Over fifty years ago, Gerda Weissmann was barely alive at the end of a 350-mile death march that took her from a slave labor camp in Germany to the Czech border. On May 7, 1945, the American military stormed the area, and the first soldier to approach Gerda was Kurt Klein. She guided him to her fellow prisoners who lay sick and dying on the ground, and quoted Goethe: "Noble be man, merciful and good." Perhaps it was her irony, her composure, her evident compassion in the face of tragedy, that struck Kurt Klein. A great love had begun. Forced to separate just weeks after liberation and hours after their engagement, Gerda and Kurt began a correspondence that lasted until their reunion and wedding in Paris a year later. Their poignant letters reflect upon the horrors of war and genocide, but above all, upon the rapture and salvation of true love.
In England, cradle of the Industrial Revolution, the world’s largest machine was created—a giant iron steamship 60 years ahead of its time. The Scientific American warned that this colossus “could run down the whole of the largest steamers in any other fleet, one after another, without firing a single shot.”
The mission of the three Americans was to stop this colossus from entering a southern port without anyone ever knowing what transpired.
Inspired by true events, The Leviathan is a story of treason, espionage, and geopolitics; a family sundered by the conflict between the states; and of British capitalists lusting to dismember the United States for their own benefit.
The subject of The Anti-Communist Manifestos is four influential books that informed the great political struggle known as the Cold War: Darkness at Noon (1940), by Arthur Koestler, a Hungarian journalist and polymath intellectual; Out of the Night (1941), by Jan Valtin, a German sailor and labor agitator; I Chose Freedom (1946), by Victor Kravchenko, a Soviet engineer; and Witness (1952), by Whittaker Chambers, an American journalist. The authors were ex–Communist Party members whose bitter disillusionment led them to turn on their former allegiance in literary fury. Koestler was a rapist, Valtin a thug. Kravchenko, though not a spy, was forced to live like one in America. Chambers was a prophet without honor in his own land. Three of the four had been underground espionage agents of the Comintern. All contemplated suicide, and two of them achieved it. John V. Fleming’s humane and ironic narrative of these grim lives reveals that words were the true driving force behind the Cold War.
Even before mass marketing, American consumers bought products that gentrified their households and broadcast their sense of the good things in life.
Bridging literary scholarship, archaeology, history, and art history, "Whitewashing America: Material Culture and Race in the Antebellum Imagination" explores how material goods shaped antebellum notions of race, class, gender, and purity.
From the Revolutionary War until the Civil War, American consumers increasingly sought white-colored goods. Whites preferred mass-produced and specialized products, avoiding the former dark, coarse, low-quality products issued to slaves. White consumers knit around themselves refined domestic items, visual reminders of who they were, equating wealth, discipline, and purity with the racially white.
Clothing, paint, dinnerware, gravestones, and buildings staked a visual contrast, a portable, visible title and deed segregating upper-class whites from their lower-class neighbors and household servants.
This book explores what it meant to be white by delving into the whiteness of dishes, gravestone art, and architecture, as well as women's clothing and corsets, cleanliness and dental care, and complexion.
Early nineteenth-century authors participated in this material economy as well, building their literary landscapes in the same way their readers furnished their households and manipulating the understood meanings of things into political statements.
Such writers as James Fenimore Cooper and John Pendleton Kennedy use setting descriptions to insist on segregation and hierarchy. Such authors as Harriet Beecher Stowe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, and Herman Melville, struggled to negotiate messages of domesticity, body politics, and privilege according to complex agendas of their own. Challenging the popular notions, slave narrators such as Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs wielded white objects to reverse the perspective of their white readers and, at times, to mock their white middle-class pretensions.
Bridget T. Heneghan, a lecturer in English at Vanderbilt University, has been published in "Nineteenth-Century Studies."
At the turn of the twentieth century, electricity emerged as a metaphor for modernity. Writers from Mark Twain to Ralph Ellison grappled with the idea of electricity as both life force (illumination) and death spark (electrocution). The idea that electrification created exclusively modern experiences took hold of Americans' imaginations, whether they welcomed or feared its adoption. In Power Lines, Jennifer Lieberman examines the apparently incompatible notions of electricity that coexisted in the American imagination, tracing how electricity became a common (though multifarious) symbol for modern life.
Lieberman examines a series of moments of technical change when electricity accrued new social meanings, plotting both power lines and the power of narrative lines in American life and literature. While discussing the social construction of electrical systems, she offers a new interpretation of Twain's use of electricity as an organizing metaphor in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, describes the rhetoric surrounding the invention of electric execution, analyzes Charlotte Perkins Gilman's call for human connection in her utopian writing and in her little-known Human Work, considers the theme of electrical interconnection in Jack London's work, and shows how Ralph Ellison and Louis Mumford continued the literary tradition of electrical metaphor.
Electrical power was a distinctive concept in American literary, cultural, and technological histories. For this reason, narratives about electricity were particularly evocative. Bridging the realistic and the romantic, the historical and the fantastic, these stories guide us to ask new questions about our enduring fascination with electricity and all it came to represent.
The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney is the story of the Plumb siblings, a group of disillusioned Gen X-ers struggling to navigate their lives in the aftermath of 9/11 and the 2008 financial crisis. The novel opens with the estranged Leo Plumb, age 46, at a family wedding in summertime. Leo is avoiding his soon-to-be ex-wife, Victoria, and his family. Then Leo meets 19-year-old Matilda Rodriguez, a cocktail waitress who dreams of becoming a singer. The two ditch the wedding in Leo’s new Porsche. Leo, drunk, high on cocaine, and distracted by Matilda’s hand in his pants, doesn’t see it coming when an SUV plows into the side of his car. The accident leaves Leo intact, but Matilda is not so fortunate. As a result of the crash, she loses her right foot.
In October, Jack, Beatrice, and Melody Plumb, Leo’s three younger siblings, meet their brother…
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In bringing these transatlantic transfigurations to light, this book also provides strikingly new perspectives on both canonical and little-read works by Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Tennyson, and other Victorian authors. The recovery of these works' African American afterlives illuminates their formal practices and ideological commitments, and forces a reassessment of their cultural impact and political potential. Bridging the gap between African American and Victorian literary studies, Reaping Something New changes our understanding of both fields and rewrites an important chapter of literary history.
In The Dictionary Wars, Peter Martin recounts the patriotic fervor in the early American republic to produce a definitive national dictionary that would rival Samuel Johnson’s 1755 Dictionary of the English Language. But what began as a cultural war of independence from Britain devolved into a battle among lexicographers, authors, scholars, and publishers, all vying for dictionary supremacy and shattering forever the dream of a unified American language.
The overwhelming questions in the dictionary wars involved which and whose English was truly American and whether a dictionary of English should attempt to be American at all, independent from Britain. Martin tells the human story of the intense rivalry between America’s first lexicographers, Noah Webster and Joseph Emerson Worcester, who fought over who could best represent the soul and identity of American culture. Webster believed an American dictionary, like the American language, ought to be informed by the nation’s republican principles, but Worcester thought that such language reforms were reckless and went too far. Their conflict continued beyond Webster’s death, when the ambitious Merriam brothers acquired publishing rights to Webster’s American Dictionary and launched their own language wars. From the beginning of the nineteenth century to the end of the Civil War, the dictionary wars also engaged America’s colleges, libraries, newspapers, religious groups, and state legislatures at a pivotal historical moment that coincided with rising literacy and the print revolution.
Delving into the personal stories and national debates that arose from the conflicts surrounding America’s first dictionaries, The Dictionary Wars examines the linguistic struggles that underpinned the founding and growth of a nation.
Living with the dual burdens of racism and sexism, slave women in the plantation South assumed roles within the family and community that contrasted sharply with traditional female roles in the larger American society.
This revised edition of Ar'n't I a Woman? reviews and updates the scholarship on slave women and the slave family, exploring new ways of understanding the intersection of race and gender and comparing the myths that stereotyped female slaves with the realities of their lives. Above all, this groundbreaking study shows us how black women experienced freedom in the Reconstruction South—their heroic struggle to gain their rights, hold their families together, resist economic and sexual oppression, and maintain their sense of womanhood against all odds.
Winner of the Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Book Prize awarded by the Association of Black Women Historians.