On February 25, 2009, science fiction master Philip José Farmer—author of the Riverworld series and the Hugo-winning To Your Scattered Bodies Go—departed our reality at age 91. When it happened I wondered, How did Philip José Farmer end up in Peoria? But it turned out he had grown up there. Watching a zeppelin pass over the city, he once said, sparked his imagination and led him to SF. Farmer churned out seventy-some novels. He famously juggled eleven (!) ongoing series of books in the 1970s and earned a much-deserved rep for, first, productivity and second, maybe needing to rewrite a little more before going on to the next project.

night of lightFarmer won a Hugo for his early story “The Lovers,” a much-rejected manuscript that had offended the morals of many an editor with its graphic portrayal of interspecies intimacy. Years passed until the sock-it-to-me Sixties embraced Farmer’s frank discussion of sex and sexuality. Essex House, a publisher of pornography, published two of his late 1960s books. That thread of creative exploration peaked with controversial “biographies” of Tarzan and Doc Savage featuring the pulp icons in, well, amorous adventures as well as the other kind.

Farmer had signficant influence on pop culture and SF. Legend has it that Jimi Hendrix found “purple haze” in Farmer’s Night of Light. Robert Heinlein, inspired by Farmer’s delves into sexuality, dedicated Stranger in a Strange Land to him. Further afield, Farmer stoked renewed interest in Tarzan and Doc Savage by publishing straighahead adventure novels featuring each of the heroes. He also wrote Venus on the Half-Shell as Kilgore Trout, the obscure SF writer in several Kurt Vonnegut novels, only to have everyone assume Vonnegut wrote the book.

hamiltonRecently, Kenneth M. Hamilton sat down with podcast The Bookmonger to discuss his new book, Booker T. Washington in American Memory. It is ten minutes well spent as he discusses how Americans venerated Washington in his own time and why the reputation of the educator/author suffered during the civil rights struggles of later years.


jeffries black powerDespite the growing scholarly interest in the civil rights movement, to date there has been no comprehensive examination of the Black Power movement. Black Power in the Belly of the Beast fills this gap by providing the first in-depth look at the Black Power movement from the 1963 founding of the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM) to the Black Power movement’s demise in the mid-1970s.

The volume’s twelve contributors include well-known scholars such as James A. Geschwender and Douglas Glasgow as well as prominent community activists Akbar Muhammad Ahmad, Floyd W. Hayes III, and Komozi Woodard. Each of their chapters explores a single Black Power organization including Us, the Black Panther Party, and the Deacons for Defense and Justice. Important but lesser-known Black Power organizations such as the Republic of New Afrika and Sons of Watts are paid equal attention, as contributors address issues including self-defense, black identity, and the politics of class and gender. Throughout, authors emphasize the primary role that black institutions and charismatic leaders played in the rise, development, and eventual decline of the overall movement.

“We have just witnessed a spectacular demonstration of the failures of a national, political imagination. Many of us feel devastated, afraid, and confused. There is no better time than this to accept L.H. Stallings’s Funk the Erotic’s invitation to inhabit Transworlds of funky freakery. For whatever we do now has got to be funky–to Funk the Power, which is a spiritual, corporeal, sexual, and imaginative anti-work kind of thing.” -C. Riley Snorton*

Cover for STALLINGS: Funk the Erotic: Transaesthetics and Black Sexual Cultures. Click for larger imageThe words of C. Riley Snorton spoke volumes at the National Women’s Studies Association, which took place just a day after the 2016 election results became official and Donald Trump was named President Elect. As 2000 feminists came together to talk about mobilization, activism, and resistance, eclectic panels took place throughout the conference. One such panel was a coveted author-meets-critic session that featured the book Funk the Erotic: Transaesthetics and Black Sexual Cultures by L.H Stallings, associate professor of women’s studies at the University of Maryland College Park. As a member of this panel, Dr. Snorton called upon us to take up the lessons of Funk the Erotic in order to Funk the Power.

But how does one Funk the Power? For an answer to this, we can look deeper into Stallings’s work, which captivates readers with expressive language and pictorial descriptions of black erotica, feminism, and funk. She presents women, not as delicate flowers, but as warriors pushing themselves onto the battlefield. Funk the Erotic changes your perception of sexual cultures and black feminism with every page. The momentous experience of a baby’s first sounds of its mother’s heartbeat and crooning can be found in some of Funk music’s most basic beats, and Stallings illustrates how funk has evolved and morphed over the generations to provide and shape black power.

With the beginning of one of the most momentous and powerful movements of the twenty-first century, Black Lives Matter, Stallings’s book has come at a crucial time. Like funk music and freakery, the Black Lives Matter movement has expanded beyond its original focus around policy brutality to include so much more. And this is precisely what Funk the Erotic invites us to do: to go beyond the original, to do work that is not always acknowledged as work, to express one’s self where you usually yield. This is how one Funks the Power. Continue reading

Cover for Whitney: Splattered Ink: Postfeminist Gothic Fiction and Gendered Violence. Click for larger imageWe are pleased to announce that Splattered Ink: Postfeminist Gothic Fiction and Gendered Violence by Sarah E. Whitney is the co-winner of the Emily Toth Award for Best Single Work in Women’s Studies, awarded by the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association (PCA/ACA). The award will be presented during the annual meeting in San Diego, California, April 12-15, 2017.

Congratulations, Sarah!

Congratulations to Michele Eggers, winner of the 2016 NWSA/University of Illinois Press First Book Prize for Embodying Inequality: The Criminalization of Women for Abortion in Chile. The award was announced at the annual meeting of the National Women’s Studies Association. Out of five finalists, Eggers book was selected by the NWSA prize committee.

Previous winners include:

2015: Erin L. Durban-Albrecht – Postcolonial Homophobia: United States Imperialism in Haiti and the Transnational Circulation of Antigay Sexual Politics

2014: Ethel Tungohan – Migrant Care Worker Activism in Canada

2013: Christina Holmes – Ecological Borderlands: Decolonizing Body, Nature, and Spirit in Chicana Feminism
(published in 2016)

2012: Sophie Richter-Devroe – How Women Do Politics: Peacebuilding, Resistance, and Survival in Palestine

2011: Erica Lorraine Williams – Sex Tourism in Bahia: Ambiguous Entanglements
(published in 2013)


The NWSA and the University of Illinois Press are currently accepting submissions for the 2017 book prize until June 1 of this year. Applicants must be National Women’s Studies Association members. If a winner of the competition is selected, he or she will receive a publication contract with the University of Illinois Press and a $1,000 advance.

Possible topics may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Activism
  • Coloniality, postcoloniality and neo-imperialism
  • Cultural production (media, film, music, literature)
  • Feminist knowledge production
  • Feminist politics
  • Feminist science and environmental studies
  • Feminist theory
  • Gender and disability
  • Gender and globalization
  • Gender and labor practices
  • Gender and militarism
  • Gender and queer sexuality
  • Gender and violence
  • Gendered experiences of people of color
  • Girls studies
  • Global and transnational feminisms
  • Institutions and public policies
  • Intersectionality
  • Theories and practices of coalition
  • Transgender studies
  • Women of color feminisms

Please direct all questions and submissions to:

Dawn M. Durante
Senior Acquisitions Editor
University of Illinois Press
1325 South Oak St.
Champaign, IL 61820-6903

raoThe Chinatown opera house provided Chinese immigrants with an essential source of entertainment during the pre–World War II era. But its stories of loyalty, obligation, passion, and duty also attracted diverse patrons into Chinese American communities

Drawing on a wealth of new Chinese- and English-language research, Nancy Yunhwa Rao tells the story of iconic theater companies and the networks and migrations that made Chinese opera a part of North American cultures. Rao unmasks a backstage world of performers, performance, and repertoire and sets readers in the spellbound audiences beyond the footlights. But she also braids a captivating and complex history from elements outside the opera house walls: the impact of government immigration policy; how a theater influenced a Chinatown’s sense of cultural self; the dissemination of Chinese opera music via recording and print materials; and the role of Chinese American business in sustaining theatrical institutions. The result is a work that strips the veneer of exoticism from Chinese opera, placing it firmly within the bounds of American music and a profoundly American experience.

February 7, 2017, marks the approximate, not to say the exact, date of a landmark in Illinois rock and roll. On this day (more or less) in 1979, the Rockford band Cheap Trick released its walloping success of a long-play, Live at Budokan. Part of a rock era when live albums often found gigantic successLive at Budokan vaulted Cheap Trick to superstardom and remains a both a cultural touchstone of its time and a classic album in its own right.

The 1979 lineup of the band—singer Robin Zander, guitarist Rick Nielsen, bassist Tom Petersson, and drummer Bun E. Carlos—looked like four guys chosen at random by Rod Serling to start a rock outfit. But they made a good noise that earned them the nickname of the American Beatles at a time when people still longed for the other Beatles to come back and save the world. Their 1977 debut album and incessant touring didn’t do much except build them a following in Japan. But, as we all know, Big in Japan works in rock and roll. In late April, 1978, Cheap Trick recorded two shows at the famous Nippon Budokan arena, a former Olympic judo venue opened for music by the Beatles themselves. Budokan crowds had a reputation for nonstop screaming—Eric Clapton very Britishly called them “almost overappreciative”—and the mob injected a welcome pandemonium and palpable joy into Live at Budokan.

Cheap Trick spent a year or two at the top, fell off somewhat after Petersson left the band, and stormed back to the limelight in the late 1980s by providing the big-voice power balladry then in fashion. In time they became an institution and cemented their status not only as music legends but as Rockford’s biggest claim to rock and roll fame.

hongIn recent years, China’s leaders have taken decisive action to transform information, communications, and technology (ICT) into the nation’s next pillar industry. In Networking China, Yu Hong offers an overdue examination of that burgeoning sector’s political economy.

Hong focuses on how the state, in conjunction with market forces and class interests, is constructing and realigning its digitalized sector. State planners intend to build a more competitive ICT sector by modernizing the network infrastructure, corporatizing media-and-entertainment institutions, and by using ICT as a crosscutting catalyst for innovation, industrial modernization, and export upgrades. The goal: to end China’s industrial and technological dependence upon foreign corporations while transforming itself into a global ICT leader. The project, though bright with possibilities, unleashes implications rife with contradiction and surprise. Hong analyzes the central role of information, communications, and culture in Chinese-style capitalism. She also argues that the state and elites have failed to challenge entrenched interests or redistribute power and resources, as promised. Instead, they prioritize information, communications, and culture as technological fixes to make pragmatic tradeoffs between economic growth and social justice.

stanleyA free region deeply influenced by southern mores, the Lower Middle West represented a true cultural and political median in Civil War–era America. Here grew a Unionism steeped in the mythology of the Loyal West—a myth rooted in regional and racial animosities and the belief that westerners had won the war.

Matthew E. Stanley‘s intimate study explores the Civil War, Reconstruction, and sectional reunion in this bellwether region. Using the lives of area soldiers and officers as a lens, Stanley reveals a place and a strain of collective memory that was anti-rebel, anti-eastern, and anti-black in its attitudes—one that came to be at the forefront of the northern retreat from Reconstruction and toward white reunion. The Lower Middle West’s embrace of black exclusion laws, origination of the Copperhead movement, backlash against liberalizing war measures, and rejection of Reconstruction were all pivotal to broader American politics. And the region’s legacies of white supremacy—from racialized labor violence to sundown towns to lynching—found malignant expression nationwide, intersecting with how Loyal Westerners remembered the war.

A daring challenge to traditional narratives of section and commemoration, The Loyal West taps into a powerful and fascinating wellspring of Civil War identity and memory.