Author: Jessica Castro-Rappl

2019 Foerster Prize Winner Announced

We’re pleased to announce the winner of the 2019 Norman Foerster Prize, awarded to the best essay of the year in American Literature: “Reconstructing Revenge: Race and Justice after the Civil War” by Gregory Laski, published in volume 91, issue 4. Read the essay, freely available through the end of March, here.

The prize committee had this to say about the winning essay:

“Gregory Laski presents an ambitious, thorough, and wide-ranging discussion of the vexed rhetoric of revenge and forgiveness in the postbellum South. His reading of diverse historical and legal documents concerned with vengeance demonstrates both the risks and utility of vengeance during this period; it also deftly sets up his persuasive reading of Pauline Hopkins’s understudied 1902 novel Winona. Laski dismantles the false distinction between justice and revenge through the notion of “righteous revenge” in paradigm-shifting ways. That this idea engages with larger ethical questions about the redress of (ongoing) wrongs perpetrated against African Americans is made explicit in the elegant coda.”

There were two runners-up for this year’s Foerster Prize: Sara Marcus’s “‘Time Enough, but None to Spare’: The Indispensable Temporalities of Charles Chesnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition” (volume 91, issue 1) and Julius B. Fleming Jr.’s “Transforming Geographies of Black Time: How the Free Southern Theater Used the Plantation for Civil Rights Activism” (volume 91, issue 3). Both essays are freely available through March. The committee had these comments to share about the two runners-up:

“Sara Marcus’s essay challenges the prevailing tendency to associate linear time with heteronormativity, capital, racism, and imperialism and—correspondingly—nonlinear time with queerness, resistance, refusal, and escape.  Although this association has been useful in some ways, Marcus argues that it sets up a simplistic binary. In an insightful reading of Charles Chesnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition, Marcus shows that both normative and nonnormative temporalities are utilized by white supremacists to maintain and assert power. Conversely, teleological concepts for time can be embraced by black characters in the name of progress, while blackness can also interrupt the violence of racism by suspending time. Marcus strongly and convincingly makes the case that neither linear nor nonlinear temporalities are inherently oppressive or liberatory and therefore that scholars working on time abandon these cut-and-dried associations.

“Julius B. Fleming Jr. assembles a wide-ranging and unique archive to theorize what he terms ‘black patience,’ a concept whose contours, uses, and misuses he traces with meticulous care and bold insight. In the process, he advances a methodological approach to black patience (and to other useful notions, including time and timing more generally) that should deeply inform scholarship in African American culture, political organizing, and performance. This essay is a feat of original research, syncretic analysis, and inventive theorization.”

Congratulations to Gregory Laski, Sara Marcus, and Julius B. Fleming Jr.!

Trans Futures

In TSQ’s newest issue “Trans Futures,” edited by micha cárdenas and Jian Neo Chen, contributors introduce times and spaces of trans critique, experience, and imagination that challenge conventions of discipline, genre, method, and perception. They examine the state’s capacity to control trans lives and to render trans futures less than possible, and they also envision trans and queer practices of survival, reproduction, and transformation that move beyond these limitations.

Articles include:

and much more. Explore the full contents here and check out the introduction, freely available.

Diving Deep into Black Sacred Music

In today’s post, Dan Ruccia, Marketing Designer at Duke University Press and PhD in music composition, digs deep into our journal Black Sacred Music: A Journal of Theomusicology (published 1987–1995), outlining its highlights and contributions. Access to Black Sacred Music’s full archive is now available via individual subscription or library purchase.

coverimageIn the preface to “The Theology of American Popular Music” (3:2, 1989), Black Sacred Music editor Yahya Jongintaba (then known as Jon Michael Spencer) described theomusicology as “a musicological method for theologizing about the sacred (the religious/churched), the secular (the theistic unreligious/un-churched), and the profane (the atheistic/irreligious) . . . principally incorporating methods borrowed from anthropology, sociology, psychology, and philosophy.” Jongintaba saw theomusicology as a distinct branch of musicological study akin to ethnomusicology. He further envisioned it as a way to drive scholarly interest in popular music, which was then still largely ignored by musicology (popular music studies was still very much in its infancy) and religious studies. 

During its nine years of publication (1987–1995), the journal took a broad approach to its subject area, publishing scholarly essays on spirituals, the blues, rock, hip hop, and musical practices of the African and African-American church alongside a rich collection of archival documents recounting Black musical life from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Below are a few highlights.

coverimageIn “Musicology as a Theologically Informed Discipline” (8:1, 1994), journal editor Yahya Jongintaba lays out what he sees as the parameters of theomusicology as distinct from ethnomusicology. As he re-articulates the points about the interdisciplinary influences mentioned above, he also makes pointed critiques about the colonialist, eurocentric, and racist roots of those disciplines. He suggests that “theology can, in turn, liberate the social sciences by its willingness to confront oppressive scholarly methods, constructs, and intents on ethical grounds.” 

On Afro-American Popular Music: From Bebop to Rap” (6:1, 1992), part of the special issue “Sacred Music of the Secular City: From Blues to Rap,” is a reprint of a 1983 article in which Cornel West “provide[s] a cognitive mapping of the major breaks and ruptures in Afro-American popular music in light of their changing socioeconomic and political contexts from bebop to rap, from Charlie Parker to the Sugarhill Gang.” He gives special attention to Motown, the “technofunk” of Parliament/Funkadelic, and rap as dynamic expressions of Black identity and norm-breaking.

coverimageThe journal also featured some of the earliest scholarly discourse around hip hop, contained in the issue “The Emergency of Black and the Emergence of Rap” (5:1, 1991). Contributors to the issue chart the distinct phases of rap’s first decade, analyze the way Nation of Islam ideology weaves its way through Public Enemy’s music and performance, and investigate the African spirituality of MC Hammers “U Can’t Touch This.” Perhaps the most provocative article in the issue is Sonja Peterson-Lewis’s “A Feminist Analysis of the Defenses of Obscene Rap Lyrics,” which responds to the 2 Live Crew obscenity trial in 1990. Peterson-Lewis critiques 2 Live Crew’s lyrics, particularly the way their depictions of violence against women reinforce sexist tropes.

coverimageAnother key contribution from the journal was its publication of important archival materials. Most of its regular issues feature some kind of historical reprint: antislavery songs; accounts of the use of spirituals in various contexts; and articles by figures such as Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Paul Robeson, and Langston Hughes. In the issue Unsung Hymns by Black and Unknown Bards (4:1, 1990), Jongintaba collected 100 hymns—some are just lyrics, others include sheet music—written by 14 hymnists over nearly two centuries. While none of the authors are anonymous (like the authors/composers of many spirituals), most had been forgotten to history.

Finally, the journal published two invaluable readers of the prominent African-American composers William Grant Still (6:2, 1992) and R. Nathaniel Dett (5:2, 1991). The Dett Reader compiles 20 essays written between 1918 and 1938, documenting his research into the origins and history of spirituals. The Still Reader features 35 essays spanning 40 years discussing his views on classical music, race, and the role of the composer in the 20th century. These issues represent the most comprehensive collections of primary documents by these men.

Black Sacred Music provided a trove of innovative research and significant historical documents that cannot be found anywhere else. Today, scholars on four continents are involved in producing an array of theomusicology-focused books, articles, dissertations, theses, papers, lectures, blogs, and courses.

Black Sacred Music Archive Now Available

We are excited to announce the digitization of Black Sacred Music: A Journal of Theomusicology, published semiannually from 1987 to 1995 and now available online for the first time.

Subscribe now for access, or ask your library to purchase the archive.

Black Sacred Music, under the editorship of Yahya Jontingaba (formerly known as Jon Michael Spencer), sought to establish theomusicology—a theologically informed musicology—as a distinct discipline, incorporating methods from anthropology, sociology, psychology, and philosophy to examine the full range of black sacred music. Topics included the theology of American pop, the early days of rap, the African church, spirituals, gospel music, civil rights songs, and much more.

The journal consisted of scholarly articles, essays, hymns and folk songs, sermons, historical reprints, and reviews of books, hymn books, and recordings. It also published volumes of archival writings by R. Nathaniel Dett, William Grant Still, and Willis Laurence James.

Notable contributors include Philip V. Bohlman, Michael Eric Dyson, Andrew Greeley, Mark Sumner Harvey, Willie James Jennings, D. Soyini Madison, Sonja Peterson-Lewis, Harold Dean Trulear, William C. Turner Jr., Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu, Cornel West, and Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.

Now Available: Syllabi from Duke University Press

ES-Syllabi-header

In the spirit of University Press Week’s “Read. Think. Act.” theme, we’re thrilled to unveil a project that our team has been working on for months: staff-curated syllabi of incisive work on some of today’s most critical issues.

All journal articles and issues in these syllabi are freely available online until September 30, 2020. And you can save 40% on featured books and journal issues through the end of 2019 using coupon code SYLLABI at dukeupress.edu.

Our team at the Press sees scholarship as a powerful basis for understanding our current sociopolitical climate and working toward a brighter future. We encourage you to read and share the content we’ve selected, and we hope you find it valuable in preparing courses.

Interview with History of the Present editors Joan W. Scott and Brian Connolly

We’re excited to welcome History of the Present to our journals publishing program starting with its tenth-anniversary issue this spring. Joan Wallach Scott and Brian Connolly, two of the journal’s editors, sat down with us to discuss the journal’s resistance to mainstream standards, the kind of scholarship that the journal makes space for, and why joining Duke University Press feels like coming home.

DUP: How would you describe History of the Present to someone who’s new to the journal?

Brian: I think it’s for people who are interested and engaged in critical theory in the broadest sense, who are also interested primarily in historical problems—how to address critically theorized historical problems across multiple disciplines.

Joan: It’s for people who tend, in whatever discipline they are part of, to use history to think the interpretive and theoretical questions that they have. It’s not at all a journal confined to historians.

DUP: As founding editors, what need did you see for History of the Present to exist? What gaps does it fill?

Joan: We felt that the standard history journals had requirements for what counted as a serious scholarly article that we were very much in resistance to and critical of. As a group, we shared an impatience with a certain kind of orthodoxy, both methodological and presentational—how articles had to look and conform to some standard. We wanted to provide the space for people who are doing critical work—not only in history—to publish and not have to conform to the orthodox standards of mainstream disciplinary journals.

Brian: There was a sense in the historical discipline that it had its moment with post-structuralism and psychoanalysis in the 1990s and that “history” had moved past that. Most of us involved in founding the journal were working with some kind of theory, and we found that others—those who were doing the same kind of historical work we were interested in whether as historians or in other fields—had the same complaints. We wanted the journal to offer an interdisciplinary space for people working with theory, and while post-structuralism was one of our theories, it wasn’t the only one.

“We were sick and tired of the notion that theory was over.”

Joan: We were sick and tired of the notion that theory was over, and we wanted to say, no, theory is not over! It’s critical to the work that we do, and that a lot of people in other disciplines do as well. We wanted to have a place where that could be okay, where that could be demonstrated. We also wanted to give an opportunity for publication to younger scholars doing theoretically-informed work because their work was being turned down by some of the mainstream journals. It really was a kind of rebellion.

Brian: Particularly in literary studies, things like postcritique and surface reading have emerged to say that critique had its place and we’re trying to find a space after it. As a journal, we push against that, but we also say that these concerns with critique don’t look the same in history or anthropology or political theory as they do in literary criticism. So it reinvigorates the questions around critique.

DUP: What are you looking for right now in submissions?

Joan:We’re looking for articles that demonstrate the importance of theoretical thinking for the empirical work that’s being examined. We’re not anti-empirical at all. The point is to see how somebody’s theoretical perspective, whether it’s Marxist or Foucaldian or Derridian or psychoanalytic, is informing the kind of reading that they do. The articles that get us most excited are the ones where you can see that operating within the article. The ones least interesting to us are those that are entirely descriptive: describing a body of material without any new insight into what it could mean or how you could read or understand it.

Brian: We’re also looking for articles that think about the relationship between the past and present as something like a problem—rather than saying “if we just understood the past this way, then we would understand the present better,” saying that the relationship between past and present is problematic and complicated and political and ethical.

DUP: What special issues are planned for the journal?

Brian: There are two issues in the works that are related to each other, although they weren’t planned that way. One special issue will think about the way that what are called the new histories of capitalism, which emerged more or less around the recession of 2008, called for a rewriting of the history of capitalism. Some of that work doesn’t seem so new, so we hope the issue will look at some of the ways of thinking about the history of capitalism that get pushed to the side.

Joan: It would be a critical look at what’s taken to be the new history of capitalism.

Brian: The other special issue is on reproduction and racial capitalism—histories of racial capitalism and how reproduction gets articulated in those spaces. And we have more ideas for future issues, like psychoanalysis and history, which wouldn’t just be five or six articles that theorize psychoanalytic history but would rather show what a psychoanalytically informed history would look like.

And that’s where we distinguish ourselves, on the one hand from historians who are concerned only with empirical evidence, and on the other hand from pure theory. We don’t necessarily discourage pure theory essays, but we’re not a philosophy of history journal. We look for balance between theory and history.

DUP: History of the Present has a team of seven editors, rather than just one or two. Can you talk about this decision and how it benefits the journal?

“We have a reputation now as a journal that makes good articles better.”

Joan: We didn’t ever want to have a journal with one editor and an editorial board. A group of us came together to talk about founding a journal, and it never seemed like it would be anything else but the group of us doing it. It means that you get a lot of good input right away. When an article is submitted to the journal, before it’s sent out for readers, at least three of us read and respond to it.

You get a collective take on an article with different sorts of responses, and that makes a huge difference. The fact that we come at it from slightly different perspectives, we each have different personal tastes as well as scholarly commitments and interests, means that an article gets a better reading than it might from a single editor or managing editor who is saying “this is for us; this is not for us.”

Brian: It also allows us to work with authors more. If an article has a kernel of something great in it, we have seven people to split the labor to help the author develop that. We’re able to develop relationships that one editor just wouldn’t have time for.

Joan: We have a reputation now as a journal that makes good articles better through this kind of editorial intervention.

DUP: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Joan: Coming to Duke University Press is very important to us in our tenth year. In our first year, we won Best New Journal from the Council of Editors of Learned Journals, so it isn’t that we’ve lacked visibility, or that we haven’t increasingly seen submission of articles that are the kind we’d like to publish. We do see more and more people who get what we’re about and who want to be published in the journal—one author said their dream was to publish in History of the Present!

But coming to Duke puts us in the company of other journals that we feel very much akin to, like Social Text and Public Culture and differences. differences was our inspiration—Elizabeth Weed, one of the editors, said we should have a journal to make space for the kind of critical historical work we’re interested in doing. She and Denise Davis, the managing editor, gave us enormously useful advice at the beginning. None of us had ever done a journal before.

“Coming to Duke brings us into a family that feels more like who we are.”

Coming to Duke brings us into a family that feels more like who we are—a family of like-minded, critically engaged journals. That’s been tremendously exciting for us as we enter our second decade.

Brian: Despite the name History of the Present, we are just as interested in the past as in the present. In fact, we’re interested in all chronological periods, and we’re also looking to expand the geographical reach of the journal, to encourage submissions from people working in places like sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

Joan: Every once in a while, we have an article that is immediately relevant to contemporary events—for example, an upcoming article in our first issue with Duke is about Saudi Arabia and the war in Yemen. We also have an article about sanctuary, which although it starts in ancient Greece, is about sanctuary as a political concept. Moving to Duke, we’re excited for the chance to make some of these immediately topical articles freely available for a limited period—articles that look at contemporary issues, but with a question about how they got to be what they are now and with the assumption that the way they were in the past was different.

Radical Histories of Sanctuary

We are excited to announce that “Radical Histories of Sanctuary,” the newest issue of Radical History Review, edited by A. Naomi Paik, Jason Ruiz, and Rebecca M. Schreiber, is freely available through September 30, 2020. Start reading here.

coverimageContributors explore both contemporary and historical invocations of sanctuary, paying particular attention to its genealogies in social movements against state violence. They address not only immigrant activism but also topics such as indigenous strategies of survival in the Americas, gay liberation in rural spaces, and urban housing for refugees.

The essays contest liberal conventions of sanctuary that shore up the very forms of power and subjugation they seek to dismantle: from immigrant movements affirming the distinction between “good” and “bad” immigrants to gay liberation movements for police reform that fail to address the fundamental violence of policing.

Examining both the liberatory potential of sanctuary and its limits, the contributors argue for intersectional strategies of resistance that connect the struggles of disparate groups against repressive and violent power.

Interview with EASTS editor Wen-Hua Kuo

IMG_20190909_143508646Wen-Hua Kuo is editor in chief of East Asian Science, Technology and Society: An International Journal (EASTS) and Professor at the Institute of Science, Technology and Society and the Institute of Public Health at National Yang-Ming University in Taiwan. We sat down with him to discuss the history of EASTS, what sets the journal apart, and where EASTS is heading from here.

How did you come to be involved with EASTS?

I’ve been involved with the journal since its inception. When EASTS was in its preparation, I was in the United States; I earned my degree in Science, Technology, and Society (STS) at MIT. When I finished my degree, I started participating in activities like attending the annual meetings of 4S, the Society for Social Studies of Science—the first time I attended was in 2006. This was about the same time that scholars in Taiwan were trying to become more international in their approach to the history and philosophy of science. We had published an English journal on the history and philosophy of science (an STS-related field in the East Asian context) with a local publisher, but it didn’t work out. This time, we had the support of the Ministry of Science and Technology in Taiwan, which recognized science studies as an emerging topic and had the mission of promoting our work to a wider readership. I feel very lucky to have joined the journal at the very beginning—at that time, although we had several scholars working in STS, I was one of only a handful with a degree in the field.

13-3What qualities set EASTS apart from other journals in the field?

First, there are several journals published in Asia, but even some journals with longer histories than us still have some trouble with English. Although we’re not native English speakers, we’re very careful about that. We feel like for new topics like STS, you need to speak the same language so that it’s readable for scholars and for a common understanding of theoretical terms. You need some common ground to start with.

On another front, we treasure local communities: this was the most important feature in mind when we started EASTS. We’re not just a channel between Taiwan and the rest of the world; we want to see interactions among Asian societies. We intentionally set up an editorial structure to reflect that at the beginning, and we keep that tradition in mind while reviewing or soliciting papers or opening up special issues.

13-1

Can you talk about EASTS’s rich archive of special issues?

Over the years, we’ve created many special issues—probably ⅔ of our issues are thematic. This is one of the ways we recognize local traditions. The cover of our issue “Life, Science, and Power in History and Philosophy” (13.1) features a bust that’s instantly recognizable to people from Japan, especially those involved in the history of medicine, and it tells a story.

A good thing about special issues is that you can have local scholars control the quality of the issue and invite or encourage local contributors. The journal’s structure sets some basic limitations and provides a form that scholars can build on with their own creative, innovative sense. In that sense, Duke University Press did a great job working with us on that because we have a structure for our scholarship.

13-2What are you looking for in submissions now?

Our main source is international meetings, like 4S. We also attend regional conferences or conferences on Asian studies. This is very competitive work; at every conference, people compete for visibility. One phenomenon we’ve observed is that there are more and more STS or science panels at Asian studies conferences. That’s very different from what we had 10 years ago when I was a graduate student—in Asian studies, the dominant topics were culture, language, religion.

We also now have some local STS societies in East Asia: Japan, Taiwan, and Korea, and we’ve seen sizable submissions from some of these areas. And we value using the lens of STS to explore understudied areas such as the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, and even Cambodia and India. That’s something we didn’t expect in the beginning, but we’re interested in providing good scholarship on these areas.

How would you like to shape the journal’s direction going forward?

We want to return to something universal, which is a bit of a conceptual change. Historically, we’ve emphasized the regional: providing scholarship on areas that are overlooked, understudied, marginalized, or even distorted by mainstream narratives. Now, though, it’s time for us to consider region as a lens for looking at the world. Some people assume that Asia is like Mars or the moon, separated from the rest of the world—but instead, through empirical studies or case studies on Asia, you can see the world in a different way.

We want to change the world through Asia. We want to pay more attention to connections, behaviors, common interests, collaborations, rather than just focusing on the differences between regions. That’s how we can creatively deal with global issues.

Read EASTS online, subscribe, or sign up to receive email alerts when new issues are published.

Congratulations to the 2019 MacArthur Fellows!

Congratulations to the recipients of the 2019 MacArthur “Genius” Grant! We’re proud to count several of this year’s MacArthur Fellows among our journal contributors. In honor of their achievements, we’ve made a selection of their essays freely available through the end of the year.

Saidiya Hartman
The Anarchy of Colored Girls Assembled in a Riotous Manner
South Atlantic Quarterly 117:3, 2018

Sujatha Baliga
The Day the Jail Walls Cracked: A Restorative Plea Deal
Tikkun 27:1, 2012

Annie Dorsen
The Sublime and the Digital Landscape
Theater 48:1, 2018

Jeffrey Alan Miller
“Better, as in the Geneva”: The Role of the Geneva Bible in Drafting the King James Version
Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 47:3, 2017

Elizabeth Anderson
Rationality and Freedom
The Philosophical Review 114:2, 2005

A Quarter-Century of Common Knowledge

Congratulations to Common Knowledge on twenty-five years of publication! In honor of the journal’s anniversary, its editors have pulled together a triple-length special issue consisting of outstanding and representative articles, editorial statements, book reviews, poetry, and fiction published over journal’s history.

A Quarter-Century of Common-Knowledge” maps the life of a journal that Susan Sontag called her “favorite” and that Stephen Greenblatt praises as showing “what it means boldly to choose compromise over contention, reconciliation over rejection, civility over strife.”

Contributors to this volume include many of the most controversial and influential thinkers and writers of the turbulent years since the end of the Cold War, among them

  • heads of state and government: Václav Havel, King Michael of Romania, Edward Heath
  • dissidents: Fang Lizhi, Adam Michnik, Sari Nusseibeh
  • imposing literary figures: Alexander Solzhenitsyn, J. M. Coetzee, Wisława Szymborska, Edward Albee, Lydia Davis, Anne Carson, Yusef Komunyakaa, Thom Gunn, Frank Kermode
  • groundbreaking social scientists: Amartya Sen, Marilyn Strathern, Albert O. Hirschman, Julia Kristeva, Eduardo Viveiros de Castro
  • reshapers of religion: Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, Caroline Walker Bynum, Gianni Vattimo, Jack Miles
  • political philosophers: Isaiah Berlin, Bernard Williams, Cornelius Castoriadis, György Konrád
  • theorists of the “linguistic turn”: W. V. Quine, Richard Rorty, Clifford Geertz, Stanley Cavell, Quentin Skinner
  • microhistorians and their critics: Carlo Ginzburg, Natalie Zemon Davis, Keith Thomas, J. H. Elliott
  • key developers of science studies: Bruno Latour, Paul Feyerabend, Ian Hacking, Barbara Herrnstein Smith

Start reading with renowned political economist Albert O. Hirschman’s essay “Self-Subversion,” made freely available through the end of the year, or explore the full contents of this exceptional issue.