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One of nineteenth-century America’s most controversial military figures, Gideon Johnson Pillow gained notoriety early in the Civil War for turning an apparent Confederate victory at Fort Donelson into an ignominious defeat. Dismissed by contemporaries and historians alike as a political general with dangerous aspirations, his famous failures have overshadowed the tremendous energy, rare talent, and great organizational skills that also marked his career. In this exhaustive biography, Nathaniel Cheairs Hughes Jr. and Roy P. Stonesifer Jr. look beyond conventional historical interpretations to provide a full and nuanced portrait of this provocative and maligned man. While noting his arrogance, ambition, and very public mistakes, Hughes and Stonesifer give Pillow his due as a gifted attorney, first-rate farmer, innovator, and man of considerable political influence. One of Tennessee’s wealthiest planters, Pillow promoted scientific methods to improve the soil, preached crop diversification to reduce the South’s dependence on cotton, and endorsed railroad construction as a means to develop the southern economy. He helped secure the 1844 Democratic nomination for his friend and fellow Tennessean James K. Polk and was rewarded after Polk’s victory with an appointment as brigadier general. While his role in the Mexican War earned him a reputation for recklessness and self-promotion, his organization of what would become the Army of Tennessee put him at the forefront of the Confederate war effort. After the disaster at Donelson, he spent the rest of the war directing Confederate conscription in the West and leading Rebel cavalry forces—a role of continuing service which, the authors show, has been insufficiently acknowledged. Updated with a new foreword by noted Civil War scholar Timothy D. Johnson, The Life and Wars of Gideon J. Pillow portrays a colorful, enigmatic general who moved just outside the world of greatness he longed to enter.
Where Lakes End and Rivers Begin
After the death of his paddling companion, a German shepherd–Labrador retriever mix named Jasper, Kim Trevathan began a series of solitary upstream kayaking quests in search of what he calls “liminal zones,” transitional areas where dammed reservoirs give way to the current of the rivers that feed them. For four years he scoured the rivers and lakes of America, where environmentally damaging, and now decaying, man-made structures have transformed the waterways. In this thoughtful work, he details his upriver adventures, describing the ecological and aesthetic differences between a dammed river and a free-flowing river and exploring the implications of what liminal zones represent—a reassertion of pure, unadulterated nature over engineered bodies of water. Trevathan began by exploring the rivers and creeks of his childhood: the Blood River and Clarks River in western Kentucky. He soon ventured out to the Wolf River, the Big South Fork of the Cumberland, and other waterways in Tennessee. In 2008, he looped around the country with trips to Indiana’s Tippecanoe River, Montana’s Clearwater River, Oregon’s Deschutes and Rogue Rivers, and Colorado’s Dolores River, as well as adventures on such southeastern rivers as the Edisto, the Tellico, and the Nantahala. To Trevathan, paddling upstream became a sort of religion, with a vaporous deity that kept him searching. Each excursion yielded something unexpected, from a near-drowning in the Rogue River to a mysterious fog bank that arose across the Nantahala at midday. Throughout Liminal Zones, Trevathan considers what makes certain places special, why some are set aside and protected, why others are not, and how free-flowing streams remain valuable to our culture, our history, and our physical and spiritual health. This contemplative chronicle of his journeys by water reveals discoveries as varied and complex as the rivers themselves.
The Limits of Literary Historicism is a collection of essays arguing that historicism, which has come to dominate the professional study of literature in recent decades, has become ossified. By drawing attention to the limits of historicism—its blind spots, overreach, and reluctance to acknowledge its commitments—this provocative new book seeks a clearer understanding of what historicism can and cannot teach us about literary narrative.
Editors Allen Dunn and Thomas F. Haddox have gathered contributions from leading scholars that challenge the dominance of contemporary historicism. These pieces critique historicism as it is generally practiced, propose alternative historicist models that transcend mere formula, and suggest alternatives to historicism altogether. The volume begins with the editors’ extended introduction, “The Enigma of Critical Distance; or, Why Historicists Need Convictions,” and then is divided into three sections: “The Limits of Historicism,” “Engagements with History,” and “Alternatives to History.”
Defying convention, The Limits of Literary Historicism shakes up established modes to move beyond the claustrophobic analyses of contemporary historicism and to ask larger questions that envision more fulfilling and more responsible possibilities in the practice of literary scholarship.
Located near Cumberland Gap in the rugged hills of East Tennessee, Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) was founded in 1897 to help disadvantaged Appalachian youth and reward the descendents of Union loyalists in the region. Its founder was former Union General Oliver Otis Howard, a personal friend of Abraham Lincoln, who made it his mission to sustain an institution of higher learning in the mountain South that would honor the memory of the Civil War president. In Lincoln Memorial University and the Shaping of Appalachia, LMU Professor Earl J. Hess presents a highly readable and compelling history of the school. Yet the book is much more than a chronology of past events. The author uses the institution’s history to look at wider issues in Appalachian scholarship, including race and the modernization of educational methods in Appalachia. LMU offered a work-learn program to help students pay their way, imparting the value of self-help, and it was hit by a massive student strike that nearly wrecked the institution in 1930. LMU has played an important role in shaping what higher learning could be for young people in its region of southern Appalachia. The volume examines the involvement of O. O. Howard and his unflagging efforts to establish and fund the school; the influence of early twentieth-century industrial capitalism— Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller were benefactors—on Appalachia and LMU in particular; and the turn-of-the-century cult of Lincoln that made the university a major repository of Lincolniana. Meticulously researched and richly illustrated, Lincoln Memorial University and the Shaping of Appalachia is a fresh look at the creation, contributions, and enduring legacies of LMU. Students, alumni, and friends of the university, as well as scholars of Appalachian culture and East Tennessee history, will find this book both enlightening and entertaining.
Frontier Tennessee during the Cherokee Wars
The Use of Trauma in American Children's Literature
“Coming of age” in children’s fiction often means achieving maturity through the experience of trauma. In classics ranging from Old Yeller to The Outsiders, a narrative of psychological pain defies expectations of childhood as a time of innocence and play. In this provocative new book, Eric L. Tribunella explores why trauma, especially the loss of a loved object, occurs in some of the most popular and critically acclaimed twentieth-century American fiction for children.
Tribunella draws on queer theory and feminist revisions of Freud’s notion of melancholia, which is described as a fundamental response to loss, arguing that the low-grade symptoms of melancholia are in fact what characterize the mature, sober, and responsible American adult. Melancholia and Maturation looks at how this effect is achieved in a society that purports to protect youngsters from every possible source of danger, thus requiring melancholia to be induced artificially.
Each of the book’s five chapters focuses on a different kind of lost object sacrificed so as to propel the child toward a distinctively gendered, sexual, ethical, and national adulthood—from same-sex friends to the companionship of boy-and-his-dog stories, from the lost ideals of historical fiction about the American Revolution to the children killed or traumatized in Holocaust novels. The author examines a wide spectrum of works—including Jack London’s dog tales, the contemporary “realistic” novels of S. E. Hinton, and Newbery Medal winners like Johnny Tremain and Bridge to Terabithia.
Tribunella raises fundamental questions about the value of children’s literature as a whole and provides context for understanding why certain books become required reading for youth.
Eric L. Tribunella is assistant professor of English at the University of Southern Mississippi. His articles have been published in Children’s Literature Association Quarterly, Children’s Literature in Education, The Lion and the Unicorn: A Critical Journal of Children’s Literature, and Children’s Literature.
POWs in America during World War II
Examining the largest prisoner-of-war handling operation in U.S. history, this book offers a meticulous account of the myriad problems—as well as the impressive successes—that came with housing 371,000 German POWs on American soil during World War II. Antonio Thompson draws on extensive archival research to probe the various ways in which the U.S. government strove to comply with the Geneva Convention’s mandate that enemy prisoners be moved from the war zone and given food, shelter, and clothing equal to that provided for American soldiers.
While the prisoners became a ready source of manpower for the labor-starved American home front and received small wages in return, their stay in the United States generated more than a few difficulties, which included not only daunting logistics but also violence within the camps. Such violence was often blamed on Nazi influence and control; however, as Thompson points out, only a few of the prisoners were actually Nazis. Because the Germans had cobbled together military forces that included convicts, their own POWs, volunteers from neutral nations, and conscripts from occupied countries, the bonds that held these soldiers together amid the pressures of combat dissolved once they were placed behind barbed wire. When these “men in German uniform,” who were not always Germans, donned POW garb, their former social, racial, religious, and ethnic tensions quickly reemerged.
To counter such troubles, American authorities organized various activities—including sports, arts, education, and religion—within the POW camps; some prisoners even participated in an illegal denazification program created by the U.S. government. Despite the problems, Thompson argues, the POW-housing program proved largely successful, as Americans maintained their reputation for fairness and humane treatment during a time of widespread turmoil.
Antonio Thompson is an assistant professor of history at Austin Peay State University and the author of <i>German Jackboots on Kentucky Bluegrass: Housing German Prisoners of War in Kentucky, 1942–1946</i>. He has also taught at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
Closeted Traditions and Sexual Curiosities in Harper Lee’s Novel
How often does a novel earn its author both the Presidential Medal of Freedom, awarded to Harper Lee by George W. Bush in 2007, and a spot on a list of “100 best gay and lesbian novels”? Clearly, To Kill a Mockingbird, Lee’s Pulitzer Prize–winning tale of race relations and coming of age in Depression-era Alabama, means many different things to many different people. In Mockingbird Passing, Holly Blackford invites the reader to view Lee’s beloved novel in parallel with works by other iconic American writers—from Emerson, Whitman, Stowe, and Twain to James, Wharton, McCullers, Capote, and others. In the process, she locates the book amid contesting literary traditions while simultaneously exploring the rich ambiguities that define its characters. Blackford finds the basis of Mockingbird’s broad appeal in its ability to embody the mainstream culture of romantics like Emerson and social reform writers like Stowe, even as alternative canons—southern gothic, deadpan humor, queer literatures, regional women’s novels—lurk in its subtexts. Central to her argument is the notion of “passing”: establishing an identity that conceals the inner self so that one can function within a closed social order. For example, the novel’s narrator, Scout, must suppress her natural tomboyishness to become a “lady.” Meanwhile, Scout’s father, Atticus Finch, must contend with competing demands of thoughtfulness, self-reliance, and masculinity that ultimately stunt his effectiveness within an unjust society. Blackford charts the identity dilemmas of other key characters—the mysterious Boo Radley, the young outsider Dill (modeled on Lee’s lifelong friend Truman Capote), the oppressed victim Tom Robinson—in similarly intriguing ways. Queer characters cannot pass unless, like the narrator, Miss Maudie, and Cal, they split into the “modest double life.” In uncovering To Kill a Mockingbird’s lively conversation with a diversity of nineteenth- and twentieth-century writers and tracing the equally diverse journeys of its characters, Blackford offers a myriad of fresh insights into why the novel has retained its appeal for so many readers for over fifty years. At once Victorian, modern, and postmodern, Mockingbird passes in many canons.
Kentucky, Slavery, and the War for an American Ideology, 1828-1861