On July 21, 1925, John T. Scopes was found guilty of violating Tennessee’s Butler Act, which made it unlawful to teach human evolution in any state-funded school.

Despite losing the case, Attorney Clarence Darrow’s relentless witness-stand grilling of the prosecuting attorney William Jennings Bryan (the eventual winner of the case) is often cited as as a victory for Modernists.

In Intelligently Designed: How the Creationists Built the Campaign Against Evolution, Edward Caudill writes:

The ridicule of Bryan. . . . served the immediate purposes of proevolutionists. It was easier to assail an individual than a system of beliefs that was inconsistent, ill defined, and scientifically illogical. Bryan, its flag-bearer, was a distinctive and public target. But the verbal barrage was inconsequential in the long-term battle, in which Bryan’s defenders glorified his self-sacrifice and righteousness in defense of a holy cause. . . . Historians and filmmakers have judged Darrow the winner, even though he lost the case. The contrived event grew into a forum on science and religion, modernism and fundamentalism–charismatically presented by Darrow and Bryan.

As Caudill points out by mentioning “filmmakers,” the courtroom theatrics would later inspire the 1955 stage play Inherit the Wind, written by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee, which in turn would serve as the basis for the 1960 film starring Spencer Tracy.


In the spring and summer of 1964, the Blake Edwards film The Pink Panther, starring Peter Sellers, became a huge hit. The farcical tale of an incompetent French detective matching wits with a suave jewel thief, The Pink Panther dropped slapstick and Sellers’s signature broad antics into a more or less straight heist story to create a comedy at once classic, ridiculous, and sophisticated.

Making just as big of an impact was Henry Mancini’s iconic score, now commemorated with a 50th Anniversary release. Mancini had already written hits, including the jazz-influenced ”Peter Gunn Theme” for the TV detective series Peter Gunn and the Oscar-winning “Moon River” for Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Audrey Hepburn sang the latter in the film. Just about everyone with a recording contract covered it afterwards.

Yet Enrico Nicola Mancini would enjoy days of wine and roses far in excess of even these triumphs. When Blake Edwards, a collaborator from the Peter Gunn and Tiffany’s days, asked Mancini to score Panther, it proved a fateful assignment. Mancini answered with one of filmdom’s most famous themes and a future musical staple that to this day unites marching bands, PA systems at baseball games, and no-name jazz combos around a signature piece of Mancini magic. As John Caps reports in his book Henry Mancini: Reinventing Film Music:

That sound and that theme became great examples of an important Mancini principle of scoring: intentionally “funny” music behind a comedy scene is redundant and destructive. The “Pink Panther Theme,” though witty in itself, is not a joke, not a novelty number. It is, besides its grin, a seriously swinging piece of jazz-pop with an invigorating sense of both fun and sophistication. So it does not overkill the comedy. We first hear the theme during the film’s animated main title sequence, which, famously, morphs that panther-shaped flaw in the stolen gem into a wry, mischievous cartoon panther, which spends the credit sequence taking great liberties with the graphic lettering that spells out the movie’s cast and crew.

Early in the film’s postproduction process, once the idea of an animated main title sequence was discussed, the animators asked to hear a finished piece of main title music against which they could time their cartoon sketches. At that stage Mancini had not yet fixed his own ideas, but he said he would give them at least a rhythm. They created the panther, Bugs Bunny-like in the long ancestry of animated anarchists, to that bass line alone. The theme itself came after. It begins with a suspended chord of open fifths by the piano and a small hand chime with a triangle tapping out the tempo for three bars until a low piano/vibe/two basses/guitar combo plays the sneaking motif, first ascending, the descending unresolved. This creates, most efficiently, the suspense of a detective story while also making fun of it. At bar 12, or where Peter Sellers’s name appears in the credits (already undermining David Niven’s supremacy as the star), we hear Plas Johnson’s tenor sax with its unmistakably jazzy accents as it moves so naturally up in parallel fifths and then does a dying fall, slurring the last note like a bluesman.

Henry Mancini: Reinventing Film Music is available in at the special ebook price of $2.99 throughout July. Buy the Kindle version here. Buy the Kobo version here. Buy the Google Play version here. Buy the Nook version here.

The middle fork of the Vermilion River runs through Kickapoo State Park. Just a short walk from Middle Fork Woods Nature Preserve, explorers will find forest-lined bluffs and a a multitude of creatures.  Large dragonflies patrol the banks along the river and calling frogs hop about the deep water ponds.

Middle Fork Woods Nature Preserve and Kickapoo State Park are featured in Exploring Nature in Illinois: A Field Guide to the Prairie StateThroughout the book naturalists Michael Jeffords and Susan Post invite you to discover fifty preserves, forests, restoration areas, and parks in the Land of Lincoln.

Each Wednesday we’ll preview some of the unexpected beauty of Illinois’s prairies, lakesides, river bottoms, and woodlands found within the book. . . . just in time for you to plan a weekend trip.

You’ll find maps and descriptions of these wild places in Illinois, including many hard-to-find sites, within the pages of the book.

Judy McCulloh, who worked at the University of Illinois Press for 35 years and was recognized for building our music and folklore lists during her tenure, died at home during the early morning of Sunday, July 13.  She had been battling cancer for many years.

Among many accomplishments, in 2010 Judy was named a NEA National Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts.  See this website for more info:  http://arts.gov/honors/heritage/fellows/judith-mcculloh

We’ll miss you, Judy.

The AIA Guide to Chicago is the premier guidebook for exploring the architectural treasures of a city known for an urban landscape of art and innovation.

It’s not only the iconic designs of Burnham, van der Rohe or Wright that attract the world’s attention to Chicago’s buildings.

As Laurie Petersen, one of the editors of the new Third Edition of the AIA Guide, recently noted, Chicago remains a vibrant center for contemporary building projects.

“This has been really been an amazing decade for Chicago architecture,” Laurie Petersen told Chicago Tonight host Phil Ponce.

In a joint appearance with Zurich Esposito, Executive Vice President of AIA Chicago, on the WTTW-TV program Petersen discussed a number of newer buildings including the Mansueto Library at the University of Chicago, the Aqua building (featured on the cover of the new Guide), Rush Medical Center tower and the Yannell Net Zero Energy Residence, which is designed to generate as much or more energy than it consumes.

Ethelene Whitmire is an associate professor of library and information studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She answered some questions about her book Regina Anderson Andrews, Harlem Renaissance Librarian.

Q: Who was Regina Anderson Andrews and what role did she have in The New York Public Library (NYPL)?

Ethelene Whitmire: Andrews came to New York City on vacation in the early 1920s and decided to stay. She previously worked in a library as an undergraduate at Wilberforce University. She returned to her hometown of Chicago and was working at the Chicago Public Library when she applied for a job at the NYPL. Because she was African American, she was sent to the 135th Street Library branch in Harlem. African American librarians were restricted to working in a just a few branches so Andrews’ opportunities for promotion were limited. She fought against these policies and was able to work at various branches during the next forty years. In 1938, while at the 115th Street Library, she became the first African American to supervise her own branch.

Q: Why is Andrews’ legacy important for our understanding of both The Harlem Renaissance and the participation of female African American librarians in the development of The New York Public Library?

Whitmire: So many books and articles focus on the artists and intellectuals of the Harlem Renaissance. But Andrews, as a librarian, played a pivotal role in this movement too. She would set aside workspaces for the writers including Claude McKay, Eric Walrond, and Langston Hughes in the 135th Street Library. She invited people she met through her work at the library to a salon she co-hosted at the apartment she shared with two women. For example, poets Langston Hughes and Countee Cullen would read their work and get feedback from the attendees. People were able to network through this salon. Andrews, with the help of African American leaders like W. E. B. Du Bois, challenged the NYPL policies that prevented African American librarians the mobility necessary for job growth. Andrews helped to break barriers that gave other African American librarians more opportunities.

Q: You argue that Andrews refused to be limited by traditional roles because of her race or gender. Can you give some examples of how she challenged these roles?

Whitmire: Andrews married in 1926 and continued her career and enrolled in the library school at Columbia University. She later adopted a daughter, Regina Ann, and continued to work and became active in the National Urban League and the National Council of Women of the United States civic organizations. She was able to successfully navigate her professional, personal, civic and creative lives. Andrews was a board member for W. E. B. Du Bois’ KRIGWA theater which focused on only producing plays by and about African Americans. Andrews’ co-founded a theater company that decided to produce both African American and white plays. They consciously decided not to limit their plays by race. They also wanted to show a range of African American experiences on the stage. Andrews wrote several plays and unlike other female playwrights, her main protagonists were male. At least two of the plays demonstrated that fallibility of racial categorizations.

Q: You mention that Andrews hosted a salon of which Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes were attendees. How else did Andrews foster creativity during The Harlem Renaissance?

Whitmire: Andrews nurtured creativity through her work with the Harlem Experimental Theatre (HET). She co-founded the HET with Dorothy Peterson and Harold Jackman. One of the goals of the company was to educate African Americans in various theater-related crafts like playwriting, acting, set design, etc. They offered classes and the HET company consisted of both theater professionals and amateurs.

Q: In addition to being a librarian, Andrews was both and actress and playwright who helped establish The Harlem Experimental Theatre (HET). What subject matter did her plays revolve around?

Whitmire: Andrews wrote three plays and two were produced by the HET. Two of her plays revolved around common tropes from the time period: lynching and passing. One play, Underground, was about the Underground Railroad and runaway slaves who successfully outsmarted the overseers sent to capture them. An unproduced play, The Man Who Passed, was about a man who decided to live life as a white man at great cost to his personal happiness. Her play, Climbing Jacob’s Ladder, was about a lynching. Andrews was influenced to write this play by her interactions with Ida B. Wells-Barnett who was an acquaintance of Andrews’ father, defense attorney William G. Anderson. Wells-Barnett and Anderson unsuccessfully fought to prevent the execution of Anderson’s client by hanging. Andrews‘ plays have been published in recent anthologies and analyzed by scholars interested in African American female playwrights.


Cover for beal: Carla Bley. Click for larger imageFor the month of July we have lowered the e-book list price of four music titles in the University of Illinois Press catalog to $2.99.

Carla Bley by Amy C. Beal
This is the first comprehensive treatment of the remarkable music and influence of Carla Bley, a highly innovative American jazz composer, pianist, organist, band leader, and activist. With fastidious attention to Bley’s diverse compositions over the last fifty years spanning critical moments in jazz and experimental music history, Amy C. Beal tenders a long-overdue representation of a major figure in American music. “Beal … expertly contextualizes Bley’s career within the landscapes of emergent avant-garde, free jazz, and experimental music.”–Library Journal Buy the Kindle version here. Buy the Kobo version here. Buy the Google Play version here. Buy the Nook version here.

Cover for caps: Henry Mancini: Reinventing Film Music. Click for larger imageHenry Mancini: Reinventing Film Music by John Caps
Henry Mancini, the first publicly successful and personally recognizable film composer in history, has practically become a Hollywood brand name. In this first comprehensive study of Mancini’s music, John Caps traces Mancini’s collaborations with important directors and shows how he homed in on specific dramatic or comic aspects of each film to create musical effects through clever instrumentation, eloquent melodies, and the strong narrative qualities of his scores. Accessible and engaging, this fresh view of Mancini’s oeuvre and influence will delight and inform fans of film and popular music. Buy the Kindle version here. Buy the Kobo version here. Buy the Google Play version here. Buy the Nook version here.

Cover for CUSHING: Blues Before Sunrise: The Radio Interviews. Click for larger imageBlues Before Sunrise: The Radio Interviews
by Steve Cushing
This collection assembles the best interviews from Steve Cushing’s long-running radio program Blues Before Sunrise, the nationally syndicated, award-winning program focusing on vintage blues and R&B. As both an observer and performer, Cushing has been involved with the blues scene in Chicago for decades. His candid, colorful interviews with prominent blues players, producers, and deejays reveal the behind-the-scenes world of the formative years of recorded blues. Many of these oral histories detail the careers of lesser-known but greatly influential blues performers and promoters. Buy the Kindle version here. Buy the Kobo version here. Buy the Google Play version here. Buy the Nook version here.

Cover for harrison: Then Sings My Soul: The Culture of Southern Gospel Music. Click for larger imageThen Sings My Soul: The Culture of Southern Gospel Music by Douglas Harrison
In this ambitious book on southern gospel music, Douglas Harrison reexamines the music’s historical emergence and its function as a modern cultural phenomenon. Rather than seeing the music as a single rhetoric focusing on the afterlife as compensation for worldly sacrifice, Harrison presents southern gospel as a network of interconnected messages that evangelical Christians use to make individual sense of both Protestant theological doctrines and their own lived experiences. Harrison explores how listeners and consumers of southern gospel integrate its lyrics and music into their own religious experience, building up individual—and potentially subversive—meanings beneath a surface of evangelical consensus. Buy the Kindle version here. Buy the Kobo version here. Buy the Google Play version here. Buy the Nook version here.

Henry N. Barkhausen Wetlands Center is the perfect starting point for exploring the Cache River ecosystem. From the visitor center window one can spy muskrat, river otter hummingbirds and various other creatures that thrive in the restored wetlands. But there is plenty to been seen on the trails surrounding the center as well. Egrets, sparrows and hawks can all be seen depending on the season.

The Barkhausen Wetlands Center is featured in Exploring Nature in Illinois: A Field Guide to the Prairie StateThroughout the book naturalists Michael Jeffords and Susan Post invite you to discover fifty preserves, forests, restoration areas, and parks in the Land of Lincoln.

Each Wednesday we’ll preview some of the unexpected beauty of Illinois’s prairies, lakesides, river bottoms, and woodlands found within the book. . . . just in time for you to plan a weekend trip.

You’ll find maps and descriptions of these wild places in Illinois, including many hard-to-find sites, within the pages of the book.

In Chapter 5 of Jordynn Jack’s Autism and Gender: From Refrigerator Mothers to Computer Geeks, the author considers how autistic people consider gender and sexuality.

On her book blog Jack writes:

For some, gender is a confusing social construct; for others, it is an opportunity for experimentation and play. I consider how autistic people consider gender and sexuality and find that for many, mainstream concepts of gender and sexuality simply do not make sense. I describe this as a “gender copia”–an opportunity to think of gender not in terms of male/female or masculine/femininity, but as a range of options for self-identification.

Do social skills classes further confuse an issue for autistic children? Jack suggests that parents who sign their children up for them–seek to shape autistic people into the “ideal” or “average” child–and that means a child who conforms to gender stereotypes.

You can read more about how an autistic perspective complicates traditional perspectives in Autism and Gender.



On July 7, 1898, President William McKinley signed the Newlands Resolution which annexed the Republic of Hawai’i and created the Territory of Hawai’i. The annexation gave the U.S. use of Hawai’i as a military base during The Spanish-American War.

In her book Islanders in the Empire, Joanna Poblete writes:

Wanting total legal control in the islands, an imperial complex of U.S. military, government, and business leaders overthrew Queen Lili’uokalani in 1893 and supported the annexation of Hawai’i in 1898. Anglo-American efforts to completely overtake and transform the previous way of life in Hawai’i were completed when the islands became a U.S. Territory in 1900. Territorial status turned more than forty thousand Native Hawaiians into U.S. citizens without their consent. With the importation of laborers and investors for the growing sugar industry, Native Hawaiians quickly became a minority percentage of the population with little control over the politics and economics of their islands, a status which continues today. The sugar industry and the recruitment of non-Hawaiian laborers to the islands furthered the colonization of Native Hawaiians, denying their rights to self-determination and dispossessing these native peoples of their land. (11)

That same year, The Treaty of Paris gave congress control over Puerto Rico and the Philippines as well. While Hawai’i eventually became a state in 1959, Puerto Rico and the Philippines remain U.S. Territories with ambiguous political-legal status.

Poblete’s book examines the interconnected experiences of Filipino and Puerto Rican laborers in Hawai’i, their differing political-legal statuses, and interaction with Hawai’ian government structures to gain a greater understanding of U.S. imperialism.