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In his new book, Michal Jan Rozbicki undertakes to bridge the gap between the political and the cultural histories of the American Revolution. Through a careful examination of liberty as both the ideological axis and the central metaphor of the age, he is able to offer a fresh model for interpreting the Revolution. By establishing systemic linkages between the histories of the free and the unfree, and between the factual and the symbolic, this framework points to a fundamental reassessment of the ways we think about the American Founding.
Environmental Histories, Narratives, and Ethics for Perilous Times
The calamitous impacts of climate change that are beginning to be felt around the world today expose the inextricability of human and natural histories. Arguing for a more complex account of such calamities, Kate Rigby examines a variety of past disasters, from the Black Death of the Middle Ages to the mega-hurricanes of the twenty-first century, revealing the dynamic interaction of diverse human and nonhuman factors in their causation, unfolding, and aftermath.
Focusing on the link between the ways disasters are framed by the stories told about them and how people tend to respond to them in practice, Rigby also shows how works of narrative fiction invite ethical reflection on human relations with one another, with our often unruly earthly environs, and with other species in the face of eco-catastrophe. In its investigation of an array of authors from the Romantic period to the present—including Heinrich von Kleist, Mary Shelley, Theodor Storm, Colin Thiele, and Alexis Wright— Dancing with Disaster demonstrates the importance of the environmental humanities in the development of more creative, compassionate, ecologically oriented, and socially just responses to the perils and possibilities of the Anthropocene.
Under the Sign of Nature: Explorations in Ecocriticism
Lynching in Mississippi and South Carolina, 1881–1940
From the end of Reconstruction to the onset of the civil rights era, lynching was prevalent in developing and frontier regions that had a dynamic and fluid African American population. Focusing on Mississippi and South Carolina because of the high proportion of African Americans in each state during "the age of lynching," Terence Finnegan explains lynching as a consequence of the revolution in social relations—assertiveness, competition, and tension—that resulted from emancipation. A comprehensive study of lynching in Mississippi and South Carolina, A Deed So Accursed reveals the economic and social circumstances that spawned lynching and explores the interplay between extralegal violence and political and civil rights.
Finnegan's research shows that lynching rates depended on factors other than caste conflict and the interaction of race and southern notions of honor. Although lynching supported the ends of white supremacy, many mobs lynched more for private retaliation than for communal motives, which explains why mobs varied greatly in size, organization, behavior, and purpose.
The resistance of African Americans was vigorous and sustained and took on a variety of forms, but depending on the circumstances, black resistance could sometimes provoke rather than deter lynching. Ultimately, Finnegan shows how out of the tragedy of lynching came the triumph of the civil rights movement, which was built upon the organizational efforts of African American anti-lynching campaigns.
Tourism, Memory, and Urban Space in the New South
Although many white southerners chose to memorialize the Lost Cause in the aftermath of the Civil War, boosters, entrepreneurs, and architects in southern cities believed that economic development, rather than nostalgia, would foster reconciliation between North and South. In Designing Dixie, Reiko Hillyer shows how these boosters crafted distinctive local pasts designed to promote their economic futures and to attract northern tourists and investors.
Neither romanticizing the Old South nor appealing to Lost Cause ideology, promoters of New South industrialization used urban design to construct particular relationships to each city’s southern, slaveholding, and Confederate pasts. Drawing on the approaches of cultural history, landscape studies, and the history of memory, Hillyer shows how the southern tourist destinations of St. Augustine, Richmond, and Atlanta deployed historical imagery to attract northern investment. St. Augustine’s Spanish Renaissance Revival resorts muted the town’s Confederate past and linked northern investment in the city to the tradition of imperial expansion. Richmond boasted its colonial and Revolutionary heritage, depicting its industrial development as an outgrowth of national destiny. Atlanta’s use of northern architectural language displaced the southern identity of the city and substituted a narrative of long-standing allegiance to a modern industrial order. With its emphases on alternative southern pasts, architectural design, tourism, and political economy, Designing Dixie significantly revises our understandings of both southern historical memory and post–Civil War sectional reconciliation.
African Literature, Environmental Justice, and Political Ecology
Engaging important discussions about social conflict, environmental change, and imperialism in Africa, Different Shades of Green points to legacies of African environmental writing, often neglected as a result of critical perspectives shaped by dominant Western conceptions of nature and environmentalism. Drawing on an interdisciplinary framework employing postcolonial studies, political ecology, environmental history, and writing by African environmental activists, Byron Caminero-Santangelo emphasizes connections within African environmental literature, highlighting how African writers have challenged unjust, ecologically destructive forms of imperial development and resource extraction.
Different Shades of Green also brings into dialogue a wide range of African creative writing—including works by Chinua Achebe, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Bessie Head, Nadine Gordimer, Zakes Mda, Nuruddin Farah, Wangari Maathai, and Ken Saro-Wiwa—in order to explore vexing questions for those involved in the struggle for environmental justice, in the study of political ecology, and in the environmental humanities, urging continued imaginative thinking in effecting a more equitable, sustain¬able future in Africa.
The Cultural Politics of Catastrophe in Latin America
In the aftermath of disaster, literary and other cultural representations of the event can play a role in the renegotiation of political power. In Disaster Writing, Mark D. Anderson analyzes four natural disasters in Latin America that acquired national significance and symbolism through literary mediation: the 1930 cyclone in the Dominican Republic, volcanic eruptions in Central America, the 1985 earthquake in Mexico City, and recurring drought in northeastern Brazil.
Taking a comparative and interdisciplinary approach to the disaster narratives, Anderson explores concepts such as the social construction of risk, landscape as political and cultural geography, vulnerability as the convergence of natural hazard and social marginalization, and the cultural mediation of trauma and loss. He shows how the political and historical contexts suggest a systematic link between natural disaster and cultural politics.
1848 and the Challenge to American Exceptionalism
Distant Revolutions: 1848 and the Challenge to American Exceptionalism is a study of American politics, culture, and foreign relations in the mid-nineteenth century, illuminated through the reactions of Americans to the European revolutions of 1848. Flush from the recent American military victory over Mexico, many Americans celebrated news of democratic revolutions breaking out across Europe as a further sign of divine providence. Others thought that the 1848 revolutions served only to highlight how America’s own revolution had not done enough in the way of reform. Still other Americans renounced the 1848 revolutions and the thought of trans-atlantic unity because they interpreted European revolutionary radicalism and its portents of violence, socialism, and atheism as dangerous to the unique virtues of the United States.
Representations of Madness in Anglophone Caribbean Literature
Exploring the prevalence of madness in Caribbean texts written in English in the mid-twentieth century, Kelly Baker Josephs focuses on celebrated writers such as Jean Rhys, V. S. Naipaul, and Derek Walcott as well as on understudied writers such as Sylvia Wynter and Erna Brodber. Because mad figures appear frequently in Caribbean literature from French, Spanish, and English traditions—in roles ranging from bit parts to first-person narrators—the author regards madness as a part of the West Indian literary aesthetic. The relatively condensed decolonization of the anglophone islands during the 1960s and 1970s, she argues, makes literature written in English during this time especially rich for an examination of the function of madness in literary critiques of colonialism and in the Caribbean project of nation-making.
In drawing connections between madness and literature, gender, and religion, this book speaks not only to the field of Caribbean studies but also to colonial and postcolonial literature in general. The volume closes with a study of twenty-first-century literature of the Caribbean diaspora, demonstrating that Caribbean writers still turn to representations of madness to depict their changing worlds.
Religion, Law, and Criminal Justice
It is often assumed that the law and religion address different spheres of human life. Religion and ethics articulate complex systems of moral reasoning that concern norms, deliberation of ends, cultivation of disposition, and transformation of moral agency. Law, in contrast, seeks to govern human conduct through procedural justice, rights, and public good. Doing Justice to Mercy challenges this assumption by presenting the reader with an urgent conversation between the law and religion that yields a constructive approach, both theoretically and practically, to the complex role of mercy in our legal process.
Authored by legal practitioners, activists, and theorists in addition to theologians and ethicists, the essays collected here are informed by timeless principles, and yet they could not be timelier. The trend in sentencing moves toward an increased severity, and the number of incarcerated people in the United States is at an all-time high. In the half-decade since 9/11, moreover, homeland security has established itself as a permanent fixture in our lives. In this atmosphere, the current volume seeks initially to clarify how justice and mercy intertwine in relation to a number of issues, such as rehabilitation, the death penalty, domestic violence, and war crimes. Exploring the legal, philosophical, and theological grounds for mercy in our courts, the discussion then moves to the practical ways in which mercy may be implemented.
Contributors:Marc Mauer, The Sentencing Project * Lois Gehr Livezey, McCormick Theological Seminary * Ernie Lewis, Public Advocate, Commonwealth of Kentucky * Jonathan Rothchild, Loyola Marymount University * Albert W. Alschuler, Northwestern University School of Law * David Scheffer, Northwestern University School of Law * David Little, Harvard Divinity School * Matthew Myer Boulton, Andover Newton Theological School * Mark Lewis Taylor, Princeton Theological Seminary * Sarah Coakley, Cambridge University * William Schweiker, University of Chicago Divinity School * Kevin Jung, College of William and Mary * Peter J. Paris, Princeton Theological Seminary * W. Clark Gilpin, University of Chicago Divinity School * William C. Placher, Wabash College
The Father Reimagined in Faulkner, Wright, O'Connor, and Morrison
In an original contribution to the psychoanalytic approach to literature, Doreen Fowler focuses on the fiction of four major American writers—William Faulkner, Richard Wright, Flannery O'Connor, and Toni Morrison—to examine the father's function as a "border figure." Although the father has most commonly been interpreted as the figure who introduces opposition and exclusion to the child, Fowler finds in these literary depictions fathers who instead support the construction of a social identity by mediating between cultural oppositions.
Fowler counters the widely accepted notion that boundaries are solely sites of exclusion and offers a new theoretical model of boundary construction. She argues that boundaries are mysterious, dangerous, in-between places where a balance of sameness and difference makes differentiation possible. In the fiction of these southern writers, father figures introduce a separate cultural identity by modeling this mix of relatedness and difference. Fathers intervene in the mother-child relationship, but the father is also closely related to both mother and child. This model of boundary formation as a balance of exclusion and relatedness suggests a way to join with others in an inclusive, multicultural community and still retain ethnic, racial, and gender differences.
Fowler's model for the father's mediating role in initiating gender, race, and other social differences shows not only how psychoanalytic theory can be used to interpret fiction and cultural history but also how literature and history can reshape theory.