Director, Humanities Honors Program
|American cultural history, nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century America, Civil War studies, gender studies, print culture|
My research interests span the social and cultural history of nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century America, with an emphasis on the intersections of print culture, race, gender, and space. Trained both in literature and history, I often examine the public spaces produced by print culture, as well as their multiple political meanings. My first book, for instance, The Imagined Civil War: Popular Literature of the North and South, 1861-1865 (University of North Carolina Press, 2001), was a study of the popular print culture of the Civil War and its relationship to changing meanings of race, gender, and democratic citizenship.
I followed this work with a collection of essays, The Memory of the Civil War in American Culture (University of North Carolina Press, 2004), co-edited with Professor Joan Waugh of UCLA. My interest in Civil War gender studies also led me to publish an edition of Louisa May Alcott’s wartime Hospital Sketches (Bedford Books, 2003), which I have found a fascinating text for its rendering of the changing meanings of gender and citizenship in wartime.
While I maintain a continuing interest in Civil War social and cultural history, my recent work has expanded to include the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, an era of explosive expansion in so-called "yellow" journalism. My forthcoming book, Out on Assignment: Newspaper Women and the Making of Modern Public Space (University of North Carolina Press, Fall 2011), examines some of the hundreds of little-known newspaper women who entered metropolitan work for mass-circulation dailies at the turn of the century. I am especially interested in newspaper women’s articulation of a new, gendered, public modernity, made visible through the public spaces newspaper women created with their journalistic work.
I am currently working on several projects within Civil War studies and turn-of-the-century American culture. But recently my work took a personal turn, as well: I am now immersed in writing a book with Mimi Chubb, on the relationship between the poet Robert Duncan and Ned Fahs. Duncan and Fahs met at Berkeley in the late 1930s; lived together briefly in Annapolis; traveled often together to New York; but eventually ended their relationship in 1940. The two men took very different paths in life—Duncan embraced poetry as the center of his life and found a life partner in the painter and collagist Jess; Fahs, on the other hand, married, lived out his life “in the closet,” and was blacklisted as a Foreign Service officer during the Lavender Scare of the early 1950s. Telling the story of their convergence and divergence, as well the very different paths they chose, has put my historical training to work in my own family history—a fascinating experience.
Out on Assignment: Newspaper Women and the Making of Modern Public Space (University of North Carolina Press, forthcoming Fall 2011)
Co-author, Liberty, Equality, Power: A History of the American People, 5th and 6th editions (Cengage Publishing, 2007-2011)
The Memory of the Civil War in American Culture, co-edited with Joan Waugh (University of North Carolina Press, 2004)
Editor, Hospital Sketches, by Louisa May Alcott (Bedford Books, 2003)
The Imagined Civil War: Popular Literature of the North and South, 1861-1865, (University of North Carolina Press, 2001)
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