Tuesday, August 12, 2014

In with the New: Yellowhammers, Panic, and the World

The Yellowhammer War: The Civil War and Reconstruction in Alabama,

Edited by Professor Kenneth W. Noe Ph.D., with contributions from Jason J. Battles,  Dr. Harriet E. Amos Doss Ph.D., Dr. Bertis English Ph.D., Michael W. Fitzgerald, Dr. Jennifer Lynn Gross Ph.D., Dr. Patricia A. Hoskins Ph.D., Dr. Victoria E. Ott Ph.D., Terry L. Seip, Ben H. Severance, Kristopher A. Teters, Dr. Jennifer Newman Treviño Ph.D., Sarah Woolfolk Wiggins, Brian Steel Wills, and Dr. Lonnie A. Burnett

Published to mark the Civil War sesquicentennial, The Yellowhammer War collects new essays on Alabama’s role in, and experience of, the bloody national conflict and its aftermath.

During the first winter of the war, Confederate soldiers derided the men of an Alabama Confederate unit for their yellow-trimmed uniforms that allegedly resembled the plumage of the yellow-shafted flicker or “yellowhammer” (now the Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus, and the state bird of Alabama). The soldiers’ nickname, “Yellowhammers,” came from this epithet. After the war, Alabama veterans proudly wore yellowhammer feathers in their hats or lapels when attending reunions. Celebrations throughout the state have often expanded on that pageantry and glorified the figures, events, and battles of the Civil War with sometimes dubious attention to historical fact and little awareness of those who supported, resisted, or tolerated the war off the battlefield.

Many books about Alabama’s role in the Civil War have focused serious attention on the military and political history of the war. The Yellowhammer War likewise examines the military and political history of Alabama’s Civil War contributions, but it also covers areas of study usually neglected by centennial scholars, such as race, women, the home front, and Reconstruction. From Patricia A. Hoskins’s look at Jews in Alabama during the Civil War and Jennifer Ann Newman Treviño’s examination of white women’s attitudes during secession to Harriet E. Amos Doss’s study of the reaction of Alabamians to Lincoln’s Assassination and Jason J. Battles’s essay on the Freedman’s Bureau, readers are treated to a broader canvas of topics on the Civil War and the state.

Panic Fiction: Women and Antebellum Economic Crisis, by Mary Templin

Panic Fiction explores a unique body of antebellum American women’s writing that illuminates women’s
relationships to the marketplace and the links between developing ideologies of domesticity and the formation of an American middle class.

Between the mid-1830s and the late 1850s, authors such as Hannah Lee, Catharine Sedgwick, Eliza Follen, Maria McIntosh, and Maria Cummins wrote dozens of novels and stories depicting the effects of financial panic on the home and proposing solutions to economic instability. This unique body of antebellum American women’s writing, which integrated economic discourse with the language and conventions of domestic fiction, is what critic Mary Templin terms “panic fiction.”

In Panic Fiction: Antebellum Women Writers and Economic Crisis, Templin draws in part from the methods of New Historicism and cultural studies, situating these authors and their texts within the historical and cultural contexts of their time. She explores events surrounding the panics of 1837 and 1857, prevalent attitudes toward speculation and failure as seen in newspapers and other contemporaneous texts, women’s relationships to the marketplace, and the connections between domestic ideology and middle-class formation.

Although largely unknown today, the phenomena of “panic fiction” was extremely popular in its time and had an enormous influence on nineteenth-century popular conceptions of speculation, failure, and the need for marketplace reform, providing a distinct counterpoint to the analysis of panic found in newspapers, public speeches, and male-authored literary texts of the time.

Reading the World: Ideas that Matter, by Michael Austin

A wide selection of classic Western and non-Western texts allows students to explore the development of ideas at different times and in different cultures.
From Lao Tzu to Aristotle, Charles Darwin to Jomo Kenyatta, Reading the World is a collection of 79 texts by some of the world's great thinkers. And because ideas have long been expressed visually as well as verbally, the collection includes 15 drawings, paintings, photographs, and other visual works. Organized around universal themes, and featuring a wide selection of both Western and non-Western texts, Reading the World presents a diversity of views on ideas that matter.

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