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Innovations, Transformations, Reconsiderations
Hindu Ritual at the Margins explores Hindu forms of ritual activity in a variety of “marginal” contexts. The contributors collectively examine ritual practices in diaspora; across gender, ethnic, social, and political groups; in film, text, and art; in settings where ritual itself or direct discussion of ritual is absent; in contexts that create new opportunities for traditionally marginalized participants or challenge the received tradition; and via theoretical perspectives that have been undervalued in the academy. In the first of three sections, contributors explore the ways in which Hindu ritual performed in Indian contexts intersects with historical, contextual, and social change. They examine the changing significance and understanding of particular deities, the identity and agency of ritual actors, and the instrumentality of ritual in new media. Essays in the second section examine ritual practices outside of India, focusing on evolving ritual claims to authority in mixed cultures (such as Malaysia), the reshaping of gender dynamics of ritual at an American temple, and the democratic reshaping of ritual forms in Canadian Hindu communities. The final section considers the implications for ritual studies of the efficacy of bodily acts divorced from intention, contemporary spiritual practice as opposed to religious-bound ritual, and the notion of dharma. Based on a conference on Hindu ritual held in 2006 at the University of Pittsburgh, Hindu Ritual at the Margins seeks to elucidate the ways ritual actors come to shape ritual practices or conceptions pertaining to ritual and how studying ritual in marginal contexts—at points of dynamic tension—requires scholars to reshape their understanding of ritual activity.
Selected by 2011 National Book Award winner Nikky Finney as the seventh annual winner of the South Carolina Poetry Book Prize, Hold Like Owls is the first book-length collection from Julia Koets. Full of imagery deeply embedded in memories of growing up in the American South, Koets explores what it means to hold—to carry memories—and what to hold onto and what to let go. Birds turn into paper, a voice fits inside a chestnut shell, and moths eat stars through a woolen sky as the collection evokes nuance within the ordinary, reframes childhood memory, and engages the themes of the night, sensuality, and desire. Whether questioning personal histories, language, sexual identity, or love, the collection honors the "gentle corners of the night" that allow for questioning and uncertainty to exist.
DéLana R. A. Dameron searches for answers to spiritual quandaries in her first collection of poems, How God Ends Us, selected by Elizabeth Alexander as the fourth annual winner of the South Carolina Poetry Book Prize. Dameron's poetry forms a lyrical conversation with an ominous and omnipotent deity, one who controls all matters of the living earth, including death and destruction. The poet's acknowledgement of the breadth of this power under divine jurisdiction moves her by turns to anger, grief, celebration, and even joy. From personal to collective to imagined histories, Dameron's poems explore essential, perennial questions emblemized by natural disasters, family struggles, racism, and the experiences of travel abroad. Though she reaches for conclusions that cannot be unveiled, her investigations exhibit the creative act of poetry as a source of consolation and resolution.
South Carolina Slave Narratives
Out of the hundreds of published slave narratives,only a handful exist specific to South Carolina, and most of these are not readily available to modern readers. Edited by Susanna Ashton, this collection restores to print seven slave narratives documenting the lived realities of slavery as it existed across the Palmetto State's upcountry, midlands, and lowcountry, from plantation culture to urban servitude. First published between the late eighteenth century and the dawn of the twentieth, these richly detailed firsthand accounts present a representative cross section of slave experiences, from religious awakenings and artisan apprenticeships to sexual exploitations and harrowing escapes. In their distinctive individual voices, narrators celebrate and mourn the lives of fellow slaves, contemplate the meaning of freedom, and share insights into the social patterns and cultural controls exercised during a turbulent period in American history. Each narrative is preceded by an introduction to place its content and publication history in historical context. The volume also features an afterword surveying other significant slave narratives and related historical documents on South Carolina. I Belong to South Carolina reinserts a chorus of powerful voices of the dispossessed into South Carolina's public history, reminding us of the cruelties of the past and the need for vigilant guardianship of liberty in the present and future.
John Andrew Rice’s autobiography, first published to critical acclaim in 1942, is a remarkable tour through late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century America. When the book was suppressed by the publisher soon after its appearance because of legal threats by a college president described in the book, the nation lost a rich first-person historical account of race and class relations during a critical period—not only during the days of Rice’s youth, but at the dawn of the civil rights movement. I Came Out of the Eighteenth Century begins with Rice’s childhood on a South Carolina plantation during the post-Reconstruction era. Later Rice moved to Great Britain when he won a Rhodes scholarship, then to the University of Nebraska to accept a professorship. In 1933 he founded Black Mountain College, a legendary progressive college in North Carolina that uniquely combined creative arts, liberal education, self-government, and a work program. Rice’s observations of social and working conditions in the Jim Crow South, his chronicle of his own fading southern aristocratic family, including its famous politicians, and his acerbic portraits of education bureaucrats are memorable and make this book a resource for scholars and a pleasure for lay readers. Historical facts are leavened with wit and insight; black-white relations are recounted with relentless and unsentimental discernment. Rice combines a sociologist’s eye with a dramatist’s flair in a unique voice. This Southern Classics edition includes a new introduction by Mark Bauerlein and an afterword by Rice’s grandson William Craig Rice, exposing a new generation of readers to John Andrew Rice’s incisive commentaries on the American South before the 1960s and to the work of a powerful prose stylist.
Capturing the rich contrasts of the land and the intimate history of generations in the Mississippi Delta, Into the Flatland, by Kathleen Robbins, is a series of photographs documenting the terrain, people, and culture of her ancestry. The photographer returned to her childhood farm in Bell Chase as an adult in 2001 after completing graduate studies in New Mexico. She and her brother then lived on their family farm for nearly two years, breathing life back into family properties that had been long dormant. In this series, which won the Photo-NOLA prize in 2011, Robbins highlights the diversity of the landscape of the Delta, from expansive, dusty cotton fields to green, vibrant swamps. Her photographs capture the people and the architecture that are present on the land and also reminiscent of a time long past, before the mechanization of farming and the exodus of her people from their native soil. The presence of Robbins’s family in some of her photographs brings an intimacy to her portrait of the Delta and shows the tension between past and present. Including a short story by a National Endowment for the Arts recipient, Cynthia Shearer, Into the Flatland transports the reader into the rich history of Mississippi. At turns both colorful and gray, the photographs capture not only the Delta landscape, but also the stark and rugged images of people and buildings that sink as deeply into the land as the roots of the trees in the woods and swamps. As large masses of birds flock to the vast blue sky, Robbins remains fixed on the ground, her lens trained on the home and the landscape of her past.
The Irish in the Atlantic World presents a transnational and comparative view of the Irish historical and cultural experiences as phenomena transcending traditional chronological, topical, and ethnic paradigms. Edited by David T. Gleeson, this collection of essays offers a robust new vision of the global nature of the Irish diaspora within the Atlantic context from the eighteenth century to the present and makes original inroads for new research in Irish studies. These essays from an international cast of scholars vary in their subject matter from investigations into links between Irish popular music and the United States—including the popularity of American blues music in Belfast during the 1960s and the influences of Celtic balladry on contemporary singer Van Morrison—to a discussion of the migration of Protestant Orangemen to America and the transplanting of their distinctive non-Catholic organizations. Other chapters explore the influence of American politics on the formation of the Irish Free State in 1922, manifestations of nineteenth-century temperance and abolition movements in Irish communities, links between slavery and Irish nationalism in the formation of Irish identity in the American South, the impact of yellow fever on Irish and black labor competition on Charleston's waterfront, the fate of the Irish community at Saint Croix in the Danish West Indies, and other topics. These multidisciplinary essays offer fruitful explanations of how ideas and experiences from around the Atlantic influenced the politics, economics, and culture of Ireland, the Irish people, and the societies where Irish people settled. Taken collectively, these pieces map the web of connectivity between Irish communities at home and abroad as sites of ongoing negotiation in the development of a transatlantic Irish identity.
In Jeremiah and God's Plans of Well-being, Barbara Green explores the prophet Jeremiah as a literary persona of the biblical book through seven periods of his prophetic ministry, focusing on the concerns and circumstances that shaped his struggles. Having confronted the vast complexity of scholarly issues found in the Book of Jeremiah, Green has chosen to examine the literary presentation of the prophet rather than focus on the precise historical details or the speculative processes of composition. What Green exposes is a prophet affected by the dire circumstances of his life, struggling consistently, but ultimately failing at his most urgent task of persuasion. In the first chapter Green examines Jeremiah’s predicament as he is called to minister and faces royal opposition to his message. She then isolates the central crisis of mission, the choice facing Judah, and the sin repeatedly chosen. Delving into the tropes of Jeremiah’s preaching and prophecy, she also analyses the struggle and lament that express Jeremiah’s inability to succeed as an intermediary between God and his people. Next Green explores the characterizations of the kings with whom Jeremiah struggled and his persistence in his ministry despite repeated imprisonment, and, finally, Green focuses on Jeremiah’s thwarted choice to remain in Judah at the end of the first temple period and his descent into Egypt after the assassination of Gedaliah. In Jeremiah and God's Plans of Well-being, Green shows the prophet as vulnerable, even failing at times, while suggesting the significance of his assignment and unlikelihood of success. She explores the complexities of the phenomenon of prophecy and the challenges of preaching unwelcome news during times of uncertainty and crisis. Ultimately Green provides a fresh treatment of a complex biblical text and prophet. In presenting Jeremiah as a literary figure, Green considers how his character continues to live on in the traditions of Judaism and Christianity today.
In Jesus and the Politics of Roman Palestine, Richard A. Horsley offers one of the most comprehensive critical analyses of Jesus of Nazareth’s mission and how he became a significant historical figure. In his study Horsley brings a fuller historical knowledge of the context and implications of recent research to bear on the investigation of the historical Jesus. Breaking with the standard focus on isolated individual sayings of Jesus, Horsley argues that the sources for Jesus in historical interaction are the Gospels and the speeches of Jesus that they include, read critically in their historical context. This work addresses the standard assumptions that the historical Jesus has been presented primarily as a sage or apocalyptic visionary. In contrast, based on a critical reconsideration of the Gospels and contemporary sources for Roman imperial rule in Judea and Galilee, Horsley argues that Jesus was fully involved in the conflicted politics of ancient Palestine. Learning from anthropological studies of the more subtle forms of peasant politics, Horsley discerns from these sources how Jesus, as a Moses- and Elijah-like prophet, generated a movement of renewal in Israel that was focused on village communities. Following the traditional prophetic pattern, Jesus pronounced God’s judgment against the rulers in Jerusalem and their Roman patrons. This confrontation with the Jerusalem rulers and his martyrdom at the hands of the Roman governor, however, became the breakthrough that empowered the rapid expansion of his movement in the immediately ensuing decades. In the broader context of this comprehensive historical construction of Jesus’s mission, Horsley also presents a fresh new analysis of Jesus’s healings and exorcisms and his conflict with the Pharisees, topics that have been generally neglected in the last several decades.
"Mister, most stories about people are sad. The ones about animals sometimes turn out all right, but not them about people," muses a character in master storyteller Paul Ruffin's yarn of obsession and quest "In Search of the Tightrope Walker." Raging against this fated sadness—and often against a deadening and inescapable status quo—the characters in Ruffin's newest collection, Jesus in the Mist, populate an imaginative vision of the hardscrabble Deep South where history, culture, and expectations are set firmly against them. Like Flannery O'Connor before him, Ruffin views the South as dark with humor and rife with violence. He writes of places and times where religion, race, class, sex, abuse, poverty, mythology, and morbidity coalesce to expose humanity at its basest and its most redeeming. Peppered with the vivid dialogue, colorful descriptions, and idiosyncratic comedy that define Ruffin's work, this volume is divided into two sections: the first group of stories addresses complexities of relationships between men and women, and the second recounts episodes of initiation in which characters grapple with divided loyalties. Collectively these stories paint a panoramic view of Southern culture as dynamic characters take a stab at their destinies—and sometimes at each other. Whether they are facing the visage of Christ in a motel bathroom mirror, blasting a murder of crows with military-grade artillery, outrunning a mythical beast through moonlit woods, or taking an armed stance against integration at a gas station water fountain, many of Ruffin's characters are zealots on the edge of reason. Here confidence men, thugs, and rednecks push their agendas on unsuspecting audiences. But there are those as well who search for a lost childhood love, exorcise a sexual predator from the home, return to a discarded life, and spare a man's life when no one would be the wiser. These individuals long for restoration, redemption, and righteousness. Both populations come together in Ruffin's South, where madness and faith hold equal sway and no amount of sadness can keep yearned-for possibilities from still being perceived as attainable.