Recent Historical Studies Faculty Publications

  • Whitney Stewart, “Fashioning Frenchness: Gens de Couleur Libres and the Cultural Struggle for Power in Antebellum New Orleans,” Journal of Social History 51, no. 3 (February 2018), 526–56
  • While travelers to antebellum New Orleans consistently commented on a pervasive French aura in the city, exactly what and who defined this Frenchness was in flux over the first half of the nineteenth century. From the city’s earliest days, residents constructed myriad and often conflicting definitions of Frenchness, but most versions associated the Frenchness of New Orleans with the city’s mixed-race character. Colonial society exhibited a tripartite racial structure that legally situated free people of color, many of whom had mixed-race ancestry, between white individuals and enslaved people. Culturally and socially, however, mixed-race Francophones, known as gens de couleur libres, had for decades existed on a relatively equal footing with white Francophones. But beginning slowly in the 1830s and accelerating in the 1850s, the tripartite racial structure of New Orleans gave way to a binary one. As part of this legal, social, and cultural shift, white Francophone New Orleanians began to dissociate Frenchness from its mixed-race past. They emphasized their whiteness as a way of associating themselves with Americans, thereby augmenting their own power and lessening that of gens de couleur libres. Elite gens de couleur libres countered by deploying cultural resources that demonstrated their Frenchness and its mixed-race essence. One of their most potent tools was fashion. As consumers and producers of French fashion, elite gens de couleur libres wielded their influence over New Orleans’s French material culture to counter the regressive race relations of this cosmopolitan city. Fashioning Frenchness: Gens de Couleur Libres and the Cultural Struggle for Power in Antebellum New Orleans

  • Siddhayatan Tirth, “Stopping Traffic: The Movement to End Sex-Trafficking” (2017). Featuring Ben Wright
  • Siddhayatan Tirth,“Stopping Traffic: The Movement to End Sex-Trafficking” (2017). Featuring Ben Wright

    A powerful documentary that features heroes of the anti-sex-trafficking movement in order to raise awareness, expand the movement, and present practical solutions to eradicate it. Every soul matters.

    Dr. Wright’s research on slavery has created the unique opportunity for him to be involved in the movement to end modern slavery, firmly believing that if we look at our past and understand how these social injustices survived, we can adapt this information to today’s human and sex-trafficking industries to bring forth effective solutions. Siddhayatan Tirth,“Stopping Traffic: The Movement to End Sex-Trafficking” (2017). Featuring Ben Wright

  • Peter Park, "Why It Makes Sense to Talk of Decolonizing the Philosophy Department" (2017), Author Meets Readers. Journal of World Philosophies, 2(2)
  • The exchange between Peter Park, Dan Flory and Leah Kalmanson on Park’s book Africa, Asia and the History of Philosophy: Racism in the Formation of the Philosophical Canon (Albany: SUNY Press, 2013) took place during the APA’s 2016 Central Division meeting (Chicago, Illinios) on a panel sponsored by the Committee on Asian and Asian-American Philosophers and Philosophies. After having peer-reviewed the exchange, JWP invited Sonia Sikka and Mark Larrimore to engage with these papers. All the five papers are being published together in this issue. Author Meets Readers

  • David Channell, "A History of Technoscience: Erasing the Boundaries between Science and Technology" (London: Routledge, 2017)
  • David Channell, "A History of Technoscience: Erasing the Boundaries between Science and Technology" (London: Routledge, 2017)

    Are science and technology independent of one another? Is technology dependent upon science, and if so, how is it dependent? Is science dependent upon technology, and if so how is it dependent? Or, are science and technology becoming so interdependent that the line dividing them has become totally erased? This book charts the history of technoscience from the late nineteenth to the end of the twentieth century and shows how the military–industrial–academic complex and big science combined to create new examples of technoscience in such areas as the nuclear arms race, the space race, the digital age, and the new worlds of nanotechnology and biotechnology. A History of Technoscience: Erasing the Boundaries between Science and Technology

     

  • Kimberly Hill, “Maria Fearing: Domestic Adventurer,” in Alabama Women: Their Lives and Times, edited by Susan Youngblood Ashmore and Lisa Lindquist Dorr (U. Georgia Press, 2017)
  • Another addition to the Southern Women series, Alabama Women celebrates women’s histories in the Yellowhammer State by highlighting the lives and contributions of women and enriching our understanding of the past and present. Exploring such subjects as politics, arts, and civic organizations, this collection of eighteen biographical essays provides a window into the social, cultural, and geographic milieux of women’s lives in Alabama.

    Featured individuals include Augusta Evans Wilson, Maria Fearing, Julia S. Tutwiler, Margaret Murray Washington, Pattie Ruffner Jacobs, Ida E. Brandon Mathis, Ruby Pickens Tartt, Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, Sara Martin Mayfield, Bess Bolden Walcott, Virginia Foster Durr, Rosa Parks, Lurleen Burns Wallace, Margaret Charles Smith, and Harper Lee.

    Alabama Women: Their Lives and Times

  • Kimberly Hill, “Anti-Slavery Work by the American Women of the Presbyterian Congo Mission,” in Faith and Slavery in the Presbyterian Diaspora, edited by William Harrison Taylor and Peter C. Messer (Lehigh University Press, 2016)
  • Faith and Slavery in the Presbyterian Diaspora considers how, in areas as diverse as the New Hebrides, Scotland, the United States, and East Central Africa, men’s and women’s shared Presbyterian faith conditioned their interpretations of and interactions with the institution of chattel slavery. The chapters highlight how Presbyterians’ reactions to slavery—which ranged from abolitionism, to indifference, to support—reflected their considered application of the principles of the Reformed Tradition to the institution. Consequently, this collection reveals how the particular ways in which Presbyterians framed the Reformed Tradition made slavery an especially problematic and fraught issue for adherents to the faith.

    Faith and Slavery, by situating slavery at the nexus of Presbyterian theology and practice, offers a fresh perspective on the relationship between religion and slavery. It reverses the all too common assumption that religion primarily served to buttress existing views on slavery, by illustrating how groups’ and individuals reactions to slavery emerged from their understanding of the Presbyterian faith. The collection’s geographic reach—encompassing the experiences of people from Europe, Africa, America, and the Pacific—filtered through the lens of Presbyterianism also highlights the global dimensions of slavery and the debates surrounding it. The institution and the challenges it presented, Faith and Slavery stresses, reflected less the peculiar conditions of a particular place and time, than the broader human condition as people attempt to understand and shape their world.

    Kimberly Hill, “Anti-Slavery Work by the American Women of the Presbyterian Congo Mission,” in Faith and Slavery in the Presbyterian Diaspora, edited by William Harrison Taylor and Peter C. Messer (Lehigh University Press, 2016)

  • Daniel Wickberg, "The Senses of Humor: Self and Laughter in Modern America" (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2015)
  • Daniel Wickberg, "The Senses of Humor: Self and Laughter in Modern America" (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2015)

    Why do modern Americans believe in something called a sense of humor and how did they come to that belief? Daniel Wickberg traces the cultural history of the concept from its British origins as a way to explore new conceptions of the self and social order in modern America. More than simply the history of an idea, Wickberg’s study provides new insights into a peculiarly modern cultural sensibility.

    The expression “sense of humor” was first coined in the 1840s and the idea that such a sense was a personality trait to be valued developed only in the 1870s. What is the relationship between Medieval humoral medicine and this distinctively modern idea of the sense of humor? What has it meant in the past 125 years to declare that someone lacks a sense of humor? How is the joke, as a twentieth-century quasi-literary form, different from the traditional folktale? Wickberg addresses these questions, among others, using the history of ideas to throw new light on the way contemporary Americans think and speak.

    The context of Wickberg’s analysis is Anglo-American; the specifically British meanings of humor and laughter from the sixteenth century forward provide the framework for understanding American cultural values in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The genealogy of the sense of humor is, like the study of keywords, an avenue into a significant aspect of the cultural history of modernity. Drawing on a wide range of sources and disciplinary perspectives, Wickberg’s analysis challenges many of the prevailing views of modern American culture and suggests a new model for cultural historians. Daniel Wickberg, “The Senses of Humor: Self and Laughter in Modern America” (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2015)

  • Eric R. Schlereth, "An Age of Infidels: The Politics of Religious Controversy in the Early United States" (Philadelphia: U. Pennsylvania Press, 2013)
  • Eric R. Schlereth, "An Age of Infidels: The Politics of Religious Controversy in the Early United States" (Philadelphia: U. Pennsylvania Press, 2013)

    Historian Eric R. Schlereth places religious conflict at the center of early American political culture. He shows ordinary Americans—both faithful believers and Christianity’s staunchest critics—struggling with questions about the meaning of tolerance and the limits of religious freedom. In doing so, he casts new light on the ways Americans reconciled their varied religious beliefs with political change at a formative moment in the nation’s cultural life.

    After the American Revolution, citizens of the new nation felt no guarantee that they would avoid the mire of religious and political conflict that had gripped much of Europe for three centuries. Debates thus erupted in the new United States about how or even if long-standing religious beliefs, institutions, and traditions could be accommodated within a new republican political order that encouraged suspicion of inherited traditions. Public life in the period included contentious arguments over the best way to ensure a compatible relationship between diverse religious beliefs and the nation’s recent political developments.

    In the process, religion and politics in the early United States were remade to fit each other. From the 1770s onward, Americans created a political rather than legal boundary between acceptable and unacceptable religious expression, one defined in reference to infidelity. Conflicts occurred most commonly between deists and their opponents who perceived deists’ anti-Christian opinions as increasingly influential in American culture and politics. Exploring these controversies, Schlereth explains how Americans navigated questions of religious truth and difference in an age of emerging religious liberty. Eric R. Schlereth, “An Age of Infidels: The Politics of Religious Controversy in the Early United States” (Philadelphia: U. Pennsylvania Press, 2013)

  • Natalie Ring and Stephanie Cole (co-editors), "The Folly of Jim Crow: Rethinking the Segregated South" (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2012)
  • Natalie Ring and Stephanie Cole (co-editors), "The Folly of Jim Crow: Rethinking the Segregated South" (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2012)

    Although the origins, application, and socio-historical implications of the Jim Crow system have been studied and debated for at least the last three-quarters of a century, nuanced understanding of this complex cultural construct is still evolving, according to Stephanie Cole and Natalie J. Ring, co-editors of The Folly of Jim Crow: Rethinking the Segregated South. Indeed, they suggest, scholars may profit from a careful examination of previous assumptions and conclusions along the lines suggested by the studies in this important new collection.

    Based on the March 2008 Walter Prescott Webb Memorial Lectures at the University of Texas at Arlington, this forty-third volume in the prestigious series undertakes a close review of both the history and the historiography of the Jim Crow South. The studies in this collection incorporate important perspectives that have developed during the past two decades among scholars interested in gender and politics, the culture of resistance, and “the hegemonic function of ‘whiteness.’”

    By asking fresh questions and critically examining long-held beliefs, the new studies contained in The Folly of Jim Crow will, ironically, reinforce at least one of the key observations made in C. Vann Woodward’s landmark 1955 study: In its idiosyncratic, contradictory, and multifaceted development and application, the career of Jim Crow was, indeed, strange. Further, as these studies demonstrate—and as alluded to in the title—it is folly to attempt to locate the genesis of the South’s institutional racial segregation in any single event, era, or policy. “Instead,” as W. Fitzhugh Brundage notes in his introduction to the volume, “formal segregation evolved through an untidy process of experimentation and adaptation.” Natalie Ring and Stephanie Cole (co-editors), “The Folly of Jim Crow: Rethinking the Segregated South” (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2012)