New Books by History Faculty
History department faculty members spend a great deal of time outside the classroom working on research projects in their specific fields of interest. This research directly benefits students and often results in the publication of scholarly articles and books.
Louisiana State University Press, 2014
A Broken Regiment recounts the tragic history of one of the Civil War’s most ill-fated Union military units. Organized in the late summer of 1862, the 16th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry was unprepared for battle a month later, when it entered the fight at Antietam. The results were catastrophic: nearly a quarter of the men were killed or wounded, and Connecticut’s 16th panicked and fled the field. In the years that followed, the regiment participated in minor skirmishes before surrendering en masse in North Carolina in 1864. Most of its members spent months in southern prison camps, including the notorious Andersonville stockade, where disease and starvation took the lives of over one hundred members of the unit.
The struggles of the 16th led survivors to reflect on the true nature of their military experience during and after the war, and questions of cowardice and courage, patriotism and purpose, were often foremost in their thoughts. Over time, competing stories emerged of who they were, why they endured what they did, and how they should be remembered. By the end of the century, their collective recollections reshaped this troubling and traumatic past, and the “unfortunate regiment” emerged as the "Brave Sixteenth,” their individual memories and accounts altered to fit the more heroic contours of the Union victory.
The product of over a decade of research, Lesley J. Gordon’s A Broken Regiment illuminates this unit’s complex history amid the interplay of various, and often competing, voices. The result is a fascinating and heartrending story of one regiment’s wartime and postwar struggles.
University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014
Thinkers in medieval France constantly reconceptualized what had come before, interpreting past events to give validity to the present and help control the future. The long-dead saints who presided over churches and the ancestors of established dynasties were an especially crucial part of creative memory, Constance Brittain Bouchard contends. In Rewriting Saints and Ancestors she examines how such ex post facto accounts are less an impediment to the writing of accurate history than a crucial tool for understanding the Middle Ages.
Working backward through time, Bouchard discusses twelfth-century scribes contemplating the ninth-century documents they copied into cartularies or reworked into narratives of disaster and triumph, ninth-century churchmen deliberately forging supposedly late antique documents as weapons against both kings and other churchmen, and sixth- and seventh-century Gallic writers coming to terms with an early Christianity that had neither the saints nor the monasteries that would become fundamental to religious practice. As they met with political change and social upheaval, each generation decided which events of the past were worth remembering and which were to be reinterpreted or quietly forgotten. By considering memory as an analytic tool, Bouchard not only reveals the ways early medieval writers constructed a useful past but also provides new insights into the nature of record keeping, the changing ways dynasties were conceptualized, the relationships of the Merovingian and Carolingian kings to the church, and the discovery (or invention) of Gaul's earliest martyrs
Louisiana State University Press, 2014
In the decades after the Second World War, France became the foremost nudist site in Europe. Stephen L. Harp‘s new book, Au Naturel: Naturism, Nudism, and Tourism in Twentieth-Century France explains how this came to be. A study of nudist ideas, activity, and sites from the interwar years to the mid-1970s, the book is a fascinating history of the people and places that made nude tourism and leisure a major phenomenon in France.
Building on previous scholarship that has explored nudism in different national contexts, Au Naturel is a transnational history that illuminates the movement of bodies, beliefs, and practices across political borders, and the emergence of a postwar European community from a unique perspective. Drawing on a rich archive of materials from the local to the international, Harp reveals that nudism was both cultural and political in its meanings and effects in and beyond France. A history of the body and sexuality, Au Naturel is a story of shifting landscapes and values that will be of tremendous interest to readers across multiple fields.
Palgrave Macmillan, 2013
Over the course of three centuries, American settlers spread throughout North America and beyond, driving out indigenous populations to establish exclusive and permanent homelands of their own. In doing so, they helped to create the richest and most powerful nation in human history, even as they caused the death and displacement of millions of people. This groundbreaking historical synthesis demonstrates that the United States is and has always been fundamentally a settler colonial society - and, indeed, that its growth as a country represents the most sweeping, violent, and significant instance of the phenomenon in history. Linking episodes too often treated in isolation - including Indian removal, the Mexican and Civil Wars, and the settlement of Alaska and Hawaii - it upends many familiar categories of US history and presents a compelling yet disturbing framework through which to understand America's rise to global dominance.
Kevin Kern & Greg Wilson
Professors Kevin Kern and Gregory Wilson have just published Ohio: A History of the Buckeye State. Hailed by Purdue University’s R. Douglas Hurt as “The best book on Ohio’s history in more than a generation,” the new volume builds on our department’s long-recognized prominence in the field of Ohio History that Professor Emeritus George Knepper established during his illustrious career. Drawing on the latest scholarship from history, archaeology, and political science, the interdisciplinary and thematic text explores the entire range of Ohio’s past from the earliest geological periods to the present day while weaving together major social, economic, and political trends over time.
The book has the distinction of being the first survey of Ohio history designed specifically for use in college-level courses, but Miami University’s Andrew Cayton believes it will have an even broader appeal: “Kevin Kern and Gregory Wilson’s readable, authoritative, and comprehensive book immediately becomes the standard point of departure for anyone interested in learning about Ohio’s rich and diverse past.”