This new issue of JAS begins with Richard King's moving and reflective essay on the life and career of Michael O'Brien, who tragically died last year after a career in which he established himself as one of the world's leading historians of the intellectual history of the US South. Part biography, part critical reflection of his life's work, King's essay offers an evocative and powerful tribute to O'Brien's academic legacy.
This essay is followed by Matthew Babcock's “Territoriality and the Historiography of Early North America.” Tracing an indigenous perspective, he uses the Ndé (Apaches) as a case study to map the interdisciplinary origins and historiography of early North American scholars by paying particular attention to the search for the political control of territory. Shifting time period to the 1920s, Joan Saab focusses on material culture in her essay “Radical Craft: Exhibiting Homelands in Rochester, New York.” Here, she places not only the craft objects but also their makers and their creative labor into a wider context of local and national history. Working within the context of the fight for civil rights, Randall Stephens examines the relationship between religion and politics in “‘It Has to Come from the Hearts of the People’: Evangelicals, Fundamentalists, Race, and the 1964 Civil Rights Act.” He exposes the religious dimensions undergirding modern US conservatives to show how evangelicals and fundamentalists engaged in politics and understood race and racism in personal terms.
Forrest Pass's “Strange Whims of Crest Fiends: Marketing Heraldry in the United States, 1880–1980” examines the ways in which a century of marketing results in an American heraldry that is both more accessible than its European antecedents and less closely tied to verifiable genealogical relationships. In “The Ethics of Intervention: US Writers and the Mexican Revolution,” Kimberly O'Neill analyzes the life and works of leftist journalists John Kenneth Turner, John Reed, and Katherine Anne Porter. She sheds light on their determination to craft a discourse of activism to help the US public imagine themselves as participants in a new hemispheric democracy. Zachary Vernon's “Toward a Post-Appalachian Sense of Place” analyzes novels by Appalachian writers Ron Rash, Terry Roberts, and Charles Frazier to trace recent developments in post-southern theory. Coming to grips with a popular-cultural phenomenon, David Metzer's “The Power Ballad and the Power of Sentimentality” interprets this renowned lyric form in terms of the songwriter's determination to expose a slippage between public and private sentiment. In his article, Nikolai Duffy offers a richly illuminating examination of conceptual writing and the linked concept of boredom in the work of contemporary poet, Kenneth Goldsmith.
Dario Fazzi's “A Voice of Conscience: How Eleanor Roosevelt Helped to Popularize the Debate on Nuclear Fallout, 1950–1954” examines her position on nuclear weapons, deterrence, and disarmament; her condemnation of nuclear testing; and her role as both a public intellectual and a mass educator who helped people to understand the real consequences of nuclear fallout. Breaking new ground in a different direction, Kristine Miller investigates the 9/11 Report to theorize its connection between the defense of the nation and the defense of the humanities in “Institutionalizing Imagination: National Defense and Defense of the Humanities in The 9/11 Report.” Finally on the articles front, Gregory Frame's “‘The Real Thing’: Election Campaigns and the Question of Authenticity in American Film and Television” analyzes The Candidate (1972), Tanner ’88 (1988), Wag the Dog (1997) and The West Wing (1999–2006) to provide in-depth understanding regarding the role placed by popular-cultural critique in the electoral process.
The print reviews section is dedicated to a long-form roundtable marking the thirtieth anniversary of the publication of Cathy N. Davidson's Revolution and the Word: The Rise of the Novel in America (1986). Edited by Matthew Pethers and including contributions from Duncan Faherty, Thomas Koenigs, Karen Weyler, Ed White, Siân Silyn Roberts, and Davidson herself, this deep and engaging set of essays provides an important reconsideration of a key text in the history of the book in America. Overall, it demonstrates not only Revolution and the Word's signal contribution to scholarship in that field, but also the continuing relevance of Davidson's intellectual and political project, three decades after publication. Online, we include twenty-eight reviews of a range of recent scholarship in American studies, with topics ranging from southern foodways to the correspondence of John Kasper and Ezra Pound.