Sunday, March 8, 2009

History, Poetry, Politics Dominate University of Arkansas Press Catalog

Historic artifacts, current events and creative endeavors come together in the latest offerings from the University of Arkansas Press in the 2009 spring catalog.

The history of race relations in America will be the subject of three books in the spring catalog. Jim Crow America: A Documentary History, edited by Catherine M. Lewis and J. Richard Lewis, provides readers with a wealth of primary source materials from 1828 to 1980 that reveal how the Jim Crow era affects how historians practice their craft. The second book, Showdown in Desire: The Black Panthers Take a Stand in New Orleans by Orissa Arend, tells the story of the Black Panther Party in New Orleans in 1970, a year that included shootouts, standoffs and rebellion in the Desire housing development and elsewhere in the city. The third book, Finding the Lost Year: What Happened When Little Rock Closed Its Public Schools by Sondra Gordy, tells the sad story of the children who had to seek education outside of the Little Rock Public School System in 1958-59.

The press turns to another type of history with Digging for History at Old Washington by Mary L. Kwas. The book brings together the historical record with nearly 100 color photographs of the archeological finds from this town that prospered in the mid-1800s and saw the likes of Davy Crockett and Sam Houston pass through. The town diminished over time due to a series of events including two fires, a tornado and being bypassed by the railroad in 1874. Today, the town is an Arkansas State Park and a National Historic Landmark.

Author James F. Cherry digs up more history in The Headpots of Northeast Arkansas and Southern Pemiscot County, Missouri. Almost 30 years in the making, the book contains more than 800 color photographs that create a comprehensive catalog of 138 classical style headpots. The illustrations depict the works created by people the Spanish called the Casqui and the Pacaha between A.D. 1400 and 1700. The book brings together these enigmatic and little-known vessels to enhance the understanding of the cultures that created them.

From centuries-old pottery, the press turns to modern-day art, where an author offers a first-person view of what it's like to be an artist's model in Live Nude Girl: My Life as an Object. The book, by Kathleen Rooney, offers a meditation on the profession of nude modeling historically and today. Rooney draws on her own experiences and on stories of famous, notorious and mysterious artists and models. Through her personal perspective and witty prose, Rooney reveals that the appeal of posing nude and drawing the naked figure lie rooted in human responses to beauty, love, sex and death. Rooney is also the author of the press's Reading With Oprah: The Book Club that Changed America, now in its second edition.

As the visual arts appeal to visceral human needs, so does poetry, and two volumes featured in the spring catalog add their voices to the canon. Don't Leave Hungry: Fifty Years of Southern Poetry Review, edited by James Smith with a foreword by Billy Collins, offers 183 poems by nearly as many poets. This anthology charts the development of the influential journal, decade by decade, featuring poems by poets from across the United States, both major and obscure. Poetry takes a more personal turn in A Sunday in God Years: Poems by Michelle Boisseau, where the poet reckons with her slave-owning ancestry.

From a poetic chronicle, the press turns to chronicles of journalism, politics and history. In Looking Back at the Arkansas Gazette: An Oral History, edited by Roy Reed, the former Gazette and New York Times reporter brings together more than 100 interviews with former staffers recalling the stories they reported on and the people they worked with from the late 1940s until the paper's tragic end. The book examines a publication known for its progressive stance in a conservative state and that won two Pulitzer Prizes for its rule-of-law stance during the Little Rock Central High crisis. The interviews, collected from archives at the David and Barbara Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History at the University of Arkansas, provide details on editors and reporters who covered civil rights crises, Bill Clinton and more.

Speaking of former presidents, an examination of politics and government in Arkansas brings together scholarly research on a range of topics ranging from issues of church and state, term limits, constitutional reform, civil rights and education reform. Readings in Arkansas Politics and Government, edited by Janine A. Parry, a political science professor at the University of Arkansas, and Richard P. Wang, a professor at Arkansas State University, with a foreword by David Pryor, will appeal to anyone interested in the workings of state politics and government.

On a different note, the press is distributing the DVD film, The Buffalo Flows: The Story of Our First National River. The documentary was written and produced by Larry Foley, a journalism professor at the University of Arkansas, with photography by Trey Marley and editing by Dale Carpenter, also a University of Arkansas journalism professor. The Buffalo Flows is a one-hour documentary featuring the bluffs, trees, flowers, birds and elk of the majestic river. Narrated by Academy Award-winner Ray McKinnon, the documentary also is the story of the people who make their homes in Buffalo River country year round.

Finally, politics and history return in The Historical Report of the Arkansas Secretary of State 2008. In it, Secretary of State Charlie Daniels has gathered a reference source for the appointed and elected officials of Arkansas during its colonial and territorial periods as well as during its 172-year history. This report, published every decade by order of the General Assembly, is a must-have for historians, journalists, genealogists and other researchers.

For more information on these books and press titles, please visit to learn more, and while you're there, check out the press's new blog, The Bookmark.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

We have a few college students online from college of Arkansas-State-University-Jonesboro and we love your blog postings, so well add your rss or news feed for them, Thanks and please post us and leave a comment back and well link to you. Thanks Jen , Blog Manager Southern Arkansas University.