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From Walt Whitman to Hip Hop
American Performance Poetry is the first book to trace a comprehensive history of performance poetry in America from Whitman through the rap-meets-poetry scene and to show how the performance of poetry is bound up with the performance of identity and nationality in the modern period. This book will be a meaningful contribution both to the field of American poetry studies and to the fields of cultural and performance studies, as it focuses on poetry that refuses the status of fixed aesthetic object and, in its variability, performs versions of race, class, gender, and sexuality both on and off the page. Relating the performance of poetry to shifting political and cultural ideologies in the United States, Hoffman argues that the vocal aspect of public poetry possesses (or has been imagined to possess) the ability to help construct both national and subaltern communities. In doing so, American Performance Poetry explores public poets’ confrontations with emergent sound recording and communications technologies as those confrontations shape their mythologies of the spoken word and their corresponding notions about America and Americanness.
The Life and Work of Carey McWilliams
A long-overdue book on the brilliant life and career of one of our greatest public intellectuals, American Prophet will introduce Carey McWilliams to a new generation of readers. Peter Richardson's absorbing and elegantly paced book reveals a figure thoroughly engaged with the issues of his time. Deftly interweaving correspondence, diary notes, published writings, and McWilliams's own and others' observations on a colorful and influential cast of characters from Hollywood, New York, Washington, DC, and the American West, Richardson maps the evolution of McWilliams's personal and professional life. Among those making an appearance are H. L. Mencken (McWilliams's mentor and role model), Louis Adamic, John Fante, Robert Towne, Richard Nixon, Studs Terkel, J. Edgar Hoover, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., and Joseph McCarthy. American Prophet illustrates the arc of McWilliams's life and career from his early literary journalism through his legal and political activism, his stint in state government, and his two decades as editor of the Nation. This book makes the case for McWilliams's place in the Olympian realm of our most influential and prescient political writers. Peter Richardson is the editorial director at PoliPointPress in Sausalito, California. He is the author or editor of numerous works on language, literature, and California public policy. He holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of California Berkeley.
"A substantial contribution to understanding the role of public opinion and the news media during the Iraq War. Equally impressive, it effectively puts the domestic context of U.S. policy in historical perspective, making the book useful to historians as well as to political scientists." ---Ralph B. Levering, Davidson College "American Public Opinion on the Iraq War sets out to chart against a detailed account of the war a nuanced assessment of how public opinion on the conflict evolved, the partisan differences that emerged, how the issue affected other areas of foreign policy opinion, and the limits of public opinion on policy. It succeeds at all of this, and it does so in a manner that is at once informative, inherently interesting, and exceptionally easy to read." ---Randolph M. Siverson, University of California, Davis Ole R. Holsti explores the extent to which changes in public opinion reflected the vigorous public relations efforts of the Bush administration to gain support for the war and the partisanship marking debates over policies toward Iraq. Holsti investigates the ways in which the Iraq experience has led substantial numbers of Americans to reconsider their nation's proper international role, and he assesses the impact that public opinion has had on policymakers. Significantly, Holsti places his findings in a broader context to address the role of public opinion and of the media in democratic governance.
The Literary-Political Work of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Upton Sinclair, and W. E. B. Du Bois
"A meticulously researched, highly informed, carefully argued, and very accessible account of American socialism, socialists, and socialistic thinking, from the late nineteenth century through the 1960s . . . challenges the intellectual and political legacy of Werner Sombart's Why Is There No Socialism in the United States?, whose spirit still hovers over animated discussions about the 'failures' of socialism in the United States." ---James A. Miller, George Washington University "A valuable rethinking and reframing of the traditions of leftist literary scholarship in the U.S." ---Sylvia Cook, University of Missouri, St. Louis American Socialist Triptych: The Literary-Political Work of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Upton Sinclair, and W. E. B. Du Bois explores the contributions of three writers to the development of American socialism over a fifty--year period and asserts the vitality of socialism in modern American literature and culture. Drawing upon a wide range of texts including archival sources, Mark W. Van Wienen demonstrates the influence of reform-oriented, democratic socialism both in the careers of these writers and in U.S. politics between 1890 and 1940. While offering unprecedented in-depth analysis of modern American socialist literature, this book charts the path by which the supposedly impossible, dangerous ideals of a cooperative commonwealth were realized, in part, by the New Deal. American Socialist Triptych provides in-depth, innovative readings of the featured writers and their engagement with socialist thought and action. Upton Sinclair represents the movement's most visible manifestation, the Socialist Party of America, founded in 1901; Charlotte Perkins Gilman reflects the socialist elements in both feminism and 1890s reform movements, and W. E. B. Du Bois illuminates social democratic aspirations within the NAACP. Van Wienen's book seeks to re-energize studies of Sinclair by treating him as a serious cultural figure whose career peaked not in the early success of The Jungle but in his nearly successful 1934 run for the California governorship. It also demonstrates as never before the centrality of socialism throughout Gilman's and Du Bois's literary and political careers. More broadly, American Socialist Triptych challenges previous scholarship on American radical literature, which has focused almost exclusively on the 1930s and Communist writers. Van Wienen argues that radical democracy was not the phenomenon of a decade or of a single group but a sustained tradition dispersed within the culture, providing a useful genealogical explanation for how socialist ideas were actually implemented through the New Deal. American Socialist Triptych also revises modern American literary history, arguing for the endurance of realist and utopian literary modes at the height of modernist literary experimentation and showing the importance of socialism not only to the three featured writers but also to their peers, including Edward Bellamy, Hamlin Garland, Jack London, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Claude McKay. Further, by demonstrating the importance of social democratic thought to feminist and African American campaigns for equality, the book dialogues with recent theories of radical egalitarianism. Readers interested in American literature, U.S. history, political theory, and race, gender, and class studies will all find in American Socialist Triptych a valuable and provocative resource.
Today we are politically polarized as never before. The presidential elections of 2000 and 2004 will be remembered as two of the most contentious political events in American history. Yet despite the recent election upheaval, The American Voter Revisited discovers that voter behavior has been remarkably consistent over the last half century. And if the authors are correct in their predictions, 2008 will show just how reliably the American voter weighs in, election after election. The American Voter Revisited re-creates the outstanding 1960 classic The American Voter---which was based on the presidential elections of 1952 and 1956---following the same format, theory, and mode of analysis as the original. In this new volume, the authors test the ideas and methods of the original against presidential election surveys from 2000 and 2004. Surprisingly, the contemporary American voter is found to behave politically much like voters of the 1950s. "Simply essential. For generations, serious students of American politics have kept The American Voter right on their desk. Now, everyone will keep The American Voter Revisited right next to it." ---Larry J. Sabato, Director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics and author of A More Perfect Constitution "The American Voter Revisited is destined to be the definitive volume on American electoral behavior for decades. It is a timely book for 2008, with in-depth analyses of the 2000 and 2004 elections updating and extending the findings of the original The American Voter. It is also quite accessible, making it ideal for graduate students as well as advanced undergrads." ---Andrew E. Smith, Director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center "A theoretically faithful, empirically innovative, comprehensive update of the original classic." ---Sam Popkin, Professor of Political Science, University of California, San Diego Michael S. Lewis-Beck is F. Wendell Miller Distinguished Professor of Political Science at the University of Iowa. William G. Jacoby is Professor of Political Science at Michigan State University. Helmut Norpoth is Professor of Political Science at Stony Brook University. Herbert F. Weisberg is Professor of Political Science at Ohio State University.
“I have read all of Daniel Aaron’s books, and admired them, but in The Americanist I believe he has composed an intellectual and social memoir for which he will be remembered. His self-portrait is marked by personal tact and admirable restraint: he is and is not its subject. The Americanist is a vision of otherness: literary and academic friends and acquaintances, here and abroad. Eloquently phrased and free of nostalgia, it catches a lost world that yet engendered much of our own.” —Harold Bloom “The Americanist is the absorbing intellectual autobiography of Daniel Aaron, who is the leading proponent and practitioner of American Studies. Written with grace and wit, it skillfully blends Daniel Aaron’s personal story with the history of the field he has done so much to create. This is a first-rate book by a first-rate scholar.” —David Herbert Donald, Professor Emeritus, Harvard University The Americanist is author and critic Daniel Aaron’s anthem to nearly a century of public and private life in America and abroad. Aaron, who is widely regarded as one of the founders of American Studies, graduated from the University of Michigan, received his Ph.D. from Harvard, and taught for over three decades each at Smith College and Harvard. Aaron writes with unsentimental nostalgia about his childhood in Los Angeles and Chicago and his later academic career, which took him around the globe, often in the role of America’s accidental yet impartial critic. When Walt Whitman, whom Aaron frequently cites as a touchstone, wrote, “I am large, I contain multitudes,” he could have been describing Daniel Aaron—the consummate erudite and Renaissance individual whose allegiance to the truth always outweighs mere partisan loyalty. Not only should Aaron’s book stand as a resplendent and summative work from one of the finest thinkers of the last hundred years, it also succeeds on its own as a first-rate piece of literature, on a par with the writings of any of its subjects. The Americanist is a veritable Who’s Who of twentieth-century writers Aaron interviewed, interacted with, or otherwise encountered throughout his life: Ralph Ellison, Robert Frost, Lillian Hellman, Richard Hofstadter, Alfred Kazin, Sinclair Lewis, Malcolm Muggeridge, John Crowe Ransom, Upton Sinclair, Edmund Wilson, Leonard Woolf, and W. B. Yeats, to name only a few. Aaron’s frank and personal observations of these literary lights make for lively reading. As well, scattered throughout The Americanist are illuminating portraits of American presidents living and passed—miniature masterworks of astute political observation that offer dazzlingly fresh approaches to well-trod subjects.
Public Evaluations of Congress and Electoral Consequences
Jones and McDermott's groundbreaking book makes a strong case for the proposition that the popular standing of Congress (not merely that of its individual members) influences voters' decisions. Voters enforce collective responsibility, they contend, and Congress takes notice. This will be an important read for all students of Congress and congressional elections. ---Gary C. Jacobson, Professor of Political Science, University of California, San Diego "Jones and McDermott have set a new standard for empirical analyses of responsiveness and representation in contemporary American politics. They frame the important substantive and normative questions, highlight the problems that have bedeviled previous work, and combine disparate data sets and sophisticated analytic techniques to develop new and important findings about the relationship between citizen preferences, legislator actions, and government policies. It is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the nature of citizen-representative linkages under real-world conditions." ---William Bianco, Professor of Political Science, Indiana University "This book engages important questions related to congressional elections with new theoretical arguments and new data. It comes to conclusions that are contrary to widely accepted views in the literature, arguing that the public cares politically about the policies produced by Congress, that voters are able to have a reasonable amount of information about what Congress does in this realm, and that voters' perceptions on these matters have important electoral consequences. I think this book will be widely read and cited, and that it will have an impact on the scholarly debates about elections and polarization." ---David W. Rohde, Professor of Political Science, Duke University "Americans, Congress, and Democratic Responsiveness is an interesting book with important and compelling results. Jones and McDermott restore meaning to democratic responsibility by finding that public evaluations affect Congress. In contrast to the popular depiction of the representatives controlling the represented rampant in the political science literature, Jones and McDermott show that the people are in control, determining not only the direction of policy in Congress, but also who stays, who retires, and who faces difficult reelection efforts. This book makes an important correction to our understanding of how Congress operates." ---Sean M. Theriault, Associate Professor, Department of Government, the University of Texas at Austin Voters may not know the details of specific policies, but they have a general sense of how well Congress serves their own interests and how closely politicians pay attention to public approval ratings. David Jones and Monika McDermott show, through new empirical analysis, that both politicians and voters take a hand in reconfiguring the House and Senate when the majority party is unpopular, as was the case during the 2008 elections. Candidates who continue to run under the party banner distance themselves from party ideology, while voters throw hard-line party members out of office. In this way, public approval and democratic responsibility directly affect policy shifts and turnovers at election time. Contrary to the common view of Congress as an insulated institution, Congress is indeed responsive to the people of the United States. David R. Jones is Professor of Political Science at Baruch College, City University of New York. Monika L. McDermott is Associate Professor of Political Science at Fordham University. Jacket photograph: iStockphoto.com © Slowgogo
The Culture of Capital Punishment
Thorough and unbiased, Among the Lowest of the Dead is a gripping narrative that provides an unprecedented journalistic look into the actual workings of the capital punishment system. "Has all the tension of the best true crime stories . . . This is journalism at its best." --Library Journal "A compelling argument against capital punishment. . . . Examining politicians, judges (including Supreme Court Justices), prosecutors, defense attorneys and the condemned themselves, the author makes an effective case that, despite new laws, execution is no less a lottery than it has always been." --Publishers Weekly "In a fine and important book, Von Drehle writes elegantly and powerfully. . . . Anyone certain of their opinion about the death penalty ought to read this book." -- Booklist "An extremely well-informed and richly insightful book of great value to students of the death penalty as well as intelligent general readers with a serious interest in the subject, Among the Lowest of the Dead is also exciting reading. The book is an ideal guide for new generations of readers who want to form knowledgeable judgments in the continuing--and recently accelerating--controversies about capital punishment." --Anthony Amsterdam, New York University "Among the Lowest of the Dead is a powerfully written and meticulously researched book that makes an invaluable contribution to the growing public dialogue about capital punishment in America. It's one of those rare books that bridges the gap between mass audiences and scholarly disciplines, the latter including sociology, political science, criminology and journalism. The book is required reading in my Investigative Journalism classes--and my students love it!" --David Protess, Northwestern University "Among The Lowest of the Dead deserves a permanent place in the literature as literature, and is most relevant to today's death penalty debate as we moderate advocates and abolitionists search for common ground." --Robert Blecker, New York Law School David Von Drehle is Senior Writer, The Washington Post and author of Triangle: The Fire that Changed America.
Studies in Lucan's Epic Technique
Imperial Latin epic has seen a renaissance of scholarly interest. This book illuminates the work of the poet Lucan, a contemporary of the emperor Nero who as nephew of the imperial adviser Seneca moved in the upper echelons of Neronian society. This