Thursday, November 19, 2015
November 19, 2015: SHA Follow Ups: Books
[This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend my first Southern Historical Association annual conference, in Little Rock, Arkansas. Thanks to a We’re History piece of mine, I was invited by Elaine Frantz Parsons to take part in a wonderful panel on the Reconstruction-era KKK. In this series I’ll follow up both that panel and other takeaways from this great conference!]
As ever, my visits to a conference’s book exhibit hall were entirely inspiring. To wit, here are five compelling new scholarly books I saw at just one publisher’s booth, that of the University of North Carolina Press. So much good stuff to read!
1) Philip Gura’s The Life of William Apess, Pequot: I believe this post expresses all I need say about why I’m so excited to read Gura’s book!
2) David Narrett’s Adventurism and Empire: The Struggle for Mastery in the Louisiana-Florida Borderlands, 1762-1803: Much of what I wrote in this post on Cynthia Van Zandt’s Brothers Among Nations holds true for Narrett’s book as well: he seems to offer a vital cross-cultural alternative to our most shared narratives of Revolutionary era America, a sense of just how contested and collaborative were American identities and settings in that foundational moment.
3) Tiya Miles’ Tales from the Haunted South: Dark Tourism and Memories of Slavery from the Civil War Era: I’ve heard a lot about this book, but SHA was my first chance to browse through it, and the experience reinformed my sense that this is public scholarly writing and engagement with our collective memories in the best sense of both goals.
4) Ted Maris-Wolf’s Family Bonds: Free Blacks and Re-enslavement Law in Antebellum Virginia: Just as important as the broad public scholarly writing represented by Miles’ book, however, is the kind of in-depth, focused archival research and historical analysis provided by Maris-Wolf’s. Unearthing and narrating a historical moment and issue about which I knew exactly nothing (free African Americans choosing to enslave themselves in order to remain with their families and communities), Maris-Wolf’s book reminds us just how much history remains for us to discover and engage.
5) Timothy Williams’ Intellectual Manhood: University, Self, and Society in the Antebellum South: In this post on the excesses and extremes found in the early days at the University of Virginia, I highlighted some of the worst sides of Southern university students and communities in that period. Those histories are certainly part of the story, but Williams’ book offers a far more multi-faceted examination of university communities and influences in the region during that early 19th century moment, and thus promises to become an important part of our evolving understanding of both the limitations and the possibilities of American higher education.
Last SHA follow up tomorrow,
PS. What do you think? Recent scholarly books you'd highlight?