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Interviews with Scholars of America about their New Books
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    • Society & Culture

Interviews with Scholars of America about their New Books
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    L. Cox Han and C. Heldman, "Madam President?: Gender and Politics on the Road to the White House" (Lynne Rienner, 2020)

    L. Cox Han and C. Heldman, "Madam President?: Gender and Politics on the Road to the White House" (Lynne Rienner, 2020)

    Lori Cox Han and Caroline Heldman, both scholars of gender and politics as well as scholars of the American Presidency, have assembled a wide array of essays[*] to revisit the question about whether “we” are ready for the first female president of the United States, and what the path might look like to arrive at that glass-ceiling shattering event. Cox Han and Heldman had edited a previous version of this concept in 2007 (Rethinking Madam President: Are We Ready for the First Woman in the White House? Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2007) and they and their contributing authors had concluded that, in 2007, the United States was not yet ready to give “female presidential candidates a fair run.” 
    But much has shifted and changed over the years since the publication of that previous interrogation of this perennial consideration and Madam President? Gender and Politics on the Road to the White House (Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2020) revisits this consideration having seen Hillary Clinton as the standard bearer for the Democratic Party in 2016, even while she lost the Electoral College vote to Donald Trump. Cox Han and Heldman, and the contributing authors to Madam President? are evaluating the political landscape following Clinton’s loss and exploring what changed as a result of the presidential race in 2016, including the Women’s Movement/March that came together following Trump’s Inauguration and the rise of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements as well.
    The chapters that make up Madam President? Gender and Politics on the Road to the White House cover quite a few different dimensions of presidential politics and gender politics, including examining where female candidates have been able to compete on a more equal playing field with male candidates, such as in their capacity to fundraise, as Victoria Farrar-Myers explains in her chapter on “Money and Candidate Viability.” Other chapters explore the masculine nature of the presidency itself and the difficulty this poses for candidates and for voters. Authors approach this complicated foundation of the American presidency from a variety of perspectives, including Meredith Conroy’s chapter on masculinity and media coverage during the course of the campaign, and Karen Hult’s and Meena Bose’s respective chapters on sex, gender, and leadership within the Executive Branch, and key areas of presidential responsibility. Madam President? helps us think about the newly elected female Vice President, Kamala Harris, and her husband’s role as first spouse. As Cox Han and Heldman explain during the course of our conversation, there is some cause of optimism that we may already be seeing the first woman president of the United States, it just may be a few years before she takes office.
    Lilly J. Goren is professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012), as well as co-editor of Mad Men and Politics: Nostalgia and the Remaking of Modern America (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015). Email her comments at lgoren@carrollu.edu or tweet to @gorenlj.
    [*] Full disclosure: I am a contributing co-author, with Linda Beail, of one of these essays.
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    • 38 min
    Candacy Taylor, "Overground Railroad: The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America" (Abrams Press, 2020)

    Candacy Taylor, "Overground Railroad: The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America" (Abrams Press, 2020)

    Today I talked to Candacy Taylor about her book Overground Railroad: The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America (Abrams Press, 2020).
    Taylor is an award-winning author, photographer and cultural documentarian. She’s been a fellow at Harvard University under the direction of Henry Louis Gates Jr. and her projects have been funded by organizations ranging from National Geographic to The National Endowment for the Humanities. Her work has received extensive media coverage in places like the PBS Newshour and The New Yorker.
    This episode covers the African-American travel guidebook made famous by the Academy-award-winning movie Green Book. Taylor’s book more accurately and completely covers the more than 10,000 former black- and white-owned businesses establishments that served black travelers during the era from 1936-1967, when editions of the guidebook helped black motorists find gas stations, restaurants and lodging that catered to them in segregated America. The episode also addresses the reasons why 75% of those sites are now gone, falling victim to everything from urban renewal and redlining to soaring incarceration rates that have devasted black communities across America.
    Dan Hill, PhD, is the author of eight books and leads Sensory Logic, Inc. (https://www.sensorylogic.com). To check out his related “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight” blog, visit https://emotionswizard.com.
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    • 37 min
    Kaitland M. Byrd, "Real Southern Barbecue: Constructing Authenticity in Southern Food Culture" (Lexington, 2019)

    Kaitland M. Byrd, "Real Southern Barbecue: Constructing Authenticity in Southern Food Culture" (Lexington, 2019)

    Kaitland Byrd’s new book Real Southern Barbecue: Constructing Authenticity in Southern Food Culture (Lexington Press, 2019) examines an archive of oral histories collected by the Southern Foodways Alliance featuring the voices of barbecue pit masters and restaurant owners from the South. Byrd argues that barbecue as a cultural product has a unique relationship to the idea of authenticity. There are some clearly defined elements that seem to make it easy for diners to decide if their barbecue is authentic from the particular cuts of meat and sauces to the sights and smells of the restaurant. However, like all cuisines, barbecue has to respond to the world around it in ways that might challenge traditional definitions of authenticity. Byrd considers “authenticity” to be an unspoken agreement between producers and consumers, something that can be “constructed” and “fabricated” and “consumed.” Byrd applies the idea of “impression management” from sociology to describe how barbecue producers communicate authenticity to consumers even as they have to innovate and deviate from some of their traditional methods in response to changing circumstances. 
    As Byrd explains, some barbecue purveyors have adapted to changes in consumer tastes and interests in health by offering leaner cuts of meat and emphasizing their traditional vegetable side dishes. They have also adapted to changes in agriculture and meat industries and responses to concerns about the environment, promoting barbecue as an original farm to table, tail to snout cuisine, embracing this vegetable-centric, lean-meat, farm-to-table movement as part of their impression management. One of the most significant challenges to authenticity that restauranteurs must manage are fire and building codes related to smoke, sometimes banning open pit smokers or requiring smokers to be separate buildings. As barbecue restaurants adopt electric smokers or impart flavor from liquid smoke, they must continue to communicate authenticity to consumers through other means. Byrd’s investigation highlights the creative and innovative methods of Southern pit masters and entrepreneurs.
    Kaitland Byrd is Lecturer in sociology and visiting scholar at the National Center for Institutional Diversity at the University of Michigan.
    Carrie Helms Tippen is Assistant Professor of English at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA, where she teaches courses in American Literature. Her 2018 book, Inventing Authenticity: How Cookbook Writers Redefine Southern Identity (University of Arkansas Press), examines the rhetorical strategies that writers use to prove the authenticity of their recipes in the narrative headnotes of contemporary cookbooks. Her academic work has been published in Gastronomica, Food and Foodways, American Studies, Southern Quarterly, and Food, Culture, and Society.
    Eliza Weeks is a recent graduate of the Master of Food Studies program at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA. She hopes to do work related to amplifying diverse and often marginalized voices within the food system so that the opportunity to represent and share food and food culture is not limited to the privileged few. When Eliza is not on the job hunt she enjoys adventuring through new recipes, sharing food and stories with others, and cohosting her podcast Dear Human.
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    • 1 hr
    John D. Wilsey, "God's Cold Warrior: The Life and Faith of John Foster Dulles" (Eardmans, 2021)

    John D. Wilsey, "God's Cold Warrior: The Life and Faith of John Foster Dulles" (Eardmans, 2021)

    When John Foster Dulles died in 1959, he was given the largest American state funeral since Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s in 1945. President Eisenhower called Dulles—his longtime secretary of state—“one of the truly great men of our time,” and a few years later the new commercial airport outside Washington, DC, was christened the Dulles International Airport in his honor. His star has fallen significantly since that time, but his influence remains indelible—most especially regarding his role in bringing the worldview of American exceptionalism to the forefront of US foreign policy during the Cold War era, a worldview that has long outlived him. 
    God's Cold Warrior: The Life and Faith of John Foster Dulles (Eardmans, 2021) recounts how Dulles’s faith commitments from his Presbyterian upbringing found fertile soil in the anti-communist crusades of the mid-twentieth century. After attending the Oxford Ecumenical Church Conference in 1937, he wrote about his realization that “the spirit of Christianity, of which I learned as a boy, was really that of which the world now stood in very great need, not merely to save souls, but to solve the practical problems of international affairs.” Dulles believed that America was chosen by God to defend the freedom of all those vulnerable to the godless tyranny of communism, and he carried out this religious vision in every aspect of his diplomatic and political work. He was conspicuous among those US officials in the twentieth century that prominently combined their religious convictions and public service, making his life and faith key to understanding the interconnectedness of God and country in US foreign affairs from World War I to Vietnam.
    Zach McCulley (@zamccull) is a historian of religion and literary cultures in early modern England and PhD candidate in History at Queen's University Belfast.
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    • 1 hr 2 min
    Stephanie McCurry, "Women's War: Fighting and Surviving the Civil War" (Harvard UP, 2019)

    Stephanie McCurry, "Women's War: Fighting and Surviving the Civil War" (Harvard UP, 2019)

    In Women's War: Fighting and Surviving the Civil War (Harvard UP, 2019), the award-winning author of Confederate Reckoning challenges the idea that women are outside of war, through a trio of dramatic stories revealing women's transformative role in the American Civil War. We think of war as a man's world, but women have always played active roles in times of violence and been left to pick up the pieces in societies decimated by war. In this groundbreaking reconsideration of the Civil War, the award-winning author of Confederate Reckoning invites us to see America's bloodiest conflict not just as pitting brother against brother but as a woman's war. When the war broke out, Union soldiers assumed Confederate women would be innocent noncombatants. Experience soon challenged this simplistic belief. 
    Through a trio of dramatic stories, Stephanie McCurry reveals the vital and sometimes confounding roles women played on and off the battlefield. We meet Clara Judd, a Confederate spy whose imprisonment for treason sparked heated controversy, defying the principle of civilian immunity and leading to lasting changes in the laws of war. Hundreds of thousands of enslaved women escaped across Union lines, upending emancipation policies that extended only to enslaved men. The Union's response was to classify fugitive black women as "soldiers' wives," regardless of whether they were married--offering them some protection but placing new obstacles on their path to freedom. In the war's aftermath, the Confederate grande dame Gertrude Thomas wrestled with her loss of status and of her former slaves. War, emancipation, and economic devastation affected her family intimately, and through her life McCurry helps us see how fundamental the changes of Reconstruction were. Women's War dismantles the long-standing fiction that women are outside of war and shows that they were indispensable actors in the Civil War, as they have been--and continue to be--in all wars.
    Jerrad P. Pacatte is a doctoral candidate and School of Arts and Sciences Excellence Fellow in the Department of History at Rutgers.
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    • 1 hr 9 min
    Daphne A. Brooks, "Liner Notes for the Revolution: The Intellectual Life of Black Feminist Sound" (Harvard UP, 2021)

    Daphne A. Brooks, "Liner Notes for the Revolution: The Intellectual Life of Black Feminist Sound" (Harvard UP, 2021)

    Liner Notes for the Revolution: The Intellectual Life of Black Feminist Sound (Harvard University Press, 2021) by Dr. Daphne Brooks is a lyrical masterpiece that takes readers on an exhilarating journey through a century of Black sound from Bessie Smith to Beyoncé. In writing alongside the sistas who cared for Black women's musicianship like Pauline Hopkins and Janelle Monaé, Brooks casts contemporary performers as archivists, acclaimed writers as sound theorists, record label originators as music critics, and fans as the vital keepers of Black sound. Brooks’ liner notes are a “requiem” for the oversight of Black women musicians and their intellectual resonance, powerfully uncovering their sonic, visual, and kinesthetic innovations through a Black feminist conceptual lens. On each step of the journey, Brooks presents Black sound women as radical intellectuals, as the creators of modernity, and as the fierce leaders of revolutionary world-making.
    Amanda Joyce Hall is a Ph.D. Candidate in History and African American Studies at Yale University. She is writing an international history on the global movement against South African apartheid during the 1970s and 1980s. She tweets from @amandajoycehall.
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    • 1 hr 25 min

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