In the following excerpt from his book “Myths America Lives By: White Supremacy and the Stories That Give Us Meaning,” Richard T. Hughes explains how he came to reevaluate his understanding of the 5 Great American Myths to include the primal myth of white supremacy.

“At the invitation of Professor Raymond Carr, one of my students when I taught at Pepperdine University, I participated in 2012 in a panel that reviewed James Cone’s pathbreaking book, The Cross and the Lynching Tree, at the national meeting of the American Academy of Religion that convened that year in Chicago. As part of my presentation, I explored the five American myths discussed in the first edition of this book and explained how, from an early age, those myths had shaped not only my view of the American nation but also my understanding of black people and of race relations in the United States. When I concluded my remarks and took my seat alongside the other panelists, the late James Noel, a professor of African American Christianity and American religion at San Francisco Theological Seminary, leaned over and whispered, “Professor, you left out the most important of all the American myths.”

“And what might that be?” I inquired.

“The Myth of White Supremacy,” Noel replied.

After James Noel’s criticism, Hughes reassessed his previous theory that there were 5 Great American Myths. In this second edition, Hughes corrects his previous assertion, claiming there are, in fact, 6 myths that lie at the core of the American experience. Hughes argues that the Myth of White Supremacy is the primal myth of America, and that the other 5 myths work to simultaneously protect and obscure white supremacy.

  1. The Myth of the Chosen Nation: the Myth of the Chosen Nation asserts that America was chosen by God to enlighten the rest of the world. America’s democratic freedoms were only extended to white Americans, excluding people of color. The belief that God would choose a nation founded upon systemic racism for a special mission supports the Myth of White Supremacy.
  2. The Myth of Nature’s Nation: the Myth of Nature’s Nation maintains the belief that American ideals and institutions are rooted in the natural order, specifically the natural order of God. Since foundational American institutions and ideals were rooted in racial discrimination this myth supports the idea that white supremacy is the natural order, the way things are meant to be.
  3. The Myth of the Millennial Nation: the Myth of the Millennial Nation upholds the notion that the United States, following the natural order, is destined to lead the rest of the world into a new millennium of freedom and self-government. However, since the United States did not extend the rights to freedom and self-government to all of its population, excluding people of color in various ways throughout US history, the only way to maintain the Myth of the Millennial Nation in spite of these contradictions is to embrace the Myth of White Supremacy.
  4. The Myth of the Christian Nation: the Myth of the Christian Nation claims that America is a Christian nation that is consistently guided by Christian values. Since Christianity, by definition, transcends ethnicity, nationality, and color, it cannot be considered a guiding value in a nation that constructed its wealth, identity and power in racial subjugation. To accept the notion that America is guided by Christian values necessitates the incorporation of white supremacist ideas into Christianity, creating a new version of American Christianity.
  5. The Myth of the Innocent Nation: the Myth of the Innocent Nation is the conviction that the United States is consistently redeemed by its nobility, rendering the United States innocent, though other nations may have blood on their hands. In order to render the United States innocent after its long, detailed history of racial discrimination, one must maintain the idea that whites are by nature superior to blacks, centering the Myth of the Innocent Nation on the presumption of the Myth of White Supremacy.

Find out more in Myths America Lives By: White Supremacy and the Stories that Give us Meaning. Get 30% off now through October 15 using promo code 30FALL.

Meet our authors at

IBMA’s World of Bluegrass!

Barbara Martin Stephens, Don’t Give Your Heart to A Rambler

Mike Doubler, Dixie Dewdrop: The Uncle Dave Macon Story

Neil Rosenberg, Bluegrass Generation

Penny Parsons, Foggy Mountain Troubadour: The Life and Music of Curly Seckler

Join us for a book signing in the exhibit hall,
3:00 p.m., Thursday, September 27, 2018.


And while you’re there don’t forget to check out Tom Ewing’s long awaited biography of the Father of Bluegrass, Bill Monroe: The Life and Music of the Blue Grass Man. Get  University of Illinois Press books at the conference discount of up to 40% off with free shipping, and journal subscriptions up to 30% off. We hope to see you there!

We’re pleased to announce that Chinatown Opera Theater in North America by Nancy Yunhwa Rao has won a Certificate of Merit for Best Historical Research in Recorded Country, Folk, Roots, or World Music from the Association for Recorded Sound Collections.

Begun in 1991, the ARSC Awards are given to authors of books, articles or recording liner notes to recognize those publishing the very best work today in recorded sound research. In giving these awards, ARSC recognizes the contributions of these individuals and aims to encourage others to emulate their high standards and to promote readership of their work. Two awards are presented annually in each category, for best history and best discography, and several others are acknowledged with Certificates of Merit. Awards are presented to both the authors and publishers of winning publications.

Winners are chosen by a committee consisting of three elected judges representing specific fields of study, two judges-at-large, the review editor of the ARSC Journal and the President or past President of ARSC. The 2018 ARSC Awards Committee consists of the following:

Dan Morgenstern (Jazz Music Judge); Jon Samuels (Classical Music Judge); Matthew Barton (Popular Music Judge and ARSC Presedent); Cary Ginell (Judge-At-Large); Richard Spottswood (Judge-at-Large); James Farrington (Book Review Editor, ARSC Journal); Patrick Feaster (ARSC past President); David N. “Uncle Dave” Lewis (Awards Committee Co-Chair), and Roberta Freund Schwartz (Awards Committee Co-Chair).

The 2018 Awards for Excellence honor books published in 2017. The awards will be presented at a ceremony on May 11, 2019, during ARSC’s annual conference in Portland, OR.

Congratulations Nancy!

The most recent special issue of Women, Gender, and Families of Color titled “Trump’s America? Disquiet Campus? Marginalized College Students, Faculty, and Staff Reflect on Learning, Working, Living, and Engaging,” contains 25 articles from contributors who address the very tangible changes and challenges in current times. Cécile Accilien, author of one of the articles in this issue, offers the following overview of her contribution.

“Teaching in the Time of ‘trumpism’: Reflections on Citizenship and Hospitality”

By: Cécile Accilien

In “Teaching in the Time of ‘trumpism’: Reflections on Citizenship and Hospitality,” I reflect upon some of the challenges of teaching in the age of intolerance, racism, sexism and other “isms” at the University of Kansas. I explore the notion of citizenship and hospitality from various perspectives including Immanuel Kant’s 1795 essay “Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch” and Algerian-born French philosopher Jacques Derrida’s ideas on hospitality.  Using the University of Kansas’ 2017-2018 Common Book Citizen: An American Lyric by author Claudia Rankine, I discuss some of the ways in which Rankine brings to light various narratives that the book presents. For Rankine, citizenship conveys narratives of privilege whether racial, class, gender, culture, etc. Citizen is a mixed media book that consists of situational videos, poetry, images and songs to analyze the complex question of what it means to be a citizen in the United States in the twenty-first century and the privilege that certain citizenships bring. Among the themes that Citizen delve into are human migration, movement, immigration, and tourism. I also reflect upon how some laws in the United States have been used to criminalize and delegalize immigrants while others facilitate access for certain types of immigrants who are considered assets for the United States.

The University of Illinois Press has made Accilien’s article open access on Project Muse until October 15th.

Today marks Jane Addam’s 158th birthday and at UI Press, we’re the proud publisher of many of her books and personal papers. As a fitting tribute to the mother of social work, next week on September 13, the Press will hold a reception at Jane Addams Hull House Museum to celebrate our 100th anniversary. And you’re invited!

Attendees will get a special look at the new Hull-House Museum exhibition “Participatory Arts: Crafting and Social Change.” Light refreshments and a silent auction will also feature at the event.

We hope to see you there!



This labor day weekend, we are celebrating 40 years of The Working Class in American History Series!

The Working Class in American History series publishes research that illuminates the broad dimensions of working people’s influence in North America.

The series was established in the 1970s by Herbert Gutman, David Brody, and David Montgomery, the enormously influential founders of “the new labor history” that recast the study of the working class into a broad and culturally resonant discipline that influenced scholarship not just in history, but throughout the humanities and social sciences. The current editors, James R. Barrett, Julie Greene, William P. Jones, Alice Kessler-Harris, and  Nelson Lichtenstein, are committed to the expansive vision of its founders, now adapted to the questions posed by the shifting contours of politics, scholarship, and economic and social life in the twenty-first century.

Check out the new books joining the series this fall:

Remembering Lattimer: Labor, Migration, and Race in Pennsylvania Anthracite Country

Paul A. Shackel

Paul A. Shackel confronts the legacies and lessons of the Lattimer event. Beginning with a dramatic retelling of the incident, Shackel traces how the violence, and the acquittal of the deputies who perpetrated it, spurred membership in the United Mine Workers. Compelling and timely, Remembering Lattimer restores an American tragedy to our public memory.

Available September 2018


Dockworker Power: Race and Activism in Durban and the San Francisco Bay Area

Peter Cole

Dockworkers have power. Peter Cole brings such overlooked experiences to light in an eye-opening comparative study of Durban, South Africa, and the San Francisco Bay Area, California. Dockworker Power brings to light surprising parallels in the experiences of dockers half a world away from each other. It also offers a new perspective on how workers can change their conditions and world.

Available December 2018


Making the World Safe for Workers: Labor, the Left, and Wilsonian Internationalism

Elizabeth McKillen– New in Paperback

In this intellectually ambitious study, Elizabeth McKillen explores the significance of Wilsonian internationalism for workers and the influence of American labor in both shaping and undermining the foreign policies and war mobilization efforts of Woodrow Wilson’s administration. McKillen’s spotlight falls particularly on the American Federation of Labor, assisting with propaganda, policy, and diplomacy.

Available September 2018


Disruption in Detroit: Autoworkers and the Elusive Postwar Boom

Daniel J. Clark

Daniel J. Clark began by interviewing dozens of former autoworkers in the Detroit area and found a different story–one of economic insecurity marked by frequent layoffs, unrealized contract provisions, and indispensable second jobs. Disruption in Detroit is a vivid portrait of workers and an industry that experienced anything but stable prosperity.

Available September 2018



Women Have Always Worked: A Concise History— Second Edition

Alice Kessler-Harris

A classic since its original publication, Women Have Always Worked brings much-needed insight into the ways work has shaped female lives and sensibilities. A new chapter by Kessler-Harris follows women into the early twenty-first century as they confront barriers of race, sex, and class to earn positions in the new information society.

Available October 2018




To Live Here, You Have to Fight: How Women Led Appalachian Movements for Social Justice

Jessica Wilkerson

Inspiring yet sobering, To Live Here, You Have to Fight reveals Appalachian women as the indomitable caregivers of a region–and overlooked actors in the movements that defined their time. Jessica Wilkerson tells their stories within the larger drama of efforts to enact change in the 1960s and 1970s.

Available January 2019


Labor’s Mind: A History of Working-Class Intellectual Life

Tobias Higbie

Labor’s Mind uses diaries and personal correspondence, labor college records, and a range of print and visual media to recover this social history of the working-class mind. Revelatory and sympathetic, Labor’s Mind reclaims a forgotten chapter in working-class intellectual life while mapping present-day possibilities for labor, higher education, and digitally enabled self-study.

Available January 2019

Keisha Lindsay is an associate professor of gender and women’s studies and political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She recently answered some questions for us about her new book, In a Classroom of Their Own: The Intersection of Race and Feminist Politics in All-Black Male Schools.

Q: What inspired you to study All-Black Male Schools (ABMSs)?

My interest in studying these schools is both personal and professional. As one of the relatively few black women faculty members at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and as a former public school student, I am very much aware of the reality of systemic discrimination in the nation’s classrooms. So, when I heard about efforts to open an ABMS in Madison I was simultaneously relieved, disappointed, and intrigued. I was relieved because I felt the school board and white Madisonians were finally starting to listen to what local anti-racists have been saying for years – that something has to be done to address structural racism in the city’s schools. I was disappointed because the proposed solution, an ABMS, paid little attention to black girls’ significant experience of feminized racism in Madison’s public schools. Finally, I was intrigued because one of the key arguments in favor of ABMSs, in Madison and elsewhere, echoes an assumption that I encountered in my earlier research on “endangered” black men. This assumption is that black males underachieve not only because they are black in a racist society but also because they are black males who are forced to function in female-dominated, and consequently harmful, educational, occupational, and family environments.

Q: In the book, you illuminate how the theory of intersectionality can be both liberatory and oppressive, revealing that it is a politically fluid framework. How do ABMSs both liberate and oppress students simultaneously?

When I argue that ABMSs both liberate and oppress students I mean three things. On the one hand, the push to open these schools is incredibly liberating for black students because it helps to illuminate structural racism in the nation’s public schools. For instance, many of the most vocal proponents of these schools rightly highlight the fact that: 1) predominantly black urban schools are significantly underfunded relative to white, suburban ones; 2) the voices and experiences of black people are largely absent from school curricula; 3) white teachers discipline blacks students more harshly than other students; and 4) blacks are grossly under-represented in the nation’s teaching force.

On the other hand, despite their best intentions, some supporters of ABMSs not only minimize the extent of black girls’ own academic underachievement but also reproduce deeply entrenched stereotypes of black girls and black women as “jezebels” who sexually distract and morally corrupt the males in their midst. Some of these same supporters also presume that women teachers are guilty of fostering “feminized” classrooms that encourage girls’ passive, verbal learning at the expense of boys’ more aggressive, testosterone driven learning styles. Part of the problem with this approach is that it mistakenly assumes, despite evidence to the contrary, that boys and girls have innate, biologically distinct ways of learning.

Last but not least, my book reveals that supporters of ABMSs make these simultaneously liberating and oppressive arguments, in part, because they embrace the logic of intersectionality. Intersectionality is the analytical framework, pioneered by black feminists, that illuminates how race, gender, and other systems of power reinforce each other.  The push to establish ABMSs is firm evidence that intersectionality can be used to advance many agendas including those that are simultaneously anti-racist and gender-biased.

Q: How do supporters of ABMSs respond to your claims that ABMSs are inherently anti-feminist institutions, assuming that they have. If they have not, what responses do you anticipate receiving?

I expect three responses. One response is that my research is tantamount to “colluding with the enemy.” Or that in highlighting the anti-feminist dimensions of the efforts to establish ABMSs, my book ultimately gives racist whites want they want – a way to thwart the growth of ABMSs and, in turn, black boys’ ability to achieve in school. The second, expected response is that we have to “rank order” black children’s educational needs. According to this argument, while it is true that some of the rhetoric in favor of these school ignores the depth and breadth of black girls’ own oppression in the classroom, the reality is that black boys are more oppressed than black girls. As such, their needs must and should be met before black girls’.

Finally, I anticipate that supporters who are interested in collaborative and inclusive approaches to black children’s education will express a willingness to determine the best to ensure that all black children get the excellent schooling that they deserve.  Put in more specific terms, I expect that these proponents will recognize that the rhetoric of some of their peers actually harms black boys as well as black girls. For example, claiming that “feminized” classrooms are necessarily a problem for black boys ignores black boys who don’t have “aggressive” learning styles and are, in fact, verbal learners.  Furthermore, casting black girls as “jezebels” who sexually distract black boys from learning, ignores the social and educational needs of black boys who identify as gay and/or queer. Furthermore, I expect that the most open-minded supporters of ABMSs already recognize something else – that white supremacists have long used the idea of gender segregated schools to advance the troubling, two-fold notion that: 1) black people are racially inferior because we do not behave like “real” men and women and 2) that we consequently need to be segregated not only by race but also by gender so that we can be properly “schooled” in this regard.

Q: In the book, you point out the shocking statistic that only 2% of US public school teachers are black men, while white women make up the majority of the nation’s public school teachers. How does this statistic contribute to the debate around ABMSs and masculinized racism, as well as public school reform more broadly?

This statistic definitely contributes to the debate – and it should. That only 2% of the nation’s teachers are black men is unacceptable. Black students, including black boys, need to see far more teachers who look like them. Not only that, there is ample evidence that many of the white women teachers who make up the nation’s teaching force are racially biased against black boys. For instance, white women teachers are more likely than other teachers to discipline black boys and to presume that black boys are less intelligent than other students because they are black.

Where many advocates of ABMSs go wrong is in assuming that white women teachers’ status as women or, more specifi­cally, as leaders of “overly” feminized classrooms necessarily contributes to black boys’ academic underachievement. This assumption ignores research findings which indicate that another group of women – black women teachers – actually have the highest, most positive expectations of black boys when compared with teachers of other social groups. In other words, the suggestion that women teachers necessarily harm black boys rests on a flawed, “biology is destiny” assumption which mistakenly presumes that to be a woman is, by definition, to fail black boys in the classroom.

Q: You mention a number of binary oppositions involved in the theoretics of ABMSs, in the form of black versus white, male versus female, urban versus suburban, and poverty versus wealth. How do you think our society’s understanding of complicated social issues, such as education reform, is affected by seeing things in a framework of binary oppositions?

There is no doubt that we live in a society in which generally assumes that social groups are either privileged or oppressed. We see this assumption among the many white women who assume that because they are oppressed as women they cannot exercise racist power over blacks and other non-white groups. This assumption is also at work when some black men declare that because they experience white supremacy they can never exercise gendered privilege over women. What this binary understanding of the social world means, in the context of ABMSs, is that many participants in the conversation about these schools have a deep desire to classify them as either “good” or “bad.” The more complex reality is that the effort to open separate schools for black boys is both “good” and “bad.” Indeed, as the logic of intersectionality teaches us – race, gender, class, and other arenas of difference are mutually reinforcing in ways that make it very difficult to categorize social groups – or for that matter social institutions and movements – as purely liberating or oppressive. ABMSs are no exception – they ultimately challenge and perpetuate racist, gendered, and other inequalities in America.

Q: As an advocate for progressive and productive solutions to the problems facing US public schools today, what are your thoughts on the influx of public school teacher strikes that we have seen across the nation this year? Do you think the strikes speak to a larger issue in our nation’s public school system?

I believe that the influx of public schoolteacher strikes speaks to the chronic underfunding of public schools in the name of neoliberal educational reform. These reform efforts presume that schools perform best not when they receive substantial government funding for teachers’ salaries and other expenses but, rather, when they are forced to “compete” in the marketplace for funding from corporations and other private entities. This privatization impetus is also one of the worrying issues regarding the push to ABMSs. I say this because while principals of some ABMSs recognize that fairly compensated, unionized teachers are ultimately key to successfully educating students, including black boys, other principals oppose teachers’ unions. Not surprisingly, there is evidence that teachers who work for this second group of principals often make far less that unionized teachers in traditional public schools.

Have you ever wondered how the University of Illinois Press got its start? Julie Laut, our Outreach Coordinator, takes us back to when the press was founded in 1918 in a special talk at Spurlock Museum. Watch her presentation below to learn about the press’s early history!

Congratulations to Michael Heller, the editor of Jazz and Culture, on being named one of the 2018 American Council of Learned Society Fellows! The 2018 ACLS Fellowship was awarded to 78 recipients to [advance] humanistic studies in all fields of learning in the humanities and the social sciences and the maintenance and strengthening of relations among the national societies devoted to such studies.Heller’s project “Just Beyond Listening: Sound and Affect Outside of the Ear,”

…”explores multisensory sonic encounters that register as more than simple collisions between sound waves and eardrums. Instead, it looks at how sound functions in dialogue with a range of sensory and affective modalities, including physical co-presence, cultural memory, and spectral haunting. A series of case studies examines instances where sound is experienced in other parts of the body; where sound is altered by cross-wirings across the senses; where sound has been weaponized by military powers; or where sound is mediated and changed by cultural practices, individual memories, or sensations of place. The work expands upon recent scholarship in sound studies, musicology, affect theory, and media studies by asking not only how sound functions acoustically, but how sonic presences temper our total experience of the world around us.”

Heller serves as the editor of Jazz and Culture, an annual scholarly journal published by the University of Illinois Press. The journal is devoted to publishing cutting-edge research on jazz from multiple perspectives. Founded on the principle that both scholars and musicians offer invaluable contributions, the journal juxtaposes groundbreaking work by researchers alongside oral histories and articles written by master artists in the field. Its inaugural issue is available on JSTOR now.


Roger R. Tamte is a patent attorney and scholar of early American football who has studied Camp for many years. He recently answered some questions with us about his new book, Walter Camp and the Creation of Football.

Q. Who was Walter Camp and how did you first become interested in his story?

Camp was involved in American football from its start, watching the first Harvard-Yale rugby game in 1875 as a prep-school senior in New Haven, Connecticut, then continuing involvement as a Yale player and captain, and after college as a rule maker, coach, and author.  For many years he was widely recognized as the central figure in American football, “father” of the game and the person who was looked to when there were questions or issues about it.

In addition to his sports-related work, Camp was employed by a world-wide clock company headquartered in New Haven and served as its chief executive for 20 years.  

About twenty years ago I began to research the history of football as a hobby, and soon became aware of the absence of any book that described the origins of American football in a full and satisfying way.  The research led me to Camp, who had been only a name to me, and I learned of the major and interesting role he had played in football, including his critical role in formation of the game.

Q. What are some of the key ways Camp contributed to the transformation of rugby into American football?

Camp was central to the game’s development from his college days through the rest of his life.  Although essentially all student rule makers during the game’s first ten or fifteen years exited rule making upon graduation, Camp continued, and his expertise made him welcome.  Camp studied the game deeply and kept records analyzing play and the effect of rules on play, which impacted his rule making and management of the game. He was the game’s first serious coach, asked to take charge of the Yale team from 1888-1891 and coaching Yale in some degree for most of the following years until 1916.  He also was the game’s publicist, editing and writing an annual guide and rulebook, writing books and magazine articles that taught the game, and originating and annually naming All American teams.

Q. What rule change was in Camp’s words “more important than all the rest of the legislation combined”?

The system of downs and distance – four downs to gain ten yards (which for many years was three downs to gain five yards) — was an absolute unknown when Camp created it.  As natural as the idea may seem today, it was quite unobvious when Camp suggested it. His fellow rule makers thought it was crazy and unworkable and tried to prevent its enactment.  But with assistance from the rules committee chairman, the rule was enacted on a trial basis, whereupon it quickly proved itself and re-made the game. The rule introduced new specific goals for each play in the form of specific yardage gains needed to maintain ball possession. The offense’s compelling need for yardage gains (or the defense’s need to prevent yardage gains) is central to the game and stimulate the extraordinary study, planning and practice that distinguish and are essential to American football.  Also, the yardage goals and the contest that will be fought over them create tension and interest that help make the game compelling for viewers: knowing the yardage needed, viewers watch with awareness and suspense.

Q. Many of the proposed rule changes became the topic of hot public debate. What proposed rule change became so public that President Theodore Roosevelt took sides?

A style of play developed in the late 1800s in which blockers massed together by moving linemen into the backfield, stacked one behind the other, to smash forward for short yardage gains. Many viewers disliked mass play, saying it hid the ball and the action and caused injuries.  A need for rule change was recognized but disagreements within the rule-making committee, which required unanimity on new rules, stood in the way. Camp wanted to encourage more open play by doubling to ten yards the distance to be gained in three downs, while others argued for weakening the defense by requiring defensive ends to play back five yards or by introducing forward passing, which was barred under a held-over rugby rule.  The failure of the rules committee to act over several years angered the public and provoked calls in the early 1900s for a new rules committee.

President Roosevelt didn’t take sides on particular rules, but in this particular crisis he supported those who wanted more change than Camp was advocating.  Eventually, with Roosevelt’s involvement making a difference, the rules committee was enlarged and committee procedures changed to allow decisions by majority vote.  Camp’s ten-yard rule was approved, but a start on forward passing also was approved.

Q. What do you think Camp would think of the sport as it’s played today?

It’s hard to say, given today’s hugely changed world of sports.  Camp would certainly appreciate today’s increased player skills and sophistication of play.  He quickly became enthusiastic about forward passing and was unhappy when new Yale coaches did not make Yale’s play more modern.  On the other hand, he publicly excoriated colleges of his day for the emphasis and large resources put into intercollegiate football.  Instead, he wanted increased athletic opportunities for the whole student body. Although today’s colleges have broadened student opportunities for athletic competition and exercise, there is vastly greater emphasis on competitive intercollegiate football, and Camp would probably be upset about that emphasis.