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Race, Nostalgia, and Vocal Group Harmony
Music can be a storehouse for emotional, social, and cultural experiences that deepen and acquire greater value over time. This is a book about a particular genre of vocal harmony music called doo-wop that has accrued deep meaning and affective power among Americans since its inception in the aftermath of World War II. Although the first doo-wop singers were primarily young black males in major American cities, it wasn’t long before white working-class teenagers began emulating their rhythm-and-blues harmonies. The racial exchange of this distinctive genre and the social bonding it engendered have had a significant and lasting impact on American musical culture. In Forever Doo-Wop, John Runowicz traces the history of this music from its origins in nineteenth-century barbershop quartets through its emergence in the postwar era to its nostalgic adulthood from the mid-1960s to today. The book is based on interviews he has conducted and observations he has made over the last twenty-two years working as guitarist, musical director, and second tenor with one of the legendary doo-wop groups, the Cadillacs, on what is popularly known as the “oldies circuit.” As a graduate student, he broadened his research to include the wider doo-wop community. Forever Doo-Wop invites readers to gaze through a window on our society and culture where certain truths are revealed about how white and black Americans coexist and interact, about how popular music functions as a vehicle for nostalgia, and about the role of music making over a long lifetime.
The Use and Abuse of a Decade from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush
Over the past quarter century, American liberals and conservatives alike have invoked memories of the 1960s to define their respective ideological positions and to influence voters. Liberals recall the positive associations of what might be called the “good Sixties”—the “Camelot” years of JFK, the early civil rights movement, and the dreams of the Great Society—while conservatives conjure images of the “bad Sixties”—a time of urban riots, antiwar protests, and countercultural revolt. In Framing the Sixties, Bernard von Bothmer examines this battle over the collective memory of the decade primarily through the lens of presidential politics. He shows how four presidents—Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush—each sought to advance his political agenda by consciously shaping public understanding of the meaning of “the Sixties.” He compares not only the way that each depicted the decade as a whole, but also their commentary on a set of specific topics: the presidency of John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” initiatives, the civil rights movement, and the Vietnam War. In addition to analyzing the pronouncements of the presidents themselves, von Bothmer draws on interviews he conducted with more than one hundred and twenty cabinet members, speechwriters, advisers, strategists, historians, journalists, and activists from across the political spectrum—from Julian Bond, Daniel Ellsberg, Todd Gitlin, and Arthur Schlesinger to James Baker, Robert Bork, Phyllis Schlafly, and Paul Weyrich. It is no secret that the upheavals of the 1960s opened fissures within American society that have continued to affect the nation’s politics and to intensify its so-called culture wars. What this book documents is the extent to which political leaders, left and right, consciously exploited those divisions by “framing” the memory of that turbulent decade to serve their own partisan interests.
Critical Perspectives on Women and Food
In recent years, scholars from a variety of disciplines have turned their attention to food to gain a better understanding of history, culture, economics, and society. The emerging field of food studies has yielded a great deal of useful research and a host of publications. Missing, however, has been a focused effort to use gender as an analytic tool. This stimulating collection of original essays addresses that oversight, investigating the important connections between food studies and women’s studies. Applying the insights of feminist scholarship to the study of food, the thirteen essays in this volume are arranged under four headings—the marketplace, histories, representations, and resistances. The editors open the book with a substantial introduction that traces the history of scholarly writing on food and maps the terrain of feminist food studies. In the essays that follow, contributors pay particular attention to the ways in which gender, race, ethnicity, class, colonialism, and capitalism have both shaped and been shaped by the production and consumption of food. In the first section, four essays analyze the influence of large corporations in determining what came to be accepted as proper meals in the United States, including what mothers were expected to feed their babies. The essays in the second section explore how women have held families together by keeping them nourished, from the routines of an early nineteenth-century New Englander to the plight of women who endured the siege of Leningrad. The essays in the third section focus on the centrality of gender and race in the formation of identities as enacted through food discourse and practices. These case studies range from the Caribbean to the San Luis Valley of Colorado. The final section documents acts of female resistance within the contexts of national or ethnic oppression. From women in colonial India to Armenian American feminists, these essays show how food has served as a means to assert independence and personal identity. In addition to the editors, contributors include Amy Bentley, Carole M. Counihan, Darra Goldstein, Nancy Jenkins, Alice P. Julier, Leslie Land, Laura Lindenfield, Beheroze F. Shroff, Sharmila Sen, Laura Shapiro, and Jan Whitaker.
The Worcester Slave Narratives
First published between 1842 and 1895, the autobiographical narratives gathered in this volume document the experiences of eight former slaves who eventually took up residence in Worcester, Massachusetts. Each narrative tells a gripping individual story, its author clearly visible in the dress of his or her own words. Together they illuminate not only the inhumanity of slavery but also the dreams and dilemmas of emancipation, tracing the personal journeys of seven men and one woman from bondage to freedom. In their well-researched introduction, B. Eugene McCarthy and Thomas L. Doughton situate the Worcester slave narratives within a broader historical framework and analyze their meaning and significance. Drawing on a wide range of sources, they reconstruct the black community of Worcester and compare it with other New England black communities of the time, describing how the town evolved from a society with slaves in the colonial era to a hub for free blacks by the eve of the Civil War. They explain why these writings must be understood as part of a long-established tradition of African American self-representation, and show how the four narratives published before 1865 focus on the experience of slavery, while the four written after the war offer the fresh perspective of living in freedom. Headnotes describe the distinctive literary features of each narrative and provide additional information about the lives of the authors. The editors discuss why these ex-slaves came to Worcester, the circumstances in which each wrote his or her narrative, and the audiences they had in mind. No other collection of slave narratives offers such a diverse range of testimony within a specific historical and literary context, or a more compelling account of the transition from bondage to belonging.
Reading at the Turn of the Twenty-first Century
The start of the twenty-first century has brought with it a rich variety of ways in which readers can connect with one another, access texts, and make sense of what they are reading. At the same time, new technologies have also opened up exciting possibilities for scholars of reading and reception in offering them unprecedented amounts of data on reading practices, book buying patterns, and book collecting habits. In From Codex to Hypertext, scholars from multiple disciplines engage with both of these strands. This volume includes essays that consider how changes such as the mounting ubiquity of digital technology and the globalization of structures of publication and book distribution are shaping the way readers participate in the encoding and decoding of textual meaning. Contributors also examine how and why reading communities cohere in a range of contexts, including prisons, book clubs, networks of zinesters, state-funded programs designed to promote active citizenship, and online spaces devoted to sharing one’s tastes in books. As concerns circulate in the media about the ways that reading—for so long anchored in print culture and the codex—is at risk of being irrevocably altered by technological shifts, this book insists on the importance of tracing the historical continuities that emerge between these reading practices and those of previous eras. In addition to the volume editor, contributors include Daniel Allington, Bethan Benwell, Jin Feng, Ed Finn, Danielle Fuller, David S. Miall, Julian Pinder, Janice Radway, Julie Rak, DeNel Rehberg Sedo, Megan Sweeney, Joan Bessman Taylor, Molly Abel Travis, and David Wright.
The Visual and Popular Cultures of the Spanish-American War of 1898
The American people overwhelmingly supported the nation’s entry into the Spanish-American War of 1898, which led to U.S. imperial expansion into the Caribbean and Pacific. In this book, Bonnie M. Miller explores the basis of that support, showing how the nation’s leading media makers—editorialists, cartoonists, filmmakers, photographers, and stage performers—captured the public’s interest in the Cuban crisis with heart-rending depictions of Cuban civilians, particularly women, brutalized by bloodthirsty Spanish pirates. Although media campaigns initially advocated for the United States to step in to rescue Cuba from the horrors of colonial oppression, the war ended just months later with the U.S. acquisition of Spain’s remaining empire, including Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines. President William McKinley heeded the call for war, with the American people behind him, and then proceeded to use the conflict to further his foreign policy agenda of expanding U.S. interests in the Caribbean and Far East. Miller examines the shifting media portrayals of U.S. actions for the duration of the conflict, from liberation to conquest. She shows how the media capitalized on the public’s thirst for drama, action, and spectacle and adapted to emerging imperial possibilities. Growing resistance to American imperialism by the war’s end unraveled the consensus in support of U.S policy abroad and produced a rich debate that found expression in American visual and popular culture.
Postmodern History and American Fiction
Why don't we read novels as if they were histories and histories as if they were novels? Recent postmodern theorists such as Hayden White and Linda Hutcheon have argued that since history is a narrative art, it must be understood as a form of narrative representation analogous to fiction. Yet, contrary to the fears of some historians, such arguments have not undermined the practice of history as a meaningful enterprise so much as they have highlighted the appeal history has as a narrative craft. In addressing the postmodernist claim that history works no differently than fiction, Timothy Parrish rejects the implication that history is dead or hopelessly relativistic. Rather, he shows how the best postmodern novelists compel their readers to accept their narratives as true in the same way that historians expect their readers to accept their narratives as true. These novelists write history as a form of fiction. If the great pre-modernist American historians are Francis Parkman, George Bancroft, and Henry Adams, who are the great modernist or postmodernist historians? In the twentieth century, Parrish argues, the most powerful works of American history were written by William Faulkner, Toni Morrison, Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo, Joan Didion, and Cormac McCarthy. What survives a reading of these novels is the sense that writers otherwise identified as multicultural or postmodern share the view that nothing matters more than history and what one believes its possibilities to be. In other words, Parrish concludes, history, not identity, is the ground of postmodern American fiction.
The Making of Portland, Maine
Situated on a peninsula jutting into picturesque Casco Bay, Portland has long been admired for its geographical setting—the “beautiful city by the sea,” as native son Henry Wadsworth Longfellow called it. At the same time, Portland’s deep, ice-free port has made it an ideal site for the development of coastal commerce and industry. Much of the city’s history, John F. Bauman shows, has been defined by the effort to reconcile the competing interests generated by these attributes—to balance the imperatives of economic growth with a desire to preserve Portland’s natural beauty. Caught in the crossfire of British and French imperial ambitions throughout the colonial era, Portland emerged as a prosperous shipbuilding center and locus of trade in the decades following the American Revolution. During the nineteenth century it became a busy railroad hub and winter port for Canadian grain until a devastating fire in 1866 reduced much of the city to ruins. Civic leaders responded by reinventing Portland as a tourist destination, building new hotels, parks, and promenades, and proclaiming it the “Gateway to Vacationland.” After losing its grain trade in the 1920s and suffering through the Great Depression, Portland withered in the years following World War II as it wrestled with the problems of deindustrialization, suburbanization, and an aging downtown. Efforts at urban renewal met with limited success until the 1980s, when a concerted plan of historic preservation and the restoration of the Old Port not only revived the tourist trade but eventually established Portland as one of America’s “most livable cities.”
A Social History of the Belchertown State School for the Feeble-Minded
During much of the twentieth century, people labeled “feeble-minded,” “mentally deficient,” and “mentally retarded” were often confined in large, publicly funded, residential institutions located on the edges of small towns and villages some distance from major population centers. At the peak of their development in the late 1960s, these institutions—frequently called “schools” or “homes”—housed 190,000 men, women, and children in the United States. The Girls and Boys of Belchertown offers the first detailed history of an American public institution for intellectually disabled persons. Robert Hornick recounts the story of the Belchertown State School in Belchertown, Massachusetts, from its beginnings in the 1920s to its closure in the 1990s following a scandalous exposé and unprecedented court case that put the institution under direct supervision of a federal judge. He draws on personal interviews, private letters, and other unpublished sources as well as local newspapers, long out-of-print materials, and government reports to re-create what it was like to live and work at the school. More broadly, he gauges the impact of changing social attitudes toward intellectual disability and examines the relationship that developed over time between the school and the town where it was located. What emerges is a candid and complex portrait of the Belchertown State School that neither vilifies those in charge nor excuses the injustices perpetrated on its residents, but makes clear that despite the court-ordered reforms of its final decades, the institution needed to be closed.
An abandoned girl, a savaged heart, a fatal hit and run—the thirteen stories in this powerful collection explore the scattered wreckage of life’s survivors. The characters in Girls in Trouble struggle to overcome loss and find their way through a world of desire and menace, redemption and error. Normalcy, a state always just beyond reach, glitters and beckons, impelling them forward. A relationship disintegrates while a pot of crabs boils. A man vows to end his destructive lifestyle before it ruins his family and future. A young woman fights to free herself from the weight of an unwanted inheritance. A girl finds herself lost in the storm of her parent’s break up. These stories crackle and sing with an urgency and longing that lingers long after the last page is read.