College of Letters & Science


September 2002
Toni Morrison (Gale Study Guides to Great Literature: Literary Masters)

To include the tellers with their tales, which is what this series of the Gale Study Guides is designed to make possible for the common reader, is to see the heroic scene of literature itself, throughout the world, where men and women writers make and have made the most skillful use of the word-hoard of language and the freedom of fiction to preserve our collective past and to make sense out of things that in their multitude are always threatening to fly apart in to chaos.

September 2, 2001
1959: A Novel

Thulani Davis's 1959 is a powerful, poignant coming-of-age novel that captures a dramatic moment in American history as clearly as a photograph. It's the summer of 1959 and Willie Tarrant of Turner, Virginia, is twelve. Her father and other adults in the town are worried about integration -- how it will affect their children's safety and the quality of their education -- but for Willie it's just another problem she's going to have to deal with, like her chores and beginning to go out with boys. Willie and her friends -- kids from good families with good grades -- are being groomed to be sent in the first wave. Before this can happen, though, eight black college students, wearing suits and fresh haircuts, go into the Woolworth's lunch counter -- changing everything. In 1959 one of the most talented writers of her generation has written a book that will become a classic of civil rights literature.

Doug Bradley
October 21, 2015
 We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The Soundtrack of the Vietnam War (Culture, Politics, and the Cold War)

For a Kentucky rifleman who spent his tour trudging through Vietnam's Central Highlands, it was Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'." For a "tunnel rat" who blew smoke into the Viet Cong's underground tunnels, it was Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze." For a black marine distraught over the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., it was Aretha Franklin's "Chain of Fools." And for countless other Vietnam vets, it was "I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die," "Who'll Stop the Rain," or the song that gives this book its title.

In We Gotta Get Out of This Place, Doug Bradley and Craig Werner place popular music at the heart of the American experience in Vietnam. They explore how and why U.S. troops turned to music as a way of connecting to each other and the World back home and of coping with the complexities of the war they had been sent to fight. They also demonstrate that music was important for every group of Vietnam veterans―black and white, Latino and Native American, men and women, officers and "grunts"―whose personal reflections drive the book's narrative. Many of the voices are those of ordinary soldiers, airmen, seamen, and marines. But there are also "solo" pieces by veterans whose writings have shaped our understanding of the war―Karl Marlantes, Alfredo Vea, Yusef Komunyakaa, Bill Ehrhart, Arthur Flowers―as well as songwriters and performers whose music influenced soldiers' lives, including Eric Burdon, James Brown, Bruce Springsteen, Country Joe McDonald, and John Fogerty. Together their testimony taps into memories―individual and cultural―that capture a central if often overlooked component of the American war in Vietnam.

Hemant G. Shah
October 16, 2003
This is a book called Newspaper Coverage of Interethnic Conflict: Competing Visions of America

Over the past three decades, United States foreign policy, new immigrant communities, and increasing global economic interdependence have contributed to an increasingly complex political economy in America’s major cities. For instance, recent immigration from Asia and Latin America has generated cultural anxiety and racial backlash among a number of ethnic communities in America. Newspaper Coverage of Interethnic Conflict: Competing Visions of America examines mainstream and ethnic minority news coverage of interethnic conflicts in Miami, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles. Authors Hemant Shah and Michael C. Thornton investigate the role of news in racial formation, the place of ethnic minority media in the public sphere, and how these competing visions of America are part of ongoing social and political struggles to construct, define, and challenge the meanings of race and nation. The authors suggest that mainstream newspapers reinforce dominant racial ideology while ethnic minority newspapers provide an important counter-hegemonic view of U.S. race relations. Features of this text:Pioneering and extensive comparisons of the mainstream and ethnic minority press Unique comparative focus on relations among ethnic minorities Both traditional quantitative and qualitative content analysis methods used to examine news stories Informed by the sociological theory known as "racial formation," which previously has not been applied to the field of mass communication research. The general process of racial formation and the role of news in that process will be compelling to anyone studying the social construction of racial categories. Newspaper Coverage of Interethnic Conflict is highly recommended for students and scholars in the fields of Journalism, Mass Communications, Media Studies, Cultural Studies, and Sociology.

Nov 1, 1994
This is a book called Double-Consciousness/Double Bind: Theoretical Issues in Twentieth-Century Black Literature.

In this provocative study of major twentieth century African-American writers and critics, Sandra Adell takes an unprecedented look at the relationship between black literature and criticism and the complex ensemble of Western literature, criticism, and philosophy. Adell's investigation begins with an analysis of the metaphysical foundations of W. E. B. Du Bois's famous formulation of double-consciousness and how black writing bears the traces of such European philosophers as Kant, Hegel, and Marx. She then examines, in the double context of black literature and European philosophy, the writings of such major authors and essayists as Richard Wright, Leopold Senghor, Maya Angelou, Houston A. Baker, Jr., and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Adell gives a thoughtful analysis of the "double bind" created by conflicting claims of Euro- and Afrocentrism in black literature.

March 1, 1985
 Playing the Changes (Wesleyan Poetry Series)

Poems consider the past, love, music, romance, art, religion, creation, disease, movies, war, and race relations

Dave Marsh
Mar 1, 1999
Up Around the Bend : The Oral History of Creedence Clearwater Revival

An intimate oral history of the turbulent career of one of rock music's most celebrated groups documents the story of Creedence Clearwater Revival from their early struggles, to their rise of stardom, to the battles that drove them apart.

June 24, 1996
Rising Wind: Black Americans and U.S. Foreign Affairs, 1935-1960

African Americans have a long history of active involvement and interest in international affairs, but their efforts have been largely ignored by scholars of American foreign policy. Gayle Plummer brings a new perspective to the study of twentieth-century American history with her analysis of black Americans' engagement with international issues, from the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935 through the wave of African independence movements of the early 1960s.

Plummer first examines how collective definitions of ethnic identity, race, and racism have influenced African American views on foreign affairs. She then probes specific developments in the international arena that galvanized the black community, including the rise of fascism, World War II, the emergence of human rights as a factor in international law, the Cold War, and the American civil rights movement, which had important foreign policy implications. However, she demonstrates that not all African Americans held the same views on particular issues and that a variety of considerations helped shape foreign affairs agendas within the black community just as in American society at large.

Rhonda Mawhood Lee
January 20, 2015
 Love and Happiness: Eros According to Dante, Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and the Rev. Al Green

Love and Happiness is a profound meditation on the meaning of eros, the creative and disturbing power usually thought of as romantic love. Four of the greatest artists of the Western world lead a pilgrimage through the erotic cosmos, exploring real-world dilemmas that they knew well and that still bedevil us. First we follow in Dante’s footsteps from Inferno to Paradiso, then Shakespeare is our guide to Hell, Jane Austen to Purgatory, and Al Green to Paradise. Some of their stories are horrifying, showing the devastation that warped love can wreak. Some are inspiring, helping us imagine what a gift love can be in our own lives. Reading these stories together, Love and Happiness offers a vision of love that’s complex, sobering, and ultimately deeply comforting.

February 28, 2003
This is a book called Window on Freedom: Race, Civil Rights, and Foreign Affairs, 1945-1988

The civil rights movement in the United States drew strength from supporters of human rights worldwide. Once U.S. policy makers--influenced by international pressure, the courage of ordinary American citizens, and a desire for global leadership--had signed such documents as the United Nations charter, domestic calls for change could be based squarely on the moral authority of doctrines the United States endorsed abroad. 

This is one of the many fascinating links between racial politics and international affairs explored in Window on Freedom. Broad in chronological scope and topical diversity, the ten original essays presented here demonstrate how the roots of U.S. foreign policy have been embedded in social, economic, and cultural factors of domestic as well as foreign origin. They argue persuasively that the campaign to realize full civil rights for racial and ethnic minorities in America is best understood in the context of competitive international relations.

The contributors are Carol Anderson, Donald R. Culverson, Mary L. Dudziak, Cary Fraser, Gerald Horne, Michael Krenn, Paul Gordon Lauren, Thomas Noer, Lorena Oropeza, and Brenda Gayle Plummer.

February 11, 2010
Confessions of a Slot Machine Queen

The global economic crisis deepens by the day, yet the gambling industry continues to rake in enormous profits as people everywhere pump billions of dollars into slot machines in the hope of winning the ever elusive jackpot. Sandra Adell' s Confessions of a Slot Machine Queen offers an intimate look into problem and compulsive casino gambling and the impact the casino industry is having on vulnerable communities, especially poor and working class people, the disabled, communities of color, and women the fastest growing population of problem gamblers in the United States. Adell' s narrative of gambling and loss unfolds against her history as an unwed and uneducated teen mother from Detroit who beat the odds stacked against her and went on to earn a Ph.D. and a coveted position as a literature professor in a major Midwestern university. In a clear and unaffected prose style, Adell describes how she went from having no interest in gambling to risking everything she had worked for after playing the slots and winning a small jackpot. We watch as she struggles against the lure of the slots only to get seduced time and again until she finally spirals out of control and is forced to confront the demons that lay beneath the surface of her professional persona. Confessions of a Slot Machine Queen is as much a story of redemption as it is a critical examination of the casino gambling industry and the potential dangers of this new and high-tech form of entertainment.

December 8, 2008
 Sacred Waters: Arts for Mami Wata and Other Divinities in Africa and the Diaspora (African Expressive Cultures)

Sacred Waters focuses on the arts, rituals, and religions associated with Mami Wata and other deities in Africa and its diasporas. Mami Wata, pidgin English for Mother Water, is a beautiful, seductive water spirit who brings wealth and good fortune to those she favors. Practices associated with winning her favor, widespread in West Africa and the Black Atlantic diaspora, are explored in 46 rich and perceptive essays by an international group of scholars and practitioners. This book addresses the diversity of belief and practice, audiences, gender, reception, hybridity, commodification, globalization, dispersal, and religious mutation of Mami Wata rituals. It includes more than 129 images and a supplemental DVD featuring nearly 500 images, several photographic essays, and film clips of performance/rituals, and music. As the first volume to probe the depth and scope of water deity arts and cultures, Sacred Waters is a definitive resource and landmark reference tool for readers in a wide range of academic disciplines.

John Mason
December 1, 1997
 Beads, Body, and Soul: Art & Light in the Yoruba Universe

The sights and sounds of the Yoruba cosmos are made manifest through the pervasive use of beads. This spectacular book represents a collaboration between art historian Henry John Drewal and Yoruba priest John Mason. From the forests of Africa a thousand years ago to the bustling cities of New York, Havana, and Salvador, today, Yoruba religion has used beads to convey the artistic spirit and deep connection to the other world that its practitioners feel. This beautifully illustrated volume traces the history of the beads, their use, and Yoruba aesthetics and artistry. .

August 1, 1988
Haiti and the Great Powers, 1902--1915

Hati and the great powers, 1902 - 1915 examines a critical period of Haitian history and diplomacy.  In this widely researched and persuasively argued study, Brenda Gayle Plummer contends that the social, economic, and political decline of Haiti during the early part of the century was hastened by many factors: the growing commercial and military competition in the Caribbean among the great powers; the less favorable terms of trade; the development among the cosmopolitan urban elite of a culture of imitation and alienation from Haitian National values: and the inability of traditional political mechanism to provide satisfactory solutions to new problems

Marilyn Houlberg (Contributor),‎ Bogumil Jewsiewicki (Contributor),‎ Amy L. Noell (Contributor) John W. Nunley (Contributor),‎ Jill Salmons (Contributor)
April 25, 2008
Mami Wata: Arts for Water Spirits in Africa and Its Diasporas

This book traces the visual cultures and histories of Mami Wata and other African water divinities. Mami Wata, often portrayed with the head and torso of a woman and the tail of a fish, is at once beautiful, jealous, generous, seductive, and potentially deadly. A water spirit widely known across Africa and the African diaspora, her origins are said to lie "overseas," although she has been thoroughly incorporated into local beliefs and practics. She can bring good fortune in the form of money, and her power increased between the fifteenth and twentieth centuries, the era of growing international trade between Africa and the rest of the world. Her name, which may be translated as "Mother Water" or "Mistress Water," is pidgin English, a language developed to lubricate trade. Africans forcibly carried across the Atlantic as part of that "trade" brought with them their beliefs and practices honoring Mami Wata and other ancestral deities.

April 25, 2005
 Our Separate Ways and millions of other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more Our Separate Ways: Women and the Black Freedom Movement in Durham, North Carolina

In an in-depth community study of women in the civil rights movement, Christina Greene examines how several generations of black and white women, low-income as well as more affluent, shaped the struggle for black freedom in Durham, North Carolina. In the city long known as “the capital of the black middle class,” Greene finds that, in fact, low-income African American women were sustaining forces for change.

Greene demonstrates that women activists frequently were more organized, more militant, and more numerous than their male counterparts.  The brought new approaches and strategies to protest, leadership and racial politics.  Arguing that race was not automatically a unifying force, Green sheds new light on the class and gender fault lines within Durham’s black community.

January 2, 2007
 My Confederate Kinfolk: A Twenty-First Century Freedwoman Discovers Her Roots

Starting from a photograph and writings left by her grandmother, acclaimed African-American novelist Thulani Davis goes looking for the “white folk” in her family, a Scots-Irish family of cotton planters unknown to her-and uncovers a history far richer and stranger than she had ever imagined. Her journey challenges us to examine the origins of some of our most deeply ingrained notions about what makes a family black or white, and offers an immensely compelling, intellectually challenging alternative.

January 1, 1997

In Playing the Changes, Craig Hansen Werner presents a polyrhythmic approach to the continuities and discontinuities of the American literary tradition. He focuses on the relationship between two superficially distinct traditions: European (post)modernism and African American culture in both literary and musical forms. A primary contribution of Playing the Changes is its exploration of different "phrasings" of issues important to highly conscious African American artists from the late nineteenth century (Charles Chesnutt's The Conjure Woman) to the 1990s (Toni Morrison's Jazz). A final sequence highlights the centrality of black music to African American writing, arguing that recognizing blues, gospel, and jazz as theoretically suggestive cultural practices rather than specific musical forms points to what is most distinctive in twentieth-century African American writing: its ability to subvert attempts to limit its engagement with psychological, historical, political, or aesthetic realities.