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Couldn't Have a Wedding without the Fiddler

The Story of Traditional Fiddling on Prince Edward Island

Ken Perlman

Canada’s Prince Edward Island is home to one of the oldest and most vibrant fiddling traditions in North America. First established by Scottish immigrants in the late eighteenth century, it incorporated the influence of a later wave of Irish immigrants as well as the unique rhythmic sensibilities of the Acadian French, the Island’s first European inhabitants. In Couldn’t Have a Wedding without the Fiddler, renowned musician and folklorist Ken Perlman combines oral history, ethnography, and musical insight to present a captivating portrait of Prince Edward Island fiddling and its longstanding importance to community life. This book draws heavily on interviews conducted with 150 fiddlers and other “Islanders” whose memories span decades. The book thus colorfully brings to life a time not so very long ago when virtually any occasion—a wedding, harvest, house warming, holiday, or the need to raise money for local institutions such as schools and churches—was sufficient excuse to hold a dance, with the fiddle player at the center of the celebration. Perlman explores how fiddling skills and traditions were learned and passed down through the generations and how individual fiddlers honed their distinctive playing styles. He also examines the Island’s history and material culture, fiddlers’ values and attitudes, the role of radio and recordings, the fiddlers’ repertoire, fiddling contests, and the ebb and flow of the fiddling tradition, including efforts over the last few decades to keep the music alive in the face of modernization and the passing of “old-timers.” Rounding out the book is a rich array of photographs, musical examples, dance diagrams, and a discography. The inaugural volume in the Charles K. Wolfe American Music Series, Couldn’t Have a Wedding without the Fiddler is, in the words of series editor Ted Olson, “clearly among the more significant studies of a local North American music tradition to be published in recent years.”

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Crossing Black

Mixed-Race Identity in Modern American Fiction and Culture

Sika A. Dagbovie-Mullins

The past two decades have seen a growing influx of biracial discourse in fiction, memoir, and theory, and since the 2008 election of Barack Obama to the presidency, debates over whether America has entered a “post-racial” phase have set the media abuzz. In this penetrating and provocative study, Sika A. Dagbovie-Mullins adds a new dimension to this dialogue as she investigates the ways in which various mixed-race writers and public figures have redefined both “blackness” and “whiteness” by invoking multiple racial identities.
    Focusing on several key novels—Nella Larsen’s Quicksand (1928), Lucinda Roy’s Lady Moses (1998), and Danzy Senna’s Caucasia (1998)—as well as memoirs by Obama, James McBride, and Rebecca Walker and the personae of singer Mariah Carey and actress Halle Berry, Dagbovie-Mullins challenges conventional claims about biracial identification with a concept she calls “black-sentient mixed-race identity.” Whereas some multiracial organizations can diminish blackness by, for example, championing the inclusion of multiple-race options on census forms and similar documents, a black-sentient consciousness stresses a perception rooted in blackness—“a connection to a black consciousness,” writes the author, “that does not overdetermine but still plays a large role in one’s racial identification.” By examining the nuances of this concept through close readings of fiction, memoir, and the public images of mixed-race celebrities, Dagbovie-Mullins demonstrates how a “black-sentient mixed-race identity reconciles the widening separation between black/white mixed race and blackness that has been encouraged by contemporary mixed-race politics and popular culture.”
    A book that promises to spark new debate and thoughtful reconsiderations of an especially timely topic, Crossing B(l)ack recognizes and investigates assertions of a black-centered mixed-race identity that does not divorce a premodern racial identity from a postmodern racial fluidity.

SIKA A. DAGBOVIE-MULLINS is associate professor in the Department of English at Florida Atlantic University. Her articles have appeared in African American Review, the Journal of Popular Culture, and other publications.

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D-Day Remembered

The Normandy Landings in American Collective Memory

by Michael R. Dolksi

D-Day, the Allied invasion of northwestern France in June 1944, has remained in the forefront of American memories of the Second World War to this day. Depictions in books, news stories, documentaries, museums, monuments, memorial celebrations, speeches, games, and Hollywood spectaculars have overwhelmingly romanticized the assault as an event in which citizen-soldiers— the everyday heroes of democracy—engaged evil foes in a decisive clash fought for liberty, national redemption, and world salvation. In D-Day Remembered, Michael R. Dolski explores the evolution of American D-Day tales over the course of the past seven decades. He shows the ways in which that particular episode came to overshadow so many others in portraying the twentieth century’s most devastating cataclysm as “the Good War.” With depth and insight, he analyzes how depictions in various media, such as the popular histories of Stephen Ambrose and films like The Longest Day and Saving Private Ryan, have time and again reaffirmed cherished American notions of democracy, fair play, moral order, and the militant, yet non-militaristic, use of power for divinely sanctioned purposes. Only during the Vietnam era, when Americans had to confront an especially stark challenge to their pietistic sense of nationhood, did memories of D-Day momentarily fade. They soon reemerged, however, as the country sought to move beyond the lamentable conflict in Southeast Asia. Even as portrayals of D-Day have gone from sanitized early versions to more realistic acknowledgments of tactical mistakes and the horrific costs of the battle, the overarching story con¬tinues to be, for many, a powerful reminder of moral rectitude, military skill, and world mission. While the time to historicize this morality tale more fully and honestly has long since come, Dolski observes, the lingering positive connotations of D-Day indicate that the story is not yet finished.

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The Dark Corner

A Novel

Mark Powell

“The best Appalachian novelist of his generation.”
—Ron Rash, author of Serena and The Cove
 
"The Dark Corner is one of the most riveting and beautifully written novels that I have ever read.  Trouble drives the story, as it does in all great fiction, but grace, that feeling of mercy that all men hunger for, is the ultimate subject, and that's just part of the reason that Mark Powell is one of America's most brilliant writers."
—Donald Ray Pollock, author of The Devil All the Time and Knockemstiff
 
“Mark Powell’s third novel powerfully tackles the ongoing curses of drugs, real estate development, veterans’ plights, and other regional cultural banes that plague an Appalachia still very much alive and with us as its own chameleon-like animal. Brimming with fury and beauty, The Dark Corner is a thing wrought to be feared and admired.”
—Casey Clabough, author of Confederado

“Powell’s work is so clearly sourced to the wellspring of all spiritual understanding—this physical world…He is heir to the literary lineage of Melville, Conrad, Flannery O’Connor, Denis Johnson, and Robert Stone.”
—Pete Duval, author of Rear View


A troubled Episcopal priest and would-be activist, Malcolm Walker has failed twice over—first in an effort to shock his New England congregants out of their complacency and second in an attempt at suicide. Discharged from the hospital and haunted by images of the Iraq War and Abu Ghraib, he heads home to the mountains of northwestern South Carolina, the state’s “dark corner,” where a gathering storm of private grief and public rage awaits him.
    Malcolm’s life soon converges with people as damaged in their own ways as he is: his older brother, Dallas, a onetime college football star who has made a comfortable living in real-estate development but is now being drawn ever more deeply into an extremist militia; his dying father, Elijah, still plagued by traumatic memories of Vietnam and the death of his wife; and Jordan Taylor, a young, drug-addicted woman who is being ruthlessly exploited by Dallas’s viperous business partner, Leighton Clatter. As Malcolm tries to restart his life, he enters into a relationship with Jordan that offers both of them fleeting glimpses of heaven, even as hellish realities continue to threaten them.
    In The Dark Corner, Mark Powell confronts crucial issues currently shaping our culture: environmentalism and the disappearance of wild places, the crippling effects of wars past and present, drug abuse, and the rise of right-wing paranoia. With his skillful plotting, feel for place, and gift for creating complex and compelling characters, Powell evokes a world as vivid and immediate as the latest news cycle, while at the same time he offers a nuanced reflection on timeless themes of violence, longing, redemption, faith, and love.

MARK POWELL is the author of two previous novels published by the University of Tennessee Press, Prodigals and the Peter Taylor Prize–winning Blood Kin. The recipient of National Endowment for the Arts and Breadloaf Writers’ Conference fellowships, as well as the Chaffin Award for fiction, he is an assistant professor of English at Stetson University.

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David Schenck and the Contours of Confederate Identity

Rodney, Steward

A mid-level Confederate official and lawyer in secessionist North Carolina, David Schenck (1835–1902) penned extensive diaries that have long been a wellspring of information for historians. In the midst of the secession crisis, Schenck overcame long-established social barriers and reshaped antebellum notions of manhood, religion, and respectability into the image of a Confederate nationalist. He helped found the revolutionary States’ Rights Party and relentlessly pursued his vision of an idealized Southern society even after the collapse of the Confederacy. In the first biography of this complicated figure, Rodney Steward opens a window into the heart and soul of the Confederate South’s burgeoning professional middle class and reveals the complex set of desires, aspirations, and motivations that inspired men like Schenck to cast for themselves a Confederate identity that would endure the trials of war, the hardship of Reconstruction, and the birth of a New South.
    After secession, Schenck remained on the home front as a receiver under the Act of Sequestration, enriching himself on the confiscated property of those he accused of disloyalty. After the war, his position as a leader in the Ku Klux Klan and his resistance to Radical Reconstruction policies won him a seat on the superior court bench, but scathing newspaper articles about his past upended a bid for chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, a compelling fall from grace that reveals much about the shifting currents in North Carolina society and politics in the years after Reconstruction. During the last twenty years of his life, spent in Greensboro, Schenck created the Guilford Battleground Company in an effort to redeem the honor of the Tar Heels who fought there and his own honor as well.
    Schenck’s life story provides a powerful new lens to examine and challenge widely held interpretations of secessionists, Confederate identity, Civil War economics, and home-front policies. Far more than a standard biography, this compelling volume challenges the historiography of the Confederacy at many levels and offers a sophisticated analysis of the evolution of a Confederate identity over a half century.

Rodney Steward is an assistant professor of history at the University of South Carolina, Salkehatchie. His works have appeared in the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Encyclopedia of North Carolina, and North Carolina Historical Review.

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Decisions at Gettysburg

The Nineteen Critical Decisions That Defined the Campaign

Matt Spruill

The Campaign and Battle of Gettysburg have inspired scrutiny from virtually every angle. Standing out amid the voluminous scholarship, this book is not merely one more narrative history of the events that transpired before, during, and after those three momentous July days in southern Pennsylvania. Rather, it focuses on and analyzes nineteen critical decisions by Union and Confederate commanders that determined the particular ways in which those events unfolded.

Matt Spruill, a retired U.S. Army colonel who studied and taught at the U. S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, contends that, among the many decisions made during any military campaign, a limited number—strategic, operational, tactical, organizational—make the difference, with subsequent decisions and circumstances proceeding from those defining moments. At Gettysburg, he contends, had any of the nineteen decisions he identifies not been made and/or another decision made in its stead, all sorts of events from those decision points on would have been different and the campaign and battle as we know it today would appear differently. The battle might have lasted two days or four days instead of three. The orientation of opposing forces might have been different. The battle could well have occurred away from Gettysburg rather than around the town. Whether Lee would have emerged the victor and Meade the vanquished remains an open question, but whatever the outcome, it was the particular decision-making delineated here that shaped the campaign that went into the history books.

Along with his insightful analysis of the nineteen decisions, Spruill includes a valuable appendix that takes the battlefield visitor to the actual locations where the decisions were made or executed. This guide features excerpts from primary documents that further illuminate the ways in which the commanders saw situations on the ground and made their decisions accordingly.

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Delta Fragments

The Recollections of a Sharecropper's Son

John O. Hodges

     The son of black sharecroppers, John Oliver Hodges attended segregated schools in Greenwood, Mississippi, in the 1950s and ’60s, worked in plantation cotton fields, and eventually left the region to earn multiple degrees and become a tenured university professor. Both poignant and thought provoking,  Delta Fragments is Hodges’s autobiographical journey back to the land of his birth. Brimming with vivid memories of family life, childhood friendships, the quest for knowledge, and the often brutal injustices of the Jim Crow South, it also offers an insightful meditation on the present state of race relations in America.
     Hodges has structured the book as a series of brief but revealing vignettes grouped into two main sections. In part 1, “Learning,” he introduces us to the town of Greenwood and to his parents, sister, and myriad aunts, uncles, cousins, teachers, and schoolmates. He tells stories of growing up on a plantation, dancing in smoky juke joints, playing sandlot football and baseball, journeying to the West Coast as a nineteen-year-old to meet the biological father he never knew while growing up, and leaving family and friends to attend Morehouse College in Atlanta. In part 2, “Reflecting,” he connects his firsthand experience with broader themes: the civil rights movement, Delta blues, black folkways, gambling in Mississippi, the vital role of religion in the African American community, and the perplexing problems of poverty, crime, and an underfunded educational system that still challenge black and white citizens of the Delta.
     Whether recalling the assassination of Medgar Evers (whom he knew personally), the dynamism of an African American church service, or the joys of reconnecting with old friends at a biennial class reunion, Hodges writes with a rare combination of humor, compassion, and—when describing the injustices that were all too frequently inflicted on him andhis contemporaries—righteous anger. But his ultimate goal, he contends, is not to close doors but to open them: to inspire dialogue, to start a conversation, “to be provocative without being insistent or definitive.”


Recently retired, John O. Hodges was an associate professor of religious studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he was also the chair of African and African American Studies from 1997 to 2002. His articles have appeared in the CLA Journal, the Langston Hughes Review, Soundings , and The Southern Quarterly.

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The Diary of Nannie Haskins Williams

A Southern Woman’s Story of Rebellion and Reconstruction, 1863–1890

Minoa D. Uffelman

In 1863, while living in Clarksville, Tennessee, Martha Ann Haskins, known to friends
and family as Nannie, began a diary. The Diary of Nannie Haskins Williams: A Southern
Woman’s Story of Rebellion and Reconstruction, 1863–1890
provides valuable insights into
the conditions in occupied Middle Tennessee. A young, elite Confederate sympathizer,
Nannie was on the cusp of adulthood with the expectation of becoming a mistress in
a slaveholding society. The war ended this prospect, and her life was forever changed.
Though this is the first time the diaries have been published in full, they are well known
among Civil War scholars, and a voice-over from the wartime diary was used repeatedly
in Ken Burns’s famous PBS program The Civil War.

Sixteen-year-old Nannie had to come to terms with Union occupation very early in
the war. Amid school assignments, young friendship, social events, worries about her
marital prospects, and tension with her mother, Nannie’s entries also mixed information
about battles, neighbors wounded in combat, U.S. Colored troops, and lawlessness in the
surrounding countryside. Providing rare detail about daily life in an occupied city, Nannie’s
diary poignantly recounts how she and those around her continued to fight long after
the war was over—not in battles, but to maintain their lives in a war-torn community.

Though numerous women’s Civil War diaries exist, Nannie’s is unique in that she also
recounts her postwar life and the unexpected financial struggles she and her family experienced
in the post-Reconstruction South. Nannie’s diary may record only one woman’s
experience, but she represents a generation of young women born into a society based
on slavery but who faced mature adulthood in an entirely new world of decreasing farm
values, increasing industrialization, and young women entering the workforce. Civil War
scholars and students alike will learn much from this firsthand account of coming-of-age
during the Civil War.

Minoa D. Uffelman is an associate professor of history at Austin Peay State University.
Ellen Kanervo is professor emerita of communications at Austin Peay State University.
Phyllis Smith is retired from the U.S. Army and currently teaches high school science in
Montgomery County, Tennessee. Eleanor Williams is the Montgomery County, Tennessee,
historian.

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A Documentary History of the American Civil War Era

Volume 2, Political Arguments

Thomas C. Mackey

     A Documentary History of the American Civil War Era is the first comprehensive collection of public policy actions, political speeches, and judicial decisions related to the American Civil War. This three-volume set gives scholars and students easy access to the full texts of both the most important, fundamental documents as well as hard-to-find, rarely published primary sources on this critical period in U.S. history.
     Volume 2 in the series, Political Arguments, presents the words of politicians, political party platforms, and administrative speeches. It is divided into two sections. The first, Voices of the Politicians and Political Parties, comprises the platforms of the major (and some minor) parties from1856 to 1876. Also included are such pieces as Robert E. Lee’s letter of resignation from the U.S. Army, a few key speeches by that rising politician from Illinois, Abraham Lincoln, and a letter on the “American Question” written by a European observer, Karl Marx. Other items include examples of the 1860–1861 state ordinances of secession and addresses on emancipation and Reconstruction by Jefferson Davis and by the Republican leader in the House of Representatives, Thaddeus Stevens.
     Section two, Voices of the Administrations, contains records from the presidencies of James Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, and Rutherford B. Hayes as well as a message from Confederate President Jefferson Davis telling his congress that the Southern cause was “just and holy.” Classic documents such as Lincoln’s announcement of forthcoming emancipation and the Emancipation Proclamation are here, as are lesser-known but important documents such as Francis Lieber’s 1863 revised law code for war, General Order 100, and Attorney General James Speed’s 1865 opinion supporting the Johnson administration’s decision to try the Lincoln murder conspirators by special military commission and not in the civilian courts.
     Each of the selections in Political Arguments is preceded by editor Thomas Mackey’s introductory headnotes that explain the document’s historical significance and trace its lasting impact. These commentaries provide insight into not just law and public policy but also the broad sweep of issues important to Civil War– era Americans.
     A Documentary History of the American Civil War Era is an essential acquisition for academic and public libraries in addition to being a valuable resource for courses on the War and Reconstruction, legal history, political history, and nineteenth- century American history.


Thomas C. Mackey is professor of history at the University of Louisville and adjunct professor of law at the Brandeis School
of Law. He is the author of Red Lights Out: A Legal History of Prostitution, Disorderly Houses, and Vice Districts, 1870–1917
and Pornography on Trial: A Handbook with Cases, Laws, and Documents.

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A Documentary History of the American Civil War Era

Volume 3, Judicial Decisions, 1857-1866

Thomas C. Mackey

A Documentary History of the American Civil War Era is the first comprehensive collection of public policy actions, political speeches, and judicial decisions related to the American Civil War. Collectively, the four volumes in this series give scholars, teachers, and students easy access to the full texts of the most important, fundamental documents as well as hard-to-find, rarely published primary sources on this critical period in U.S. history.
            The first two volumes of the series, Legislative Achievements and Political Arguments, were released last year. The final installments, Judicial Decisions, is split into two volumes, with this one, volume 3, spanning from 1857 to 1866. It contains some of the classic judicial decisions of the time such as the 1857 decision in Dred Scott and the 1861 Ex parte Merryman decision. Other decisions are well known to specialists but deserve wider readership and discussion, such as the October 1859 Jefferson County, Virginia, indictment of John Brown and the decision in the 1864 case of political and seditious activity in Ex parte Vallandigham. These judicial voices constitute a lasting and often overlooked aspect of the age of Abraham Lincoln. Mackey’s headnotes and introductory essays situate cases within their historical context and trace their lasting significance. In contrast to the war, these judicial decisions lasted well past their immediate political and legal moment and deserve continued scholarship and scrutiny.
            This document collection presents the raw “stuff” of the Civil War era so that students, scholars, and interested readers can measure and gauge how that generation met Lincoln’s challenge to “think anew, and act anew.” A Documentary History of the American Civil War Era is an essential acquisition for academic and public libraries in addition to being a valuable resource for courses on the Civil War and Reconstruction, legal history, political history, and nineteenth-century American history.


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