Answers below.

1. The 1994 Illini defense boasted one of the most talented linebacker corps in Big Ten history. Dana Howard won the Butkus Award, teammate Kevin Hardy would earn it the next year, and sackmaster Simeon Rice continued his assault on the record books. Which fourth linebacker made up the faculty of Linebacker U. that season?

2. A number of ghosts purportedly haunt campus, with Chief Illiniwek himself manifesting from time to time at the YMCA. The most persistent specter story involves a female spirit roaming the English Building, the restless victim of which misfortune in the early 1900s?

3. An immigrant from war-torn China, Ven Te Chow edited The Handbook of Applied Hydrology, a volume that featured 45 specialist contributors. Chow’s volume became a standard text around the world and brought generations of experts to which C-U landmark?





1. Future eight-year NFL veteran John Holocek

2. She drowned in the building’s swimming pool when it was a dormitory for women

3. Boneyard Creek, where Chow made many of his pioneering hydrological observations

To commemorate Bastille Day, the University of Illinois Press celebrates its backlist of books on France and the French.

jordanLe Jazz: Jazz and French Cultural Identity, by Matthew F. Jordan
Matthew F. Jordan deftly blends textual analysis, critical theory, and cultural history in a wide-ranging and highly readable account of how jazz progressed from a foreign cultural innovation met with resistance by French traditionalists to a naturalized component of the country’s identity. Jordan draws on sources including ephemeral critical writing in the press and twentieth-century French literature to trace the country’s reception of jazz, from the Cakewalk dance craze and the music’s significance as a harbinger of cultural recovery after World War II to its place within French ethnography and cultural hybridity.

Countering the histories of jazz’s celebratory reception in France, Jordan delves into the reluctance of many French citizens to accept jazz with the same enthusiasm as the liberal humanists and cosmopolitan crowds of the 1930s. Jordan argues that some listeners and critics perceived jazz as a threat to traditional French culture, and only as France modernized its identity did jazz become compatible with notions of Frenchness. Le Jazz speaks to the power of enlivened debate about popular culture, art, and expression as the means for constructing a vibrant cultural identity, revealing crucial keys to understanding how the French have come to see themselves in the postwar world.

schehrFrench Gay Modernism, by Lawrence R. Schehr
The first four decades of the twentieth century saw male homosexuality appear in French literature with increasing frequency and boldness. Departing from earlier, more muted presentations, André Gide, Marcel Proust, Jean Cocteau, René Crevel, Francis Carco, and a host of less-famous writers, all created overtly gay characters are gave them increasingly numerous and significant roles. Far from being simply shunned or marginalized, a number of these works were instead accepted as canonical.

Chosen as a Choice Academic Title for 2006, French Gay Modernism is the only study devoted to the analyzing these representations of male homosexuality in early twentieth-century French literature. Lawrence R. Schehr explains how earlier representations of homosexuality, encoded rather than conspicuous, served as a basis for later writers to treat homosexual behavior as sets of relationships rather than as secrets or scandals. The prominence of authors such as Proust and Gide also helped other writers take up homosexual relationships in their work, often by adopting the same representational strategies.

Schehr doesn’t limit his study to high literary culture, however. He devotes considerable attention to popular writers whose homosexual characters encounter contempt, scorn, and worse and whose portrayals of homosexual couples and society were at once more open and more at risk.

ladurieThe Peasants of Languedoc, by Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie
Hailed as a pioneering work of “total history” when it was published in France in 1966, Le Roy Ladurie’s volume combines elements of human geography, historical demography, economic history, and folk culture in a broad depiction of a great agrarian cycle, lasting from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment. It describes the conflicts and contradictions of a traditional peasant society in which the rise in population was not matched by increases in wealth and food production.

On July 15, 1805, William Rector undertook an important, if arduous, task. By government order, he was to survey the Buffalo Trace, also known as the Vincennes Trace, a makeshift road pounded down by migrating herds of bison. “The trace varied from twelve to twenty feet wide,” wrote the Department of Agriculture, “and had been in use for centuries. In some places, it had worn through solid rock to a depth of twelve feet.”

Treaties with the Delaware and Piankashaw nations had given the United States land along a mythical straight line the followed the Trace’s general route. Rector would draw that line on the maps of the day. He and other surveyors would also note salt licks, mines, and other important details.

The Buffalo Trace was an essential route for settlers bound for the Indiana and Illinois Countries. By and large the road ran along high ground–to bypass marshes–and through valleys–to avoid bison-unfriendly steep hills. Native Americans had used the Trace for ages before French explorers trouped along in the 1700s. During the Revolutionary War, the Trace provided George Rogers Clark with a troop road to attack the British—most of them actually Canadians sympathetic to American independence—at Vincennes, Indiana. Clark’s victory helped encourage the Crown to hand over the Northwest Territory to the United States. Illinois-bound settlers soon passed through Vincennes in droves on their way to cheap prairie land.

The Trace became a postal route connecting Kaskaskia, the capital of Illinois, to Louisville. Indiana Territory governor William Henry Harrison convinced the federal government to encourage a line of taverns along the Trace to aid, intoxicate, and shelter travelers heading west. Needing the Native Americans’ cooperation, the government signed the treaties that launched William Rector on his survey, and tavern-keepers on their business plans. Later on, a portion of the route became known as Harrison’s Road.

Past the Wabash River, the Trace split. Part of it ran west to the Mississippi at Kaskakia. The other fork went north through modern-day Danville and Hoopeston to suburban Blue Island to the swamp that became State Street in present-day Chicago.

FischerS16Nick Fischer is Adjunct Research Fellow of the School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies at Monash University, Melbourne. He answered some questions about his book Spider Web: The Birth of American Anticommunism.

Q: How does the term “spider web” describe the anticommunist movement more so than the term describes international communism?

Nick Fisher: When the ‘Bolsheviks’ or Communists seized power in Russia, in November 1917, international socialism suddenly had a focal point. The anticommunist movement began to refer to international communism as a ‘spider web’ because its members believed that a broad range of social, political and economic ideas and movements – which they feared and disapproved of – were all directed by a central power: the Communist International in Moscow. As I describe in Spider Web, the concept of the communist ‘spider web’ as the master controller of socialist, pacifist, feminist and other objectionable movements was powerfully expressed in a ‘Spider Web Chart,’ produced in 1923 by a librarian in the Chemical Warfare Service of the U.S. Army. This chart depicted the ‘interlocking directorates’ of ‘International Socialism’ and showed where these directorates were thought to intersect with the ‘Socialist-Pacifist Movement in America.’ The chart became totemic for the American anticommunist movement, summarizing and projecting all of its views and objectives. Continue reading

Anyone who lived through the 1995 heat wave in Chicago remembers it, and the memories may be slightly more vivid for those who coped without air conditioning (hand up). It unfolded in the strangest way, a slow-moving disaster—in part natural, in part human—that was only recognized by hospital staffs, first responders, and a very limited number of other people. No one had a big picture view until the statisticians weighed in after the fact. And then, a lot of people denied a disaster had occurred, claimed the coroner or the media had exaggerated the numbers, and so on.

The heat wave inspired a compelling nonfiction book and an excellent novelChicago magazine took time out from exhaustively covering beautiful people and the restaurants they love to put together a vivid oral history. In real time we got grass roots heroism, epidemic discomfort and danger, and a classic speech from Mayor Richard M. Daley: “It’s hot. It’s very hot. Yesterday we broke records. We all have our little problems, but let’s not blow it out of proportion. It is a crisis. It’s hot out there. We all walk out there. It’s very, very, very hot.” According to the human services commissioner, the dead failed to care for themselves; a number of wags blamed it on “neighbors” or “all of us” while the mayor too rumbled about a failure of community feeling.

Don’t blame it on me. The mayor could sputteringly channeled Buster Poindexter all he wanted but I suffered with everyone else. Chicagoans deal with a heat wave or two per year. But 1995 was not only hotter than usual. The heat wave just refused to let go. For a string of days temps rose past 100. Nighttime saw “lows” in the eighties. The sheer relentlessness of it was unreal. Being near the lake did no good by day or night because the doldrums weather pattern squatting on the city refused to stir up the least little breeze. The urban heat island added a couple of degrees while the stagnating pollution slathered on another layer or misery, for most, and danger, for the vulnerable.

Observers ever since have called it a “perfect storm” of circumstances exacerbated by an ineffectual government response, and that’s as true as far as it goes. It’s also an illustration of how we remember, or don’t remember, catastrophes. Because seven hundred-some people died–more than in virtually any tornado, hurricane, dericho, or Winter Storm Ivan of the past thirty years—and it’s a footnote in local history.

lause free spiritsOften dismissed as a nineteenth-century curiosity, spiritualism in fact influenced the radical social and political movements of its time. Believers filled the ranks of the Free Democrats, agitated for land and monetary reform, fought for abolition, and held egalitarian leanings that found powerful expression in campaigns for gender and racial equality.

In the new UIP title Free Spirits, Mark A. Lause considers spiritualism as a political and cultural force in Civil War era America. Lause reveals the scope, spread, and influence of the movement, both in its links to reformist causes and its ability to amplify previously marginalized voices. Rooting spiritualism’s appeal in the crises of the time, Lause considers how spiritualist influences, through the distillation of the war, forced reassessments of the question of Radical Republicanism and radicalism in general.

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Successful beyond belief in his chosen trade of making soundtrack music, Henry Mancini also enjoyed good fortune (made one, too) with forays into the pop charts. When he hit, he hit big. His Theme from Peter Gunn not only sold but landed Mancini an Emmy and two Grammy Awards. The show, meanwhile, is lost to the mists of time and channels in the 500s on basic cable. He could have retired off the royalties of the many versions of Moon River. The slinky Pink Panther Theme did okay, too.

But he had never reached the toppermost of the poppermost. Until July of 1969. The Love Theme from “Romeo and Juliet,” from the blockbuster Franco Zeffirelli film of Shakespeare’s young adult play, raised Mancini (and his Orchestra) in the coveted Number One position. Mancini’s arrangement of Nino Rota’s music made that season the summer of easy listening love. On the way up Mancini prevailed over the Beatles’ “Get Back,” the previous chart-topper. Alas, even amour had limits, for Mancini’s music of passion and sorrow was soon pushed off Top Forty Mountain by the dystopian folk of “In the Year 2525.”

John Caps plays Casey Kasem and gives us some background on the song in his acclaimed UIP biography Henry Mancini: Reinventing Film Music:

This quiet, introverted arrangement of a tune that was not even Mancini’s own, and with its soft piano line, mild strummed beat, muted strings and horns behind Rota’s mannerly minstrel melody, was unlikely material for such hype in the era of the Vietnam War. Indeed it was an eclectic time: the Rolling Stones were howling out “Honky Tonk Woman” on the same stations that were broadcasting Mancini.

Success, however, brought new problems:

The unfortunate aftermath of that huge career surprise was to encourage him and RCA to embark on a series of similarly meek and subdued piano/orchestra Muzak albums over the next several years and to emphasize Mancini’s life as a recording artist independent of his movie-scoring life—and very far afield from his cool-jazz past. Morgan Ames, now a critic for magazines like High Fidelity, wrote that these piano/orchestra albums were beautifully arranged but meaningless. Listening today, one is struck by just how slow these album tracks are—there is a dead weight to them that is inexplicable. Everything in pop music was up for grabs, it seemed, as the whole industry was changing, and, at least for the record, Mancini was playing it safe with his piano programs.

Generally considered a bummer of epic proportions, the Great Depression nonetheless inspired a measure of nostalgia. Americans looked back to a simpler time, of lives unencumbered by food, employment, homes, or arable Great Plains farmland. Liberals celebrated the halcyon days of the New Deal and uber-active government while conservatives rejoiced in a time when everyone but the rich was utterly miserable, as God intended.

The University of Illinois Press opens up the Wayback Machine for a trip to that dustiest of times to show the bright side of an era of drought and economic calamity.

welkyEverything Was Better in America: Print Culture in the Great Depression, by David Welky
This eloquent study explores how mainstream print culture shaped and disseminated a message affirming conservative middle-class values and assuring its readers that holding to these values would get them through hard times. Through analysis of the era’s most popular newspaper stories, magazines, and books, David Welky examines how voices both outside and within the media debated the purposes of literature and the meaning of cultural literacy in a mass democracy. His lively discussions touch on topics like the newspaper treatment of the Lindbergh kidnapping, issues of race in coverage of the 1936 Olympic games, domestic dynamics and gender politics in cartoons and magazines, Superman’s evolution from a radical outsider to a spokesman for the people, and the popular consumption Ellery Queen mysteries, Gone with the Wind, and The Good Earth. Welky uncovers the subtle relationship between the messages that mainstream media strategically crafted and those that their target audience wished to hear.

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pobleteFor years, native Hawaiians had fought with a modest degree of success to maintain their autonomy. But in 1893, white businessmen—sugar magnates and the like—had taken control by tossing out Hawaii’s last monarch and organizing their own provisional government. Not yet beaten, locals organized the Hawaiian Patriotic League to lobby Congress.

It worked. The forty-six senators in favor of annexation fell short of the 2/3 majority needed to approve the related treaty. Alas, the Spanish-American War brought back the issue—the U.S. needed a Pacific base to better smash the hated Spaniards in the Philippines—and a joint resolution requiring a simple majority went through Congress like colonialism through a goose. On July 7, 1898, William McKinley signed the Newlands Resolution, the legislative end-around that annexed Hawaii to the United States.

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flammangEtiquette books insist that we never discuss politics during a meal. In Table Talk: Building Democracy One Meal at a Time, Janet A. Flammang offers a polite rebuttal, presenting vivid firsthand accounts of people’s lives at the table to show how mealtimes can teach us the conversational give-and-take foundational to democracy.

Delving into the ground rules about listening, sharing, and respect that we obey when we break bread, Flammang shows how conversations and table activities represent occasions for developing our civil selves. If there are cultural differences over practices—who should speak, what behavior is acceptable, what topics are off limits, how to resolve conflict—our exposure to the making, enforcement, and breaking of these rules offers a daily dose of political awareness and growth. Political table talk provides a forum to practice the conversational skills upon which civil society depends. It also ignites the feelings of respect, trust, and empathy that undergird the idea of a common good that is fundamental to the democratic process.

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