University of Mississippi

Writing the Welsh Borderlands in Anglo-Saxon England

This is the first study of the Anglo-Welsh border region in the period before the Norman arrival in England, from the fifth to the twelfth centuries. Its conclusions significantly alter our current picture of Anglo/Welsh relations before the Norman Conquest by overturning the longstanding critical belief that relations between these two peoples during this period were predominately contentious. Writing the Welsh borderlands in Anglo-Saxon England demonstrates that the region which would later become the March of Wales was not a military frontier in Anglo-Saxon England, but a distinctively mixed Anglo-Welsh cultural zone which was depicted as a singular place in contemporary Welsh and Anglo-Saxon texts. This study reveals that the region of the Welsh borderlands was much more culturally coherent, and the impact of the Norman Conquest on it much greater, than has been previously realized.

In the Neighborhood

In this compelling and original book, Caroline Wigginton reshapes our understanding of early American literary history. Overturning long-standing connections between the male-dominated print culture of pamphlets, broadsides, and newspapers and the transformative ideas that instigated the American Revolution, Wigginton explores how women’s “relational publications”―circulated texts, objects, and performances―transformed their public and intimate worlds. She argues that Native, black, and white women’s interpersonal “publications” revolutionized the dynamics of power and connection in public and private spaces, whether those spaces were Quaker meeting houses, Creek talwas, trading posts, burial grounds, or the women’s own “neighborhoods.”

Informed by deep and rich archival research, Wigginton’s case studies explore specific instances of “relational publication.” The book begins with a pairing of examples―the statement a grieving Lenape mother made through a wampum belt and the political affiliations created when a salon hostess shared her poetry. Subsequent chapters trace a history of women’s publication practice, including a Creek woman’s diplomatic and legal procession-spectacles in the colonial Southeast, a black mother’s expression of protest in Newport, Rhode Island, and the resulting evangelical revival, Phillis Wheatley’s elegies that refigured neighborhoods of enslaved and free Bostonians, and a Quaker woman’s pious and political commonplace book in Revolutionary Philadelphia.

Reconstructing Violence

In this bold study of cinematic depictions of violence in the south, Deborah E. Barker explores the ongoing legacy of the “southern rape complex” in American film. Taking as her starting point D. W. Griffith’s infamous The Birth of a Nation, Barker demonstrates how the tropes and imagery of the southern rape complex continue to assert themselves across a multitude of genres, time periods, and stylistic modes.
Drawing from Gilles Deleuze’s work on cinema, Barker examines plot, dialogue, and camera technique as she considers several films: The Story of Temple Drake (1933), Sanctuary (1958), Touch of Evil (1958), To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), and Cape Fear (1962). Placing this body of analysis in the context of the historical periods when these films appeared and the literary sources on which they are based, Barker reveals the protean power of cinematic racialized violence amid the shifting cultural and political landscapes of the South and the nation as a whole.
By focusing on familiar literary and cinematic texts — each produced or set during moments of national crisis such as the Great Depression or the civil rights movement — Barker’s Reconstructing Violence offers fresh insights into the anxiety that has underpinned sexual and racial violence in cinematic representations of the South.

Heating & Cooling

The 52 micro-memoirs in genre-defying Heating & Cooling offer bright glimpses into a richly lived life, combining the compression of poetry with the truth-telling of nonfiction into one heartfelt, celebratory book. Ranging from childhood recollections to quirky cultural observations, these micro-memoirs build on one another to arrive at a portrait of Beth Ann Fennelly as a wife, mother, writer, and deeply original observer of life’s challenges and joys. Some pieces are wistful, some wry, and many reveal the humor buried in our everyday interactions. Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs shapes a life from unexpectedly illuminating moments, and awakens us to these moments as they appear in the margins of our lives.

Lucky Fish

Poetry. Asian American Studies. LUCKY FISH travels along a lush current—a confluence of leaping vocabulary and startling formal variety, with upwelling gratitude at its source: for love, motherhood, “new hope,” and the fluid and rich possibilities of words themselves. With an exuberant appetite for “my morning song, my scurry-step, my dew,” anchored in complicated human situations, this astounding young poet’s third collection of poems is her strongest yet.

Beyond the Crossroads

The devil is the most charismatic and important figure in the blues tradition. He’s not just the music’s namesake (“the devil’s music”), but a shadowy presence who haunts an imagined Mississippi crossroads where, it is claimed, Delta bluesman Robert Johnson traded away his soul in exchange for extraordinary prowess on the guitar. Yet, as scholar and musician Adam Gussow argues, there is much more to the story of the devil and the blues than these cliched understandings.

In this groundbreaking study, Gussow takes the full measure of the devil’s presence. Working from original transcriptions of more than 125 recordings released during the past ninety years, Gussow explores the varied uses to which black southern blues people have put this trouble-sowing, love-wrecking, but also empowering figure. The book culminates with a bold reinterpretation of Johnson’s music and a provocative investigation of the way in which the citizens of Clarksdale, Mississippi, managed to rebrand a commercial hub as “the crossroads” in 1999, claiming Johnson and the devil as their own.

Corporate Romanticism

Corporate Romanticism offers an alternative history of the connections between modernity, individualism, and the novel. In early nineteenth-century England, two developments―the rise of corporate persons and the expanded scale of industrial action―undermined the basic assumption underpinning both liberalism and the law: that individual human persons can be meaningfully correlated with specific actions and particular effects. Reading works by Godwin, Austen, Hogg, Mary Shelley, and Dickens alongside a wide-ranging set of debates in nineteenth-century law and Romantic politics and aesthetics, Daniel Stout argues that the novel, a literary form long understood as a reflection of individualism’s ideological ascent, in fact registered the fragile fictionality of accountable individuals in a period defined by corporate actors and expansively entangled fields of action.

Examining how liberalism, the law, and the novel all wrestled with the moral implications of a highly collectivized and densely packed modernity, Corporate Romanticism reconfigures our sense of the nineteenth century and its novels, arguing that we see in them not simply the apotheosis of laissez-fair individualism but the first chapter of a crucial and distinctly modern problem about how to fit the individualist and humanist terms of justice onto a world in which the most consequential agents are no longer persons.

Stripper in Wonderland

The percussive poems of Stripper in Wonderland move from birth to death, funk to hip-hop, and racism to religion as Derrick Harriell explores the life of a modern black man transplanted from the American Midwest to the Deep South.

Harriell summons the ghosts of the past as he deals with the realities of the present. He carefully winds images and words together to produce powerful, often graphic, poems that inform our view of one another as they punch through our assumptions.

Sunset City

Twenty-two-year-old Charlotte Ford reconnects with Danielle, her best friend from high school, a few days before Danielle is found bludgeoned to death in a motel room. In the wake of the murder, Charlotte’s life unravels and she descends into the city’s underbelly, where she meets the strippers, pornographers and drug dealers who surrounded Danielle in the years they were estranged.

From Slave Ship To Supermax

In his cogent and groundbreaking book, From Slave Ship to Supermax, Patrick Elliot Alexander argues that the disciplinary logic and violence of slavery haunt depictions of the contemporary U.S. prison in late twentieth-century Black fiction. Alexander links representations of prison life in James Baldwin’s novel If Beale Street Could Talk to his engagements with imprisoned intellectuals like George Jackson, who exposed historical continuities between slavery and mass incarceration. Likewise, Alexander reveals how Toni Morrison’s Beloved was informed by Angela Y. Davis’s jail writings on slavery-reminiscent practices in contemporary women’s facilities. Alexander also examines recurring associations between slave ships and prisons in Charles Johnson’s Middle Passage, and connects slavery’s logic of racialized premature death to scenes of death row imprisonment in Ernest Gaines’ A Lesson Before Dying.

Alexander ultimately makes the case that contemporary Black novelists depict racial terror as a centuries-spanning social control practice that structured carceral life on slave ships and slave plantations–and that mass-produces prisoners and prisoner abuse in post-Civil Rights America. These authors expand free society’s view of torment confronted and combated in the prison industrial complex, where discriminatory laws and the institutionalization of secrecy have reinstated slavery’s system of dehumanization.