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Interviews with Scholars of America about their New Books
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New Books in American Studies New Books Network

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.3 • 20 Ratings

Interviews with Scholars of America about their New Books
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    Patricia Somers and Matt Valentine, "Campus Carry: Confronting a Loaded Issue in Higher Education" (Harvard Education Press, 2020)

    Patricia Somers and Matt Valentine, "Campus Carry: Confronting a Loaded Issue in Higher Education" (Harvard Education Press, 2020)

    In Campus Carry: Confronting a Loaded Issue in Higher Education (Harvard Education Press, 2020), editors Patricia Somers and Matt Valentine lead an examination of the unintended consequences of campus gun policy and showcase voices from the college community who are grappling with the questions, issues, and consequences that have emerged at their respective institutions. While making the case that campus carry legislation is harmful, the book gathers some of the very best thinking around enacting such policies and offers valuable recommendations for mitigating its effects and preserving university values.
    The implementation of campus carry is complex and has provoked many questions: How does concealed carry on campus affect the free expression of ideas in the classroom or the safety of faculty holding unpopular or even controversial views? Should students who misplace or leave their weapons unattended be disciplined? How are communities of color impacted by campus carry? Along with the book's contributors, Somers and Valentine provide higher education leaders, administrators, and faculty with a valuable resource that will guide them toward considerations that might otherwise be overlooked, help them avoid pitfalls that have been encountered elsewhere, and protect institutional priorities.
    The book features reflection pieces from students, alumni, and faculty to illustrate the complexity and controversy of the campus carry policy. Given that the legal possession of guns in the classroom is now a reality for American educators and students in much of the country, Campus Carry concludes with a passionate call for more university-based original research on gun violence.
    Pat Somers is an Associate Professor in the Program of Higher Education Leadership in the Educational Leadership and Policy Department at the University of Texas at Austin. Matt Valentine teaches writing at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is a fellow of the Trice Professorship in the Plan II Honors Program.   
    Tom Discenna is Professor of Communication at Oakland University whose work examines issues of academic labor and communicative labor more broadly.
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    • 1 hr 3 min
    Lisa Z. Sigel, "The People's Porn: A History of Handmade Pornography in America" (Reaktion Books, 2020)

    Lisa Z. Sigel, "The People's Porn: A History of Handmade Pornography in America" (Reaktion Books, 2020)

    The People's Porn: A History of Handmade Pornography in America (Reaktion Books, 2020) is a beautifully written and groundbreaking historical study of homemade, handmade and amateur pornographic artifacts. Covering everything from erotic scrimshaw to amateur videos on the web, Lisa Sigel offers a fascinating account of what ordinary people thought about sexuality and desire. This hidden chapter of American sexual history is not only a much-needed counterbalance to ahistorical arguments which dominate pornography today, it’s also a reminder of humanity’s prodigious tendency to create and communicate sexual desires. At times, the images and objects presented in this book might appear shocking, crude, grotesque, problematic, confrontational, unrestrained, unruly; but in the end they are deeply human.
    Zachary Lowell holds an MA in global studies from Humboldts Universtität zu Berlin.
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    • 1 hr 11 min
    Wendy K. Z. Anderson, "Rebirthing a Nation: White Women, Identity Politics, and the Internet" (U Mississippi Press, 2021)

    Wendy K. Z. Anderson, "Rebirthing a Nation: White Women, Identity Politics, and the Internet" (U Mississippi Press, 2021)

    In Rebirthing a Nation: White Women, Identity Politics, and the Internet (U Mississippi Press, 2021), author Wendy K. Z. Anderson details how white nationalist and alt-right women refine racist rhetoric and web design as a means of protection and simultaneous instantiation of white supremacy, which conservative political actors including Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, Kellyanne Conway, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Ivanka Trump have amplified through transnational politics. By validating racial fears and political divisiveness through coded white identity politics, postfeminist and motherhood discourse functions as a colorblind, gilded cage. Rebirthing a Nation reveals how white nationalist women utilize colorblind racism within digital space, exposing how a postfeminist framework becomes fodder for conservative white women’s political speech to preserve institutional white supremacy.
    Wendy K. Z. Anderson (she/her) is an independent researcher and instructor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Minnesota, Twin-Cities.
    Lee M. Pierce (they & she) is Asst Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the State University of New York College at Geneseo. Connect on Twitter, Gmail, etc. @rhetoriclee.
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    • 1 hr
    Sean Guynes and Martin Lund, "Unstable Masks: Whiteness and American Superhero Comics" (Ohio State UP, 2020)

    Sean Guynes and Martin Lund, "Unstable Masks: Whiteness and American Superhero Comics" (Ohio State UP, 2020)

    In Unstable Masks: Whiteness and American Superhero Comics (Ohio State UP, 2020), Sean Guynes and Martin Lund have assembled more than fifteen chapters that interrogate our thinking about superheroes, especially those written and created in the United States, and how those heroes participate in reifying the whiteness of American politics, culture, and worldview. Even as we have seen attempts to diversify the representation within the superhero genre, there is a continued reinscribing of the normative whiteness that frames not only the narratives themselves, but the ideas and images conveyed by the authors, artists, and producers of these works. As Lund and Guynes note, much analysis has been done about the superheroes, especially paying attention to those heroes who deviate from the norm in terms of race, gender, and sexuality. But what has been missing in a great deal of the scholarship is an analysis of the predominant whiteness of superheroes and how the constructed narrative of the genre, of defeating a threat to a particular way of life, country, people, continues to reaffirm the overarching whiteness of this genre. As Lund noted in conversation, the marquee superheroes are unhyphenated, they are simply the normal, everyday superhero, and they are also, by default, white. Whereas Black, or LatinX superheroes are classified as such, and they are thus distinguished from the “normal” superhero.
    It is not only the characters themselves, in the panels, but also the structure of the story that complies with an understanding of whiteness, and a hierarchy that is often racially structured. The superhero is tasked with fighting for the “good” – but who defines that good, and who benefits from that preserved good? This very understanding of the job of the superhero, to fight for “truth, justice, and the American way” builds on the basis that truth is the same for all members of the society, justice is equally distributed, and the American way is quite clear. Except that none of these are accurate depictions of the reality for those living in the United States (or elsewhere). How we discuss the goals that the superheroes pursue is tied into what it is that we anticipate being restored by a superhero who confronts an enemy. The chapters in Unstable Masks explore this dynamic, focusing on the exceptions as well as those who make up the vast majority of this imaginary space, examining how whiteness informs the understanding of the superhero. The contributing authors not only examine different superheroes at different periods, but they also reach back to examine the way that the superhero genre fits within the American cultural and literary tradition of the western, detective fiction, and the conquest of the frontier where individuals imposed “law and order” on “ungoverned” or “unstable” parts of the continent.
    This is a fascinating collection; taken together, this edited volume an impressive consideration of the superhero genre, those who created these characters, and the audiences who consume and interact with these ideas.
    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.
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    • 58 min
    David Arditi, "Getting Signed: Record Contracts, Musicians, and Power in Society" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020)

    David Arditi, "Getting Signed: Record Contracts, Musicians, and Power in Society" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020)

    How does the record industry work? In Getting Signed: Record Contracts, Musicians, and Power in Society (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020), David Arditi, Associate Professor in Sociology and Anthropology at University of Texas at Arlington, analyses the ideology of getting signed and getting a record contract to show the alienating and exploitative effects of the record industry on musicians and the making of music. The book blends ethnographic fieldwork with critical theoretical analysis, looking at a range of issues in music, from the ‘strained solidarity’ of being in a band, the negative impact of competition and competitiveness in the music industry and in society, to longstanding issues about copyright. The book is essential reading across arts, humanities and the social sciences, as well as for anyone interested in music today.
    Dave O'Brien is Chancellor's Fellow, Cultural and Creative Industries, at the University of Edinburgh's College of Art.
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    • 44 min
    Todne Thomas, "Kincraft: The Making of Black Evangelical Sociality" (Duke UP, 2021)

    Todne Thomas, "Kincraft: The Making of Black Evangelical Sociality" (Duke UP, 2021)

    Kincraft: The Making of Black Evangelical Sociality (Duke University Press, 2021) by Todne Thomas takes a deep dive into the social and religious lives of two black evangelical churches in the Atlanta metro area. Thomas ethnographically renders the ways in which black evangelicals engage in a process of producing kin or crafting relatedness through bible study, socializing, talking, and forming prayer partnerships. She argues that they produce kincraft or construct themselves as brothers and sisters in Christ. In so doing, they "closed the gap between the presumably 'real' family relationships of biology and those of spiritual kin" (3). Examining the lives and activities of black evangelicals illuminates these communities which are often obscured by evangelicals who are racialized as white and the protestant orientation associated with the black church. Outlining the processes through which black evangelicals make kin, calls into question ideas of fictive kinship, a concept commonly used to characterize kinship ties that are not biological or through marriage. Kincraft locates black evangelicals and their practices of kinship formation at the center of their own story. 
    Todne Thomas is an Assistant Professor of African American Religions in the Harvard Divinity School.
    Reighan Gillam is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Southern California.
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    • 1 hr 1 min

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