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The African American Roots of Modernism

From Reconstruction to the Harlem Renaissance

James Smethurst

In identifying Jim Crow with the coming of modernity, Smethurst focuses on how artists reacted to the system’s racial territorialization, especially in urban areas, with migration narratives, poetry about the black experience, and black performance of popular culture forms such as ragtime and vaudeville. He shows how black writers such as Fenton Johnson and William Stanley Braithwaite circulated some of the earliest and strongest ideas about an American “bohemia.” Smethurst also upsets the customary assessment of the later Harlem Renaissance as the first and primary site of a nationally significant black arts movement by examining the influence of these earlier writers and artists on the black and white modernists who followed. In so doing, Smethurst brings forward a host of understudied figures while recontextualizing the work of canonical authors such as Charles Chesnutt, Pauline Hopkins, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and James Weldon Johnson. As such, Smethurst positions his work as part of the current growing intellectual conversation about the nature of African American literature and culture between Reconstruction and the Harlem Renaissance. Far from being a “nadir” period, Smethurst argues, this period saw black artists creating cultural forms from which issued some of the most significant literary works of the twentieth century.

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African Cherokees in Indian Territory

From Chattel to Citizens

Celia E. Naylor

Forcibly removed from their homes in the late 1830s, Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, and Chickasaw Indians brought their African-descended slaves with them along the Trail of Tears and resettled in Indian Territory, present-day Oklahoma. Celia E. Naylor vividly charts the experiences of enslaved and free African Cherokees from the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma's entry into the Union in 1907. Carefully extracting the voices of former slaves from interviews and mining a range of sources in Oklahoma, she creates an engaging narrative of the composite lives of African Cherokees. Naylor explores how slaves connected with Indian communities not only through Indian customs--language, clothing, and food--but also through bonds of kinship.

Examining this intricate and emotionally charged history, Naylor demonstrates that the "red over black" relationship was no more benign than "white over black." She presents new angles to traditional understandings of slave resistance and counters previous romanticized ideas of slavery in the Cherokee Nation. She also challenges contemporary racial and cultural conceptions of African-descended people in the United States. Naylor reveals how black Cherokee identities evolved reflecting complex notions about race, culture, "blood," kinship, and nationality. Indeed, Cherokee freedpeople's struggle for recognition and equal rights that began in the nineteenth century continues even today in Oklahoma.

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An African Republic

Black and White Virginians in the Making of Liberia

Marie Tyler-McGraw

The nineteenth-century American Colonization Society (ACS) project of persuading all American free blacks to emigrate to the ACS colony of Liberia could never be accomplished. Few free blacks volunteered, and greater numbers would have overwhelmed the meager resources of the ACS. Given that reality, who supported African colonization and why? No state was more involved with the project than Virginia, where white Virginians provided much of the political and organizational leadership and black Virginians provided a majority of the emigrants. In ###An African Republic#, Marie Tyler-McGraw traces the parallel but seldom intersecting tracks of black and white Virginians' interests in African colonization, from revolutionary-era efforts at emancipation legislation to African American churches' concern for African missions. In Virginia, African colonization attracted aging revolutionaries, republican mothers and their daughters, bondpersons schooled and emancipated for Liberia, evangelical planters and merchants, urban free blacks, opportunistic politicians, Quakers, and gentlemen novelists. ###An African Republic# follows the experiences of the emigrants from Virginia to Liberia, where some became the leadership class, consciously seeking to demonstrate black abilities, while others found greater hardship and early death. Tyler-McGraw carefully examines the tensions between racial identities, domestic visions, and republican citizenship in Virginia and Liberia. In the 19th century, the American Colonization Society sought to rid the U.S. of free blacks (and perhaps all blacks) through a highly controversial program to relocate African Americans to the African nation of Liberia. No state was more involved in this project than Virginia, which provided the initial political organization and sent the most emigrants to the ACS colony. Tyler-McGraw examines the concept of African colonization and the various groups that were attracted to it--for equally various reasons: aging Revolutionaries, republican mothers & their daughters, evangelical planters, Whiggish merchants, urban free blacks, opportunistic politicians, promoters of Virginia’s historic status in the nation, Quakers, and gentlemen novelists. Tyler-McGraw examines the tensions and contradictions among white colonizationists and the negotiations for autonomy between ACS agents and emancipators and the black emigrants. The book follows the experience of those who went to Liberia--some of whom became the leadership class of the country, some of whom found greater misery and hardship than they had experienced in Virginia. Tyler-McGraw’s analysis reveals who supported colonization and why, as well asthe extent to which these events kept alive, in Virginia, the debate over the future and meaning of slavery. The 19th-century American Colonization Society (ACS) project of persuading all American free blacks to emigrate to the ACS colony of Liberia could never be accomplished. Who supported African colonization and why? No state was more involved with the project than Virginia. Tyler-McGraw traces the parallel but seldom intersecting tracks of black and white Virginians' interests in African colonization. African colonization attracted aging revolutionaries, republican mothers and their daughters, bondpersons schooled and emancipated for Liberia, evangelical planters and merchants, urban free blacks, opportunistic politicians, Quakers, and gentlemen novelists. Tyler-McGraw follows the experiences of the emigrants from Virginia to Liberia, where some became the leadership class, consciously seeking to demonstrate black abilities, while others found greater hardship and early death. The nineteenth-century American Colonization Society (ACS) project of persuading all American free blacks to emigrate to the ACS colony of Liberia could never be accomplished. Few free blacks volunteered, and greater numbers would have overwhelmed the meager resources of the ACS. Given that reality, who supported African colonization and why? No state was more involved with the project than Virginia, where white Virginians provided much of the political and organizational leadership and black Virginians provided a majority of the emigrants. In ###An African Republic#, Marie Tyler-McGraw traces the parallel but seldom intersecting tracks of black and white Virginians' interests in African colonization, from revolutionary-era efforts at emancipation legislation to African American churches' concern for African missions. In Virginia, African colonization attracted aging revolutionaries, republican mothers and their daughters, bondpersons schooled and emancipated for Liberia, evangelical planters and merchants, urban free blacks, opportunistic politicians, Quakers, and gentlemen novelists. ###An African Republic# follows the experiences of the emigrants from Virginia to Liberia, where some became the leadership class, consciously seeking to demonstrate black abilities, while others found greater hardship and early death. Tyler-McGraw carefully examines the tensions between racial identities, domestic visions, and republican citizenship in Virginia and Liberia.

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After Aquarius Dawned

How the Revolutions of the Sixties Became the Popular Culture of the Seventies

Judy Kutulas

In this book, Judy Kutulas complicates the common view that the 1970s were a time of counterrevolution against the radical activities and attitudes of the previous decade. Instead, Kutulas argues that the experiences and attitudes that were radical in the 1960s were becoming part of mainstream culture in the 1970s, as sexual freedom, gender equality, and more complex notions of identity, work, and family were normalized through popular culture--television, movies, music, political causes, and the emergence of new communities. Seemingly mundane things like watching The Mary Tyler Moore Show, listening to Carole King songs, donning Birkenstock sandals, or reading Roots were actually critical in shaping Americans' perceptions of themselves, their families, and their relation to authority.

Even as these cultural shifts eventually gave way to a backlash of political and economic conservatism, Kutulas shows that what critics perceive as the narcissism of the 1970s was actually the next logical step in a longer process of assimilating 1960s values like individuality and diversity into everyday life. Exploring such issues as feminism, sexuality, and race, Kutulas demonstrates how popular culture helped many Americans make sense of key transformations in U.S. economics, society, politics, and culture in the late twentieth century.

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An Agrarian Republic

Farming, Antislavery Politics, and Nature Parks in the Civil War Era

Adam Wesley Dean

The familiar story of the Civil War tells of a predominately agricultural South pitted against a rapidly industrializing North. However, Adam Wesley Dean argues that the Republican Party's political ideology was fundamentally agrarian. Believing that small farms owned by families for generations led to a model society, Republicans supported a northern agricultural ideal in opposition to southern plantation agriculture, which destroyed the land's productivity, required constant western expansion, and produced an elite landed gentry hostile to the Union. Dean shows how agrarian republicanism shaped the debate over slavery's expansion, spurred the creation of the Department of Agriculture and the passage of the Homestead Act, and laid the foundation for the development of the earliest nature parks.

Spanning the long nineteenth century, Dean's study analyzes the changing debate over land development as it transitioned from focusing on the creation of a virtuous and orderly citizenry to being seen primarily as a "civilizing" mission. By showing Republicans as men and women with backgrounds in small farming, Dean unveils new connections between seemingly separate historical events, linking this era's views of natural and manmade environments with interpretations of slavery and land policy.

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Agriculture and the Confederacy

Policy, Productivity, and Power in the Civil War South

R. Douglas Hurt

In this comprehensive history, R. Douglas Hurt traces the decline and fall of agriculture in the Confederate States of America. The backbone of the southern economy, agriculture was a source of power that southerners believed would ensure their independence. But, season by season and year by year, Hurt convincingly shows how the disintegration of southern agriculture led to the decline of the Confederacy's military, economic, and political power. He examines regional variations in the Eastern and Western Confederacy, linking the fates of individual crops and different modes of farming and planting to the wider story. After a dismal harvest in late 1864, southerners--faced with hunger and privation throughout the region--ransacked farms in the Shenandoah Valley and pillaged plantations in the Carolinas and the Mississippi Delta, they finally realized that their agricultural power, and their government itself, had failed. Hurt shows how this ultimate lost harvest had repercussions that lasted well beyond the end of the Civil War.

Assessing agriculture in its economic, political, social, and environmental contexts, Hurt sheds new light on the fate of the Confederacy from the optimism of secession to the reality of collapse.

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Ain’t Got No Home

America's Great Migrations and the Making of an Interracial Left

Erin Royston Battat

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Alcohol

A History

Rod Phillips

Whether as wine, beer, or spirits, alcohol has had a constant and often controversial role in social life. In his innovative book on the attitudes toward and consumption of alcohol, Phillips surveys a 9,000-year cultural and economic history, uncovering the tensions between alcoholic drinks as healthy staples of daily diets and as objects of social, political, and religious anxiety.

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Alien Nation

Chinese Migration in the Americas from the Coolie Era through World War II

Elliott Young

In this sweeping work, Elliott Young traces the pivotal century of Chinese migration to the Americas, beginning with the 1840s at the start of the "coolie" trade and ending during World War II. The Chinese came as laborers, streaming across borders legally and illegally and working jobs few others wanted, from constructing railroads in California to harvesting sugar cane in Cuba. Though nations were built in part from their labor, Young argues that they were the first group of migrants to bear the stigma of being "alien." Being neither black nor white and existing outside of the nineteenth century Western norms of sexuality and gender, the Chinese were viewed as permanent outsiders, culturally and legally. It was their presence that hastened the creation of immigration bureaucracies charged with capture, imprisonment, and deportation.

This book is the first transnational history of Chinese migration to the Americas. By focusing on the fluidity and complexity of border crossings throughout the Western Hemisphere, Young shows us how Chinese migrants constructed alternative communities and identities through these transnational pathways.

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