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Series: Series in American History

Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on Virginia: A Prolegomena

M. Andrew Holowchak

ISBN: 978-1-64889-620-0
Availability: Pre-order
$75 £59 €69

'Thomas Jefferson’s' Notes on Virginia: 'A Prolegomena' is an attempt to provide an alternative reading to current interpretations of the book. The book is neither a simple omnium gatherum nor its message accessible only through deconstruction. There is, Holowchak asserts, a fairly obvious movement from nature ('phusis') in the first seven queries to culture ('nomos') in the remaining 17 queries. Jefferson’s aim is the appropriation of what nature had given for humans’ use—to perfect the social state by taming nature and putting it to use for human betterment. The book was meant to be read at first precisely in the manner in which he had lain out his queries. Once read thus, the discerning reader would see the dialectical relationship between the natural and cultural queries. There are today two common theses advanced by scholars who have tackled the issue of Jefferson’s motives in crafting his 'Notes on Virginia'. The first thesis, the Alphabet-Soup Thesis, maintains that the book is more or less a loose collection of notes in answer to the queries given by French diplomat François Barbé-Marbois. Jefferson’s altering the arrangement of his answers to the questions is a matter of allowing for a smoother “narrative” for his answers, but other than that, one ought to be cautious not to read too much into his restructuring. The second thesis, the Deconstructionist Thesis, is that meticulous deconstruction of the text reveals a latent thesis, which Jefferson, consciously or subconsciously, kept insidiously from his readers. Both views are problematic. The former cannot explain why Jefferson fell so deeply into the project, rearranged Marbois’ questions so that the book would flow smoothly from nature to culture, and continually revise his often-lengthy answers, even after the Stockdale edition in 1787. The latter suffers from the fact that Jefferson tended never to write elliptically.

Field Hollers And Freedom Songs: The Anthology

Featuring the collected works from the Sweat Equity Investment in the Cotton Kingdom Symposium

Edited by C. Sade Turnipseed, Khafre, Inc ; Mississippi Valley State University, USA

ISBN: 978-1-62273-504-4
Availability: In stock
293pp. ¦ $77 £61 €67

Taking place annually in “the most southern place on earth,” aka, the “Cotton Kingdom,” the Sweat Equity Investment in the Cotton Kingdom Symposium offers a platform to honor, celebrate, and recognize the legacy of the African Americans who labored in the cotton fields of the Mississippi Delta. The symposium intends to trigger discussions and provide a space where the histories and contributions of those Americans can be heard and learned from. Born in the antebellum south, the “soul of America” came to be through the tearful occupation of planting, chopping, picking and ginning cotton, where it was then brined within a system of enslavement, sharecropping and international trade that in so many ways provided America its “greatness.” Carefully compiled from works presented at the symposia, this anthology looks to expose the tortured “cotton-pickin’ spirit” embedded in America’s soul. A spirit that is rendered in song, chants, spoken word and field hollers, and revealed in this volume through the selected articles, lyric poetry, proverbs, speeches, slave narratives and workshop proposals. The rich and varied content of this book reflects the uniqueness of not only the Mississippi Delta but also the histories of those who lived and worked there.

Thomas Jefferson on Taste and the Fine Arts

M. Andrew Holowchak

August 2022 / ISBN: 978-1-64889-478-7
Availability: In stock
217pp. ¦ $73 £58 €68

Jefferson tended to classify the books of his libraries under the Baconian headings of memory, reason, and imagination, which corresponded to history, philosophy, and the fine arts. Thus, education in the Fine Arts, which Jefferson listed as eight, was considered an indispensible part of the life of an educated person—especially a Virginian. An educated person needed knowledge of architecture, gardening, painting, sculpture, rhetoric, belle lettres, poetry music, and criticism, considered as a sort of meta-art. Knowledge of such arts was indispensible because each person, thought Jefferson, was equipped with a faculty of taste as well as ratiocination and a moral-sense faculty—each of which required cultivation for human thriving. An uncultivated imagination would severely impair ratiocination and moral sensitivity. This book is the first book-length attempt to flesh out and critically assess Jefferson’s views on taste and the Fine Arts. It is a must read for any serious biographer of Jefferson.

Thomas Jefferson in Paris: The Ministry of a Virginian “Looker-on”

M. Andrew Holowchak

July 2022 / ISBN: 978-1-64889-473-2
Availability: In stock
265pp. ¦ $75 £59 €70

Jefferson’s years in France as minister plenipotentiary were a time of large edification. He approached his ministry as a “looker on”: Jefferson, while in France, always kept a critical distance from events, so that he could measure and critically examine them from the perspective of a dispassionate natural philosopher. Being dispassionate, Jefferson was pulled into events only insofar as circumstances required him to do so. Yet his “adventures” from his critical distance (e.g., his trip to London to meet the king, his ventures in the salons of Paris, and his travels through Southern France, Northern Italy, the Rhineland, and the Netherlands) were many, and varied. He even, at times, lost his critical, looker-on perspective from distance as he allowed himself to become immersed in events, as in the case of his relationship with lovely Italian artist and musician Maria Cosway. This book is a portal into the mind of Thomas Jefferson, as looker-on, during his tenure in Paris. Why was Jefferson so eager to accept the ministry to Paris? What was his impression of the great city and its people while he stayed? What lessons, while in Paris, did he learn which he could transport to Virginia and his country? Those and other questions Holowchak aims to answer in this book.

The Hamilton Phenomenon

Edited by Chloe Northrop, Tarrant County College

February 2022 / ISBN: 978-1-64889-125-0
Availability: In stock
252pp. ¦ $83 £64 €71

'The Hamilton Phenomenon' brings together a diverse group of scholars including university professors and librarians, educators at community colleges, Ph.D. candidates and independent scholars, in an exploration of the celebrated Broadway hit. When Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical sensation erupted onto Broadway in 2015, scholars were underprepared for the impact the theatrical experience would have. Miranda’s use of rap, hip-hop, jazz, and Broadway show tunes provides the basis for this whirlwind showcase of America’s past through a reinterpretation of eighteenth-century history. Bound together by their shared interest in 'Hamilton: an American Musical', the authors in this volume diverge from a common touchstone to uncover the unique moment presented by this phenomenon. The two parts of this book feature different emerging themes, ranging from the meaning of the musical on stage, to how the musical is impacting pedagogy and teaching in the 21st century. The first part places Hamilton in the history of theatrical performances of the American Revolution, compares it with other musicals, and fleshes out the significance of postcolonial studies within theatrical performances. Esteemed scholars and educators provide the basis for the second part with insights on the efficacy, benefits, and pitfalls of teaching using Hamilton. Although other scholarly works have debated the historical accuracy of Hamilton, 'The Hamilton Phenomenon' benefits from more distance from the release of the musical, as well as the dissemination of the hit through traveling productions and the summer 2020 release on Disney+. Through critically engaging with Hamilton these authors unfold new insights on early American history, pedagogy, costume, race in theatrical performances, and the role of theatre in crafting interest in history.

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