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Walter Prescott Webb Memorial Lectures Series

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Walter Prescott Webb Memorial Lectures Series

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Assumed Identities

The Meanings of Race in the Atlantic World

Edited by John D. Garrigus and Christopher Morris; Introduction by Franklin W. Knight

With the recent election of the nation’s first African American president—an individual of blended Kenyan and American heritage who spent his formative years in Hawaii and Indonesia—the topic of transnational identity is reaching the forefront of the national consciousness in an unprecedented way. As our society becomes increasingly diverse and intermingled, it is increasingly imperative to understand how race and heritage impact our perceptions of and interactions with each other. Assumed Identities constitutes an important step in this direction. However, “identity is a slippery concept,” say the editors of this instructive volume. This is nowhere more true than in the melting pot of the early trans-Atlantic cultures formed in the colonial New World during the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. As the studies in this volume show, during this period in the trans-Atlantic world individuals and groups fashioned their identities but also had identities ascribed to them by surrounding societies. The historians who have contributed to this volume investigate these processes of multiple identity formation, as well as contemporary understandings of them. Originating in the 2007 Walter Prescott Webb Memorial Lectures presented at the University of Texas at Arlington, Assumed Identities: The Meanings of Race in the Atlantic World examines, among other topics, perceptions of racial identity in the Chesapeake community, in Brazil, and in Saint-Domingue (colonial-era Haiti). As the contributors demonstrate, the cultures in which these studies are sited helped define the subjects’ self-perceptions and the ways others related to them.

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Baseball in America and America in Baseball

Edited by Donald G. Kyle and Robert B. Fairbanks

Presenting views from a variety of sport and history experts, Baseball in America and America in Baseball captures the breadth and unsuspected variety of our national fascination and identification with America’s Game. Chapters cover such well-known figures as Ty Cobb and lesser-known topics like the “invisible” baseball played by Japanese Americans during the 1930s and 1940s. A study of baseball in rural California from the Gold Rush to the turn of the twentieth century provides an interesting glimpse at how the game evolved from its earliest beginnings to something most modern observers would find familiar. Chapters on the Negro League’s Baltimore Black Sox, financial profits of major league teams from 1900 to 1956, and American aspirations to a baseball-led cultural hegemony during the first half of the twentieth century round out this superb collection of sport history scholarship. Baseball in America and America in Baseball belongs on the bookshelf of any avid student of the game and its history. It also provides interesting glimpses into the sociology of sport in America.

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Cold War Crossings

International Travel and Exchange across the Soviet Bloc, 1940s-1960s

Patryk Babiracki

Approaching the early decades of the “Iron Curtain” with new questions and perspectives, this important book examines the political and cultural implications of the communists’ international initiatives. Building on recent scholarship and working from new archival sources, the seven contributors to this volume study various effects of international outreach—personal, technological, and cultural—on the population and politics of the Soviet bloc. Several authors analyze lesser-known complications of East-West exchange; others show the contradictory nature of Moscow’s efforts to consolidate its sphere of influence in Eastern Europe and in the Third World.

An outgrowth of the forty-sixth annual Walter Prescott Webb Lectures, hosted in 2011 by the University of Texas at Arlington, Cold War Crossings features diverse focuses with a unifying theme.

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Crossing the Atlantic

Travel and Travel Writing in Modern Times

Edited by Thomas Adam and Nils H. Roemer

“ . . . travel as an exploration of ‘the other’ which becomes an exploration of the self . . . a confirmation of identity.”—from the Introduction, by Frank Trommler In an age when travel was more difficult but leisure was more available, those who journeyed across the Atlantic from the Old World to America or back created a wonderful literature about the divergent cultures and the fertile interactions among them. In travel diaries, journals, novels, journalistic reports, and guide books, nineteenth- and early twentieth-century writers recorded impressions and ruminations that not only offer opportunities for comparison and contrast but also shed light on the processes of modernization and the future that would emerge on both sides of the Atlantic. This latest offering from the important Walter Prescott Webb Memorial Lectures series explores themes like urbanization, modernization, education, gender, Jewish identity, nationalism and internationalism, political and cultural values, and the experience of travel itself. Volume editors Thomas Adam and Nils Roemer have assembled a collection of varied studies that permit enlightened reflection on the ways in which travelers from the New and Old Worlds have observed, documented, understood, and negotiated their similarities and differences. The freshness and variety of the previously little-heard voices documented in Crossing the Atlantic will serve as an important reminder that an attentive interaction with “foreignness” has been and will continue to be one of the best paths to a more enlightened engagement with the familiar.

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Lights, Camera, History

Portraying the Past in Film

By Richard V. Francaviglia; Edited by Jerry Rodnitzky

This important volume addresses a number of central topics concerning how history is depicted in film. In the preface, the volume editors emphasize the importance of using film in teaching history: students will see historical films, and if they are not taught critical viewing, they will be inclined simply to accept what they see as fact. Authors of the individual chapters then explore the portrayal of history—and the uses of history—in specific films and film genres. Robert Rosenstone’s “In Praise of the Biopic” considers such films as Reds, They Died with Their Boots On, Little Big Man, Seabiscuit, Cinderella Man, and The Grapes of Wrath. In his chapter, Geoff Pingree focuses on the big questions posed in Jay Rosenblatt’s 1998 film Human Remains. Richard Francaviglia’s chapter on films about the Middle East is especially timely in the post-9/11 world. One chapter, by Daniel A. Nathan, Peter Berg, and Erin Klemyk, is devoted to a single film: Martin Scorsese’s urban history The Gangs of New York, which the authors see as a way of exploring complex themes of the immigrant experience. Finally, Robert Brent Toplin addresses the paradox of using an art form (film) to present history. Among other themes, he considers the impact of Patton and Platoon on military decisions and interpretations, and of Birth of a Nation and Glory on race relations. The cumulative effect is to increase the reader’s understanding of the medium of film in portraying history and to stimulate the imagination as to how it can and how it should not be used. Students and teachers of history and cinema will benefit deeply from this informative and thoughtful discussion.

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The Mexican Revolution

Conflict and Consolidation, 1910-1940

Douglas W. Richmond

In 1910 insurgent leaders crushed the Porfirian dictatorship, but in the years that followed fought among themselves, until a nationalist consensus produced the 1917 Constitution. This in turn provided the basis for a reform agenda that transformed Mexico in the modern era. The civil war and the reforms that followed receive new and insightful attention in this book.

These essays, the result of the 45th annual Walter Prescott Webb Memorial Lectures, presented by the University of Texas at Arlington in March 2010, commemorate the centennial of the outbreak of the revolution.

A potent mix of factors—including the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few thousand hacienda owners, rancheros, and foreign capitalists; the ideological conflict between the Diaz government and the dissident regional reformers; and the grinding poverty afflicting the majority of the nation’s eleven million industrial and rural laborers—provided the volatile fuel that produced the first major political and social revolution of the twentieth century. The conflagration soon swept across the Rio Grande; indeed, The Mexican Revolution shows clearly that the struggle in Mexico had tremendous implications for the American Southwest. During the years of revolution, hundreds of thousands of Mexican citizens crossed the border into the United States. As a result, the region experienced waves of ethnically motivated violence, economic tensions, and the mass expulsions of Mexicans and US citizens of Mexican descent.

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Traveling between Worlds

German-American Encounters

Edited by Thomas Adam and Ruth Gross

In Traveling between Worlds, six authors explore the connectedness between Germans and Americans in the nineteenth century and their mutual impact on transatlantic history. Despite the ocean between them, these two groups of people were linked not only by the emigration from one to the other but also by ongoing interactions, especially among their intellectuals. Christof Mauch’s introduction examines the history of the German-American exchange and of cultural exchanges in general. Focusing on various aspects of the German-American relationship, Eberhard Bruning, John T. Walker, Thomas Adam, Gabriele Lingelbach, Andrew P. Yox, and Christiane Harzig examine the cultural and communicative exchanges that occurred both between the two countries and within them. Topics such as travel, cultural interpretation, ideological and intellectual transfer, the immigrant experience, and German-American poetry are all considered. Traveling between Worlds demonstrates that exchange was facilitated and maintained by ordinary individuals such as teachers and scholars, immigrants and natives, and held implications that last to this day.

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