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The Politics of Representation in Birdwatching Field Guides
From meadows to marshlands, seashores to suburbs, field guides help us identify many of the things we find outdoors: plants, insects, mammals, birds. In these texts, nature is typically represented, both in words and images, as ordered, clean, and untouched by human technology and development. This preoccupation with species identification, however, has produced an increasingly narrow view of nature, a “binocular vision,” that separates the study of individual elements from a range of larger, interconnected environmental issues. In this book, Spencer Schaffner reconsiders this approach to nature study by focusing on how birds are presented in field guides. Starting with popular books from the late nineteenth century and moving ultimately to the electronic guides of the current day, Binocular Vision contextualizes birdwatching field guides historically, culturally, and in terms of a wide range of important environmental issues. Schaffner questions the assumptions found in field guides to tease out their ideological workings. He argues that the sanitized world represented in these guides misleads readers by omitting industrial landscapes and so-called nuisance birds, leaving users of the guides disconnected from environmental degradation and its impact on bird populations. By putting field guides into direct conversation with concerns about species conservation, environmental management, the human alteration of the environment, and the problem of toxic pollution, Binocular Vision is a field guide to field guides that takes a novel perspective on how we think about and interact with the world around us.
New York, the Hudson Valley, and American Culture, 1790-1835
Today the idea of traveling within the United States for leisure purposes is so commonplace it is hard to imagine a time when tourism was not a staple of our cultural life. Yet as Richard H. Gassan persuasively demonstrates, at the beginning of the nineteenth century travel for leisure was strictly an aristocratic luxury beyond the means of ordinary Americans. It wasn't until the second decade of the century that the first middle-class tourists began to follow the lead of the well-to-do, making trips up the Hudson River valley north of New York City, and in a few cases beyond. At first just a trickle, by 1830 the tide of tourism had become a flood, a cultural change that signaled a profound societal shift as the United States stepped onto the road that would eventually lead to a modern consumer society. According to Gassan, the origins of American tourism in the Hudson Valley can be traced to a confluence of historical accidents, including the proximity of the region to the most rapidly growing financial and population center in the country, with its expanding middle class, and the remarkable beauty of the valley itself. But other developments also played a role, from the proliferation of hotels to accommodate tourists, to the construction of an efficient transportation network to get them to their destinations, to the creation of a set of cultural attractions that invested their experience with meaning. In the works of Washington Irving and James Fenimore Cooper and the paintings of Thomas Cole and others of the Hudson River School, travelers in the region encountered the nation's first literary and artistic movements. Tourism thus did more than provide an escape from the routines of everyday urban life; it also helped Americans of the early republic shape a sense of national identity.
Playwrights, Stationers, and Readers in Early Modern England
The Book of the Play is a collection of essays that examines early modern drama in the context of book history. Focusing on the publication, marketing, and readership of plays opens fresh perspectives on the relationship between the cultures of print and performance and more broadly between drama and the public sphere. Marta Straznicky’s introduction offers a survey of approaches to the history of play reading in this period, and the collection as a whole consolidates recent work in textual, bibliographic, and cultural studies of printed drama. Individually, the essays advance our understanding of play reading as a practice with distinct material forms, discourses, social settings, and institutional affiliation. Part One, “Real and Imagined Communities,” includes four essays on play-reading communities and the terms in which they are distinguished from the reading public at large. Cyndia Clegg surveys the construction of readers in prefaces to published plays; Lucy Munro traces three separate readings of a single play, Edward Sharpham’s The Fleer; Marta Straznicky studies women as readers of printed drama; and Elizabeth Sauer describes how play reading was mobilized for political purposes in the period of the civil war. In Part Two, “Play Reading and the Book Trade,” five essays consider the impact of play reading on the public sphere through the lens of publishing practices. Zachary Lesser offers a revisionist account of black-letter typeface and the extent to which it may be understood as an index of popular culture; Alan Farmer examines how the emerging news trade of the 1620s and 1630s affected the marketing of printed drama; Peter Berek traces the use of generic terms on title pages of plays to reveal their intersection with the broader culture of reading; Lauren Shohet demonstrates that the Stuart masque had a parallel existence in the culture of print; and Douglas Brooks traces the impact print had on eclipsing performance as the medium in which the dramatist could legitimately lay claim to having authored his text. The individual essays focus on selected communities of readers, publication histories, and ideologies and practices of reading; the collection as a whole demonstrates the importance of textual production and reception to understanding the place of drama in the early modern public sphere.
A Cultural History of the Library of Congress, 1783-1861
Delving into the origins and development of the Library of Congress, this volume ranges from the first attempt to establish a national legislative library in 1783 to the advent of the Civil War. Carl Ostrowski shows how the growing and changing Library was influenced by—and in turn affected—major intellectual, social, historical, and political trends that occupied the sphere of public discourse in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century America. The author explores the relationship between the Library and the period's expanding print culture. He identifies the books that legislators required to be placed in the Library and establishes how these volumes were used. His analysis of the earliest printed catalogs of the Library reveals that law, politics, economics, geography, and history were the subjects most assiduously collected. These books provided government officials with practical guidance in domestic legislation and foreign affairs, including disputes with European powers over territorial boundaries. Ostrowski also discusses a number of secondary functions of the Library, one of which was to provide reading material for the entertainment and instruction of government officials and their families. As a result, the richness of America's burgeoning literary culture from the 1830s to the 1860s was amply represented on the Library's shelves. For those with access to its Capitol rooms, the Library served an important social function, providing a space for interaction and the display and appreciation of American works of art. Ostrowski skillfully demonstrates that the history of the Library of Congress offers a lens through which we can view changing American attitudes toward books, literature, and the relationship between the federal government and the world of arts and letters.
Birth, Commemoration, and American Public Memory
Scores of birthplace monuments and historic childhood homes dot the American landscape. These special places, many dating to the early years of the last century, have enshrined nativity alongside patriotism and valor among the key pillars of the nation’s popular historical imagination. The essays in this volume suggest that the way Americans have celebrated famous births reflects evolving expectations of citizenship as well as a willingness to edit the past when those hopes go unfulfilled. The contributors also demonstrate that the reinvention of origin myths at birthplace monuments still factors in American political culture and the search for meaning in an ever-shifting global order. Beyond asking why it is that Americans care about birthplaces and how they choose which ones to commemorate, Born in the U.S.A. offers insights from historians, curators, interpretive specialists, and others whose experience speaks directly to the challenges of managing historical sites. Each essay points to new ways of telling old stories at these mainstays of American memory. The case of the modern house museum receives special attention in a provocative concluding essay by Patricia West. In addition to West and the editor, contributors include Christine Arato, Dan Currie, Keith A. Erekson, David Glassberg, Anna Thompson Hajdik, Zachary J. Lechner, Paul Lewis, Hilary Iris Lowe, Cynthia Miller, Laura Lawfer Orr, Robert Paynter, Angela Phelps, and Paul Reber.
Voices and Visions
“New England was founded consciously, and in no fit of absence of mind,” observed historian Samuel Eliot Morison on the establishment of the Bay Colony in 1630 on the narrow, mountainous Shawmut peninsula of what became Massachusetts. That self-conscious presence of mind has endured for four centuries. Boston has been shaped and sustained by observation, imagination, and interpretation. As a result, the evolving vision of Boston has yielded a compelling literary record. In this wide-ranging anthology, Shaun O’Connell includes a generous sampling of those who have recorded, revised, and redefined the vision of Boston. Anne Bradstreet, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry James, W. E. B. Du Bois, Mary Antin, Edwin O’Connor, John Updike, and many others eloquently evoke and explain Boston in these pages. From John Winthrop’s “city upon a hill” sermon, delivered aboard the Arbella before his followers landed in 1630 in the place they would call Boston, to Robert Lowell’s “For the Union Dead,” a poem delivered in Boston’s Public Garden in 1960, writers have continued to invoke the high purposes for which the city was founded, sometimes in praise of the city, but often in what Robert Frost named a “lover’s quarrel,” in works that called attention to the city’s failures to fulfill its promises. In the twenty-first century some writers continue to celebrate or to castigate the city, while others look back to Boston’s origins to reassess its founders and renew its covenant of high purpose. This is an interpretive anthology—one that includes commentary as well as writings. Section introductions provide historical and biographical context, offer analysis that stresses the thematic relevance of each selection, and explore the pattern of their relations. Rather than present a random array of writers who happen to have been Greater Bostonians, O’Connell focuses on those authors who possessed a commitment to the sense of place, those who addressed Boston not only as a geographical, social, and political entity but as an image, idea, and site of symbolic values
Rap Music and Local Identity in New Orleans
Over the course of the twentieth century, African Americans in New Orleans helped define the genres of jazz, rhythm and blues, soul, and funk. In recent decades, younger generations of New Orleanians have created a rich and dynamic local rap scene, which has revolved around a dance-oriented style called “bounce.” Hip-hop has been the latest conduit for a “New Orleans sound” that lies at the heart of many of the city’s best-known contributions to earlier popular music genres. Bounce, while globally connected and constantly evolving, reflects an enduring cultural continuity that reaches back and builds on the city’s rich musical and cultural traditions. In this book, the popular music scholar and filmmaker Matt Miller explores the ways in which participants in New Orleans’s hip-hop scene have collectively established, contested, and revised a distinctive style of rap that exists at the intersection of deeply rooted vernacular music traditions and the modern, globalized economy of commercial popular music. Like other forms of grassroots expressive culture in the city, New Orleans rap is a site of intense aesthetic and economic competition that reflects the creativity and resilience of the city’s poor and working-class African Americans.
Black Women's Resistance in the U.S. South and South Africa
In the mid-1950s, as many developing nations sought independence from colonial rule, black women in the American South and in South Africa launched parallel campaigns to end racial injustice within their respective communities. Just as the dignified obstinacy of Mrs. Rosa Parks sparked the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955, the 20,000 South African women who marched in Pretoria a year later to protest the pass laws signaled a new wave of resistance to the system of apartheid. In both places women who had previously been consigned to subordinate roles brought fresh leadership to the struggle for political freedom and social equality. In this book, Pamela E. Brooks tells their story, documenting the extraordinary achievements of otherwise ordinary women.In comparing the experiences of black women activists in two different parts of the African diaspora, Brooks draws heavily on oral histories that provide clear, and often painful, insight into their backgrounds, their motives, their hopes, and their fears. We learn how black women from all walks of life—domestic and factory workers, householders, teachers, union organizers, churchwomen, clubwomen, rural and urban dwellers alike—had to overcome their class differences and work through the often difficult gender relations within their families and communities. Yet eventually they came together to forge their own political organizations, such as the Women’s Political Council and the Federation of South African Women, or joined orga-nizations of women and men, such as the Montgomery Improvement Association and the African National Congress, to advance the common agenda of black liberation.By tracing the dual rise of political consciousness and activism among the black women of the U.S. South and South Africa, Brooks not only illuminates patterns that have long been overlooked but places that shared history within the context of a larger global struggle to bring an end to the vestiges of European colonialism.
In this exhilarating collection of stories, Dwight Yates delivers the range of characters suggested in the title, many of them struggling to salvage situations they feel have been thrust upon them. Yet the smoking gun that accounts for the hole in the foot, is, more often than not, in the hand of the protagonist complaining of the pain. Self-delusion courts self-destruction in these stories, but not without relief, since revelation is always possible and redemption just might come tumbling after. Though the stakes are sometimes low and the circumstances more rueful than tragic, Yates illuminates the gulf between expectation and reality with humor and compassion. Seduction does not inevitably lead to abandonment in these tales, although that is certainly one outcome. A disastrous young marriage is another. In one case, a seducer comes to see that a chance encounter with an old flame has not closed an incomplete narrative from the past, but most likely has opened a perilous new chapter. Other stories investigate dormant dread awakened by the hiccup of circumstance. A family man's decision to stop and assist a stalled motorist does not imperil his family as his wife fears. Yet the encounter reveals a burden of faith and guilt that continues to haunt this Samaritan and prompts his irrational, yet perhaps admirable, behavior. In another family tale, a father struggles with the imminent independence of his daughter, a struggle that, like much in his life, is distorted by his curious infatuation with the insomnia afflicting him. The collection's final piece concerns an aging, retired accountant who, stricken with intimations of mortality, hastily attempts to become well loved and eventually handsomely eulogized by undertaking good works, an undertaking he persists in pursuing against mounting odds. Men and women tell many of their own stories here. In other outings, the telling rests with bemused and attentive narrators, crowding in close, better to witness the charm and folly of the memorable characters assembled in this prize-winning collection.
The Architecture of Gridley J.F. Bryant
Much of Boston's rich heritage of Victorian buildings dates from the mid-nineteenth century when Gridley James Fox Bryant (1816–1899) dominated the profession of architecture in the city. At that time, Boston was undergoing a transformation from a quaint post-colonial town to a rapidly expanding Victorian metropolis. Bryant led this transformation, providing an important link between the earlier architecture of Charles Bulfinch and Alexander Parris and the later work of such practitioners as H. H. Richardson and Peabody & Stearns. In Building Victorian Boston, Roger Reed focuses on representative projects by Bryant, presenting them in a chronological narrative that both illuminates the trajectory of his career and creates a portrait of the profession of architecture during a defining period of New England history. Bryant designed more major buildings in Boston from 1840 to 1880 than any other architect. He also undertook commissions throughout New England, especially in towns linked to Boston by newly constructed railroad lines. In many ways, his practice presaged aspects of modern architectural firms. His ability to work with a variety of designers, his expertise in construction management, and his exceptional talent for self-promotion all contributed to his success. Although by the time of his death his work was no longer fashionable, newspaper accounts noted the passing of the "Famed Bostonian" and "Great Builder" whose career had had such a dramatic impact on the face of the city. For this volume, Reed has tracked down hundreds of Bryant's drawings as well as specifications, letters, newspaper articles, published renderings, and historical photographs. These materials are amply represented in this book, the definitive study of a quintessential Victorian architect.