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New Books: The Redemption of Narrative: Terry Tempest Wiliams and Her Vision of the West By Jan Whitt

By  Jan Whitt

Author and environmental activist Terry Tempest Williams argues that a lack of connection to the land is the direct result of our failure to care intimately about one another. From PIECES OF WHITE SHELL: A JOURNEY TO NAVAJOLAND (1984) to WHEN WOMEN WERE BIRDS: FIFTY-FOUR VARIATIONS ON VOICE (2012), her writing is born in the red-hot fires of contradiction. A Mormon and a believer in the power of women, an activist and a solitary writer, a student of science and a woman of faith, Williams celebrates paradox and lives both on the page and in the world. The first monograph to explore Williams’s impressive and expanding literary canon, THE REDEMPTION OF NARRATIVE is divided into two sections. Part 1 compares Williams and poet and essayist Thomas Stearns Eliot, who share a personal belief system and a longing to find order and stability through language. Their respect for nature, their awareness of the divine in the natural world, and their deeply spiritual sensibility permeate their writing. In fact, Eliot and Williams follow a similar pathway toward personal epiphany and articulate their commitment to humankind in their art. Part 2 explores two of the literary communities to which Williams belongs, first, writers of creative nonfiction and literary journalism, and second, animal activists who advocate both for living things and for the planet that sustains them. The complex symbolic systems that heighten one’s empathy with wildlife and encourage activism on behalf of the earth are at the heart of the study, which addresses recurring themes in Williams’s work, including allegory, regionalism, reconciliation, spirituality, and a search for meaning.

The Redemption of Narrative: Terry Tempest Williams and Her Vision of the West (April 2016)

Mercer University Press

New Books: Knowing, Seeing, Being: Jonathan Edwards, Emily Dickinson, Marianna Moore, and the American Typological Tradition by Jennifer L. Leader

image001SPECIAL SAVINGS of 30% OFF


To place orders: Order online or by phone (800-537-5487). To receive a special 30% discount on orders of this book, enter promotional code S617 at checkout (discount will be applied after the code is entered). Code is valid through April 30, 2016.

New Books: “Hero Strong” and Other Stories: Tales of Girlhood Ambition, Female Masculinity, and Women’s Worldly Achievement in Antebellum America

Hero Strong Dust Jacket

“Hero Strong” and Other Stories: Tales of Girlhood Ambition, Female Masculinity, and Women’s Worldly Achievement in Antebellum America

Mary F. W. Gibson; edited and with an introduction by Daniel A. Cohen

University of Tennessee Press (for 30% publisher’s discount coupon, please email

A teenage orphan from Vermont, Mary Gibson burst onto the literary scene during the early 1850s as a star writer—under the pseudonym Winnie Woodfern—for more than half a dozen Boston “story papers,” mass-circulation weekly periodicals that specialized in popular fiction. This first modern scholarly edition of Mary Gibson’s early fiction features ten tales of teenage girls (seemingly much like the author herself) who fearlessly appropriate masculine traits, defy conventional gender norms, and struggle to fulfill high worldly ambitions as authors, artists, and even doctors. By moving beyond “literary domesticity” and embracing bold new models of women’s authorship, artistry, and achievement, Gibson and her fictional protagonists stand as exemplars of “the first generation of American girls who imagined they could do almost anything.” (more…)

New Books: Black Print Unbound: The Christian Recorder, African American Literature, and Periodical Culture by Eric Gardner

gardner-bpu-coverBlack Print Unbound: The Christian Recorder, African American Literature, and Periodical Culture
Eric Gardner
Oxford University Press

Black Print Unbound explores the development of the Christian Recorder during and just after the American Civil War.  As a study of the African Methodist Episcopal Church’s official newspaper and so of a periodical of national reach among free African Americans, Black Print Unbound is simultaneously a massive recovery of a publication by African Americans for African Americans, a consideration of the nexus of African Americanist inquiry and print culture studies, and an intervention in the study of literatures of the Civil War, faith communities, and periodicals.  Black Print Unbound thus offers a case study for understanding how African Americans (including diverse African American women) inserted themselves in an often-hostile American print culture in the midst of the most complex conflict the young nation had yet seen, and so calls for a significant rewriting of our senses of American literary history.

Black Print Unbound far exceeds the pages of the printed word.  Gardner has meticulously reconstituted a textured history of the Christian Recorder that provides deep insight into nineteenth-century African American literary culture–writers and readers, authorship, literary form and genre–yet also opens a wide window onto black society and activism nationwide.  His scholarship is impeccable, the book richly rewarding.”–Carla L. Peterson, author of Black Gotham:  A Family History of African Americans in Nineteenth-Century New York City.

New Books: Selected Writings of Ella Higginson: Inventing Pacific Northwest Literature Edited and with an introduction by Laura Laffrado

ellaSelected Writings of Ella Higginson: Inventing Pacific Northwest Literature

Edited and with an introduction by Laura Laffrado

The first prominent literary author from the Pacific Northwest, Ella Rhoads Higginson (1862?-1940) has been largely forgotten as a key American writer. During the turn from the nineteenth century into the twentieth century, readers across the nation were introduced to the remote Pacific Northwest region by Higginson’s descriptions of majestic mountains, vast forests, and scenic waters, as well as the often difficult economic circumstances of those dwelling near Puget Sound. Higginson was celebrated for her award-winning fiction, her lyric poetry which was set to music and performed internationally, and her distinguished position as the first Poet Laureate of Washington State. Throughout her literary career, Higginson published hundreds of poems, stories, and essays in leading magazines and newspapers, while also writing books, including the novel Mariella, of Out-West (1902) and the nonfiction work Alaska, the Great Country (1908).

Higginson’s reputation as a well-known American author faded chiefly due to her singular position as a literary writer in the turn of the century Pacific Northwest, far from other regions and writers at the time. Areas of the United States such as New England and the South were often portrayed by many different authors in earlier American literature. Taken together, such writings created familiar literary regions for readers. However, only in Higginson’s writing did the Pacific Northwest of over a century ago spring to life in precise detail. Because of this, her work stands alone. Selected Writings of Ella Higginson seeks to restore Higginson’s prominence by reintroducing readers to her life and her most celebrated works. With a comprehensive introduction, explanatory notes, and other supplementary material, this collection reclaims Ella Higginson as a significant voice in American literature.

New Books: African American Travel Narratives from Abroad: Mobility and Cultural Work in the Age of Jim Crow by Gary Totten

9781625341600African American Travel Narratives from Abroad: Mobility and Cultural Work in the Age of Jim Crow
Gary Totten

University of Massachusetts Press

In this book, Gary Totten examines the global travel narratives of a diverse set of African American writers, including Ida B. Wells, Booker T. Washington, Matthew Henson, Jessie Redmon Fauset, and Zora Neale Hurston. While these writers deal with issues of identity in relation to a reimagined sense of self—in a way that we might expect to find in travel narratives—they also push against the constraints and conventions of the genre, reconsidering discourses of tourism, ethnography, and exploration. This book not only offers new insights about African American writers and mobility, it also charts the ideological distinctions and divergent agendas within this group of writers. Totten demonstrates how these travelers and their writings challenged dominant ideologies about African American experience, expression, and identity in a period of escalating racial violence. By setting these texts in their historical context and within the genre of travel writing, Totten presents a nuanced understanding of both popular and recovered work of the period.

New Books: Apocalyptic Sentimentalism Love and Fear in U.S. Antebellum Literature by Kevin Pelletier

PelletierCCRcompFNL.inddApocalyptic Sentimentalism Love and Fear in U.S. Antebellum Literature
Kevin Pelletier

University of Georgia Press

Focusing on a range of important antislavery figures, including David Walker, Nat Turner, Maria Stewart, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and John Brown, Apocalyptic Sentimentalism illustrates how antislavery discourse worked to redefine violence and vengeance as the ultimate expression (rather than denial) of love and sympathy. At the same time, these warnings of apocalyptic retribution enabled antislavery writers to express, albeit indirectly, fantasies of brutal violence against slaveholders. What began as a sentimental strategy quickly became an incendiary gesture, with antislavery reformers envisioning the complete annihilation of slaveholders and defenders of slavery.

“Kevin Pelletier’s Apocalyptic Sentimentalism makes an important and original contribution to critical debates about the structure and logic of sympathy in the antebellum period. Through careful readings of abolitionist literature from David Walker through Maria Stewart, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and John Brown, he reveals just how significant the threat of apocalypse and its concomitant production of fear worked in concert with appeals to sympathy and, as Stowe put it, ‘feeling right.’”
—Cindy Weinstein, author of Family, Kinship, and Sympathy in Nineteenth-Century American Literature


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