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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.
Tracing the Public History of the Black Museum Movement
Today well over two hundred museums focusing on African American history and culture can be found throughout the United States and Canada. Many of these institutions trace their roots to the 1960s and 1970s, when the struggle for racial equality inspired a movement within the black community to make the history and culture of African America more “public.” This book tells the story of four of these groundbreaking museums: the DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago (founded in 1961); the International Afro-American Museum in Detroit (1965); the Anacostia Neighborhood Museum in Washington, D.C. (1967); and the African American Museum of Philadelphia (1976). Andrea A. Burns shows how the founders of these institutions, many of whom had ties to the Black Power movement, sought to provide African Americans with a meaningful alternative to the misrepresentation or utter neglect of black history found in standard textbooks and most public history sites. Through the recovery and interpretation of artifacts, documents, and stories drawn from African American experience, they encouraged the embrace of a distinctly black identity and promoted new methods of interaction between the museum and the local community. Over time, the black museum movement induced mainstream institutions to integrate African American history and culture into their own exhibits and educational programs. This often controversial process has culminated in the creation of a National Museum of African American History and Culture, now scheduled to open in the nation’s capital in 2015.
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.
Teen Girls, Mass Media, and Moral Panic in the United States, 1905-2010
From the days of the penny press to the contemporary world of social media, journalistic accounts of teen girls in trouble have been a mainstay of the U.S. news media. Often the stories represent these girls as either victims or whores (and sometimes both), using journalistic storytelling devices and news-gathering practices that question girls’ ability to perform femininity properly, especially as they act in public recreational space. These media accounts of supposed misbehavior can lead to moral panics that then further silence the voices of teenagers and young women. In From the Dance Hall to Facebook, Shayla Thiel-Stern takes a close look at several historical snapshots, including working-class girls in dance halls of the early 1900s; girls’ track and field teams in the 1920s to 1940s; Elvis Presley fans in the mid-1950s; punk rockers in the late 1970s and early 1980s; and girls using the Internet in the early twenty-first century. In each case, issues of gender, socioeconomic status, and race are explored within their historical context. The book argues that by marginalizing and stereotyping teen girls over the past century, mass media have perpetuated a pattern of gendered crisis that ultimately limits the cultural and political power of the young women it covers.
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.
How Politicians Cracked Down on Scientists as the Earth Heated Up
Global warming is the number one environmental issue of our time, yet some prominent politicians have refused to accept scientific evidence of human responsibility and have opposed any legislation or international agreement that would limit greenhouse gas emissions. A few have gone even further and have tried to destroy the reputations of scientists researching climate change by deliberately undermining the credibility of their research. These politicians have sought to sow seeds of doubt in the minds of the public and to weaken public and political support for the control of fossil fuel use. In this powerful book, highly respected climate scientist Raymond Bradley provides the inside story from the front lines of the debate. In clear and direct language, he describes the tactics those in power have used to intimidate him and his colleagues part of a larger pattern of governmental suppression of scientific information, politics at the expense of empirically based discourse. Speaking from his experience, Bradley exposes the fault lines in the global warming debate, while providing a concise primer on climate change. The result is a cautionary tale of how politics and science can become fatally intertwined, written by one scientist who was unwittingly ensnared in a web of political intimidation.