New Books in American Studies

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Interviews with Scholars of America about their New Books Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/american-studies

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Rebecca Weeks, "History by HBO: Televising the American Past" (UP of Kentucky, 2022)
2d ago
Rebecca Weeks, "History by HBO: Televising the American Past" (UP of Kentucky, 2022)
The television industry is changing, and with it, the small screen's potential to engage in debate and present valuable representations of American history. Founded in 1972, HBO has been at the forefront of these changes, leading the way for many network, cable, and streaming services into the "post-network" era. Despite this, most scholarship has been dedicated to analyzing historical feature films and documentary films, leaving TV and the long-form drama hungry for coverage. In History by HBO: Televising the American Past (UP of Kentucky, 2022), Rebecca Weeks fills the gap in this area of media studies and defends the historiographic power of long-form dramas. Dr. Weeks is a lecturer in the Bachelor of Art and Design Programme at Media Design School in Auckland, New Zealand. By focusing on this change and its effects, History by HBO outlines how history is crafted on television and the diverse forms it can take. Weeks examines the capabilities of the long-form serial for engaging with historical stories, insisting that the shift away from the network model and toward narrowcasting has enabled challenging histories to thrive in home settings. As an examination of HBO's unique structure for producing quality historical dramas, Weeks provides four case studies of HBO series set during different periods of United States history: Band of Brothers (2001), Deadwood (2004–2007), Boardwalk Empire (2012–2014), and Treme (2010–2013). In each case, HBO's lack of advertiser influence, commitment to creative freedom, and generous budgets continue to draw and retain talent who want to tell historical stories. Balancing historical and film theories in her assessment of the roles of mise-en–scène, characterization, narrative complexity, and sound in the production of effective historical dramas, Weeks' evaluation acts as an ode to the most recent Golden Age of TV, as well as a critical look at the relationship between entertainment media and collective memory. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member!
Rebecca Weeks, "History by HBO: Televising the American Past" (UP of Kentucky, 2022)
2d ago
Rebecca Weeks, "History by HBO: Televising the American Past" (UP of Kentucky, 2022)
The television industry is changing, and with it, the small screen's potential to engage in debate and present valuable representations of American history. Founded in 1972, HBO has been at the forefront of these changes, leading the way for many network, cable, and streaming services into the "post-network" era. Despite this, most scholarship has been dedicated to analyzing historical feature films and documentary films, leaving TV and the long-form drama hungry for coverage. In History by HBO: Televising the American Past (UP of Kentucky, 2022), Rebecca Weeks fills the gap in this area of media studies and defends the historiographic power of long-form dramas. Dr. Weeks is a lecturer in the Bachelor of Art and Design Programme at Media Design School in Auckland, New Zealand. By focusing on this change and its effects, History by HBO outlines how history is crafted on television and the diverse forms it can take. Weeks examines the capabilities of the long-form serial for engaging with historical stories, insisting that the shift away from the network model and toward narrowcasting has enabled challenging histories to thrive in home settings. As an examination of HBO's unique structure for producing quality historical dramas, Weeks provides four case studies of HBO series set during different periods of United States history: Band of Brothers (2001), Deadwood (2004–2007), Boardwalk Empire (2012–2014), and Treme (2010–2013). In each case, HBO's lack of advertiser influence, commitment to creative freedom, and generous budgets continue to draw and retain talent who want to tell historical stories. Balancing historical and film theories in her assessment of the roles of mise-en–scène, characterization, narrative complexity, and sound in the production of effective historical dramas, Weeks' evaluation acts as an ode to the most recent Golden Age of TV, as well as a critical look at the relationship between entertainment media and collective memory. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member!
Jeremy Black, "A Brief History of the Atlantic" (Robinson, 2022)
2d ago
Jeremy Black, "A Brief History of the Atlantic" (Robinson, 2022)
The Atlantic has borne witness to major historic events that have drastically shaped humanity with each crossing of its path. In A Brief History of the Atlantic (Robinson, 2022), Jeremy Black takes the reader through its evolution to becoming one of the most important oceans in the world. Black discusses the importance of the Atlantic in relation to world history as well as addressing topics such as those bravest to attempt to cross the ocean before Columbus, the beginnings of slavery from 1400-1600, the struggle for control between empires in the 1600s, the way technology adapted with steamships to telegraph cables, the battle of the Falkland, and the Cold War. Black also touches on the Atlantic we know today, and the struggles it faces due to urgent global issues including climate change, pollution, and the trials of the economic rise in the Indo-Pacific world. If you have ever yearned to know more about this famed and vital ocean, this clear and concise history will be a key read as one of the first of its kind on its evolution to becoming an established world ocean. Charles Coutinho, PH. D., Associate Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, received his doctorate from New York University. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written for Chatham House’s International Affairs, the Institute of Historical Research's Reviews in History and the University of Rouen's online periodical Cercles. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member!
Jane Juffer, "Millennial Feminism at Work: Bridging Theory and Practice" (Cornell UP, 2021)
3d ago
Jane Juffer, "Millennial Feminism at Work: Bridging Theory and Practice" (Cornell UP, 2021)
In Millennial Feminism at Work: Bridging Theory and Practice (Cornell UP, 2021), volume editor Jane Juffer brings together recently graduated students from across the US to reflect on the relevance of their feminist studies programs in their chosen career paths. The result is a dynamic collection of voices, shaking up preconceived ideas and showing the positive influence of gender and sexuality studies on individuals at work. Encompassing five areas—corporate, education, nonprofit, medical, and media careers—these engaging essays use personal experiences to analyze the pressure on young adults to define themselves through creative work, even when that job may not sustain them financially. Obstacles to feminist work conditions notwithstanding, they urge readers to never downplay their feminist credentials and prove that gender and sexuality studies degrees can serve graduates well in the current marketplace and prepare them for life outside of their alma mater. Emphasizing the importance of individual stories situated within political and economic structures, Millennial Feminism at Work provides spirited collective advice and a unique window into the lives and careers of young feminists sharing the lessons they have learned. Contributors to this volume include Rose Al Abosy, Rachel Cromidas, Lauren Danzig, Sadaf Ferdowsi, Reina Gattuso, Jael Goldfine, Sassafras Lowrey, Alissa Medina, Samuel Naimi, Stephanie Newman, Justine Parkin, Lily Pierce, Kate Poor, Laura Ramos-Jaimes, Savannah Taylor, Addie Tsai, and Hayley Zablotsky. Rose Al Abosy and Jael Goldfine, along with Dr. Jane Juffer, were able to join us for this conversation. Iqra Shagufta Cheema is a writer, researcher, and chronic procrastinator. When she does write, she writes in the areas of postmodernist postcolonial literatures, transnational feminisms, gender and sexuality studies, and film studies. Check out her latest book chapter Queer Love: He is also Made in Heaven. She can be reached via email at IqraSCheema@gmail.com or Twitter. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member!
Saladin Ambar, "Stars and Shadows: The Politics of Interracial Friendship from Jefferson to Obama" (Oxford UP, 2022)
3d ago
Saladin Ambar, "Stars and Shadows: The Politics of Interracial Friendship from Jefferson to Obama" (Oxford UP, 2022)
Slavery and its lingering remnants remain a plague on the United States, continuing to foster animosity between races that hinders the understanding and connection conducive to dismantling the remains of such systems. Personal relationships and connection can provide a path towards reconciling differences and overcoming the racial divisiveness that is America’s original sin.  In his fascinating new book, Stars and Shadows: The Politics of Interracial Friendship from Jefferson to Obama (Oxford UP, 2022), Saladin Ambar, professor of Political Science and Senior Scholar at the Center on the American Governor at the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, constructs a comprehensive overview of interracial friendships throughout U.S. history, detailing how friendship can be an invaluable and often overlooked tool when advocating for equality. Because political leaders, celebrities, and other cultural figures have such an influence on the general public, they can play a particular role in shaping public opinion. Thus, analyzing significant interracial friendships between well-known individuals throughout different historical moments can serve as windows into the state of race relations as they developed through time, and what that can mean for our future. Ambar meditates on the power of friendship in general, and interracial friendship in particular, through ten different, iconic cases, examining these relationships in both their personal and political capacity. The specific focus of each friendship duet is to explore the public consequences of relationships across race. Each duo has unique experiences that are particular to their historical moments and the political constraints of the time. Through these stories, Ambar develops a theory rejecting the notion that we must separate the personal from the political, detailing how, in an interracial democracy predicated on equality, the two must and do intertwine in order to overcome racial differences. Stars and Shadows examines, among others, Benjamin Banneker and Thomas Jefferson, Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, Angela Davis and Gloria Steinem, Marlon Brando and James Baldwin, and ends with Barack Obama and Joe Biden’s iconic bond. The analysis wrestles with the American political structure, which is not based on connecting individuals to each other in any kind of personal way, and yet friendship is what connects us all as human beings. Ambar’s theory challenges citizens to look inward and outward when interacting with one another, to engage intentionally with our differences, and not to run away from our past but to critically analyze it and incorporate it going forward. Emma R. Handschke assisted in the production of this podcast. Lilly J. Goren is a 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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member!
Andrew Bacevich and Daniel A. Sjursen, "Paths of Dissent: Soldiers Speak Out Against America's Forever Wars" (Metropolitan Books, 2022)
4d ago
Andrew Bacevich and Daniel A. Sjursen, "Paths of Dissent: Soldiers Speak Out Against America's Forever Wars" (Metropolitan Books, 2022)
Compiled by New York Times bestselling author Andrew Bacevich and retired army officer Danny A. Sjursen, Paths of Dissent: Soldiers Speak Out Against America’s Misguided Wars (Metropolitan Books, 2022) collects provocative essays from American military veterans who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, offering firsthand testimony that illuminates why the Forever Wars lasted so long while producing so little of value. In the wake of 9/11, the United States embarked upon a Global War on Terrorism aimed at using American military power to transform the Greater Middle East.  Twenty years later, the ensuing forever wars have produced little tangible success while exacting enormous harm. In Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States has sustained tens of thousands of casualties while expending trillions of dollars and inflicting massive suffering on populations that we sought to “liberate.” In Washington and across the nation at large, the inclination to forget these wars and move on is palpable. In fact, there is much to be learned and those who served and fought in these wars are best positioned to teach. The first book of its kind since the Vietnam era, Paths of Dissent gathers original essays from American veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, drawn from all services, ranks, and walks of life, who have come out in opposition to these conflicts. Selected for their honesty and eloquence by fellow veterans Andrew Bacevich and Danny A. Sjursen, these outspoken critics describe not only their motivations for serving, but also for taking the path of dissent—disappointment and disillusionment; the dehumanizing impact of combat; the loss of comrades to friendly fire; the persistence of xenophobia and racism—all of these together exposing the mendacity that has pervaded the Global War on Terrorism from its very outset. Combining diverse, critical perspectives with powerful personal testimony, Paths of Dissent sheds light on the myriad factors that have made America’s post-9/11 wars costly and misguided exercises in futility. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member!
Michael Elliott, "Have a Little Faith: The John Hiatt Story" (Chicago Review Press, 2021)
4d ago
Michael Elliott, "Have a Little Faith: The John Hiatt Story" (Chicago Review Press, 2021)
A journey through an artist's quest for success, deep dive into substance abuse, family tragedy, and ultimate triumph. By the mid-1980s, singer-songwriter John Hiatt had been dropped from three record labels, burned through two marriages, and had fallen deep into substance abuse. It took a stint in rehab and a new marriage to inspire him, then a producer and an A&R man to have a little faith. By February 1987, he was back in the studio on a shoestring budget with a hand-picked supergroup consisting of Ry Cooder on guitar, Nick Lowe on bass, and Jim Keltner on drums, recording what would become his masterpiece, Bring the Family. Based on author Michael Elliott's multiple extensive and deeply personal interviews with Hiatt as well as his collaborators and contemporaries, including Rosanne Cash, Bonnie Raitt, Ry Cooder, and many others, Have a Little Faith: The John Hiatt Story (Chicago Review Press, 2021) is the journey through the musical landscape of the 1960s through today that places Hiatt's long career in context with the glossy pop, college-alternative, mainstream country, and heartland rock of the last half-century. Michael Elliott is a contributor to the pioneering roots music authority No Depression. His writing has also appeared in PopMatters, Albmism, Americana UK, and The Bitter Southerner. Elliott spent close to thirty years in radio broadcasting and management in a variety of formats. He has interviewed and produced profiles on musicians as diverse as Isaac Hayes, Charlie Daniels, Delbert McClinton, Johnny Rivers, and Little Richard. He lives in Raleigh, NC. His website is michael-elliott.com Daniel Moran earned his B.A. and M.A. in English from Rutgers University and his Ph.D. in History from Drew University. The author of Creating Flannery O’Connor: Her Critics, Her Publishers, Her Readers, he teaches research and writing at Rutgers and co-hosts the podcast Fifteen-Minute Film Fanatics, found at  and on Twitter @15MinFilm. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member!
Jeffrey S. Sutton, "Who Decides?: States As Laboratories of Constitutional Experimentation" (Oxford UP, 2021)
4d ago
Jeffrey S. Sutton, "Who Decides?: States As Laboratories of Constitutional Experimentation" (Oxford UP, 2021)
Everything in law and politics, including individual rights, comes back to divisions of power and the evergreen question: Who decides? Who wins the disputes of the day often turns on who decides them. And our acceptance of the resolution of those disputes often turns on who the decision maker is-because it reveals who governs us. In Who Decides?: States As Laboratories of Constitutional Experimentation (Oxford UP, 2021), the influential US Appellate Court Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton focuses on the constitutional structure of the American states to answer the question of who should decide the key questions of public policy today. By concentrating on the role of governmental structure in shaping power across the 50 American states, Sutton develops a powerful explanation of American constitutional law, in all of its variety, as opposed to just federal constitutional law. As in his earlier book, 51 Imperfect Solutions, which looked at how American federalism allowed the states to serve as laboratories of innovation for protecting individual liberty and property rights, Sutton compares state-level governments with the federal government and draws numerous insights from the comparisons. Instead of focusing on individual rights, however, he focuses on structure, while continuing to develop some of the core themes of his previous book. An illuminating and essential sequel to his earlier work on the nature of American federalism, Who Decides makes the case that American Constitutional Law should account for the role of the state courts and state constitutions, together with the federal courts and the federal constitution, in assessing the right balance of power among all branches of government. Taken together, both books reveal a remarkably complex, nuanced, ever-changing federalist system, one that ought to make lawyers and litigants pause before reflexively assuming that the United States Supreme Court alone has the answers to our vexing constitutional questions. William Domnarski is a longtime lawyer who before and during has been a literary guy, with a Ph.D. in English. He's written five books on judges, lawyers, and courts, two with Oxford, one with Illinois, one with Michigan, and one with the American Bar Association. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member!
Nick Davis, "Competing with Idiots: Herman and Joe Mankiewicz, a Dual Portrait" (Knopf, 2021)
4d ago
Nick Davis, "Competing with Idiots: Herman and Joe Mankiewicz, a Dual Portrait" (Knopf, 2021)
A fascinating, complex dual biography of Hollywood's most dazzling—and famous—brothers, and a dark, riveting portrait of competition, love, and enmity that ultimately undid them both. One most famous for having written Citizen Kane; the other, All About Eve; one who only wrote screenplays but believed himself to be a serious playwright, slowly dying of alcoholism and disappointment; the other a four-time Academy Award-winning director, auteur, sorcerer, and seducer of leading ladies, one of Hollywood's most literate and intelligent filmmakers. Herman Mankiewicz brought us the Marx Brothers' Monkey Business, Horse Feathers, and Duck Soup and W. C. Fields' Million Dollar Legs, wrote screenplays for Dinner at Eight and Pride of the Yankees, and cowrote Citizen Kane (Pauline Kael proclaimed that the script was mostly Herman's) and 89 others. Talented, witty (Alexander Woollcott thought him "the funniest man who ever lived"), huge-hearted, and wildly immature, Herman was a figure of renown and success. Herman went to Hollywood in 1926, was almost immediately successful (his telegram to Ben Hecht back east: "Millions are to be grabbed out here and your only competition is idiots. Don't let this get around.") and became one of the highest-paid screenwriters in Hollywood. Joe, eleven years younger, a focused, organized, and disciplined writer with a far more distinguished career, eventually surpassed his worshipped older brother, producing The Philadelphia Story, writing and directing A Letter to Three Wives and All About Eve, both of which won him Oscars before seeing his career upended by the spectacular fiasco of Cleopatra. In Competing with Idiots: Herman and Joe Mankiewicz, a Dual Portrait (Knopf, 2021), we see the lives of these two men—their dreams and desires, their fears and feuds, struggling to free themselves from their dark past; and the driving forces that kept them bound to a system they loved and hated. Nick Davis, the grandson of Herman Mankiewicz and great-nephew of Joseph Mankiewicz, is a writer, director, and producer. He lives in New York City. Daniel Moran earned his B.A. and M.A. in English from Rutgers University and his Ph.D. in History from Drew University. The author of Creating Flannery O’Connor: Her Critics, Her Publishers, Her Readers, he teaches research and writing at Rutgers and co-hosts the podcast Fifteen-Minute Film Fanatics, found at  and on Twitter @15MinFilm. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member!
Katherine L. Carroll, "Building Schools, Making Doctors: Architecture and the Modern American Physician" (U Pittsburgh Press, 2022)
5d ago
Katherine L. Carroll, "Building Schools, Making Doctors: Architecture and the Modern American Physician" (U Pittsburgh Press, 2022)
In the late nineteenth century, medical educators intent on transforming American physicians into scientifically trained, elite professionals recognized the value of medical school design for their reform efforts. Between 1893 and 1940, nearly every medical college in the country rebuilt or substantially renovated its facility. In Building Schools, Making Doctors: Architecture and the Modern American Physician (U Pittsburgh Press, 2022), Katherine Carroll reveals how the schools constructed during this fifty-year period did more than passively house a remodeled system of medical training; they actively participated in defining and promoting an innovative pedagogy, modern science, and the new physician. Interdisciplinary and wide ranging, her study moves architecture from the periphery of medical education to the center, uncovering a network of medical educators, architects, and philanthropists who believed that the educational environment itself shaped how students learned and the type of physicians they became. Carroll offers the first comprehensive study of the science and pedagogy formulated by the buildings, the influence of the schools’ donors and architects, the impact of the structures on the urban landscape and the local community, and the facilities’ privileging of white men within the medical profession during this formative period for physicians and medical schools. Rachel Pagones is an acupuncturist, educator, and author based in Cambridge, England. Her book, Acupuncture as Revolution: Suffering, Liberation, and Love (Brevis Press) was published in 2021. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member!