Revisiting New England

Published by: University of New Hampshire Press

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Revisiting New England

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Dirty Whites and Dark Secrets

Sex and Race in Peyton Place

Sally Hirsh-Dickinson

In a surprise rereading of the classic Peyton Place by Grace Metalious, Sally Hirsh-Dickinson contends that it scandalized the nation precisely because of the way in which sexuality in the novel is conflated with America's problematic relationship to race. This charge is buttressed by the oft-forgotten detail that the fictional Peyton Place was founded by one Samuel Peyton, an escaped slave.

Hirsh-Dickinson argues that the town's inability to come to terms with its black history informs its dysfunctional relationship to sex, power, and justice, mirroring America on the eve of the civil rights movement. She writes of New England in the larger American consciousness, touching on discussions of white studies and the racialized lower classes in American fiction. Dirty Whites and Dark Secrets is a thought-provoking study of a genre classic that will speak to both scholars and students about the deeper truths hidden in popular fiction.

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Evangelicals at a Crossroads

Revivalism and Social Reform in Boston, 1860–1910

Benjamin L. Hartley

Benjamin L. Hartley brings to light the little-known story of relative latecomers to Boston's religious scene: Methodist, Salvation Army, Baptist, and nondenominational Christians. Focusing on Congregationalists and Roman Catholics, Boston urban historians have largely overlooked these groups. Hartley, however, sheds light on the role of immigrant evangelical leaders from Italy, Sweden, and elsewhere in revivalism and social reform in postbellum Boston. Further, examining the contested nature of revivalism and social reform in a particular, local nineteenth-century context provides a basis for understanding the roots of current divisions in American Protestantism and the contentious role of evangelical religion in American politics. Hartley documents the importance of the American holiness movement as a precursor to the significant presence of Pentecostal groups in urban America, adding an important historical context for evangelical social action today.

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Thanksgiving

The Biography of an American Holiday

James W. Baker

In this, the first in-depth study of the most American of holidays, James Baker sweeps away lingering myths and misconceptions to show how this celebration day was born and grew to be an essential part of our national spirit. Thanksgiving: The Biography of an American Holiday opens with an overview of the popular mythos of the holiday before discussing its possible religious and cultural precedents. This classic Yankee holiday is examined in historical and contemporary detail that embraces everything from proclamations, sermons, and local and regional traditions to family reunions, turkey dinners, and recipes. Thanksgiving's evolving face is illustrated with charming and often revealing period prints that chart our changing attitudes: the influence of Victorian sentiment in Thanksgiving's development, Progressive utilitarianism, intellectual "debunking," patriotic wartime reclamation, and 1960s-era protest. Thanksgiving remains controversial up to the present day, as Mayflower descendants, Native Americans, and commercial exploiters compete for the American public's opinion of the holiday's contemporary significance and its future status. This is an intelligent and illuminating introduction to a beloved holiday and a fascinating cultural history of America and Americana.

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