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The Best Planned City in the World

Olmsted, Vaux, and the Buffalo Park System

Francis R. Kowsky New photography by Andy Olenick

Beginning in 1868, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux created a series of parks and parkways for Buffalo, New York, that drew national and international attention. The improvements carefully augmented the city’s original plan with urban design features inspired by Second Empire Paris, including the first system of “parkways” to grace an American city. Displaying the plan at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Olmsted declared Buffalo “the best planned city, as to streets, public places, and grounds, in the United States, if not in the world.” Olmsted and Vaux dissolved their historic partnership in 1872, but Olmsted continued his association with the Queen City of the Lakes, designing additional parks and laying out important sites within the growing metropolis. When Niagara Falls was threatened by industrial development, he led a campaign to protect the site and in 1885 succeeded in persuading New York to create the Niagara Reservation, the present Niagara Falls State Park. Two years later, Olmsted and Vaux teamed up again, this time to create a plan for the area around the Falls, a project the two grand masters regarded as “the most difficult problem in landscape architecture to do justice to.” In this book Francis R. Kowsky illuminates this remarkable constellation of projects. Utilizing original plans, drawings, photographs, and copious numbers of reports and letters, he brings new perspective to this vast undertaking, analyzing it as a cohesive expression of the visionary landscape and planning principles that Olmsted and Vaux pioneered.

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Beyond the Checkpoint

Visual Practices in America's Global War on Terror

Rebecca A. Adelman

Since the 9/11 attacks on U.S. soil, American citizenship has been redefined by the visual images associated with the Global War on Terror (GWOT). Rebecca A. Adelman contends that, in viewing images such as security footage of the 9/11 hijackers, film portrayals of the attacks and subsequent wars, memorials commemorating the attacks, and even graphics associated with increased security in airports, American citizens have been recast as militarized spectators, brought together through the production, circulation, and consumption of these visual artifacts. Beyond the Checkpoint reveals that the visual is essential to the prosecution of the GWOT domestically and abroad, and that it functions as a crucial mechanism in the ongoing formation of the U.S. state itself and an essential component of contemporary American citizenship. Tracing the connections between citizenship and spectatorship, and moving beyond the close reading of visual representations, this book focuses on the institutions and actors that create, monitor, and regulate the visual landscape of the GWOT. Adelman looks around and through common images to follow the complex patterns of practice by which institutions and audiences engage them in various contexts. In the process, she proposes a new methodology for studying visual cultures of conflict, and related phenomena like violence, terror, and suffering that are notoriously difficult to represent. Attending to previously unanalyzed dimensions of this conflict, this book illustrates the complexity of GWOT visual culture and the variegated experiences of citizenship that result as Americans navigate this terrain.

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Beyond Vietnam

The Politics of Protest in Massachusetts, 1974-1990

Robert Surbrug, Jr.

Narratives of the 1960s typically describe an ascending arc of political activism that peaked in 1968, then began a precipitous descent as the revolutionary dreams of the New Left failed to come to fruition. The May 1970 killings at Kent State often stand as an epitaph to a decade of protest, after which the principal story becomes the resurgence of the right. In Beyond Vietnam: The Politics of Protest in Massachusetts, 1974–1990, Robert Surbrug challenges this prevailing paradigm by examining three protest movements that were direct descendants of Vietnam-era activism: the movement against nuclear energy; the nuclear weapons freeze movement; and the Central American solidarity movement. Drawing lessons from the successes and failures of the preceding era, these movements had a significant impact on the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, which itself had been undergoing major transformations in the wake of the 1960s. By focusing on one state—Massachusetts—Surbrug is able to illuminate the interaction between the activist left and mainstream liberalism, showing how each influenced the other and how together they helped shape the politics of the 1970s and 1980s. During these years, Massachusetts emerged as a center of opposition to nuclear power, the continuing Cold War arms race, and Ronald Reagan’s interventionist policies in Central America. The state’s role in national policy was greatly enhanced by prominent political figures such as Senator Edward Kennedy, Speaker of the House Thomas “Tip” O’Neill, presidential candidate Governor Michael Dukakis, Vietnam veteran Senator John Kerry, and moderate Republican Silvio Conte. What Beyond Vietnam shows is that the rise of the right in the aftermath of the 1960s was by no means a unilateral ascendancy. Instead it involved a bifurcation of American politics in which an increasingly strong conservative movement was vigorously contested by an activist left and a reinvigorated mainstream liberalism.

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Binocular Vision

The Politics of Representation in Birdwatching Field Guides

Spencer Schaffner

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.

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The Birth of American Tourism

New York, the Hudson Valley, and American Culture, 1790-1835

Richard H. Gassan

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.

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Birthmark

Stephen Clingman

When Stephen Clingman was two, he underwent an operation to remove a birthmark under his right eye. The operation failed, and the birthmark returned, but in somewhat altered form. In this captivating book, Clingman takes the fact of that mark—its appearance, disappearance, and return—as a guiding motif of memory. Not only was the operation unsuccessful, it affected his vision, and his eyes came to see differently from each other. Birthmark explores the questions raised by living with divided vision in a divided world—the world of South Africa under apartheid, where every view was governed by the markings of birth, the accidents of color, race, and skin. But what were the effects on the mind? Clingman's book engages a number of questions. How, in such circumstances, can we come to a deeper kind of vision? How can we achieve wholeness and acceptance? How can we find our place in the midst of turmoil and change? In a beguiling narrative set on three continents, this is a story that is personal, painful, comic, and ultimately uplifting: a book not so much of the coming of age but the coming of perspective.

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Black Bostonians and the Politics of Culture, 1920-1940

Lorraine Elena Roses

In the 1920s and 1930s Boston became a rich and distinctive site of African American artistic production, unfolding at the same time as the Harlem Renaissance and encompassing literature, theater, music, and visual art. Owing to the ephemeral nature of much of this work, many of the era's primary sources have been lost.

In this book, Lorraine Elena Roses employs archival sources and personal interviews to recover this artistic output, examining the work of celebrated figures such as Dorothy West, Helene Johnson, Meta Warrick Fuller, and Allan Rohan Crite, as well as lesser-known artists including Eugene Gordon, Ralf Coleman, Gertrude "Toki" Schalk, and Alvira Hazzard. Black Bostonians and the Politics of Culture, 1920--1940 demonstrates how this creative community militated against the color line not solely through powerful acts of civil disobedience but also by way of a strong repertoire of artistic projects.

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The Body Distances (A Hundred Blackbirds Rising)

Mark Wagenaar

"Let no lip, shoulder, hip, go untasted tonight. Let no one be unscathed. And as you close the door & fold yourself in sleep against another look for a moment at the empty stretch of dark between heaven & earth: someone is missing from the world . . . " The Body Distances is filled with long, limber, nimble poems at once ecstatic and elegiac. These poems are odes to the miraculous embedded in the everyday, in which “the unlikely continues / to dovetail with the present.”

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The Book of The Play

Playwrights, Stationers, and Readers in Early Modern England

edited by Marta Straznicky

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.

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Books, Maps, and Politics

A Cultural History of the Library of Congress, 1783-1861

Carl Ostrowski

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.

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