New Books in American Studies

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Interviews with Scholars of America about their New Books
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4304 episodes

Rebecca Weeks, "History by HBO: Televising the American Past" (UP of Kentucky, 2022)

The television industry is changing, and with it, the small screen's potential to engage in debate and present valuable representations of American history. Founded in 1972, HBO has been at the forefront of these changes, leading the way for many network, cable, and streaming services into the "post-network" era. Despite this, most scholarship has been dedicated to analyzing historical feature films and documentary films, leaving TV and the long-form drama hungry for coverage. In History by HBO: Televising the American Past (UP of Kentucky, 2022), Rebecca Weeks fills the gap in this area of media studies and defends the historiographic power of long-form dramas. Dr. Weeks is a lecturer in the Bachelor of Art and Design Programme at Media Design School in Auckland, New Zealand. By focusing on this change and its effects, History by HBO outlines how history is crafted on television and the diverse forms it can take. Weeks examines the capabilities of the long-form serial for engaging with historical stories, insisting that the shift away from the network model and toward narrowcasting has enabled challenging histories to thrive in home settings. As an examination of HBO's unique structure for producing quality historical dramas, Weeks provides four case studies of HBO series set during different periods of United States history: Band of Brothers (2001), Deadwood (2004–2007), Boardwalk Empire (2012–2014), and Treme (2010–2013). In each case, HBO's lack of advertiser influence, commitment to creative freedom, and generous budgets continue to draw and retain talent who want to tell historical stories. Balancing historical and film theories in her assessment of the roles of mise-en–scène, characterization, narrative complexity, and sound in the production of effective historical dramas, Weeks' evaluation acts as an ode to the most recent Golden Age of TV, as well as a critical look at the relationship between entertainment media and collective memory. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/american-studies

1h 5m
Aug 12
Lindy S. F. Hern, "Single Payer Healthcare Reform: Grassroots Mobilization and the Turn Against Establishment Politics in the Medicare for All Movement" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020)

In Single Payer Healthcare Reform: Grassroots Mobilization and the Turn Against Establishment Politics in the Medicare for All Movement (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020), Lindy Hern provides a comprehensive history of the grassroots Movement for Health Care Reform in the United States from within the Single Payer Movement. Hern discusses the role that narrative (constructions of opportunity) plays in grassroots mobilization, which builds on existing social movement theory. She examines the turn against “politics as usual” and establishment politicians that began in progressive social movements long before the election of Donald Trump. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/american-studies

1h 21m
Aug 12
Christopher M. Reali, "Music and Mystique in Muscle Shoals" (U Illinois Press, 2022)

The forceful music that rolled out of Muscle Shoals in the 1960s and 1970s shaped hits by everyone from Wilson Pickett and Aretha Franklin to the Rolling Stones and Paul Simon. Christopher M. Reali's in-depth look at the fabled musical hotbed examines the events and factors that gave the Muscle Shoals sound such a potent cultural power. Many artists trekked to FAME Studios and Muscle Shoals Sound in search of the sound of authentic southern Black music—and at times expressed shock at the mostly white studio musicians waiting to play it for them. Others hoped to draw on the hitmaking production process that defined the scene. Reali also chronicles the overlooked history of Muscle Shoals's impact on country music and describes the region's recent transformation into a tourism destination. Multifaceted and informed, Music and Mystique in Muscle Shoals (University of Illinois Press, 2022) reveals the people, places, and events behind one of the most legendary recording scenes in American history. Dr. Christopher Reali is an assistant professor of music at Ramapo College of New Jersey. Emily Ruth Allen (@emmyru91) holds a Ph.D. in musicology from Florida State University. Her current research focuses on parade musics in Mobile, Alabama's carnival. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/american-studies

40m
Aug 12
Jeremy Black, "A Brief History of the Atlantic" (Robinson, 2022)

The Atlantic has borne witness to major historic events that have drastically shaped humanity with each crossing of its path. In A Brief History of the Atlantic (Robinson, 2022), Jeremy Black takes the reader through its evolution to becoming one of the most important oceans in the world. Black discusses the importance of the Atlantic in relation to world history as well as addressing topics such as those bravest to attempt to cross the ocean before Columbus, the beginnings of slavery from 1400-1600, the struggle for control between empires in the 1600s, the way technology adapted with steamships to telegraph cables, the battle of the Falkland, and the Cold War. Black also touches on the Atlantic we know today, and the struggles it faces due to urgent global issues including climate change, pollution, and the trials of the economic rise in the Indo-Pacific world. If you have ever yearned to know more about this famed and vital ocean, this clear and concise history will be a key read as one of the first of its kind on its evolution to becoming an established world ocean. Charles Coutinho, PH. D., Associate Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, received his doctorate from New York University. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written for Chatham House’s International Affairs, the Institute of Historical Research's Reviews in History and the University of Rouen's online periodical Cercles. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/american-studies

42m
Aug 12
Hans G. Myers, "The Lion of Round Top: The Life and Military Service of Brigadier General Strong Vincent in the American Civil War" (Casemate, 2022)

Hans G. Myers' book The Lion of Round Top: The Life and Military Service of Brigadier General Strong Vincent in the American Civil War (Casemate, 2022) presents the story of the true savior of Little Round Top at Gettysburg―a 26-year-old Harvard-educated lawyer, who paid with his life to defend that hill. Citizen-soldier Strong Vincent was many things: Harvard graduate, lawyer, political speaker, descendent of pilgrims and religious refugees, husband, father, brother. But his greatest contribution to history is as the savior of the Federal left on the second day at Gettysburg, when he and his men held Little Round Top against overwhelming Confederate numbers. Forgotten by history in favor of his subordinate, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, Vincent has faded into relative obscurity in the decades since his death. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/american-studies

47m
Aug 12
Jamie Ducharme, "Big Vape: The Incendiary Rise of Juul" (Henry Holt, 2021)

It began with a smoke break. James Monsees and Adam Bowen were two ambitious graduate students at Stanford, and in between puffs after class they dreamed of a way to quit smoking. Their solution became the Juul, a sleek, modern device that could vaporize nicotine into a conveniently potent dosage. The company they built around that device, Juul Labs, would go on to become a $38 billion dollar company and draw blame for addicting a whole new generation of underage tobacco users. Time magazine reporter Jamie Ducharme follows Monsees and Bowen as they create Juul and, in the process, go from public health visionaries and Silicon Valley wunderkinds to two of the most controversial businessmen in the country. With rigorous reporting and clear-eyed prose that reads like a nonfiction thriller, Big Vape: The Incendiary Rise of Juul (Henry Holt, 2021) uses the dramatic rise of Juul to tell a larger story of big business, Big Tobacco, and the high cost of a product that was too good to be true. Jamie Ducharme is a correspondent at Time magazine, where she covers health and science. Caleb Zakarin is the Assistant Editor of the New Books Network (Twitter: @caleb_zakarin). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/american-studies

36m
Aug 11
Saladin Ambar, "Stars and Shadows: The Politics of Interracial Friendship from Jefferson to Obama" (Oxford UP, 2022)

Slavery and its lingering remnants remain a plague on the United States, continuing to foster animosity between races that hinders the understanding and connection conducive to dismantling the remains of such systems. Personal relationships and connection can provide a path towards reconciling differences and overcoming the racial divisiveness that is America’s original sin.  In his fascinating new book, Stars and Shadows: The Politics of Interracial Friendship from Jefferson to Obama (Oxford UP, 2022), Saladin Ambar, professor of Political Science and Senior Scholar at the Center on the American Governor at the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, constructs a comprehensive overview of interracial friendships throughout U.S. history, detailing how friendship can be an invaluable and often overlooked tool when advocating for equality. Because political leaders, celebrities, and other cultural figures have such an influence on the general public, they can play a particular role in shaping public opinion. Thus, analyzing significant interracial friendships between well-known individuals throughout different historical moments can serve as windows into the state of race relations as they developed through time, and what that can mean for our future. Ambar meditates on the power of friendship in general, and interracial friendship in particular, through ten different, iconic cases, examining these relationships in both their personal and political capacity. The specific focus of each friendship duet is to explore the public consequences of relationships across race. Each duo has unique experiences that are particular to their historical moments and the political constraints of the time. Through these stories, Ambar develops a theory rejecting the notion that we must separate the personal from the political, detailing how, in an interracial democracy predicated on equality, the two must and do intertwine in order to overcome racial differences. Stars and Shadows examines, among others, Benjamin Banneker and Thomas Jefferson, Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, Angela Davis and Gloria Steinem, Marlon Brando and James Baldwin, and ends with Barack Obama and Joe Biden’s iconic bond. The analysis wrestles with the American political structure, which is not based on connecting individuals to each other in any kind of personal way, and yet friendship is what connects us all as human beings. Ambar’s theory challenges citizens to look inward and outward when interacting with one another, to engage intentionally with our differences, and not to run away from our past but to critically analyze it and incorporate it going forward. Emma R. Handschke assisted in the production of this podcast. Lilly J. Goren is a professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012), as well as co-editor of Mad Men and Politics: Nostalgia and the Remaking of Modern America (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015). Email her comments at lgoren@carrollu.edu or tweet to @gorenlj. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/american-studies

53m
Aug 11
Jordan Denari Duffner, "Islamophobia: What Christians Should Know (and Do) about Anti-Muslim Discrimination" (Orbis, 2021)

Jordan Denari Duffner is an author and scholar of Muslim-Christian relations, interreligious dialogue, and Islamophobia. Jordan is currently pursuing a PhD in Theological and Religious Studies at Georgetown University. A former Fulbright scholar, she is also an associate of the Bridge Initiative, where she previously worked from 2014 to 2017 as a research fellow. Jordan’s writing on Islam and Catholicism has appeared in numerous outlets including TIME, The Washington Post, and America. This episode discusses her newest book Islamophobia: What Christians Should Know (and do) about Anti-Muslim Discrimination (Orbis, 2021) You can find her at JordanDenari.com and on twitter @JordanDenari. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/american-studies

54m
Aug 11
Simone White, "Or, on Being the Other Woman" (Duke UP, 2022)

In or, on being the other woman (Duke UP, 2022), Simone White considers the dynamics of contemporary black feminist life. Throughout this book-length poem, White writes through a hybrid of poetry, essay, personal narrative, and critical theory, attesting to the narrative complexities of writing and living as a black woman and artist. She considers black social life—from art and motherhood to trap music and love—as unspeakably troubling and reflects on the degree to which it strands and punishes black women. She also explores what constitutes sexual freedom and the rewards and dangers that come with it. White meditates on trap music and the ways artists such as Future and Meek Mill and the sonic waves of the drum machine convey desire and the black experience. Charting the pressures of ordinary black womanhood, White pushes the limits of language, showing how those limits can be the basis for new modes of expression. Brittney Edmonds is an Assistant Professor of Afro-American Studies at UW-Madison. I specialize in 20th and 21st century African American Literature and Culture with a special interest in Black Humor Studies. Read more about my work at brittneymichelleedmonds.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/american-studies

1h 9m
Aug 11
Jane Juffer, "Millennial Feminism at Work: Bridging Theory and Practice" (Cornell UP, 2021)

In Millennial Feminism at Work: Bridging Theory and Practice (Cornell UP, 2021), volume editor Jane Juffer brings together recently graduated students from across the US to reflect on the relevance of their feminist studies programs in their chosen career paths. The result is a dynamic collection of voices, shaking up preconceived ideas and showing the positive influence of gender and sexuality studies on individuals at work. Encompassing five areas—corporate, education, nonprofit, medical, and media careers—these engaging essays use personal experiences to analyze the pressure on young adults to define themselves through creative work, even when that job may not sustain them financially. Obstacles to feminist work conditions notwithstanding, they urge readers to never downplay their feminist credentials and prove that gender and sexuality studies degrees can serve graduates well in the current marketplace and prepare them for life outside of their alma mater. Emphasizing the importance of individual stories situated within political and economic structures, Millennial Feminism at Work provides spirited collective advice and a unique window into the lives and careers of young feminists sharing the lessons they have learned. Contributors to this volume include Rose Al Abosy, Rachel Cromidas, Lauren Danzig, Sadaf Ferdowsi, Reina Gattuso, Jael Goldfine, Sassafras Lowrey, Alissa Medina, Samuel Naimi, Stephanie Newman, Justine Parkin, Lily Pierce, Kate Poor, Laura Ramos-Jaimes, Savannah Taylor, Addie Tsai, and Hayley Zablotsky. Rose Al Abosy and Jael Goldfine, along with Dr. Jane Juffer, were able to join us for this conversation. Iqra Shagufta Cheema is a writer, researcher, and chronic procrastinator. When she does write, she writes in the areas of postmodernist postcolonial literatures, transnational feminisms, gender and sexuality studies, and film studies. Check out her latest book chapter Queer Love: He is also Made in Heaven. She can be reached via email at IqraSCheema@gmail.com or Twitter. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/american-studies

1h 11m
Aug 11
On Walter Lippmann's "Public Opinion"

What is the role of the press in a democracy? For nearly a century, scholars, media critics, and politicians have debated this question—in a large part thanks to Walter Lippmann. Lippmann’s 1922 book, Public Opinion, changed the conversation about how to educate voters and who should be able to vote at all. In this episode, University of British Columbia professor Heidi Tworek discusses the timeless questions and the man who asked them. Heidi Tworek is assistant professor of international history at the University of British Columbia. She is an editor of The Journal of Global History and the author of News from Germany: The Competition to Control World Communications, 1900–1945. See more information on our website, WritLarge.fm. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/american-studies

32m
Aug 10
Jeffrey S. Sutton, "Who Decides?: States As Laboratories of Constitutional Experimentation" (Oxford UP, 2021)

Everything in law and politics, including individual rights, comes back to divisions of power and the evergreen question: Who decides? Who wins the disputes of the day often turns on who decides them. And our acceptance of the resolution of those disputes often turns on who the decision maker is-because it reveals who governs us. In Who Decides?: States As Laboratories of Constitutional Experimentation (Oxford UP, 2021), the influential US Appellate Court Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton focuses on the constitutional structure of the American states to answer the question of who should decide the key questions of public policy today. By concentrating on the role of governmental structure in shaping power across the 50 American states, Sutton develops a powerful explanation of American constitutional law, in all of its variety, as opposed to just federal constitutional law. As in his earlier book, 51 Imperfect Solutions, which looked at how American federalism allowed the states to serve as laboratories of innovation for protecting individual liberty and property rights, Sutton compares state-level governments with the federal government and draws numerous insights from the comparisons. Instead of focusing on individual rights, however, he focuses on structure, while continuing to develop some of the core themes of his previous book. An illuminating and essential sequel to his earlier work on the nature of American federalism, Who Decides makes the case that American Constitutional Law should account for the role of the state courts and state constitutions, together with the federal courts and the federal constitution, in assessing the right balance of power among all branches of government. Taken together, both books reveal a remarkably complex, nuanced, ever-changing federalist system, one that ought to make lawyers and litigants pause before reflexively assuming that the United States Supreme Court alone has the answers to our vexing constitutional questions. William Domnarski is a longtime lawyer who before and during has been a literary guy, with a Ph.D. in English. He's written five books on judges, lawyers, and courts, two with Oxford, one with Illinois, one with Michigan, and one with the American Bar Association. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/american-studies

1h 8m
Aug 10
Andrew Bacevich and Daniel A. Sjursen, "Paths of Dissent: Soldiers Speak Out Against America's Forever Wars" (Metropolitan Books, 2022)

Compiled by New York Times bestselling author Andrew Bacevich and retired army officer Danny A. Sjursen, Paths of Dissent: Soldiers Speak Out Against America’s Misguided Wars (Metropolitan Books, 2022) collects provocative essays from American military veterans who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, offering firsthand testimony that illuminates why the Forever Wars lasted so long while producing so little of value. In the wake of 9/11, the United States embarked upon a Global War on Terrorism aimed at using American military power to transform the Greater Middle East.  Twenty years later, the ensuing forever wars have produced little tangible success while exacting enormous harm. In Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States has sustained tens of thousands of casualties while expending trillions of dollars and inflicting massive suffering on populations that we sought to “liberate.” In Washington and across the nation at large, the inclination to forget these wars and move on is palpable. In fact, there is much to be learned and those who served and fought in these wars are best positioned to teach. The first book of its kind since the Vietnam era, Paths of Dissent gathers original essays from American veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, drawn from all services, ranks, and walks of life, who have come out in opposition to these conflicts. Selected for their honesty and eloquence by fellow veterans Andrew Bacevich and Danny A. Sjursen, these outspoken critics describe not only their motivations for serving, but also for taking the path of dissent—disappointment and disillusionment; the dehumanizing impact of combat; the loss of comrades to friendly fire; the persistence of xenophobia and racism—all of these together exposing the mendacity that has pervaded the Global War on Terrorism from its very outset. Combining diverse, critical perspectives with powerful personal testimony, Paths of Dissent sheds light on the myriad factors that have made America’s post-9/11 wars costly and misguided exercises in futility. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/american-studies

34m
Aug 10
Nick Davis, "Competing with Idiots: Herman and Joe Mankiewicz, a Dual Portrait" (Knopf, 2021)

A fascinating, complex dual biography of Hollywood's most dazzling—and famous—brothers, and a dark, riveting portrait of competition, love, and enmity that ultimately undid them both. One most famous for having written Citizen Kane; the other, All About Eve; one who only wrote screenplays but believed himself to be a serious playwright, slowly dying of alcoholism and disappointment; the other a four-time Academy Award-winning director, auteur, sorcerer, and seducer of leading ladies, one of Hollywood's most literate and intelligent filmmakers. Herman Mankiewicz brought us the Marx Brothers' Monkey Business, Horse Feathers, and Duck Soup and W. C. Fields' Million Dollar Legs, wrote screenplays for Dinner at Eight and Pride of the Yankees, and cowrote Citizen Kane (Pauline Kael proclaimed that the script was mostly Herman's) and 89 others. Talented, witty (Alexander Woollcott thought him "the funniest man who ever lived"), huge-hearted, and wildly immature, Herman was a figure of renown and success. Herman went to Hollywood in 1926, was almost immediately successful (his telegram to Ben Hecht back east: "Millions are to be grabbed out here and your only competition is idiots. Don't let this get around.") and became one of the highest-paid screenwriters in Hollywood. Joe, eleven years younger, a focused, organized, and disciplined writer with a far more distinguished career, eventually surpassed his worshipped older brother, producing The Philadelphia Story, writing and directing A Letter to Three Wives and All About Eve, both of which won him Oscars before seeing his career upended by the spectacular fiasco of Cleopatra. In Competing with Idiots: Herman and Joe Mankiewicz, a Dual Portrait (Knopf, 2021), we see the lives of these two men—their dreams and desires, their fears and feuds, struggling to free themselves from their dark past; and the driving forces that kept them bound to a system they loved and hated. Nick Davis, the grandson of Herman Mankiewicz and great-nephew of Joseph Mankiewicz, is a writer, director, and producer. He lives in New York City. Daniel Moran earned his B.A. and M.A. in English from Rutgers University and his Ph.D. in History from Drew University. The author of Creating Flannery O’Connor: Her Critics, Her Publishers, Her Readers, he teaches research and writing at Rutgers and co-hosts the podcast Fifteen-Minute Film Fanatics, found at https://fifteenminutefilm.podb... and on Twitter @15MinFilm. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/american-studies

56m
Aug 10
Sara Farrington, "The Lost Conversation: Interviews with an Enduring Avant-Garde" (53rd State Press, 2021)

Sara Farrington's The Lost Conversation: Interviews with an Enduring Avant-Garde (53rd State Press, 2021) is a collection of interviews with a host of influential artists in experimental theatre, including Richard Foreman, Lee Breuer, Adrienne Kennedy, Maude Mitchell, and Jessica Hagedorn. They discuss process, making a living as an artist, the changes that have rocked the New York theatre scene since the 1970s, AIDS, COVID, and so much more in wide-ranging and insightful conversations.  Andy Boyd is a playwright based in Brooklyn, New York. He is a graduate of the playwriting MFA at Columbia University, Harvard University, and the Arizona School for the Arts. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/american-studies

57m
Aug 10
Michael Elliott, "Have a Little Faith: The John Hiatt Story" (Chicago Review Press, 2021)

A journey through an artist's quest for success, deep dive into substance abuse, family tragedy, and ultimate triumph. By the mid-1980s, singer-songwriter John Hiatt had been dropped from three record labels, burned through two marriages, and had fallen deep into substance abuse. It took a stint in rehab and a new marriage to inspire him, then a producer and an A&R man to have a little faith. By February 1987, he was back in the studio on a shoestring budget with a hand-picked supergroup consisting of Ry Cooder on guitar, Nick Lowe on bass, and Jim Keltner on drums, recording what would become his masterpiece, Bring the Family. Based on author Michael Elliott's multiple extensive and deeply personal interviews with Hiatt as well as his collaborators and contemporaries, including Rosanne Cash, Bonnie Raitt, Ry Cooder, and many others, Have a Little Faith: The John Hiatt Story (Chicago Review Press, 2021) is the journey through the musical landscape of the 1960s through today that places Hiatt's long career in context with the glossy pop, college-alternative, mainstream country, and heartland rock of the last half-century. Michael Elliott is a contributor to the pioneering roots music authority No Depression. His writing has also appeared in PopMatters, Albmism, Americana UK, and The Bitter Southerner. Elliott spent close to thirty years in radio broadcasting and management in a variety of formats. He has interviewed and produced profiles on musicians as diverse as Isaac Hayes, Charlie Daniels, Delbert McClinton, Johnny Rivers, and Little Richard. He lives in Raleigh, NC. His website is michael-elliott.com Daniel Moran earned his B.A. and M.A. in English from Rutgers University and his Ph.D. in History from Drew University. The author of Creating Flannery O’Connor: Her Critics, Her Publishers, Her Readers, he teaches research and writing at Rutgers and co-hosts the podcast Fifteen-Minute Film Fanatics, found at https://fifteenminutefilm.podb... and on Twitter @15MinFilm. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/american-studies

52m
Aug 10
Harvey J. Graff, "The Literacy Myth: Cultural Integration and Social Structure in the Nineteenth Century" (Transaction, 1991)

Harvey Graff's pioneering study presents a new and original interpretation of the place of literacy in nineteenth-century society and culture. Based upon an intensive comparative historical analysis, employing both qualitative and quantitative techniques, and on a wide range of sources, The Literacy Myth: Cultural Integration and Social Structure in the Nineteenth Century (Transaction, 1991; new edition Routledge, 2017) reevaluates the role typically assigned to literacy in historical scholarship, cultural understanding, economic development schemes, and social doctrines and ideologies. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/american-studies

1h 13m
Aug 09
The Future of Political Anger: A Conversation with Mark Blyth

Trump’s voters. The yellow jackets in France. Putin’s base in Russia. The Brexiteers. One thing all these groups have in common is anger – anger at being left behind, anger about de industrialization, anger at the arrogance and wealth of the elite. But what more can be said about the nature of that anger and the different aspects of it? In Angrynomics (Agenda Publishing, 2020) Mark Blyth and Eric Lonergan address this question. Today I talked to Blyth, a professor of political economy at Brown University. Owen Bennett-Jones is a freelance journalist and writer. A former BBC correspondent and presenter he has been a resident foreign correspondent in Bucharest, Geneva, Islamabad, Hanoi and Beirut. He is recently wrote a history of the Bhutto dynasty which was published by Yale University Press. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/american-studies

44m
Aug 09
Katherine L. Carroll, "Building Schools, Making Doctors: Architecture and the Modern American Physician" (U Pittsburgh Press, 2022)

In the late nineteenth century, medical educators intent on transforming American physicians into scientifically trained, elite professionals recognized the value of medical school design for their reform efforts. Between 1893 and 1940, nearly every medical college in the country rebuilt or substantially renovated its facility. In Building Schools, Making Doctors: Architecture and the Modern American Physician (U Pittsburgh Press, 2022), Katherine Carroll reveals how the schools constructed during this fifty-year period did more than passively house a remodeled system of medical training; they actively participated in defining and promoting an innovative pedagogy, modern science, and the new physician. Interdisciplinary and wide ranging, her study moves architecture from the periphery of medical education to the center, uncovering a network of medical educators, architects, and philanthropists who believed that the educational environment itself shaped how students learned and the type of physicians they became. Carroll offers the first comprehensive study of the science and pedagogy formulated by the buildings, the influence of the schools’ donors and architects, the impact of the structures on the urban landscape and the local community, and the facilities’ privileging of white men within the medical profession during this formative period for physicians and medical schools. Rachel Pagones is an acupuncturist, educator, and author based in Cambridge, England. Her book, Acupuncture as Revolution: Suffering, Liberation, and Love (Brevis Press) was published in 2021. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/american-studies

47m
Aug 09
On Zora Neale Hurston's "Their Eyes Were Watching God"

Zora Neale Hurston was an important figure in the Harlem Renaissance, but her novels didn’t conform to the style of her contemporaries. As a result, her work was almost lost—until the writer Alice Walker found her unmarked grave in 1974. Now, Hurston’s novel Their Eyes Were Watching God is on high school reading lists across the US. Dartmouth professor and poet Joshua Bennett discusses the novel’s longstanding impact and what it can teach us about cancel culture. Joshua Bennett is an Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at Dartmouth College. He is the author of The Sobbing School. See more information on our website, WritLarge.fm. Follow us on Twitter @WritLargePod. You can hear the full interview with Professor Bennett on the Lyceum app. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/american-studies

37m
Aug 09
Grant Wiedenfeld, "Hollywood Sports Movies and the American Dream" (Oxford UP, 2022)

Through the heart of Hollywood cinema runs a surprising current of progressive politics. Sports movies, a genre that has flourished since the mid-seventies, evoke the American dream and represent the nation to itself. Once considered mere credos for Reaganism, on closer view, movies from Rocky (1976) to Ali (2001) dream of democratic participation and recognition more than individual success. In every case, off-field relationships take precedence over on-field competition.  Arranged chronologically, Hollywood Sports Movies and the American Dream (Oxford UP, 2022) tells the story of multiculturalism's gradual adoption. The mainstream's first minority heroes are paradoxically white ethnic, rural, working-class men, exemplified by Rocky, Slap Shot (1977) and The Natural (1984); Black, brown, and women characters follow in White Men Can't Jump (1992), A League of Their Own (1992), and Ali. But despite their insistence on community and diversity these popular dramas show limited faith in civic institutions. Hannah Arendt, Jeffrey Alexander, and others inform original analysis and commentary on the political significance of popular culture. Reading these familiar movies from another angle paints a fresh picture of how the United States has imagined democracy since its bicentennial. In this conversation with host Annie Berke, Dr. Grant Wiedenfeld explains his personal and familial connections to the book's subject matter, discusses why Hollywood sports films don't always have (or need) a "happy ending," and explains how the genre functions as a "civic screen" for the American public in the decades following the Vietnam War. Grant Wiedenfeld earned a PhD from Yale University in Comparative Literature and Film & Media Studies. He taught courses on sports and cinema in Yale's English Department and Film Studies Program before being hired at Sam Houston State University, where he is currently Associate Professor of Media and Culture. Previous publications include studies of Gustave Flaubert, D.W. Griffith, and André Bazin. Annie Berke is the Film Editor at the Los Angeles Review of Books and author of Their Own Best Creations: Women Writers in Postwar Television (University of California Press, 2022). Her scholarship and criticism has been published in Feminist Media Histories, Public Books, Literary Hub, and Ms. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/american-studies

1h 13m
Aug 08
January 6th and the Myth of the Mob: The Pervasive Power of Crowd Theory

This week, we’re showcasing some of our favourite past episodes of Darts and Letters themed around “Activism & Academia”. Today’s episode originally aired a little earlier this summer. In the US, the January 6th hearings were continuing - and discourse about the factors that led to the insurrection was rampant. You might notice that when these kinds of events take place, similar descriptors are used: groupthink, mob mentality, deindividuation…and all of these ideas can be traced back to one bigoted, reactionary bigot: 19th-century French physician Gustave Le Bon. Why does academia always fear the masses? Our host Gordon Katic takes us through the story of Le Bon and beyond to analyze the academic stereotype of the public. —————————-SUPPORT THE SHOW—————————- You can support the show for free by following or subscribing on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or whichever app you use. This is the best way to help us out and it costs nothing so we’d really appreciate you clicking that button. If you want to do a little more we would love it if you chip in. You can find us on patreon.com/dartsandletters. Patrons get content early, and occasionally there’s bonus material on there too. ——————-ABOUT THE SHOW—————— For a full list of credits, contact information, and more, visit our about page. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/american-studies

1h 11m
Aug 08
Miriam Thaggert, "Riding Jane Crow: African American Women on the American Railroad" (U Illinois Press, 2022)

Miriam Thaggert illuminates the stories of African American women as passengers and as workers on the nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century railroad. As Jim Crow laws became more prevalent and forced Black Americans to "ride Jim Crow" on the rails, the train compartment became a contested space of leisure and work.  Riding Jane Crow: African American Women on the American Railroad (U Illinois Press, 2022) examines four instances of Black female railroad travel: the travel narratives of Black female intellectuals such as Anna Julia Cooper and Mary Church Terrell; Black middle-class women who sued to ride in first class "ladies' cars"; Black women railroad food vendors; and Black maids on Pullman trains. Thaggert argues that the railroad represented a technological advancement that was entwined with African American attempts to secure social progress. Black women's experiences on or near the railroad illustrate how American technological progress has often meant their ejection or displacement; thus, it is the Black woman who most fully measures the success of American freedom and privilege, or "progress," through her travel experiences. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/american-studies

38m
Aug 08
On "Black Elk Speaks"

In many ways, Black Elk and John Neihardt lived very different lives. Black Elk was an Oglala Lakota holy man. Neihartd was a European-American literary critic. Black Elk performed for Queen Victoria with Buffalo Bills’s Wild West Show. Neihartd was Poet Laureate of Nebraska. But in other ways, they weren’t different at all. “By all accounts, they really, truly felt like they had a kind of spiritual affinity for one another,” says Harvard Professor Philip Deloria. In this episode, Professor Deloria discusses Black Elk Speaks, the book that Black Elk and Neihardt co-authored in 1932, which shaped the way both white and Native Americans understood Native culture. Philip Deloria is Professor of History at Harvard University. He is the author of several books, including Playing Indian and Indians in Unexpected Places. His most recent book is American Studies: A User's Guide, co-authored with Alexander Olson. See more information on our website, WritLarge.fm Follow us on Twitter @WritLargePod Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/american-studies

35m
Aug 08
Nasar Meer, "The Cruel Optimism of Racial Justice" (Policy Press, 2022)

Why are societies still not offering racial equality? In The Cruel Optimism of Racial Justice (Policy Press, 2022), Nasar Meer, a professor of Race, Identity and Citizenship in the School of Social and Political Sciences and director of RACE.ED at the University of Edinburgh, explores the past, present, and future of the struggle for racial justice. In a wide-ranging text, informed by social, cultural, and political theory, the recent history of racial equality policy is juxtaposed with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, to analyse the successes and the failures of struggles to make society racially just. Offering a major theoretical and practical contribution, the book is essential reading across humanities and social sciences, as well as for activists and anyone interested in changing society for the better. Dave O'Brien is Professor of Cultural and Creative Industries, at the University of Sheffield. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/american-studies

48m
Aug 08
American Chernobyl, Part 2: The Most Poisonous Place in the USA

Hanford is the most-polluted place in America. In our last episode, you heard about the nuclear plant's largely-forgotten history--how it poisoned the people living downwind. On our season finale: a nuclear safety auditor tries to get it shut down, the downwinders struggle for justice, and we take you into the plant itself. This is part two, if you haven’t heard part one yet go check out yesterday’s episode. The story of Hanford reveals that expertise is always a political battle, and never as straightforward as simply collecting facts--whether it’s executives putting profit over a safety auditor’s well-documented warnings, a community-based research pitted against government-backed studies, or turning a world-changing nuclear reactor into a scientific lecture. This episode is from the pre-Darts and Letters era when we produced a documentary series called Cited. —————————-SUPPORT THE SHOW—————————- You can support the show for free by following or subscribing on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or whichever app you use. This is the best way to help us out and it costs nothing so we’d really appreciate you clicking that button. If you want to do a little more we would love it if you chip in. You can find us on patreon.com/dartsandletters. Patrons get content early, and occasionally there’s bonus material on there too. ——————-ABOUT THE SHOW—————— For a full list of credits, contact information, and more, visit our about page. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/american-studies

58m
Aug 05
Daniel T. Fleming, "Living the Dream: The Contested History of Martin Luther King Jr. Day" (UNC Press, 2022)

Living the Dream: The Contested History of Martin Luther King Jr. Day (UNC Press, 2022) tells the history behind the establishment of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the battle over King's legacy that continued through the decades that followed. Creating the first national holiday to honor an African American was a formidable achievement and an act of resistance against conservative and segregationist opposition. Congressional efforts to commemorate King began shortly after his assassination. The ensuing political battles slowed the progress of granting him a namesake holiday and crucially defined how his legacy would be received. Though Coretta Scott King's mission to honor her husband's commitment to nonviolence was upheld, conservative politicians sought to use the holiday to advance a whitewashed, nationalistic, and even reactionary vision of King's life and thought. This book reveals the lengths that activists had to go to elevate an African American man to the pantheon of national heroes, how conservatives took advantage of the commemoration to bend the arc of King's legacy toward something he never would have expected, and how grassroots causes, unions, and antiwar demonstrators continued to try to claim this sanctified day as their own. Daniel T. Fleming is lecturer at the University of New South Wales and an Honorary Post-Doctoral Fellow at Macquarie University. E. James West is a UK-based historian and writer. He is the author of Ebony Magazine and Lerone Bennett Jr.: Popular Black History in Postwar America (Illinois, 2020), A House for the Struggle: The Black Press and the Built Environment in Chicago (Illinois, 2022) and Our Kind of Historian: The Work and Activism of Lerone Bennett Jr. (UMass, 2022). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/american-studies

48m
Aug 05
Jason Stacy, "Spoon River America: Edgar Lee Masters and the Myth of the American Small Town" (U Illinois Press, 2021)

A literary and cultural milestone, Spoon River Anthology captured an idea of the rural Midwest that became a bedrock myth of life in small-town America. Jason Stacy places the book within the atmosphere of its time and follows its progress as the poetry took root and thrived. Published by Edgar Lee Masters in 1915, Spoon River America: Edgar Lee Masters and the Myth of the American Small Town (U Illinois Press, 2021) won praise from modernists while becoming an ongoing touchstone for American popular culture. Stacy charts the ways readers embraced, debated, and reshaped Masters’s work in literary controversies and culture war skirmishes; in films and other media that over time saw the small town as idyllic then conflicted then surreal; and as the source of three archetypes—populist, elite, and exile—that endure across the landscape of American culture in the twenty-first century. A wide-ranging reconsideration of a literary landmark, Spoon River America tells the story of how a Midwesterner's poetry helped change a nation's conception of itself. Jason Stacy is a professor of history and social science pedagogy at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. He is the author of Walt Whitman's Multitudes: Labor Reform and Persona in Whitman’s Journalism and the First Leaves of Grass, 1840–1855 and editor of Leaves of Grass, 1860: The 150th Anniversary Facsimile Edition. Daniel Moran earned his B.A. and M.A. in English from Rutgers University and his Ph.D. in History from Drew University. The author of Creating Flannery O’Connor: Her Critics, Her Publishers, Her Readers, he teaches research and writing at Rutgers and co-hosts the podcast Fifteen-Minute Film Fanatics, found at https://fifteenminutefilm.podbean.com/ and on Twitter @15MinFilm. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/american-studies

1h 0m
Aug 05
On Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass"

“These United States are themselves the greatest poem.” When Walt Whitman wrote this line, he was an unknown Brooklyn newspaper man. But his work would transform American poetry and offer a new vision of American identity—one that was diverse, urban, and embodied. In this episode, Harvard professor Elisa New discusses Walt Whitman’s legacy. Elisa New is the Powell M. Cabot Professor of American Literature at Harvard University. She is the creator and host of the TV show Poetry in America, and author of The Line's Eye: Poetic Experience, American Sight and New England, Beyond Criticism: Rereading America's First Literature. See more information on our website, WritLarge.fm. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/american-studies

39m
Aug 05
86 Dana Stevens on Buster Keaton (JP EF)

Dana Stevens joins Elizabeth and John to discuss Camera Man: Buster Keaton, the Dawn of Cinema and the Invention of the Twentieth Century. Her fantastic new book serves as occasion to revel in the work and working world of Buster Keaton, that "solemn, beautiful, perpetually airborne man." Although packed with fascinating tidbits from Keaton's life, Camera Man is much more than just a biography. It performs its own airborne magic, lightly traversing topics like the crackdown on the use of children in vaudeville, the fluidity of roles before and behind the camera in early Hollywood and the doors that were briefly (ever so briefly) opened for female directors. Among other treats, Dana unpacks one of Keaton's early great "two-reelers" One Week ( a spoof of brisk upbeat industrial films) and his parodic "burlesques" e.g. of Lillian Gish. People, Films, Books and Ideas in the conversation include: Roscoe ("Fatty") Arbuckle: got Keaton his start in early films like Butcher Boy, reportedly filmed the day Keaton first stepped onto a set. He said "Buster lived inside the camera." "Cinema of Attractions." a phrase coined by film historian Tom Gunning to describe the way the early years of cinema (1895 to 1913, more or less) achieved success by way of gags, stunts, special effects and other dazzling technological innovations--rather than plot or character development,. John and Dana rave about Keaton's last great film (age 33!), The Cameraman (1928) and deprecate the later silents (with a silent caveat for the pancake scene Grand Slam Opera). Mabel Normand: Arbuckle's longtime collaborator and briefly a rising director--Charlie Chaplin kneecapped her at a crucial moment in her career. Dana singles out for special praise Fatty and Mabel Adrift (1916) starring Luke, the first canine movie star. Singing in the Rain as a MGM-friendly myth-making explanation for Clara Bow's eclipse (and the famous vocal failure moment: "I can't stand 'im") Steamboat Bill Jr. ( 1928, Buster Keaton feature) "Keaton's most mature movie" says Dana. Read the transcript here. Elizabeth Ferry is Professor of Anthropology at Brandeis University. Email: ferry@brandeis.edu. John Plotz is Barbara Mandel Professor of the Humanities at Brandeis University and co-founder of the Brandeis Educational Justice Initiative. Email: plotz@brandeis.edu. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/american-studies

42m
Aug 04