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Archives of Desire

The Queer Historical Work of New England Regionalism

J. Samaine Lockwood

In this though-provoking study of nineteenth-century America, J. Samaine Lockwood offers an important new interpretation of the literary movement known as American regionalism. Lockwood argues that regionalism in New England was part of a widespread woman-dominated effort to rewrite history. Lockwood demonstrates that New England regionalism was an intellectual endeavor that overlapped with colonial revivalism and included fiction and history writing, antique collecting, colonial home restoration, and photography. The cohort of writers and artists leading this movement included Sarah Orne Jewett, Alice Morse Earle, and C. Alice Baker, and their project was taken up by women of a younger generation, such as Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins, who extended regionalism through the modernist moment.

Lockwood draws on a diverse archive that includes fiction, material culture, collecting guides, and more. Showing how these women intellectuals aligned themselves with a powerful legacy of social and cultural dissent, Lockwood reveals that New England regionalism performed queer historical work, placing unmarried women and their myriad desires at the center of both regional and national history.

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Archives of Dispossession

Recovering the Testimonios of Mexican American Herederas, 1848–1960

Karen R. Roybal

One method of American territory expansion in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands was the denial of property rights to Mexican landowners, which led to dispossession. Many historical accounts overlook this colonial impact on Indigenous and Mexican peoples, and existing studies that do tackle this subject tend to privilege the male experience. Here, Karen R. Roybal recenters the focus of dispossession on women, arguing that gender, sometimes more than race, dictated legal concepts of property ownership and individual autonomy. Drawing on a diverse source base—legal land records, personal letters, and literature—Roybal locates voices of Mexican American women in the Southwest to show how they fought against the erasure of their rights, both as women and as landowners. Woven throughout Roybal's analysis are these women's testimonios—their stories focusing on inheritance, property rights, and shifts in power. Roybal positions these testimonios as an alternate archive that illustrates the myriad ways in which multiple layers of dispossession—and the changes of property ownership in Mexican law—affected the formation of Mexicana identity.

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Armed with Abundance

Consumerism and Soldiering in the Vietnam War

Meredith H. Lair

Popular representations of the Vietnam War tend to emphasize violence, deprivation, and trauma. By contrast, in Armed with Abundance, Meredith Lair focuses on the noncombat experiences of U.S. soldiers in Vietnam, redrawing the landscape of the war so that swimming pools, ice cream, visits from celebrities, and other "comforts" share the frame with combat.

To address a tenuous morale situation, military authorities, Lair reveals, wielded abundance to insulate soldiers--and, by extension, the American public--from boredom and deprivation, making the project of war perhaps easier and certainly more palatable. The result was dozens of overbuilt bases in South Vietnam that grew more elaborate as the war dragged on. Relying on memoirs, military documents, and G.I. newspapers, Lair finds that consumption and satiety, rather than privation and sacrifice, defined most soldiers' Vietnam deployments. Abundance quarantined the U.S. occupation force from the impoverished people it ostensibly had come to liberate, undermining efforts to win Vietnamese "hearts and minds" and burdening veterans with disappointment that their wartime service did not measure up to public expectations. With an epilogue that finds a similar paradigm at work in Iraq, Armed with Abundance offers a unique and provocative perspective on modern American warfare.

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Army at Home

Women and the Civil War on the Northern Home Front

Judith Giesberg

Introducing readers to women whose Civil War experiences have long been ignored, Judith Giesberg examines the lives of working-class women in the North, for whom the home front was a battlefield of its own.

Black and white working-class women managed farms that had been left without a male head of household, worked in munitions factories, made uniforms, and located and cared for injured or dead soldiers. As they became more active in their new roles, they became visible as political actors, writing letters, signing petitions, moving (or refusing to move) from their homes, and confronting civilian and military officials.

At the heart of the book are stories of women who fought the draft in New York and Pennsylvania, protested segregated streetcars in San Francisco and Philadelphia, and demanded a living wage in the needle trades and safer conditions at the Federal arsenals where they labored. Giesberg challenges readers to think about women and children who were caught up in the military conflict but nonetheless refused to become its collateral damage. She offers a dramatic reinterpretation of how America's Civil War reshaped the lived experience of race and gender and brought swift and lasting changes to working-class family life.

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The Art of Conversion

Christian Visual Culture in the Kingdom of Kongo

Cécile Fromont

Between the sixteenth and the nineteenth centuries, the west central African kingdom of Kongo practiced Christianity and actively participated in the Atlantic world as an independent, cosmopolitan realm. Drawing on an expansive and largely unpublished set of objects, images, and documents, Fromont examines the advent of Kongo Christian visual culture and traces its development across four centuries marked by war, the Atlantic slave trade, and, finally, the rise of nineteenth-century European colonialism. By offering an extensive analysis of the religious, political, and artistic innovations through which the Kongo embraced Christianity, Fromont approaches the country's conversion as a dynamic process that unfolded across centuries.

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The Art of Forgetting

Disgrace and Oblivion in Roman Political Culture

Harriet I. Flower

Elite Romans periodically chose to limit or destroy the memory of a leading citizen who was deemed an unworthy member of the community. Sanctions against memory could lead to the removal or mutilation of portraits and public inscriptions. Harriet Flower provides the first chronological overview of the development of this Roman practice--an instruction to forget--from archaic times into the second century A.D.

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The Ashley Cooper Plan

The Founding of Carolina and the Origins of Southern Political Culture

Thomas D Wilson

In this highly original work, Thomas D. Wilson offers surprising new insights into the origins of the political storms we witness today. Wilson connects the Ashley Cooper Plan--a seventeenth-century model for a well-ordered society imagined by Anthony Ashley Cooper (1st Earl of Shaftesbury) and his protege John Locke--to current debates about views on climate change, sustainable development, urbanism, and professional expertise in general. In doing so, he examines the ways that the city design, political culture, ideology, and governing structures of the Province of Carolina have shaped political acts and public policy even in the present. Wilson identifies one of the fundamental paradoxes of American history: although Ashley Cooper and Locke based their model of rational planning on assumptions of equality, the lure of profits to be had from slaveholding soon undermined its utopian qualities. Wilson argues that in the transition to a slave society, the "Gothic" framework of the Carolina Fundamental Constitutions was stripped of its original imperative of class reciprocity, reverberating in American politics to this day.

Reflecting on contemporary culture, Wilson argues that the nation's urban-rural divide rooted in this earlier period has corrosively influenced American character, pitting one demographic segment against another. While illuminating the political philosophies of Ashley Cooper and Locke as they relate to cities, Wilson also provides those currently under attack by antiurbanists--from city planners to climate scientists--with a deeper understanding of the intellectual origins of a divided America and the long history that reinforces it.

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Ask and Tell

Gay and Lesbian Veterans Speak Out

Steve Estes

Drawing on more than 50 interviews with gay and lesbian veterans, Steve Estes charts the evolution of policy toward homosexuals in the military over the past 65 years, uncovering the ways that silence about sexuality and military service has affected the identities of gay veterans. These veteran voices--harrowing, heroic, and on the record--reveal the extraordinary stories of ordinary Americans, men and women who simply did their duty and served their country in the face of homophobia, prejudice, and enemy fire. Far from undermining national security, unit cohesion, or troop morale, Estes demonstrates, these veterans strengthened the U.S. military in times of war and peace. He also examines challenges to the ban on homosexual service, placing them in the context of the wider movement for gay rights and gay liberation. ###Ask and Tell# is an important compilation of unheard voices, offering Americans a new understanding of the value of ###all# the men and women who serve and protect them.

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At the Precipice

Americans North and South during the Secession Crisis

Shearer Davis Bowman

The third volume in the Littlefield series, this manuscript by Dave Bowman follows (chronologically) Liz Varon's Disunion!, which dealt with the long process of separation of the two regions and its roots in the Constitutional and Federal periods. Bowman's study takes readers into the secession crisis itself, examining the thoughts and actions of key individuals including Lincoln, Buchanan, Davis, Tyler, Van Buren and others. In focusing on major figures from the period and their interactions, Bowman sets his work apart from those that view the crisis through the lenses of major forces, events, and developments. This approach provides especially keen insight into what Americans North and South on the eve of the Civil War believed and thought about themselves and the political, social, and cultural worlds in which they lived, and how their assumptions and thoughts informed their actions and decisions.

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Atlanta, Cradle of the New South

Race and Remembering in the Civil War's Aftermath

William A. Link

After conquering Atlanta in the summer of 1864 and occupying it for two months, Union forces laid waste to the city in November. William T. Sherman's invasion was a pivotal moment in the history of the South and Atlanta's rebuilding over the following fifty years came to represent the contested meaning of the Civil War itself. The war's aftermath brought contentious transition from Old South to New for whites and African Americans alike. Historian William Link argues that this struggle defined the broader meaning of the Civil War in the modern South, with no place embodying the region's past and future more clearly than Atlanta.
Link frames the city as both exceptional--because of the incredible impact of the war there and the city's phoenix-like postwar rise--and as a model for other southern cities. He shows how, in spite of the violent reimposition of white supremacy, freedpeople in Atlanta built a cultural, economic, and political center that helped to define black America.

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