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Explorations in Ecocriticism and Film
This collection of interdisciplinary essays on green cinema expands the parameters of ecocriticism, an unusually circumscribed field. The contributors look at both narrative and documentary film--and both popular and relatively obscure works--on topics such as global warming, biopiracy, and the impoverishment and or displacement of native peoples.
Race, Identity, and Community in Jefferson's Virginia
In his examination of a wide array of court papers from Albemarle County, a rural Virginia slaveholding community, Kirt von Daacke argues against the commonly held belief that southern whites saw free blacks only as a menace. Von Daacke reveals instead a more easygoing interracial social order in Albemarle County that existed for more than two generations after the Revolution—stretching to the mid-nineteenth century and beyond—despite fears engendered by Gabriel’s Rebellion and the Haitian Revolution.
Freedom Has a Face tells the stories of free blacks who worked hard to carve out comfortable spaces for existence. They were denied full freedom, but they were neither slaves without masters nor anomalies in a society that had room only for black slaves and free white citizens. A typical rural Piedmont county, Albemarle was not a racial utopia. Rather, it was a tight-knit community in which face-to-face interactions determined social status and reputation. A steep social hierarchy allowed substantial inequalities to persist, but it was nonetheless an intimately interracial society. Free African Americans who maintained personal connections with white neighbors and who participated openly in local society were perceived as far more than stereotypical dangerous blacks.
Based on his work building a cross-referenced database containing individual records for nearly five thousand documents, von Daacke reveals a detailed picture of daily life in Albemarle County. With this reinsertion of individual free blacks into the neighborhood, community, and county, he exposes a different, more complicated image of the lives of free people of color.
Ex-Slave Families and Citizenship in the Age of Emancipation
Emancipation and the citizenship that followed conferred upon former slaves the right to create family relationships that were sanctioned, recognized, and regulated by the laws that governed the families of all American citizens. Elizabeth Regosin explores what the acquisition of this legal familial status meant to former slaves, personally, socially, and politically.
The Civil War pension system offers a fascinating source of documentation for this study of ex-slave families in transition from slavery to freedom. Because the provisions made to compensate eligible Union veterans and surviving family members created a vast bureaucracy—pension officials required and verified extensive proof of qualification—former slaves were obliged to reproduce and represent the inner workings of their familial relationships.
Regosin reveals through both their personal histories and pension narratives how former slaves constructed identities as individuals and as family members while they negotiated the boundaries of "family" as defined by the pension system. The stories told by ex-slaves, their witnesses, and the government officials who played a role in the pension process all serve to provide us with a richer understanding of life for newly emancipated African Americans.
Psychoanalysis, Mysticism, and the Culture of Modern Spirituality
"It is arguably the case," writes William Parsons, "that no two figures have had more influence on the course of Western introspective thought than Freud and Augustine." Yet it is commonly assumed that Freud and Augustine would have nothing to say to each other with regard to spirituality or mysticism, given the former's alleged antipathy to religion and the latter's not usually being considered a mystic.
Adopting an interdisciplinary, dialogical, and transformational framework for interpreting Augustine's spiritual journey in his Confessions, Parsons places a "mystical theology" at the heart of Augustine's narrative and argues that his mysticism has been misunderstood partly because of the limited nature of the psychological models applied to it. At the same time, he expands Freud's therapeutic legacy to incorporate the contemporary findings of physiology and neuroscience that have been influenced in part by modern spirituality.
Parsons develops a new psychological hermeneutic to account for Augustine's mysticism that will capture the imagination of contemporary readers who are both psychologically informed and interested in spirituality. The author intends this interpretive model not only to engage modern introspective concerns about developmental conflict and the power of the unconscious but also to reach a more nuanced level of insight into the origins and the nature of the self.
The Evolution of Religious Freedom in Virginia
Drawing on a decade of new scholarship on religion in Virginia, this collection of essays suggests how the evolving political, social, and religious conditions in the colony gradually helped create a space within which a new understanding of religious freedom, represented by Jefferson’s Statue of 1786, could emerge.
"Christian philosophy" is commonly regarded as an oxymoron, philosophy being thought incompatible with the assumptions and conclusions required by religious faith. According to this way of thinking, philosophy and theology must forever remain distinct.
In From Theology to Theological Thinking, Jean-Yves Lacoste takes a different approach. Stepping back from contemporary philosophical concerns, Lacoste—a leading figure in the philosophy of religion—looks at the relationship between philosophy and theology from the standpoint of the history of ideas. He notes in particular that theology and philosophy were not considered separate realms until the high Middle Ages, this distinction being a hallmark of the modern era that is coming to an end. Lacoste argues that the intellectual task before us now is to work in the frontier region between or beyond these domains, work he identifies as "the task of thinking."
With this argument, Lacoste resets our understanding of Western Christian thought, contending that a new way of thinking that is at once philosophical and theological will be the lasting discourse of Christianity.
Pursuing Wealth and Honor in Renaissance Germany
As the wealthiest German merchant family of the sixteenth century, the Fuggers have attracted wide scholarly attention. In contrast to the other famous merchant family of the period, the Medici of Florence, however, no English-language work on them has been available until now. The Fuggers of Augsburg offers a concise and engaging overview that builds on the latest scholarly literature and the author’s own work on sixteenth-century merchant capitalism. Mark Häberlein traces the history of the family from the weaver Hans Fugger’s immigration to the imperial city of Augsburg in 1367 to the end of the Thirty Years’ War in 1648. Because the Fuggers’ extensive business activities involved long-distance trade, mining, state finance, and overseas ventures, the family exemplifies the meanings of globalization at the beginning of the modern age.
The book also covers the political, social, and cultural roles of the Fuggers: their patronage of Renaissance artists, the founding of the largest social housing project of its time, their support of Catholicism in a city that largely turned Protestant during the Reformation, and their rise from urban merchants to imperial counts and feudal lords. Häberlein argues that the Fuggers organized their social rise in a way that allowed them to be merchants and feudal landholders, burghers and noblemen at the same time. Their story therefore provides a window on social mobility, cultural patronage, religion, and values during the Renaissance and the Reformation.
Solving the Problems with Long-Distance Trash Transport
Where does garbage go? Increasingly, trash is transported across state lines and ends up in another state's back yard. Thomson uses Virginia's situation as the second-highest importer of trash in the US as a touchstone for exploring much larger questions about American wastefulness, consumption, and environmental justice with comparisons to Europe and Japan.
The Victorian Poets and Shakespeare
In The Ghost behind the Masks, W. David Shaw traces Shakespeare’s influence on nine Victorian poets: Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Robert Browning, Christina Rossetti, Thomas Hardy, Matthew Arnold, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Algernon Swinburne, Arthur Hugh Clough, and George Meredith. Often, he writes, the transparency of Shakespeare's influence on Victorian poets and the degree of their engagement with Shakespeare exist in inverse ratio. Instead of imitating a play by Shakespeare or merely quoting his lines, a Victorian poet may embrace more elusive elements of rhetoric and style, adapting them to his or her own ends.
Shaw argues that the most Shakespearean attribute of the Victorian poets is not their addiction to any particular trope or figure of speech but their reticence, the classical restraint of their great monologues, and their sudden descent from grandeur to simplicity. He explores such topics as man-made law versus natural right, Stoic fatalism versus self-reliance, and the sanity of lunatics, lovers, and poets versus the madness of commonplace minds.
Last Ferocious Beast of the Forest
The wild boar appears to us as something straight out of a myth. But as Jeffrey Greene learned, these creatures are very real, living by night and, despite shrinking habitats and hordes of hunters, thriving on six continents.
Greene purchased an eighteenth-century presbytery in a region of ponds and forests in northern Burgundy between the Loire and Seine Rivers of France. He soon discovered he’d moved to one of the most densely populated boar areas in Europe. Following the gift of a side of boar from a neighbor, and a dramatic early-morning encounter with a boar-hunting party and its prey, Greene became fascinated with the animal and immersed himself in the legend and the reality of the wild boar.
Although it has no natural enemies, the boar is in constant conflict with humans. Most societies consider it a pest, not only wreaking havoc on crops and livestock, but destroying golf-course greens in search of worms, even creating a hazard for drivers (hogs on the roads cause over 14,000 car accidents a year in France). It has also been the object of highly ritualized hunts, dating back to classical times.
The animal’s remarkable appearance--it can grow larger than a person, and the males sport prominent tusks, called "whetters" and "cutters"--has inspired artists for centuries; its depictions range from primitive masks to works of high art such as Pietro Tacca’s Porcellino and paintings by Velázquez and Frans Snyders. The boar also plays a unique role in myth, appearing in the stories of Hercules and Adonis as well as in the folktale Beauty and the Beast.
The author’s search for the elusive animal takes him to Sardinia, Corsica, and Tuscany; he even casts an eye to the American South, where he explores the boar’s feral-pig counterparts and descendents. He introduces us to a fascinating cast of experts, from museum curators and scientists to hunters and chefs (who share their recipes) to the inhabitants of chateaux who have lived in the same ancient countryside with generations of boars. They are all part of a journey filled with wonders and discoveries about these majestic animals the poet Robinson Jeffers called "beautiful monsters."