U. of Virginia Press
The enemy within; fears of corruption in the Civil War North.
Smith (history, McNeese State U.) shows how Northerners during the Civil War period responded to political corruption involving government contracting, power-hungry generals, sex scandals, and the cotton trade. In his analysis of the political culture of the era, he notes that citizens of the period believed that the misuse of power and patronage by the nation's rulers corrupted the virtue of the nation and led to tyranny. The author argues that these fears, such as the fear of a mythical class of nouveaux riche war profiteers, stemmed from anxiety over economic changes, modernization, and immigration. He contends that by understanding the importance of corruption to Northerners of the period, we can understand the values and beliefs central to Americans of the era, especially their attitudes toward republicanism and masculinity. (Annotation ©2011 Book News Inc. Portland, OR)
Essays from the edge; parerga & paralipomena.
Jay (history, U. of California-Berkeley) has named his collection of disparate essays after a similar collection by German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer published in 1851 in the aftermath of the 1848 failed revolutions across Europe. Among his perspectives are mourning a metaphor: the revolution is over, no state of grace: violence in the garden, pseudology: Derrida on Arendt and lying in politics, and still sleeping rough: Colin Wilson's The Outsider at 50. (Annotation ©2011 Book News Inc. Portland, OR)
Lost communities of Virginia.
Lovingly and meticulously researched and prepared and beautifully presented in an oversize format (12.5x11 inches), this book has deep and wide appeal for those with aesthetic, historical, and urban design interests. The cover image speaks volumes with depiction of a once elegant house and barn, now decrepit and sporting a broken down pick-up truck in the yard. Contents are arranged in sections on gathering places, farming communities, cultural enclaves, resort communities, transportation hubs, resource extraction towns, and company towns — a total of 30 locations in Virginia where remnants of buildings are faded reminders of places that once held plenty of life and activity. Fisher (Community Design Assistance Center, Virginia Tech) and Sparenborg (affiliated with an urban design firm) offer thorough documentation in text and b&w photos of the locales and some of the people who remember what used to be. (Annotation ©2011 Book News Inc. Portland, OR)
Museum trouble; Edwardian fiction and the emergence of modernism.
Following a quote pronouncing that historical documents are both civilized and barbaric, this appropriately named account of man's need to record and display the past opens with a story of a murder-suicide in a museum. Museums not only display art and historical documents, but sarcophagi, weapons and even torture devices. Movies and books tell stories of murder, suspense and fantasy taking place in museums. As such, Hoberman (English, Eastern Illinois U.) traces the museum-fetish through fictional accounts, artistry and historical facts to reveal the roots of the stories recounted in such media. (Annotation ©2011 Book News Inc. Portland, OR)
Sex and the citizen; interrogating the Caribbean.
Smith (African and Afro-American studies, English and American literature, Brandeis U.) introduces the Caribbean as a region "languaged by sex" in discussions about political and cultural sovereignty. Homosexuality has been added to the colonial taboo of miscegenation of races in discourse on identity, power dynamics, and feelings of belonging or disaffection. Contributors examine these issues through lenses including the literary and visual arts, feminist/gender and queer studies, ethnographic interviews, and laws. The volume includes a reading of Shani Mootoo's Cereus Blooms at Night (1998), and Jamaican- American Michelle Cliff's poem, "Colonial Girl." (Annotation ©2011 Book News Inc. Portland, OR)
Shaping the body politic; art and political formation in early America.
McInnis (art, U. of Virginia) and Nelson (architectural history, U. of Virginia) present eight essays from a conference sponsored by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation and the U. of Virginia on the role of the visual arts in shaping Jeffersonian America. The two major themes that emerge from the proceedings are, perhaps unsurprisingly, the relationship between art and politics and representations of the human body as metaphor for the body politic. (Annotation ©2011 Book News Inc. Portland, OR)
A small boy and others.
Collister presents a fully annotated critical edition of the first volume of novelist Henry James's autobiography. He begins with a short introduction in which he sketches James's history and offers insight into his personal life, career, and importance as a literary and social figure of his time. Collister proceeds to deliver a deep, as well as broad, annotation of the author's text. In addition to the traditional explanation of period references and translation of foreign or antiquated language, he occasionally deconstructs and summarizes some of James's denser and more referential narratives, as well as approaching the text from both a literary and a historical perspective, providing notes regarding the text as a potentially Jamesian construct and proffering an account of the society and culture in which James lived as a boy. (Annotation ©2011 Book News Inc. Portland, OR)
Supposing Bleak House.
Jordan (literature, U. of California, Santa Cruz) offers a consideration of Dickens's novel from a number of critical perspectives. He explores the complex use of voice in Esther's narrative, highlighting the often overlapping tenses in the first person account of her various past experiences; considers the counter-narrative represented by Hablot K. Browne's accompanying illustrations; applies a psychoanalytical lens to the text; and reflects on the many endings, resolutions, expirations, and closings represented throughout the novel. He also outlines a number of influences on the narrative from Dickens's own life, and the potential reading of it as a social allegory of the state of Victorian England. (Annotation ©2011 Book News Inc. Portland, OR)
Unnatural rebellion; loyalists in New York City during the Revolution.
Chopra (history, San Jose Stae U.) recounts the complicated story of loyalists in New York City under British occupation during the Revolutionary War. He sets the scene of the multicultural, highly socio-politically heterogeneous metropolis of 1775; explains the nature of the colonists' attachments and foundation of their loyalties; and relates their plans and expectations for helping to quell a rebellion which they viewed as premature and rash. Chopra describes the self-hampering effects of British martial law in New York, which caused resentment rather than patriotism amongst the local population and surrounding regions, making it difficult for loyalists to argue their cause to their fellow colonials. He outlines the ensuing events of the war; loyalist reactions, strategies, struggles, and eventual failure; and the lessons in loyalty, Empire and governance which they later brought to the northern colonies that would become Canada. (Annotation ©2011 Book News Inc. Portland, OR)