In the aftermath of the 1755 New England earthquake, preacher Thomas Prince and professor John Winthrop engaged in a four-month public dispute about the causes of earthquakes and the effectiveness of lightening rods. Historians have traditionally characterized their disagreement as battle between science and religion, but this paper traces the conflict instead to a fundamental difference in the two men’s personal theologies. Prince’s conception of a wrathful god and Winthrop’s belief in a more benevolent deity generated the contrasting visions for public welfare evident in their sermons, lectures, and newspaper submissions.
For the vast majority, the specter of the racialized and homophobic violence documented at Abu Ghraib was an inexplicably unsettling sight. In this article Cait Keegan attempts to explain this discomfort by examining what these abuses and the public perception of them implied and revealed about the desire for an impermeable and purified American national body. Keegan reads the creation and implementation of the figure of the terrorist as a signifier for national incoherence and as a tool for the symbolic control and oppression of other socially undesirable groups, particularly queer people. The homosexual humiliation at Abu Ghraib, employing the terrorist body as a floating signifier, is interpreted to signal a new level of innovation in the use of homophobic terror as a technology of nationalistic militarization and expanding empire. Ultimately, Keegan argues that popular interpretations of Abu Ghraib disclose American society’s inability to recognize and defuse its own heterosexist practices.
By Investigating various cinematic and authorial techniques, this article strives to discover the problematic issue of reconstructing an otherwise fluid past. Because the past is disjointed, subjective, and often goes ‘officially’ unwritten, both the necessity for imaginative (re)construction as well as extensive academic historical research are aligned to show the tensions between a ‘true’ and a ‘factual’ historical representation. Moreover, tensions created the structure of A Midwifes Tale and shifting means of representation are examined in an effort to expose the mandate behind the film’s portrayal. Kent also further emphasizes the difficulties of constructing the narrative of the oppressed (female) subject, and argues that A Midwife’s Tale exhibits an uneasy tension between the filmmakers’ desire to represent the disjointed, subjective process by which history is created, and to produce a powerfully appealing, seemingly authentic visual reconstruction of the past.
In this paper John Gronbeck-Tedesco evaluates the role of the Federal Music Project in promoting Depression-era nationalism during the New Deal’s program of recovery and relief. Drawing upon arguments by Eric Hobsbawm and Benedict Anderson regarding the nature of nationalism, this discussion posits that the U.S. government’s state-sponsored music project was infused with a nationalist discourse that promoted the creation of American folk and American classical music and was tied to notions of democracy, economic prosperity, and multiracial solidarity. Thus, while scholars often distance the U.S. government from the field of American cultural production, Gronbeck-Tedesco argues that the Federal Music Project offers one instance when engineering of the state was directly involved in America’s cultural industries.
This examination of the antebellum America argues for a causal link between the invention of the cotton gin, the expansion of slavery and the outbreak of the American Civil War. Wynveen traces the history of Eli Whitney’s invention and illustrates how the new machine facilitated the growth and expansion of cotton production in the Southern States. According to her study of secondary and primary literature of the time a boost in cotton production, in turn led to a demographic shift in the slave population, as well as an increase in the total number of slaves. Building onto preexisting historiography concerning industrialization trends in the pre and post-war period, this paper focuses its argument onto the notion that cotton played a central role in creating two very distinct economic systems in the antebellum North and South; The North continued to move towards industrialization and free wage labour, while the south continued agriculture and slavery. Wynveen then demonstrates how this economic divergence contributed to growing differences in social, cultural and political values within these two regions—expressed in debates over slavery and other socio-economic issues—and ultimately led to the Civil War.
An excerpt from her longer thesis on the cultural meaning of home in the interwar United States, this paper explores the degree to which popular images of the American home were instrumental elements of the sociopolitical construction of the homeownership ideal from 1920 to 1935. Through examining articles written in the Delineator—a popular women’s magazine in the 1920s—and its well known “Better Homes in America Campaign,” the author deconstructs the language of social norms and problematizes their use. Tracking President Hoover’s interest in the project, the Delineator is revealed to have been a vehicle not only for maintaining a gendered and polarized social order, but also for disseminating government ideological concerns of race and consumerism. Moreover, these early attempt at broadening government influence through managing media representations and codifying American identities ultimately set the stage for the American federal government’s large-scale interventions in the postwar housing market.
Based on an examination of official and unofficial document, editorial cartoons, and various media sources, Mahoney argues that competing definitions of masculinity influenced George H.W. Bush’s foreign Policy in the invasion of Panama City in 1989, this article participates in a revisionist historiography that considers gender as a significant category of analysis to understand American international relations. The author shows that, at the outset of his presidency, Bush adopted a cautious approach to foreign policy, which emphasized cooperation and peace through diplomacy. But soon Bush’s legitimacy as President was called into question, notably by some elements of the media and a fringe of the public who associated political power with a forceful and aggressive ideal of masculinity. By invading Panama, Bush finally shed his image as a flimsy and meek politician and thus confirmed his legitimacy as President to jingoist elements of American society.
According to most, The Bush era is over. The election of Obama has spelled the undeniable downfall of neo-conservativism as a legitimate ideological position, shattering its ready access to apparatuses of the U.S. government and economy. The systemic failure of de-regulated privatization, the defeat of key political strategists in the John McCain camp, the faltering of American military and economic power in the Middle East and the near collapse of a hegemonic, American-centric global economic system have all contributed to an almost palpable sense that these are changing times. But is this truly a post-Bush era? And if so, exactly what does that mean for Americans, the U.S. and, just as importantly, the world?