Bookbeat: February 2016

Chica Lit: Popular Latina Fiction and Americanization in the Twenty-First Century


This study illuminates how discourses of Americanization, ethnicity, gender, class, and especially commodification shape the genre of “chica lit,” that is, chick lit written by Latina authors with Latina characters. Chica lit is produced and marketed in the same ways as contemporary romance and chick lit fiction, and aimed at an audience of twenty- to thirty-something, upwardly mobile Latina readers. Tace Hedrick argues that Its stories about young women’s ethnic class mobility and gendered romantic success tends to celebrate twenty-first century neoliberal narratives about Americanization, hard work, and individual success. However, its focus on Latina characters necessarily inflects this celebratory mode: the elusiveness of what chica lit means when it used the actual term “Latina” tends to homogenize the differences among and between Hispanophone heritage peoples in the United States.

Of necessity, chica lit also struggles with questions about the actual social and economic “place” of Latinas and Chicanas in this same neoliberal landscape; these questions unsettle its reliance on the tried-and-true formulas of chick lit and romance writing. Looking at chica lit’s market-driven representations of difference, poverty, and Americanization show how this particular popular women's fiction functions within the larger arena of struggles over the representation of Latinas and Chicanos in the United States.

University of Pittsburgh Press

Bookbeat: March 2016

The Medieval Risk-Reward Society

Courts, Adventure, and Love in the European Middle Ages

Will Hasty
Interventions: New Studies in Medieval Culture


“A wonderful, creative diachronic study. This book is an engaging read which will have a wide audience among students of literature, philosophy, and culture.” —G. Ronald Murphy, S. J., Georgetown University

The Medieval Risk-Reward Society: Courts, Adventure, and Love in the European Middle Ages offers a study of adventure and love in the European Middle Ages focused on the poetry of authors such as Marie de France, Chrétien de Troyes, Wolfram von Eschenbach, and Gottfried von Strassburg—showing how a society based on sacrifice becomes one of wagers and investments. Will Hasty’s sociological approach to medieval courtly literature, informed by the analytic tools of game theory, reveals the blossoming of a worldview in which outcomes are uncertain, such that the very self (of a character or an authorial persona) is contingent on success or failure in possessing the things it desires—and upon which its social identity and personal happiness depend. Drawing on a diverse selection of contrasting canonical works ranging from the Iliad to the biblical book of Joshua to High Medieval German political texts to the writings of Leibniz and Mark Twain, Hasty enables an appreciation of the distinctive contributions made in antiquity and the Middle Ages to the medieval emergence of a European society based on risks and rewards.

The Medieval Risk-Reward Society takes a descriptive approach to the competitions in religion, politics, and poetry that are constitutive of medieval culture. Culture is considered always to be happening, and to be happening on the cultural cutting edge as competitions for rewards involving the element of chance. This study finds adventure and love—the principal concerns of medieval European romance poetry—to be cultural game changers, and thereby endeavors to make a humanist contribution to the development of a cultural game theory.

Will Hasty is Professor of German and Medieval and Early Modern Studies at the University of Florida, Gainesville.

The Ohio State University Press

Scandalous Economics: New book edited by Aida Hozić and Jacqui True


A new book, Scandalous Economics: Gender and the Politics of Financial Crises, edited by Aida A. Hozić and Jacqui True, is due to be released in March 2016.

Scandalous Economics builds upon the Occupy movement and other critical analysis of the Global Financial Crisis to comprehensively examine gendered material, ideational and representational dimensions that have served to make the crisis and its effects, ‘the new normal’ in Europe and America as well as Latin America and Asia.

Progress in Political Economy is running a series of blogposts on Scandalous Economics: Progress in Political Economy

The books has received some excellent endorsements through the Oxford University Press.

Scandalous Economics is now available through Amazon

Edmund Burke and the Conservative Logic of Empire


Daniel O'Neill (Author)

Edmund Burke, long considered modern conservatism’s founding father, is also widely believed to be an opponent of empire. However, Daniel O’Neill turns that latter belief on its head. This fresh and innovative book shows that Burke was a passionate supporter and staunch defender of the British Empire in the eighteenth century, whether in the New World, India, or Ireland. Moreover—and against a growing body of contemporary scholarship that rejects the very notion that Burke was an exemplar of conservatism—O’Neill demonstrates that Burke’s defense of empire was in fact ideologically consistent with his conservative opposition to the French Revolution. Burke’s logic of empire relied on two opposing but complementary theoretical strategies: Ornamentalism, which stressed cultural similarities between “civilized” societies, as he understood them, and Orientalism, which stressed the putative cultural differences distinguishing “savage” societies from their “civilized” counterparts. This incisive book also shows that Burke’s argument had lasting implications, as his development of these two justifications for empire prefigured later intellectual defenses of British imperialism.

Available for purchase through the University of California Press

Bookbeat: May 2016

Defining Duty in the Civil War

Personal Choice, Popular Culture, and the Union Home Front

J. Matthew Gallman
Awards & Distinctions


A Civil War Monitor Best Book of 2015

Silver Medal, 2015 Florida Book Awards in General Nonfiction

2016 Bobbie and John Nau Book Prize in American Civil War Era History, John L. Nau III Center for Civil War History

The Civil War thrust Americans onto unfamiliar terrain, as two competing societies mobilized for four years of bloody conflict. Concerned Northerners turned to the print media for guidance on how to be good citizens in a war that hit close to home but was fought hundreds of miles away. They read novels, short stories, poems, songs, editorials, and newspaper stories. They laughed at cartoons and satirical essays. Their spirits were stirred in response to recruiting broadsides and patriotic envelopes. This massive cultural outpouring offered a path for ordinary Americans casting around for direction.

Examining the breadth of Northern popular culture, J. Matthew Gallman offers a dramatic reconsideration of how the Union's civilians understood the meaning of duty and citizenship in wartime. Although a huge percentage of military-aged men served in the Union army, a larger group chose to stay home, even while they supported the war. This pathbreaking study investigates how men and women, both white and black, understood their roles in the People's Conflict. Wartime culture created humorous and angry stereotypes ridiculing the nation's cowards, crooks, and fools, while wrestling with the challenges faced by ordinary Americans. Gallman shows how thousands of authors, artists, and readers together created a new set of rules for navigating life in a nation at war.

About the Author

J. Matthew Gallman is professor of history at the University of Florida and author of Receiving Erin's Children: Philadelphia, Liverpool, and the Irish Famine Migration,1845–1855


"A splendid book. Gallman is a shrewd historian.”
--Civil War Monitor


"Both an enjoyable read and one that expands our understanding of the public discourses occurring on the Union home front."
--Journal of Military History

“A lavishly illustrated, persuasively argued treatment of Northern popular culture during the Civil War.”
--The Annals of Iowa

"I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the American Civil War. I say that because this book handles some of the issues of the home front unlike any book I have read before...I praise Gallman for what he has written here and hope that many others see the value of this work. His research is phenomenal, his writing is engaging, and the reader is never left confused. Another fine addition to the Civil War America series."
--Gettysburg Chronicle

"In an intriguing and wonderfully illustrated book, J. Matthew Gallman offers a crucial new take on print culture and citizenship in the North during the Civil War. By looking at print materials in popular media, from political cartoons to short stories, Gallman gives readers surprising insights into the hearts and minds of Northerners by looking at what they wrote and read during this tumultuous era in American history."
--Lyde Cullen Sizer, author of The Political Work of Northern Women Writers and the Civil War, 1850–1872

The University of North Carolina Press

Bookbeat: June 2016

Encyclopedia of the Yoruba

Edited by Toyin Falola and Akintunde Akinyemi

The Yoruba people today number more than 30 million strong, with significant numbers in the United States, Nigeria, Europe, and Brazil. This landmark reference work emphasizes Yoruba history, geography and demography, language and linguistics, literature, philosophy, religion, and art. The 285 entries include biographies of prominent Yoruba figures, artists, and authors; the histories of political institutions; and the impact of technology and media, urban living, and contemporary culture on Yoruba people worldwide. Written by Yoruba experts on all continents, this encyclopedia provides comprehensive background to the global Yoruba and their distinctive and vibrant history and culture.

Indiana University Press

Bookbeat: October 2016

The Aztec Kings: The Construction of Rulership in Mexican History (Century Collection)

by Susan Gillespie

Scholars have long viewed histories of the Aztecs either as flawed chronologies plagued by internal inconsistencies and intersource discrepancies or as legends that indiscriminately mingle reality with the supernatural. But this new work draws fresh conclusions from these documents, proposing that Aztec dynastic history was recast by its sixteenth-century recorders not merely to glorify ancestors but to make sense out of the trauma of conquest and colonialism.

The Aztec Kings is the first major study to take into account the Aztec cyclical conception of time—which required that history constantly be reinterpreted to achieve continuity between past and present—and to treat indigenous historical traditions as symbolic statements in narrative form. Susan Gillespie focuses on the dynastic history of the Mexica of Tenochtitlan, whose stories reveal how the Aztecs used "history" to construct, elaborate, and reify ideas about the nature of rulership and the cyclical nature of the cosmos, and how they projected the Spanish conquest deep into the Aztec past in order to make history accommodate that event.

By demonstrating that most of Aztec history is nonliteral, she sheds new light on Aztec culture and on the function of history in society. By relating the cyclical structure of Aztec dynastic history to similar traditions of African and Polynesian peoples, she introduces a broader perspective on the function of history in society and on how and why history must change.


Winner of the American Society for Ethnohistory's Erminie Wheeler-Voegelin Prize

"Gillespie has put the myth back into Mexica history and shown that the often tedious accounts of royal marriages and accessions are really mirrors of the Nahua mentality, which continued to shape the past in its own terms even after an invasion that challenged all definitions of past, present, and future."—Ethnohistory

"A readable book for the general reader and for the expert."—Choice

"A brilliant new synthesis of the many confusing and contradictory Aztec documents. . . . The Aztec Kings is a study of the nature of rulership, and as such it is a major contribution to the cross-cultural literature of symbolic-structuralist analysis of historical traditions."—Prudence M. Rice, American Anthropologist

About the Author

Susan D. Gillespie is Research Associate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she received a Ph.D. in 1983. The 1980 Komchen archaeological project in Yucatán introduced her to fieldwork in Mexico, and she has since directed excavations at Charco Redondo, on the coast of Oaxaca, and at Llano del Jícaro, an Olmec monument workshop in Veracruz. Her interest in archaeological theory led her to reexamine the popular story of Quetzalcoatl and the Toltecs in Mesoamerican prehistory in order to determine why archaeologists retained their faith in this ambiguous episode from postconquest historical traditions rather than trust their own archaeological data, which often contradicted it. This book resulted from that inquiry. Among her other publications on pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican ideology and iconography are "Ballgames and Boundaries," in The Mesoamerican Ballgame, edited by Vernon L. Scarborough and David R. Wilcox (University of Arizona Press, 1991).

University of Arizona Press

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