Faculty Books

Kissing Cousins: A New Kinship Bestiary

Frances Bartkowski 

Since DNA has replaced blood as the medium through which we establish kinship, how do we determine with whom we are kin? Who counts among those we care for? The distinction between these categories is constantly in flux. How do we come to decide those we may kiss and those we may kill?  Click here for full description.



Cold War Captives: Imprisonment, Escape, and Brainwashing 

Susan L. Carruthers

This provocative history of early cold war America recreates a time when World War III seemed imminent. Headlines were dominated by stories of Soviet slave laborers, brainwashed prisoners in Korea, and courageous escapees like Oksana Kasenkina who made a “leap for freedom” from the Soviet Consulate in New York. Full of fascinating and forgotten stories,Cold War Captives explores a central dimension of American culture and politics—the postwar preoccupation with captivity.  Click here for full description.



Pacific Connections: The Making of the U.S.-Canadian Borderlands

Kornel Chang

In the late nineteenth century the borderlands between the United States, the British Empire in Canada, and the Asia-Pacific Rim emerged as a crossroads of the Pacific world. In Pacific Connections, Kornel Chang tells the dramatic stories of the laborers, merchants, smugglers, and activists who crossed these borders into the twentieth century, and the American and British empire-builders who countered them by hardening racial and national lines.                               Click here for full description.


 Performing Folklore: Ranchos Folcloricos from Lisbon to Newark

Kimberly DaCosta-Holton

Through the lens of expressive culture, Performing Folklores tracks Portugal's transition from fascism to democracy, and from imperial metropole to EEC member state. Kimberly DaCosta Holton examines the evolution and significance of ranchos folclóricos, groups of amateur musicians and dancers who perform turn-of-the-century popular tradition and have acted as cultural barometers of change throughout 20th-century Portugal.  Click here for full description.



Caribbean Middlebrow: Leisure Culture and the Middle Class 

Belinda Edmondson

It is commonly assumed that Caribbean culture is split into elite highbrow culture—which is considered derivative of Europe and not rooted in the Caribbean—and authentic working-class culture, which is often identified with such iconic island activities as salsa, carnival, calypso, and reggae. In Caribbean Middlebrow, Belinda Edmondson recovers a middle ground, a genuine popular culture in the English-speaking Caribbean that stretches back into the nineteenth century.  Click here for full description.


Wrestling with the Left: The Making of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man

Barbara Foley

In Wrestling with the Left, Barbara Foley presents a penetrating analysis of the creation of Invisible Man. In the process she sheds new light not only on Ralph Ellison’s celebrated novel but also on his early radicalism and the relationship between African American writers and the left during the early years of the cold war. Foley scrutinized thousands of pages of drafts and notes for the novel, as well as the author’s early journalism and fiction, published and unpublished.  Click here for full description. 


The Most Important Fish in the Sea: Menhaden and America

H. Bruce Franklin

In this brilliant portrait of the oceans’ unlikely hero, H. Bruce Franklin shows how menhaden have shaped America’s national—and natural—history, and why reckless overfishing now threatens their place in both. Since Native Americans began using menhaden as fertilizer, this amazing fish has greased the wheels of U.S. agriculture and industry.  Click here for full description. 



Translating Empire: José Martí, Migrant Latino Subjects, and American Modernities

Laura Lomas

In Translating Empire, Laura Lomas uncovers how late nineteenth-century Latino migrant writers developed a prescient critique of U.S. imperialism, one that prefigures many of the concerns about empire, race, and postcolonial subjectivity animating American studies today. During the 1880s and early 1890s, the Cuban journalist, poet, and revolutionary José Martí and other Latino migrants living in New York City translated North American literary and cultural texts into Spanish.  Click here for full description.


Nature's New Deal: The Civilian Conservation Corps and the Roots of the American Environmental Movement

Neil M. Maher

The Great Depression coincided with a wave of natural disasters, including the Dust Bowl and devastating floods of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Recovering from these calamities--and preventing their reoccurrence--was a major goal of the New Deal.  Click here for full description.



John Coltrane: His Life and Music

Lewis Porter

John Coltrane was a key figure in jazz, a pioneer in world music, and an intensely emotional force whose following continues to grow. This new biography, the first by a professional jazz scholar and performer, presents a huge amount of never-before-published material, including interviews with Coltrane, photos, genealogical documents, and innovative musical analysis that offers a fresh view of Coltrane's genius.  Click here for full description. 



The President Electric: Ronald Reagan and the Politics of Performance

Timothy Raphael

When Ronald Reagan first entered politics in 1965, his public profile as a performer in radio, film, television, and advertising and his experience in public relations proved invaluable political assets. By the time he left office in 1989, the media in which he trained had become the primary source for generating and wielding political power. The President Electric: Ronald Reagan and the Politics of Performance reveals how the systematic employment of the techniques and technologies of mass-media performance contributed to Reagan’s rise to power and defined his style of governance. Click here for full description.


Groundwaters: A Century of Art by Self-Taught and Outsider Artists

Charles Russell (professor emeritus)

More than 100 years of unschooled artistic genius is gathered in this wide-ranging survey that will delight and inform Outsider Art’s rapidly growing audience.

Visionary art, art brut, art of the insane, naïve art, vernacular art, “raw vision”—what do all these and many other categories describe? An art made outside the boundaries of official culture, first recognized more than a century ago by German psychiatrists who appreciated the profound artistic expression in the work of institutionalized patients. Click here for full description.

Family Properties: How the Struggle Over Race and Real Estate Transformed Chicago and Urban America

Beryl Satter

The “promised land” for thousands of Southern blacks, postwar Chicago quickly became the most segregated city in the North, the site of the nation’s worst ghettos. In this powerful book, Beryl Satter identifies the true cause of the city’s black slums and the ruin of urban neighborhoods throughout the country: a widespread institutionalized system of legal and financial exploitation.               Click here for full description.


Unfair Housing: How National Policy Shapes Community Action

Mara S. Sidney

It is difficult to ignore the fact that, even as the United States becomes much more racially and ethnically diverse, our neighborhoods remain largely segregated. The 1968 Fair Housing Act and 1977 Community Reinvestment Act promised to end discrimination, yet for millions of Americans housing options remain far removed from the American Dream. Why do most neighborhoods in American cities continue to be racially divided?  Click here for full description.




Crossing Broadway: Washington Heights and the Promise of New York (Cornell, 2015)


Robert Synder 


This work illuminates New York City’s long passage from the Great Depression and World War II through the urban crisis to globalization and growing economic inequality in the twenty-first century. The book tells the stories of real people  who overcame their mutual suspicions to rehabilitate housing, build new schools, restore parks, and work with the police to bring safety to streets racked by crime and fear. The growing gap between rich and poor in contemporary New York, however, puts new pressure on the Heights as more affluent newcomers move into buildings that once sustained generations of wage earners and the owners of small businesses. A tribute to a great American neighborhood, this book shows how residents learned to cross Broadway—over the decades a boundary that has separated black and white, Jews and Irish, Dominican-born and American-born—and make common cause in pursuit of one of the most precious rights: the right to make a home and build a better life in New York City.Click here for a full description.




Perversion for Profit: The Politics of Pornography and the Rise of the New Right

Whitney Strub

While America is not alone in its ambivalence toward sex and its depictions, the preferences of the nation swing sharply between toleration and censure. This pattern has grown even more pronounced since the 1960s, with the emergence of the New Right and its attack on the "floodtide of filth" that was supposedly sweeping the nation. Antipornography campaigns became the New Right's political capital in the 1960s, laying the groundwork for the "family values" agenda that shifted the country to the right.  Click here for full description.