The Amish: A Concise Introduction

by krm | Friday, July 22, 2016 - 7:30 AM

One of the things that continually fascinates me about the Amish is the diversity with this group that can, at first glance, seem entirely uniform. Today there are more than 300,000 Amish living in more than 500 communities across 31 U.S. states and three Canadian provinces. Local contexts and differing Amish traditions mean that each settlement has its own unique character.

This spring I spent time in two Amish settlements, separated by 400 miles – and a number of other factors.

The Nappanee community, in northern Indiana, has the sixth largest Amish population in the country, with some 5,800 Amish adults and children. Amish folks have been living around Nappanee – a small city whose residents are not Amish – since 1842. The Amish around Nappanee drive horse-and-buggy, dress in distinctive garb, and send their children to school only through the eighth grade. (About 80 percent of Nappanee Amish children attend one room Amish schools; the rest attend public schools but only through eighth grade.)

In other ways the Amish in this place are integrated into their local context. Their occupational profile matches that of their non-Amish neighbors and quite unlike that of almost all other Amish...Read More

Weapons of Democracy: 4-Minute Men

by krm | Thursday, July 21, 2016 - 7:30 AM

This post is part of our July “Unexpected America” blog series, focused on intriguing or surprising American history research from 1776 to today. Check back with us all month to see what new scholarship our authors have to share! ( Photo Credit Nicholas Raymond )

As we rapidly approach the centenary of the US entrance into World War One (April 1917), it’s worthwhile to revisit one of the most enduring legacies of our wartime participation that continues to have profound political consequences a century later: the management and shaping of public opinion at home and abroad, thanks to the creation of the largest and most effective deployment of propaganda the world had ever experienced. One week after the US declared war on Germany and Austria-Hungary, President Woodrow Wilson established The Committee on Public Information (CPI) under the direction of Progressive muckraker George Creel.

As a journalist experienced in advocacy, Creel shrewdly grasped how values and beliefs in favor of the war and Wilsonian democracy could just as easily be manufactured for citizens as by them via the mechanisms and rhetoric of mass publicity. A combination...Read More

Renaissance Drama and the Red Pen

by bjs | Wednesday, July 20, 2016 - 9:26 AM

Earlier this year, the journal Shakespeare Bulletin took a look at the issue of editing Renaissance drama texts . Stepping outside the boundries of Shakespeare, a trio of guest editors put together a special issue based on a 2013 symposium. The issue helps shine a spotlight on editing and performance for some lesser-known aspects of Renaissance drama. Cassie Ash and Jose Perez Diez - two of the guest editors - visited our podcast series to talk about the special issue.

Audio titled Cassie Ash and Jose Perez Diez

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The Legend and Literature of Tarzan

by krm | Wednesday, July 20, 2016 - 7:30 AM

Directed by David Yates and starring Alexander Skarsgård as the ape-man, The Legend of Tarzan (Warner Brothers) is a movie meant for the Summer of 2016 but it is also one more incarnation of a timeless and familiar story. Jerry Griswold considers the Tarzan Myth in his Audacious Kids: The Classic American Children’s Story , from which the following remarks are excerpted:

First appearing in All Story Magazine and then published as a book in 1914, Tarzan of the Apes immediately jumped on to the bestseller lists and has remained an enduring favorite. Among those who have singled it out for special praise have been Ronald Reagan, Ray Bradbury, Gore Vidal, and Arthur C. Clarke. In the years which followed, readers would demand some twenty-five sequels from Burroughs. The statistics are staggering: by 1970, for example, there were more than thirty-six million Tarzan books in print in thirty-one languages; in addition, there have been more than fifty Tarzan films (from the countless Saturday matinees where Johnny Weissmuller let out his famous Tarzan yell to the more recent incarnations like “Greystoke” and “George of the Jungle”). Surveying all...Read More

Testing Theories: Edison’s Scorecard

by krm | Tuesday, July 19, 2016 - 1:25 AM

This post is part of our July “Unexpected America” blog series, focused on intriguing or surprising American history research from 1776 to today. Check back with us all month to see what new scholarship our authors have to share! ( Photo Credit Nicholas Raymond )

When part of your daily routine is to sift through the papers of the world’s foremost inventor, you begin to expect the unexpected. Still, it’s hard not to be surprised when you come across designs for a steam-powered snow remover or an electric cigar lighter or at times a surrealistic poem in the unmistakable handwriting of the great man himself—Thomas A. Edison. But perhaps the most surprising and enigmatic document of all is what we at the Thomas A. Edison Papers dubbed “The Scorecard.”

What we have since given the more dignified title “The Chart of Physiognomic Traits” and published in Volume 8 of the Papers of Thomas A. Edison first came to our attention when Tom Jeffrey, the editor of the digital edition, discovered it in a box of Edison family correspondence that had come...Read More