Linda A. Morris is a Professor of Emeritus at UC Davis. Her current research is on gender play in the works of Mark Twain. Her earlier published work focused primarily on women’s humor in nineteenth-century America. Her teaching and research areas were late nineteenth-century American literature, Mark Twain, American humor, and African-American literature with an emphasis on women’s fiction. She recently shared her thoughts on “What is Personal about Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc?” from an issue of American Literary Realism.

My article, “What is Personal about Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc?” was the culmination of my thinking and writing about Twain’s Joan of Arc over time for close to two decades.  My first paper, written for a conference, puzzled over the fact that the physical Joan was never described by Twain (or by the primary historical sources), yet he claimed he modeled her physical likeness on his daughter Susy. I’m not sure I ever satisfactorily answered that question, but Personal Recollections stuck in my mind.

The next time I turned to Twain’s Joan was much more concentrated, for I was writing Gender Play in Mark Twain: Cross Dressing and Transgression. The historical Joan of Arc was the most famous cross-dresser of all times, and Twain was clearly fascinated by her for many years. It turns out that the fact that Joan cross-dressed as a male, even while imprisoned, was highly significant in her trial and subsequent martyrdom. In the end, the only crime the church was able to convict her on was putting on her male clothing after she had agreed, under duress, to renounce it. Once she put an “x” on a piece of paper denouncing her male attire, as Twain called it, her prison guards stole her female clothing while she slept and she had no choice but to once again cross-dress.  She was almost immediately burned at the stake.

At the same time I was writing a chapter on Personal Recollections for my book, I began to question, as many scholars have done, why Mark Twain believed it to be the “best” work he ever wrote, and his favorite. Many Twain critics have rather vehemently disagreed with that judgment, but I thought it deserved attention. The answer took me in several directions. For instance, scholars had dismissed the claim as Twain’s sentimental association of the book with his daughter Susy, who died shortly after the book was published. (I cover that topic, in part, in my article in American Literary Realism, but briefly I concluded there are a number of compelling reasons why he judged the book so highly, including the extraordinary amount of research he devoted to the work.)

Several years after the publication of Gender Play, I was invited by a French colleague, Ronald Jenn, to apply together for a France-Berkeley grant to study Twain’s own marginalia in a number of texts Twain studied in preparation for writing his Joan of Arc (all located in the Mark Twain Papers at UC Berkeley). We received the grant, which proved to be a marvelous opportunity to “read” the original French and English sources over Twain’s shoulder, so to speak. We watched him teach himself about Joan’s life, her success in battles to liberate France from the English, to marvel at Joan’s resilience in the face of her cruel treatment in prison while she was on trial, and to see Twain begin to challenge the accuracy of some of his historical sources. We then wrote and published an article about our discoveries about the marginalia. (“The Sources of Mark Twain’s Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, Mark Twain Journal, Vol. 55, Spring/Fall, 2017,55-74.)

Our work together in the Mark Twain papers in turn resulted in my receiving an invitation to present a paper about Twain’s Joan at the Joan of Arc historical society in Rouen, France, where the audience was steeped in knowledge about the historical Joan but knew virtually nothing about Twain’s Joan of Arc. In anticipation of that talk, Ronald Jenn and another French colleague took the lead in producing a film about Twain’s work, which we previewed in Rouen, and which won a prize at the 1st Anstia film festival in Paris in 2018 for the best documentary. (“Jeanne d’Arc, l’histoire d’une passion.”)

The articles that appear in the special issue of American Literary Realism also grew out of our France-Berkeley project and a panel of papers presented at the Elmira College Quadrennial conference on Mark Twain, chaired by Delphine Louis-Dimitrov. There is yet another project to follow—a special issue on Joan of Arc in America, to be published by the French journal Revue Francaise d’Estudes Americaines. I look forward to reading that issue, as well, eager to hear what the writers have to say on this topic.

Jonathan Fenderson is an assistant professor of African and African American studies at Washington University in St. Louis. He recently answered some questions about his new book Building the Black Arts Movement: Hoyt Fuller and the Cultural Politics of the 1960s. 


Q: Why did you decide to write this book?

When I was in graduate school at the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell University there was a room named in honor of Hoyt Fuller.  Inside that room there was also an incredible portrait by Jeff Donaldson, which is now featured on the cover. Before entering that room and seeing that portrait I had never heard his name, but as I started to do research on him, and understand his importance to the Black Arts Movement, I said to myself, “someone needs to write a book about this guy.” Luckily, I was fortunate enough to gain entry into the graduate program at the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at UMass, where they encouraged the idea. Subsequently, the more research I did, the more I realized the singularity of his role in the Movement.

Q: Who were your biggest influences?

In regard to the project, my biggest influences would have to include the faculty of UMass’ Afro-American Studies program. I would also have to include Carole Parks, Abena Brown and Angela Jackson, who were colleagues (and friends) of Fuller. Collectively they made sure I had everything I needed to complete the book. Robert Harris also went above and beyond, when he allowed me the opportunity to access his personal papers, which had yet to be archived. In terms of my intellectual influences, more broadly, they may be too many to mention by name. I was particularly moved by Black scholars that have wrestled with questions of intra-racial class conflict within African-American society. In particular, scholars like E. Franklin Frazier, Amiri Baraka, and Adolph Reed. I was also very moved by the work of David Levering Lewis, Lawrence P. Jackson and other scholars that have written provocative Black literary histories.

Q: How did you conduct research for your book?

My experiences conducting research for this book has been a tremendously rewarding journey. My primary archive was in Atlanta at the Woodruff Library in the Atlanta University Center. I made regular trips there and was fortunate to build a really supportive relationship with the archive staff. I also spent times in secondary archives in New York City, London, Lagos (Nigeria) and a number of other places. I also made regular trips to conduct oral history interviews. In hindsight it is safe to say that the research for this book has taken me around the world. I have ventured to places I never could have imagined when I first chose this project. Throughout the entire process I remained committed to deep archival research, which I felt had been lacking in much of the scholarship on the Black Arts Movement.

Q: What is the most interesting discovery you made while researching and writing your book?

I think the most interesting discovery is the story I try to tell in the final chapter of the book, regarding Fuller’s sexuality and the creation of the archive. For many years I wondered how I was going to write about Fuller’s sexuality without having much to reference, yet still remaining true to an approach to Black Studies that situates history as foundational. And while, there is still very little reference material in the archive, the story about why so many silences exist in the archive is fascinating. Very early in the process I knew that Fuller engaged in same-sex sexual relationships with men, but that reality—in and of itself—was not a very interesting or compelling part of the story, in my opinion. However, when I learned that individuals had worked to “clean” Fuller’s papers after he died, I felt that was an important story that needed to be told. I had to come to terms with an expression of homophobia that was rooted in notions of love, protection and devotion for marginalized LGBTQI subjects.

Q: What myths do you hope your book will dispel or what do you hope your book will help readers unlearn?

There are a few myths that I hope my book dispels, or at least troubles. First, there is a widely held (and frequently circulated) idea that the Black Arts Movement was unrelentingly hyper-masculine and dogmatically patriarchal (and by extension homophobic) due to the Black nationalists impulses that resided at its core. And while there are very sound critiques to be made of black nationalism—particularly along the lines of gender and sexuality—the history of the Black Arts Movement is far more complicated than the scholarship has suggested. Second, I wanted to challenge Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s contention that the Black Arts Movement was the shortest and least successful movement in African-American cultural history. To the contrary, I wanted to show that the Black Arts Movement was responsible for advancing a notion of “cultural politics” that has remained a core feature of American intellectual discourse. Lastly, I wanted to tell the story of Black Arts institutions. When scholars write about the Movement they tend to reference individuals, like Amiri Baraka, or particular poems, but the story of the era resides in the rise and fall of experimental Black institutions, and the people who found these institutions to be productive spaces for artistic creation. Therefore the book offers a story of important Black institutions, but documenting one persons experiences in those institutions.

Q: What is the most important idea you hope readers will take away from your book?

I hope that after reading my book scholars will see that we have so much more to learn about the Black Arts Movement. In addition, I hope that subsequent scholars will see that we can approach the study of the movement with historical rigor and archival attentiveness. In addition, I hope that my book helps to situate Hoyt Fuller as an influential thinker in the Black intellectual tradition. Finally, I hope that Building the Black Arts Movement illustrates the fact that community-rooted institutions laid part of the intellectual groundwork for modern day African-American Studies, and that there was a tradition of popular intellectual engagement that emanated from everyday working-class people in African-American communities. During the 1960s and 1970s, Black Arts was Black popular culture, and even though the study of Black culture is now academically acceptable that was not always the case.

Q: What do you like to read/watch/or listen to for fun?

I’ve spent a significant portion of my life listening to hip-hop music, so it has remained a consistent source of fun and frustration. I also enjoy listening to podcasts of all sorts, and watching good television shows and films. And perhaps my favorite thing to do is to spend time with my wife, searching for good food. We’re lucky because Saint Louis has some really good food to offer, but we also love to travel in search of good food.

Melanie Holmes is the author of The Female Assumption, recipient of a 2014 Global Media Award from the Population Institute. She recently answered some questions about her new book, A Hero on Mount St. Helens: The Life and Legacy of David A. Johnston.


Q: Why did you decide to write this book?

I didn’t “decide” so much as I was engaged in a conversation with a longtime friend (David’s sister) and realized that too many people had taken liberties with his story over the years, and that a book informed by those who knew him best could possibly heal wounds inflicted by past hurts. I never met David, thus he was outside the sphere of my friendship with his sister; we had barely discussed him in all the years of our friendship. Thus writing this book involved asking the must fundamental questions; the more I learned about him, the more compelling his story became. We tend to forget what people of past generations went through because of the social and political climate; this is an attempt to frame one life, set in the context of the turbulent 1960s.

Q: How did you conduct research for this book?

It began with dinner. With the idea of a book in mind, we met for dinner to discuss it. We were both nervous, but it went well; she gave me names of David’s friends from childhood and college and I contacted all that I could track down. People were generous with their time, in sharing stories about David as well as what went on at Mount St. Helens. I read thousands of pages of research articles, books, letters sent to David’s parents after he died, as well as David’s own writings (letters home, etc.). I traveled to the Mount St. Helens area and toured the Cascades Volcano Observatory. I stood on lahar sediment west of the mountain. I watched a voluminous number of documentaries on the eruption as well as on the recovery of the ecosystem. Perhaps as important as research on the man and the mountain was researching the time period in which David grew up—it felt important to view him from a cultural viewpoint. This is one man’s story, but it’s also the tale of a generation.

Q: What is the most interesting discovery you made while researching and writing this book?

The human condition is a fascinating landscape; it is hard to narrow it down to one thing. Perhaps discovering that David had a very anxious disposition, and learning about what might have fueled those anxieties, and especially how he overcame that as an obstacle. From the perspective of Mount St. Helens, it is most interesting that the science we have today quite frankly did not exist in 1980. Volcanology was an immature science. Even though the United States had a volcano hazards program, it wasn’t well-funded. The only volcano observatory that existed in 1980 was in Hawaii—despite the fact that the United States has the greatest number of active volcanoes of any country other than Indonesia. But in 1980 people saw the Cascades as beautiful snow-capped mountains, perfect for skiing.

Q: What myths do you hope your book will dispel or what do you hope this book will help readers unlearn?

Some say that David “knew” the volcano was going to erupt as it did. Media quoted him when he called it a dynamite keg with its fuse lit. Did David “feel” it was going to erupt? Yes. Absolutely. He even mentioned a volcano in Russia that erupted with a directed/lateral blast in 1956, which is what ended up happening at Mount St. Helens. But the science did not exist that would have helped scientists to know what was going on. To say that David “knew” what would happen is to say that he “knew” people would be killed, and that’s not fair to the families of those who died or were seriously injured. What it would be good for people to “unlearn” is to not believe everything you read. As David’s mother used to say (she was a newspaper editor), check the facts, verify. The other thing is not to treat David and the others who died as just another news story. They were people. Their families have feelings that have been trampled over and over.

Q: What is the most important idea you hope readers will take away from this book?

This depends on who you are. An overarching theme is: “heroes walk among us.” There are many that we can point to from the period in which David grew up. Those who fought in Vietnam deserved so much more honor than they received. Vietnam vets flew helicopters that performed search and rescue after the eruption; I wonder how many people know that. Scientists also are true heroes. Diseases have been eradicated. Lead times for warnings about tornadoes and volcanic hazards have improved. Scientists typically toil in obscurity, even as their discoveries improve (or save) lives. Every scientist will tell you that preparation is key when it comes to natural disasters. The other takeaway is: we are each other’s keepers. There’s a quote in the book, David’s words from when he was 25 years old (during 1976, America’s bicentennial): “Everything that America is, was, or ever will be is the result of what its people are.” That’s a good ethic to live by.

Q: What do you like to read/watch/or listen to for fun?

I read mostly nonfiction (memoirs, self-help). The last fiction book that I really loved was probably The Book Thief; even though it came out 10 years ago, I read it only a year ago. Its focus on a little German girl who couldn’t understand the hatred of the Holocaust really resonated. Children aren’t born hating; they learn to hate. As far as what I watch? Jeopardy is like a religion in my home. I love superhero movies (my older brother introduced me to my first Wonder Woman comic book circa 1970) And I’ll watch any movie with my adult daughter that she selects (our favorite is Mamma Mia!)

Dr. Angelique Harris is the founding director of the Center for Gender and Sexualities Studies and the Gender and Sexualities Studies Program and is an associate professor of sociology  in the Department of Social and Cultural Sciences at Marquette University. Her research examines social problems and issues within marginalized communities, primarily focusing on the experiences of women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ communities. Her research and teaching interests include the sociology of religion, urban studies, media studies, and social movements. Dr. Harris recently shared her thoughts on her article, “Emotions, Feelings, and Social Change: Love, Anger, and Solidarity in Black Women’s AIDS Activism” from an issue of Women, Gender, and Families of Color.

While conducting research on Black Church responses to HIV/AIDS in New York City, I noticing that a vast majority of those involved in Black Church AIDS activism were black women. For a number of reasons, such as the high rates of religiosity among black women and the high rates of HIV/AIDS, their activism efforts were not necessarily a surprise. However, I was taken aback by how the women discussed their activism work and emphasized that it an important part of their identity. Wanting to explore this more, I decided to focus specifically on AIDS activism among Black women in the United States.

Initially, for this project, I used black feminist theory, and its focus on intersecting identities and community empowerment, as the theoretical framework that helped guide the project. However, I quickly realized that black feminism was not necessarily the appropriate lens through which to examine their activism work as the initial data clearly emphasized a number of other factors that influenced the activism efforts of these women, such as notions of identity and spirituality. I then turned to womanism.

Like black feminism and feminism, womanism focuses on oppression and social change for women. Like black feminism, womanism focuses on the impact that intersecting identities have on the lives and experiences of women of color. However, unlike feminism and black feminism, womanism is a woman of color perspective and framework that focuses specifically on social change, agency, and activism. Womanism not only takes into account intersectionality and social justice, but it also takes into account the fact that women and oppressed people will work to change their social conditions. As such, I found it to be a more appropriate framework to examine activism among black women. Throughout the interviews the emotional language the women used stood out and became the focus of this paper.

If the motivations of black women’s activism remain understudied, their emotions are entirely overlooked. In 1981, the influential black feminist activist and scholar, Audre Lorde talked about the “uses of anger” in her speech at the National Women Studies Association. Lorde explained how anger is used to motivate people to enact change. Although the “angry” black woman is a stereotype we often hear about in the media and on television, or even for some of us, in our every day lives, how anger can be used goes unnoticed. The findings of this study show that emotions do, indeed, influence activism among black women and how it is not simply anger, but rather anger fueled by love and feelings of solidarity that motivate activism among women in the study. This paper explores the emotions that motivate the activism efforts of a sample of women and emphasize that emotions are at the core of activism work.

Mark Your Calendars for the Fall University of Illinois Press 9Publishing Symposium!

September 19, 2019

Institute for the Humanities

701 South Morgan, Lower Level / Stevenson Hall, Chicago, IL

Sessions will include:

  • The Life of a Book: From Proposal to Publication
  • New Directions in Journals Publication
  • Alternatives to Traditional Publishing
  • Professional Development Roundtable

Co-sponsored by: The Institute for the Humanities, the Richard Daley Library, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, and the UIC Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research.

Questions? Contact Julie Laut, University of Illinois Press,

See the schedule here:

Tolga Ozyurtcu, Ph.D. is a Assistant Professor of Instruction in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Education at the University of Texas at Austin. He recently shared his thoughts on his article, “‘Living the Dream’: Southern California and Origins of Lifestyle Sport from an issue of the Journal of Sport History.

I was recently approached by a student to be the faculty advisor of a skateboarding club at the University of Texas at Austin.  I must say that my initial reaction was one of self-interested image preservation: surely an involvement with skateboarding means that I am still young and hip, right? Our conversation touched on the issue recruiting members, a challenge that I see as two-fold.  First, skateboarders are notoriously resistant to things like meetings and organization; we’d rather be out skating.  Second, skaters can no longer rely on the traditional signifiers to identify each other.  When I was a student (not that long ago!), the right pair of sneakers or a t-shirt was all that was needed to identify a fellow member of the subcultural cohort.  Today, thanks to a variety of commercial forces—not to mention the influence of celebrities such as Rihanna, Justin Bieber, and the Kardashians—formerly niche brands like Vans Shoes and Thrasher magazine are ubiquitous staples of fashion-conscious youth, whether or not they’ve ever set foot on a board.

This notion of identification runs deep in the scholarly work on subcultural and lifestyle sports, participation in which is traditionally accompanied by an immersive notion of carefully constructed identity.  We don’t say that we “play” surfing or snowboarding, we are simply surfers or boarders.  In ‘Living the Dream,’ my hope was to extend this notion of identity beyond the individual, to the geographic.  How do certain practices become associated with certain places, to the point of evoking that place, no matter where they are performed?  Thus, the article began with an assumption that I don’t believe is particularly controversial: that in the popular imagination, lifestyle sports are by and large distinctly Californian.  But how did they “become” Californian?

Of course, there are certainly structural reasons as to why sports like surfing and skateboarding blossomed in Southern California, but my hope was to go into a more ambiguous and holistic territory.  The article explores sociocultural antecedents to the modern lifestyle sports, from early health-centered boosterism in Los Angeles to the embrace of rigorous physical activity in the public school system and parks. By layering these factors, I hope that I have presented a reasonable argument as to how Southern Californians were positioned to develop and sustain the modern lifestyle sports, as well as how these sports fit into a global imaginary about the people and practices of the Golden State.

This year marks the 10th Anniversary of University of Illinois Press’ Women and Film History International series. In collaboration with film historians, Kay Armatage, Jane M. Gaines, and Christine Gledhill, the series was originally devised as a home for new generation of film historians committed to exploring the central role of women as both filmmakers and audiences in the establishment and development of cinema as a dominant form of twentieth-century popular entertainment.



Using extensive archival work and theoretical revisions of early feminist film theory, books in the series traced the careers and trajectories of early women film pioneers: Germaine Dulac, Marie Dressler, and Sarah Bernhardt. Meanwhile Mark Cooper’s award-winning book, Universal Women, examines how women flourished at Universal during the silent era and Marina Dahlquist’s collection, Exporting Perilous Pauline, explores fascinating case studies on film star Pearl White and the circulation of serial film heroines across the globe.



The past year has seen the mission of the series both come into fruition and expand. We published Jane Gaines’ Pink-Slipped: What Happened to Women in the Silent Film Industries? Her book is an eye-opening theoretical intervention that both undergirds and troubles the larger work in the series. She shines a light on pioneering filmmaking women and provides an insightful examination of the historiographical process itself. The book project was supported Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, and Jane started the new year with a lecture, screening, and reception to full auditorium as part of the Academy’s Film Scholars Lecture series.


At the same time, we have started to push the boundaries of the series temporally, thematically, and methodologically as we look toward the future. Two great examples will publish later this spring. Shilyh Warren’s Subject to Reality: Women and Documentary Film, places the wave of revolutionary women’s documentary films of the 1970s in the larger history of US documentary film production. Meanwhile, Susan Potter’s Queer Timing: The Emergence of Lesbian Sexuality in Early Cinema uses a playful encounter between historic spectators, on screen figures, and contemporary scholars to explore same-sex eroticism in first decades of cinema.











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 We are pleased to announce that Creating the Land of Lincoln: The History and Constitutions of Illinois, 1778-1870 by Frank Cicero Jr. has won the Russell P. Strange Book of the Year Award from the Illinois State Historical Society (ISHS). The award is presented annually to one author in recognition of significant contribution to the study of Illinois history. The award was announced at the ISHS annual meeting on Saturday, April 26, 2019, in Petersburg, Illinois.

The award committee said:

Creating the Land of Lincoln provides an excellent overview of Illinois’s state constitutional history from Territorial Days to the ratification of the 1870 Constitution, and it will be appreciated by both professional and amateur historians. Cicero takes us through the men and history of the development of Illinois from its pre-territorial days to after the Civil War. He does excellent work exploring the planting of slavery along both sides of the Mississippi, noting that the four nineteenth-century constitutional conventions were ‘white men’s conventions.’ . . . This is the definitive book on Illinois Constitutional history for the next 5 years, and no student can write or study about early Illinois without consulting this book.”

We’re so proud to have published this incredible work of scholarship. Congratulations Frank!


We’re pleased to announce that our Fall 2019 catalog is now available. We have an excellent selection of books coming out this fall and we can’t wait to get them in your hands. Landmark anniversaries of our series abound this year and in this catalog, we celebrate the 15th anniversary of the New Black Studies Series, as well as 15 years of the Latinos in Chicago and the Midwest Series. Browse the latest catalog here and check out the highlights below!




Highlights from the Fall 2019 catalog include:

Traveling with Service Animals: By Air, Road, Rail, and Ship across North America by Henry Kisor and Christine Goodier kicks off the catalog this season. The first book of its kind, Traveling with Service Animals is an essential guide of in-depth practical information for anyone who travels with a furry companion. Next, Brooks Blevins is back with his second volume of Ozarks history. A History of the Ozarks, Volume 2: The Conflicted Ozarks takes readers on a journey through the mid-1800s in the region, covering its distinctive relationship to slavery, the devastating years of the Civil War, and the dawn of the twentieth century.

In American music, Thomas Goldsmith takes on the history of Foggy Mountain Breakdown against the backdrop of Earl Scrugg’s legendary career in Earl Scruggs and Foggy Mountain Breakdown: The Making of an American Classic. We explore the Chicago blues scene as Steve Cushing once again invites readers into the vaults of Blues Before Sunrise, his acclaimed nationally syndicated public radio show in Blues Before Sunrise 2: Interviews from the Chicago Scene and David Whiteis delves into how current and upcoming Chicago blues generations are evolving the genre in Blues Legacy: Tradition and Innovation in Chicago.

Next, Robert Wells tells the story of how The National Thrift News exposed the Keating Five in The Enforcers: How Little-Known Trade Reporters Exposed the Keating Five and Advanced Business Journalism;  Devon Powers explains one of the most powerful forces in global consumer culture in On Trend: The Business of Forecasting the Future Stephen Wenn and Robert Barney uncover the fascinating financial history of selling the Olympics in The Gold in the Rings: The People and Events that Transformed the Olympic Games; and Matthew Ehrlich takes readers on a deep dive into the fascinating history of iconic sports towns in Kansas City VS. Oakland: The Bitter Sports Rivalry that Defined an Era.

In our Modern Masters of Science Fiction series, Gwyneth Jones takes on Joanna Russ‘s experimental and unabashedly feminist work and ideas and Robert Markley examines the Hugo and Nebula award-winning author Kim Stanley Robinson.

And just in time for celebrations of women’s suffrage in 2020, Anya Jabour brings to life the progressive feminist Sophonisba Breckinbridge, and we debut a new publishing initiative with 100 Years of Women’s Suffrage : A University of Illinois Press Anthology,  a curated collection of essential scholarship from previously published UIP books on the suffrage movement and women’s voting.

And that’s just in the first few pages! Browse the full catalog and start making room on your TBR shelf.







Since 2013, the U of I Press has been home to Scandinavian Studies, the official journal of the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study. This interdisciplinary journal features work in the humanities and social sciences on the languages, cultures, and histories of the Nordic region, including the countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, ranging from medieval to contemporary times. Published quarterly, Scandinavian Studies is now in its ninety-first volume year and is currently edited by Susan Brantly and Thomas A. DuBois, professors in the German, Nordic, and Slavic Department at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.



We are proud to build on our commitment to the field of Scandinavian Studies with the publication of Erika K. Jackson’s Scandinavians in Chicago: The Origins of White Privilege in Modern America. An insightful look at the immigrant experience in reverse, Scandinavians in Chicago bridges a gap in our understanding of how whites constructed racial identity in America.







“Makes a significant and long overdue contribution to
Swedish- and Scandinavian American history by explicitly
framing the Chicago experiences in a larger ethno-racial
American context. By doing so, Jackson places herself in
the forefront of Scandinavian American historiography.”
—Dag A. Blanck, coeditor of Norwegians and Swedes in
the United States: Friends and Neighbors

Scandinavian immigrants encountered a strange paradox in 1890s Chicago. Though undoubtedly foreign, these newcomers were seen as Nordics—the “race” proclaimed by the scientific racism of the era as the very embodiment of white superiority. As such, Scandinavians from the beginning enjoyed racial privilege and the success it brought without the prejudice, nativism, and stereotyping endured by other immigrant groups. Jackson’s work examines how native-born Chicagoans used ideological and gendered concepts of Nordic whiteness and Scandinavian ethnicity to construct social hegemony. Placing the Scandinavian American experience within the context of historical whiteness, Jackson delves into the processes that created the Nordic ideal. She also details how the city’s Scandinavian immigrants repeated and mirrored the racial and ethnic perceptions disseminated by American media.


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