- BAAS Library and Resources Sub-Committee Meeting March 2003
- The Mark Twain Papers and Project
- Documenting the American South
- The David Library of the American Revolution
- American Studies Research Portal Project
- Alexander Street Press
- Useful Websites
- Forthcoming Events
BAAS Library and Resources Sub-Committee Meeting March 2003
Minutes of the Committee Meeting held at the British Library, Boston Spa,
4 March 2003.
Mr R J Bennett (British Library, Boston Spa), Secretary
Dr K Halliwell (National Library of Scotland)
Mr D G Heyes (British Library, London)
Mr I Ralston (John Moores University, Liverpool) Chair, from agendum 7
Dr I Wallace (JRULM), Chair, up to agendum 6.
Prof. P Davies (BAAS)
Ms J Kemble (Eccles Centre)
Mr J Pinfold (Rothermere Institute)
Ms J Hoare (Cambridge University Library) Treasurer
At the commencement of the meeting, Dr Wallace announced that this was a bitter-sweet moment for him, as it was his last meeting. He recollected that he had attended the very first meeting of the committee in the late 1970s and had been involved in its work ever since – even into his retirement. (See also agendum 7)
2. Minutes of the previous meeting
The minutes were signed as a correct record.
3. Matters arising
10(1). Mr Bennett agreed to check back whether he had in fact contacted Prof Davies about the disposal of the University of London US Collections. ACTION RB
4. Treasurer’s report
Ms Hoare had had to submit her apologies at the very last minute, due to a family illness, so a written report was not available. Dr Wallace asked that the secretary convey the committee’s best wishes to her. ACTION RB
Since the last meeting, Ms Hoare had agreed to be the Treasurer. Documentation had been passed to her via Dr Wallace. It was agreed that the first priority was to chase up outstanding invoices. It was agreed that Mr Heyes would do this. ACTION DH
Suggestions for new advertising included YBP (Cathy Boylan), NewsBank, and a range of appropriate publishers.
5. Report from Projects Sub-Committee
Dr Halliwell was pleased to announce that the Newspaper database had been successfully mounted on the BAAS Website. Thanks to the efforts of Graham Thompson, an excellent range of searching facilities was available, which answered many of the requirements of the original project concept.
Dr Halliwell commented that unfortunately it still did not include JRULM holdings information. Dr Wallace commented that he had renewed contact with Bill Simpson (now Librarian at JRULM), and he would pursue this on a personal level. He also undertook to seek a new representative from JRULM for the committee ACTION IRW
Dr Halliwell raised the question of publicity for the database. An announcement had been made in the latest issue of the Newsletter. Dr Wallace suggested that announcements should be included in the main BAAS Newsletter and its website. ACTION IR
Mr Ralston suggested a link from his institute’s American Studies website (ACTION IR), and from the Rothermere institute (ACTION JP).
Mr Heyes undertook to ask JK to make a link from the Eccles Centre ACTION DH/JK
Mr Ralston undertook to ask the US Embassy to publicise the database, and also to ask them to consider sponsoring a formal launch event. ACTION IR
Mr Bennett apologised for the delay in printing the January issue. This was because of priorities at the BL. Dr Wallace thanked the BL and Lesley Lister specifically for their efforts.
Mr Heyes reiterated his plea for contributions, including contributions from BAAS members.
Mr Ralston suggested that a piece on the Rothermere Institute would be welcomed. In response to a request from Mr Heyes for more book reviews, Mr Ralston suggested that these could be taken from the American Studies Centre’s website/magazine book Reviews section. Dr Halliwell agreed to contact Simon Newman at the Hook Centre, Glasgow, for database reviews ACTION KH
Dr Halliwell commented that the (BLARS) Newsletter was not very well “signposted” on the BAAS website. Mr Ralston undertook to mention this to Prof. Davis. ACTION IR
Mr Heyes raised the question of advertising rates. Mr Ralston replied that Prof Davies’s advice was to contact Nick Selby/Graham Thompson about this. ACTION DH
Dr Wallace thanked Mr Heyes for his continuing editorial work on the Newsletter.
Chair of the Sub-committee: Dr Wallace formally handed over to Mr Ralston at this point.
In taking over the role, Mr Ralston expressed the wish to formally record the committee’s deep debt of gratitude for the enormous effort and fine work that Dr Wallace had contributed over many years. He commented that it would indeed be a hard act to follow.
Dr Wallace proposed that, in order to maintain the thread of librarianship, Dr Halliwell become Vice-chair of the Committee. This was unanimously supported and Dr Halliwell stated that he was pleased to accept.
8. Future activities
It was agreed that if a further seminar were to be proposed, then it would be wise to seek input from as wide a range of potential attendees as possible, although it was considered important to continue to emphasise the “Resources” direction of the committee. Mr Bennett agreed to draft an email, for consideration by the committee, to be sent to former attendees and other colleagues. ACTION RB
Mr Ralston suggested that the time might be ripe to approach the US Embassy again for support. ACTION IR
9. Date of next meeting
The next meeting will be held at 2:00pm on 3 July 2003, at the American Studies Centre,
Aldham Robarts Centre, Liverpool.
10. Any other business
There was no other business.
The British Library were thanked for their hospitality.
Richard J Bennett
The British Library
9 June, 2003
The Mark Twain Papers and Project
The Mark Twain Papers contain the private papers of Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain) that he himself segregated and made available to his official biographer, Albert Bigelow Paine. From Paine’s death in 1937 until 1979, they were under the care of four successive editors who were also literary executors for Clemens’s estate: Bernard DeVoto at the Houghton Library of Harvard University, Dixon Wecter at the Henry E. Huntington Library in San Marino, California, and later here at Berkeley, followed in turn by Henry Nash Smith and Frederick Anderson, both at Berkeley. This basic core of original documents by and about Mark Twain was deposited at Berkeley in 1949 and bequeathed to the University of California upon the death in 1962 of Mark Twain’s sole surviving daughter, Clara Clemens Samossoud. Since 1949 the Library has added, and continues to add, original documents to that basic core: letters, manuscripts, a dozen scrapbooks kept by Clemens and his brother Orion, first editions and other rare printings, photographs, and various important collateral documents, such as the diaries of Mark Twain’s secretary, Isabel V. Lyon. Since 1980 the expanding archive and the editorial project based in it have been under the direction of Robert H. Hirst.
As a result of intensive, ongoing editorial work since the mid 1960s, and with the co-operation of hundreds of institutions and individuals around the world, a working archive of photocopies and transcriptions has also been assembled – chiefly of letters by Clemens, his wife, and three daughters, but also letters to them, all the major literary manuscripts (published and unpublished) that are known to survive, books from his personal library, photographs, drawings, and so forth. This combination of original and photocopied documents now makes it possible to read virtually every document in Mark Twain’s hand now known to survive, here at Berkeley: some 50 notebooks kept habitually by Clemens between 1855 and his death in 1910; approximately 11,000 letters by him or his immediate family, and more than 17,000 letters to them; about 600 literary manuscripts left unpublished (and often unfinished) in his lifetime; manuscripts ranging from mere fragments to complete drafts (including chapters Clemens later deleted) for almost all of the books he published and for perhaps a tenth of his published short works (sketches, essays, editorials, speeches, poems); working notes, typescripts, and proofs for various titles; first editions and other lifetime editions, including American, English, Australian, Canadian, and German or Continental printings of his various books; about 150 books from his library, usually with marginalia; uncounted business documents, clippings, scrapbooks, interviews, bills, cheques, photographs, and a handful of objects originally owned by him.
The Project maintains separate, chronological files of all known letters by Clemens or his immediate family, and all known letters to or about Clemens and his immediate family. It is possible to see any of various selections from these files (all letters to Bret Harte, for instance, or all letters from Harte to Clemens); it is also possible to read every letter in chronological order for any given period between 1853 and 1910. Catalogues of both files have been published and are for sale by the University of California Press: The Union Catalog of Clemens Letters (1986) and The Union Catalog of Letters to Clemens (1992), both edited by Paul Machlis. These catalogues constitute an index to the letters, with fields such as “addressee” and “date,” not a reading file of the letter texts themselves. A regularly updated on-line version of both catalogues is also available. The texts of Clemens’s earliest letters, dating from 1853 through 1873, have been published in the first five volumes of the Mark Twain Project’s Letters series. A searchable electronic file (as yet in rough, uncorrected form) of all other known letters by Clemens, encompassing the years 1876 through 1910, is now available. In addition, all the original letters owned by the Mark Twain Papers are available on microfilm.
The notebooks Clemens kept between 1855 and June 1891 have been edited and indexed by the Project and published by the University of California Press, in Mark Twain’s Notebooks & Journals, volumes 1-3. Notebooks kept after June 1891 are available in typescripts, and have been indexed by card file in the Mark Twain Papers offices. All of the original notebooks are available on microfilm.
Both published and unpublished manuscripts together with related documents such as drafts, typescripts, or proofs may be accessed through a card-file index at the Project. An analytical index of all original manuscripts that are available on microfilm has been prepared by Paul Berkowitz, an independent Mark Twain scholar, and may be searched, either in its hard copy or in electronic form. Both the published and the unpublished portions of this sprawling work may be consulted in a photocopy of the original manuscripts and typescripts, the latter dictated and sometimes revised by Clemens. An incomplete card-file index is available; published forms of the Autobiography are also indexed. All of the original documents are available on microfilm.
More than three dozen scrapbooks, some of which are Clemens’s own patented design, contain miscellaneous clippings and documents saved by Clemens or his family. Some hold unique documents, such as the only surviving clippings of letters and stories Mark Twain published in the early 1860s in the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise. Clemens himself mined a few of the scrapbooks for printer’s copy while writing The Innocents Abroad and Roughing It. An electronic finding guide to the scrapbooks is now available.
The Project maintains an extensive working library of Mark Twain’s books in various editions, as well as contemporary and foreign language reprints. The archive includes about 150 books from Mark Twain’s home library. A searchable electronic inventory of the titles is available, and the books are also catalogued on Pathfinder the University’s Online library catalogue. In addition, photocopies of marginalia from about 140 books owned by other institutions and private collectors are also held.
An electronic finding aid for the pictorial collection, including digital images of over 2000 items, is available for searching at the Project. An online version will be available shortly. Visitors to the archive may also access this collection (mainly photographs, but also including cased miniatures, drawings, caricatures, and engravings) through several albums of viewing prints, arranged chronologically, and segregated by subject: (1) Clemens; (2) the Clemens family; (3) photographs taken by Clemens’s youngest daughter, Jean, between 1900 and 1905; (4) photographs taken by Clemens’s secretary, Isabel V. Lyon, between 1904 and 1908; and (5) photographs of people and places associated with Clemens, arranged alphabetically. Our collection of cased photographs and miniatures may be viewed online, along with full descriptive notes.
The archive’s holdings range from original documents that belonged to Clemens himself, including mining deeds, book contracts, and financial records, to countless photocopies gleaned from contemporary newspapers reporting on Clemens and his associates. This body of information grows on a daily basis as the editorial project identifies and adds materials. Much of this documentation is filed and indexed alphabetically by subject. There are also extensive files of unindexed miscellaneous materials arranged chronologically.
For further information please see http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/MTP/index.html
Text by permission of the Mark Twain Project
Documenting the American South
Documenting the American South (DAS), an electronic collection sponsored by the Academic Affairs Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, provides access to digitised primary materials that offer Southern perspectives on American history and culture. It supplies teachers, students, and researchers at every educational level with a wide array of titles they can use for reference, studying, teaching, and research.
Currently, DAS includes six digitisation projects: slave narratives, first-person narratives, Southern literature, Confederate imprints, materials related to the church in the black community, and North Caroliniana.
“North American Slave Narratives, Beginnings to 1920” documents the individual and collective story of the African American struggle for freedom and human rights in the eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. When completed, it will include all the narratives of fugitive and former slaves published in broadsides, pamphlets, or book form in English up to 1920 and many of the biographies of fugitive and former slaves published in English before 1920. The Editor of this series, William L. Andrews, E. Maynard Adams Professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, selects the texts for this project, while the Editorial Board for Documenting the American South guides its development. The texts come from the Academic Affairs Library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University, North Carolina Central University, and from other repositories around the United States. The project is funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities with additional support from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.
“First-Person Narratives of the American South” documents the American South from the viewpoint of Southerners. It focuses on the diaries, autobiographies, memoirs, travel accounts, and ex-slave narratives of relatively inaccessible populations: women, African Americans, enlisted men, labourers, and Native Americans. “First-Person Narratives of the American South, 1860-1920” was a 1996/97 Award Winner of The Library of Congress/Ameritech National Digital Library Competition, which funded the digitisation of 101 texts.
The “Library of Southern Literature” documents the riches and diversity of Southern experience as presented in one hundred of its most important literary works. The bibliography was compiled by the late Professor Robert Bain, based on suggestions from colleagues in Southern studies around the country. The texts for this project come primarily from the Academic Affairs Library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“The Southern Homefront, 1861-1865,” documents Southern life during the Civil War, especially the unsuccessful attempt to create a viable nation state as evidenced in both private and public life. “Homefront” includes over four hundred digitised and encoded contemporary printed works and manuscripts, accompanied by ca. 1,000 images of currency, manuscript letters, maps, broadsides, title pages, illustrations, and photographs. As Scholarly Advisor to the project, William Barney, Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, selected the texts for this project.
“The Church in the Southern Black Community” traces how Southern African Americans experienced and transformed Protestant Christianity into the central institution of community life. Coverage begins with white churches’ conversion efforts, especially in the post-revolutionary period, and depicts the tensions and contradictions between the egalitarian potential of evangelical Christianity and the realities of slavery. It focuses, through slave narratives and observations by other African American authors, on how the black community adapted evangelical Christianity, making it a metaphor for freedom, community, and personal survival. Selection of texts is guided by a trio of scholarly advisors to the project: Reginald Hildebrand, Associate Professor of Afro-American Studies and History; Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp, Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Adjunct Professor of American Studies; and Donald G. Mathews, Professor of History and American Studies
“The North Carolina Experience, Beginnings to 1940″ is an ongoing digitisation project that tells the story of the Tar Heel State as seen through representative histories, descriptive accounts, institutional reports, fiction, and other writing. It comprises digitised and encoded printed works, images, and oral history interviews and workplace songs. Selection of texts is guided by scholarly advisors James L. Leloudis, Associate Professor of History, and Harry L. Watson, Professor of History, both faculty at UNC-Chapel Hill.
North Carolinians and the Great War” examines how World War I shaped the lives of different North Carolinians on the battlefield and on the home front as well how the state and federal government responded to wartime demands. The site focuses on the years of American involvement in the war between 1917 and 1919, but it also examines the legacies of the war in the 1920s. It uses a variety of digitised and encoded texts and images drawn from the North Carolina Collection, the Rare Book Collection, and the Southern Historical Collection of the Academic Affairs Library at UNC-Chapel Hill.
As of July 1, 2003, DAS includes 1,240 books and manuscripts. Most are accompanied by a full bibliographic record. We invite libraries to include bibliographic information on texts of interest in local online catalogues. Catalogue records for these electronic texts are available in OCLC’s Worldcat and in UNC-Chapel Hill’s OPAC at: http://web2.lib.unc.edu/
For further information please see http://docsouth.unc.edu/index.html
Text by permission of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library.
The David Library of the American Revolution
The David Library of the American Revolution is a privately endowed, non-profit foundation devoted to the study of American history circa 1750 to 1800. The library’s mission is the collection and dissemination of information on the period and the support of related programmes. It was founded by Sol Feinstone (1888-1980), a businessman, philanthropist, and collector of Americana who emigrated from Lithuania in 1902 at age fourteen.
The library was established in 1959 and opened on its present location in 1974. For years, Feinstone had been passionately interested in educating the American public about the early history of their country. He contemplated several options for displaying his collection of books and original eighteenth-century manuscripts on the Revolutionary period that he had amassed over five decades. While in his early eighties, Feinstone conceived and brought to fruition an idea to construct on his farm in Washington Crossing a library devoted to the study of the American Revolution.
The David Library is primarily a microform archive of approximately 10,000 reels that contain an estimated 8 million pages of documentation. The collection is supported by a reference collection of 40,000 books and pamphlets in both bound volumes and microcards. Although the main focus is on the American Revolution, in recent years the library has been augmenting its materials on the French and Indian War and the early national periods. Microfilm holdings currently include over 200 collections from domestic and foreign repositories. The collections also hold a wealth of material on women, families, African Americans, and Indians. Facilities include the research library, a conference centre, and a residence facility for visiting fellows.
The library is particularly strong in materials from British sources, some of which are not available elsewhere in the United States. It has underwritten the microfilming of collections that are relatively inaccessible. Significant collections from Britain include: American Loyalist Claims; Sir Jeffrey Amherst Papers; Lord Cornwallis Papers; Sir Frederick Haldimand Papers; Sir Guy Carleton (British Headquarters) Papers; Admiralty Secretary’s Letters; Colonial Office Correspondence; Annual Army Lists; War Office Papers; Foreign Office Papers; and Home Office Papers. In addition to the complete Loyalist claims series, the library also has other materials from Canada and Britain on Americans who opposed the Revolution such as American Loyalist Muster Rolls; Ward Chipman Papers; and Documents Relating to Refugees. Information on German troops may be found in British records and Hessian Documents of the American Revolution.
The David Library also has an extensive collection of American government records on the state and national levels from the U.S. National Archives, the Library of Congress, and other repositories. Notable among these microforms are: Records of the States of the United States (executive, legislative, and constitutional records); Papers of the Continental Congress; Records of Pennsylvania’s Revolutionary Governments; Treasury records; the 1790 and the 1800 Censuses; and assorted financial and diplomatic materials. Letters of Delegates to Congress is available for patron use on CD- ROM.
Another strength is military service records. The library has the entire Revolutionary War Pension Application and Bounty Land Warrant Files; Compiled Service Records; Early American Orderly Books; Naval Records Collection; Quartermasters’ Returns; Forbes Headquarters Papers; New Jersey Revolutionary War Service Records; and U.S. Numbered Record Books Concerning Military Operations.
A wealth of documentation on frontier and Indian history may be found in the Draper Manuscript Collection; Amherst Papers; U.S. Ratified Indian Treaties; Baynton, Wharton, and Morgan Papers; and Winthrop Sargent Papers. Other material on the frontier and missionary activity can be found in records of the Moravian Church and the Anglican Society for the Propagation of the Gospel.
Important personal and official papers include those of Aaron Burr; Benjamin Franklin; Nathanael Greene; the Hancock Family; Henry Knox; Henry Laurens; the Lee Family; Gouverneur Morris; Robert Morris; Timothy Pickering; Joseph Reed; Arthur St. Clair; Baron von Steuben; Jonathan Trumbull Jr.; George Washington; and Oliver Wolcott Jr. In addition, the collection has a large number of letters, diaries, account books, and journals of other prominent and lesser-known people.
We are implementing our goal of acquiring every American newspaper available on microfilm that relates to our period of specialisation. Currently, the library has over 140 newspapers that span most of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries from Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia. Some major titles are Connecticut Courant, Boston Gazette, Rivington’s Gazette, Pennsylvania Packet, and Gazette of the United States. The Pennsylvania Gazette is available in CD-ROM format.
Many doctoral dissertations from American and British universities are on file. Also available are the Early American Imprints of Charles Evans’ American Bibliography, which contain over 36,000 books, broadsides, and pamphlets. Supplementing this collection is the American Periodical Series I, 1741-1800. Finally, the Library’s own Sol Feinstone manuscript collection of approximately 2500 original items, which are significant in content, contains information pertinent to many research projects. A comprehensive indexed guide to the Feinstone Collection is available from the library.
For more information please see http://www.dlar.org
Text by permission of The David Library of the American Revolution
American Studies Research Portal Project
The AMERICAN STUDIES RESEARCH PORTAL (ASRP) will be a free online resource for researchers working on topics related to the United States. The Portal will allow users to search a database of links to UK American Studies experts, researchers, university departments and UK research library collections and archives with a significant United States focus. The site will also provide access to a range of electronic research resources.
Research areas covered by the ASRP will include both humanities and social science subjects. The Portal will contain a mixture of created content and links to other UK American Studies sites. The Portal will offer a keyword search facility which will allow the researcher to explore the site and access a range of resources on a specific topic, for example ‘African-American History’ or ‘Women Writers’.
The ASRP and information resources
The ASRP PROJECT was established in March 2003 and is being developed by the Institute of United States Studies at the University of London in co-ordination with the University of London Library. Gathering collection level descriptions and information on library holdings related to the US in the UK is central to the development of the ASRP. Ultimately, the site will offer a searchable collections/archives database, with details of holdings including content description, types of resources, strengths, size, location and availability. This database will be useful to researchers and information specialists alike. To that end, we are keen to liaise with librarians working in the field of American Studies or the United States, and to collaborate with US focused institutions in the UK.
If you are a librarian or information specialist
If you look after or know of a collection or archive you would like to see on the site, please let us know. Send us your comments and suggestions. Your input regarding the site’s content or suggestions are very valuable to us and will be gratefully received. To contact us or for further information see the address below.
If you are an academic or researcher
It would be great to hear from you if you are an academic, postdoctoral researcher or postgraduate student studying the United States and would like your details to appear on the ASRP ‘experts list.’ You can request a form by email, or visit: http://www.sas.ac.uk/iuss/ASRP.htm to complete an online form.
If you want to make a contribution or enquiry, please contact Victoria Robson (Project Officer, ASRP), ASRP, Institute of United States Studies, Senate House, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HU, Tel 020 7862 8689, Fax 020 7862 8696, firstname.lastname@example.org
Alexander Street Press
A review by Simon P. Newman, Sir Denis Brogan Professor of American Studies, University of Glasgow
Alexander Street Press was founded in 2000, and has rapidly emerged as one of the leading producers of digitised collections in the humanities. It is increasingly common for publishers and libraries to digitise collections of manuscripts and printed materials, but for both teaching and research the Alexander Street Press publications are amongst the best I have encountered.
It is the scholarly approach to digitisation and indexing that makes a difference here. For example, the North American Women’s Letters and Diaries: Colonial to 1950 database contains approximately 150,000 pages of women’s letters and diaries. But while the quantity of materials is impressive, it is the quality of indexing and the user-friendly search engine that makes this material so exciting. The Alexander Street Press editors have gone through each and every document, carefully indexing the contents: thus, for example, one can search for all diary entries by white Southern women, written between 1789 and 1861, mentioning slavery. Such a search generates a lot of results, but could be further narrowed to all diary entries mentioning inter-racial sex, or any of a variety of other topics. The indexing is very thorough – it is quite appropriately termed “semantic indexing” by the Alexander Street Press staff – so that a search will pick up references to something like childbirth even if that precise term is not used in the diary or letter.
There are a growing number of excellent databases available in this series, including Early Encounters in North America: Peoples, Cultures, and the Environment; North American Immigrant Letters, Diaries, and Oral Histories; The American Civil War: Letters and Diaries; American Film Scripts Online; and British and Irish Women’s Letters and Diaries. Once your library has purchased access, there is tremendous research and teaching potential. One colleague of mine used the American Civil War database to locate evidence for his study of clinical depression in nineteenth-century America, while a postgraduate student employed the Early Encounters database for a superb M.Phil. dissertation based on early Indian-European meetings chronicled in the Jesuit Relations. I have used the North American Women’s Letters and Diaries database in my honours course on U.S. Women’s History, including certain documents as required reasons, and encouraging students to employ the database in researching their essays.
More information about Alexander Street Press and its products is available
What’s A Commie Ever Done To Black People? Curtis J. Morrow. McFarland. ISBN:0-7864-0333-0 Reviewed by Ian Ralston, American Studies Centre.
Although the title of What’s A Commie Ever Done To Black People: A Korean War Memory clearly suggests that this book will be about the war recollections of a young African American soldier, this work is in fact more far reaching. In the first section the author recounts his experiences of training and eventual combat in Korea, in almost forensic detail. The horror of the conflict and its impact on American soldiers, Korean civilians and Korean troops (both North and South) is portrayed in vivid and often disturbing detail. The many and detailed verbal exchanges the author recounts also highlight the contradictions many African Americans troops faced whilst ‘fighting for freedom’ but at the same time (mainly recounted by the conversations with soldiers from the American deep south) the inequalities and racism faced (back) in America.
In later sections the author recounts his growing awareness of the world outside the USA. Consequently, the text could also be considered a personal rite of passage, yet despite this the reader is often left with the feeling of wanting to know more about the author’s life, family and aspirations before joining the military. The sections dealing with his recuperation from injury, court martial and service in Japan, add weight to the author’s views regarding the nature of military life. Particularly of significance are the recollections of Japan that seem to draw together both his ability to ‘play’ the system in order to survive, and to find purpose. His increased awareness of ‘place’, his extensive sexual activities (that say much about male attitudes, particularly at a time of war) and growing sense of awareness brought on by the experience of war and the military culture are also apparent, though not often ‘comfortable’ for the reader. This is particularly the case regarding attitudes to women. The point of awareness and sense of identity is highlighted in his discussions with a fellow (African American) soldier over their African heritage and history.
“I first took it as a racist insult. How dare he connect me with Africa, me, an American soldier that had proven myself on the battlefield…..later during that night….I thought of my grandfather….telling us small kids that his father had told him he was an African…..then I too was of African descent. The realization startled me. How could I be so stupid? Then I realized it wasn’t so much stupidity as ignorance…” (page 126)
There is also, in the later section of the text, some ominous foreshadowing when the author recounts his service with an airborne unit dropping supplies to the French in Vietnam.
Overall, this text makes a valid contribution to not only the study of oral history of war, (particularly the too often neglected area of Korea) but also to studies of masculinity and African American identity. This is achieved essentially through the strongly narrative driven nature of the text.
Review courtesy of the American Studies Centre
Bodily and Narrative Forms: The Influence of Medicine on American Literature, 1845-1915 Cynthia J. Davis, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000. ISBN 08047 3773 8. £35.00. Reviewed by Stephen C. Kenny, PhD candidate, Department of American Studies, School of Media, Critical and Creative Arts, Liverpool John Moores University
Bodily and Narrative Forms is a bold attempt to both reconstruct and examine the interplay between modern medical and literary ideas of embodiment. In terms of precise chronology and location, the book spans the period of orthodox medicine’s professionalisation in the United States, from the founding of the American Medical Association in 1845 through to 1915, the latter historical moment marking the allopaths’ arrival as the dominant force in the American medical marketplace. However, as Davis emphasises in her Introduction, while this era of American history undoubtedly witnessed not only the economic, but also the eventual social and cultural triumphs of regular medicine, this was also a period of turmoil for the profession during which clinical, materialist and physiological beliefs were “challenged either by members of the lay public or by other members of the healing professions” (p.2).
Using a selective sample of the literary productions of this period, Davis asks how a small number of middle-class American authors grappled with these problems of changing notions of embodiment brought on by the increasing influence and authority of science in American medicine and society. In the process of this analysis, Davis also re-evaluates the strange career of sentimentalism in American fiction. For example, the first case study in Bodily and Narrative Forms analyses the medical and literary works of physician and author Oliver Wendell Holmes, who, for the most part, employed a writing style that mirrored the clinical gaze then fashionable in orthodox American medicine. Davis notes that despite using an objective and disembodied form of narration for the majority of his first novel, the proto-realist Elsie Venner (1861), at the close of this tale Holmes reverts to the sentimental mode, investing the physician-narrator with a sympathy and sensitivity absent from the clinical perspective and almost certain to appeal to a mid-nineteenth century readership. By contrast, chapter two examines the work of Louisa May Alcott, Harriot K. Hunt, and Margaret Fuller, and their defiance of the standard formulas of sentimental fiction, with its female stereotypes of “precarious physicality” and “excessive emotionalism” (p54).
I believe Bodily and Narrative Forms is at its most rewarding and engaging in providing stimulating and original close readings of the individual American authors who comprise the text’s case studies. However, I also feel that both the choice and small number of texts selected by Davis limits the scope and utility of her inquiry. While the five case studies examined here do include the voices of women and African-American writers, there is no sustained consideration of slave, Native American, immigrant or working-class perspectives on embodiment, literary form, orthodox or ‘irregular’ medical beliefs and practices. In addition to being an era of professionalisation and intense industrialisation (as acknowledged by Davis), the period 1845 to 1915 in the history of the United States also witnessed Southern slavery’s apogee and demise, the Civil War, Reconstruction, the first great migration of African-Americans to the Northern states, massive European immigration (from Northern and then Southern Europe), Westward expansion and the destruction of the Plains Indians, large-scale urban growth and the rapid expansion of networks of transportation and communication, the development of mass entertainment, sport and leisure, and legalised racial segregation. Listing just a handful of the possible historical moments contained in a broad survey of this time-frame immediately suggests, to me at least, the absolute necessity for a wider variety of texts and voices in the construction of a critique examining “the heterogeneous and complicated ways in which physical existence was both lived and understood” in the United States in this period (p6). For example, had Frederick Douglass’s Narrative (1845) or Harriet Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861) been included in Davis’s fifth chapter on ‘Black Aesthetics,’ then we might have gained some sense of a range of African-American experiences of embodiment in relation to changing historical circumstances in both medicine and society. Bodily and Narrative Forms is likely to be of greatest use to graduate students and researchers engaged in the field of nineteenth-century American literary studies.
Review courtesy of the American Studies Centre
American Film and Society Since 1945. Leonard Quart and Albert Auster. Praeger, 2002. Reviewed by Brian Neve.
This much revised and expanded edition of a book that first appeared in 1984 is very welcome. The book does not offer any elaborate theoretical apparatus for investigating the interaction of film and society, and neither is it a book that delves deeply into the production context of American film. What the book does provide, and in good measure, is thoughtful, morally aware criticism of the social and aesthetic qualities of key American films since World War II, together with a related survey of the main social and political currents and events of the era. The third edition achieves a stature and overall persuasiveness that deserves wider recognition and use in American Studies programmes dealing with film and society.
It is significant that the authors cite James Agee, Robert Warshow and Raymond Williams in their introduction. Although written reflectively, the treatments of individual films read with a freshness and spontaneity, while the treatment of their moral and political implications is never simple or didactic. Surveying American film decade by decade from the forties, with the eighties and nineties being given slightly more space, the writers concentrate on what Michael Wood calls the ‘public classics’, examining the way the films convey their social and cultural values and commitments. To Quart and Auster the book ‘is based on the anachronistic idea that a passion for and a personal commitment to the imaginative life of films can be an integral part of the critical process, and the critique can be conveyed in a language that any intelligent person who cares about film can understand.’
Some slightly overblown claims have recently been made for the influence on Hollywood film of the Popular Front generation, but the writers here provide judicious treatment of the ‘culture of liberalism’ that had become established in the film industry in the thirties, and the way that this surfaced in forties work. There is a good assessment, in particular, of the post-war cycle on race, of Abraham Polonsky’s striking, and immediately pre-blacklist, Force of Evil, of the problematic classic of the McCarthy era, On the Waterfront, and of the emerging film image of Sidney Poitier. The authors are clearly particularly concerned with the cultural and political developments of the sixties and seventies, and also they explore the developing conversation between film and the social movements of the time, particularly in relation to the Vietnam War. As well as the usual suspects, freshly assessed, there are also recommendations of less well-known films – The Americanisation of Emily for example. There is a particularly illuminating and trenchant analysis of Bonnie and Clyde. The film is celebrated for vindicating the judgement of audiences over film critics, but subjected to a morally searching examination of the way it at times drifts into a ‘simplistic and even dangerous’ presentation of the outlaws as political rebels. There is no undue respect to received opinions, bestowed by critics or audiences.
Each chapter begins with a survey of the main political developments of the decade, and there is also some treatment of changes in the structure of film production. But the bulk of each chapter assesses, and reassesses, a range of the most resonant films of the era. One can always make criticisms of studies based around decades, and perhaps there are sometimes too many references to such notions as the ‘spirit of the sixties’ and the ‘me generation’. There are also occasionally films where the plot summary is too central. But overall there is an awareness of these difficulties, and a complex sense of changing currents in film, culture and society that is likely to prompt teachers, students and general readers alike to thought about film in all its contexts and implications.
The new edition is especially strong on the eighties and nineties. This is also a refreshing liberal perspective that is happily under no obligation to push the data into any overall conspiratorial frame. The extra space on the last two decades of the century allows some particularly insightful discussions of films as varied as Reds, Full Metal Jacket (with Kubrick’s ‘Hobbesian view of human nature’), Saving Private Ryan, Schindler’s List, Nixon, and American Beauty. One can pick arguments here and there, but Quart and Auster are to be congratulated on a survey that is constantly lively and stimulating – a humanistic view of the development of post-war American film that never sacrifices considerations of aesthetics to ideology (carefully considering how films work and how and why they don’t) but stands up for the importance of political and social values in our critical understanding of cinema.
Review courtesy of the American Studies Centre
Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs Washington State
This site provides access to a regularly updated directory of Washington State tribes. It also contains histories about specific tribes including information on tribal treaties and government relations. Links are provided to other Washington State Government sites, regional tribes and native resources.
The Crisis of the Union: An electronic Archive of Documents about the Causes, Conduct, and Consequences of the US Civil War
This site provides researchers and students access to “pamphlets, books, broadsides, cartoons, clippings, paintings, maps and other printed memorabilia from circa 1830 to 1880. Items are drawn primarily from the collection of the Library Company of Philadelphia. The site is searchable by author, title, subject and date.
Southwest Jewish Archives
“The Bloom Southwest Jewish Archives at the University of Arizona Library is a research collection dedicated to collecting and recording the dramatic history of pioneer Jews in the Desert Southwest, covering Arizona, New Mexico, and West Texas. It is a repository for major collections of primary materials on Jewish families from these areas — including the Fred and Harriet Rochlin Collection and Rabbi Floyd Fierman Collection. The Bloom Archives has family histories, original memoirs and historic photographs”.
French Volunteers and Supporters of the American Revolution
A continually developing website containing biographical information on French military volunteers. These officers pre-date the official French military and naval participation in the revolutionary war. The site will later include information on French civilian supporters.
INSTITUTE OF UNITED STATES STUDIES
American Studies Postgraduate Conference
In collaboration with the British Association for American Studies
25 October 2003, Senate House
Conference and Concert
To Celebrate the Centenary of Bix Beiderbecke
Co-hosted with the Royal Academy of Music
13-14 November 2003, Senate House and Royal Academy of Music
Susan-Mary Grant and Peter J. Parish (eds.), Legacy of Disunion: The Enduring
Significance of the American Civil War (Baton Rouge; Louisiana State
University Press, 2003)
Peter J. Parish, Adam I.P. Smith and Susan-Mary Grant (eds.) The North and the Nation in the Era of the Civil War, (New York: Fordham University Press, 2003).
Tuesday 28 October 2003
6 pm, Senate Room
For more information please contact:
Institute of United States Studies
University of London
London WC1E 7HU
Tel: 020 7862 8692
Fax: 020 7862 8696