[Introduction to] Darkness Falls on the Land of Light: Experiencing Religious Awakenings in Eighteenth-Century New England
Douglas L. Winiarski
This sweeping history of popular religion in eighteenth-century New England examines the experiences of ordinary people living through extraordinary times. Drawing on an unprecedented quantity of letters, diaries, and testimonies, Douglas Winiarski recovers the pervasive and vigorous lay piety of the early eighteenth century. George Whitefield's preaching tour of 1740 called into question the fundamental assumptions of this thriving religious culture. Incited by Whitefield and fascinated by miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit--visions, bodily fits, and sudden conversions--countless New Englanders broke ranks with family, neighbors, and ministers who dismissed their religious experiences as delusive enthusiasm. These new converts, the progenitors of today's evangelical movement, bitterly assaulted the Congregational establishment.
The 1740s and 1750s were the dark night of the New England soul, as men and women groped toward a restructured religious order. Conflict transformed inclusive parishes into exclusive networks of combative spiritual seekers. Then as now, evangelicalism emboldened ordinary people to question traditional authorities. Their challenge shattered whole communities.
Amy L. Howard
In the popular imagination, public housing tenants are considered, at best, victims of intractable poverty and, at worst, criminals. More Than Shelter makes clear that such limited perspectives do not capture the rich reality of tenants’ active engagement in shaping public housing into communities. By looking closely at three public housing projects in San Francisco, Amy L. Howard brings to light the dramatic measures tenants have taken to create—and sustain and strengthen—communities that mattered to them.
More Than Shelter opens with the tumultuous institutional history of the San Francisco Housing Authority, from its inception during the New Deal era, through its repeated leadership failures, to its attempts to boost its credibility in the 1990s. Howard then turns to Valencia Gardens in the Mission District; built in 1943, the project became a perpetually contested and embattled space. Within that space, tenants came together in what Howard calls affective activism—activism focused on intentional relationships and community building that served to fortify residents in the face of shared challenges. Such activism also fueled cross-sector coalition building at Ping Yuen in Chinatown, bringing tenants and organizations together to advocate for and improve public housing. The account of their experience breaks new ground in highlighting the diversity of public housing in more ways than one. The experience of North Beach Place in turn raises questions about the politics of development and redevelopment. In this case, Howard examines activism across generations—first by African Americans seeking to desegregate public housing, then by cross-racial and cross-ethnic tenant groups mobilizing to maintain public housing in the shadow of gentrification.
Taken together, the stories Howard tells challenge assumptions about public housing and its tenants—and make way for a broader, more productive and inclusive vision of the public housing program in the United States.
[Introduction to] America's War: Talking about the Civil War and Emancipation on Their 150th Anniversaries
Edward L. Ayers
Edited by Edward L. Ayers, America’s War is an anthology of Civil War writing originally published between 1852 and 2008. Co-published by the American Library Association and the National Endowment for the Humanities, America’s War was created in support of a national reading and discussion program for libraries called “Let’s Talk About It: Making Sense of the American Civil War.”
The selections in America’s War include works of historical fiction and interpretation, speeches, diaries, memoirs, biographies, and short stories. Together, these readings provide a glimpse of the vast sweep and profound breadth of Americans’ war among and against themselves, adding crucial voices to our understanding of the war and its meaning.
Edward L. Ayers and Carolyn R. Martin
The scholarship and public history the sixteen historians had created over their careers made this plan seem at least feasible. Their collective body of work embraces everything from politics to literature, from industrial slavery to African American art, from women's reform efforts to racial ideologies, from military history to the history of memory. Some of them worked at museums and libraries while others taught at universities and colleges across the nations. They belonged to no particular school of interpretation, and quite a few had never met one another.
The historians, whatever their backgrounds, shared a sense of responsibility for opening a national conversation about the causes, events, and consequences of the American Civil war on it 150th anniversary. When the Virginia Sesquicentennial Commission approached the University of Richmond to see if we might be interested in hosting the first session to wrestle with the commemoration, we jumped at the chance. The former capital of the Confederacy and a center of the internal salve trade would be a fitting place to begin the conversation about the meaning of the Civil War and the end of slavery.
Laura Browder and Sascha Pflaeging
While women are officially barred from combat in the American armed services, in the current war, where there are no front lines, the ban on combat is virtually meaningless. More than in any previous conflict in our history, American women are engaging with the enemy, suffering injuries, and even sacrificing their lives in the line of duty.
When Janey Comes Marching Home juxtaposes forty-eight photographs by Sascha Pflaeging with oral histories collected by Laura Browder to provide a dramatic portrait of women at war. Women from all five branches of the military share their stories here--stories that are by turns moving, comic, thought-provoking, and profound. Seeing their faces in stunning color photographic portraits and reading what they have to say about loss, comradeship, conflict, and hard choices will change the ways we think about women and war.
Serving in a combat zone is an all-encompassing experience that is transformative, life-defining, and difficult to leave behind. By coming face-to-face with women veterans, we who are outside that world can begin to get a sense of how the long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have shaped their lives and how their stories may ripple out and influence the experiences of all American women.
The book accompanies a photography exhibit of the same name opening May 1, 2010, at the Women in Military Service to America Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, and continuing to travel around the country through 2011.
Susan Stern and Laura Browder
Drugs. Sex. Revolutionary violence. From its first pages, Susan Stern's memoir With the Weathermen provides a candid, first-hand look at the radical politics and the social and cultural environment of the New Left during the late 1960s.
The Weathermen--a U.S.-based, revolutionary splinter group of Students for a Democratic Society--advocated the overthrow of the government and capitalism, and toward that end, carried out a campaign of bombings, jailbreaks, and riots throughout the United States. In With the Weathermen Stern traces her involvement with this group, and her transformation from a shy, married graduate student into a go-go dancing, street-fighting "macho mama." In vivid and emotional language, she describes the attractions and difficulties of joining a collective radical group and in maintaining a position within it.
Stern's memoir offers a rich description of the raw and rough social dynamics of this community, from its strict demands to "smash monogamy," to its sometimes enforced orgies, and to the demeaning character assassination that was led by the group's top members. She provides a distinctly personal and female perspective on the destructive social functionality and frequently contradictory attitudes toward gender roles and women's rights within the New Left.
Laura Browder's masterful introduction situates Stern's memoir in its historical context, examines the circumstances of its writing and publication, and describes the book's somewhat controversial reception by the public and critics alike.
Edward L. Ayers, Gary W. Gallagher, and Andrew J. Torget
Crucible of the Civil War offers an illuminating portrait of the state’s wartime economic, political, and social institutions. Weighing in on contentious issues within established scholarship while also breaking ground in areas long neglected by scholars, the contributors examine such concerns as the war’s effect on slavery in the state, the wartime intersection of race and religion, and the development of Confederate social networks. They also shed light on topics long disputed by historians, such as Virginia’s decision to secede from the Union, the development of Confederate nationalism, and how Virginians chose to remember the war after its close.
The gun-toting woman holds enormous symbolic significance in American culture. For over two centuries, women who pick up guns have disrupted the popular association of guns and masculinity, spurring debates about women's capabilities for violence as well as their capacity for full citizenship. In Her Best Shot, Laura Browder examines the relationship between women and guns and the ways in which the figure of the armed woman has served as a lightning rod for cultural issues.
Utilizing autobiographies, advertising, journalism, novels, and political tracts, among other sources, Browder traces appearances of the armed woman across a chronological spectrum from the American Revolution to the present and an ideological spectrum ranging from the Black Panthers to right-wing militias. Among the colorful characters presented here are Deborah Sampson, who disguised herself as a man to fight in the American Revolution; Pauline Cushman, who posed as a Confederate to spy for Union forces during the Civil War; Wild West sure-shot Annie Oakley; African explorer Osa Johnson; 1930s gangsters Ma Barker and Bonnie Parker; and Patty Hearst, the hostage-turned-revolutionary-turned-victim. With her entertaining and provocative analysis, Browder demonstrates that armed women both challenge and reinforce the easy equation that links guns, manhood, and American identity.
Edward L. Ayers
The Southern past has proven to be fertile ground for great works of history. Peculiarities of tragic proportions—a system of slavery flourishing in a land of freedom, secession and Civil War tearing at a federal Union, deep poverty persisting in a nation of fast-paced development—have fed the imaginations of some of our most accomplished historians.
Foremost in their ranks today is Edward L. Ayers, author of the award-winning and ongoing study of the Civil War in the heart of America, the Valley of the Shadow Project. In wide-ranging essays on the Civil War, the New South, and the twentieth-century South, Ayers turns over the rich soil of Southern life to explore the sources of the nation's and his own history. The title essay, original here, distills his vast research and offers a fresh perspective on the nation's central historical event.
Edward L. Ayers
Winner of the Bancroft Prize: Through a gripping narrative based on massive new research, a leading historian reshapes our understanding of the Civil War.
Our standard Civil War histories tell a reassuring story of the triumph, in an inevitable conflict, of the dynamic, free-labor North over the traditional, slave-based South, vindicating the freedom principles built into the nation's foundations.
But at the time, on the borderlands of Pennsylvania and Virginia, no one expected war, and no one knew how it would turn out. The one certainty was that any war between the states would be fought in their fields and streets.
Edward L. Ayers gives us a different Civil War, built on an intimate scale. He charts the descent into war in the Great Valley spanning Pennsylvania and Virginia. Connected by strong ties of every kind, including the tendrils of slavery, the people of this borderland sought alternatives to secession and war. When none remained, they took up war with startling intensity. As this book relays with a vivid immediacy, it came to their doorsteps in hunger, disease, and measureless death. Ayers's Civil War emerges from the lives of everyday people as well as those who helped shape history—John Brown and Frederick Douglass, Lincoln, Jackson, and Lee. His story ends with the valley ravaged, Lincoln's support fragmenting, and Confederate forces massing for a battle at Gettysburg.
Bertram D. Ashe
The book explores the written representation of African-American oral storytelling from Charles Chesnutt, Zora Neale Hurston and Ralph Ellison to James Alan McPherson, Toni Cade Bambara and John Edgar Wideman. At its core, the book compares the relationship of the "frame tale" - an inside-the-text storyteller telling a tale to an inside-the-text listener - with the relationship between the outside-the-text writer and reader. The progression is from Chesnutt's 1899 frame texts, in which the black spoken voice is contained by a white narrator/listener, to Bambara's sixties-era example of a "frameless" spoken voice text, to Wideman's neo-frame text of the late 20th century.
Edward L. Ayers
Two communities in America's Great Valley--Franklin County, Pennsylvania, and Augusta County, Virginia--separated by only a few hundred miles, share much in their politics and ways of life. Yet they emerge on opposing sides of a war in which they zealously send their sons to fight and die. Here we see a Civil War that is not the inevitable conflict of rival societies, but a human drama, immediate, particular, engrossing.
In the 1920s, black janitor Sylvester Long reinvented himself as Chief Buffalo Child Long Lance, and Elizabeth Stern, the native-born daughter of a German Lutheran and a Welsh Baptist, authored the immigrant's narrative I Am a Woman--and a Jew; in the 1990s, Asa Carter, George Wallace's former speechwriter, produced the fake Cherokee autobiography, The Education of Little Tree. While striking, these examples of what Laura Browder calls ethnic impersonator autobiographies are by no means singular. Over the past 150 years, a number of American authors have left behind unwanted identities by writing themselves into new ethnicities.
Significantly, notes Browder, these ersatz autobiographies have tended to appear at flashpoints in American history: in the decades before the Civil War, when immigration laws and laws regarding Native Americans were changing in the 1920s, and during the civil rights era, for example. Examining the creation and reception of such works from the 1830s through the 1990s--against a background ranging from the abolition movement and Wild West shows to more recent controversies surrounding blackface performance and jazz music--Browder uncovers their surprising influence in shaping American notions of identity.
Edward L. Ayers and Bradley C. Mittendorf
Resonating with the testimony of slaves and slaveholders, the powerful and the powerless, women and men, black people and white, The Oxford Book of the American South combines the most telling fiction and nonfiction produced in the South from the late eighteenth century to the present. The first anthology to put short stories, novels, autobiographies, diaries, memoirs, and journalism together, this collection is a rich and varied record of life below the Mason Dixon line. We see the antebellum period both from the perspective of those who experienced it first-hand, such as Thomas Jefferson and Harriet Jacobs, as well as from authors who imagined the era later, including William Styron and Sherley Anne Williams. Likewise, we see the Civil War through eyewitness accounts such as Sarah Morgan's, later writers' analyses such as W.E.B Du Bois's, and war-inspired fiction such as Margaret Mitchell's. Classic authors of the 1920s and 30s Southern Renaissance are followed by figures including Martin Luther King, Jr., George Garrett, and Peter Taylor, whose works capture the dramatic years of the Civil Rights movement. The struggles, defeats, and triumphs chronicled in The Oxford Book of the American South speak not just to the South, but to all of the American experience.
Edward L. Ayers, Patricia Nelson Limerick, Stephen Nissenbaum, and Peter S. Onuf
Even as Americans keep moving "all over the map" in the late twentieth century, they cherish memories of the places they come from. But where do these places—these regions—come from? What makes them so real? In this groundbreaking book a distinguished group of historians explores the concept of region in America, traces changes the idea has undergone in our national experience, and examines its meaning for Americans today.
Far from diminishing in importance, the authors conclude, regional differences continue to play a significant role in Americans' self-image. Regional identity, in fact, has always been fed by the very forces that many people think threaten its existence today: a central government, an aggressive economy, and connections with places beyond regional boundaries. Calling into question widely held notions about how Americans came to differ from one another and explaining why those differences continue to flourish, this iconoclastic study—by scholars with differing regional ties—will refresh and redirect the centuries-old discussion over Americans' conceptions of themselves.
Edward L. Ayers
At a public picnic in the South in the 1890s, a young man paid five cents for his first chance to hear the revolutionary Edison talking machine. He eagerly listened as the soundman placed the needle down, only to find that through the tubes he held to his ears came the chilling sounds of a lynching. In this story, with its blend of new technology and old hatreds, genteel picnics and mob violence, Edward Ayers captures the history of the South in the years between Reconstruction and the turn of the century.
Ranging from the Georgia coast to the Tennessee mountains, from the power brokers to tenant farmers, Ayers depicts a land of startling contrasts. Ayers takes us from remote Southern towns, revolutionized by the spread of the railroads, to the statehouses where Democratic Redeemers swept away the legacy of Reconstruction; from the small farmers, trapped into growing nothing but cotton, to the new industries of Birmingham; from abuse and intimacy in the family to tumultuous public meetings of the prohibitionists. He explores every aspect of society, politics, and the economy, detailing the importance of each in the emerging New South. Central to the entire story is the role of race relations, from alliances and friendships between blacks and whites to the spread of Jim Crows laws and disfranchisement. The teeming nineteenth-century South comes to life in these pages.
When this book first appeared in 1992, it won a broad array of prizes and was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. The citation for the National Book Award declared Promise of the New South a vivid and masterfully detailed picture of the evolution of a new society. The Atlantic called it "one of the broadest and most original interpretations of southern history of the past twenty years.
Edward L. Ayers and John C. Willis
The chapters in this volume explore diverse scenes of nineteenth-century Virginia: the big house and the slave quarters, small farms and battlefields, freed slaves in the country and freed slaves in the city, dark coal mines and brightly illuminated caverns, raucous political rallies and genteel meetings of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Each essay offers a new perspective on a past which refuses to fit familiar ways of thinking about the nation and the South.
Edward L. Ayers
Exploring the major elements of southern crime and punishment at a time that saw the formation of the fundamental patterns of class and race, Edward L. Ayers studies the inner workings of the police, prison, and judicial systems, and the nature of crime.
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