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Latest episodes from New Books in American Studies

Emily Mendenhall, "Unmasked: COVID, Community, and the Case of Okoboji" (Vanderbilt UP, 2022)

Play Episode Listen Later May 23, 2022 33:25

Unmasked: COVID, Community, and the Case of Okoboji (Vanderbilt UP, 2022) is the story of what happened in Okoboji, a small Iowan tourist town, when a collective turn from the coronavirus to the economy occurred in the COVID summer of 2020. State political failures, local negotiations among political and public health leaders, and community (dis)belief about the virus resulted in Okoboji being declared a hotspot just before the Independence Day weekend, when an influx of half a million people visit the town. The story is both personal and political. Author Emily Mendenhall, an anthropologist at Georgetown University, grew up in Okoboji, and her family still lives there. As the events unfolded, Mendenhall was in Okoboji, where she spoke formally with over 100 people and observed a community that rejected public health guidance, revealing deep-seated mistrust in outsiders and strong commitments to local thinking. Unmasked is a fascinating and heartbreaking account of where people put their trust, and how isolationist popular beliefs can be in America's small communities. Professor Emily Mendenhall is a medical anthropologist and Professor in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. She was awarded the George Foster Award for Practicing Medical Anthropology by the Society for Medical Anthropology in 2017. She is Editor-in-Chief of Social Science and Medicine-Mental Health and leads the office of Medical Anthropology and Critical Social Science. She has served as Honorary Faculty at the University of the Witwatersrand for the past decade. At Georgetown, she leads the global health concentration in the Science, Technology, and International Affairs (STIA) Program in the School of Foreign Service. Austin Clyde is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Chicago Department of Computer Science. He researches artificial intelligence and high-performance computing for developing new scientific methods. He is also a visiting research fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School's Science, Technology, and Society program, where my research addresses the intersection of artificial intelligence, human rights, and democracy. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

Jim Downs, "Maladies of Empire: How Colonialism, Slavery, and War Transformed Medicine" (Harvard UP, 2021)

Play Episode Listen Later May 23, 2022 61:00

Most stories of medical progress come with ready-made heroes. John Snow traced the origins of London's 1854 cholera outbreak to a water pump, leading to the birth of epidemiology. Florence Nightingale's contributions to the care of soldiers in the Crimean War revolutionized medical hygiene, transforming hospitals from crucibles of infection to sanctuaries of recuperation. Yet histories of individual innovators ignore many key sources of medical knowledge, especially when it comes to the science of infectious disease. Reexamining the foundations of modern medicine, Jim Downs shows that the study of infectious disease depended crucially on the unrecognized contributions of nonconsenting subjects--conscripted soldiers, enslaved people, and subjects of empire. Plantations, slave ships, and battlefields were the laboratories in which physicians came to understand the spread of disease. Military doctors learned about the importance of air quality by monitoring Africans confined to the bottom of slave ships. Statisticians charted cholera outbreaks by surveilling Muslims in British-dominated territories returning from their annual pilgrimage. The field hospitals of the Crimean War and the US Civil War were carefully observed experiments in disease transmission. The scientific knowledge derived from discarding and exploiting human life is now the basis of our ability to protect humanity from epidemics. Boldly argued and eye-opening, Maladies of Empire: How Colonialism, Slavery, and War Transformed Medicine (Harvard UP, 2021) gives a full account of the true price of medical progress. Galina Limorenko is a doctoral candidate in Neuroscience with a focus on biochemistry and molecular biology of neurodegenerative diseases at EPFL in Switzerland. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

Ellen Schrecker, "The Lost Promise: American Universities in the 1960s" (U Chicago Press, 2021)

Play Episode Listen Later May 23, 2022 67:05

The Lost Promise: American Universities in the 1960s (University of Chicago Press, 2021) is a magisterial examination of the turmoil that rocked American universities in the 1960s, with a unique focus on the complex roles played by professors as well as students. The 1950s through the early 1970s are widely seen as American academia's golden age, when universities—well funded and viewed as essential for national security, economic growth, and social mobility—embraced an egalitarian mission. Swelling in size, schools attracted new types of students and professors, including radicals who challenged their institutions' calcified traditions. But that halcyon moment soon came to a painful and confusing end, with consequences that still afflict the halls of ivy. In The Lost Promise, Ellen Schrecker—our foremost historian of both the McCarthy era and the modern American university—delivers a far-reaching examination of how and why it happened. Schrecker illuminates how US universities' explosive growth intersected with the turmoil of the 1960s, fomenting an unprecedented crisis where dissent over racial inequality and the Vietnam War erupted into direct action. Torn by internal power struggles and demonized by conservative voices, higher education never fully recovered, resulting in decades of underfunding and today's woefully inequitable system. As Schrecker's magisterial history makes blazingly clear, the complex blend of troubles that disrupted the university in that pivotal period haunts the ivory tower to this day. Ellen Schrecker is a retired professor of history at Yeshiva University and the author of numerous books, including No Ivory Tower: McCarthyism and the Universities, Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America, and The Lost Soul of Higher Education: Corporatization, the Assault on Academic Freedom, and the End of the American University. Catriona Gold is a PhD candidate in Geography at University College London, researching security, subjectivity and mobility in the 20-21st century United States. Her current work concerns the US Passport Office's role in the Cold War. She can be reached by email or on Twitter. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

Catherine McCormack, "Women in the Picture: What Culture Does with Female Bodies" (Norton, 2021)

Play Episode Listen Later May 23, 2022 58:56

Art historian Catherine McCormack challenges how culture teaches us to see and value women, their bodies, and their lives. Venus, maiden, wife, mother, monster—women have been bound so long by these restrictive roles, codified by patriarchal culture, that we scarcely see them. In Women in the Picture: What Culture Does with Female Bodies (Norton, 2021), Catherine McCormack illuminates the assumptions behind these stereotypes whether writ large or subtly hidden. She ranges through Western art—think Titian, Botticelli, and Millais—and the image-saturated world of fashion photographs, advertisements, and social media, and boldly counters these depictions by turning to the work of women artists like Morisot, Ringgold, Lacy, and Walker, who offer alternative images for exploring women's identity, sexuality, race, and power in more complex ways. Allison Leigh is Assistant Professor of Art History and the SLEMCO/LEQSF Regents Endowed Professor in Art & Architecture at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Her research explores masculinity in European and Russian art of the eighteenth through the early twentieth centuries. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

Liz Carlisle, "Healing Grounds: Climate, Justice, and the Deep Roots of Regenerative Farming" (Island Press, 2022)

Play Episode Listen Later May 23, 2022 51:45

A powerful movement is happening in farming today—farmers are reconnecting with their roots to fight climate change. For one woman, that's meant learning her tribe's history to help bring back the buffalo. For another, it's meant preserving forest purchased by her great-great-uncle, among the first wave of African Americans to buy land. Others are rejecting monoculture to grow corn, beans, and squash the way farmers in Mexico have done for centuries. Still others are rotating crops for the native cuisines of those who fled the “American wars” in Southeast Asia. In Healing Grounds: Climate, Justice, and the Deep Roots of Regenerative Farming (Island Press, 2022), Liz Carlisle tells the stories of Indigenous, Black, Latinx, and Asian American farmers who are reviving their ancestors' methods of growing food—techniques long suppressed by the industrial food system. These farmers are restoring native prairies, nurturing beneficial fungi, and enriching soil health. While feeding their communities and revitalizing cultural ties to land, they are steadily stitching ecosystems back together and repairing the natural carbon cycle. This, Carlisle shows, is the true regenerative agriculture – not merely a set of technical tricks for storing CO2 in the ground, but a holistic approach that values diversity in both plants and people. Liz Carlisle is an Assistant Professor in the Environmental Studies Program at UC Santa Barbara, where she teaches courses on food and farming. Born and raised in Montana, she got hooked on agriculture while working as an aide to organic farmer and U.S. Senator Jon Tester, which led to a decade of research and writing collaborations with farmers in her home state. She has written three books about regenerative farming and agroecology: Lentil Underground (2015), Grain by Grain (2019, with co-author Bob Quinn), and most recently, Healing Grounds: Climate, Justice, and the Deep Roots of Regenerative Farming (2022). She is also a frequent contributor to both academic journals and popular media outlets, focusing on food and farm policy, incentivizing soil health practices, and supporting new entry farmers. She holds a Ph.D. in Geography, from UC Berkeley, and a B.A. in Folklore and Mythology, from Harvard University. Prior to her career as a writer and academic, she spent several years touring rural America as a country singer. Susan Grelock-Yusem, PhD, is an independent researcher trained in depth psychology, with an emphasis on community, liberation, and eco-psychologies. Her work centers around interconnection and encompasses regenerative food systems, the arts and conservation. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

Scott Reynolds Nelson, "Oceans of Grain: How American Wheat Remade the World" (Basic Books, 2022)

Play Episode Listen Later May 23, 2022 74:02

Grain traders wandering across the steppe; the Russian conquest of Ukraine (in the 18th century, that is); boulevard barons and wheat futures; railroads; the first fast food breakfast; and war socialism. It's all crammed into this discussion of wheat, and what it wrought, with Scott Nelson. Scott Reynolds Nelson is the Georgia Athletics Association Professor of the Humanities at the University of Georgia. Author of numerous books, his latest is Oceans of Grain: How American Wheat Remade the World (Basic Books, 2022) and it is the subject of our conversation today. Al Zambone is a historian and the host of the excellent podcast Historically Thinking. You can subscribe to Historically Thinking on Apple Podcasts. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

John Lardas Modern, "Neuromatic: Or, a Particular History of Religion and the Brain" (U Chicago Press, 2021)

Play Episode Listen Later May 23, 2022 107:23

In Neuromatic: Or, a Particular History of Religion and the Brain (U Chicago Press, 2021), religious studies scholar John Lardas Modern offers a sprawling examination of the history of the cognitive revolution and current attempts to locate all that is human in the brain, including spirituality itself. Neuromatic is a wildly original take on the entangled histories of science and religion that lie behind our brain-laden present: from eighteenth-century revivals to the origins of neurology and mystic visions of mental piety in the nineteenth century; from cyberneticians, Scientologists, and parapsychologists in the twentieth century to contemporary claims to have discovered the neural correlates of religion. What Modern reveals via this grand tour is that our ostensibly secular turn to the brain is bound up at every turn with the religion it discounts, ignores, or actively dismisses. In foregrounding the myths, ritual schemes, and cosmic concerns that have accompanied idealizations of neural networks and inquiries into their structure, Neuromatic takes the reader on a dazzling and disturbing ride through the history of our strange subservience to the brain. This interview was conduced by Alison Renna, a PhD candidate studying the history of ideas at Yale University.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

Peter McFarlane with Doreen Manuel, "Brotherhood to Nationhood: George Manuel and the Making of the Modern Indian Movement" (Between the Lines, 2020)

Play Episode Listen Later May 22, 2022 79:25

Brotherhood to Nationhood: George Manuel and the Making of the Modern Indian Movement (Between the Lines Books, 2020) details the life of George Manuel, a seminal figure in the emergence and development of the modern Indigenous rights movement in Canada. A three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee, he laid the groundwork for what would become the Assembly of First Nations and was the founding president of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples; an advocacy organization that fights for the rights of Indigenous peoples internationally. A critical reference point for three generation of Indigenous activists and intellectuals, Manuel's commitment, politics, and vision are now again assessable to a new generation of readers courtesy of Doreen and Peter, and Between the Lines Books in Toronto. Zachary Smith (Anishinaabe) is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at the University of Toronto. He researches histories of Indigenous-settler relations in Canada and is currently writing a dissertation on the migration of Indigenous peoples from reserves to urban centres in mid-twentieth century Canada. He can be found on Twitter at: @zacharylwsmith. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

John DeFerrari and Douglas Peter Sefton, "Sixteenth Street NW: Washington, DC's Avenue of Ambitions" (Georgetown UP, 2022)

Play Episode Listen Later May 20, 2022 39:57

Sixteenth Street NW in Washington, DC, has been called the Avenue of the Presidents, Executive Avenue, and the Avenue of Churches. From the front door of the White House, this north-south artery runs through the middle of the District and extends just past its border with Maryland. The street is as central to the cityscape as it is to DC's history and culture. In Sixteenth Street NW: Washington, DC's Avenue of Ambitions (Georgetown UP, 2022), John DeFerrari and Douglas Peter Sefton depict the social and architectural history of the street and immediate neighborhoods, inviting readers to explore how the push and pull between ordinary Washingtonians and powerful elites has shaped the corridor ― and the city. This highly illustrated book features notable buildings along Sixteenth Street and recounts colorful stories of those who lived, worked, and worshipped there. Maps offer readers an opportunity to create self-guided tours of the places and people that have defined this main thoroughfare over time. What readers will find is that both then and now, Sixteenth Street NW has been shaped by a diverse array of people and communities. The street, and the book, feature a range of sites ― from Black Lives Matter Plaza to the White House, from mansions and rowhomes to apartment buildings, from Meridian Hill (Malcolm X) Park with its drum circles to Rock Creek Park with its tennis tournaments, and from hotels to houses of worship. Sixteenth Street, NW reveals a cross section of Washington, DC, that shows the vibrant makeup of our nation's capital. Bryan Toepfer, AIA, NCARB, CAPM is the Principal Architect for TOEPFER Architecture, PLLC, an Architecture firm specializing in Residential Architecture and Virtual Reality. He has authored two books, “Contractors CANNOT Build Your House,” and “Six Months Now, ARCHITECT for Life.” He is an Assistant Professor at Alfred State College and has served as the Director of Government Affairs and as the Director of Education for the AIA Rochester Board of Directors. Always eager to help anyone understand the world of Architecture, he hosts the New Books Network – Architecture podcast, is an NCARB Licensing Advisor and helps coach candidates taking the Architectural Registration Exam. btoepfer@toepferarchitecture Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

Christopher W. Wells, "Environmental Justice in Postwar America: A Documentary Reader" (U Washington Press, 2018)

Play Episode Listen Later May 20, 2022 64:12

In the decades after World War II, the American economy entered a period of prolonged growth that created unprecedented affluence—but these developments came at the cost of a host of new environmental problems. Unsurprisingly, a disproportionate number of them, such as pollution-emitting factories, waste-handling facilities, and big infrastructure projects, ended up in communities dominated by people of color. Constrained by long-standing practices of segregation that limited their housing and employment options, people of color bore an unequal share of postwar America's environmental burdens. This reader collects a wide range of primary source documents on the rise and evolution of the environmental justice movement. The documents show how environmentalists in the 1970s recognized the unequal environmental burdens that people of color and low-income Americans had to bear, yet failed to take meaningful action to resolve them. Instead, activism by the affected communities themselves spurred the environmental justice movement of the 1980s and early 1990s. By the turn of the twenty-first century, environmental justice had become increasingly mainstream, and issues like climate justice, food justice, and green-collar jobs had taken their places alongside the protection of wilderness as “environmental” issues. Christopher W. Wells's book Environmental Justice in Postwar America: A Documentary Reader (U Washington Press, 2018) is a powerful tool for introducing students to the US environmental justice movement and the sometimes tense relationship between environmentalism and social justice. Brady McCartney is an interdisciplinary environmental studies scholar at the University of Florida. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

Shannon L. Walsh, "Eugenics and Physical Culture Performance in the Progressive Era: Watch Whiteness Workout" (Palgrave MacMillan, 2020)

Play Episode Listen Later May 19, 2022 71:50

Today we are joined by Dr. Shannon Walsh, Associate Professor of Theatre History, and author of Eugenics and Physical Culture Performance in the Progressive Era: Watch Whiteness Workout (Palgrave MacMillan, 2020). In our conversation, we discussed the origins of women's physical culture in the United States, the role that physical culture reformers played in producing femininity and whiteness, and the possibilities for anti-racist and anti-sexist sport to reconceptualize the white supremist roots of American athleticism. In Eugenics and Physical Culture Performance in the Progressive Era, Walsh traces the beginnings of reform era physical culture, paying special attention to the way that physical culturists attempted to shape women's bodies. She argues that their efforts hinged on using exercise to produce femininity and whiteness and that they prefigured the larger eugenic movements aimed at perpetuating the white race later in the 20th century. In each chapter she looks at different physical culturists or physical cultural movement. Her second chapter looks at Steele MacKaye and Americanised Delsarte, a physical cultural practice that combined acting, dance and exercise. Her third chapter focuses on Dudley Allen Sargent and mimetic workouts that introduced working class motions – for example wood chopping - to middle and upper-middle class men and women at Ivy League colleges. The fourth and fifth chapter work together to unpack the complicated position of women's physical culture, femininity and motherhood. In chapter four, Walsh shows how Abby Shaw Mayhew and the YWCA articulated a genre of motherhood, which Walsh calls “social motherhood,” that reframed women's exercise as domestic and maternal rather than grotesque and masculine. In the fifth chapter, Walsh examines Bernarr MacFadden – the Barnum of physical culture – to showcases the places where advertising, motherhood, and women's exercise came into explicit contact. Relying on a close reading of physical culture through critical theory, these main chapters trace the intersections between exercise, femininity, motherhood, race and social class, to illustrate how debates over these issues helped to produce whiteness. Whether they were in elite educational institutions in the Northeast, Midwestern metropolises like Minneapolis, or travelling around the country these experts helped to code physical culture as specifically as womanly, middle class, white, and ultimately as unremarkable. He final body chapter, chapter six, looks at physical culture for indigenous women in three sites: the Odanah Mission School, the Model Indian School at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, and the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. Unlike their white counterparts, indigenous women were not offered significant opportunities for physical exercise and if they were it was only for the purpose of assimilation. Unsurprisingly, many indigenous girls and women challenged those expectations and were successful athletes. Keith Rathbone is a Senior Lecturer at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. He researches twentieth-century French social and cultural history. His book, entitled Sport and physical culture in Occupied France: Authoritarianism, agency, and everyday life, (Manchester University Press, 2022) examines physical education and sports in order to better understand civic life under the dual authoritarian systems of the German Occupation and the Vichy Regime. If you have a title to suggest for this podcast, please contact him at and follow him at @keithrathbone on twitter. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

Konden Smith Hansen, "Frontier Religion: The Mormon-American Contest for the Meaning of America, 1857-1907" (U Utah Press, 2019)

Play Episode Listen Later May 19, 2022 61:39

In Frontier Religion: The Mormon-American Contest for the Meaning of America, 1857-1907 (U Utah Press, 2019) Konden Smith Hansen examines the dramatic influence these perceptions of the frontier had on Mormonism and other religions in America. Endeavoring to better understand the sway of the frontier on religion in the United States, this book follows several Mormon-American conflicts, from the Utah War and the antipolygamy crusades to the Reed Smoot hearings. The story of Mormonism's move toward American acceptability represents a larger story of the nation's transition to modernity and the meaning of religious pluralism. This book challenges old assumptions and provokes further study of the ever changing dialectic between society and faith. Brady McCartney is an interdisciplinary environmental studies scholar at the University of Florida. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

Heba Gowayed, "Refuge: How the State Shapes Human Potential" (Princeton UP, 2022)

Play Episode Listen Later May 18, 2022 55:50

As the world confronts the largest refugee crisis since World War II, wealthy countries are being called upon to open their doors to the displaced, with the assumption that this will restore their prospects for a bright future. Refuge: How the State Shapes Human Potential (Princeton UP, 2022) follows Syrians who fled a brutal war in their homeland as they attempt to rebuild in countries of resettlement and asylum. Their experiences reveal that these destination countries are not saviors; they can deny newcomers' potential by failing to recognize their abilities and invest in the tools they need to prosper. Heba Gowayed spent three years documenting the strikingly divergent journeys of Syrian families from similar economic and social backgrounds during their crucial first years of resettlement in the United States and Canada and asylum in Germany. All three countries offer a legal solution to displacement, while simultaneously minoritizing newcomers through policies that fail to recognize their histories, aspirations, and personhood. The United States stands out for its emphasis on “self-sufficiency” that integrates refugees into American poverty, which, by design, is populated by people of color and marked by stagnation. Gowayed argues that refugee human capital is less an attribute of newcomers than a product of the same racist welfare systems that have long shaped the contours of national belonging. Centering the human experience of displacement, Refuge shines needed light on how countries structure the potential of people, new arrivals or otherwise, within their borders. Heba Gowayed is the Moorman-Simon Assistant Professor of Sociology at Boston University. You can find her on Twitter @hebagowayed Alize Arıcan is a Postdoctoral Associate at Rutgers University's Center for Cultural Analysis. She is an anthropologist whose research focuses on urban renewal, futurity, care, and migration in Istanbul, Turkey. Her work has been featured in Current Anthropology, City & Society, JOTSA, Radical Housing Journal, and entanglements. You can find her on Twitter @alizearican Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

Alicia Puglionesi, "In Whose Ruins: Power, Possession, and the Landscapes of American Empire" (Scribner, 2022)

Play Episode Listen Later May 18, 2022 64:04

The important new book by Alicia Puglionesi, In Whose Ruins: Power, Possession and the Landscapes of American Empire (Scribner, 2022), is a fat sampler of episodes that show how origin stories get made, what happens when white-supremacist origin stories are mistaken for empirical fact, and how the political impacts persist. The book is decidedly anti-capitalist; resoundingly anti-colonial. It is an invitation not to jettison story-work, but to imagine, collectively, origin stories of the present that might bring into being a more just future. In Whose Ruins could easily be categorized as Environmental History or Native Studies. But Puglionesi forges a book that is more than either field could accomplish alone. The “power” of the book's subtitle has a double meeting: political power and the energy sources of a capitalist economy (oil, hydropower, and nuclear energy). The book is organized into four sections, or “sites,” that visit four evocative land features: a hulking, conical earth mound in present-day West Virginia adjacent to a decommissioned state prison; wells dug into the ground in smalltown Pennsylvania; rocks that tell stories (they're etched with petroglyphs) along the Susquehanna River with kin fragmented elsewhere; the Sonoran Desert rich with pottery, uranium, and physicists, both white and Native. In each of these sites, people with different political projects—some announced, some implicit—have generated multiple accounts of the landscapes and ideas of value. Within a context of shifting political power, white-settler stories about each site displaced empirical knowledge of Native labor, skill, presence, and endurance with harmful fables of white origins and of Native communities' need for white “rescue.” Into the present day, the effect has been to justify white theft of Native land and deadly violence against tribal communities for the purposes of resource extraction. In the end, even the false white origin stories became a resource to commodify. Puglionesi is a writer of poetry, fiction, academic scholarship, and, now, In Whose Ruins, a mass-market trade publication. She holds a PhD in History of Medicine and is a lecturer in Medicine, Science and Humanities at The Johns Hopkins University. On the page, Puglionesi has a friendly, funny, quiet presence—an affable Where's Waldo that centers the relationships of historical actors (including spirits) and the work of scholars such as Kim TallBear, Zoe Todd, and Eve Tuck. This conversation explores ways of living in good relation via writing; the status of truth; the relevance of singer-songwriter Prince for labor studies; and many other themes. It discusses the important book by Chadwick Allen, Earthworks Rising (Minnesota, 2022). In an unrecorded snippet, we also swap names of our favorite local indie bookstores. So check out Red Emma's the next time you're in Baltimore, MD (or on and Symposium, Riff Raff, and Paper Nautilus when your compass points to Providence, RI. Laura Stark is Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University's Center for Medicine, Health, and Society. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

Ran Abramitzky and Leah Boustan, "Streets of Gold: America's Untold Story of Immigrant Success" (Public Affairs, 2022)

Play Episode Listen Later May 18, 2022 50:28

Immigration is one of the most fraught, and possibly most misunderstood, topics in American social discourse—yet, in most cases, the things we believe about immigration are based largely on myth, not facts. Using the tools of modern data analysis and ten years of pioneering research, Streets of Gold: America's Untold Story of Immigrant Success (Public Affairs, 2022) provides new evidence about the past and present of the American Dream, debunking myths fostered by political opportunism and sentimentalized in family histories. They make a powerful case for four key facts: Children of immigrants from nearly every country, especially those of poor immigrants, do better economically than children of U.S.-born residents. Immigrants accused of lack of assimilation (such as Mexicans today and the Irish in the past) actually assimilate fastest. Immigration changes the economy in unexpected positive ways and staves off the economic decline that is the consequence of an aging population. Closing the door to immigrants harms the economic prospects of the U.S.-born—the people politicians are trying to protect. Using powerful story-telling and unprecedented research employing big data and algorithms, interviewee Leah Boustan and her co-author Ran Abramitzky are like dedicated family genealogists but millions of times over. They provide a new take on American history with surprising results, especially how comparable the “golden era” of immigration is to today, and why many current policy proposals are so misguided. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

Elizabeth Rodrigues, "Collecting Lives: Critical Data Narrative as Modernist Aesthetic in Early Twentieth-Century Us Literatures" (U Michigan Press, 2022)

Play Episode Listen Later May 17, 2022 53:09

On a near-daily basis, data is being used to narrate our lives. Categorizing algorithms drawn from amassed personal data to assign narrative destinies to individuals at crucial junctures, simultaneously predicting and shaping the paths of our lives. Data is commonly assumed to bring us closer to objectivity, but the narrative paths these algorithms assign seem, more often than not, to replicate biases about who an individual is and could become. While the social effects of such algorithmic logics seem new and newly urgent to consider, Collecting Lives: Critical Data Narrative as Modernist Aesthetic in Early Twentieth-Century Us Literatures (U Michigan Press, 2022) looks to the late nineteenth and early twentieth century U.S. to provide an instructive prehistory to the underlying question of the relationship between data, life, and narrative. Rodrigues contextualizes the application of data collection to human selfhood in order to uncover a modernist aesthetic of data that offers an alternative to the algorithmic logic pervading our sense of data's revelatory potential. Examining the work of W. E. B. Du Bois, Henry Adams, Gertrude Stein, and Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Rodrigues asks how each of these authors draw from their work in sociology, history, psychology, and journalism to formulate a critical data aesthetic as they attempt to answer questions of identity around race, gender, and nation both in their research and their life writing. These data-driven modernists not only tell different life stories with data, they tell life stories differently because of data. Marshall Poe is the founder and editor of the New Books Network. He can be reached at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

Donald A. Barclay, "Disinformation: The Nature of Facts and Lies in the Post-Truth Era" (Rowman and Littlefield, 2022)

Play Episode Listen Later May 17, 2022 63:29

Does the idea of a world in which facts mean nothing cause anxiety? Fear? Maybe even paranoia? Disinformation: The Nature of Facts and Lies in the Post-Truth Era (Rowman and Littlefield, 2022) cannot cure all the ills of a post-truth world, but by demonstrating how the emergence of digital technology into everyday life has knitted together a number of seemingly loosely related forces–historical, psychological, economic, and culture–to create the post-truth culture, Disinformation will help you better understand how we got to where we now are, see how we can move beyond a culture in which facts are too easily dismissed, and develop a few highly practical skills for separating truth from lies. Disinformation explains: How human psychology—the very way our brains work—can leave us vulnerable to disinformation. How the early visions of what a global computer network would and should be unintentionally laid the groundwork for the current post-truth culture. The ways in which truth is twisted and misrepresented via propaganda and conspiracy theories. How new technology not only spreads disinformation but may also be changing the way we think. The ways in which the economics of information and the powerful influence of popular culture have contributed to the creation of the post-truth culture. Unlike the far-too-numerous one-sided, politically ideological treatments of the post-truth culture, Disinformation does not seek to point the finger of blame at any individuals or groups; instead, its focus is on how a number of disparate forces have influenced human behaviors during a time when all of humanity is struggling to better understand and more effectively control (for better or worse) challenging new technologies that are straining the limits of human intellectual and emotional capacity. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

Kai Bosworth, "Pipeline Populism: Grassroots Environmentalism in the Twenty-First Century" (U Minnesota Press, 2022)

Play Episode Listen Later May 16, 2022 46:17

Stunning Indigenous resistance to the Keystone XL and the Dakota Access pipelines has made global headlines in recent years. Less remarked on are the crucial populist movements that have also played a vital role in pipeline resistance. Kai Bosworth explores the influence of populism on environmentalist politics, which sought to bring together Indigenous water protectors and environmental activists along with farmers and ranchers in opposition to pipeline construction. Here Bosworth argues that populism is shaped by the "affective infrastructures" emerging from shifts in regional economies, democratic public-review processes, and scientific controversies. With this lens, he investigates how these movements wax and wane, moving toward or away from other forms of environmental and political ideologies in the Upper Midwest. This lens also lets Bosworth place populist social movements in the critical geographical contexts of racial inequality, nationalist sentiments, ongoing settler colonialism, and global empire--crucial topics when grappling with the tensions embedded in our era's immense environmental struggles.  Pipeline Populism: Grassroots Environmentalism in the Twenty-First Century (U Minnesota Press, 2022) reveals the complex role populism has played in shifting interpretations of environmental movements, democratic ideals, scientific expertise, and international geopolitics. Its rich data about these grassroots resistance struggles include intimate portraits of the emotional spaces where opposition is first formed. Probing the very limits of populism, Pipeline Populism presents essential work for an era defined by a wave of people-powered movements around the world. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

Book Talk 52: Linda Patterson Miller on Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises"

Play Episode Listen Later May 16, 2022 86:45

When first published in 1926, Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises changed American literature forever. Hemingway follows a disillusioned group of expats in post-World War I Europe whose relationships unravel as they travel from Paris to the bullfights in Spain. Unsettling, provocative, and inspiring to this day, this legendary novel about loyalty, love, and betrayal challenges readers to discover what it takes to be true to oneself. Harlem Renaissance writer Claude McKay put it well: “[w]hen Hemingway wrote The Sun Also Rises, he shot a fist in the face of the false romantic-realists and said: ‘You can't fake about life like that.'” And Ralph Waldo Ellison, author of Invisible Man (podcast), said: “Because Hemingway loved the American language and the joy of writing…he was in many ways the true father-as-artist of so many of us who came to writing during the late thirties.” I spoke with Professor Linda Patterson Miller to understand why the novel had such an impact, what the book meant for the “lost generation” after World War I, how to read Hemingway from a feminist perspective, and how best to address parts of the novel that strike us as offensive today. Inspired by this conversation, I wrote an essay on the conspicuous use of the n-word in The Sun Also Rises for a new edition of the novel published by Warbler Press that charts a path beyond the cancel-or-defend-at-all-cost positions in today's culture wars. Professor Miller teaches at Pennsylvania State University's campus in Abington, Pennsylvania, has written seminal essays on Hemingway and other authors, and is the editor of Letters from the Lost Generation: Gerald and Sara Murphy and Friends (2002). Uli Baer teaches literature and photography as University Professor at New York University. A recipient of Guggenheim, Getty and Humboldt awards, in addition to hosting "Think About It” he hosts (with Caroline Weber) the podcast "The Proust Questionnaire” and is Editorial Director at Warbler Press. Email; Twitter @UliBaer. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

Alvin Eng, "Our Laundry, Our Town: My Chinese American Life from Flushing to the Downtown Stage and Beyond" (Fordham UP, 2022)

Play Episode Listen Later May 16, 2022 45:16

Our Laundry, Our Town: My Chinese American Life from Flushing to the Downtown Stage and Beyond (Fordham UP, 2022) is a memoir that decodes and processes the fractured urban oracle bones of Alvin Eng's upbringing in Flushing, Queens in the 1970s. Back then, his family was one of the few immigrant Chinese families in a far-flung neighborhood in New York City. His parents had an arranged marriage and ran a Chinese Hand Laundry. From behind the counter of his parent's laundry and within the confines of a household that was rooted in a different century and culture, he sought to reconcile this insular home life with the turbulent yet inspiring street life that was all around them--from the faux martial arts of tv's Kung Fu to the burgeoning underworld of the punk rock scene. In the 1970s, NYC, like most of the world, was in the throes of regenerating itself in the wake of major social and cultural changes resulting from the Counterculture and Civil Rights movements. And by the 1980s, Flushing had become NYC's second Chinatown. But Eng remained one of the neighborhood's few Chinese citizens who could not speak fluent Chinese. Finding his way in the downtown theater and performance world of Manhattan, he discovered the under-chronicled Chinese influence on Thornton Wilder's foundational Americana drama, Our Town. This discovery became the unlikely catalyst for a psyche-healing pilgrimage to Hong Kong and Guangzhou, China--his ancestral home in southern China--that led to writing and performing his successful autobiographical monologue, The Last Emperor of Flushing. Learning to tell his own story on stages around the world was what proudly made him whole. As cities, classrooms, cultures, and communities the world over continue to re-examine the parameters of diversity, equity, and inclusion, Our Laundry, Our Town will reverberate with a broad readership. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

Zachary F. Price, "Black Dragon: Afro-Asian Performance and the Martial Arts Imagination" (Ohio State UP, 2021)

Play Episode Listen Later May 13, 2022 199:47

In Black Dragon: Afro Asian Performance and the Martial Arts Imagination (Ohio State UP, 2022), Zachary F. Price illuminates martial arts as a site of knowledge exchange between Black, Asian, and Asian American people and cultures to offer new insights into the relationships among these historically marginalized groups. Drawing on case studies that include Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's appearance in Bruce Lee's film Game of Death, Ron van Clief and the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, the Wu-Tang Clan, and Chinese American saxophonist Fred Ho, Price argues that the regular blending and borrowing between their distinct cultural heritages is healing rather than appropriative. His analyses of performance, power, and identity within this cultural fusion demonstrate how, historically, urban working-class Black men have developed community and practiced self-care through the contested adoption of Asian martial arts practice. By directing his analysis to this rich but heretofore understudied vein of American cultural exchange, Price not only broadens the scholarship around sites of empowerment via such exchanges but also offers a compelling example of nonessentialist emancipation for the twenty-first century. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

Suman Seth, "Difference and Disease: Medicine, Race, and the Eighteenth-Century British Empire" (Cambridge UP, 2020)

Play Episode Listen Later May 13, 2022 64:55

Before the nineteenth century, travelers who left Britain for the Americas, West Africa, India and elsewhere encountered a medical conundrum: why did they fall ill when they arrived, and why - if they recovered - did they never become so ill again? The widely accepted answer was that the newcomers needed to become 'seasoned to the climate'.  In his book Difference and Disease: Medicine, Race, and the Eighteenth-Century British Empire (Cambridge UP, 2020), Suman Seth explores forms of eighteenth-century medical knowledge, including conceptions of seasoning, showing how geographical location was essential to this knowledge and helped to define relationships between Britain and her far-flung colonies. In this period, debates raged between medical practitioners over whether diseases changed in different climes. Different diseases were deemed characteristic of different races and genders, and medical practitioners were thus deeply involved in contestations over race and the legitimacy of the abolitionist cause. In this innovative and engaging history, Seth offers dramatically new ways to understand the mutual shaping of medicine, race, and empire. 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 Support our show by becoming a premium member!

Nigel Rothfels, "Elephant Trails: A History of Animals and Cultures" (Johns Hopkins UP, 2021)

Play Episode Listen Later May 13, 2022 68:55

When looking at historic records of all kinds—from prehistoric cave drawings and ancient rock art in Africa and India, from poetic narrations of travelers to hunter memoirs and press stories about zoos, from reports of mystical graveyards to museum warehouses collecting bones—notions about elephants in the West have come a long way. These ideas (their transformation; their persistence) tell perhaps more about how Western cultures have understood themselves than about the actual lives and potential histories of proboscideans. In Elephant Trails: A History of Animals and Cultures (Johns Hopkins UP, 2021), Nigel Rothfels follows the paths of concrete elephant lives, their struggles and their deaths, in order to produce a history of one particular elephant, that which inhabits Western mentalities up to the present and which is composed as much of fantasy as thick skin. In this conversation, Dr. Rothfels expands on some of the tenets of this book, as well as the trails that he himself followed in order to better understand how present notions about elephants in the West have been historically configured. This is a history of ideas about the magnificent animal we call the elephant, threaded with stories of flesh and blood. Marcela Hernández, PhD candidate in Philosophy at the Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany, is currently writing a dissertation on animals and gestures in films. She can be reached at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

Glenda E. Gilmore, "Romare Bearden in the Homeland of His Imagination: An Artist's Reckoning with the South" (UNC Press, 2022)

Play Episode Listen Later May 13, 2022 72:41

In Romare Bearden in the Homeland of His Imagination: An Artist's Reckoning with the South (UNC Press, 2022), Glenda Gilmore meticulously documents and interprets the artistic life of Romare Bearden. Gilmore details four generations of the Bearden family and grounds the reader in places formative to Bearden like North Carolina, New York, and Pennsylvania. By centering Bearden's art, Gilmore mines the historical record and this artist's recollections which were at times conflicting, but nevertheless, shaped his creative imagination. This text weaves archival depth with visual art analysis, illuminating a richer understanding of this important twentieth-century artist and his work. Amanda Joyce Hall is a Ph.D. Candidate in History and African American Studies at Yale University. She tweets from @amandajoycehall. N'Kosi Oates is a Ph.D. Candidate in Africana Studies at Brown University. Find him on Twitter @NKosiOates. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

Maha Hilal, "Innocent Until Proven Muslim: Islamophobia, the War on Terror, and the Muslim Experience Since 9/11" (Broadleaf Books, 2022)

Play Episode Listen Later May 13, 2022 73:37

In Innocent Until Proven Muslim: Islamophobia, the War on Terror, and the Muslim Experience Since 9/11 published in 2022 with Broadleaf Books, Maha Hilal describes how narratives of 9/11 and the war on terror have been constructed over the last twenty years and the various ways in which they have justified state violence against Muslims. Hilal offers answers to many questions, including and especially how the war on terror started, what its impact on American Muslims and Muslims abroad has been, and how to work to dismantle it. Hilal holds a PhD in Justice, Law, and Society from American University and has received many awards, including the Department of State's Critical Language Scholarship, the Kathryn Davis Fellowship for Peace, and a Reebok Human Rights Fellowship. The book is written accessibly, making difficult concepts and themes easy to follow and understand. It is easily assignable in undergraduate and graduate courses and makes for an essential read for policymakers and for anyone interested in the Muslim American experience post-9/11, and perhaps anyone who denies the existence of institutional Islamophobia and naively thinks the U.S. is the beacon of light and justice in the world—because this book shows with ample evidence that it's not. In our conversation today, Hilal tells us the story of the origins of the book, what its contributions are, what makes it different from other books on Islamophobia, the roles that U.S. presidents since 9/11 have played in reinforcing and exacerbating Islamophobic rhetoric in the U.S. We also talk about the many U.S. policies, domestic as well as international, that legitimate the existence of Islamophobic state violence, the ways in which the FBI uses informants to entrap Muslims, the legal and narrative strategies that allow for the U.S. to commit extreme forms of torture against Muslims. We end with a discussion on internalized Islamophobia and, among other things, its harmful impact on Muslim Americans. Shehnaz Haqqani is an Assistant Professor of Religion at Mercer University. She earned her PhD in Islamic Studies with a focus on gender from the University of Texas at Austin in 2018. Her dissertation research explored questions of change and tradition, specifically in the context of gender and sexuality, in Islam. She can be reached at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

Dana W. Logan, "Awkward Rituals: Sensations of Governance in Protestant America" (U Chicago Press, 2022)

Play Episode Listen Later May 13, 2022 55:30

In the years between the American Revolution and the Civil War, there was an awkward persistence of sovereign rituals, vestiges of a monarchical past that were not easy to shed. In Awkward Rituals: Sensations of Governance in Protestant America (U Chicago Press, 2022), Dana Logan focuses our attention on these performances, revealing the ways in which governance in the early republic was characterized by white Protestants reenacting the hierarchical authority of a seemingly rejected king. With her unique focus on embodied action, rather than the more common focus on discourse or law, Logan makes an original contribution to debates about the relative completeness of America's Revolution. Awkward Rituals theorizes an under-examined form of action: rituals that do not feel natural even if they sometimes feel good. This account challenges common notions of ritual as a force that binds society and synthesizes the self. Ranging from Freemason initiations to evangelical societies to missionaries posing as sailors, Logan shows how white Protestants promoted a class-based society while simultaneously trumpeting egalitarianism. She thus redescribes ritual as a box to check, a chore to complete, an embarrassing display of theatrical verve. In Awkward Rituals, Logan emphasizes how ritual distinctively captures what does not change through revolution. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

Ryan Hall, "Beneath the Backbone of the World: Blackfoot People and the North American Borderlands, 1720-1877" (UNC Press, 2020)

Play Episode Listen Later May 12, 2022 76:39

No matter what people call them today the northwestern Great Plains have been and continue to be Blackfoot country, argues Colgate University assistant professor Ryan Hall in Beneath the Backbone of the World: Blackfoot People and the North American Borderlands, 1720-1877 (University of North Carolina Press, 2020). By maintaining their boundaries and enforcing power between both European empires and Indigenous neighbors, the Blackfoot were able to carve out a lasting niche in the contested borderlands of the early North American West of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Although disease, resource depletion, and colonization would eventually be visited upon the Blackfoot, along with American settler colonialism, this outcome was never preordained. Nor was that the entire story, as Blackfoot history carries on well after such well known events as the Montana gold rush and the Marias Massacre. Beneath the Backbone of the World is an example of Native history's power to force a rethinking of North American history's arc. Dr. Stephen R. Hausmann is an assistant professor of history at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

Postscript: Post-Roe Politics

Play Episode Listen Later May 12, 2022 79:15

Today's Postscript uniquely engages abortion politics by addressing structural political issues (voter suppression, gerrymandering, dilutions of minority voting, obstacles to women registering their positions politically), inconsistencies in Justice Samuel Alito's majority draft, the ascent of the medical profession, the intersection of race, gender, and religion, narratives of morality, the genesis of white evangelical opposition, myths created by popular culture and abortion stereotypes, and more. Dr. Lilly J. Goren (Professor of Political Science and Global Studies at Carroll University), Dr. Rebecca Kreitzer (Associate Professor of Public Policy and Adjunct Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Dr. Andrew R. Lewis (Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Cincinnati), Dr. Candis Watts Smith (Associate Professor of Political Science at Duke University and co-host of the Democracy Works Podcast) and Dr. Joshua C. Wilson (Professor of Political Science at the University of Denver). Some of the books and articles mentioned in the podcast: Diana Greene Foster, The Turnaway Study: Ten Years, a Thousand Women, and the Consequences of Having – or Being Denied – an Abortion Rebecca Kreitzer's amazing slide deck of abortion facts and recommended reading list. Rebecca Kreitzer and Candis Watts Smith in the Monkey Cage, “What Alito's draft gets wrong about women and political power” Andrew Lewis, The Rights Turn in Conservative Christian Politics: How Abortion Transformed the Culture Wars Ziad Munson, The Making of Pro-life Activists:How Social Movement Mobilization WorksJosh Wilson, Separate But Faithful: The Christian Right's Radical Struggle to Transform Law & Legal Culture Mary Ziegler, Abortion and the Law in America: Roe v. Wade to the Present Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

Samuel J. Redman, "Prophets and Ghosts: The Story of Salvage Anthropology" (Harvard UP, 2021)

Play Episode Listen Later May 11, 2022 50:27

Prophets and Ghosts: The Story of Salvage Anthropology (Harvard UP, 2021) is a searching account of nineteenth-century salvage anthropology, an effort to preserve the culture of “vanishing” Indigenous peoples through dispossession of the very communities it was meant to protect. In the late nineteenth century, anthropologists, linguists, archaeologists, and other chroniclers began amassing Indigenous cultural objects—crafts, clothing, images, song recordings—by the millions. Convinced that Indigenous peoples were doomed to disappear, collectors donated these objects to museums and universities that would preserve and exhibit them. Samuel Redman dives into the archive to understand what the collectors deemed the tradition of the “vanishing Indian” and what we can learn from the complex legacy of salvage anthropology. The salvage catalog betrays a vision of Native cultures clouded by racist assumptions—a vision that had lasting consequences. The collecting practice became an engine of the American museum and significantly shaped public education and preservation, as well as popular ideas about Indigenous cultures. Prophets and Ghosts teases out the moral challenges inherent in the salvage project. Preservationists successfully maintained an important human inheritance, sometimes through collaboration with Indigenous people, but collectors' methods also included outright theft. The resulting portrait of Indigenous culture reinforced the public's confidence in the hierarchies of superiority and inferiority invented by “scientific” racism. Today the same salvaged objects are sources of invaluable knowledge for researchers and museum visitors. But the question of what should be done with such collections is nonetheless urgent. Redman interviews Indigenous artists and curators, who offer fresh perspectives on the history and impact of cultural salvage, pointing to new ideas on how we might contend with a challenging inheritance. Alex Golub is associate professor of anthropology, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

Paul M. Heideman, "Class Struggle and the Color Line: American Socialism and the Race Question 1900-1930" (Haymarket Books, 2022)

Play Episode Listen Later May 11, 2022 61:46

In Class Struggle and the Color Line: American Socialism and the Race Question, 1900-1930 (Haymarket Books, 2018), Paul Heideman collects, for the first time, source materials from a diverse array of socialist writers and organizers, providing a new perspective on the complex history of revolutionary debates about fighting anti-Black racism. Paul Heideman holds a PhD in American studies from Rutgers University–Newark and is a frequent contributor to Jacobin magazine. Schneur Zalman Newfield is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York, and the author of Degrees of Separation: Identity Formation While Leaving Ultra-Orthodox Judaism (Temple University Press, 2020). Visit him online at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

Eve Ng, "Cancel Culture: A Critical Analysis" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2022)

Play Episode Listen Later May 11, 2022 53:23

Eve Ng's new book Cancel Culture: A Critical Analysis (Palgrave Macmillan, 2022), examines the phenomenon of "cancel culture" from a critical media studies perspective, as both cancel practices (what people and institutional actors do) and cancel discourses (commentary about cancelling). Ng traces multiple lines of origins for cancel practices and discourses, in the domains of Black communicative practices (e.g. cancelling relationship to "dissing"), celebrity and fan cultures, consumer culture (especially around consumer nationalist cancellings), and national politics (U.S. conservative criticisms of cancelling, and nationalist cancelling events in mainland China). Her analysis moves beyond popular press accounts about the latest targets of cancelling or familiar free speech debates, and underscores the different configurations of power associated with “cancel culture” in specific cultural and political contexts. Louisa Hann recently attained a PhD in English and American studies from the University of Manchester, specialising in the political economy of HIV/AIDS theatres. She has published work on the memorialisation of HIV/AIDS on the contemporary stage and the use of documentary theatre as a neoliberal harm reduction tool. She is currently working on a monograph based on her doctoral thesis. You can get in touch with her at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

Mark V. Tushnet, "The Hughes Court: From Progressivism to Pluralism, 1930 to 1941" (Cambridge UP, 2022)

Play Episode Listen Later May 11, 2022 57:54

Mark V. Tushnet's book The Hughes Court: From Progressivism to Pluralism, 1930 to 1941 (Cambridge UP, 2022) describes the closing of one era in constitutional jurisprudence and the opening of another. This comprehensive study of the Supreme Court from 1930 to 1941 – when Charles Evans Hughes was Chief Justice – shows how nearly all justices, even the most conservative, accepted the broad premises of a Progressive theory of government and the Constitution. The Progressive view gradually increased its hold throughout the decade, but at its end, interest group pluralism began to influence the law. By 1941, constitutional and public law was discernibly different from what it had been in 1930, but there was no sharp or instantaneous Constitutional Revolution in 1937 despite claims to the contrary. This study supports its conclusions by examining the Court's work in constitutional law, administrative law, the law of justiciability, civil rights and civil liberties, and statutory interpretation. 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 Support our show by becoming a premium member!

Kenny Xu, "An Inconvenient Minority: The Attack on Asian American Excellence and the Fight for Meritocracy" (Diversion Book, 2021)

Play Episode Listen Later May 10, 2022 51:36

Even in the midst of a nationwide surge of bias and incidents against them, Asians from coast to coast have quietly assumed mastery of the nation's technical and intellectual machinery and become essential American workers. Yet, they've been forced to do so in the face of policy proposals―written in the name of diversity―excluding them from the upper ranks of the elite. In An Inconvenient Minority: The Attack on Asian American Excellence and the Fight for Meritocracy (Diversion Book, 2021), journalist Kenny Xu traces elite America's longstanding unease about a minority potentially upending them. Leftist agendas, such as eliminating standardized testing, doling out racial advantages to "preferred" minorities, and lumping Asians into "privileged" categories despite their deprived historical experiences have spurred Asian Americans to act. Going beyond the Students for Fair Admission (SFFA) v. Harvard case, Xu unearths the skewed logic rippling countrywide, from Mayor Bill de Blasio's attempted makeover of New York City's Specialized School programs to the battle over "diversity" quotas in Google's and Facebook's progressive epicenters, to the rise of Asian American activism in response to unfair perceptions and admission practices. Asian Americans' time is now, as they increase their direct action and amplify their voices in the face of mounting anti-Asian attacks. An Inconvenient Minority chronicles the political and economic repression and renaissance of a long ignored racial identity group―and how they are central to reversing America's cultural decline and preserving the dynamism of the free world. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

Katherine Dugan, "Millennial Missionaries: How a Group of Young Catholics Is Trying to Make Catholicism Cool" (Oxford UP, 2019)

Play Episode Listen Later May 10, 2022 41:56

Millennials in the U.S. have been characterized as uninterested in religion, as defectors from religious institutions, and as agnostic about the role of religious identity in their culture. Amid the rise of so-called "nones," though, there has also been a countervailing trend: an increase in religious piety among some millennial Catholics. The Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), which began evangelizing college students on American university campuses in 1998, hires recent college graduates to evangelize college students and promote an attractive and culturally savvy Catholicism. These millennial Catholics have personal relationships with Jesus, attend Mass daily, and know and defend papal teachings, while also being immersed in U.S. popular culture. With their skinny jeans, devotional tattoos, and large-framed glasses, FOCUS missionaries embody a hip, attractive style of Catholicism. They promote a faith that interweaves distinctly Catholic identity with outreach methods of twentieth-century evangelical Protestants and the anxieties of middle-class emerging adulthood. Though this new generation of missionaries lives according to strict gender essentialism prescribed by papal teachings-including the notions that men lead while women follow and that biology dictates gender roles-they also support stay-at-home fatherhood and women earning MBAs.  Millennial Missionaries: How a Group of Young Catholics Is Trying to Make Catholicism Cool (Oxford UP, 2019) examines how these young people navigate their Catholic and American identities in the twenty-first century. Illuminating the ways missionaries are reshaping American Catholic identity, Katherine Dugan explores the contemporary U.S. religious landscape from the perspective of millennials who proudly proclaim "I am Catholic"-and devote years of their lives to convincing others to do the same. Allison Isidore is the Assistant Director for the American Catholic Historical Association and is an Instructor of Record for the Religious Studies department at the University of Alabama. Her research interest is focused on the twentieth-century American Civil Rights Movement and the Catholic Church's response to racism and the participation of Catholic clergy, nuns, and laypeople in marches, sit-ins, and kneel-ins during the 1950s and 1960s. Allison is also a Video Editor for The Religious Studies Project, producing videos for the podcast and marketing team. She tweets from @AllisonIsidore1. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

The Problem with Museums: A Conversation with Georgina Adam and Nizan Shaked

Play Episode Listen Later May 10, 2022 74:23

In the past few years, museums of contemporary art have come under a fair deal of scrutiny. Pressures from groups such as Decoloinise This Space or the oxycontin scandal have forced changes to the governance of some of the world's best-known institutions. At the same time, the work of journalists and museum scholars has revealed that the relationships between trustees, curators, collections, and the public are often far more complex than the narratives of public benefit and private value would have us believe. Nizan Shaked's Museums and Wealth: The Politics of Contemporary Art Collections (Bloomsbury, 2022) is a critical analysis of contemporary art collections and the value form. In the United States, institutions administered by the nonprofit system have an ambiguous status as they are neither entirely private nor fully public. Among nonprofits, the museum is unique as it is the only institution where trustees tend to collect the same objects they hold in ‘public trust' on behalf of the nation. Shaked argues that the public serves as an alibi for establishing the symbolic value of art, which sustains its monetary value and its markets. In The Rise and Rise of the Private Art Museum (Lund Humphries, 2022), Adam tracks the phenomenon of the collector's museum in the 21st century. There are some 400 private art museums around the world, and an astonishing 70% of those devoted to contemporary art were founded in the past 20 years. Although private museums have been accused of being tax-evading vanity projects or ‘tombs for trophies', the picture is complex and nuanced. Private museums can add greatly to the cultural life of a community, giving a platform to emerging artists, supplying educational programmes and revitalising declining or neglected regions. But their relationship with public institutions can also be problematic. Are museums purely public affairs? How do private collections serve the greater good? What happens when these missions become confused? Georgina Adam and Nizan Shaked speak to Pierre d'Alancaisez about the 500-year history and the recent rise of the private art museum and consider if even public museums are, in the end, private. Georgina Adam is a journalist specialising in the art market. She writes for the Financial Times and The Art Newspaper. She is the author of Big Bucks and The Dark Side of the Boom. Nizan Shaked is a professor of Contemporary Art History, Museum and Curatorial Studies at California State University Long Beach. She is the author of The Synthetic Proposition: Conceptualism and the Political Referent in Contemporary Art. Museum Susch The Fisher collection at SF MoMA Warren Kanders leaves the board of the Whitney Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

The Future of Opinion Polls: A Conversation with Mark Pack

Play Episode Listen Later May 10, 2022 53:37

As the culture wars intensify, it seems that all sources of neutral authority get challenged and that includes opinion polls. Accusations about bias and unreliability fly around and yet everyone seriously engaged in the political process studies polls closely because they think they contain important truths. So are polls becoming more reliable because of improved techniques or less so because of the increasingly fractured and perhaps, increasingly difficult to measure nature of western democracies. British polling expert Mark Pak – author of Polls Unpacked - discusses the future of opinion polls. 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 Support our show by becoming a premium member!

Paul Conrad, "The Apache Diaspora: Four Centuries of Displacement and Survival" (U Pennsylvania Press, 2021)

Play Episode Listen Later May 10, 2022 63:36

In The Apache Diaspora: Four Centuries of Displacement and Survival (U Pennsylvania Press, 2021), Paul Conrad brings to life the stories of displaced Apaches and the kin from whom they were separated. Conrad uses the lens of “diaspora” to analyze four centuries of Ndé/Apache history, from their initial interactions with Europeans in the sixteenth century to the early twentieth century, when several dozen Apaches returned to the Southwest –if not to their ancestral lands, after decades of forced exile. The case for an Apache diaspora is persuasively demonstrated throughout with illustrative examples drawn from a wide array of secondary and primary sources, including original documents from repositories in the U.S., Mexico, and Spain. Conrad charts Apaches' efforts to survive or return home from places as far-flung as Cuba and Pennsylvania, Mexico City and Montreal. While deeply analytical, Conrad enlivens his narrative with meaningful stories, such as the arrival of the first shipment of Apaches to Havana in 1784, and evocative vignettes, for instance, of life on the reservations in the 1870s. Joaquín Rivaya-Martínez es profesor de Historia en Texas State University. Sus intereses académicos incluyen la etnohistoria, los pueblos indígenas de las Grandes Llanuras y el Suroeste de EE.UU., la frontera México-EE.UU. y la América hispánica. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

Emily West, "Buy Now: How Amazon Branded Convenience and Normalized Monopoly" (MIT Press, 2022)

Play Episode Listen Later May 9, 2022 64:27

How Amazon combined branding and relationship marketing with massive distribution infrastructure to become the ultimate service brand in the digital economy. Amazon is ubiquitous in our daily lives—we stream movies and television on Amazon Prime Video, converse with Alexa, receive messages on our smartphone about the progress of our latest orders. In Buy Now: How Amazon Branded Convenience and Normalized Monopoly (MIT Press, 2022), Emily West examines Amazon's consumer-facing services to investigate how Amazon as a brand grew so quickly and inserted itself into so many aspects of our lives even as it faded into the background, becoming a sort of infrastructure that can be taken for granted. Amazon promotes the comfort and care of its customers (but not its workers) to become the ultimate service brand in the digital economy. Noopur Raval is a postdoctoral researcher working at the intersection of Information Studies, STS, Media Studies and Anthropology Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

Mónica Guzmán, "I Never Thought of It That Way: How to Have Fearlessly Curious Conversations in Dangerously Divided Times" (BenBella Books, 2022)

Play Episode Listen Later May 9, 2022 63:45

Journalist Mónica Guzmán is the loving liberal daughter of Mexican immigrants who voted—twice—for Donald Trump. When the country could no longer see straight across the political divide, Mónica set out to find what was blinding us and discovered the most eye-opening tool we're not using: our own built-in curiosity. Partisanship is up, trust is down, and our social media feeds make us sure we're right and everyone else is ignorant (or worse). But avoiding one another is hurting our relationships and our society. In I Never Thought of It That Way: How to Have Fearlessly Curious Conversations in Dangerously Divided Times (BenBella Books, 2022), Mónica takes us to the real front lines of a crisis that threatens to grind America to a halt—broken conversations among confounded people. Drawing from cross-partisan conversations she's had, organized, or witnessed everywhere from the echo chambers on social media to the wheat fields in Oregon to raw, unfiltered fights with her own family on election night, Mónica shows how you can put your natural sense of wonder to work for you immediately, finding the answers you need by talking with people—rather than about them—and asking the questions you want, curiously. This podcast episode is a recording of a live event co-hosted by Gather, an initiative of the Agora Journalism Center at the University of Oregon that focuses on community-centered journalism. Jenna Spinelle is a journalism instructor at Penn State's Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications. She's also the communications specialist for the university's McCourtney Institute for Democracy, where she hosts and produces the Democracy Works podcast. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

Kelly Lytle Hernández, "Bad Mexicans: Race, Empire, and Revolution in the Borderlands" (Norton, 2022)

Play Episode Listen Later May 9, 2022 52:05

Bad Mexicans: Race, Empire, and Revolution in the Borderlands (Norton, 2022)tells the dramatic story of the magonistas, the migrant rebels who sparked the 1910 Mexican Revolution from the United States. Led by a brilliant but ill-tempered radical named Ricardo Flores Magón, the magonistas were a motley band of journalists, miners, migrant workers, and more, who organized thousands of Mexican workers--and American dissidents--to their cause. Determined to oust Mexico's dictator, Porfirio Díaz, who encouraged the plunder of his country by U.S. imperialists such as Guggenheim and Rockefeller, the rebels had to outrun and outsmart the swarm of U. S. authorities vested in protecting the Diaz regime. The U.S. Departments of War, State, Treasury, and Justice as well as police, sheriffs, and spies, hunted the magonistas across the country. Capturing Ricardo Flores Magón was one of the FBI's first cases. But the magonistas persevered. They lived in hiding, wrote in secret code, and launched armed raids into Mexico until they ignited the world's first social revolution of the twentieth century. Taking readers to the frontlines of the magonista uprising and the counterinsurgency campaign that failed to stop them, Kelly Lytle Hernández puts the magonista revolt at the heart of U.S. history. Long ignored by textbooks, the magonistas threatened to undo the rise of Anglo-American power, on both sides of the border, and inspired a revolution that gave birth to the Mexican-American population, making the magonistas' story integral to modern American life. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

LaGina Gause, "The Advantage of Disadvantage: Costly Protest and Political Representation for Marginalized Groups" (Cambridge UP, 2022)

Play Episode Listen Later May 6, 2022 64:37

Does protest influence political representation? If so, which groups are most likely to benefit from collective action? The Advantage of Disadvantage: Costly Protest and Political Representation for Marginalized Groups (Cambridge UP, 2022) makes a provocative claim: protests are most effective for disadvantaged groups. According to author LaGina Gause, legislators are more responsive to protesters than non-protesters, and after protesting, racial and ethnic minorities, people with low incomes, and other low-resource groups are more likely than white and affluent protesters to gain representation. Gause also demonstrates that online protests are less effective than in-person protests. Drawing on literature from across the social sciences as well as formal theory, a survey of policymakers, quantitative data, and vivid examples of protests throughout U.S. history, The Advantage of Disadvantage provides invaluable insights for scholars and activists seeking to understand how groups gain representation through protesting. LaGina Gause is an Assistant Professor at the University of California, San Diego. Her research interests are at the intersection of U.S. political institutions and political behavior with a focus on racial and ethnic politics, inequality, protest, and representation. Before joining the department of Political Science at the University of California, San Diego as an assistant professor, she was a Democracy Postdoctoral Fellow at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School. She tweets @LaGina_Gause. Host Ursula Hackett is Senior Lecturer in Politics at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her Cambridge University Press book America's Voucher Politics: How Elites Learned to Hide the State won the 2021 Education Politics and Policy Best Book Award from the American Political Science Association. Her writing guide Brilliant Essays is published by Macmillan Study Skills. She tweets @UrsulaBHackett. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

Jaclyn Granick, "International Jewish Humanitarianism in the Age of the Great War" (Cambridge UP, 2021)

Play Episode Listen Later May 6, 2022 51:43

Today I talked to Jaclyn Granick about her book International Jewish Humanitarianism in the Age of the Great War (Cambridge UP, 2021).  In 1914, seven million Jews across Eastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean were caught in the crossfire of warring empires in a disaster of stupendous, unprecedented proportions. In response, American Jews developed a new model of humanitarian relief for their suffering brethren abroad, wandering into American foreign policy as they navigated a wartime political landscape. The effort continued into peacetime, touching every interwar Jewish community in these troubled regions through long-term refugee, child welfare, public health, and poverty alleviation projects. Against the backdrop of war, revolution, and reconstruction, this is the story of American Jews who went abroad in solidarity to rescue and rebuild Jewish lives in Jewish homelands. As they constructed a new form of humanitarianism and re-drew the map of modern philanthropy, they rebuilt the Jewish Diaspora itself in the image of the modern social welfare state. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

Dhanveer Singh Brar, "Teklife, Ghettoville, Eski: The Sonic Ecologies of Black Music in the Early 21st Century" (Goldsmiths Press, 2021)

Play Episode Listen Later May 6, 2022 69:24

Teklife, Ghettoville, Eski: The Sonic Ecologies of Black Music in the Early 21st Century (Goldsmiths Press, 2021) uses three Black electronic musics – footwork, grime, and the work of the producer Actress – to provide a theory of how Black musical experimentation has disrupted the circuits of racialized domination and exclusion in the 21st Century city. The book carefully attends to the unique ‘sonic ecologies' produced by these three musical forms in South/West Chicago; East London and South London respectively, steering a course between uncritical celebration narratives of ‘resistant' cultural production and dystopian analyses of urban decay. Brar instead theorises these musics as forms of popular experimentalism which are not just inseparable from questions of space, race and class, but are productive of social and spatial relations. The book draws upon, and intervenes in, Black Studies literature to contribute a set of examples, questions and provocations that help readers to think about how the ‘Blackness of Black electronic dance music' has produced (and continues to produce) a fugitive urban aesthetic sociality that has flourished in spite of the degradations of state and capital. At the end of the interview, Dhanveer recommended some music as good entry points into the three musical worlds that we discuss and that he analyses in the book: Actress – Splazsh (2010) DJ Rashad – Just a Taste Vol. 1 (2011) Slimzee/Wiley/Dizzee Rascal and more – Sidewinder sessions (2002-2004) Gummo Clare is a PhD researcher in the School of Media and Communications, University of Leeds. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò, "Elite Capture: How the Powerful Took Over Identity Politics (and Everything Else)" (Haymarket, 2022)

Play Episode Listen Later May 5, 2022 73:30

“Identity politics” is everywhere, polarizing discourse from the campaign trail to the classroom and amplifying antagonisms in the media, both online and off. But the compulsively referenced phrase bears little resemblance to the concept as first introduced by the radical Black feminist Combahee River Collective. While the Collective articulated a political viewpoint grounded in their own position as Black lesbians with the explicit aim of building solidarity across lines of difference, identity politics is now frequently weaponized as a means of closing ranks around ever-narrower conceptions of group interests. But the trouble, Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò deftly argues, is not with identity politics itself. Through a substantive engagement with the global Black radical tradition and a critical understanding of racial capitalism, Táíwò identifies the process by which a radical concept can be stripped of its political substance and liberatory potential by becoming the victim of elite capture—deployed by political, social, and economic elites in the service of their own interests. Táíwò's book Elite Capture: How the Powerful Took Over Identity Politics (and Everything Else) (Haymarket, 2022) both elucidates this complex process and helps us move beyond a binary of “class” vs. “race.” By rejecting elitist identity politics in favor of a constructive politics of radical solidarity, he advances the possibility of organizing across our differences in the urgent struggle for a better world. 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 Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

On Christianity and American Political Culture

Play Episode Listen Later May 4, 2022 59:44

Matthew Bowman received his PhD. in history from Georgetown University. He is associate professor of history at Henderson State University, where he teaches courses in American history since the Civil War, race, and American religion. He is the author of Christian: The Politics of a Word in America, out now from Harvard University Press, and several other books. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

Aaron Cohen, "Move On Up: Chicago Soul Music and Black Cultural Power" (U Chicago Press, 2019)

Play Episode Listen Later May 4, 2022 59:18

Curtis Mayfield. The Chi-Lites. Chaka Khan. Chicago's place in the history of soul music is rock solid. But for Chicagoans, soul music in its heyday from the 1960s to the 1980s was more than just a series of hits: it was a marker and a source of black empowerment.  In Move On Up: Chicago Soul Music and Black Cultural Power (U Chicago Press, 2019), Aaron Cohen tells the remarkable story of the explosion of soul music in Chicago. Together, soul music and black-owned businesses thrived. Record producers and song-writers broadcast optimism for black America's future through their sophisticated, jazz-inspired productions for the Dells and many others. Curtis Mayfield boldly sang of uplift with unmistakable grooves like “We're a Winner” and “I Plan to Stay a Believer.” Musicians like Phil Cohran and the Pharaohs used their music to voice Afrocentric philosophies that challenged racism and segregation, while Maurice White of Earth, Wind, and Fire and Chaka Khan created music that inspired black consciousness. Soul music also accompanied the rise of African American advertisers and the campaign of Chicago's first black mayor, Harold Washington, in 1983. This empowerment was set in stark relief by the social unrest roiling in Chicago and across the nation: as Chicago's homegrown record labels produced rising stars singing songs of progress and freedom, Chicago's black middle class faced limited economic opportunities and deep-seated segregation, all against a backdrop of nationwide deindustrialization. Drawing on more than one hundred interviews and a music critic's passion for the unmistakable Chicago soul sound, Cohen shows us how soul music became the voice of inspiration and change for a city in turmoil. Aaron Cohen covers the arts for numerous publications and teaches English, journalism, and humanities at City Colleges of Chicago. He is the author of Aretha Franklin's "Amazing Grace." Aaron Cohen on Twitter. Bradley Morgan is a media arts professional in Chicago and author of U2's The Joshua Tree: Planting Roots in Mythic America. He manages partnerships on behalf of CHIRP Radio 107.1 FM, serves as a co-chair of the associate board at the Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and volunteers in the music archive at the Old Town School of Folk Music. Bradley Morgan on Twitter. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

Julian E. Zelizer, "The Presidency of Donald J. Trump: A First Historical Assessment" (Princeton UP, 2022)

Play Episode Listen Later May 3, 2022 62:12

The Presidency of Donald J. Trump: A First Historical Assessment (Princeton University Press, 2022) presents a first draft of history by offering needed perspective on one of the nation's most divisive presidencies. Acclaimed political historian Julian Zelizer brings together many of today's top scholars to provide balanced and strikingly original assessments of the major issues that shaped the Trump presidency. When Trump took office in 2017, he quickly carved out a loyal base within an increasingly radicalized Republican Party, dominated the news cycle with an endless stream of controversies, and presided over one of the most contentious one-term presidencies in American history. These essays cover the crucial aspects of Trump's time in office, including his administration's close relationship with conservative media, his war on feminism, the solidification of a conservative women's movement, his response to COVID-19, the border wall, growing tensions with China and NATO allies, white nationalism in an era of Black Lives Matter, and how the high-tech sector flourished. The Presidency of Donald J. Trump reveals how Trump was not the cause of the political divisions that defined his term in office but rather was a product of long-term trends in Republican politics and American polarization more broadly. With contributions by Kathleen Belew, Angus Burgin, Geraldo Cadava, Merlin Chowkwanyun, Bathsheba Demuth, Gregory Downs, Jeffrey Engel, Beverly Gage, Nicole Hemmer, Michael Kazin, Daniel C. Kurtzer, James Mann, Mae Ngai, Margaret O'Mara, Jason Scott Smith, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, and Leandra Zarnow. Julian E. Zelizer is the Malcolm Stevenson Forbes, Class of 1941 Professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University. A CNN political analyst and a regular guest on NPR, he is the author of many books, including Burning Down the House, The Fierce Urgency of Now, and Abraham Joshua Heschel: A Life of Radical Amazement. Twitter @julianzelizer Caleb Zakarin is the Assistant Editor of the New Books Network (Twitter: @caleb_zakarin). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

Julie Pfeiffer, "Transforming Girls: The Work of Nineteenth-Century Adolescence" (UP of Mississippi, 2021)

Play Episode Listen Later May 3, 2022 57:47

Transforming Girls: The Work of Nineteenth-Century Adolescence (UP of Mississippi, 2021) explores the paradox of the nineteenth-century girls' book. On the one hand, early novels for adolescent girls rely on gender binaries and suggest that girls must accommodate and support a patriarchal framework to be happy. On the other, they provide access to imagined worlds in which teens are at the center. The early girls' book frames female adolescence as an opportunity for productive investment in the self. This is a space where mentors who trust themselves, the education they provide, and the girl's essentially good nature neutralize the girl's own anxieties about maturity. These mid-nineteenth-century novels focus on female adolescence as a social category in unexpected ways. They draw not on a twentieth-century model of the alienated adolescent, but on a model of collaborative growth. The purpose of these novels is to approach adolescence—a category that continues to engage and perplex us—from another perspective, one in which fluid identity and the deliberate construction of a self are celebrated. They provide alternatives to cultural beliefs about what it was like to be a white, middle-class girl in the nineteenth century and challenge the assumption that the evolution of the girls' book is always a movement towards less sexist, less restrictive images of girls. Drawing on forgotten bestsellers in the United States and Germany (where this genre is referred to as Backfischliteratur), Transforming Girls offers insightful readings that call scholars to reexamine the history of the girls' book. It also outlines an alternate model for imagining adolescence and supporting adolescent girls. The awkward adolescent girl—so popular in mid-nineteenth-century fiction for girls—remains a valuabl