refugees, and civilian morale. Without pretense and with almost photographic clarity, she portrays the South during its darkest hours.
Illegal Sex in Antebellum New Orleans
Winner of the 2009 Gulf South Historical Association Book Award When a priest suggested to one of the first governors of Louisiana that he banish all disreputable women to raise the colony’s moral tone, the governor responded, “If I send away all the loose females, there will be no women left here at all.” Primitive, mosquito infested, and disease ridden, early French colonial New Orleans offered few attractions to entice respectable women as residents. King Louis XIV of France solved the population problem in 1721 by emptying Paris’s La Salpêtrière prison of many of its most notorious prostitutes and convicts and sending them to Louisiana. Many of these women continued to ply their trade in New Orleans. In Brothels, Depravity, and Abandoned Women, Judith Kelleher Schafer examines case histories from the First District Court of New Orleans and tells the engrossing story of prostitution in the city prior to the Civil War. Louisiana law did not criminalize the selling of sex until the Progressive Era, although the law forbade keeping a brothel. Police arrested individual public women on vague charges, for being “lewd and abandoned” or vagrants. The city’s wealthy and influential landlords, some of whom made huge profits by renting their property as brothels, wanted their tenants back on the streets as soon as possible, and they often hired the best criminal attorneys to help release the women from jail. The courts, in turn, often treated these “public women” leniently, exacting small fines or sending them to the city’s workhouse for a few months. As a result, prosecutors dropped almost all prostitution cases before trial. Relying on previously unexamined court records and newly available newspaper articles, Schafer ably details the brutal and often harrowing lives of the women and young girls who engaged in prostitution. Some watched as gangs of rowdy men smashed their furniture; some endured beatings by their customers or other public women enraged by fits of jealousy; others were murdered. Schafer discusses the sexual exploitation of children, sex across the color line, violence among and against public women, and the city’s feeble attempts to suppress the trade. She also profiles several infamous New Orleans sex workers, including Delia Swift, alias Bridget Fury, a flaming redhead with a fondness for stabbing men, and Emily Eubanks and her daughter Elisabeth, free women of color known for assaulting white women. Although scholars have written much about prostitution in New Orleans’ Storyville era, few historical studies on prostitution in antebellum New Orleans exist. Schafer’s rich analysis fills this gap and offers insight into an intriguing period in the history of the “oldest profession” in the Crescent City.
Esprit de Corps in a Civil War Regiment
During the Civil War, the regiment was the fundamental component of armies both North and South, its reliability and effectiveness crucial to military success. Soldiers' devotion to their regiment—their esprit de corps—encouraged unit cohesion and motivated the individual soldier to march into battle and endure the hardships of military life. In Brothers One and All, Mark H. Dunkelman identifies the characteristics of Civil War esprit de corps and charts its development from recruitment and combat to the end of the war and beyond through the experiences of a single regiment, the 154th New York Volunteer Infantry. Dunkelman offers a unique psychological portrait of a front-line unit that fought with distinction at Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Lookout Valley, Rocky Face Ridge, and other engagements. He traces the evolution of natural camaraderie among friends and neighbors into a more profound sense of pride, enthusiasm, and loyalty forged as much in the shared unpleasantness of day-to-day army life as in the terrifying ordeal of battle.
Creating Safe and Happy Places for Children
We accomplish extraordinary things when we do ordinary things together. This heartfelt and hopeful conviction led LSU professor Marybeth Lima to begin the LSU Community Playground Project in an attempt to involve her students in the larger Baton Rouge community. Fifteen years and over seven hundred students later, Building Playgrounds, Engaging Communities tells the story of the Playground Project’s ongoing partnership with area public schools to build safe, fun, accessible, kid-designed playgrounds. Lima’s experiences with the Playground Project range from outright failures to hard-won victories. Overcoming the challenges of working with scarce resources, Lima persevered despite many setbacks. Her accounts brim with hope, humor, and dedication. Building Playgrounds, Engaging Communities emphasizes the major impact people can have when they work together for the common good—whether by building playgrounds, establishing neighborhood gardens, or having honest, respectful conversations. To this end, Lima provides an appendix with practical advice for local engagement. People wanting to get involved in their communities can use this book as a road map; those active in long-term endeavors can draw on it for ideas and inspiration.