Category Archives: American Studies

First Folio, the book that gave us Shakespeare: On tour from the Folger Shakespeare Library in 2016

Guest post by Stephen H.Grant

Johns Hopkins University Press released Collecting Shakespeare: The Story of Henry and Emily Folger on the Ides of March in 2014, the 450th anniversary of the Bard’s birth.  In 2016, the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, the most famous and valuable Shakespeare volume––the 1623 First Folio––is on tour to all 50 American states plus Washington DC and Puerto Rico.  Eighteen of the 82 copies of the First Folio that Henry Folger purchased are traveling. The institutional hosts were selected after a competitive process marked by 140 inquiries, 101 completed applications, and winning proposals from 23 museums, 20 universities, five public libraries, three historical societies, and one theater. The University of Notre Dame in Indiana opened the First Folio tour on January 4, 2016 and The Parthenon in Nashville, Tennessee will close the tour on January 2, 2017. This link to the Folger gives the information about where and when the rare volume will be displayed.

The tour is an ambitious, complicated, and unprecedented project, made possible in part through the sponsorship of the National Endowment for the Humanities and Google.org. The Folger Library’s partners in organizing it are the Cincinnati Museum Center and the American Library Association.

Grant feb Image 1 First Folio Open

A 1623 Shakespeare First Folio open to the title-page and Ben Jonson’s preface.

What is a folio? The word “folio” is a printer’s term, referring to the size of the page, approximately 9 by 13 inches. (A folio-size paper folded in half, is called a “quarto.”) When Shakespeare’s plays were printed individually, they appeared in quarto. When all his plays were posthumously published, they appeared in folio. The First Folio of 1623 is the sole source for half of Shakespeare’s dramatic production. Eighteen of his plays (including Macbeth, Julius Caesar, The Tempest, and As You Like It) had never been printed before and would probably be unknown today without this early compilation. They were offered to the public unbound, with pages uncut. Due to the large-size format of the volume, and the quality of the handmade sheets of rag paper imported from northern France, the sales price was high for the times. While attending the play cost one shilling six pence; the cost of this prestigious book was one pound (twenty shillings), or the equivalent of buying forty loaves of bread. By comparison, Sotheby’s in London sold a First Folio in 2006 for 2.8 million pounds, or the equivalent of buying 125 new automobiles.

Grant Feb Image 2 To Be Speech

A 1623 Shakespeare First Folio open to the Hamlet soliloquy, “To be or not to be.” At every location on the tour, the First Folio will be open to this page.

The First Folio is the most coveted secular book in the English language and one of the most important books in the world. Shakespearean scholars consider it to be the most authentic version of the Bard’s dramatic output. The original print run was about 750 copies. Only 233 copies of the First Folio are known to exist today. Why did Mr. Folger seek to acquire as many copies as he could? Every hand-printed book is unique. In the 17th century, with hand-set type, sometimes a letter wore out and was replaced. Spelling was not standardized. As many as nine typesetters or compositors worked on the First Folio in the printing shop with idiosyncrasies such that experts can identify which compositor worked on which copy. Many of the copies have marginalia (words, phrases, poems, drawings) added in the margins by avid readers over the centuries. Some assertive readers considered that they could improve upon the Bard’s English and crossed out his words and inserted their own!


STEVE’S FIRST FOLIO TOUR

I will next report on the First Folio tour after speaking at two events in Santa Fe later this month. My major Folger talks for the remainder of this year are:

New Mexico Museum of Art Talk Friday, Feb. 19, 2016 at 2 PM
http://media.museumofnewmexico.org/events.php?action=detail&eventID=2685

Reception by Friends of the Santa Fe Public Library, Feb. 20, 2016 5:30 – 7:30 PM
http://www.santafelibraryfriends.org/SpecialEvents.html

Stanford University Book Store Talk Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016 at 6 PM
https://events.stanford.edu/events/572/57263/

Marin County Book Passage Talk Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016 at 7:00 PM
http://www.bookpassage.com/event/stephen-grant-collecting-shakespeare

The Homestead, Hot Springs, Va. Talk Saturday, Mar. 12 at 4 PM
http://www.omnihotels.com/hotels/homestead-virginia/things-to-do/event-calendar?trumbaEmbed=view%3Devent%26eventid%3D117806472

San Diego Public Library Talk Wednesday, June 22, 2016 at 6:30 PM
330 Park Blvd
San Diego, CA 92101

San Francisco Public Library Talk Thursday, June 23, 2016 at 6 PM
Main Library Koret Auditorium, 100 Larkin St.
San Francisco, CA 94102


grant.collectingStephen H. Grant is the author of Collecting Shakespeare: The Story of Henry and Emily Folgerpublished by Johns Hopkins University Press. He is a senior fellow at the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training and the author of Peter Strickland: New London Shipmaster, Boston Merchant, First Consul to Senegal.

Use promo code “HDPD” to receive a 30% discount when you order your copy of Collecting Shakespeare.

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Thomas Edison: Measuring the days of an extraordinary life

Guest post by Louis Carlat

“There is no such thing in anyone’s life as an unimportant day,” said American essayist Alexander Woollcott. Anything might happen. But of course, some days turn out to be more important than others. With the publication of its eighth volume, the Thomas Edison papers project has gone through the record of nearly 15,000 of the famous inventor’s days on Earth, some 50,000 documents. Having covered close to half the man’s life, we’ve published 3,127 of those records and crossed the halfway point in the planned series of volumes of his papers. What have we learned?

Edison 8 frontispiece

Plaster bust of Thomas Edison, made in Italy by American-born sculptor Longworth Powers in 1886.  Edison was born on February 11, 1847.

Anyone who’s followed the paper trail—letters, photos, clippings—of a parent or grandparent has mused on the connections between the stuff in hand and the breathing life that created it all. In the case of Edison, the amount of stuff accumulated over his eighty-four years is enormous. His life was exceptional not only for its ambitions and accomplishments but also for the detail in which he (and others) recorded it. There are shelves full of letters, telegrams, and notebooks, of course, but also grocery lists, receipts, contracts, architectural drawings, and the odd party invitation; in short, nearly anything you can imagine putting on paper. We’ve seen the drafts written in blinding haste, furious crossouts, meandering doodles, snatches of Shakespearean verse, and the phonetic spelling of a highly literate man who sometimes wrote the words as he heard them pulsing through his head.

The documents open a window onto American life. As unusual and privileged as Edison’s life was, they reveal him not simply as a lionized (or reviled) inventor but as a man fitting as best he could into the world of his day. He was a node in the networks of countless less famous people whose paths he crossed, whose lives we can glimpse through his. There are the skilled immigrant craftsmen in his shops, the Irish servant girls in his home, the doctors who delivered his children and tended his first wife, the undertaker who buried her, and the florist who delivered flowers to her grave (until he remarried). Not to mention hundreds of aspiring inventors, advice-seekers, and would-be hangers-on wanting to ride Edison’s coattails. All named and described, as best we can, through painstaking research.

Not the isolated genius of storybooks, Edison had an ecology of relationships that defined his work and life. Long before anyone used the term emotional intelligence, he had the ability to form strong connections with men who could help him as assistants, colleagues, or mentors. A beguiling storyteller, he had warmth and something we would now call charisma—a quality that drew men to him with intense loyalty. He also had persistence and an infectious confidence that, by mid-life, were souring into obstinance and arrogance that drove some of them away. His legendary devotion to work came with a disregard for his family’s emotional needs that seems reckless, even by the standards of his day.

No one better embodied the American enthusiasm for inventiveness and entrepreneurship than Edison. The iconic incandescent light bulb is still a staple of children’s books and social studies curricula, even as that hot globe of glass becomes a museum piece. The phonograph was the first device for recording and playing back sound. Coming like the proverbial bolt from the blue, it launched Edison into worldwide fame as the “Wizard of Menlo Park.” It promised a form of immortality to anyone able to impress his or her voice onto a small cylinder for the ages. The phonograph drew to his laboratory flocks of reporters whom Edison would welcome back to write up for insatiable readers his latest work in electric lighting or whatever he happened to be doing. Edison designed the things but depended on wide networks to elevate them to the status of “inventions.” He had model makers, draftsmen, and lawyers to get them through the Patent Office; financiers, agents, friendly reporters, more lawyers, and at least one notorious political fixer to bring them to buyers. He personified America beyond its shores, as he cultivated close business ties in Great Britain and continental Europe, especially, but also Asia and through the Americas.

The act of inventing is a close cousin to other forms of intellectual or artistic creativity, and it was a stream of ideas, more than anything else, that defined Edison’s restless days and filled his pages. He thought with his fingers in the act of drawing and writing. He had “innumerable machines in my mind,” as he put it, and he poured them onto paper. Browsing his notebooks now, a reader can imagine the mechanisms in motion, clattering in the head of the increasingly deaf inventor. Sometimes the stream became a torrent: dozens of ways to attain the same motion or effect, and long lists of materials to experiment with. There were lists even on the honeymoon with his second wife: experiments and things to make, from the practical (lamp filaments) to the fanciful (a “Larynaxial piano”). His mind was fecund, in the ornate language of his day; in the more clinical view of our time, he can seem manic.

As editors, we get to see it all with sometimes spine-tingling intimacy. But despite the sheer volume of information and our best research efforts, we have questions. Like where did all those ideas come from? Sometimes we can name a source, like the conversation that sparked Edison’s interest in electric lighting. Or a passage in Michael Faraday’s Experimental Researches, which he re-read repeatedly. Oftentimes it’s not clear. Edison read widely and took dozens of technical and scientific journals. He had networks of business and scientific contacts, men (always men) willing to share information; one rival claimed that the Patent Office had “leaks” that flowed in his direction.

Even 50,000 documents can’t capture 15,000 days full of life. Sometimes we don’t even know what city Edison was in, much less what an assistant or rival might have told him, or the tone he used with his wife. In Edison’s days, as in our own, we expect the unexpected. No day is unimportant, and anything can happen.

edisonpapers#8Louis Carlat is an associate editor of the Thomas A. Edison Papers Project at Rutgers University.  Along with Paul B. Israel, director and general editor; Theresa M. Collins, associate editor; Alexandra R. Rimer and Daniel J. Weeks, assistant editors; he is part of the editorial team that recently completed volume 8 of The Papers of Thomas A. Edison: New Beginnings, January 1885–December 1887.

 

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Filed under American History, American Studies, Biography, History of technology

Spring books preview: religion

Seasonal catalog cover spring 2016We’re excited about the books we’ll be publishing this spring—and we’re pleased to start off the new year with a series of posts that highlight our forthcoming titles. Be sure to check out the online edition of JHUP’s entire Spring 2016 catalog, and remember that promo code “HDPD” gets you a 30% discount on all pre-publication orders. Today we feature spring books on religion; click on the title to read more about the book or to place an order:


noltThe Amish
A Concise Introduction
Steven M. Nolt


trollingerRighting America at the Creation Museum
Susan L. Trollinger and William Vance Trollinger, Jr.


weaver-zercher16Martyrs Mirror
A Social History
David L. Weaver-Zercher


Use discount code “HDPD” to receive a 30% discount on pre-publication orders for JHUP’s spring 2016 titles.
To order, click on the book titles above or call 800-537-5487.

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Filed under American Studies, Amish, Anabaptist & Pietist Studies, Cultural Studies, History, Publishing News, Religion

Check out our new Literature catalog!

Literature 2016 catalog cover


Our 2016 Literature catalog is hot off the press
and we cordially invite you to browse the online edition here.

Use code “HZOA” to receive a 30% discount when you order!

Visit the JHUP exhibit at the Modern Language Association
annual convention in Austin from January 7–10, 2016.

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Filed under American Studies, Conferences, Journals, Language, Literature

Browse our new History catalog!

History catalog cover 2016


Our 2016 History catalog is in the mail
and we cordially invite you to browse the online edition here.

Use code “HZNA” to receive a 30% discount when you order!

Visit the JHUP exhibit at the American Historical Association
annual meeting in Atlanta from January 7–10, 2016.

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Filed under American History, American Studies, Conferences, Higher Education, History, History of Medicine, History of science, History of technology

Is it “propaganda” if it advocates for something you want?

Guest post by Jonathan Auerbach

auerbachBecause I recently coedited a collection of essays on the subject of propaganda, I sometimes get approached by journalists asking me to weigh in on current events. How effective is Putin’s “propaganda” against the West in promoting the separatist movement in Ukraine? How best to counteract gruesome ISIS videos, aimed to entice recruits to jihad, but often described in shorthand as “propaganda”? And lately my inbox has been bombarded with emails urging me to “keep the pressure on” by fighting against the vile “propaganda” of warmongers in Congress who would reject the international deal to curb Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

In all of these cases, “propaganda” is assumed to be a self-evident concept, inherently false and sinister, against which urgent countermeasures and messages (but certainly nothing we would want to call propaganda!) need to be taken. If we step back a minute and try to put this matter in historical perspective, certain insights come into focus.

A century ago, right at the start of World War I, the term was frequently use to refer to any sort of mass advocacy, such as “propaganda” for suffrage or “propaganda” for conservation. In these instances, propaganda in both meaning and practice simply referred to efforts designed to sway public opinions and feelings on a large scale. During and immediately following the war, the meaning and practice of such mass persuasion took on an increasingly negative cast, leading Progressive political commentator Walter Lippmann in 1919 to ominously announce a crisis in democracy triggered by this unregulated “manufacture of consent.”

But what’s the difference between coercion and persuasion, especially in a democracy that relies on a vibrant public sphere and the free flow of information to debate and contest policies and ideas? Who is in charge of such information dissemination? What’s the difference between educating citizens, directing them, and indoctrinating them? How to distinguish among teaching, preaching, and selling, especially when your nation is at war and seeks to boost patriotic morale? Left to their own devices, how can citizens be trusted to sort through such an overwhelming avalanche of factoids and truthiness (as Stephen Colbert put it) to arrive at some rational conclusions about the world we live in? These are the key questions Progressive intellectuals, reformers, and politicians such as Lippmann, John Dewey, Julia Lathrop, and Woodrow Wilson grappled with a century ago, not to mention public relations gurus like Edward Bernays who were intent on engineering and managing the tastes and spending habits of citizen-consumers.

Clearly, these troubling questions remain very much with us today. My new Johns Hopkins University book, Weapons of Democracy: Propaganda, Progressivism, and American Public Opinion, seeks to shed light on our current state of affairs by tracing the changing face and fate of American public opinion in the early decades of the twentieth century as they unfolded before, during, and soon after World War I. By closely looking at Progressive era propaganda in thought and practice, including the inevitable entanglements between social reform and social control that emerged during this period, we put ourselves in a better position to understand how the United States continues to deploy its current weapons of democracy at home and around the globe.

Jonathan Auerbach is a professor of English at the University of Maryland–College Park. He is the author of Weapons of Democracy: Propaganda, Progressivism, and American Public Opinion and the coeditor of The Oxford Handbook of Propaganda Studies.

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Filed under American History, American Studies, Politics, Popular Culture, Washington

Meet Us in Toronto: American Studies Association

If you are in Toronto for the ASA annual meeting, be sure to stop by Booth #208, to meet our staff, browse our latest publications, and and take advantage of special meeting discounts. Throughout the meeting and after, JHUP books will be available at a 30% discount when your use the discount code HEAI. Check out what’s new and recent from JHUP in American Studies and related fields!


The Best War Ever
by Michael C. C. Adams

Was World War II really such a “good war”? Popular memory insists that it was, in fact, “the best war ever.” After all, we knew who the enemy was, and we understood what we were fighting for. The war was good for the economy. It was liberating for women. A battle of tanks and airplanes, it was a “cleaner” war than World War I. Although we did not seek the conflict—or so we believed—Americans nevertheless rallied in support of the war effort, and the nation’s soldiers, all twelve million of them, were proud to fight. But according to historian Michael C. C. Adams, our memory of the war era as a golden age is distorted. It has left us with a misleading—even dangerous—legacy, one enhanced by the nostalgia-tinged retrospectives of Stephen E. Ambrose and Tom Brokaw. Disputing many of our common assumptions about the period, Adams argues in The Best War Ever that our celebratory experience of World War II is marred by darker and more sordid realities.

In the book, originally published in 1994, Adams challenges stereotypes to present a view of World War II that avoids the simplistic extremes of both glorification and vilification. The Best War Ever charts the complex diplomatic problems of the 1930s and reveals the realities of ground combat: no moral triumph, it was in truth a brutal slog across a blasted landscape. Adams also exposes the myth that the home front was fully united behind the war effort, demonstrating how class, race, gender, and age divisions split Americans. Meanwhile, in Europe and Asia, shell-shocked soldiers grappled with emotional and physical trauma, rigorously enforced segregation, and rampant venereal disease.

In preparing this must-read new edition, Adams has consulted some seventy additional sources on topics as varied as the origins of Social Security and a national health system, the Allied strategic bombing campaign, and the relationship of traumatic brain injuries to the adjustment problems of veterans. The revised book also incorporates substantial developments that have occurred in our understanding of the course and character of the war, particularly in terms of the human consequences of fighting. In a new chapter, “The Life Cycle of a Myth,” Adams charts image-making about the war from its inception to the present. He contrasts it with modern-day rhetoric surrounding the War on Terror, while analyzing the real-world consequences that result from distorting the past, including the dangerous idea that only through (perpetual) military conflict can we achieve lasting peace.


Plutocracy in America
By Ronald P. Formisano

The growing gap between the most affluent Americans and the rest of society is changing the country into one defined—more than almost any other developed nation—by exceptional inequality of income, wealth, and opportunity. This book reveals that an infrastructure of inequality, both open and hidden, obstructs the great majority in pursuing happiness, living healthy lives, and exercising basic rights. A government dominated by finance, corporate interests, and the wealthy has undermined democracy, stunted social mobility, and changed the character of the nation. In this tough-minded dissection of the gulf between the super-rich and the working and middle classes, Ronald P. Formisano explores how the dramatic rise of income inequality over the past four decades has transformed America from a land of democratic promise into one of diminished opportunity. Since the 1970s, government policies have contributed to the flow of wealth to the top income strata. The United States now is more a plutocracy than a democracy.

Formisano surveys the widening circle of inequality’s effects, the exploitation of the poor and the middle class, and the new ways that predators take money out of Americans’ pockets while passive federal and state governments stand by. This data-driven book offers insight into the fallacy of widespread opportunity, the fate of the middle class, and the mechanisms that perpetuate income disparity.

View the book trailer



Narrating 9/11: Fantasies of State, Security, and Terrorism
edited by John N. Duvall and Robert P. Marzec

Winner, 2014 Dale Brown Book Award, Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies

Narrating 9/11 challenges the notion that Americans have overcome the national trauma of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The volume responds to issues of war, surveillance, and the expanding security state, including the Bush Administration’s policies on preemptive war, extraordinary rendition, torture abroad, and the suspension of privacy rights and civil liberties at home.

Building on the work of Giorgio Agamben, Slavoj Žižek, and Donald Pease, the contributors focus on the ways in which post-9/11 narratives help make visible the fantasies that attempt to justify the ongoing state of exception and American exceptionalism. Narrating 9/11 examines a variety of contemporary narratives as they relate to the cultural construction of the neoliberal nation-state, a role that mediates the possibilities of ethnic and religious identity as well as the ability to imagine terrorism.

Touching on some of the mainstays of 9/11 fiction, including Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close and John Updike’s Terrorist, the book expands this particular canon by considering the work of such writers as Jess Walter, William Gibson, Lauren Groff, Ken Kalfus, Ian McEwan, Philip Roth, John le Carré, Laila Halaby, Michael Chabon, and Jarett Kobek. Narrating 9/11 pushes beyond a critical focus on domestic realism, offering chapters that examine speculative and genre fiction, postmodernism, climate change, and the evolving security state, as well as the television series Lost and the film Paradise Now.


The Higher Learning in America: The Annotated Edition
by Thorstein Veblen, edited with an introduction and notes by Richard F. Teichgraeber III

Since its publication in 1918, Thorstein Veblen’s The Higher Learning in America has remained a text that every serious student of the American university must confront. Intellectual historian Richard Teichgraeber brings us the first scholarly edition of Veblen’s classic, thoroughly edited, annotated, and indexed. An extensive introduction discusses the book’s composition and publishing history, Veblen’s debts to earlier critics of the American university, and the place of The Higher Learning in America in current debates about the American university.

Veblen’s insights into the American university system at the outset of the twentieth century are as provocative today as they were when first published. Insisting that institutions of higher learning should be dedicated solely to the disinterested pursuit of knowledge, he urged American universities to abandon commitments to extraneous pursuits such as athletics, community service, and vocational education. He also believed that the corporate model of governance—with university boards of trustees dominated by well-to-do businessmen and university presidents who functioned essentially as businessmen in academic dress—mandated unsavory techniques of salesmanship and self-promotion that threatened to reduce institutions of higher learning to the status of competitive business enterprises.

With a detailed chronology, suggested readings, and comprehensive notes identifying events, individuals, and institutions to which Veblen alludes, this volume is sure to become the standard teaching text for Veblen’s classic work and an invaluable resource for students of both the history and the current workings of the American university.


Light It Up: The Marine Eye for Battle in the War for Iraq
by John Pettegrew

American military power in the War on Terror has increasingly depended on the capacity to see the enemy. The act of seeing—enhanced by electronic and digital technologies—has separated shooter from target, eliminating risk of bodily harm to the remote warrior, while YouTube videos eroticize pulling the trigger and video games blur the line between simulated play and fighting.

Light It Up examines the visual culture of the early twenty-first century. Focusing on the Marine Corps, which played a critical part in the invasion and occupation of Iraq, John Pettegrew argues that U.S. military force in the Iraq War was projected through an “optics of combat.” Powerful military technology developed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars has placed war in a new posthuman era.

Pettegrew’s interviews with Marines, as well as his analysis of first-person shooter videogames and combat footage, lead to startling insights into the militarization of popular digital culture. An essential study for readers interested in modern warfare, policy makers, and historians of technology, war, and visual and military culture.


JHU Press Journals:

American Quarterly
Technology and Culture
Philosophy and Literature

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