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Beginning in the late seventeenth century and concluding with the abolition of the Atlantic slave trade, Almost Dead: Slavery and Social Rebirth in the Black Urban Atlantic, 1680-1807 (U Georgia Press, 2022) reveals how the thousands of captives who lived, bled, and resisted in the Black Urban Atlantic survived to form dynamic communities. Michael …
 
The massive and foreboding Great Dismal Swamp sprawls over 2,000 square miles and spills over parts of Virginia and North Carolina. From the early seventeenth century, the nearly impassable Dismal frustrated settlement. However, what may have been an impediment to the expansion of slave society became an essential sanctuary for many of those who so…
 
In Escape to the City: Fugitive Slaves in the Antebellum Urban South (UNC Press, 2022), Viola Franziska Müller examines runaways who camouflaged themselves among the free Black populations in Baltimore, Charleston, New Orleans, and Richmond. In the urban South, they found shelter, work, and other survival networks that enabled them to live in slave…
 
In histories of enslavement and in Black women's history, coercion looms large in any discussion of sex and sexuality. At a time when sexual violence against Black women was virtually unregulated—even normalized—a vast economy developed specifically to sell the sexual labor of Black women. In Consent in the Presence of Force: Sexual Violence and Bl…
 
Joe William Trotter, Jr., Giant Eagle University Professor of History and Founder and Director of the Center for Africanamerican Urban Studies and the Economy (CAUSE) at Carnegie Mellon University, talks about his book, Workers on Arrival: Black Labor in the Making of America (University of California Press, 2019), with Peoples & Things host, Lee V…
 
Catherine Coleman Flowers, activist, author, founder of the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice, and MacArthur “genius prize” winner, talks about her book Waste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret with Peoples & Things host Lee Vinsel. Waste examines the brutal realities of rural sanitation issues, particularly the l…
 
Many African Americans of the Civil War era felt a personal connection to Abraham Lincoln. For the first time in their lives, an occupant of the White House seemed concerned about the welfare of their race. Indeed, despite the tremendous injustice and discrimination that they faced, African Americans now had confidence to write to the president and…
 
Examining infanticide cases in the United States from the late eighteenth to the late nineteenth centuries, Felicity M. Turner's Proving Pregnancy: Gender, Law, and Medical Knowledge in Nineteenth-Century America (UNC Press, 2022) documents how women—Black and white, enslaved and free—gradually lost control over reproduction to male medical and leg…
 
"History recalls Wallace’s inaugural address as a set piece in the larger drama of defending Southern segregation, which it was. But the speech was about something even more profound, more enduring, even more virulent than segregation. Aside from his infamous “Segregation Forever” slogan, Wallace mentioned “segregation” only one other time that aft…
 
In this week’s episode from the Institute’s Vault, Molly Haskell talks about her 2009 book, Frankly, My Dear: "Gone with the Wind" Revisited, published by Yale University Press. Haskell grew up in Richmond, Virginia, and studied at the Sorbonne. She came to New York in the sixties to work for the French Film office, where she wrote a newsletter abo…
 
Kevin R. C. Gutzman's The Jeffersonians: Presidents Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe, 1801-1825 (St. Martin's Press, 2022) marks the first chronicle of the only consecutive trio of two-term presidencies of the same political party in American history: Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe. Before the consecutive two-term administrations o…
 
Lauren N. Haumesser's The Democratic Collapse: How Gender Politics Broke a Party and a Nation, 1856-1861 (UNC Press, 2022) offers a fresh examination of antebellum politics comprehensively examines the ways that gender issues and gendered discourse exacerbated fissures within the Democratic Party in the critical years between 1856 and 1861. Whereas…
 
Michael Ayers Trotti's The End of Public Execution: Race, Religion and Punishment in the American South (The University of North Carolina Press, 2022) documents the complex religious and cultural textures of post-Civil War executions in the U.S. South. Before 1850, all legal executions in the South were performed before crowds that could number in …
 
Bertha Maxwell-Roddey: A Modern-Day Race Woman and the Power of Black Leadership (UP of Florida, 2022) examines a life of remarkable achievements and leadership in the desegregated South. Sonya Ramsey modernizes the nineteenth-century term "race woman" to describe how Maxwell-Roddey and her peers turned hard-won civil rights and feminist milestones…
 
Half of Black Americans who live in the one hundred largest metropolitan areas are now living in suburbs, not cities. In Liberty Road: Black Middle-Class Suburbs and the Battle Between Civil Rights and Neoliberalism (NYU Press, 2022), Gregory Smithsimon shows us how this happened, and why it matters, unearthing the hidden role that suburbs played i…
 
Dr Catherine Bateson is Associate Lecturer of American History at the University of Kent. She researches and writes about the role of song in the American Civil War, the sentiments ballads reveal about conflict experiences (especially for Irish Americans) and the culture of transnational music in mid-nineteenth century America. She has also written…
 
The Great Power of Small Nations: Indigenous Diplomacy in the Gulf South (U Pennsylvania Press, 2022) tackles questions of Native power past and present and provides a fresh examination of the formidable and resilient Native nations—including Biloxis, Choctaws, Chitimachas, Chickasaws, Houmas, Mobilians, and Tunicas—who helped shape the modern Gulf…
 
The first book to examine the rarely-acknowledged Waverly Train Disaster of 1978 - the catastrophic accident that changed America forever and led to the formation of FEMA. Coinciding with the 45th anniversary of the event, Walk Through Fire: The Train Disaster That Changed America (Citadel Press, 2023) is a tribute to the first responders, as well …
 
The Music of the United States of America Series of musical editions is a monumental undertaking funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities with financial and organizational support from the University of Michigan, the American Musicological Society, the Society of American Music, and A-R Editions. The aim of the MUSA series, as it is call…
 
Virginia L. Summey's book The Life of Elreta Melton Alexander: Activism within the Courts (U Georgia Press, 2022) explores the life and contributions of groundbreaking attorney, Elreta Melton Alexander Ralston (1919–98). In 1945 Alexander became the first African American woman to graduate from Columbia Law School. In 1947 she was the first African…
 
Teaching in Black and White: The Sisters of St. Joseph in the American South (Catholic University of America Press, 2022) discusses the work of the Sisters of St. Joseph of (the city of) St. Augustine, who came to Florida from France in 1866 to teach newly freed blacks after the Civil War, and remain to this day. It also tells the story of the Sist…
 
On September 9, 1921, a tropical storm raged above San Antonio, Texas. The rain that night flooded the city's many waterways, distributing unequal destruction throughout its many neighborhoods. For the whiter, wealthier, parts of the city, the flood was an inconvenient detriment to business. For the Latinx West Side, it was a devastating tragedy. I…
 
Medical science in antebellum America was organized around a paradox: it presumed African Americans to be less than human yet still human enough to be viable as experimental subjects, as cadavers, and for use in the training of medical students. By taking a hard look at the racial ideas of both northern and southern medical schools, Christopher D. …
 
In Black Bodies, White Gold: Art, Cotton, and Commerce in the Atlantic World (Duke UP, 2021), Anna Arabindan-Kesson uses cotton, a commodity central to the slave trade and colonialism, as a focus for new interpretations of the way art, commerce, and colonialism were intertwined in the nineteenth-century Atlantic world. In doing so, Arabindan-Kesson…
 
On an August night in 1893, the deadliest hurricane in South Carolina history struck the Lowcountry, killing thousands—almost all African American. But the devastating storm is only the beginning of this story. The hurricane's long effects intermingled with ongoing processes of economic downturn, racial oppression, resistance, and environmental cha…
 
When Samuel Townsend died at his home in Madison County, Alabama, in November 1856, the fifty-two-year-old white planter left behind hundreds of slaves, thousands of acres of rich cotton land, and a net worth of approximately $200,000. In life, Samuel had done little to distinguish himself from other members of the South's elite slaveholding class.…
 
They worked Virginia's tobacco fields, South Carolina's rice marshes, and the Black Belt's cotton plantations. Wherever they lived, enslaved people found their lives indelibly shaped by the Southern environment. By day, they plucked worms and insects from the crops, trod barefoot in the mud as they hoed rice fields, and endured the sun and humidity…
 
During the American Civil War, thousands of citizens in the Deep South remained loyal to the United States. Though often overlooked, this small number of individuals possessed broad symbolic importance and occupied an outsized place in the strategic thinking and public discourse of both the Union and the Confederacy. In True Blue: White Unionists i…
 
College football is a massive enterprise in the United States, and southern teams dominate poll rankings and sports headlines while generating billions in revenue for public schools and private companies. Southern football fans worship their teams, often rearranging their personal lives in order to accommodate season schedules. Andrew McIlwaine Bel…
 
The Texas Revolution has long been cast as an epic episode in the origins of the American West. As the story goes, larger-than-life figures like Sam Houston, David Crockett, and William Barret Travis fought to free Texas from repressive Mexican rule. In Unsettled Land: From Revolution to Republic, the Struggle for Texas (Basic Books, 2022), histori…
 
While significant attention in political science is devoted to national level elections, a comprehensive look at state level political dynamics in the United States is so far sorely missing, and state level electoral developments and shifts are treated as mere reflections of national-level dynamics and patterns. Regina L. Wagner's book Electoral Pa…
 
Lynching is often viewed as a narrow form of violence: either the spontaneous act of an angry mob against accused individuals, or a demonstration of white supremacy against an entire population considered subhuman. However, in this new treatise, historian Guy Lancaster exposes the multiple forms of violence hidden beneath the singular label of lync…
 
Atlanta, the capital of the American South, is at the red-hot core of expansion, inequality, and political relevance. In recent decades, central Atlanta has experienced heavily racialized gentrification while the suburbs have become more diverse, with many affluent suburbs trying to push back against this diversity. Exploring the city’s past and fu…
 
Want to take a trip with the king of the Blues? As B.B. King’s photographer and original biographer, Charlie Sawyer was along for the ride. In B.B. King from Indianola to Icon: A Personal Odyssey with the King of the Blues (Schiffer, 2022), journalist and photographer Charles Sawyer discusses his many years working with and near the greatest of Blu…
 
On any given night, hundreds of guests walk the darkened streets of Colonial Williamsburg looking for ghosts. Since the early 2000s, both the museum and private companies have facilitated these hunts, offering year-round ghost tours. Critics have called these excursions a cash grab, but in truth, ghosts and hauntings have long been at the center of…
 
George Washington is remembered for leading the Continental Army to victory, presiding over the Constitution, and forging a new nation, but few know the story of his involvement in the establishment of a capital city and how it nearly tore the United States apart. In George Washington's Final Battle: The Epic Struggle to Build a Capital City and a …
 
Dr. Wendy Gonaver discusses her book, The Peculiar Institution and the Making of Modern Psychiatry, 1840-1880 (University of North Carolina Press, 2019), the Eastern Lunatic Asylum in Virginia, and the roles that race, the institution of slavery, and slave labor played in the development of psychiatric diagnosis and care through the nineteenth cent…
 
Retail Inequality: Reframing the Food Desert Debate (U California Press, 2021) examines the failure of recent efforts to improve Americans' diets by increasing access to healthy food. Based on exhaustive research, this book by Kenneth H. Kolb documents the struggles of two Black neighborhoods in Greenville, South Carolina. For decades, outsiders ig…
 
As the 1974 school year began, Wayne Woodward was a beloved high school teacher in a rural Texas town. By the following spring, he was embroiled in a local political firestorm that would ultimately cost him his job. Woodward's sin was, in his own words, naively trying to found a chapter of the ACLU in his Hereford, Texas community. In You Will Neve…
 
Any song as old and as familiar as “My Old Kentucky Home” is bound to have accrued many different meanings and an interesting history. Emily Bingham’s book, My Old Kentucky Home: The Astonishing Life and Reckoning of an Iconic American Song (Knopf, 2022) delivers on the promise of its title. In this book Bingham uses the reception of “My Old Kentuc…
 
Remembering Enslavement: Reassembling the Southern Plantation Museum (U Georgia Press, 2022) explores plantation museums as sites for contesting and reforming public interpretations of slavery in the American South. Emerging out of a three-year National Science Foundation grant (2014-17), the book turns a critical eye toward the growing inclusion o…
 
Shrimp is easily America’s favorite seafood, but its very popularity is the wellspring of problems that threaten the shrimp industry’s existence. Asian-Cajun Fusion: Shrimp from the Bay to the Bayou (University of Mississippi Press, 2022) by Carl A. Brasseaux and Donald W. Davis provides insightful analysis of this paradox and a detailed, thorough …
 
When residents and tourists visit sites of slavery, whose stories are told? All too often the lives of slaveowners are centered, obscuring the lives of enslaved people. Behind the Big House: Reconciling Slavery, Race, and Heritage in the U.S. South (U Iowa Press, 2022) gives readers a candid, behind-the-scenes look at what it really takes to interp…
 
It was only two decades ago, but, for the women of country music, 1999 seems like an entirely different universe. With Shania Twain, country's biggest award winner and star, and The Chicks topping every chart, country music was a woman's world: specifically, country radio and Nashville's Music Row. Cut to 2021, when women are only played on country…
 
Davida Breier talks about her debut novel Sinkhole (University of New Orleans Press, 2022). Humidity, lovebugs, and murder. Lies from the past and a dangerous present collide when, after fifteen years in exile, Michelle Miller returns to her tiny hometown of Lorida, Florida. With her mother in the hospital, she's forced to reckon with the broken re…
 
Today's episode of "New Books in African American Studies" is special. Why, you might ask? Because today's episode marks my 100th episode on the NBN! To celebrate, I am chopping it up with my good brother, Dr. Marcus Nevius, Associate Professor of History and Africana Studies at the University of Rhode Island. In today's convo, Brotha Dr. Nevius an…
 
The forceful music that rolled out of Muscle Shoals in the 1960s and 1970s shaped hits by everyone from Wilson Pickett and Aretha Franklin to the Rolling Stones and Paul Simon. Christopher M. Reali's in-depth look at the fabled musical hotbed examines the events and factors that gave the Muscle Shoals sound such a potent cultural power. Many artist…
 
Following the Drums: African American Fife and Drum Music in Tennessee (University Press of Mississippi, 2022) is an epic history of a little-known African American instrumental music form. Carefully documenting the music's early uses for commercial advertising and sports promotion, John M. Shaw follows the strands of the music through the nadir of…
 
Welcome to New Books in African American Studies, a podcast channel on the New Books Network. I am your host, Adam Xavier McNeil. Today’s podcast is special, not because this is the 99th episode of my New Books career, but because I get the chance to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Peter H. Wood completing the dissertation version of Black Majori…
 
If you tuned in to our “ideas in strange places” themed programming last week, you would have heard an episode of Darts and Letters’ predecessor: Cited. (If you didn’t, check it out - there’s everything from science fiction to prison activism back there!) Today, as we continue exploring the politics of education, we’re bringing you another episode …
 
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