Books by recipients of the Mousel-Feltner Award for Research and Creative Activity during the past five years(Brief descriptions are condensed from the book covers and from Amazon.com.)
Christopher Coake, You Came Back: A Novel (Grand Central Publishing, 2012)
The first novel by the award-winning author of We’re in Trouble focuses on a grieving father’s attempts to continue with his life some years after the accidental death of his young son. When the new owner of the house where the boy died reports the presence of a ghost, the father’s fragile equilibrium and all his relationships are called into question. According to BookPage, which featured this novel as its Top Pick of the month, “Ghost stories . . . are at heart love stories. At their core is the fact that someone, on this side or the other, just flat out refuses to let go.”
Deborah A. Boehm, Intimate Migrations: Gender, Family, and Illegality among Transnational Mexicans (NYU Press, 2012)
In her research with transnational Mexicans, Deborah A. Boehm has often asked individuals: if there were no barriers to your movement between Mexico and the United States, where would you choose to live? Almost always, they desire the freedom to “come and go.” Yet the barriers preventing such movement are many. Intimate Migrations is based on over a decade of ethnographic research, focusing on Mexican immigrants with ties to a small, rural community in the Mexican state of San Luis Potosí and several states in the U.S. West. By showing how intimate relations direct migration, and by looking at kin and gender relationships through the lens of illegality, Boehm sheds new light on the study of gender and kinship, as well as understandings of the state and transnational migration.
Greta de Jong, Invisible Enemy: The African American Freedom Struggle after 1965 (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010)
This book is a highly accessible account of the evolution of American racism and black people’s struggles for equality in the post-civil rights era. The book highlights the economic and political functions that racism has served throughout the nation’s history and outlines how “colorblind” approaches to discrimination ensured the perpetuation of racial inequality in the United States well beyond the 1960s. Greta de Jong also discusses the continuation of the freedom movement beyond the 1960s to provide a comprehensive new historiography of racial equality and social justice.
Daniel Enrique Pérez, Rethinking Chicana/o and Latina/o Popular Culture (Palgrave Macmillan 2009)
Daniel Enrique Pérez examines the various ways queer identities are represented in Chicana/o and Latina/o cultural texts. Through a gender, ethnicity, and sexuality lens, he demonstrates that queer Chicana/o and Latina/o identities are much more prevalent in cultural production than most people think. He argues that the representation of queer identities goes well beyond gay Chicana/o and Latina/o stereotypes. . . . By claiming such a variety of characters and texts as queer, he erases that infamous forward slash that tends to be drawn between the terms straight and gay while expanding the breadth of queer representation in cultural production.
Scott E. Casper, Sarah Johnson’s Mount Vernon: The Forgotten History of an American Shrine (Hill and Wang, 2009)
Digging beneath the well-known stories of George Washington and the era of America’s birth, Scott E. Casper recovers the remarkable history of Sarah Johnson, who spent more than fifty years at Mount Vernon, in slavery and after emancipation. Through the story of her life and those of her family and friends, Casper provides not only an intimate picture of Mount Vernon during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—years that are rarely part of its public story—but also a window into a community of people who played an essential part in creating and maintaining this American landmark.
Dennis Dworkin, Class Struggles (Longman, 2007)
During the 1960s and 1970s, class was the central organizing principle of the new social history; the working class was particularly dominant. Today investigation into other classes, particularly the middle classes, has grown in breadth and depth. Contemporary historians work within an atmosphere of interdisciplinary discussion, and the class dynamic is often considered among other facets of identity, such as gender, race and ethnicity. Dennis Dworkin explores the new scholarship and theoretical debates that have led to this transformation, examining not only historians’ findings and conclusions but also the sources that produced them, incorporating both specialized studies and the latest historiographical discussions. This comprehensive new introduction gives a clear and concise overview of past and current perspectives, explaining why class was, and still is, important.