arts & letters
books by arts & letters faculty




communication studies


Consuming Identity: The Role of Food in Redefining the South Wendy Atkins-Sayre, Department of Communication Studies, and by Ashli Quesinberry Stokes


"Southerners love to talk food, quickly revealing likes and dislikes, regional preferences, and their own delicious stories. Because the topic often crosses lines of race, class, gender, and region, food supplies a common fuel to launch discussion.


"Consuming Identity sifts through the self-definitions, allegiances, and bonds made possible and strengthened through the theme of southern foodways. The book focuses on the role food plays in building identities, accounting for the messages food sends about who we are, how we see ourselves, and how we see others. While many volumes examine southern food, this one is the first to focus on food’s rhetorical qualities and the effect that it can have on culture."



How Robert Frost Made Realism Matter

Jonathan Barron, Department of English


"Robert Frost stood at the intersection of nineteenth-century romanticism and twentieth-century modernism and made both his own. Frost adapted the genteel values and techniques of nineteenth-century poetry, but Barron argues that it was his commitment to realism that gave him popular as well as scholarly appeal and created his enduring legacy. This highly researched consideration of Frost investigates early innovative poetry that was published in popular magazines from 1894 to 1915 and reveals a voice of dissent that anticipated “The New Poetry” – a voice that would come to dominate American poetry as few others have." -


A Dragon's Head and a Serpent's Tail

Kenneth Swope, Department of History


"The invasion of Korea by Japanese troops in May of 1592 was no ordinary military expedition: it was one of the decisive events in Asian history and the most tragic for the Korean peninsula until the mid-twentieth century. Japanese overlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi envisioned conquering Korea, Ming China, and eventually all of Asia; but Korea’s appeal to China’s Emperor Wanli for assistance triggered a six-year war involving hundreds of thousands of soldiers and encompassing the whole region. For Japan, the war was “a dragon’s head followed by a serpent’s tail”: an impressive beginning with no real ending.


Kenneth M. Swope has undertaken the first full-length scholarly study in English of this important conflict. Drawing on Korean, Japanese, and especially Chinese sources, he corrects the Japan-centered perspective of previous accounts and depicts Wanli not as the self-indulgent ruler of received interpretations but rather one actively engaged in military affairs—and concerned especially with rescuing China’s client state of Korea." -

communication studies

Understanding Humor Through Communication: Why Be Funny, Anyway?

John C. Meyer, Department of Communication Studies


"Understanding Humor through Communication explores theories of humor origin as well as humor functions in human groups and societies through communication. A model of humor decision by individuals is detailed, followed by humor’s emergence in communication. Elements of humor sources (incongruity, superiority, and relief), humor intent (comic or tragic perspectives), and humor perception (ego-involvement, script awareness, bona-fide messages, and non-bona-fide messages) are incorporated. Persuasive, organizational, and interpersonal settings involving humor are explored in depth to consider its functions. The individual choice to experience humor is detailed in its effects, as are the social implications of widespread humor desired and invoked in human society. Understanding Humor through Communication will appeal to scholars of communication, psychology, and sociology." -


Milton and the Preaching Arts

Jameela Lares, Department of English


"This study on John Milton's scholarship aims to demonstrate the extent to which Milton's wrok reflects the dominant discourse of his age, preaching. During the 16th and 17th centuries, the pulpit consistently commanded greater audiences than did the stage and many of the era's great poets were also preachers. Milton himself argued that poetry can serve "beside the office of a pulpit" and prepared his life's work at the greatest English centre for formal homilectics of its time, Christ's College, Cambridge; yet this connection has been virtually ignored by scholars and critics in examining Milton's poetry and prose. The author challenges the longstanding assumption that Milton the poet paid no attention to the ministerial training of his past, and she demonstrates how he appropriated many structures from English preaching in his own work. Of the five sermon types first described by Hyperius, Milton favoured the unusual combination of correction and consolation favoured by his first Cambridge tutor. Milton's use of homiletics, as explained by the authro, may help to resolve many critical issues related to his owrk, in particular the last two books of "Paradise Lost", the whole of "Paradise Regained", and his prose commentaries. This text should be of interest to both literary scholars and scholars of church history and homiletics, "Milton and the Preaching Arts" also surveys sermons and sermon manuals, Bible commentaries and works of religious controversy on the issues of English church government and scriptual style." -


The Fetal Position: A Rational Approach to the Abortion Issue

Chris Meyers, Department of Philosophy & Religion


"In this unique approach to one of the most contentious and emotionally charged issues of our day, the author argues that philosophy provides the ideal neutral forum for considering the soundness of both sides of the abortion debate. Unlike most books on abortion, this one takes neither a pro-life nor a pro-choice stance. Rather, using philosophical methodology, the author carefully scrutinizes the commonly voiced arguments for and against abortion with the aim of assessing them from a position that is as unbiased as possible. The author argues that since philosophy involves questioning our most basic assumptions and does not assume any one particular worldview, it is best equipped to provide objective clarity to the debate. The book considers all the hot-button issues, including:


  • What is life? Theories of the soul vs. the naturalistic, biological concept of life
  • The implications of the fact that life begins at conception
  • Responsibility and how each side of the debate defines the term differently
  • The status of the fetus as a potential person
  • The application of the Golden Rule to the debate
  • The question of the woman’s bodily integrity vs. the fetus’s right to life
  • Assessing the consequences of abortion (with reference to utilitarianism)
  • How our attitudes on abortion reflect our character (with reference to virtue ethics)


Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, and especially if you are undecided, this thoughtful, clearly presented treatment of an important, controversial topic will prove enlightening." -

Emmett Till in Different States

Philip C. Kolin, Department of English


"The poems in Emmett Till in Different States span more than 7 decades of events in Emmett Till’s legacy from the 1940s to the present. In them Philip Kolin shows how Emmett Till’s importance has expanded from being a Civil Rights martyr to becoming a choric, heroic commentator on the tragedies of Civil Rights injustices (e.g. Medgar Evers’s murder, the Freedom Riders, the murders of Chicago’s children, Trayvon Martin), and a voice of conscience for America to hear and heed.


"Kolin weaves other voices throughout the poems in this collection, most notably Mamie Till, Gospel great Mahalia Jackson who bought Till’s gravestone, an old black woman (Aunt Aretha) who meets Till in the Delta, Till’s fictionalized brothers (other black men who have been slain and their bodies left to rot), his fictionalized sister based upon the Shulamite woman in the Song of Songs, the Chicago River, and even Carolyn Bryant, the white woman whom Till was said to have offended.


"These voices–and Till’s as well–emerge from a variety of traditions–Biblical, the blues, classical mythology, spirituals.

According to Natasha Trethewey, the 19th Poet Laureate of the United States, “In the history of a nation still on the long journey toward full realization of its creed, there are stories that need to be told again and again. The murder of Emmett Till is one such story; it belongs to all of us and should be sung by many different voices. In Emmett Till in Different States, Philip Kolin adds his voice―a necessary retelling so that we might be transformed by the listening.” -

political science

Culture, Rhetoric, and Voting

Douglas M. Brattebo, ed.; Tom Lansford, ed., Department of Political Science; Jack Covarrubias, ed., Department of Political Science; Robert J. Pauly, Jr., ed., Department of Political Science


"The presidential election of 2012 was among the most important in American history, both for the policies that will persist due to its result as well as the national political transformation it portends. The contest’s outcome was the product of complex and fast-moving societal changes― demographic, technological, and economic― surfacing in American society. This volume, consisting of writings by leading scholars of American politics and the American presidency, examines the 2012 presidential election in its many facets. Particularly prominent in these analyses are: psychology, religion, and culture, rhetoric, and voting." -

mass communication & journalism

The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Use of Public Relations

Vanessa Murphree, Department of Mass Communication & Journalism


"The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee formed in April 1960 to advance civil rights. With a tremendous human rights mission facing them, the founding SNCC members included communication and publicity as part of their initial purpose. This book provides a broad overview of these efforts from SNCC's birth in 1960 until the beginning of its demise in the late 1960s and examines the communication tools that SNCC leaders and members used to organize, launch, and carry out their campaign to promote civil rights throughout the 1960s. It specifically explores how SNCC workers used public relations to support and promote their platforms and to build a grassroots community movement; and how the organization later rejected these strategies for a radical and isolated approach." -

foreign languages & literatures

German for Singers: A Textbook of Diction and Phoenetics

William Odom, Department of Foreign Languages, and Benno Schollum


"First published in 1981, "German for Singers" remains an effective and authoritative guide to German diction for singers of every genre. The second edition is corrected, revised and updated and includes an audio CD demonstrating the sounds of the German language. William Odom is professor of foreign languages at the University of Southern Mississippi. He recently served as a diction consultant for the New Orleans Opera's production of Tannhäuser. He has also traveled extensively in Europe working with professional and amateur singers, improving their German diction." -


Murder in Montpelier: Igbo Africans in Virginia

Douglas Chambers, Department of History


In 1732 Ambrose Madison, grandfather of the future president, languished for weeks in a sickbed then died. The death, soon after his arrival on the plantation, bore hallmarks of what planters assumed to be traditional African medicine. African slaves were suspected of poisoning their master. For Montpelier, his estate, and for Virginia, this was a watershed moment. Murder at Montpelier: Igbo Africans in Virginia explores the consequences of Madison's death and the ways in which this event shaped both white slaveholding society and the surrounding slave culture. At Montpelier, now owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and open to the public, Igbo slaves under the directions of white overseers had been felling trees, clearing land, and planting tobacco and other crops for five years before Madison arrived. This deadly initial encounter between American colonial master and African slave community irrevocably changed both whites and blacks. This book explores the many broader meanings of this suspected murder and its aftermath. It weaves together a series of transformations that followed, such as the negotiation of master-slave relations, the transformation of Igbo culture in the New World, and the social memory of a particular slave community. For the first time, the book presents the larger history of the slave community at James Madison's Montpelier, over the five generations from the 1720s through the 1850s and beyond. Murder at Montpelier revises many assumptions about how Africans survived enslavement, the middle passage, and grueling labor as chattel in North America. The importance of Igbo among the colonial slave population makes this work a controversial reappraisal of how Africans made themselves "African Americans" in Virginia.

philosophy & religion

Learning Love from a Tiger: Religious Experiences with Nature

Daniel Capper, Department of Philosophy and Religion


"Learning Love from a Tiger explores the vibrancy and variety of humans' sacred encounters with the natural world, gathering a range of stories culled from Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Mayan, Himalayan, Buddhist, and Chinese shamanic traditions. Readers will delight in tales of house cats who teach monks how to meditate, rivers that grant salvation, shamans who shape-shift into jaguars, crickets who perform Catholic mass, and many others. More than a collection of wonderful stories, this book introduces important concepts and approaches that underlie much recent work in environmental ethics, religion, and ecology. Capper's light touch prompts readers to engage their own views of humanity's place in the natural world and in particular question longstanding assumptions of human superiority." -



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