The Arresting Eye: Race and the Anxiety of Detection

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs, Passing on 2019-02-23 02:57Z by Steven

The Arresting Eye: Race and the Anxiety of Detection

University of Virginia Press
May 2015
224 pages
6×9 inches
Cloth ISBN: 9780813937014
Paper ISBN: 9780813937021
Ebook ISBN: 9780813937038

Jinny Huh, Associate Professor of English
University of Vermont

In her reading of detective fiction and passing narratives from the end of the nineteenth century forward, Jinny Huh investigates anxieties about race and detection. Adopting an interdisciplinary and comparative approach, she examines the racial formations of African Americans and Asian Americans not only in detective fiction (from Sherlock Holmes and Charlie Chan to the works of Pauline Hopkins) but also in narratives centered on detection itself (such as Winnifred Eaton’s rhetoric of undetection in her Japanese romances). In explicating the literary depictions of race-detection anxiety, Huh demonstrates how cultural, legal, and scientific discourses across diverse racial groups were also struggling with demands for racial decipherability. Anxieties of detection and undetection, she concludes, are not mutually exclusive but mutually dependent on each other’s construction and formation in American history and culture.

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Richard Potter: America’s First Black Celebrity

Posted in Arts, Biography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Passing, United States on 2018-04-23 22:42Z by Steven

Richard Potter: America’s First Black Celebrity

University of Virginia Press
February 2018
352 pages
6.13 Ă— 9.25 in
Cloth ISBN: 9780813941042
Ebook ISBN: 9780813941059

John A. Hodgson, Former Dean
Forbes College, Princeton University

Apart from a handful of exotic–and almost completely unreliable–tales surrounding his life, Richard Potter is almost unknown today. Two hundred years ago, however, he was the most popular entertainer in America–the first showman, in fact, to win truly nationwide fame. Working as a magician and ventriloquist, he personified for an entire generation what a popular performer was and made an invaluable contribution to establishing popular entertainment as a major part of American life. His story is all the more remarkable in that Richard Potter was also a black man.

This was an era when few African Americans became highly successful, much less famous. As the son of a slave, Potter was fortunate to have opportunities at all. At home in Boston, he was widely recognized as black, but elsewhere in America audiences entertained themselves with romantic speculations about his “Hindu” ancestry (a perception encouraged by his act and costumes).

Richard Potter’s performances were enjoyed by an enormous public, but his life off stage has always remained hidden and unknown. Now, for the first time, John A. Hodgson tells the remarkable, compelling–and ultimately heartbreaking–story of Potter’s life, a tale of professional success and celebrity counterbalanced by racial vulnerability in an increasingly hostile world. It is a story of race relations, too, and of remarkable, highly influential black gentlemanliness and respectability: as the unsung precursor of Frederick Douglass, Richard Potter demonstrated to an entire generation of Americans that a black man, no less than a white man, could exemplify the best qualities of humanity. The apparently trivial “popular entertainment” status of his work has long blinded historians to his significance and even to his presence. Now at last we can recognize him as a seminal figure in American history.

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The Leopard Boy, A Novel

Posted in Books, Europe, Media Archive, Novels on 2016-08-10 01:37Z by Steven

The Leopard Boy, A Novel

University of Virginia Press
January 2016 (Originally published in 1999 as L’Enfant LĂ©opard)
304 pages
Paper ISBN: 9780813937908
Cloth ISBN: 9780813937892
Ebook ISBN: 9780813937915

Daniel Picouly

Translated and Afterword by:

Jeanne M. Garane, Professor of French and Comparative Literature
University of South Carolina

October 15, 1793: the eve of Marie-Antoinette’s execution. The Reign of Terror has descended upon revolutionary France, and thousands are beheaded daily under the guillotine. Edmond Coffin and Jonathan Gravedigger, two former soldiers now employed in disposing of the dead, are hired to search the Parisian neighborhood of Haarlem for a mysterious mixed-race “leopard boy,” whose nickname derives from his mottled black-and-white skin. Some would like to see the elusive leopard boy dead, while others wish to save him. Why so much interest in this child? He is rumored to be the son of Marie-Antoinette and a man of color–the Chevalier de Saint-George, perhaps, or possibly Zamor, the slave of Madame du Barry, mistress of Louis XV.

This wildly imaginative and culturally resonant tale by Daniel Picouly audaciously places black and mixed-race characters–including King Mac, creator of the first hamburger, who hands out figures of Voltaire and Rousseau with his happy meals, and the megalomaniac Black Delorme, creator of a slavery theme park–at the forefront of its Revolution-era story. Winner of the Prix Renaudot, one of France’s most prestigious literary awards, this book envisions a “Black France” two hundred years before the term came to describe a nation transformed through its postcolonial immigrant population.

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The Specter of Races: Latin American Anthropology and Literature between the Wars

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs on 2016-04-14 02:16Z by Steven

The Specter of Races: Latin American Anthropology and Literature between the Wars

University of Virginia Press
April 2016
224 pages
6 x 9
Paper ISBN: 9780813938790
Cloth ISBN: 9780813938783
Ebook ISBN: 9780813938806

Anke Birkenmaier, Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese
Indiana University, Bloomington

Arguing that race has been the specter that has haunted many of the discussions about Latin American regional and national cultures today, Anke Birkenmaier shows how theories of race and culture in Latin America evolved dramatically in the period between the two world wars. In response to the rise of scientific racism in Europe and the American hemisphere in the early twentieth century, anthropologists joined numerous writers and artists in founding institutions, journals, and museums that actively pushed for an antiracist science of culture, questioning pseudoscientific theories of race and moving toward more broadly conceived notions of ethnicity and culture.

Birkenmaier surveys the work of key figures such as Cuban historian and anthropologist Fernando Ortiz, Haitian scholar and novelist Jacques Roumain, French anthropologist and museum director Paul Rivet, and Brazilian sociologist Gilberto Freyre, focusing on the transnational networks of scholars in France, Spain, and the United States to which they were connected. Reviewing their essays, scientific publications, dictionaries, novels, poetry, and visual arts, the author traces the cultural study of Latin America back to these interdisciplinary discussions about the meaning of race and culture in Latin America, discussions that continue to provoke us today.

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Race, Romance, and Rebellion: Literatures of the Americas in the Nineteenth Century

Posted in Africa, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2014-06-06 22:59Z by Steven

Race, Romance, and Rebellion: Literatures of the Americas in the Nineteenth Century

University of Virginia Press
October 2013
224 pages
6 x 9
Cloth ISBN: 9780813934884
Paper ISBN: 9780813934891
Ebook ISBN: 9780813934907

Colleen C. O’Brien, Associate Professor of English
University of South Carolina, Upstate

As in many literatures of the New World grappling with issues of slavery and freedom, stories of racial insurrection frequently coincided with stories of cross-racial romance in nineteenth-century U.S. print culture. Colleen O’Brien explores how authors such as Harriet Jacobs, Elizabeth Livermore, and Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda imagined the expansion of race and gender-based rights as a hemispheric affair, drawing together the United States with Africa, Cuba, and other parts of the Caribbean. Placing less familiar women writers in conversation with their more famous contemporaries—Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, and Lydia Maria Child—O’Brien traces the transnational progress of freedom through the antebellum cultural fascination with cross-racial relationships and insurrections. Her book mines a variety of sources—fiction, political rhetoric, popular journalism, race science, and biblical treatises—to reveal a common concern: a future in which romance and rebellion engender radical social and political transformation.

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Segregation’s Science: Eugenics and Society in Virginia

Posted in Books, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Law, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States, Virginia on 2012-04-26 03:57Z by Steven

Segregation’s Science: Eugenics and Society in Virginia

University of Virginia Press
November 2008
312 pages
6.125 x 9.25
Cloth ISBN: 9780813927558
Ebook ISBN: 9780813930343

Gregory Michael Dorr, Visiting Assistant Professor in Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought
Amherst College

Blending social, intellectual, legal, medical, gender, and cultural history, Segregation’s Science: Eugenics and Society in Virginia examines how eugenic theory and practice bolstered Virginia’s various cultures of segregation—rich from poor, sick from well, able from disabled, male from female, and black from white and Native American. Famously articulated by Thomas Jefferson, ideas about biological inequalities among groups evolved throughout the nineteenth century. By the early twentieth century, proponents of eugenics—the “science” of racial improvement–melded evolutionary biology and incipient genetics with long-standing cultural racism. The resulting theories, taught to generations of Virginia high school, college, and medical students, became social policy as Virginia legislators passed eugenic marriage and sterilization statutes. The enforcement of these laws victimized men and women labeled “feebleminded,” African Americans, and Native Americans for over forty years. However, this is much more than the story of majority agents dominating minority subjects. Although white elites were the first to champion eugenics, by the 1910s African American Virginians were advancing their own hereditarian ideas, creating an effective counter-narrative to white scientific racism. Ultimately, segregation’s science contained the seeds of biological determinism’s undoing, realized through the civil, women’s, Native American, and welfare rights movements. Of interest to historians, educators, biologists, physicians, and social workers, this study reminds readers that science is socially constructed; the syllogism “Science is objective; objective things are moral; therefore science is moral” remains as potentially dangerous and misleading today as it was in the past.

Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: “You Are Your Brother’s Keeper!”
  • 1. “The Sacrifice of a Race” Virginia’s Proto-eugenicists Survey Humanity
  • 2. “Rearing the Human Thoroughbred” Progressive Era Eugenics in Virginia
  • 3. “Defending the Thin Red Line” Academics and Eugenics
  • 4. “Sterilize the Misfits Promptly” Virginia Controls the Feebleminded
  • 5. “Mongrel Virginians” Eugenics and the “Race Question”
  • 6. “A Healthier and Happier America” Persistent Eugenics in Virginia
  • 7. “They Saw Black All Over” Eugenics, Massive Resistance, and Punitive Sterilization
  • Conclusion: “I Never Knew What They’d Done with Me”
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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The Preacher and the Politician: Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama, and Race in America

Posted in Barack Obama, Books, Communications/Media Studies, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2011-10-21 21:43Z by Steven

The Preacher and the Politician: Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama, and Race in America

University of Virginia Press
October 2009
160 pages
5 1/2x 81/4
Cloth ISBN: 0-8139-2886-9

Clarence E. Walker, Professor of History
University of California, Davis

Gregory D. Smithers, Visiting Associate Professor of History
Virginia Commonwealth University

Barack Obama’s inauguration as the first African American president of the United States has caused many commentators to conclude that America has entered a postracial age. The Preacher and the Politician argues otherwise, reminding us that, far from inevitable, Obama’s nomination was nearly derailed by his relationship with Jeremiah Wright, the outspoken former pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ on the South Side of Chicago. The media storm surrounding Wright’s sermons, the historians Clarence E. Walker and Gregory D. Smithers suggest, reveals that America’s fraught racial past is very much with us, only slightly less obvious.

With meticulous research and insightful analysis, Walker and Smithers take us back to the Democratic primary season of 2008, viewing the controversy surrounding Wright in the context of key religious, political, and racial dynamics in American history. In the process they expose how the persistence of institutional racism, and racial stereotypes, became a significant hurdle for Obama in his quest for the presidency.

The authors situate Wright’s preaching in African American religious traditions dating back to the eighteenth century, but they also place his sermons in a broader prophetic strain of Protestantism that transcends racial categories. This latter connection was consistently missed or ignored by pundits on the right and the left who sought to paint the story in simplistic, and racially defined, terms. Obama’s connection with Wright gave rise to criticism that, according to Walker and Smithers, sits squarely in the American political tradition, where certain words are meant to incite racial fear, in the case of Obama with charges that the candidate was unpatriotic, a Marxist, a Black Nationalist, or a Muslim.

Once Obama became the Democratic nominee, the day of his election still saw ballot measures rejecting affirmative action and undermining the civil rights of other groups. The Preacher and the Politician is a concise and timely study that reminds us of the need to continue to confront the legacy of racism even as we celebrate advances in racial equality and opportunity.

Table of  Contents

  • “They Didn’t Give Us Our Mule and Our Acre”: Introduction
  • “The “Chickens Are Coming Home to Roost”: Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama, and the Black Church
  • “I Don’t Want People to Pretend I’m Not Black”: Barack Obama and America’s Racial History
  • “To Choose Our Better History?” Epilogue
  • Text of Barack Obama’s March 18, 2008, Speech on Race
  • Notes
  • Index
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Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery, United States, Virginia on 2011-06-09 20:22Z by Steven

Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy

University of Virginia Press
1998
305 pages
6 x 9
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8139-1833-4

Annette Gordon-Reed, Charles Warren Professor of American Legal History; Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study; Professor of History
Harvard University

When Annette Gordon-Reed’s groundbreaking study was first published, rumors of Thomas Jefferson’s sexual involvement with his slave Sally Hemings had circulated for two centuries. Among all aspects of Jefferson’s renowned life, it was perhaps the most hotly contested topic. The publication of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings intensified this debate by identifying glaring inconsistencies in many noted scholars’ evaluations of the existing evidence. In this study, Gordon-Reed assembles a fascinating and convincing argument: not that the alleged thirty-eight-year liaison necessarily took place but rather that the evidence for its taking place has been denied a fair hearing.

Friends of Jefferson sought to debunk the Hemings story as early as 1800, and most subsequent historians and biographers followed suit, finding the affair unthinkable based upon their view of Jefferson’s life, character, and beliefs. Gordon-Reed responds to these critics by pointing out numerous errors and prejudices in their writings, ranging from inaccurate citations, to impossible time lines, to virtual exclusions of evidence—especially evidence concerning the Hemings family. She demonstrates how these scholars may have been misguided by their own biases and may even have tailored evidence to serve and preserve their opinions of Jefferson. This updated edition of the book also includes an afterword in which the author comments on the DNA study that later confirmed the Jefferson and Hemngs liaison.

Possessing both a layperson’s unfettered curiosity and a lawyer’s logical mind, Annette Gordon-Reed writes with a style and compassion that are irresistible. Each chapter revolves around a key figure in the Hemings drama, and the resulting portraits are engrossing and very personal. Gordon-Reed also brings a keen intuitive sense of the psychological complexities of human relationships—relationships that, in the real world, often develop regardless of status or race. The most compelling element of all, however, is her extensive and careful research, which often allows the evidence to speak for itself. Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy is the definitive look at a centuries-old question that should fascinate general readers and historians alike.

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Parallel Worlds: The Remarkable Gibbs-Hunts and the Enduring (In)significance of Melanin

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2010-02-21 15:21Z by Steven

Parallel Worlds: The Remarkable Gibbs-Hunts and the Enduring (In)significance of Melanin

University of Virginia Press
February 2010
384 pages
6 1/8 x 9 1/4
40 b&w illustrations
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8139-2887

Adele Logan Alexander, Professor of History
George Washington University

When William Henry Hunt married Ida Alexander Gibbs in the spring of 1904, their wedding was a glittering Washington social event that joined an Oberlin-educated diplomat’s daughter and a Wall Street veteran who could trace his lineage to Jamestown. Their union took place in a world of refinement and privilege, but both William and Ida had mixed-race backgrounds, and their country therefore placed severe restrictions on their lives because at that time, “one drop of colored blood” classified anyone as a Negro. This “stain” of melanin pushed the couple’s achievements to the margins of American society. Nonetheless, as William followed a career in the foreign service, Ida (whose grandfather was probably Richard Malcolm Johnson, a vice president of the United States) moved in intellectual and political circles that included the likes of Frederick Douglass, J. Pierpont Morgan, Booker T. Washington, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and Mary Church Terrell.

Born into slavery, William had an adventurous youth, including a brief career as a jockey and an interlude at Williams College; ultimately he succeeded Ida’s father as consul. The diplomat’s “expatriate” life provided him with a distinguished career and a stage on which to showcase his talents throughout the world, as well as an escape from racial stigmas back home. Free of the diplomatic hindrances her husband faced, Ida advocated openly against race and gender inequities, and was a major participant in W. E. B. Du Bois‘s post-World-War I Pan-African Congresses which took her to stimulating European capitals that were largely free of racial oppression.

In this, William and Ida’s unique dual biography, Adele Logan Alexander gracefully traces an extraordinary partnership with a historian’s skills and insights. She also presents a nuanced account of the complex impact of race in the early twentieth-century world.

Listen to National Public Radio‘s Michel Martin interview Adele Logan Alexander about the book on Tell Me More (on  2010-02-10) here.

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We Were Always Free: The Maddens of Culpeper County, Virginia, A 200-Year Family History

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, United States, Virginia on 2009-11-19 02:39Z by Steven

We Were Always Free: The Maddens of Culpeper County, Virginia, A 200-Year Family History

University of Virginia Press
1992
304 pages
6 1/8 x 9 1/4
52 b&w illustrations
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8139-2371-0

T. O. Madden, Jr. (1903-2000)

with

Ann L. Miller, Historian
Virginia Transportation Research Council

Foreword by Nell Irvin Painter

In August of 1758, in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, a poor Irish immigrant named Mary Madden bore a child, Sarah Madden, whose father was said to be a slave and the property of Colonel James Madison, father of the future president of the United States. This daughter, though born to a free mulatto, became indentured to the Madisons. There she worked as a seamstress to pay off the fine of her birth until she was thirty-one years old.

Sarah Madden bore ten children; when the term of her indenture was over, she and her youngest son, Willis, struck out for themselves—Sarah as a seamstress, laundress, and later, with Willis, a dairy farmer and tavern keeper.

Spanning two hundred years of American history, We Were Always Free tells its story with remarkable completeness. we can thank Sarah Madden and her descendants for keeping their family narrative alive—and for saving hundreds of important documents detailing their freedom, hardship, and daily work.

These documents came to light in 1949 when T. O. Madden Jr. discovered a hidebound trunk originally belonging to his great-grandfather Willis. Stored in the trunk were papers dating back to the mid-eighteenth century, freedom papers, papers of indenture, deeds of land, Sarah Madden’s laundry and seamstress record books, letters, traveling passes. The trunk even held a full set of business records from the nineteenth century when Madden’s Tavern flourished as a center of activity in Orange County and as a rest stop on the road to Fredericksburg.

From that day forward, T. O. Madden deeply researched his family, using census reports, other official sources, family, and friends. All have led to his ably reconstructed family history, and to his own remarkable story.

We Were Always Free is a unique and very American family saga.

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