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Philosophical Endeavors in Religion and Culture
In Encountering the Secular, J. Heath Atchley proposes an alternative to the understanding of the secular as that which opposes the religious, and he turns to American and Continental philosophy to support his critique. Drawing from thinkers as disparate as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Gilles Deleuze, and engaging with contemporary literature and film, Atchley shows how the division of experience (individual, cultural, political) into the distinct realms of the religious and the secular overlooks the subtle ways in which value can emerge. Far from arguing that the religious and the secular are the same, he means instead to suggest that the dogmatic separation between these two realms gets in the way of experiencing an immanent value, a kind of value tied neither to a transcendent reality (e.g., a god or an ideal) nor to a self-centered reality (e.g., pleasure or knowledge).
Fears of Corruption in the Civil War North
Fears of corruption--connected to massive growth of government, immigrants and urban poverty, aristocratic ambition, and modernization itself--in the Civil War north challenge the popular narrative according to which the Civil War represented the triumph of Northern-style modernity and freedom over Southern-style premodernity and slavery.
Protestant Missionaries and the Racial Politics of South Africa
From the beginning of the nineteenth century through to 1960, Protestant missionaries were the most important intermediaries between South Africa’s ruling white minority and its black majority. The Equality of Believers reconfigures the narrative of race in South Africa by exploring the pivotal role played by these missionaries and their teachings in shaping that nation’s history.
The missionaries articulated a universalist and egalitarian ideology derived from New Testament teachings that rebuked the racial hierarchies endemic to South African society. Yet white settlers, the churches closely tied to them, and even many missionaries evaded or subverted these ideas. In the early years of settlement, the white minority justified its supremacy by equating Christianity with white racial identity. Later, they adopted segregated churches for blacks and whites, followed by segregationist laws blocking blacks’ access to prosperity and citizenship—and, eventually, by the ambitious plan of social engineering that was apartheid.
Providing historical context reaching back to 1652, Elphick concentrates on the era of industrialization, segregation, and the beginnings of apartheid in the first half of the twentieth century. The most ambitious work yet from this renowned historian, Elphick’s book reveals the deep religious roots of racial ideas and initiatives that have so profoundly shaped the history of South Africa.
American Political Practices in the Early Republic
In Era of Experimentation, Daniel Peart challenges the pervasive assumption that the present-day political system, organized around two competing parties, represents the logical fulfillment of participatory democracy. Recent accounts of "the rise of American democracy" between the Revolution and the Civil War applaud political parties for opening up public life to mass participation and making government responsive to the people. Yet this celebratory narrative tells only half of the story.
By exploring American political practices during the early 1820s, a period of particular flux in the young republic, Peart argues that while parties could serve as vehicles for mass participation, they could also be employed to channel, control, and even curb it. Far from equating democracy with the party system, Americans freely experimented with alternative forms of political organization and resisted efforts to confine their public presence to the polling place.
Era of Experimentation demonstrates the sheer variety of political practices that made up what subsequent scholars have labeled "democracy" in the early United States. Peart also highlights some overlooked consequences of the nationalization of competitive two-party politics during the antebellum period, particularly with regard to the closing of alternative avenues for popular participation.
The Making of a Diasporan Intellectual
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.
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.
British Naval Impressment in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World
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
A Comparative Study of Witch Hunts in Swabian Austria and the Electorate of Trier
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.
The Caribbean Postmodern Novel as Museum
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.
Civil Rights and Leadership in African American Literature and Culture
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.