Tag Archives: folklore

New Books for August 2016

 

We are pleased to announce two new books arriving in late August.

Reyfman-How-Russia-Learned-to-Write-c

HOW RUSSIA LEARNED TO WRITE
Literature and the Imperial Table of Ranks
Irina Reyfman

Irina Reyfman

Irina Reyfman

“Compelling, clever, and persuasive. Examining many Russian writers’ self-fashioning as members of the nobility and their careers in public service, Reyfman admirably shows that the understanding of rank should inflect all our arguments and histories of the writing profession in Russia.”

—Luba Golburt, University of California, Berkeley

“Indispensable reading for all who study Russian literature of the Imperial period. Reyfman adds nuance and necessary reevaluation to our understanding of how literary careers and literary biography evolved in Russia in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.”
—Andrew Kahn, University of Oxford

Publications of the Wisconsin Center for Pushkin Studies     David M. Bethea, Series Editor

Cashman-Packy-Jim-c

 

August 30, 2016

PACKY JIM
Folklore and Worldview on the Irish Border
Ray Cashman

“A brilliant testament to the ethnographer’s art, the deeply rooted wisdom of an ‘ordinary’ person, and the complex ways in which folklore figures in everyday life along the Irish border.”
—James P. Leary, author of Folksongs of Another America

“Octogenarian bachelor Packy Jim McGrath of Lettercran, County Donegal, emerges here as both typical and singular, a barometer of continuity and change. McGrath’s resilience, dignity, and strong sense of self manifest clearly in his stories, which locate him both in the technological consumerist future and in the primordial self-sufficient past. Ray Cashman’s sharp and sympathetic observation delivers a classic ethnography that stakes a major claim for folkloristic studies as cutting-edge humanities research.”
—Lillis Ó Laoire, author of On a Rock in the Middle of the Ocean: Songs and Singers in Tory Island

Ray Cashman

Ray Cashman

Packy Jim McGrath

folklore, memory, and racial conflict in Boston

head_shot_buccitelli

Anthony Buccitelli

Anthony Bak Buccitelli is a folklorist and assistant professor of American studies and communications at the Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg. He is the author of City of Neighborhoods: Memory, Folklore, and Ethnic Place in Boston. We spoke with Buccitelli about growing up in the Boston area, the study of folklore, and his research in Boston’s neighborhoods.


As publishers in the academic field of folklore studies, we know that “folklore” means different things to different people. What is your approach in this book?  

Oh, yes, that’s so. Sometimes the general public uses the term to talk about things that are wrong: “oh, that’s just a bit of folklore!” Or some people think folklore applies only to ancient cultures, or only to fairy tales. There’s a lot of room for misinterpretation there. But what most folklorists these days study are the traditions of creative expression that make up quite a bit, perhaps most, of our lived cultural experience.Buccitelli-City-of-Neighborhoods-c

This can mean those recognizable traditions, such serving turkey on Thanksgiving or a bride’s white dress at a wedding, but it can also mean a lot of other things that don’t necessarily jump out at you as “traditional.” Cracking jokes with your friends at a bar; playing games on the playground as a kid; telling stories about family history, memories, or experiences; ways of making food; neighborhood festivals or fairs; songs you sing at a birthday party or around a campfire; even the way you write a text message to a friend; all of these things can become traditions and so can be studied as folklore. So when I talk about folklore in the book, I am really talking about these traditional, but sometimes seemingly trivial, forms of culture that actually define a great deal of our contemporary cultural lives.

I am especially interested in the culture of urban neighborhoods, so my choices of what folklore to study and how to approach it were influenced by the specific Boston neighborhoods where I did my fieldwork: South Boston, East Boston, and North Quincy. I looked at their parades and festivals, stories folks told about life in the neighborhood, and their use of visual symbols in neighborhood spaces.

You also write about memory and ethnic place. How do these connect with the study of folklore? The experience that led me down the road to writing this book was going to the L Street Brownies Annual Plunge. The Brownies are possibly the oldest “polar bear” swimming club in the U.S. and are based in South Boston. I was doing a small field project with them, and their theme that year for the Plunge was “Southie Pride.” I noticed that people were wearing clothing or objects associated with being Irish or Irish American, and Southie does have a history and public identity as an “Irish neighborhood.” But, local residents I had interviewed had just been telling me how they saw Southie as an ethnically diverse neighborhood, and that it had been diverse for a long time. This got me thinking about why South Boston, and many other places, are associated strongly with particular forms of identity, especially ethnicity or race, despite underlying diversity.

The Annual Plunge, 2006

The Annual Plunge, 2006

So my research evolved into understanding two things. First, how do ethnic identity and place identity converge in people’s lived experience? In other words, how closely is my feeling of being “Italian” or “Irish” or “Greek” connected to my sense of being “South Bostonian” or, in my own case, a “Hinghamite”? Other scholars have argued that American ethnics today are very mobile and no longer intimately connected (or restricted) to enclaves of specific urban neighborhoods. But at the same time, there still seems to be a strong cultural sense of connection between ethnicity and place. The force of this connection, I found, can remain even after the actual demographics of a neighborhood have changed significantly. So, understanding the process of “social memory” in each neighborhood became a crucial part of the picture. I was exploring not just what the actual history of the neighborhood was, but also how that history is remembered and represented by people and communities.

Second, I wanted to understand how people use folklore to negotiate these kinds of situations, and to form or alter these kinds of memories. I kept coming back to the idea that, despite the many, varied, or conflicting ways people represented the history and ethnicity of their neighborhood, there was often a single representation that served as a base for variation. For example, even when residents of South Boston told me that their neighborhood wasn’t actually as Irish as outsiders thought, they were still starting from a basic idea of Southie as an Irish enclave, an idea widely represented in neighborhood folkloric practices. It’s this dominant sense of connection that I call the “sense of ethnic place.”

Santarpio's Pizza, East Boston

Santarpio’s Pizza, East Boston

So is “ethnic place” kind of a shared “archetype” or a universal idea that people have about the connection between ethnicity and places? No. It’s not universal at all. In fact, I contend, that it’s very specific to a single place and time period. And, the dominant “sense of ethnic place” in a given area is never completely dominant, and it’s certainly not permanent. In fact, as I demonstrate in my book, it’s always changing. And, I found, there are multiple senses of place at work at the same time in the same neighborhoods! Places can become full of meaning for us, both because we connect specific memories to places and because we attach cultural significance to places. This cultural significance can be expressed through formal commemoration of historical or heritage sites, but also in informal understandings shared by a specific community of people.

You grew up in Hingham, in the Boston area. How did that influence your research? I spent a lot of time in my younger years hanging around different parts of Boston. I could say that I intended to “write what you know,” but I think it was actually the reverse. I wanted to study and write about Boston to understand it better. I already knew people in some of the places I was studying, so that was somewhat helpful in doing fieldwork. My own sense of identity as an Italian American from Hingham surely shaped some of the interactions I had in my fieldwork. How exactly? Well, I’m not sure!

Since you were not from any of the neighborhoods you were studying, and there are so many diverse neighborhoods in Boston, how did you choose the areas you wanted to focus on for this book?  Boston has such a vital, longstanding, and very rich history of neighborhood cultures that I could have chosen almost any neighborhoods to write about. I chose these three for practical reasons, but also because they represented different configurations and histories in connection with ethnic identity. South Boston, as I mentioned, has a very public association with Irish American identity, but also longstanding Polish, Lithuanian, and Italian communities, and a unique history with other communities including African and Asian Americans. Demographically, the ethnic composition of the neighborhood has been changing gradually over the past few decades.

In contrast, East Boston has an association with Italian American identity going back to the first half of the twentieth century, and some small but longstanding communities of other ethnic groups. But, since the 1980s, the neighborhood has seen much more dramatic changes, particularly with the emergence of very large communities of different Latino/a ethnicities, mainly Salvadorian, Puerto Rican, and Mexican.

Chinese Herbal Center, North Quincy

Chinese Herbal Center, North Quincy

Finally, again in contrast to the other two, North Quincy never had a strong association with a particular ethnic group. It was a mix of mainly European ethnicities. But more recently, it has become one of the largest Chinese American communities in the state.

My choice of locations with three very different demographic ethnic histories wasn’t to build a model for direct comparison, but rather to try to get a sense of the diverse ways in which connections between ethnicity and place can take shape.

In a number of places in the book, you write about contemporary conflicts between people or groups that are tied to historic ethnic or racial conflicts in the Boston. Is there a culture of racism or ethnic hostility in these neighborhoods?                 

Ladder 19, South Boston

Ladder 19, South Boston

Boston does have a history of racism, as well as ethnic and racial tensions that have sometimes emerged as open conflict or violence. There’s no doubt about that. But I don’t think that this is in any way limited to a particular neighborhood or group of people, although it sometimes has been portrayed that way. Glossing over the larger historical dynamics that have shaped these conflicts misrepresents the history of the city and hinders our ability to address these issues.

I don’t shy away from talking about interethnic or interracial conflicts in the book, sometimes in pretty stark terms. But these are not the only defining features of local cultures in Boston. Nor are they the only element around which memories take shape in Boston. Memories of racism or ethnic tensions exist as a part of the landscape of memory, but among many other parts.

There is certainly still a great deal of work to be done in Boston to bridge the barriers that exist between ethnic and racial communities. But what I also think the book shows is that no culture is static. A city is always changing. People in the Boston area care a lot about their neighborhoods, spending a lot of time thinking about them and working to make them better places. I hope that my book can, in some small way, contribute to these discussions as they take shape.

 

Public & school librarians choose best UW Press books

Each year, a committee of librarians representing American public libraries and K-12 school libraries select university press books most suited to their audiences.  The result is a bibliography, University Press Books for Public and Secondary School Libraries, an annual collection development tool published with the help and support of two divisions of the American Library Association: the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) and, from public libraries, the Collection Development and Evaluation Section of the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA/CODES). Each book chosen receives one or two sets of ratings, from a school library reviewer, a public library reviewer, or both. Books rated by the school librarians are also recommended for grade levels.

The following University of Wisconsin Press books (published in 2015) were chosen for the annual list!

 “The Best of the Best” titles
Bechard-Norske-Nook-Pies-cThe Norske Nook Book of Pies and Other Recipes, Jerry Bechard and Cindee Borton-Parker

Each year, panelists from the joint selection committee of librarians present a small selection of their favorite recommendations at the American Library Association annual conference at a “Best of the Best from the University Presses” session, to be held this year at the ALA conference in Orlando, Florida on Sunday, June 26, 2016, 1:00 p.m.

Outstanding-rated titles from the University Press Books Committee

  • Living Black: Social Life in an African American Neighborhood, Mark S. Fleisher
  • The Norske Nook Book of Pies and Other Recipes, Jerry Bechard and Cindee Borton-Parker

The above titles received ratings of “Outstanding” by members of the 2013 University Press Books Committee, recommended as essential additions to most public and/or school library collections.

000-099 General Knowledge

Baughman Cover Design071.3   Baughman, James L., Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen, and James P. Danky (Editors)
Protest on the Page: Essays on Print and the Culture of Dissent since 1865

Explores the intertwined histories of print and protest in the United States from Reconstruction to the 2000s. Ten essays look at how protesters of all political and religious persuasions, as well as aesthetic and ethical temperaments, have used the printed page to wage battles over free speech; test racial, class, sexual, and even culinary boundaries; and to alter the moral landscape in American life.
LC 2014030784, ISBN 9780299302849 (p.), ISBN 9780299302832 (e.)
School Libraries: General Audience/High School                    Public Libraries: General Audience

300-319 Sociology, Anthropology, Cultures

Grady-Improvised-Adolescence-c305.893   Grady, Sandra  Improvised Adolescence: Somali Bantu Teenage Refugees in America

A glimpse into the lives of African refugee teens, as they negotiate the differences between African and American ideas about the transition from childhood to adulthood. Of interest to social services workers and educators as well as scholars of folklore, anthropology, African studies, and child development.
LC 2014030780, ISBN 9780299303242 (p.), ISBN 9780299303235 (e.)
School Libraries: Special Interest/High School, Professional Use          Public Libraries: Special Interest

Fleisher-LivingBlack-c305.896   Fleisher, Mark S.  Living Black: Social Life in an African American Neighborhood

Breaks the stereotype of poor African American neighborhoods as dysfunctional ghettos of helpless and hopeless people. Despite real and enduring poverty, the community described here—the historic North End of Champaign, Illinois—has a vibrant social life and strong ties among generations.
LC 2015008381, ISBN 9780299305345 (p.), ISBN 9780299305338 (e.)
School Libraries: Outstanding/Professional Use        Public Libraries: General Interest
*Outstanding* rating: “This quality ethnography reads like a series of engaging stories. The study reflects both excellent research and a clear sense of the provisions that ensure quality in qualitative research. A clear voice supporting diversity and our awareness thereof.”—Janie Pickett (AASL)

320-329 Political Science

Bartley-EclipseoftheAssassins-c327.730   Bartley, Russell H. and Sylvia Erickson Bartley  Eclipse of the Assassins: The CIA, Imperial Politics, and the Slaying of Mexican Journalist Manuel Buendía

Investigates the sensational 1984 murder of Mexico’s most influential newspaper columnist, Manuel Buendía, and how that crime reveals the lethal hand of the U.S. government in Mexico and Central America during the final decades of the twentieth century. This is a stellar, courageous work of investigative journalism and historical scholarship—grippingly told, meticulously documented, and doggedly pursued over thirty years.
LC 2015008379, ISBN 9780299306403 (c.), ISBN 9780299306434 (e.)
School Libraries: Specialized Interest / Professional Use          Public Libraries: General Interest

 

640-649 Home Economics

Bechard-Norske-Nook-Pies-c641.860   Bechard, Jerry and Cindee Borton-Parker  The Norske Nook Book of Pies and Other Recipes

The Norske Nook’s mile-high meringue and dairyland deliciousness attracts foodies, celebrities, and tourists from around the world to sample its glorious pies. This beautifully photographed cookbook features more than seventy pies, including thirty-six blue ribbon-winners at the annual National Pie Championship.
LC 2014037003, ISBN 9780299304300 (c.)
School Libraries: Outstanding/ Middle School, High School, Professional Use   Public Libraries: General Interest    *Outstanding* rating:  “If you aren’t able to make a personal visit to one of the Norske Nook’s ‘pie shrines’ this title will certainly help any home baker re-create some of their amazing recipes. Of course there are old favorites like apple and cherry pie, but you can also find mouth-watering recipes for a Snickers caramel pie, a raspberry white chocolate pie, or a Northwoods root beer float pie. The basics like pie crusts and toppings are covered in their own chapters, and non-pie chapters are devoted to tortes, muffins, cookies and Scandinavian specialties. Even non-bakers will enjoy drooling over the beautiful photographs. The directions are clear and easy-to-follow, which should make this title very appealing to middle and high school aspiring pie bakers.”—Judi Repman (AASL)

700-759 Fine Arts

Langer-RomaineBrooks-c759.13   Langer, Cassandra    Romaine Brooks: A Life

The artistic achievements of Romaine Brooks (1874-1970), both as a major expatriate American painter and as a formative innovator in the decorative arts, have long been overshadowed by her fifty-year relationship with writer Natalie Barney and a reputation as a fiercely independent, aloof heiress who associated with fascists in the 1930s. Langer provides a richer, deeper portrait of Brooks’s aesthetics and experimentation as an artist.
LC 2015008825, ISBN 9780299298609 (c.), ISBN 9780299298630 (e.)
School Libraries: Specialized Interest / High School           Public Libraries:  General Interest

 

780-799 Music, Performing Arts, Recreation, Sports

Diebel-Crossing-the-Driftless-c797.122   Diebel, Lynne   (Illustrated by Robert Diebel)  Crossing the Driftless: A Canoe Trip through a Midwestern Landscape

Crossing the Driftless is both a traveler’s tale of a 359-mile canoe trip and an exploration of the dramatic environment of the Upper Midwest’s Driftless region, following the streams of geologic and human history.
LC 2014030800, ISBN 9780299302948 (p.), ISBN 9780299302931 (e.)
School Libraries: Regional Specialized Interest / High School          Public Libraries: Regional General

 

800-819 American Literature

Merlis-JD-A-Novel-c813.54  Merlis, Mark  JD: A Novel

Thirty years after Jonathan Ascher’s death, Martha finally opens her husband’s journals and discovers his secret affairs with men as well as his all-absorbing passion for their deceased son, Mickey. Mark Merlis shows readers a vivid picture of a family who cannot find a way to speak their love for one another.
LC 2014030801, ISBN 9780299303501 (c.), ISBN 9780299303532 (e.)
School Libraries: Specialized Interest / Professional Use          Public Libraries: General Interest

 

DeVita-A-Winsome-Murder-c813.6  DeVita, James  A Winsome Murder

A serial killer brings bloody murder to the pastoral Wisconsin town of Winsome Bay, requiring the expertise of detective James Mangan, a hard-bitten Chicago cop with an unexpected knowledge of Shakespeare.
LC 2014042916, ISBN 9780299304409 (c.), ISBN 9780299304430 (e.)
School Libraries: General Interest / High School            Public Libraries: General Interest

 

 

Meet Me Halfway813.6  Morales, Jennifer   Meet Me Halfway: Milwaukee Stories

When an African American teen suffers a serious accident in the home of his white neighbor, his community must find ways to bridge divisions between black and white, gay and straight, old and young.
LC 2014030802, ISBN 9780299303648 (p.), ISBN 9780299303631 (e.)
School Libraries: Regional General Interest / Professional Use      Public Libraries: Regional General Interest

 

830-899 Literature of Other Languages 

Blessington-Euripides-Trojan-Women-c882.01  Euripides  (Verse translations by Francis Blessington, with introductions and notes)  Trojan Women, Helen, Hecuba: Three Plays about Women and the Trojan War

“These lively, accurate translations will allow readers and theater audiences to appreciate the power of Euripidean tragedy. Blessington’s language is spare and his translation fairly literal, allowing direct—sometimes punchy—delivery while retaining poetic expressions from the Greek.”—Francis Dunn, author of Tragedy’s End: Closure and Innovation in Euripidean Drama
LC 2015010084, ISBN 9780299305246 (p.), ISBN 9780299305239 (e.)
School Libraries: General Interest / High School, Professional Use     Public Libraries: General Interest

 

950-969 Asian, Middle Eastern, and African History

Lee-Dreams-of-the-Hmong-c959.004   Lee, Mai Na M.  Dreams of the Hmong Kingdom: The Quest for Legitimation in French Indochina, 1850-1960

Authoritative and original, Dreams of the Hmong Kingdom is among the first works of its kind, exploring the influence that French colonialism and Hmong leadership had on the Hmong people’s political and social aspirations.
LC 2014035663, ISBN 9780299298845 (p.), ISBN 9780299298838 (e.)
School Libraries: Specialized Interest / Professional Use                       Public Libraries:  Specialized Interest

Amony-I-am-Amony-c967.610  Amony, Evelyn  (Edited with an introduction by Erin Baines)  I Am Evelyn Amony: Reclaiming My Life from the Lord’s Resistance Army

A harrowing account by one of the 60,000 children abducted by the violent African rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army. Amony tells of her life as a forced wife to LRA leader Joseph Kony, her eleven years in the LRA, her part in a peace delegation after her capture by the Ugandan military, and her current work as a human rights advocate.
LC 2015008824, ISBN 9780299304942 (p.), ISBN 9780299304935 (e.)
School Libraries: General Interest / High School, Professional Use     Public Libraries: General Interest

 

 

New Books in April 2016

We are proud to announce these five books debuting in April.

Clewell-Almost-Nothing-To-Be-Scared-Of-cApril 1
Almost Nothing to Be Scared Of

David Clewell

Winner of the Four Lakes Prize in Poetry
 Almost Nothing to Be Scared Of

“David Clewell has a lot to say, peppering his essayistic poems with lopsided wit and keen observations on the spectacle of American culture. His social commentary deserves a gang of listeners for the truth of his insights and the sheer fun of the delivery. By the way, did you know that the Inverted Atomic Drop was a wrestling move?”—Billy Collins

 

Draine-Hinden-Death-on-a-Starry-Night-c

April 5
Death on a Starry Night
Betsy Draine and Michael Hinden

Death on a Starry Night is a romp through French art, fine wine, romance, and murder. This is the third novel in the Nora Barnes and Toby Sandler mystery series, as these artful sleuths investigate the mysterious death of Vincent van Gogh.  “Thoroughly engaging. Draine and Hinden’s eccentric and amiable characters (one of whom happens to be a murderer) gather together to share delicious meals, amble through medieval villages, and argue about van Gogh’s art, life, and mysterious death in this charming whodunit.”—M. L. Longworth, author of The Mystery of the Lost Cézanne

 

Virgil and Joyce

April 12
Virgil and Joyce
Nationalism and Imperialism in the Aeneid and Ulysses
Randall J. Pogorzelski

Virgil and Joyce illuminates how James Joyce’s Ulysses was influenced not just by Homer’s Odyssey but by Virgil’s Aeneid, as both authors confronted issues of nationalism, colonialism, and political violence, whether in imperial Rome or revolutionary Ireland.  “Joyce emerges here as a literary reader who rethinks Virgil’s Aeneid as a post-imperial epic, a poem about colonialism and national identity.”—Phiroze Vasunia, author of The Classics and Colonial India

 

Gluck-The-Invisible-Jewish-Budapest-c


April 19
The Invisible Jewish Budapest
Metropolitan Culture at the Fin de Siècle
Mary Gluck

The Invisible Jewish Budapest is a groundbreaking, brilliant urban history of a Central European metropolis in the decades before World War I.  “A magnificently consequential book. Gluck examines the vibrant modernist culture created largely by secular Jews in Budapest, in counterpoint to a backward-looking, nationalistic Hungarian establishment and a conservative Jewish religious elite.”—Scott Spector, author of Violent Sensations

 

Buccitelli-City-of-Neighborhoods-cApril 26
City of Neighborhoods
Memory, Folklore, and Ethnic Place in Boston
Anthony Bak Buccitelli

City of Neighborhoods  “This fascinating deep-dive into historically ethnic neighborhoods reveals that old stereotypes have been supplanted by vibrant, multiethnic neighborhoods that now use ethnicity as a means for inclusion. A riveting, insider look into what really happens in Boston’s diverse neighborhoods.”—Timothy Tangherlini, UCLA

 

 

Urbikas-MySister'sMother-c

April 27
My Sister’s Mother
A Memoir of War, Exile, and Stalin’s Siberia
Donna Solecka Urbikas

My Sister’s Mother is an American baby boomer’s account of the ordeals of her Polish mother and half sister as slave laborers in Siberia who escaped and survived. “This stunning, heartfelt memoir looks unflinchingly at the scars borne by one Polish immigrant family as their daughter tries to become a normal American girl in Chicago. A gripping study of family dynamics, this is also a must-read for World War II history buffs.”—Leonard Kniffel, author of A Polish Son in the Motherland