Friday, October 17, 2014
October 17, 2014: New NEASA Books: A History of Spiritualism and the Occult in Salem
[It’s been a while since I spent a week highlighting the amazing work done by my fellow AmericanStudies scholars. So for this week’s series I thought I’d highlight five recent books by scholars with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working on the NEASA Council. I’d love to hear in comments about books and scholars, recent or otherwise, that have inspired you!]
On the great book about a great topic by a great AmericanStudier.
I’ve written a good deal in this space about Salem, and for good reason: it’s my favorite public, historical space in Massachusetts (and perhaps in America—sorry native Virginia!), features my single favorite memorial/piece of public art, is full of complex and evocative American histories and stories, represents some of the worst yet also some of the best of what we have been and can be in America. I think there’s a great deal more for us to say and think about Salem than we have yet, and I can’t imagine a better person to help us continue to say and think about the city than Maggi Smith-Dalton.
I’ve also featured Maggi a fair amount in this space: not only in that above linked post, but also in this post on her performance with her husband Jim Dalton at the 2012 NEASA Colloquium; and these posts on my pieces for the Salem History Time series that Maggi edits. In her writing and editing, as well as those musical and educational performances and programs with Jim, Maggi exemplifies public AmericanStudying to me, and is just as closely linked in my mind to her home city of Salem. And one of her latest contributions to the AmericanStudying of that city is her recent book, A History of Spiritualism and the Occult in Salem: The Rise of Witch City (The History Press, 2012).
I could write another paragraph here about History of Spiritualism, but I’ll just say this: it’s only 10 bucks on the Kindle (and 20 in paperback)! All of the books I’ve featured in this week’s series are well worth your time and investment, and will more than pay you back in what they can add to your sense of American culture, history, literature, and society. Check ‘em out, and please share your thoughts on them here if you do (as well as any other books or authors you’d share)!
An update on my own next book this weekend,
PS. Books or scholars you'd share? I'd love to hear about them!