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West Virginia University Press

West Virginia University Press

Website: http://www.as.wvu.edu/press

Founded in the mid-1960s, West Virginia University Press is a scholarly, not-for-profit publisher of books and journals. The Press specializes in Appalachian history, medieval studies, African American literature and culture, and rural sociology; its list also includes general interest and creative writings on Appalachia. Through the publication of all such works, WVU Press helps to fulfill West Virginia University’s land-grant mission.

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West Virginia University Press

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Afflicting the Comfortable Cover

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Afflicting the Comfortable

Journalism and Politics in West Virginia

Thomas F. Stafford

In 1990, the New York Times wrote, "Government corruption was not invented in West Virginia. But there are people who contend that West Virginia officials have done more than their share over the years to develop state-of-the-art techniques in vote theft, contract kickbacks, influence peddling and good old-fashioned bribery, extortion, fraud, tax evasion and outright stealing." While investigating such events as the Invest Right scandal, Thomas Stafford, a former journalist for the Charleston Gazette, would find himself in a very precarious position. As a reporter he felt obligated to tell the whole truth, and he believed in the need to serve the public and those West Virginians who were being abused by a political machine. In Afflicting the Comfortable, Stafford relates such tales of the responsibility of journalism and politics in coordination with scandals that have unsettled the Mountain State over the past few decades. His probing would take him from the halls of Charleston to the center of our nation's ruling elite. Guided by his senses of duty, right, and fairness, he plunged head first into the misdeeds of West Virginia's politicians. His investigations would be the preface to the downfall of a governor and an administration that had robbed the state and the citizens of West Virginia for years.


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One of the great triumphs of nineteenth-century philology was the development of the wide array of comparative data that underpins the grammars of the Old Germanic dialects, such as Old English, Old Icelandic, Old Saxon, and Gothic. These led to the reconstruction of Common Germanic and Proto-Germanic languages. Many individuals have forgotten that scholars of the same period were interested in reconstructing the body of ancient law that was supposedly shared by all speakers of Germanic. Stefan Jurasinski's Ancient Privileges: Beowulf, Law, and the Making of the Germanic Antiquity recounts how the work of nineteenth-century legal historians actually influenced the editing of Old English texts, most notably Beowulf, in ways that are still preserved in our editions. This situation has been a major contributor to the archaizing of Beowulf. In turn, Jurasinski's careful analysis of its assumptions in light of contemporary research offers a model for scholars to apply to a number of other textual artifacts that have been affected by what was known as the historische Rechtsschule. At the very least, it will change the way you think about Beowulf.

An Appalachian New Deal Cover

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An Appalachian New Deal

West Virginia and the Great Depression

Jerry Bruce Thomas

In this paperback edition of An Appalachian New Deal: West Virginia in the Great Depression, Jerry Bruce Thomas examines the economic and social conditions of the state of West Virginia before, during, and after the Great Depression. Thomas’s exploration of personal papers by leading political and social figures, newspapers, and the published and unpublished records of federal, state, local, and private agencies, traces a region’s response to an economic depression and a presidential stimulus program. This dissection of federal and state policies implemented under Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program reveals the impact of poverty upon political, gender, race, and familial relations within the Mountain State—and the entire country. Through An Appalachian New Deal, Thomas documents the stories of ordinary citizens who survived a period of economic crisis and echoes a message from our nation’s past to a new generation enduring financial hardship and uncertainty.

An Appalachian Reawakening Cover

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An Appalachian Reawakening

West Virginia and the Perils of the New Machine Age, 1945-1972

Jerry Bruce Thomas

As the long boom of post-World War II economic expansion spread across the globe, dreams of white picket fences, democratic ideals, and endless opportunities flourished within the United States. Middle America experienced a period of affluent stability built upon a modern age of industrialization. Yet for the people of Appalachia, this new era brought economic, social, and environmental devastation, preventing many from realizing the American Dream. Some families suffered in silence; some joined a mass exodus from the mountains; while others, trapped by unemployment, poverty, illness, and injury became dependent upon welfare. As the one state most completely Appalachian, West Virginia symbolized the region's dilemma, even as it provided much of the labor and natural resources that fueled the nation's prosperity.

An Appalachian Reawakening: West Virginia and the Perils of the New Machine Age, 1945-1972 recounts the difficulties the state of West Virginia faced during the post-World War II period. While documenting this turmoil, this valuable analysis also traces the efforts of the New Frontier and Great Society programs, which stimulated maximum feasible participation and lead to the ultimate rise of grass roots activities and organizations that improved life and labor in the region and undermined the notion of Appalachian fatalism.

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Beowulf and the Grendel-Kin

Politics and Poetry in Eleventh-Century England

Helen Damico

n Beowulf and the Grendel-kin: Politics and Poetry in Eleventh-Century England, Helen Damico presents the first concentrated discussion of the initiatory two-thirds of Beowulf’s 3,182 lines in the context of the sociopolitically turbulent years that composed the first half of the eleventh century in Anglo-Danish England. Beowulf and the Grendel-Kin lays out the story of Beowulf, not as a monster narrative nor a folklorish nor solely a legendary tale, but rather as a poem of its time, a historical allegory coping with and reconfiguring sociopolitical events of the first half of eleventh-century Anglo-Saxon England.

The Book of Emperors Cover

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The Book of Emperors

A Translation of the Middle High German Kaiserchronik

edited by Henry A. Myers

The Kaiserchronik (c.1152–1165) is the first verse chronicle to have been written in a language other than Latin. This story recounts the exploits of the Roman, Byzantine, Carolingian, and Holy Roman kings and rulers, from the establishment of Rome to the start of the Second Crusade. As an early example of popular history, it was written for a non-monastic audience who would have preferred to read, or may only have been able to read, in German. As a rhymed chronicle, its combined use of the styles of language found within a vernacular epic and a factual treaty was a German innovation. The Book of Emperors is the first complete translation of the Kaiserchronik from Middle High German to English. It is a rich resource not only for medieval German scholars and students, but also for those working in early cultural studies. It brings together an understanding of the conception of kingship in the German Middle Ages, from the relationship between emperor and king, to the moral, theological, and legal foundations of claims and legitimacy and the medieval epistemological approaches to historiography. This translation includes a substantial introduction that discusses the historical and philological context of the work, as well as the themes of power and kingship. Each chapter begins with a brief introduction that distinguishes historical truths from the epic fiction found within the original text.

Bringing Down the Mountains Cover

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Bringing Down the Mountains

The Impact of Mountaintop Removal on Southern West Virginia Communities

Shirley Stewart Burns

Coal is West Virginia’s bread and butter. For more than a century, West Virginia has answered the energy call of the nation—and the world—by mining and exporting its coal. In 2004, West Virginia’s coal industry provided almost forty thousand jobs directly related to coal, and it contributed $3.5 billion to the state’s gross annual product. And in the same year, West Virginia led the nation in coal exports, shipping over 50 million tons of coal to twenty-three countries. Coal has made millionaires of some and paupers of many. For generations of honest, hard-working West Virginians, coal has put food on tables, built homes, and sent students to college. But coal has also maimed, debilitated, and killed. Bringing Down the Mountains provides insight into how mountaintop removal has affected the people and the land of southern West Virginia. It examines the mechanization of the mining industry and the power relationships between coal interests, politicians, and the average citizen.

California Dreaming Cover

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California Dreaming

Boosterism, Memory, and Rural Suburbs in the Golden State

Paul J.P. Sandul

California Dreaming analyzes the growth, promotion, and agricultural colonization that fed this dream during the early 1900s. Through this analysis, Paul J. P. Sandul introduces a newly identified rural-suburban type: the agriburb, a rural suburb deliberately planned, developed, and promoted for profit. Sandul reconceptualizes California’s growth during this time period, establishing the agriburb as a suburban phenomenon that occurred long before the booms of the 1920s and 1950s.

Centerville Cover

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Karen Osborn

Karen Osborn is the author of three previous novels, Patchwork (a New York Times Notable Book of the Year), Between Earth and Sky, and The River Road. She lives in Amherst, Massachusetts with her husband and teaches fiction writing at Mt. Holyoke College and Fairfield University. While growing up in the Midwest, she witnessed a bombing and the resulting conflagration in her small town.

Learn more about Karen Osborn at www.karenosborn.net.

Cinco Becknell Cover

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Cinco Becknell

Lee Maynard

Cinco Becknell is the story of a homeless man with no memory. Locked in the emptiness of his mind is a secret, a past, which will either keep him alive or get him killed. 

As Cinco staggers through a dangerous journey of rediscovery, he is hunted by psychopaths who want to kill him, and he has no idea why; he is shadowed by a woman who may keep him alive—or not; and he is finally helped by another woman who can bring back to him the light he looks for—if he can stay alive. But he is running out of time, and people around him are dying, always violently. 

Gradually, he begins to understand the true, brutal, nature of himself and of the darkness of his past. But it is a past, and a present, that he may never fully understand. 

This novel, based on generations of violent, local family history, is set in the underbelly of the pseudo-glitzy streets of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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