Category Archives: New Books

New Book: Love, Liberation, and Escaping Slavery: William and Ellen Craft in Cultural Memory by Barbara McCaskill

McCaskill_LoveLiberation_LR.inddFrom the University of Georgia PressLove, Liberation, and Escaping Slavery: William and Ellen Craft in Cultural Memory, is Barbara McCaskill’s study of pivotal moments in the dynamic lives of William and Ellen Craft, two African Americans who successfully fled from American bondage.  Passing as a white southern planter and gentleman, Ellen Craft left Georgia in 1848, with her husband William completing the performance as his “master’s” obedient servant.  McCaskill examines transatlantic periodicals and print productions to discuss how the Crafts publicly represented themselves, the advantages and limitations of alliances they forged with British and American reformers, and what their story tells us about how we remember slavery.  Her reading of their narrative, Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom, highlights themes of community, partnership, and visibility that characterized their transatlantic activism, and where their endeavors sometimes fell short.  Her study concludes with evaluation of the couple’s extraordinary decision to return to Georgia and educate the freedpeople.

New Book: American Paintings at Harvard Volume 1: Paintings, Watercolors, and Pastels by Artists Born Before 1826 by Theodore E. Stebbins Jr. and Melissa Renn, Eds.

america's paintings harvard coverFrom Yale University Press: This volume features nearly 500 paintings, watercolors, pastels, and miniatures from Harvard University’s storied, yet little-known, collection of American art. These works, many unpublished, are drawn from the Harvard Art Museums, the University Portrait Collection, the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, and other entities, and date from the early colonial years to the mid-19th century. Highlights include a rare group of 17th-century portraits, along with important paintings by Robert Feke, John Singleton Copley, Charles Willson Peale, Gilbert Stuart, and Washington Allston, in addition to works depicting western and Native American subjects by Alexandre de Batz, Henry Inman, and Alfred Jacob Miller, among others. Each work is accompanied by scholarly commentary that draws on extensive new research, as well as a complete exhibition and reference history. An introduction by Theodore E. Stebbins Jr. describes the history of the collection. Lavishly illustrated in color, this compendium is a testament to the nation’s oldest collection of American art, and an essential resource for scholars and collectors alike.

New Book: America’s England: Antebellum Literature and Atlantic Sectionalism by Christopher Hanlon

America's England CoverFrom Oxford University PressAmerica’s England examines the patterns of affiliation through which antebellum northerners and southerners in the United States codified their antipathies in terms of various constructions of England. Hanlon argues that widely circulated fantasies of English racial origins, sweeping English geographies and picturesque spaces, transatlantic telecommunication, and Free Trade economics rallied writers and public intellectuals such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Frederick Douglass, Lydia Child, Henry Timrod, William Gilmore Simms, George Fitzhugh, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Charles Sumner, Henry Herbert, and many others as they situated the cisatlantic crisis at oceanic removes.


New Book: Common Things: Romance and the Aesthetics of Belonging in Atlantic Modernity by James D. Lilley

Common Things coverFrom Fordham University Press: What are the relationships between the books we read and the communities we share? Common Things explores how transatlantic romance revivals of the eighteenth and nineteenth century influenced—and were influenced by—emerging modern systems of community.Drawing on the work of Washington Irving, Henry Mackenzie, Thomas Jefferson, James Fenimore Cooper, Robert Montgomery Bird, and Charles Brockden Brown, the book shows how romance promotes a distinctive aesthetics of belonging—a mode of being in common tied to new qualities of the singular. Each chapter focuses on one of these common things—the stain of race, the “property” of personhood, ruined feelings, the genre of a text, and the event of history—and examines how these peculiar qualities work to sustain the coherence of our modern common places. In the work of Horace Walpole and Edgar Allan Poe, the book further uncovers an important— and never more timely—alternative aesthetic practice that reimagines community as an open and fugitive process rather than as a collection of common things.

New Book: Tropics of Haiti Race and the Literary History of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World, 1789-1865 by Marlene L. Daut

From Liverpool University PressTropics of Haiti,jpgThe Haitian Revolution (1791–1804) was an event of monumental world-historical significance, and here, in the first systematic literary history of those events, Haiti’s war of independence is examined through the eyes of its actual and imagined participants, observers, survivors, and cultural descendants. The ‘transatlantic print culture’ under discussion in this literary history reveals that enlightenment racial ‘science’ was the primary vehicle through which the Haitian Revolution was interpreted by nineteenth-century Haitians, Europeans, and U.S. Americans alike. Through its author’s contention that the Haitian revolutionary wars were incessantly racialized by four constantly recurring tropes—the ‘monstrous hybrid’, the ‘tropical temptress’, the ‘tragic mulatto/a’, and the ‘colored historian’—Tropics of Haiti shows the ways in which the nineteenth-century tendency to understand Haiti’s revolution in primarily racial terms has affected present day demonizations of Haiti and Haitians. In the end, this new archive of Haitian revolutionary writing, much of which has until now remained unknown to the contemporary reading public, invites us to examine how nineteenth-century attempts to paint Haitian independence as the result of a racial revolution coincide with present-day desires to render insignificant and ‘unthinkable’ the second independent republic of the New World.


New Book: Transatlantic Romanticism by Andrew Hemingway and Alan Wallach, Eds.

From the University of Massachusetts Press:transatlantic.romanticism.cover That the Romantic movement was an international phenomenon is a commonplace, yet to date, historical study of the movement has tended to focus primarily on its national manifestations. This volume offers a new perspective. In thirteen chapters devoted to artists and writers of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, leading scholars of the period examine the international exchanges that were crucial for the rise of Romanticism in England and the United States.

In the book’s introduction, Andrew Hemingway—building on the theoretical work of Michael Lowy and Robert Sayre—proposes that we need to remobilize the concept of Weltanschauung, or comprehensive worldview, in order to develop the kind of synthetic history of arts and ideas the phenomenon of Romanticism demands. The essays that follow focus on the London and New York art worlds and such key figures as Benjamin West, Thomas Bewick, John Vanderlyn, Washington Allston, John Martin, J. M. W. Turner, Thomas Cole, James Fenimore Cooper, George Catlin, Edgar Allan Poe, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Herman Melville. Taken together, these essays plot the rise of a romantic anti-capitalist Weltanschauung as well as the dialectic between Romanticism’s national and international manifestations.

In addition to the volume editors, contributors include Matthew Beaumont, David Bindman, Leo Costello, Nicholas Grindle, Wayne Franklin, Janet Koenig, William Pressly, Robert Sayre, William Truettner, Dell Upton, and William Vaughan. – See more at:

New Book: Hospitality and the Transatlantic Imagination, 1815-1835, by Cynthia Schoolar Williams


9781137340047From Palgrave MacMillan: “At the exhausted conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars, as nationalisms gained momentum, writers as diverse as Mary Shelley, James Fenimore Cooper, Washington Irving, and Felicia Hemans took up the discourse of hospitality. In a series of innovative transatlantic texts, they posed urgent questions about displacement and the nation: How does one claim to belong? What are the limits of welcome?Hospitality and the Transatlantic Imagination, 1815-1835 argues that this select group of late-Romantic English and American writers disrupted national tropes by reclaiming their countries’ shared historical identification with hospitality. In doing so, they reimagined the spaces of encounter: the city, the young republic, the coast of England, and the Atlantic itself.”



New Book: New World Drama: The Performative Commons in the Atlantic World, 1649-1849 by Elizabeth Maddock Dillon

Dillon_pbk_cvr_NS.inddFrom Duke University Press: “In New World Drama, Elizabeth Maddock Dillon turns to the riotous scene of theatre in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world to explore the creation of new publics. Moving from England to the Caribbean to the early United States, she traces the theatrical emergence of a collective body in the colonized New World—one that included indigenous peoples, diasporic Africans, and diasporic Europeans. In the raucous space of the theatre, the contradictions of colonialism loomed large. Foremost among these was the central paradox of modernity: the coexistence of a massive slave economy and a nascent politics of freedom.

Audiences in London eagerly watched the royal slave, Oroonoko, tortured on stage, while audiences in Charleston and Kingston were forbidden from watching the same scene. Audiences in Kingston and New York City exuberantly participated in the slaying of Richard III on stage, enacting the rise of the “people,” and Native American leaders were enjoined to watch actors in blackface “jump Jim Crow.” Dillon argues that the theater served as a “performative commons,” staging debates over representation in a political world based on popular sovereignty. Her book is a capacious account of performance, aesthetics, and modernity in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world.”


New Book: Emily Dickinson’s Rich Conversation by Richard E. Brantley


From The publisher, “Emily Dickinson’s Rich Conversation explores the function of hope in Dickinson’s poems and looks to place her in a broad cultural context. Brantley teases out the implications of a succinct central perception by treating that perception as a pebble tossed into the pool of late-19th-century transatlantic culture. His departure from familiar stylistics and his challenging yet entertaining mode of analysis make for delightful reading.” – Paul Crumbley, Professor of English and Director of the Undergraduate American Studies Program, Utah State University, USA