22
Jan 18

Reconstruction in Alabama, a 2017 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title

It is with great pleasure that LSU Press announces that Reconstruction in Alabama by Michael W. Fitzgerald has been selected as a 2017 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title.

Fitzgerald is a professor of history at St. Olaf College and the author of Urban Emancipation: Popular Politics in Reconstruction Mobile, 1860-1890 and The Union League Movement in the Deep South: Politics and Agricultural Change During Reconstruction.

In Reconstruction in Alabama, Fitzgerald offers the first comprehensive reinterpretation of that state’s history in over a century. The civil rights revolutions of the 1950s and 1960s transformed the literature on Reconstruction in America by emphasizing the social history of emancipation and the hopefulness that reunification would bring equality. Much of this revisionist work served to counter and correct the racist and pro-Confederate accounts of Reconstruction written in the early twentieth century.

Fitzgerald’s work not only revises the existing troubling histories of the era, it also offers a compelling and innovative new look at the process of rebuilding Alabama following the war. Attending to an array of issues largely ignored until now, Fitzgerald’s history begins by analyzing the differences over slavery, secession, and war that divided Alabama’s whites, mostly along the lines of region and class. He examines the economic and political implications of defeat, focusing particularly on how freed slaves and their former masters mediated the postwar landscape. For a time, he suggests, whites and freedpeople coexisted mostly peaceably in some parts of the state under the Reconstruction government, as a recovering cotton economy bathed the plantation belt in profit. Later, when charting the rise and fall of the Republican Party, Fitzgerald shows that Alabama’s new Republican government implemented an ambitious program of railroad subsidy, characterized by substantial corruption that eventually bankrupted the state and helped end Republican rule. He shows, however, that the state’s freedpeople and their preferred leaders were not the major players in this arena: they had other issues that mattered to them far more, like public education, civil rights, voting rights, and resisting the Klan’s terrorist violence.

After Reconstruction ended, Fitzgerald suggests that white collective memory of the era fixated on black voting, big government, high taxes, and corruption, all of which buttressed the Jim Crow order in the state. This misguided understanding of the past encouraged Alabama’s intransigence during the later civil rights era. Despite the power of faulty interpretations that united segregationists, Fitzgerald demonstrates that it was class and regional divisions over economic policy, as much as racial tension, that shaped the complex reality of Reconstruction in Alabama.

Reconstruction in Alabama is one of 504 books and digital resources chosen by the CHOICE editorial staff from among the over 5,300 titles reviewed by CHOICE during the past year.

These outstanding works were selected for their excellence in scholarship and presentation, the significance of their contribution to the field, and their value as an importantoften firsttreatment of their subject. Constituting about nine percent of the titles reviewed by CHOICE during the past year, and two percent of the more than 25,000 titles submitted to CHOICE during this same period, Outstanding Academic titles are truly the “best of the best.”

 


12
Jan 18

Tramp: On Poetry, Women, and Wanderers

When I first started writing what would become Tramp, I had no idea what it would grow into. Playing with late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century newspaper articles about women who blew into and out of towns, sometimes on foot, sometimes by rail, was just a way to explore a subject I found compelling, women trying to break through social norms so they could determine their own lives. I typed passages from interviews, cut them apart, and laid them on the kitchen table in an effort to understand who these women were and what they had to do with me. Looking back, I think I was trying to find a new way into poetry, something more three-dimensional than the page, something that could capture the swift thrill and violence of experience.

In the simplest terms, Tramp started with my reading Trea Martyn’s Queen Elizabeth in the Garden, a tour of the gold-dusted landscapes that were designed to curry her favor during her annual progress. Reading about her travels, I began to wonder about the people who were cleared from her path, the poor who were not to be seen, and came across a 1753 reprint of a book with the handsome title, A Caveat or Warning for Common Cursetors, Vulgarly Called Vagabonds, a book which includes descriptions of twenty-four of the most common kinds of thieves and a glossary of their unusual dialect, helpful, perhaps, if, as a member of the gentry, you were to bump into one while inspecting your grounds. One book led to another, Elizabethan poor laws led to Victorian, and eventually, through Google Books’ search algorithm, I found a notice about a 1707 New York City ordinance declaring that churches providing clothes to the poor were to sew the mark “N : Y in blew or Red cloath” onto the garments, thereby branding each recipient with his or her own set of scarlet letters.

It was at this point my reading dovetailed with my family story. My great grandfather came to New York in 1900 from Benevento, Italy; he was seventeen years old with twelve dollars in his pocket. He later married, and my great grandmother died when their five children were under ten years old. Unable to provide adequate care, my great grandfather, a junk dealer who meandered the streets looking for scraps and cast-offs with his horse and cart, brought his daughter to family members elsewhere in the city and the boys to the massive Mount Loretto orphanage on Staten Island where they spent the bulk of their childhood. My grandfather only spoke about Mount Loretto in the broadest terms, mostly to say that he hated it, that the priests were mean, and that he would periodically run away. Later he worked on the docks, and as the story goes, got into a fight and killed a man, leading him to tramp his way south and get work on a ship that took him to Brazil. When I was in my twenties, living in Washington, D.C., he told me he was glad I was living there, that the people were “nice.” He liked to talk about a woman in Alexandria, Virginia, who gave him water when he was passing through, and as he lay dying and I was trying to get him to eat, he said, “I’ve been on this train a long time. It’s time to get off.”

My attempt to understand my family, the effect my grandfather’s wandering had on my father, the choices my father made so that I spent my childhood in one house, then another, and another, my attempt to understand my own experiences as a woman, the personal, cultural, and historic forces that told me to sit in place and be a good girl, that punished me each in their own way whenever I tried to push back, led to my kitchen table with three children dashing in and out and me musing over women tramps at the turn of the century, trying to find a way to make their stories come alive. At first the articles were the source of an essay, then a poem, then a long poem, then a play, then poems, an essay, a play, a play and poems, and on and on as I tried to find a shape that would make their voices sing. Below is a list of books that were important to me when I was writing Tramp.


Anne Carson, Nox (New Directions, 2010). Probably no other poet has been more important to me over the last few years in thinking about how to come at a poem than Anne Carson. Her monumental Nox has an accordion binding with pages that alternate between prose poems, found text, definitions of words from ancient Greek, and images that deal with the death of her brother. A meditation on loss and language, Nox lives most powerfully in its silences.

Deborah Digges, The Wind Blows through the Doors of My Heart (Knopf, 2010). Digges was my teacher in college, and she played a significant role in the writer I would become. This haunting book, her last, is full of gorgeous poems that grapple with the death of her husband in a grief that is near consuming.

Robert Hayden, Collected Poems (Liveright, 1985). There are poems you read that take the top of your head off. I can still feel this book’s vibration in my hands as I made my way through it as an undergraduate. “Middle Passage” is a poem that exploded my idea of what a poem could be.

Cynthia Hogue and Rebecca Ross, When the Water Came: Evacuees of Hurricane Katrina (University of New Orleans, 2010). This book of interview-poems and photographs by Hogue and Ross artfully captures the displacement experienced by New Orleans residents in the months after the storm. Relocated to Arizona with few, if any, of their belongings, survivors try to take in their losses while Hogue and Ross bring to the surface what we owe each other in the aftermath of disaster.

Marie Howe, The Kingdom of Ordinary Time (Norton, 2008). Howe was my other writing teacher in college, and I’m forever grateful to her for introducing me to Elizabeth Bishop and teaching me the sentence’s potential. I’m mesmerized by her poems’ light structures and the strength of their centers. Reflecting on momentary scenes from domestic life, her poems have an abiding integrity that balance the deeply spiritual with a keen humor.

Natasha Trethewey, Bellocq’s Ophelia (Graywolf, 2002).  Trethewey’s second collection is one of my favorites. Written in the voice of a light-skinned Storyville prostitute, the book is divided into two sections; the first a series of letters home and the second a diary about the experience of being photographed by E. J. Bellocq. Trethewey explores the intersection of race, gender, and power in poems that are at once understated and heartbreaking.


Joelle Biele is the author of the poetry collections White Summer and Broom and the editor of Elizabeth Bishop and “The New Yorker”: The Complete Correspondence. She has taught American literature and creative writing at Johns Hopkins University, the University of Maryland, Goucher College, the University of Oldenburg, Germany, and Jagiellonian University, Poland.

Buy Tramp today and don’t forget to follow LSU Press on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook!


05
Jan 18

December Roundup: News, Events, Reviews

December is always a special time of the year. Here’s some news from LSU Press last month. Visitations by Lee Upton was named one of Kirkus Reviews’ Best Indie Books of December. Books by Brannon Costello, Richard Campanella, and Kathryn Fontenot were included in holiday gift guides in the New Orleans Advocate and Forces of Geek. Philip Gould was awarded the 2016 James William Rivers Prize. Andrew F. Lang, Ed Falco, Michael Patrick Cullinane, and Bryan Giemza and Maria Hebert-Leiter wrote fantastic posts for the LSU Press Blog. And we published new books by Ed Falco, Michael Patrick Cullinane, Urmi Engineer Willoughby, Andrew F. Lang, April E. Holm, and James O. Heath.

Below you’ll find a list of our January titles, upcoming events with our authors, and some recent publicity and reviews of our books. If you want to keep up with the press in real time, follow us on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook!


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Selected Publicity and Praise

Girl after Girl after Girl: Poems by Nicole Cooley

“You probably know someone who needs a wrapped copy of this weirdly fascinating book for the holidays, perhaps with a tiny doll half-strangled amid the ribbons.”—Kenyon Review

Armies in Gray: The Organizational History of the Confederate States Army in the Civil War by Dan C. Fullerton

“This very well documented work is an immensely useful reference for anyone seriously interested in the Civil War”—NYMAS Review

The Secret Life of Bacon Tait a White Slave Trader Married to a Free Woman of Color by Hank Trent

The Secret Life of Bacon Tait opens a rare window into that dank and depressing world, and we are indebted to the author for the light he has shed on this dark corner of southern history. ”—Civil War Book Review

Promise: Poems by Sally Van Doren

“Sally Van Doren’s poetry is taut and honed, punctuated with tantalizing references to the senses and the sensual.”—Happening in the Hills

Reconstruction in Alabama: From Civil War to Redemption in the Cotton South by Michael W. Fitzgerald

“The book demonstrates a masterful synthesis of the era. Students of the Civil War Era will appreciate its admirable attention to detail and its judicious conclusions. It’s a book not to be missed. ”—Civil War Book Review

Images of Depression-Era Louisiana: the FSA Photographs of Ben Shahn, Russell Lee, and Marion Post Wolcott edited by Bryan Giemza and Maria Hebert-Leiter

Images of Depression-Era Louisiana offers a sweeping view of a Louisiana not so unlike our own, standing on the precipice of great changes, all the while fighting to keep its head above water and its traditions intact.”—Louisiana Cultural Vistas

The Guerrilla Hunters: Irregular Conflicts during the Civil War edited by Brian D. McKnight and Barton Myers

“an excellent collection”—Civil War Book Review

Devils Walking: Klan Murders along the Mississippi in the 1960s by Stanley Nelson

“Nelson and Phillips did not write for other historians, they wrote for the people of Forsyth County, Georgia and the Delta region of Mississippi and Louisiana. They wrote to hold a mirror up to their neighbors. They wrote for you and me. In doing so, they offer a lesson for historians on the purpose of writing history.”—Reviews in American History


22
Dec 17

Looking Across Vast American Spaces: Bryan Giemza and Maria Hebert-Leiter in Conversation

Recently, Bryan Giemza and Maria Hebert-Leiter shared with us what inspired them to write Images of Depression-Era Louisiana. Here is an excerpt of their conversation.


Bryan: The origin story of Images of Depression-Era Louisiana: The FSA Photographs of Ben Shahn, Russell Lee, and Marion Post Wolcott begins in another book, actually. I was writing a new introduction to E.P. O’Donnell’s Depression-era novel, The Great Big Doorstep. It’s a minor classic of humor writing, set in Plaquemines Parish, and Eudora Welty was very fond of it.  I wanted to show what the place looked like, and turned up a series of contemporaneous photos straight out of the novel’s world, right down to the Boothville orange groves that the author lived among!

I had to marvel at my luck. It’s unusual to land on such an exact match. The outer reaches of Plaquemines Parish weren’t exactly a densely populated area in the 1930s—O’Donnell writes about a flotsam-and-jetsam culture of cast-off people on the margins of nature, industry, and the waterways. It was sort of astonishing to find that they had been photographed at all at that time.  There was a variety about the subjects, places, and people that was unusually intimate and arresting.  Naturally I wondered, “Who took these? Where did they come from?”

I wondered if the photos were as striking to others as to me. It didn’t take me long to realize, from the reactions of others, that they were indeed something special.

Maria: I was also amazed when I first viewed the photographs. I was born and raised in Thibodaux, Louisiana, and as soon as I saw them I recognized the subjects captured on film. Even if I didn’t actually know their names, I had seen folks like them before. They are the people of Louisiana—then, now, and always.

So Bryan and I started to unravel the backstory and to literally map the byways and pathways that the photographers took. We had to untangle the Louisiana chapter from the bigger story, because some of the Farm Security Administration (FSA) photographers’ work is well known. For example, Walker Evans worked with James Agee on Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (1941), and Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother” is perhaps the most famous of the images in the FSA-OWI collection. Both of them took a few photos on their way through Louisiana, in fact.

But it’s easy to forget that Evans and Lange were just two of the photographers Roy E. Stryker sent across the nation to record the need for and, later, the results of the Resettlement Agency (RA) and the FSA programs between 1935 and 1943. Stryker brought together an amazing group of photographers who not only shot federal programs in action but also documented on film the folkways, traditions, and customs of the areas they visited.

We realized that the three principal photographers that worked Louisiana for the FSA needed to be examined as a set. Images of Depression-Era Louisiana specifically addresses the work of Ben Shahn, Russell Lee, and Marion Post Wolcott and the incredible photographs they took in the state. The local culture of Louisiana has a texture and variety set apart from other parts of the south and the country, and they had captured some part of it. A series of Russell Lee’s negatives of the 1938 Crowley Rice Festival are preserved, along with Marion Post Wolcott’s images of Spanish muskrat trappers and their families in St. Bernard Parish. And those are but two series among the 4,000 Louisiana negatives still protected by the Library of Congress.

Bryan: My question is, What is like the FSA project today?  Can we imagine similar projects that help us to really see one another, across the vastness of American spaces, divisions, and social classes? Public policy is fundamentally about making choices, and the only way to make informed choices is with good information. In our image-saturated world, we forget that a picture is worth a thousand words, and there were a lot fewer pictures in the 1930s. The FSA photographers rendered invisible people and places suddenly visible. The boldness and vision of it are still inspiring.


To appreciate more thoroughly the FSA-OWI collection, its unprecedented achievement, and the remarkable dedication and vision of Stryker and the photographers, we recommend the following books:

Carl Fleischhauer and Beverly W. Brannan, eds, Documenting America, 1935–1943 (University of California Press, 1988). This book includes a general history of photography at the time, along with suggestions regarding how to read the larger FSA-OWI file. The editors focus on each photographer by choosing significant series they took and discussing these series in more detail, along with including memorable photographs from it. For example, they describe and explain Russell Lee’s photographs of the forced relocation of Japanese Americans in 1942.

Gilles Mora and Beverly W. Brannan, eds. FSA: The American Vision (Abrams, 2006). This book will prove especially useful for readers who want a more general history of the RA, FSA, and OWI. It also includes brief histories of Stryker and the individual photographers, along with some of their memorable photos.

Jack Hurley, Portrait of a Decade: Roy Stryker and the Development of Documentary Photography in the Thirties (LSU Press, 1972). Hurley’s focus specifically on Stryker allows for a more thorough account of the photographers’ fearless leader and his motivations for creating this unprecedented photographic collection.

Howard Greenfeld, Ben Shahn: An Artist’s Life (Random House, 1998). Greenfeld records Shahn’s life from childhood, including his family’s immigration to America, through his RA and FSA years and beyond. This book explains why Shahn, a painter, took photographs that are included in the FSA-OWI collection.

Jack Hurley, Russell Lee, Photographer (Morgan and Morgan, 1978). Hurley provides a more comprehensive biography of Lee, who continued to work with Stryker even after the FSA years.

Paul Hendrickson, Looking for the Light: The Hidden Life and Art of Marion Post Wolcott. (Knopf, 1992). Hendrickson includes Wolcott’s responses to certain photos since he interviewed her decades after she took them. This book offers interesting insight into her personality and her experiences as a woman photographer at the time.

P. O’Donnell, The Great Big Doorstep, with an introduction by Bryan Giemza and an afterword by Eudora Welty (LSU Press, 2015). This Depression-era comic novel set in Louisiana inspired Images of Depression-Era Louisiana and our more in-depth inquiries into the photographers and the photographs they took of the state during this time.

John H. Scott with Cleo Scott Brown, Witness to the Truth: My Struggle for Human Rights in Louisiana (University of South Carolina Press, 2003). This book is a must read for those interested in how the federal projects affected the Louisiana people as it records an African American’s experience of Separate but Equal policies as they pertained to federal projects in the South during the FSA years.

Richard Wright, 12 Million Black Voices (1941; Basic Books, 2002).  Edwin Rosskam curated from across the FSA collections the photographs in this collection reflecting black experience in that time and place.  The accompanying text from famed African American writer Richard Wright makes the volume even more memorable.


Bryan Giemza is director of the Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina Libraries. He is the author of Irish Catholic Writers and the Invention of the American South.

Originally from Thibodaux, Louisiana, Maria Hebert-Leiter teaches at Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. She is the author of Becoming Cajun, Becoming American: The Acadian in American Literature from Longfellow to James Lee Burke.

Buy Images of Depression-Era Louisiana today and don’t forget to follow LSU Press on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook!


15
Dec 17

How Memory Alters History: Books on Heroes, Villains, and the American Past

When I heard John McCain invoke Theodore Roosevelt as his “favorite philosopher” during the 2000 Republican presidential primaries, it got me thinking: who else has praised Roosevelt as an inspiration? It turns out that countless politicians from both sides of the aisle summon Theodore Roosevelt as a political lodestar, but so do advertising agencies, artists, comedians, and impersonators. Over the last century, Roosevelt has inspired poets, architects, motion picture producers, theatre directors, and presidential biographers. Each representation of Roosevelt differs, not only in the actual depiction, but in the remembrance of the past and the rationale for doing so. Theodore Roosevelt’s Ghost: The History and Memory of an American Icon examines the portrayals of Roosevelt, the agency of memorializers, and the historical contexts that underpin commemoration. What emerges is a complicated portrait of a many-sided former president, created by successive generations of memorializers. Roosevelt’s legacy is not his own; it belongs to us because through the act of remembering the past, we create it.


Merrill D. Peterson’s work on legacy in American history drew me to this study of Roosevelt. His treatment of Jefferson, Lincoln, and John Brown as figures of changing meaning has defined the field. Since Peterson’s groundbreaking work,Roessner, Amber. Inventing Baseball Heroes: Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, and the Sporting Press in America (LSU Press, 2014). several other historians have illuminated the prism of American history through memory studies of key individuals. Here are five recent works:

Roessner, Amber. Inventing Baseball Heroes: Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, and the Sporting Press in America (LSU Press, 2014). Memorialization takes place in all walks of life, not least in sports, where athletes become deities or devils to fanatics. The American pastime has its share of characters and Roessner demonstrates how baseball’s sportswriters created public images of the games’ early heroes and villains. Like presidential biographers, Roessner shows the essential subjectivity of writers.

Greenberg, David. Nixon’s Shadow: The History of an Image (W. W. Norton & Company, 2004). As for the leading books on presidential images, Greenberg’s Nixon’s Shadow ranks as a favorite. Eloquently written, and intensively researched, it depicts the changing portrait of Nixon from California populist to global statesman. What Greenberg adeptly explains is how dependent our modern political system rests on image construction and hero-worship.

Lengel, Edward. Inventing George Washington: America’s Founder, in Myth and Memory (Harper, 2011). While Nixon languishes at the bottom of most rankings of American presidents, Washington usually tops the same lists, yet his legacy has undergone as turbulent a time. Editor of Washington’s Papers Edward Lengel sketches the first president’s legacy and agents of commemoration in Inventing George Washington. From the “marble man” almost unblemished in early biographies, to the efforts of debunkers that knocked the Founder’s greatness, Lengel explains that even the most revered American heroes have their detractors and mythmakers.

Cook, Robert. Troubled Commemoration: The American Civil War Centennial, 1961-1965 (LSU Press, 2011). This book provided some inspiration around anniversaries. His examination of the Civil War centennial in the 1960s, during the ongoing civil rights movement, demonstrates the power of the present on the historical past.

Carwardine, Richard and Jay Sexton. Global Lincoln (Oxford University Press, 2011). Finally, American history exists in a wider, global context and the essays in Global Lincoln show the rail-splitter from an international perspective. In the twentieth century, Lincoln had meaning for Latin Americans, Russians, and Irish people, reminding us that American narratives of leadership go far beyond its own shores.


Michael Patrick Cullinane is a reader in modern U.S. history at Roehampton University, London, and the author of Liberty and American Anti-Imperialism, 1898–1909, and coauthor of The Open Door Era: U.S. Foreign Policy in the Twentieth Century.

Buy Theodore Roosevelt’s Ghost today and don’t forget to follow LSU Press on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook!


08
Dec 17

Another Kind of Fiction: Ed Falco and Wolf Moon Blood Moon

Wolf Moon Blood Moon is a debut poetry collection, but I’ve been reading and writing poetry since I was a teenager. It wasn’t until grad school at Syracuse University, in my mid- to late- twenties, when I came under the influence of the writer George P. Elliott, that I fell deeply in love with the short story and started focusing most of my writing energy on fiction. Even during those years, I wrote very short stories—pieces ranging from a paragraph to a few pages—and much of that work was published in literary journals as prose poems. For a long time, I thought of fiction as writing that emphasized characters living through, and usually being changed by, a significant moment or event or series of events in their lives; and I thought of poetry as writing that emphasized the use and arrangement of language in patterns of meaning, with the focus on language and meaning rather than on character and event. I still find that largely true, but these days I’ve come to think of all writing as one kind of fiction or another.

For me, the act of writing is always an act of invention shaped by a set of constraints, is a daily meditation, a way of thinking about my relationship to the world. Always, I’m trying to say something that’s true by listening to what I’m writing as I’m writing, by discovering the direction of the writing and being directed by my discoveries. And when things are going well, this seems to come from someplace below the level of consciousness. That’s the great pleasure of writing, the immersion in that creative space. Truth in that space, for me at least, is never the truth of what actually happened, but rather the truth that evolves out of the relationship between invention and design. A play has one kind of design (or set of constraints), poetry another, short fiction another, the novel another, etc., and each genre, each form, leads to a different kind of dreaming and another kind of fiction. Poetry is an especially intense kind of dreaming, which is why I read it with exponentially greater regularity than I attempt writing it.

I have scores of favorite poets and favorite poems, and I read them first of all for the experience I find in the reading, and second for what I can learn from them about how to write. The great poets are, of course, also the great teachers. (I don’t know how many times I’ve read and reread Theodore Roethke’s The Lost Son, but I’ve worn out a least a couple of editions.) The list below, however, is made up of ten contemporaries, all of them, with the exceptions of Ai and Claudia Emerson, still living and writing. They’re poets I read because I admire their work, and because I like trying to figure out just how they achieve such powerful effects with such regularity. I’ll highlight one of their books, but in every case the whole body of their work is worth exploring. Unfortunately, there’s not enough room or time to list every contemporary poet I admire, let alone even a smattering of the magnificent voices that still speak to us across the ages, but hopefully this will be a good starting place.


Ai, Sin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1986). A magnificent story teller, Ai’s poems are daring explorations of the complex and often troubling recesses of the self, told through the appropriated voices of others. She’s a poet to read for her riveting dramatic monologues as well as the forthright, powerful, and convincing use of plain, austere language.

Denise Duhamel, Two and Two (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005). It’s hard to pick one collection of Duhamel’s to single out for praise, but I’ll go with Two and Two for the stunning 9/11 poem, “Love Which Took Its Symmetry for Granted.”  Duhamel’s mastery of poetic forms, received and invented, is on display in this poem’s weaving of multiple voices into a chaotic narrative that captures the essence of that shocking moment and its effect on the American psyche. Duhamel is a wonder, and this is one of her best collections.

Stephen Dobyns, Black Dog Red Dog (Carnegie Mellon UP, 1990). Another terrific story teller, Dobyns is a writer to read for his use of the long line in poems that straddle the boundary between poetry and prose. With language that is subtly musical and bold, Dobyns’ poems speak with the power of the best, most concise, fiction.

Claudia Emerson, Late Wife (LSU Press, 2005). Late Wife is a book of poems that somehow manages to harness the narrative scope of a novel and the precise, compact language of a sonnet in chronicling the dissolution of a first marriage and start of a second. This is a book I’ve returned to again and again both for its imagery and its insight, for the way it speaks about the personal and makes it universal.

Alice Fulton, The Powers of Congress (Sarabande Books, 2001). Fulton is a magician who writes complex, multifaceted poems that explore a daunting range of subjects in a variety of poetic voices. There seems to be absolutely nothing she can’t do or won’t try. One hardly knows where to start praising the poems or the striking intelligence that informs them. I’m singling out Powers of Congress because it was my introduction to Fulton’s poetry, but since that collection she has continued to produce a body of stunning work. Start anywhere.

Stephen Gibson, Self-Portrait in a Door Length Mirror (University of Arkansas Press, 2017). I haven’t yet encountered a formalist poet more accomplished than Stephen Gibson. In this, his most recent collection, selected by Billy Collins as winner of the Miller Williams Prize, he writes carefully constructed poems of stunned outrage at the violence humanity has always endured and commonly condoned.  The deep interest of Gibson’s poetry through all his collections is the chaos of the human heart; and here, in Self-Portrait in a Door-length Mirror, he writes in full command of his subject and its formal expression.

David Kirby, House on Boulevard St. (LSU Press, 2007). Kirby’s big, inclusive, generous voice is irresistible. I love what the National Book Award committee wrote about Boulevard Street and happily repeat it here: “Digression and punctiliousness, directed movement and lollygagging, bemusement and piercing insight are among the many paradoxical dualities that energize and complicate the locomotion of his informed, capacious consciousness.” I especially like the use of “locomotion” in describing Kirby’s work. His poems often move like a locomotive rumbling across some new territory: you never know what you’ll see next out the window, but on Kirby’s train you can bet it will be entertaining and informative and you won’t be able to turn away.

Sharon Olds, Satan Says (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1980). With a frankness that can at times be shocking, Olds explores states both emotional and sexual with great intensity. Her control of language, her magisterial manipulation of the line and image, her powerful figurative language as well as her direct, forthright speech, her skills both narrative and lyric—all are impressive and moving.

Natasha Trethewey, Native Guard (Mariner Books, 2007). In Requiem for a Nun, Faulkner wrote his two most commonly quoted sentences: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” He might well have been talking about Natasha Trethewey’s poetry, a body of work that explores the historical and personal in meticulously constructed, deeply affecting poems. These are poems to read for their craft, their power, and their insight into the many ways in which the past clings to the present.

Robert Wrigley, In the Bank of Beautiful Sins (Penguin Books, 1995). Wrigley’s sensual language is often so exact and accurate in its depiction of the natural world that the experience of reading feels visceral. I first read In the Bank of Beautiful Sins more than twenty years ago, but I return to it often to remind myself of the immense power of carefully chosen words to render a story unforgettable.


Ed Falco lives in the mountains of Blacksburg, Virginia. He teaches in the MFA program at Virginia Tech and edits the New River, an online journal of new media writing. A poetry contributor to the Southern Review, he has also published novels, short stories, and plays.

Buy Wolf Moon Blood Moon today and don’t forget to follow LSU Press on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook!


01
Dec 17

Military Occupation, Emancipation, and the Civil War: Essential Scholarship

Historians of the American Civil War have authored an impressive and increasingly complex history of the common soldiers who waged the conflict. Explaining soldiers’ motivations to enlist, charting their steadfast commitment to the respective national causes, unfolding their multifaceted views on race and emancipation, and placing citizen-volunteers within their mid-nineteenth-century world, the rich scholarship on soldiering during the Civil War seems remarkably comprehensive. My new book In the Wake of War: Military Occupation, Emancipation, and Civil War America draws on this resonant scholarly tradition to investigate how United States soldiers understood the era’s wars of military occupation, the layered conflicts waged well beyond the front lines. The book contends that military occupation—a central and contested component of our modern military tradition—is not a dead artifact of the American past.

In the Wake of War engages the perspectives of United States soldiers who served in three separate yet intimately connected military conflicts: the Mexican-American War, Civil War, and Reconstruction. The book thus aims to link the American Civil War to its broader cultural context, revealing how the events of 1861 to 1865 were shaped by a military ethos that preceded secession and which continued to influence the dawn of peace after Appomattox. The book argues strongly for the continuity of republican military culture from which historical actors gauged military occupation at once against the citizen-soldier tradition and the long-standing fears of standing armies, each of which posed significant implications for the conduct of occupation, the composition of volunteer armies, and the processes of state-sanctioned social and political change.

Approaching military occupation through the eyes of the occupier—rather than the occupied— reveals a war within a war, a conflict fraught with its own unique traits and spirit. These wars of occupation were just as complex, dynamic, and consequential as those waged on the front lines. Exploring how United States soldiers, who reflected the broader society from which they came, interpreted occupation on both ideological and practical grounds reveals an in-the-ranks perspective on an unprecedented role of American armies in international and domestic wars and crises. This history of military occupation thus reveals how occupation brought soldiers face-to-face with a host of critical problems in nineteenth-century America: the relationship between citizen and government; the balance between republican corporatism and democratic individualism; faith in the exceptional nature of Union; the complications of race in a white democracy; the intricate negotiation of gender roles; the limits of free-market capitalism; the boundaries of restricted warfare; the military’s simultaneously celebrated and ambivalent place in international affairs and domestic life; the role of standing armies in the American imagination; and the uncertain scope of the federal state in the nebulous transition from war to peace.

In the Wake of War contributes especially to a time-honored conversation on emancipation—particularly Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation—and the enlistment of African American soldiers into Union armies. Race emerged as a central feature of the occupation experience. The book engages how the Proclamation spoke to white anxieties about military occupation, which shaped how African American men were integrated into federal armies and how they designed their own conceptions of military service and the purpose of military force.  The mass enlistment of African American soldiers pushed white leaders to define service in auxiliary forces along lines of race. The politics and rhetoric of emancipation served to confine black troops to limited roles, including the “dishonorable” duties of service behind the lines. Yet in so doing, black soldiers emerged on the front lines of occupation, using their new-found martial authority to great advantage in unbalancing traditional power dynamics in the South. African American occupiers defied the racial status quo and, from the points of their bayonets, destabilized the very society once guilty of their enslavement, underscoring the stunning impact of wartime emancipation.


While the act of writing history is often a solitary and sometimes lonely exercise, I am grateful to the community of scholars who have so richly influenced In the Wake of War. The following books (in addition to so many others) have shaped my own historical philosophy and have underwritten many of the arguments in the book.

Gary W. Gallagher, The Union War (Harvard University Press, 2011). Perhaps no other scholar has shaped my thinking on Civil War history more than Gary Gallagher. Emphasizing the idea of Union—the loyal citizenry’s conception of the American republic as the world’s unique experiment in democratic republicanism—Gallagher’s work reminds us that the Union’s war was conducted on the basis of limitation, guided by a degree of restraint, and always measured with an eye toward peace and a restoration of the republic. Emancipation, death of the “Slave Power,” and the enlistment of African American soldiers emerged as unanticipated but critical elements in this war for Union. Gallagher’s insistence on the contemporary power of Union in the loyal imagination, coupled with his belief that military institutions and affairs should assume a central place in our narratives, guide the intellectual basis of In the Wake of War.

Mark Grimsley, The Hard Hand of War: Union Military Policy toward Southern Civilians, 1861-1865 (Cambridge University Press, 1995). Grimsley’s book was one of the first to treat Civil War-era military occupation as a problem of federal policy. Exposing the complex nature of waging wars against hostile civilians, Grimsley demonstrated the profound challenges of employing volunteer soldiers in nineteenth-century wars of invasion and occupation.

Stephen V. Ash, When the Yankees Came: Conflict and Chaos in the Occupied South, 1861-1865 (University of North Carolina Press, 1995). Published the same year as Grimsley’s Hard Hand of War, Ash’s treatment of occupation focuses primarily on the social and political changes incurred at the southern grassroots. Like Grimsley, Ash compelled scholars to see how Union occupation unleashed rival power dynamics in the Confederate South and layered the region with competing loyalties contingent on proximity and reach of federal armies.

Mark E. Neely, Jr. The Civil War and the Limits of Destruction (Harvard University Press, 2007). Like Grimsley and Ash, Neely’s work sought to rewrite old Lost Cause narratives that indicted the Civil War as an unlimited total war. Placing the conflict within broader hemispheric, cultural, and racial contexts, Neely encouraged readers to see that the Civil War’s white combatants placed remarkable restraints on their conduct, limiting and reducing the scale of wartime devastation. The book, like In the Wake of War, suggests that American conduct during the invasion of Mexico was far different from that which occurred during the Civil War and Reconstruction.

William W. Freehling, The South vs. the South: How Anti-Confederate Southerners Shaped the Course of the Civil War (Oxford University Press, 2001). While I relied on the expansive literature concerning the processes of emancipation and the enlistment of African American soldiers into Union armies, no book sparked my thinking on the Emancipation Proclamation like Freehling’s work. Freehling pushed me to read deeply into the Proclamation, locating obscure and subtle meanings in Lincoln’s call for black troops, the implications of which shaped how occupation unfolded during both the Civil War and Reconstruction.

Mark Wahlgren Summers, The Ordeal of the Reunion: A New History of Reconstruction (University of North Carolina Press, 2014). Like Gallagher’s work, Summer’s treatment of Reconstruction understands the concept of Union as the driving force of mid-nineteenth-century life. Occupation in the transition from war to peace thus inhabited a foreign space for loyal citizens who looked with skepticism at a powerful, expensive military state managing political affairs and regulating social conditions in the guise of what they imagined as an imposing standing army. Such institutions were antithetical to the very idea of Union preserved during the war.

Gregory P. Downs, After Appomattox: Military Occupation and the Ends of War (Harvard University Press, 2015). Arguing that the war continued in a legal form in the months and years after Appomattox, Downs sees United States Army that occupied the southern states as the central institution in preserving the promise of emancipation. Only the army, as an extension of the federal state, could manage the chaos of Confederate defeat and provide critical safety to freedpeople embarking on new lives of liberation. But Downs recognizes, much like Summers and myself, that the very military power necessary to manage a robust occupation was stripped by a broader culture of democratic republicanism that looked askance at powerful domestic military institutions.

Andrew S. Bledsoe, Citizen-Officers: The Union and Confederate Junior Officer Corps in American Civil War (Louisiana State University Press, 2015). I went to graduate school with Drew Bledsoe, with whom I have spent untold hours discussing the culture and ideology of the citizen-soldier in the early American and Civil War experiences. My understanding of citizenship, volunteer soldiering, and the republican military ethos—hallmarks of both his and my books—are drawn from our many conversations about the existing literature.

Numerous scholars recently have published excellent books on military occupation during the American Civil War. I have benefited greatly from their work and our mutual conversations. They all deserve mention here because their scholarship assumes a prominent place in the framing and conclusions of In the Wake of War.

  • Judkin Browning, Shifting Browning: The Union Occupation of Eastern North Carolina (University of North Carolina Press, 2011)
  • Bradley R. Clampitt, Occupied Vicksburg (Louisiana State University Press, 2016)
  • Joseph W. Danielson, War’s Desolating Scourge: The Union’s Occupation of North Alabama (University Press of Kansas, 2012)
  • H. Dilbeck, A More Civil War: How the Union Waged a Just War (University of North Carolina Press, 2016)
  • Earl J. Hess, The Civil War in the West: Victory and Defeat from the Appalachians to the Mississippi (University of North Carolina Press, 2012)
  • Michael D. Pierson, Mutiny at Fort Jackson: The Untold Story of the Fall of New Orleans (University of North Carolina Press, 2009)

Andrew F. Lang is assistant professor of history at Mississippi State University.

Buy In the Wake of War today and don’t forget to follow LSU Press on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook!


30
Nov 17

November Roundup: News, Events, Reviews

November was quite a month here at LSU Press! Visitations by Lee Upton was a finalist in the short story category of the American Book Fest’s Best Book Awards. A poem from Ed Falco’s new book was featured on Poem-a-Day. Samuel C. Hyde wrote an article for the Washington Post. Brannon Costello, Lisa Hinrichsen, Gina Caison, and Stephanie Rountree, and Sally Van Doren wrote fantastic posts for the LSU Press Blog. And we published new books by Bryan Giemza and Maria Hebert-Leiter, Peter O’Connor, Lisa Hinrichsen, Gina Caison, and Stephanie Rountree, Susannah J. Ural, Kristen Brill, David R. Slavitt, and James Applewhite.

Below you’ll find a list of our December titles, upcoming events with our authors, and some recent publicity and reviews of our books. If you want to keep up with the press in real time, follow us on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook!

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Selected Publicity and Praise

 Promise: Poems by Sally Van Doren

“St. Louisan Sally Van Doren’s third collection Promise features smart poems that bring a cheeky edge to the theme of domestic bliss. By-and-large tender poems of praise for familial love, they accomplish this celebration by telling the truth about it, dirty laundry included.”—Saint Louis Post-Dispatch

Voodoo and Power in New Orleans: The Politics of Religion in New Orleans, 1881-1940 by Kodi A. Roberts

“His careful study contributes to on-going scholarly efforts to better situate African diasporic religions within their immediate social settings and in the context of practitioners’ everyday struggles and desires.”—Nova Religio

Maintaining Segregation: Children and Racial Instruction in the South, 1920-1955 by LeeAnn G. Reynolds

“This ambitious study sheds light on how Jane and Jim Crow circumstances conditioned the South’s black and white younger inhabitants to manage racial inequality in the decades preceding the Civil Rights Movement. . . . The author displays an excellent familiarity with existing scholarly literature, and her arguments are cogent. . . . the narrative reads well, is engaging, and adds depth to the current understanding of a complex place and time.”—CHOICE

Civil War Logistics: A Study of Military Transportation by Earl J. Hess

“In Hess’s study one can find both a sound survey history of Civil War military transportation and a revealing quantitative analysis leading readers to the inescapable conclusion that the Union logistical network outperformed its foe’s in every possible way. Civil War Logistics is highly recommended.”—Civil War Books and Authors

Cityscapes of New Orleans by Richard Campanella

“Anyone with a library of books on New Orleans will want this one. And unlike some other reference books, Campanella’s is destined to be one that comes off the shelf over and over again.”—New Orleans Advocate

Remembering Reconstruction: Struggles Over the Meaning of America’s Most Turbulent Era edited by Carole Emberton and Bruce E. Baker

“Taken together, these deeply researched and cogently written essays comprise a kind of magic lantern that illuminates how many of today’s contentious social issues, like equality before the law, concepts of race, and rights of citizenship, were born during those tumultuous years.”—America’s Civil War

The Army of the Potomac in the Overland & Petersburg Campaigns by Steven E. Sodergren

“This is a solid, major contribution to our understanding of why men fought and how they were affected by and adapted to changing wartime conditions.”—NYMAS Review

The Secret Life of Bacon Tait a White Slave Trader Married to a Free Woman of Color by Hank Trent.

“Trent excels in re-creating the world of antebellum fortune-hunters like Tait. Lynchburg and the Richmond slave trade are diligently explored. A reader curious for more details as to how the trade worked (especially in terms of the operation of slave jails or “pens”) will find this small book an excellent resource. Trent makes it easy to imagine a grimy place of petty cruelties and vast injustices, where virtually every interaction possible within the boundaries of the peculiar institution might be found, all within a city block.”—Civil War News

Stepdaughters of History: Southern Women and the American Civil War by Catherine Clinton

“Clinton reminds us of the significant work that has been done as well as the significant work that remains to be done in original research, textbook publications, and college lectures. Those invited to give Fleming Lectures are known for their bold and original scholarship, and Catherine Clinton is no exception.”—Journal of Southern History

John Pendleton Kennedy: Early American Novelist, Whig Statesman, and Ardent Nationalist by Andrew R. Black

“Andrew R. Black has deftly taken the memory of a man who has lain dormant in Baltimore’s Green Mount Cemetery since 1870 and has breathed new life into Kennedy’s legacy as an important American literary and political figure.”—Journal of Southern History


17
Nov 17

Finding Promise in Poetry

It’s rare that I write a poem that doesn’t in some way draw upon the work I have read by other poets, writers or artists, be they living or dead, famous or lesser known. Throughout the house, small stacks of books and magazines of poetry, essays, art catalogs, fiction and non-fiction, entice me to spend time with them every day.  While reading, I keep a running list of words and phrases that inspire me, spark my interest or look like they might be good source material for one of my own poems.

In my third collection, Promise, the titles of several of my poems owe debts to other writers’ works. For instance, “Housewife as Poet” came about after I read “Poet as Housewife” in a 2009 issue of Poetry magazine written by contemporary Dutch poet Elisabeth Eybers. For another poem title, I borrowed the phrase “The Book of Usable Minutes” from the first line of the poem, “Train Rising Out of the Sea” by late great John Ashbery. After reading the artist Jenny Holzer’s truisms in her “The Living Series” and “Laments,” I re-purposed her words and phrases in two of my poems. As Trent Brown noted in his recent LSU Press Blog post, Tennessee Williams is a vibrant source and my poem “The Kindness of Strangers” lifts its title and other diction from “A Streetcar Named Desire.” It feels often like I’m making word collages as I add layers of text and images that I have discovered through reading others.

Over the years of building my poetry library, my gratitude has increased for the many presses committed to publishing poetry, LSU Press being one of them. In graduate school, I was introduced to the work of Jay Wright in his collected poems Transfigurations (LSU Press, 2000) and continue to be intrigued by his distinctive depictions of the poet in place and time. I have earmarked about half the pages in Liesel Mueller’s Alive Together (LSU Press, 1996) in admiration for her deft ability to describe living lyrically and unabashedly. In Bonneville, from Elixir Press (2007), Liesel’s poet daughter, Jenny Mueller offers poems of introspection in varied landscapes. In Matt Rassmussen’s Black Aperture (LSU Press, 2012) I was jolted from the comfort of my morning reading chair into these bold and tender variations on a sibling’s suicide.


In addition to reading poems in books, magazines and online, I also rely upon anthologies and collections of essays about poetry and art to support the creation of my work and broaden my knowledge and experience. Here are just a few of the many resources I hold dear.

Mary Oliver, Upstream (Penguin, 2016). Encouraging essays about writing and paying attention.

Carl Phillips, The Art of Daring: Risk, Restlessness, Imagination (Graywolf, 2014). Chock full of compelling reasons to write poetry with emphasis on assertion and resistance.

Claudia Rankine and Juliana Spahr, American Women Poets in the 21st Century: Where Lyric Meets Language (Wesleyan, 2002). Excellent revelations about craft and theory from the perspective of ten featured writers.

J.D. McClatchy, editor, Poets on Painters: Essays on the Art of Painting by Twentieth Century Poets (University of California Press, 1989). Intoxicating essays about art from diverse poetic points of view.

Ed Hirsch, How to Read a Poem and Fall In Love With Poetry (Harcourt, Brace 1999). An engaging love to song to poetry in all its forms with an indispensable Glossary.

Molly Peacock, How to Read a Poem . . . and Start a Poetry Circle (Riverhead, 1999). Illuminating lessons on how to look, hear and make poetry part of your life.

Susan Stewart, The Open Studio: Essays on Art and Aesthetics (University of Chicago Press, 2005). Lucid examinations of the creative process in contemporary art.

Jane Hirshfield, Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry (HarperPerennial, 1998). Exacting and sensitive accounts revealing the magic, mystery and power of poetry.


Sally Van Doren has published two previous poetry collections with LSU Press: Sex at Noon Taxes (2008) and Possessive (2012). Her poems have appeared in many literary journals, including American Poet, Boulevard, the Cincinnati Review, the New Republic, and the Southern Review. She has taught poetry at the 92nd Street Y in New York and curates the Sunday Poetry Workshops for the St. Louis Poetry Center.

Buy Promise today and don’t forget to follow LSU Press on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook!


14
Nov 17

Jump Start Your Holiday Shopping at Season’s Readings

Jump Start Your Holiday Shopping at Season’s Readings

Join LSU Press for A Holiday Book + Journal Sale

Tuesday, November 28, 4:30–6:30 p.m., LSU Barnes and Noble

This November, as you’re making your plans for the holiday season, pencil Season’s Readings into your calendar! As part of LSU’s Holiday Spectacular 2017, LSU Press and The Southern Review welcome you to our annual book and journal sale, with gift ideas for everyone on your shopping list. A copy of The Golden Band from Tigerland signed by author Faye Phillips will hit just the right note with the music fans in your life, while armchair historians will pore over Stanley Nelson’s tireless investigation into Klan murders of the 1960s, Devils Walking. Howard Chaykin scholar Brannon Costello, poet Alison Pelegrin, and culinary experts Melinda Winans and Cindy Nobles will also be in attendance to sign copies of their books, along with Mardi Gras historian Brian Costello.

This year’s Season’s Readings, on Tuesday, 28th November, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the LSU Barnes and Noble, boasts a wide array of great titles at 20% off, many local authors in attendance, and free gift wrapping. Shop for great books and mingle with renowned authors. Parking will be available in the Union Square Parking Garage.

Special guests will be in attendance to sign copies of LSU Press books:

Vince Caire, author of Military Aviation in the Gulf South

Brannon Costello, author of Neon Visions

Brian Costello, author of Carnival in Louisiana

Stanley Nelson, author of Devils Walking

Cindy Nobles, coauthor of The Fonville Winans Cookbook

Melinda Winans, coauthor of The Fonville Winans Cookbook

Alison Pelegrin, author of Waterlines

Faye Phillips, author of The Golden Band from Tigerland

Many other LSU Press titles as well as gift subscriptions and individual issues of The Southern Review will be available for sale. The LSU Barnes and Noble is located at the corner of Highland Road and Raphael Semmes, across Highland from the LSU Union.

For more information on Season’s Readings please contact LSU Press at 225.578.8282 or visit www.lsupress.org and our Facebook event.