THE CALL FOR PAPERS for 2018 will be announced soon.
NEPCA’s 2018 conference will take place on the campus of Worcester State Worcester, Massachusetts on Friday October 19 and Saturday October 20, 2018.
Periodic updates and information will be made on this site and can be viewed by clicking on the 2018 Conference tab above.
The North American Society for Sport History (NASSH) presents two book awards each year to promote and honor outstanding research and writing in the field of sport history. Awards are given for distinguished books written in English on any aspect of sport history, without chronological or geographic restriction. The NASSH Book Award Committee is currently calling for suitable entries for the 2018 Awards in the following categories:
- Monographs: biographies, monographs, and works of synthesis and interpretation
- Edited Collections: edited collections of scholarly papers
Eligibility: To be eligible, books must be scholarly, focus on an aspect of sport history, be published in 2017 (imprint date), and be written in English. There is no chronological or geographic restriction.
Prize: The Award shall be a cash prize of $750 for the anthology and $1000 for the monograph. The publisher will also be notified of the award.
To enter, please send one copy of each entry to each member of the Book Award Committee at the addresses listed below. The books should be postmarked before 26 January 2018.
For more information on the NASSH Book Awards, please do not hesitate to contact Committee Chair Robert Kossuth at firstname.lastname@example.org
The John W. Hartman Center promotes the understanding of the social, cultural and historical influence of advertising and marketing through the collection of published and unpublished resources. Strengths of the collection include direct marketing and sales, outdoor advertising, women in the industry, trade industry association records, and the records of multiple advertising agencies and marketing firms.
Travel grants are available to faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, artists, and independent scholars with a research project that would benefit from access to materials held by the John W. Hartman Center. For more information on the available grants please visit our website:
The deadline for application is January 31, 2018 by 5:00 PM EST. Recipients will be announced no later than March 31, 2018.
Questions about the travel grant program or application process should be directed to email@example.com
With the 2018 volume “Jewish Sports Heritage” will focus on writing on any aspect of Jewish involvement in the world of sports. The journal will no longer be published quarterly, just one time/year, so this will be an expanded volume. We seek compelling essays, insightful commentaries and critical analyses.
Jewish Sports Heritage Association is accepting the following kinds of submissions on topical issues or debates:
– Research essays, open to interpretation;
– Commentary: social scientific assessments of events, journalistic reportage;
– Conversations; interviews with athletes, coaches, others involved in sports;
– Photo essays;
– Book reviews.
We invite both proposals and submissions. Proposals should be submitted by December 1. Submissions are due by December 30. Expected publication of the journal is February 4, 2018.
Jewish Sports Heritage Association
At NEPCA’s October Executive Council meeting, two new areas were proposed: Media Literacy and Crime in Fact and Fiction.
Before launching, however, NEPCA wishes to gauge interest from those who might wish to serve as a chair for one of these areas.
A chair helps solicit and evaluate papers. A thorough job description can be found by consulting: https://nepca.blog/get-involved/job-descriptions/ Scroll down for the area chair description.
If you’d like to be considered, contact: Rob Weir: firstname.lastname@example.org
All area chairs must be active (dues-paying) members of NEPCA. You are active if you attended the last conference or have renewed your membership during 2017. If you forgot, you can renew by consulting: https://nepca.blog/payments-to-nepca/
THE SEEKING. By Will Thomas. Edited by Mark Madigan. University of New England Press, 344 pages, 2013 edited reprint of 1953 original.
The Seeking slipped under the radar, but deserves new attention. My copy literally got buried under an avalanche of titles that came my way and I failed to notice that my longtime Northeast Popular Culture Association colleague Mark Madigan, edited this volume. It should be considered a companion to Jane Beck’s Daisy Turner’s Kin (2015), which mines the same turf: experiences of African Americans in Vermont.
The Seeking is, at turns, fascinating and frustrating. It was penned by African American journalist, novelist, and scriptwriter Will Thomas, the nom de plume of William “Bill” Smith (1900-70). He’s a nearly forgotten writer whose best-known work was his 1947 novel God is For White Folks. The Seeking focuses on the years 1946 to 1953, after Thomas sold his home in Los Angeles and moved his young to Westford, Vermont, a small village is a remote corner of Chittenden County. His reasons for doing so, by his own admission, were not entirely logical, and the fact that he first contemplated relocating to Haiti instead is testament to his conflicted mind. Thomas was a contemporary of Richard Wright and, like he, struggled to make sense of the vagaries of race in America.
The Seeking is another challenge to viewing race as a simplistic binary. Thomas’ father was white and he didn’t begin to think of himself as black until after his father’s death. His mother moved the family from Kansas City to a black Chicago neighborhood, where Will assumed the last name of his African-American stepfather. Thomas later married Elise Leseur, who was 1/8th black, and they parented three children. The Seeking often feels as if Thomas is working out an identity crisis. It was a challenging time to do so. World War Two brought triumph over the perverse racial theories of fascism, yet American racial progress had scarcely advanced since the collapse of Reconstruction in the 1870s. By the time Thomas landed in Westford, he had abandoned Christianity as an oppressor’s religion and was on the cusp of losing his national faith as well.
Thomas spoke with the fervor of a Frederick Douglass as filtered it through the accommodationism of a Booker T. Washington. This probably explains why his work fell into obscurity during the Black Power-influenced late 1960s. Thomas’ personal bifurcation comes across during his Vermont sojourn. Fiery words and complaints of racism stand side by side with vigorous pursuits of white patronage, burning desire to be viewed as a serious writer, and efforts to fit into rural Vermont village life. He was a casual friend of Wright and knew James Baldwin, but spent more time with black intelligentsia such as Ralph Bunche, Horace Clayton, Jr. and Chester Himes. By 1953, when Thomas published The Seeking and appeared on Edward R. Murrow’s “This I Believe” program, This’ tone was more that of the optimist than the activist.
Thomas admits he was ready to take offense at every glance, frown, and stray word, yet he found warmth among flinty New Englanders. He does not make Vermont into a Utopia and notes casual animus towards Jews, Catholics, and French-speaking residents—not to mention the stray racial slur, but he found acceptance among his neighbors and respect from Vermont’s arts community. He is especially praiseful of Dorothy Canfield Fisher, the Green Mountain State’s grand femme de lettres. His account is out of synch with recent critics who charge Ms. Fisher was a bigot.
Whom do we trust? Thomas’ prose is old-fashioned and lacks the timeless qualities of Wright or Baldwin. Little of book’s dialogue rings true. In fact, much of it has been deliberately crafted to enhance self-perceptions of literary brilliance, manliness, wisdom, and steely head-of-family decision-making. Elise Thomas emerges as a nay-saying foil for her husband’s musings rather than an independent mind or helpmeet. As NPR’s Dan Gediman reveals in the afterward, there is much about Thomas/Smith to tarnish his exalted claims—multiple marriages, a peripatetic lifestyle, shaky finances, and poor health. The Thomases divorced in 1955, with Will staying in Vermont until around 1960. It took sleuthing to unearth the final decade of his life.
We are left with a tantalizing account of a black family in isolation in one of the whitest states in the Union. It makes a nice companion piece to Beck’s work on Daisy Turner, but what do we make of either book? My take away is that folks judge their neighbors differently than they categorize people in the abstract, that New Englanders respect honest effort, and a race-blind society remains elusive.
Robert E. Weir
University of Massachusetts Amherst
The Banjo: America’s African Instrument. By Laurent Dubois, Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2016.
Laurent Dubois, professor of Romance Studies and History and director of the Forum for Scholars and Publics at Duke University, asks a seemingly simple question early on in his book: “What sound will accompany the end of days?” (19). The question serves as the beginning of the story of the banjo that draws upon the history of instrument making in tenth-century Spain and the prominence of lutes. Dubois notes that the lute began to transition during this time period from an instrument with a wooden body and an opening under the strings to a new instrument made of a hollowed wooden body that was round or oval and covered with animal skin. The new instrument became known as the banjo. A prolific author with books on Haiti (2004, 2011) and the politics of soccer (2012), Dubois completed his research on the banjo with support from a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Humanities Fellowship, and a Mellon New Directions Fellowship.
In his book, Dubois seeks to provide the reader with a biography of the banjo through its emergence in Africa to the folk music of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger from the 1940s and beyond (though post-1970s uses are more of a coda). The descriptions of the banjo in West African culture provide the reader with a detailed history of how the creation of certain instruments has a major impact on cultural conventions. Dubois explains that the banjo was used to “connect with both the past and the present, to build a bridge of memory and recall. It welcomed different styles, generating solidarity and community through its sound” (52). While this description is offered as a reflection of the early days of the banjo, Dubois shows how the ability of the banjo to link the past to the present and to cross cultural divides continued as the instrument grew in popularity among certain populations, including the newly invented genre of bluegrass after 1946, and the (mostly) white folk music revival that stretched from the 1940s through the 1960s.
While one may be able to find a book on the history of the banjo for a certain period of time, Dubois breaks new ground by offering a thorough biography of an instrument riddled with a diverse history. One of the strengths of Dubois’ book is his ability to move from time period to time period while keeping his reader engaged. Dubois does not shy away from politically complicated topics as he reflects on the role of the banjo as an integral part of minstrelsy. Further, Dubois details the role of the banjo in slave culture and how this was used as a means of protest as well as a means of escaping slavery.
Dubois’ book would be most appealing to those interested in music and popular culture. However, his writing and his ability to weave multiple areas of popular culture including art and literature into his explanations, makes this book suited to a wider population. The execution of the research and writing on the banjo as America’s African instrument is appealing to those who may question how history intersects with artifacts of which we pay little attention. For example, it remains underappreciated that the banjo’s centrality in “white” Appalachian music from the 19th century on was an appropriation of black culture. While most people have seen and heard a banjo, learning about how this instrument played a significant role throughout history may make the reader believe that a banjo very well be one of the sounds accompanying the end of days.
Andi M. McClanahan
East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania