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Eric Williams and the Anticolonial Tradition

The Making of a Diasporan Intellectual

Maurice St. Pierre

A leader in the social movement that achieved Trinidad and Tobago’s independence from Britain in 1962, Eric Williams (1911–1981) served as its first prime minister. Although much has been written about Williams as a historian and a politician, Maurice St. Pierre is the first to offer a full-length treatment of him as an intellectual. St. Pierre focuses on Williams's role not only in challenging the colonial exploitation of Trinbagonians but also in seeking to educate and mobilize them in an effort to generate a collective identity in the struggle for independence. Drawing on extensive archival research and using a conflated theoretical framework, the author offers a portrait of Williams that shows how his experiences in Trinidad, England, and America radicalized him and how his relationships with other Caribbean intellectuals—along with Aimé Césaire in Martinique, Juan Bosch in the Dominican Republic, George Lamming of Barbados, and Frantz Fanon from Martinique—enabled him to seize opportunities for social change and make a significant contribution to Caribbean epistemology.

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Essays from the Edge

Parerga and Paralipomena

Essays from the Edge brings together recent work from renowned intellectual historian and cultural critic, Martin Jay. These writings address a wide range of issues from the Frankfurt School and Western Marxism to scopic (visual) regimes and visual culture, from the intellectual migration from Germany to America to the discourse of experience, from violence in landscape architecture to political mendacity. In addition, the collection includes several methodological essays, which deal with important themes in the humanities today.

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Establishing Religious Freedom

Jefferson's Statute in Virginia

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"Esteemed Bookes of Lawe" and the Legal Culture of Early Virginia

Edited by Warren M. Billings and Brent Tarter.

Virginia men of law constituted one of the first learned professions in colonial America, and Virginia legal culture had an important and lasting impact on American political institutions and jurisprudence. Exploring the book collections of these Virginians therefore offers insight into the history of the book and the intellectual history of early America. It also addresses essential questions of how English culture migrated to the American colonies and was transformed into a distinctive American culture.

Focusing on the law books that colonial Virginians acquired, how they used them, and how they eventually produced a native-grown legal literature, this collection explores the law and intellectual culture of the Commonwealth and reveals the origins of a distinctively Virginian legal literature. The contributors argue that understanding the development of early Virginia legal history—as shown through these book collections—not only illuminates important aspects of Virginia’s history and culture; it also underlies a thorough understanding of colonial and revolutionary American history and culture.

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The Evil Necessity

British Naval Impressment in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World

Denver Brunsman

A fundamental component of Britain’s early success, naval impressment not only kept the Royal Navy afloat—it helped to make an empire. In total numbers, impressed seamen were second only to enslaved Africans as the largest group of forced laborers in the eighteenth century.

In The Evil Necessity, Denver Brunsman describes in vivid detail the experience of impressment for Atlantic seafarers and their families. Brunsman reveals how forced service robbed approximately 250,000 mariners of their livelihoods, and, not infrequently, their lives, while also devastating Atlantic seaport communities and the loved ones who were left behind. Press gangs, consisting of a navy officer backed by sailors and occasionally local toughs, often used violence or the threat of violence to supply the skilled manpower necessary to establish and maintain British naval supremacy. Moreover, impressments helped to unite Britain and its Atlantic coastal territories in a common system of maritime defense unmatched by any other European empire.

Drawing on ships’ logs, merchants’ papers, personal letters and diaries, as well as engravings, political texts, and sea ballads, Brunsman shows how ultimately the controversy over impressment contributed to the American Revolution and served as a leading cause of the War of 1812.

Early American HistoriesWinner of the Walker Cowen Memorial Prize for an Outstanding Work of Scholarship in Eighteenth-Century Studies

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"Evil People"

A Comparative Study of Witch Hunts in Swabian Austria and the Electorate of Trier

Johannes Dillinger. translated by Laura Stokes

Inspired by recent efforts to understand the dynamics of the early modern witch hunt, Johannes Dillinger has produced a powerful synthesis based on careful comparisons. Narrowing his focus to two specific regions—Swabian Austria and the Electorate of Trier—he provides a nuanced explanation of how the tensions between state power and communalism determined the course of witch hunts that claimed over 1,300 lives in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Germany.

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Exhibiting Slavery

The Caribbean Postmodern Novel as Museum

Vivian Nun Halloran

In a strikingly interdisciplinary and multilingual analysis of Caribbean postmodern historical novels about slavery alongside museum exhibitions about slavery throughout the Caribbean and the US, Vivian Halloran shows how the novels as well as the exhibits seek to educate their audiences about reconstructing the past from fragmented evidence and relating historical memory and collective mourning in the creation of narratives about that past. The literary and museum portrayals work together in confronting the trauma of slavery in much the same way as Holocaust memorials, fiction, and film confront the trauma of genocide.

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Exodus Politics

Civil Rights and Leadership in African American Literature and Culture

Robert J. Patterson

Using the term "exodus politics" to theorize the valorization of black male leadership in the movement for civil rights, Robert J. Patterson explores the ways in which the political strategies and ideologies of this movement paradoxically undermined the collective enfranchisement of black people. He argues that by narrowly conceptualizing civil rights in only racial terms and relying solely on a male figure, conventional African American leadership, though frequently redemptive, can also erode the very goals of civil rights.

The author turns to contemporary African American writers such as Ernest Gaines, Gayl Jones, Alice Walker, and Charles Johnson to show how they challenge the dominant models of civil rights leadership.

He draws on a variety of disciplines—including black feminism, civil rights history, cultural studies, and liberation theology—in order to develop a more nuanced formulation of black subjectivity and politics.

Patterson's connection of the concept of racial rights to gender and sexual rights allows him to illuminate the literature's promotion of more expansive models. By considering the competing and varied political interests of black communities, these writers reimagine the dominant models in a way that can empower communities to be self-sustaining in the absence of a messianic male leader.

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Experiencing Empire

Power, People, and Revolution in Early America

Patrick Griffin

Born of clashing visions of empire in England and the colonies, the American Revolution saw men and women grappling with power— and its absence—in dynamic ways. On both sides of the revolutionary divide, Americans viewed themselves as an imperial people. This perspective conditioned how they understood the exercise of power, how they believed governments had to function, and how they situated themselves in a world dominated by other imperial players.

Eighteenth-century Americans experienced what can be called an “imperial-revolutionary moment." Over the course of the eighteenth century, the colonies were integrated into a broader Atlantic world, a process that forced common men and women to reexamine the meanings and influences of empire in their own lives. The tensions inherent in this process led to revolution. After the Revolution, the idea of empire provided order—albeit at a cost to many—during a chaotic period.

Viewing the early republic from an imperial-revolutionary perspective, the essays in this collection consider subjects as far-ranging as merchants, winemaking, slavery, sex, and chronology to nostalgia, fort construction, and urban unrest. They move from the very center of the empire in London to the far western frontier near St. Louis, offering a new way to consider America’s most formative period.

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Failed Frontiersmen

White Men and Myth in the Post-Sixties American Historical Romance

James J. Donahue

In Failed Frontiersmen, James Donahue writes that one of the founding and most persistent mythologies of the United States is that of the American frontier. Looking at a selection of twentieth-century American male fiction writers—E. L. Doctorow, John Barth, Thomas Pynchon, Ishmael Reed, Gerald Vizenor, and Cormac McCarthy—he shows how they reevaluated the historical romance of frontier mythology in response to the social and political movements of the 1960s (particularly regarding the Vietnam War, civil rights, and the treatment of Native Americans). Although these writers focus on different moments in American history and different geographic locations, the author reveals their commonly held belief that the frontier mythology failed to deliver on its promises of cultural stability and political advancement, especially in the face of the multicultural crucible of the 1960s.

Cultural Frames, Framing Culture
American Literatures Initiative

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