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Albert Camus' Critique of Modernity Cover

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Albert Camus' Critique of Modernity

Ronald D. Srigley

 

Nobel Prize winner Albert Camus’ contributions to political and cultural analysis make him one of the most important writers of the twentieth century. Camus’ writing has been heavily researched and analyzed in academia, with many scholars concentrating on the formal tri-part structure he adhered to in his later work: the cycle that divided his books into stages of the absurd, rebellion, and love. Yet other aspects of Camus’ work—his preoccupation with modernity and its association with Christianity, his fixations on Greek thought and classical imagery—have been largely neglected by critical study. These subjects of Camus’ have long deserved critical analysis, and Ronald D. Srigley finally pays them due attention in Albert Camus’ Critique of Modernity.
 
            The straightforward, chronological readings of Camus’ cycles perceive them as simple advancement—the absurd is bad, rebellion is better, and love is best of all. Yet the difficulty with that perspective, Srigley argues, is that it ignores the relationships between the cycles. As the cycles progress, far from denoting improvement, they describe experiences that grow darker and more violent.
 
Albert Camus’ Critique of Modernity also ventures into new interpretations of seminal works—The Myth of Sisyphus, The Rebel, and The Fall—that illuminate Camus’ critique of Christianity and modernity and his return to the Greeks. The book explores how those texts relate to the cyclical structure of Camus’ works and examines the limitations of the project of the cycles as Camus originally conceived it.
 
            Albert Camus’ Critique of Modernity presents the decisive vision of that ultimate project: to critique Christianity, modernity, and the relationship between them and also to restore the Greek wisdom that had been eclipsed by both traditions. In contrast to much current scholarship, which interprets Camus’ concerns as modern or even postmodern, Srigley contends that Camus’ ambition ran in the opposite direction of history—that his principal aim was to articulate the themes of the ancients, highlighting Greek anthropology and political philosophy.
 
This book follows the trajectory of Camus’ work, examining the structure and content of Camus’ writing through a new lens. This assessment of Camus, in its unique approach and perspective, opens up new avenues of research regarding the accomplishments of this prominent philosopher and invigorates Camus studies. A thoroughly sourced text, Albert Camus’ Critique of Modernity makes a valuable resource for study of existentialism, modernity, and modern political thought.

All My Days Are Saturdays Cover

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All My Days Are Saturdays

Sam Pickering

A New York Times article once stated that “the art of the essay as delivered by [Sam] Pickering is the art of the front porch ramble.” As Pickering himself puts it, “Well, I have gotten considerably older, and humor has come to mean more and more to me. And if I’m on the front porch, I am in a rocking chair.” All My Days Are Saturdays offers fifteen new pieces in which he ponders a world that has changed and, in new ways, still delights him. This collection features Pickering writing about teaching and his recent retirement, visits to various locales, and, as he tell us, “the many people I meet…who tell me their stories, small tales that make one laugh and sigh.”

Distinctive and unmistakable, Pickering’s style deftly mixes the colloquial language of everyday life with references to a lifetime of extensive reading. The seamless blend of these two worlds in his writing is indicative of how they fuse together in his daily life. As Pickering puts it, “All my life I have roamed libraries, almost as much as I have roamed the natural world. I try to get at many truths, but when I tell the truth, I ‘tell it slant.’ I do so to describe life as it is and indeed celebrate that ‘as it is.’”

“Pickering is a master of his craft, one of the finest of personal essayists around, and these essays bear many of the characteristics of his other volumes—reflections on his everyday activities and on individuals around him, humorous exchanges with his wife, and so forth. But this volume seems to have something else as well. We find here a thoughtful meditation on time and self and relative old age demonstrating a close attention to the natural world—a tone not unlike Thoreau’s at times.” -- Fred C. Hobson, Professor of English, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and author or editor of fourteen books, most recently A Southern Enigma: Essays on the U.S. South

Amazons Cover

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Amazons

A Love Story

E. J. Levy

   When E.J. Levy arrived in northern Brazil on a fellowship from Yale at the age of 21, she was hoping to help save the Amazon rain forest; she didn’t realize she would soon have to save herself.

Amazons: A Love Story recounts an idealistic young woman’s coming of age against the backdrop of the magnificent rain forest and exotic city of Salvador. This elegant and sharp-eyed memoir explores the interaction of the many forces fueling deforestation—examining the ecological, economic, social, and spiritual costs of ill-conceived development—with the myriad ones that shape young women’s maturation.
Sent to Salvador (often called the “soul of Brazil” for its rich Afro-Brazilian culture), a city far from the rain forest, Levy befriends two young Brazilians, Nel, a brilliant economics student who is estranged from her family for mysterious reasons, and Isa, a gorgeous gold digger. When the university closes due to a strike, none of them can guess what will come of their ambitions. Levy’s course of study changes: she takes up capoeira, enters cooking school (making foods praised in Brazilian literature as almost magical elixirs), gains fluency in Portuguese and the ways of street life, and learns other, more painful lessons—she is raped, and her best friend becomes a prostitute.
When Levy finally reaches the Amazon, her courage—and her safety—are further tested: on a barefoot hike through the jungle one night to collect tadpoles, she encounters fist-sized spiders, swimming snakes, and crocodiles. When allergies to the antimalarial drugs meant to protect her prove life-threatening, she discovers that sometimes the greatest threat we face is ourselves. Eventually, her work as a “cartographer of loss,” charting deforestation, leads her to realize that our relationships to nature and to our bodies are linked, that we must transcend the logic of commodification if we are to save both wilderness and ourselves.
The Amazon is a perennially fascinating subject, alluring and frightening, a site of cultural projection and commercial ambition, of fantasies and violence. Amazons offers an intimate look at urgent global issues that affect us all, including the too-often abstract question of rain forest loss. Levy illuminates the burgeoning sex-tourism trade in Brazil, renewed environmental threats, global warming, and the consequences of putting a price on nature. Accounts of the region have most often been by and about men, but Amazons offers a fresh approach, interweaving a personal feminist narrative with an urgent ecological one. In the tradition of Terry Tempest Williams, this timely, compelling, and eloquent memoir will appeal to those interested in literary nonfiction, travel writing, and women’s and environmental issues.
 

America and the Political Philosophy of Common Sense Cover

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America and the Political Philosophy of Common Sense

Scott Philip Segrest

From Aristotle to Thomas Jefferson, seminal thinkers have declared “common sense” essential for moral discernment and civilized living. Yet the story of commonsense philosophy is not well known today.
 
            In America and the Political Philosophy of Common Sense, Scott Segrest traces the history and explores the personal and social meaning of common sense as understood especially in American thought and as reflected specifically in the writings of three paradigmatic thinkers: John Witherspoon, James McCosh, and William James. The first two represent Scottish Common Sense and the third, Pragmatism, the schools that together dominated American higher thought for nearly two centuries.
 
Educated Americans of the founding period warmly received Scottish Common Sense, Segrest writes, because it reflected so well what they already thought, and he uncovers the basic elements of American common sense in examining the thought of Witherspoon, who introduced that philosophy to them. With McCosh, he shows the furthest development and limits of the philosophy, and with it of American common sense in its Scottish realist phase. With James, he shows other dimensions of common sense that Americans had long embraced but that had never been examined philosophically.
 
            Clearly, Segrest’s work is much more than an intellectual history. It is a study of the American mind and of common sense itself—its essential character and its human significance, both moral and political. It was common sense, he affirms, that underlay the Declaration of Independence and the founders’ ideas of right and obligation that are still with us today. Segrest suggests that understanding this foundation and James’s refreshing of it could be the key to maintaining America’s vital moral core against a growing alienation from common sense across the Western world.
 
Stressing the urgency of understanding and preserving common sense, Segrest’s work sheds new light on an undervalued aspect of American thought and experience, helping us to perceive the ramifications of commonsense philosophy for dignified living.

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The American Essay in the American Century

Ned Stuckey-French

 

       In modern culture, the essay is often considered an old-fashioned, unoriginal form of literary styling. The word essay brings to mind the uninspired five-paragraph theme taught in schools around the country or the antiquated, Edwardian meanderings of English gentlemen rattling on about art and old books. These connotations exist despite the fact that Americans have been reading and enjoying personal essays in popular magazines for decades, engaging with a multitude of ideas through this short-form means of expression.

 

 

 
To defend the essay—that misunderstood staple of first-year composition courses—Ned Stuckey-French has written The American Essay in the American Century. This book uncovers the buried history of the American personal essay and reveals how it played a significant role in twentieth-century cultural history.

 

 

 
In the early 1900s, writers and critics debated the “death of the essay,” claiming it was too traditional to survive the era’s growing commercialism, labeling it a bastion of British upper-class conventions. Yet in that period, the essay blossomed into a cultural force as a new group of writers composed essays that responded to the concerns of America’s expanding cosmopolitan readership. These essays would spark the “magazine revolution,” giving a fresh voice to the ascendant middle class of the young century.

 

 

 
With extensive research and a cultural context, Stuckey-French describes the many reasons essays grew in appeal and importance for Americans. He also explores the rise of E. B. White, considered by many the greatest American essayist of the first half of the twentieth century whose prowess was overshadowed by his success in other fields of writing. White’s work introduced a new voice, creating an American essay that melded seriousness and political resolve with humor and self-deprecation. This book is one of the first to consider and reflect on the contributions of E. B. White to the personal essay tradition and American culture more generally.

 

 

 
The American Essay in the American Century is a compelling, highly readable book that illuminates the history of a secretly beloved literary genre. A work that will appeal to fiction readers, scholars, and students alike, this book offers fundamental insight into modern American literary history and the intersections of literature, culture, and class through the personal essay. This thoroughly researched volume dismisses, once and for all, the “death of the essay,” proving that the essay will remain relevant for a very long time to come.

American Girls, Beer, and Glenn Miller Cover

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American Girls, Beer, and Glenn Miller

GI Morale in World War II

James J. Cooke

 "Cooke's examination of the Special Services and PX System during World War II, a subject previously overlooked by scholars, shows that these goods and services kept the armed forces' spirits up under the alienating conditions of global war."—Dennis Showalter, author of Patton and Rommel: Men of War in the Twentieth Century 

 

 

As World War II dawned in Europe, General George C. Marshall, the new Army Chief of Staff, had to acknowledge that American society—and the citizens who would soon become soldiers—had drastically changed in the previous few decades. Almost every home had a radio, movies could talk, and driving in an automobile to the neighborhood soda fountain was part of everyday life. A product of newly created mass consumerism, the soldier of 1940 had expectations of material comfort, even while at war. Historian James J. Cooke presents the first comprehensive look at how Marshall’s efforts to cheer soldiers far from home resulted in the enduring morale services that the Army provides still today.

 

 
Marshall understood that civilian soldiers provided particular challenges and wanted to improve the subpar morale services that had been provided to Great War doughboys. Frederick Osborn, a civilian intellectual, was called to head the newly formed morale branch, which quickly became the Special Services Division. Hundreds of on-post movie theaters showing first-run movies at reduced prices, service clubs where GIs could relax, and inexpensive cafeterias were constructed. The Army Exchange System took direction under Brigadier General Joseph Byron, offering comfort items at low prices; the PX sold everything from cigarettes and razor blades to low-alcohol beer in very popular beer halls.

 

 
The great civic organizations—the YMCA, the Salvation Army, the Jewish Welfare Board, and others—were brought together to form the United Service Organizations (USO). At USO Camp Shows, admired entertainers like Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, and Frances Langford brought home-style entertainment to soldiers within the war zones. As the war heightened in intensity, the Special Service Companies grew to over forty in number, each containing more than one hundred enlisted men. Trained in infantry skills, soldiers in the companies at times would have to stop showing movies, pick up their rifles, and fight.

 

The Special Services Division, PX, and USO were crucial elements in maintaining GI morale, and Cooke’s work makes clear the lasting legacy of these efforts to boost the average soldier’s spirits almost a century ago. The idea that as American soldiers serve abroad, they should have access to at least some of the comforts of home has become a cultural standard.

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American Relief Aid and the Spanish Civil War

Eric R. Smith

The Spanish Civil War created a conflict for Americans who preferred that the United States remain uninvolved in foreign affairs. Despite the country's isolationist tendencies, opposition to the rise of fascism across Europe convinced many Americans that they had to act in support of the Spanish Republic. While much has been written about the war itself and its international volunteers, little attention has been paid to those who coordinated these relief efforts at home. 

            American Relief Aid and the Spanish Civil War tells the story of the political campaigns to raise aid for the Spanish Republic as activists pushed the limits of isolationist thinking. Those concerned with Spain’s fate held a range of political convictions (including anarchists, socialists, liberals, and communists) with very different understandings of what fascism was. Yet they all agreed that fascism’s advance must be halted. With labor strikes, fund-raising parties, and ambulance tours, defenders of Spain in the United States sought to shift the political discussion away from isolation of Spain’s elected government and toward active assistance for the faltering Republic.

Examining the American political organizations affiliated with this relief effort and the political repression that resulted as many of Spain’s supporters faced the early incarnations of McCarthyism’s trials, Smith provides new understanding of American politics during the crucial years leading up to World War II. By also focusing on the impact the Spanish Civil War had on those of Spanish ethnicity in the United States, Smith shows how close to home the seemingly distant war really hit.  

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Anatomy of a Trial

Public Loss, Lessons Learned from The People vs. O.J. Simpson

Jerrianne Hayslett

The People vs. O. J. Simpson ranks indisputably as the trial of the century. It featured a double murder, a celebrity defendant, a perjuring witness, and a glove that didn’t fit. The trial became a media circus of outrageous proportions that led the judge to sequester the jury, eject disruptive reporters, and fine the lawyers thousands of dollars. Now an insider at The People vs. O. J. Simpson reveals the untold story of the most widely followed trial in American history and the indelible impact it has had on the judiciary, the media, and the public.

 

 
            As the Los Angeles Superior Court’s media liaison, Jerrianne Hayslett had unprecedented access to the trial—and met with Judge Lance Ito daily—as she attempted, sometimes unsuccessfully, to mediate between the court and members of the media and to balance their interests. In Anatomy of a Trial, she takes readers behind the scenes to shed new light on people and proceedings and to show how the media and the trial participants changed the court-media landscape to the detriment of the public’s understanding of the judicial system.

 

 
            For those who think they’ve already read all there is to know about the Simpson trial, this book is an eye-opener. Hayslett kept a detailed journal during the proceedings in which she recorded anecdotes and commentary. She also shares previously undisclosed information to expose some of the myths and stereotypes perpetuated by the trial, while affirming other stories that emerged during that time. By examining this trial after more than a decade, she shows how it has produced a bunker mentality in the judicial system, shaping media and public access to courts with lasting impact on such factors as cameras in the courtroom, jury selection, admonishments from the bench, and fair-trial/free-press tensions.

 

 
The first account of the trial written with Judge Ito’s cooperation, Anatomy of a Trial is a page-turning narrative and features photographs that capture both the drama of the courtroom and the excesses of the media. It also includes perspectives of legal and journalism authorities and offers a blueprint for how the courts and media can better meet their responsibilities to the public.

 

 
Even today, judges, lawyers, and journalists across the country say the Simpson trial changed everything. This book finally tells us why.

Autobiographical Reflections, Revised Edition with Glossary Cover

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Autobiographical Reflections, Revised Edition with Glossary

Eric Voegelin, edited with an introduction by Ellis Sandoz

 

Autobiographical Reflections is a window into the mind of a man whose reassessment of the nature of history and thought has overturned traditional approaches to, and appraisals of, the Western intellectual tradition. Here we encounter the motivations for Voegelin's work, the stages in the development of his unique philosophy of consciousness, his key intellectual breakthroughs, his theory of history, and his diagnosis of the political ills of the modern age.
 
Included in this revised volume is a glossary of terms used in Voegelin’s writings. The glossary lists, defines, and illustrates from the author’s writings many of the key terms employed, paying particular attention to the Greek terms. Together, the glossary and enlarged index systematically include names, subjects, ideas, writings, and terms, making this volume an indispensable help for any serious study of Eric Voegelin’s oeuvre.

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The Baron in the Grand Canyon

Friedrich Wilhelm von Egloffstein in the West

Steven Rowan

 

In The Baron in the Grand Canyon, Steven Rowan presents the first comprehensive look at the life of Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Egloffstein, mapmaker, artist, explorer, and inventor. Utilizing new German and American sources, Rowan clarifies many mysteries about the life of this major artist and cartographer of the American West.
This revealing account concentrates on Egloffstein’s activity in the American mountain West from 1853 to 1858. The early chapters cover his roots as a member of an imperial baronial family in Franconia, his service in the Prussian army, his arrival in the United States in 1846, and his links to his scandalous gothic-novelist cousin, Baron Ludwig von Reizenstein.
Egloffstein’s work as a cartographer in St. Louis in the 1840s led to his participation in John C. Frémont’s final expedition to the West in 1853 and 1854. He left Frémont for Salt Lake City where he joined the Gunnison Expedition under the leadership of Edward Beckwith. During this time, Egloffstein produced his most outstanding panoramas and views of the expedition, which were published in Pacific Railroad Reports.
Egloffstein also served along with Heinrich Balduin Möllhusen as one of the artists and as the chief cartographer of Joseph Christmas Ives’s expedition up the Colorado River. The two large maps produced by Egloffstein for the expedition report are regarded as classics of American art and cartography in the nineteenth century.
While with the Ives expedition, Egloffstein performed his revolutionary experiments in printing photographic images. He developed a procedure for working from photographs of plaster models of terrain, and that led him to invent “heliography,” a method of creating printing plates directly from photographs. He later went on to launch a company to exploit his photographic printing process, which closed after only a few years of operation.
Among the many images in this engaging narrative are photographs of the Egloffstein castle and of Egloffstein in 1865 and in his later years. Also include are illustrations that were published in the PRR, such as “View Showing the Formation of the Cañon of Grand River[today called the Gunnison River] / near the Mouth of Lake Fork with Indications of the Formidable Side Cañons” and Beckwith Map 1: “From the Valley of Green River to the Great Salt Lake.”

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