Monday, June 9, 2014

Maude Clay on Tour

For the past fifteen years, Maude Schuyler Clay has been driving the back roads photographing her native Delta. In the darkroom of her hundred-year-old family homestead in Sumner, she has developed hundreds of images of eroding architecture, misty bayous, small stands of woods, and endless rows of crops. And dogss

This has led to the creation of Delta Dogs is new collection of photographs that captures the simple, desolate beauty of the Mississippi Delta. Author William Ferris says Clay’s photos offer “a unique, powerful window on the Delta landscape and the presence of dogs on it.”

Maude has spotted and captured the elemental spirit of dogs eking out existences from this majestic landscape. In her iconic book Delta Land, Clay introduced the “Dog in the Fog,” the muscular lab standing watch in the mist and trees of Cassidy Bayou. This photo became widely recognized, and Clay wanted to further explore the relationship between the land and the numerous dogs populating its fields, bayous, and abandoned spaces.

Featuring 70 duotone photographs, Delta Dogs celebrates the canines who roam this most storied corner of Mississippi. Some of Clay’s photographs feature lone dogs dwarfed by kudzu-choked trees and hidden among the brambles adjacent to plowed fields. In others, dogs travel in amiable packs, trotting toward a shared but mysterious adventure. Her Delta dogs are by turns soulful, eager, wary, resigned, menacing, contented.

Writers Brad Watson and Beth Ann Fennelly provide essays that ponder Clay’s dogs and their connections to the Delta, speculating about their role in the drama of everyday life and about their relationships to the humans who share this landscape with them.

In a photographer’s afterword, Clay writes about discovering the beauty of her native land from within. She finds that the ubiquitous presence of the Delta dog gives scale, life, and
 sometimes even whimsy and intent to her Mississippi landscape.

Maude will be signing her new book at the following times and locations:

Wednesday, June 11, 5 p.m. at Turnrow Books

Thursday, June 12, 5 p.m. at Square Books

Saturday, June 14, 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m. at Lemuria Books

Thursday, June 19, 6:00 p.m at Miss Del’s

Saturday, June 28, 2 - 4 p.m. at Lorelei Books

Tuesday, July 1, 4 - 6 p.m. at Pass Christian Books

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Ten ‘New’ Facts about Mississippi History

The last book to chronicle the entire history of the state for the public appeared in 1976 when Ray Skates published Mississippi: A Bicentennial History. At 188 pages, it was a brief account written close to the “Second Reconstruction” brought on by the Civil Rights Movement.

Dennis Mitchell’s A New History of Mississippi is several times that length and incorporates almost forty years of new scholarship including a massive number of books, unpublished theses and dissertations, as well as articles published in the Journal of Mississippi History. This book draws on that enormous new volume of scholarhsip to tell a much more complex story of the state’s past.

Much of A New History of Mississippi’s re-interpretation of the past is driven by the need to include those elements of the population excluded in older histories and by the decision always to depict the various individuals of both gender—be they black, white, Indian, or Chinese —s active forces in shaping their state.

Below are ten facts covered in Mitchell’s new history:

  1. Native Americans are depicted as playing an active, complicated role in shaping the state’s development. Mitchell treats their culture with respect and chronicles how Europeans enslaved them and then how the Choctaw and Chickasaw began to enslave Africans.

  2. Choctaw Indians fought the state to avoid being labeled as “colored” and to prevent their children being sent to black schools.A Choctaw “full blood movement” in the early 1900s proved successful in separating the Choctaw from the “colored” category that the state tried to apply lumping them with the black population.

  3. The evolution of slavery from a frontier institution based on more personal relationships to the industrial style plantation system is told using as much biography as possible including Tony, who returned from Florida to Natchez to protect the mother and children of his white family and Abdu-l-Rahman Ibrahim Ibn Sori, an African prince who became a national celebrity and returned to Africa.

  4. Joseph Jefferson, elder brother of Jefferson, who epitomized the innovative, patriarchal planters and never gave Jefferson a deed to the plantation that Jefferson developed next to Joseph’s.

  5. Holt Collier, a slave, fought for the Confederacy and one his owner’s family members lived with Collier’s sister, who he could not legally marry.

  6. The majority of Mississippians viewed the Civil War as a victory because it gave them their freedom. From 1840 to 1940, black Mississippians were the majority of the in the state.

  7. Freedmen imposed the adoption of sharecropping on planters after the Civil War in order to retain control over their families and in hopes that they could use the system to acquire land in the future.

  8. James Smylie changed white perceptions of slavery in the 1830s by preaching the “curse of Ham” that proved God intended for black people to be slaves. Prior to his sermon and pamphlets, most white church people understood slavery to be an evil institution.

  9. By the 1930s, environmental degradation had denuded the state’s forests and reduced the deer population almost to extinction. New Deal programs began the land’s restoration and created the state parks.

  10. The Mississippi struggle for civil rights was a locally led movement produced by men such as Dr. Gilbert Mason, who went to medical school out of state on a state paid scholarship intended to preserve segregated schools.
A New History of Mississippi follows a strictly chronological format. In doing so, Mitchell is able to weave together and explain the interrelated impact of so many occurrences, large and small, that make up the state’s conflicted history. The result is an analytical insight into Mississippi history that will appeal not only to the serious history buff but also to the causal and curious reader.

A New History of Mississippi is now available from UPM and your local bookseller. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Polly Dement on Tour

The stories told in Mississippi Entrepreneurs collectively draw the reader’s attention to an overlooked aspect of the state’s history: the tenacious and courageous journeys of Mississippi men and women who risk fortune and futures on creating successful enterprises. Most tell author Polly Dement exactly “how they did it” in their own refreshingly forthcoming and open words, bringing to life their entrepreneurial spirits. Family members and former colleagues have picked up the story line for legendary entrepreneurs who have passed on, recalling vividly the characteristics that set them apart.

The dreams of business entrepreneurs in this state were usually inspired by a passion for something, whether that was casting red-hot liquid steel into industrial products; constructing buildings; making agricultural products grow; delivering and installing furniture; using technology to improve systems; publishing; expanding food operations or sheer love of music, food, art, or books. And social and cultural entrepreneurs found their places among stories about building successful enterprises, including those focused on social justice, access to health care, and public education.

Altogether the stories in Mississippi Entrepreneurs illustrate common traits, including vision, drive, and the willingness to take risks and change for a better way, the ability to innovate, solve problems, and turn luck (both good and bad) to advantage. Most of these individuals generously share the rewards of their hard work and ingenuity with their communities.  

Readers will discover a wealth of entrepreneurial history and activity in Mississippi Entrepreneurs that they didn’t know existed. And aspiring entrepreneurs will discover role models who have salted their accounts with advice to follow.  

Polly will be signing her book at the following times and locations. At each event Dement will also be joined by selected entrepreneurs profiled (availability pending) who will also be on hand to sign books.

Tuesday, June 3, 5:00 p.m at Lemuria Bookstore

Thursday, June 5, Noon - 1:30 p.m. at Reed’s Gum Tree Bookstore

Thursday, June 5, 5 p.m. at Square Books

Friday, June 6, 5:00 p.m at Turnrow Book Company

Saturday, June 7, 2 p.m. at Lorelei Books

Wednesday, June 11, 5:30 p.m. at Lauren Rogers Museum of Art

Wednesday, June 25, Noon at the William F. Winter Archives and History Buildingas part the “History is Lunch” series

Friday, May 23, 2014

Film Friday│Peter Weir: Interviews

“I direct with my body: I use my sexuality to direct. I have explored the masculine and feminine in my own personality to direct actors and actresses, and that’s meant they must explore their duality too. In this way I think I’ve gained from Jung.”

Peter Weir: Interviews is the first volume of interviews to be published on the esteemed Australian director. Although Weir (b. 1944) has acquired a reputation of being guarded about his life and work, the interviews collected here reveal him to be a most amiable and informative subject. Readers are treated to surprising revelations at every turn.

Interviews collected in this volume discuss Weir’s diverse and impressive range of work—his earlier films Picnic at Hanging Rock, The Last Wave, Gallipoli, and The Year of Living Dangerously, as well as Academy Award nominees Witness, Dead Poets Society, Green Card, The Truman Show, and Master and Commander. This book confirms that the trajectory of Weir’s life and work parallels and embodies Australia’s quest to define and express a historical and cultural identity.

Peter Weir: Interviews contains interviews that have never before been published, including one conducted by editor John C. Tibbetts in 2012. Tibbetts was recently a guest on Kansas City Public Television to talk about his new book. His informative and revealing interview is below. 

. . .
John C. Tibbetts is associate professor of film and media studies at the University of Kansas. He is also the author, with James M. Welsh, of Douglas Fairbanks and the American Century available next month from UPM. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Bruce West on Tour

Bruce West’s color photographs in The True Gospel Preached Here, recently featured by Garden and Gun, document the spiritual and creative work of Reverend H.D. Dennis, and his wife, Margaret, a self-proclaimed preacher, artist, and architect in Vicksburg, Mississippi. This elderly couple devoted more than twenty years of their lives to converting Margaret’s Grocery Store into a one-of-a-kind nondenominational church.

Guided by visions from God, their elaborate transformation of Margaret’s Grocery involved the construction of several towers, the creation of the Ark of the Covenant containing tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments, and new religious iconography. A sign at the entrance of Margaret’s Grocery announced: "Welcome Jews and Gentile This Church Open 24 Hours a Day.” While another sign promised: "The True Gospel Preached Here.” 

The product of twenty years of labor and multiple site visits, West's photographs are both intimate and transparent, tenderly revealing the Reverend and Margaret's love of God and for one another, their commitment to their work, and their shared transformation while aging together. The images offer unique insights into the role of spirituality in southern folk art and creativity and the joys and demands of an ascetic and inspired life.

West is a professor in the Department of Art and Design at Missouri State University. But he will be coming to Mississippi the first week in June on a mini book tour. Bruce will be signing his book at the following times and locations:

Saturday, May 31, 2 p.m. at Lorelei Books in Vicksburg

Monday, June 2, 5:00 p.m. at Lemuria Bookstore in Jackson

Tuesday, June 3, 5:00 p.m. at Turnrow Book Company in Greenwood

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

New Book: Oil and Water

Along the Gulf Coast, time frames are often referenced as either pre-Katrina or post-Katrina. However, the natural disaster that appalled the world in 2005 has been joined by another catastrophe, this one manmade—the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill was the greatest environmental and maritime accident of all time.

In less than five years, the Gulf Coast has experienced two colossal disasters, very different and yet very similar. And these two equally complex crises have resulted in a steep learning curve for all, but especially the journalists covering these enduring stories. Including the unique phenomenon of Katrina journalists who reluctantly had to transform into oil spill journalists.

In Oil and Water: Media Lessons from Hurricane Katrina and The Deepwater Horizon Disaster, co-authors Andrea Miller, Shearon Roberts, and Victoria LaPoe explore the media-fed experiences as well as the visuals and narratives associated with both disasters. The authors look at this process of growth from the viewpoints not only of the journalists, but also of the public and of the scientific community. 

Through a detailed analysis of the journalists' content, the authors tackle significant questions: What did we see and hear in the coverage of these events? What knowledge and interpretation can we take away from it?

Oil and Water assesses the quality of journalism and the effects that quality may have on the public. The authors argue that regardless of the type of journalism involved or the immensity of the events covered, successful reportage still depends on the fundamentals of journalism and the importance of following these tenets consistently in a crisis atmosphere, especially when confronted with enduring crises that are just years apart.

Below, Andrea Miller speaks with Eric Paulsen on WWL-TV in New Orleans about the new book and the impact each of these disasters have had on city.

. . .

ANDREA MILLER, Geismar, Louisiana, is associate dean for undergraduate studies and administration at the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University. Her work has appeared in many journals. SHEARON ROBERTS, New Orleans, Louisiana, is a native of Trinidad and a Latin American studies instructor and doctoral candidate at Tulane University. She contributed to Covering Disaster: Lessons from Coverage of Katrina and Rita. VICTORIA LaPOE, Bowling Green, Kentucky, is an assistant professor at Western Kentucky University. She is the author of the book American-Indian Media: The Past, the Present, and the Promise of Digital.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Two UPM Books Win Rollins Awards

The Southwest Popular and American Culture Association recently announced the 2014 Rollins Book Award winners and two UPM titles were among those honored. In an expanded version of the Rollins award, the SWPACA now recognizes outstanding scholarship in three categories: Film/Television, Popular Culture, and Sequential Art/Comics and Animation Studies

Hip Hop on Film: Performance Culture,Urban Space, and Genre Transformation in the 1980s, written by Kimberley Monteyne  in the category of Film and Television. Hip Hop on Film illuminates Hollywood’s fascinating efforts to incorporate urban culture into conventional narrative forms by examining productions such as Breakin’ (1984), Beat Street (1984), and Krush Groove (1985). 

The book employs a multidisciplinary and useful approach to the studies of youth culture, musical and choreographic trends, and social/urban conditions, especially in relation to race and class and also includes 25 black and white illustrations, highlighting many points from the text that need visual realization.

Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss: How an Unlikely Couple Found Love, Dodged the FBI, and Transformed Children’s Literature, written by Philip Nel was the winning volume in the Sequential Art/Comics and Animation Studies category. Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss is the first biography of either Johnson or Krauss and provides readers with a previously lost chapter in the histories of children’s books, comics, and the American Left. The book also includes over 70 images including several original illustrations. 

This book was also nominated for a Eisner award last year in the category of Best Educational/Academic Work.

In 2010,  A Comics Studies Reader was named the Rollins Award winner by the SWPACA. 


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