Saturday, October 29, 2016

Missing Ralph Keeler: Comparative American Studies


Many moons ago I came across a couple of oblique references to Ralph Keeler while researching travel accounts of the Mississippi River in the wake of the Civil War. He quickly proved to be too intriguing to ignore. After a paper at BAAS 2012 and a lot of digging around, I managed to piece together an account of his career and, in particular, his very significant literary friendships with writers like Mark Twain, William Dean Howells, and Thomas Bailey Aldrich that has a lot to tell us about the literary world in the decade after the war. "Missing Ralph Keeler: Bohemians, Brahmins and Literary Friendships in the Gilded Age" has just been published in Comparative American Studies, 14:2 (2016), 1-23. It's available here, for those with access. And for a limited time, even those without a subscription should be able to read it here. I hope this lays his ghost to rest!

The Oxford Handbook of the Literature of the U.S. South


A belated announcement that my chapter on highwayman Joseph Thompson Hare (remember him?) has been published in Fred Hobson and Barbara Ladd's Oxford Handbook of the Literature of the U.S. South. It's a wonderful volume and a thrill to be in such good company. More information available here.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Mark Twain Journal

Solomon Eytinge, illustration for John Hay's "Jim Bludso" (1871)
I've got an article coming out in the next issue of the Mark Twain Journal (Fall 2015): “‘The Mississippi was a virgin field’: Reconstructing the River Before Mark Twain, 1865-1875.” This one was a long time coming! As you can see here, I've been working on this since at least 2009. Gosh, I think it might be even longer. Anyway, I'm delighted that it's coming out in the Mark Twain Journal, and I'm equally delighted with how many illustrations they've allowed me to include. It should look pretty lovely, at least. This is my attempt to build a picture of the cultural life of the Mississippi in the decade before Mark Twain properly claimed the river as a subject. It's still amazing to me how rich this subject is - I look at steamboat races, bridge building, art, literature, travel writing, and plenty of other things too. More information here on the journal's website. I'll update this post when it's available online. Enjoy.

UPDATE: for those who have access, it's now available here.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Complete University Guide: American Studies


A quick one: I was asked to put together the American Studies subject guide for the Complete University Guide - and it's now available here.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Southern Quarterly: Roustabouts, Steamboats, and the Old Way to Dixie: The Mississippi River and the Southern Imaginary in the Early Twentieth Century


I was thrilled to be invited to contribute something to the latest edition of the The Southern Quarterly, a special issue on the Mississippi that also features river luminaries like Christopher Morris, Michael Allen and Barbara Eckstein. All told, it's a brilliant slab of river writing that does a lot to cement the development of a field of study around the Mississippi - something that's been bubbling for the last few years. My article's titled "Roustabouts, Steamboats, and the Old Way to Dixie: The Mississippi River and the Southern Imaginary in the Early Twentieth Century." I take a look at a neglected body of river writings that blossomed between the publication of Mark Twain's Pudd'nhead Wilson (1894), his last major statement on the river, and Edna Ferber's Show Boat (1926), which redefined the river for decades to come. I focus on late-career works by Southern writers like George Washington Cable, Ruth McEnery Stuart and Mary Noailles Murfree, explore a variety of travel accounts, and end up in Tin Pan Alley. For those who have access, you can browse the entire issue here through Project Muse. Alternatively, I've uploaded my article here - enjoy.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Television: Myth Hunters / Anglia News


Long time, no update - so a quick couple of posts about things that I've been doing over the last year (gosh). First, television news. I'm featured in Episode 3, Season 3 of Myth Hunters - "The Lost Ship of the Mojave Desert" - mainly talking about the California Gold Rush. This was a fun gig. Here am I am, holding forth:
For the moment, the American version is available on YouTube, so grab it while you can, below. Otherwise, it'll undoubtedly pop up again on a history channel of some variety:


And then, at the end of last year, it was a pleasure to talk about highwaymen for Anglia News (the local news channel for Norwich and parts east) to commemorate the long-awaited opening of a road, the A11 (told you it was local news). Here I am, bloviating again, this time chez UEA:

More updates soon.

Friday, August 01, 2014

BrANCA Reading Group: The Leavenworth Case


I'm thrilled to be co-organising the next BrANCA (British Association of Nineteenth-Century Americanists) Reading Group in November. I'm even more thrilled about our choice of text: we'll be discussing Anna Katherine Green's pioneering detective novel The Leavenworth Case (1878), one of the bestselling books of the late nineteenth century. I'll put up a post on American Scrapbook about both the book and Green sometime soon. In the meantime, get your copy from Project Gutenberg here, or there's a Penguin Classics edition available if you prefer. Happy reading. And you can find out about what we got up to at the last Reading Group in Manchester here.

UPDATE: Full details about the event are now available on the BrANCA website.

In other news, as of today I'm the Head of the Department of American Studies at the University of East Anglia.