The University of Illinois Press is pleased to announce that The Second Generation of African American Pioneers in Anthropology edited by Ira E. Harrison, Deborah Johnson-Simon, and Erica Lorraine Williams has been selected as the first grant recipient from the University of Illinois Press Fund for Anthropology. 

This internal fund established in 2017 helps ensure the publication of diverse research in anthropology. The fund builds upon the generosity of Norm Whitten, professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a pioneer of ethnographic approaches to anthropological research in South America. The Second Generation, a collection of intellectual biographies of fifteen accomplished African American anthropologists from the 1950s and 1960s, exemplifies the spirit of this Fund.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To find out more, go to: https://www.press.uillinois.edu/giving/

We are pleased to announce that Rebecca Wanzo will be joining Carol Stabile as a co-editor of the Feminist Media Studies Series. Dawn Durante, Senior Acquisitions Editor at the University of Illinois Press, is the acquiring editor.

Rebecca Wanzo is an Associate Professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. As co-editor, she hopes to build on the series and diversify it in multiple ways.

“I am thrilled to be joining the series as a co-editor and build on its already impressive list. My hope is to diversify the series in multiple ways–both continuing with an expansive understanding of “feminist media” and attracting authors focusing on diverse topics, demographics, and regions.”

Current series editor, Carol Stabile, welcomes Wanzo as series co-editor and is excited about the new directions she will take the series.

 “I consider myself, the Press, and the authors who are working with us and will be working with us very fortunate to benefit from Professor Wanzo’s incredibly expansive and interdisciplinary knowledge of feminist theory, media studies, and literary and popular culture. She’s going to lead the series in new and exciting directions!”

This series brings together cutting-edge scholarship from a range of disciplinary perspectives in feminist media studies. By “feminist,” this series understands gender as being constantly in relationship with other elements of identity, including race, class, sexuality, ethnicity, religion, and ability. The series comissions and encourage original monographs and anthologies within the broad and vibrant field of feminist media studies, in areas that include media history, media criticism, new media and technology, games, production studies, comic studies, feminist science fiction, and digital and visual culture. By defining media expansively and inclusively, this series focuses on a single medium as many series have in the past, but will more effectively reflect the realities of a convergent media landscape.

If you’re attending NWSA, stop by the University of Illinois Press booth in the exhibit hall for a reception celebrating the Feminist Media Studies Series and the newest book in the series Alice in Pornoland: Hardcore Encounters with the Victorian Gothic by Laura Helen Marks. 

Photo credit: Joe Angeles/WUSTL Photos

The University of Illinois Press is excited to congratulate Ryan Ebright on his ASCAP Foundation Deems Taylor/Virgil Thompson Award.

“Established in 1967 to honor the memory of composer, critic and commentator Deems Taylor, who died in 1966 after a distinguished career that included six years as President of ASCAP, The ASCAP Foundation Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Awards are made possible by the generous support of the Virgil Thomson Foundation. Virgil Thomson (1896 – 1989) was one of the leading American composers and critics of the 20th century, and a former member of the ASCAP Board of Directors.”

Ryan Ebright’s article “‘My Answer to What Music Theatre Can Be:’ Iconoclasm and Entrepreneurship in Steve Reich and Beryl Korot’s The Cave” in American Music, can be accessed on JSTOR and Project MUSE. It will be open access for 30 days.

Access on JSTOR here.

 

 

NWSA and the University of Illinois Press are pleased to announce the winners of the 2018 First Book Prize! 

Wen Liu, State University of New York at Albany

Assembling Asian America: Psychological Technologies and Queer Subjectivities

Wen Liu’s Assembling Asian America: Psychological Technologies and Queer Subjectivities is an insightful, thought-provoking, and well-written book-in-progress. The book manuscript grows out of Liu’s dissertation, “Cruising Borders, Unsettling Identities: Toward A Queer Diasporic Asian America.” Assembling Asian America is at once interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary. Although social psychology becomes an anchoring for analysis, Liu carefully brings together multiple methods, theoretical frameworks, and conceptual paradigms to provide a refreshingly original examination of contemporary Asian American-ness. This book manuscript provides a multipronged analysis of political agency as well as of “Asian American” as a distinct cultural and cognitive population.

Nishant Upadhyay, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

Indians on Indian Lands: Intersections of Race, Caste, and Indigeneity

Nishant Upadhyay’s Indians on Indian Lands: Intersections of Race, Caste, and Indigeneity, is a powerful proposal for a book that grows out of the author’s 2016 dissertation, “We’ll Sail Like Columbus”: Race, Indigeneity, Settler Colonialism, and the Making of South Asian Diasporas in Canada. Upadhyay’s ground-breaking analysis of South Asian diaspora powerfully challenges the hegemonic focus on dominant caste experiences of racial victimization to the exclusion of South Asian diasporic complicity in reproducing settler colonialism, anti-Blackness and casteism. It is a remarkable instance of how feminist scholarship advances non- disciplinary thought and practice by holding anti-settler colonialism, anti-Blackness and anti-caste analytics together, whilst making a contribution to post/colonial studies, transnational feminism and South Asian diaspora studies.

NWSA will be recognizing all award recipients at the 2018 Conference Awards Toast to be held Friday, November 9 from 6:00 – 6:30pm in Salon East, Hilton Atlanta, 2nd floor.

Thank you to the prize committee: 

Richa Nagar (Chair), Muddying the Waters: Coauthoring Feminisms across Scholarship and Activism

Ruth Nicole Brown, Hear Our Truths: The Creative Potential of Black Girlhood

Dia da Costa, Politicizing Creative Economy: Activism and a Hunger Called Theater

Treva Lindsey, Colored No More: Reinventing Black Womanhood in Washington D.C.

 

Past winners of the prize include:

2017 Award: Nicosia M. Shakes, Gender, Race and Performance Space: Women’s Activism in Jamaican and South African Theatre

Honorable Mention: Elizabeth Verklan, “Objects of Desire: Feminist Inquiry, Transnational Feminism, and Global Fashion”

2016 Award: Michele Eggers, Embodying Inequality: The Criminalization of Women for Abortion in Chile

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

2014 Award: Ethel Tungohan, Migrant Care Worker Activism in Canada: From the Politics of Everyday Resistance to the Politics from Below

2013 Award: Christina Holmes, Chicana Environmentalisms: Decolonizing the Body, Nature, and Spirit

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

2011 Award: Erica Williams, Ambiguous Entanglements: Sex, Race, and Tourism in Bahia

 

Please direct all questions and submissions to:

Dawn Durante, Senior Acquisitions Editor

University of Illinois Press

1325 South Oak St.

Champaign, IL 61820-6903

durante9@uillinois.edu

For more information please see the NWSA website.

Attending NWSA this week? So are we! We’ve got some awesome events happening at our booth this year and some excellent giveaways, so stop by and say hello!

Treva Lindsey NWSA Authors Meet Critics

Session, Atlanta, GA

Fri, Nov 9, 2018 4:15 PM

Treva Lindsey, the author of Colored No More: Reinventing Black Womanhood in Washington, D.C. will participate in an authors meet critics session at NWSA. The panel will include Brittney Cooper, Barbara Ransby, and Nadia Brown.

 

 

 

 

Sophie Richter-Devroe and Heather Switzer at the Reception at NWSA, Atlanta GA

Fri, Nov 9, 2018 5:00 PM

Join us for a book signing featuring Sophie Richter-Devroe, winner of the 2012 NWSA/UIP First Book Prize and author of Women’s Political Activism in Palestine: Peacebuilding, Resistance, and Survival, and Heather Switzer, author of When the Light Is Fire: Maasai Schoolgirls in Contemporary Kenya.

Laura Helen Marks at the Reception at NWSA, Atlanta, GA

Sat, Nov 10, 2018 5:00 PM

Please join UIP to celebrate the Feminist Media Studies series. Meet series editors Carole Stabile and Rebecca Wanzo while author Laura Helen Marks signs copies of Alice in Pornoland: Hardcore Encounters with the Victorian Gothic, the latest book in the series.

 

Valerie Francisco-Menchavez at the NWSA Authors Meet Critics Session, Atlanta, GA

Sat, Nov 10, 2018 5:00 PM

Valerie Francisco-Menchavez, the author of The Labor of Care: Filipina Migrants and Transnational Families in a Digital Age will participate in an authors meet Critics session at NWSA. The panel will include Ethal Tungohan, Eileen Boris, and Conely de Leon.

 

 

 

 

And last but not least, we have some awesome badge ribbons this year for all your badge swag needs.

Our Feminist badge ribbons are back by popular demand and  we were inspired by Christine Smith, UIP author and creator of the #CiteBlackWomen hashtag, to make #CiteBlackWomen ribbons. Come pick yours up at our booth in the exhibit hall!

 

 

Want even more UIP swag? Buy $50 worth of books and receive a free centennial tote bag! We’ll have our centennial t-shirts for sale too!

 

Make sure to also check out these great new titles and journals. All books are up to 40% off and journal subscriptions are 30% off. 

   

   

Have a great conference!

 

This is the sixth installment of our blog series exploring the articles in the special issue on “Fake News” from the Journal of American Folklore (vol. 131, no. 522). The special issue on “Fake News” from the Journal of American Folklore (vol. 131, no. 522) is available in print and on JSTOR now.

“My friend posted it and that’s good enough for me!”: Source Perception in Online Information Sharing
By: Lynne McNeill

Like many other contributors to this special issue, I came to the topic of fake news through personal experience. After sharing on Facebook a useful-seeming link to a list of untrustworthy news sites (a link I discovered only because someone I follow had previously posted it), I suddenly found myself being touted as the “authority” behind the information when one of my friends questioned another mutual friend’s subsequent re-sharing of the link: “Well, Lynne S. McNeill shared it, and that’s good enough for me!” Well, that definitely shouldn’t have been good enough for them. I will freely admit that I didn’t fact check the link at all–it came to me, too, from a trustworthy friend, and the sources cited in the link suggested a familiar and believable (to me, at least) source: a university professor interested in compiling accurate data. I didn’t know the professor, I didn’t check to make sure she was actually on the faculty of the university listed, in fact I didn’t even bother to see if she was a real person at all. In short, I wasn’t being a very good folklorist, but I was definitely being a very typical member of the folk.

My article considers this conundrum. When we engage in social media in the course of our everyday lives, not as scholars but just as people, how do we determine what kinds of information are trustworthy or not? It appears that far more important than any news outlet named or pictured, more important than any website or publication house listed, it’s the person who shared the information that drives our sense of its veracity. There’s a clear offline precedent for this: when a close friend or family member says to me, “Did you hear what the president said this morning?” I typically don’t pause to consider that they may be lying, or even simply misinformed. I mentally place the information into the generally unacknowledged folk category of “something that happened,” and it then begins to shape my expectations about what may happen next. While efforts to teach fact-checking skills to young people are certainly important and well intended, we face a much greater challenge on the folk level to begin to consciously consider our own perceptions of authoritative transmission.

_________________

Read Lynne’s Full article

We’re pleased to announce that Blood, Sweat, and Fear: Violence at Work in the North American Auto Industry, 1960-80 by Jeremy Milloy has been awarded the Cugnot Award from the Society of Automotive Historians.

The award committee said:

“The historian’s craft is a difficult one, requiring meticulous research, substantial analysis, broad context and engaging prose. Automotive history presents special challenges . It must capture the hearts and minds of enthusiasts without becoming merely nostalgic, while presenting explanatory contexts that link it to broad social and political themes. 

Jeremy Milloy’s book, Blood, Sweat and Fear: Violence At Work in the North American Auto Industry 1960-1980 (University of Illinois Press, 2017) accomplishes all this, earning it the Society of Automotive Historians ‘ Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot Award (English-language) for 2018. Professor Milloy’s work sets an exemplary standard for others in the field.”

Congratulations Jeremy!31

 

Spanning centuries of music history, the banjo remains a recognizable and unique instrument in genres including bluegrass and folk. As the banjo reaches new parts of the world, we can trace back its appearances in the rise of many musical figures in American music. Here are eight books and two journal articles that explore the history and growth of the banjo and those who mastered its complex chords.

Banjo Roots and Branches

Robert B. Winans

The story of the banjo’s journey from Africa to the western hemisphere blends music, history, and a union of cultures. In Banjo Roots and Branches, Robert B. Winans presents cutting-edge scholarship that covers the instrument’s West African origins and its adaptations and circulation in the Caribbean and United States. Wide-ranging and illustrated with twenty color images, Banjo Roots and Branches offers a wealth of new information to scholars of African American and folk musics as well as the worldwide community of banjo aficionados.

 

Building New Banjos for an Old-Time World

Richard Jones-Bamman

Banjo music possesses a unique power to evoke a bucolic, simpler past. The artisans who build banjos for old-time music stand at an unusual crossroads–asked to meet the modern musician’s needs while retaining the nostalgic qualities so fundamental to the banjo’s sound and mystique. Richard Jones-Bamman ventures into workshops and old-time music communities to explore how banjo builders practice their art. His interviews and long-time personal immersion in the musical culture shed light on long-overlooked aspects of banjo making.

 

Dixie Dewdrop: The Uncle Dave Macon Story

Michael D. Doubler — Coming September 2018

Michael D. Doubler tells the amazing story of the Dixie Dewdrop, a country music icon. Born in 1870, David Harrison Macon learned the banjo from musicians passing through his parents’ Nashville hotel. After playing local shows in Middle Tennessee for decades, a big break led Macon to vaudeville, the earliest of his two hundred-plus recordings and eventually to national stardom. Uncle Dave–clad in his trademark plug hat and gates-ajar collar–soon became the face of the Opry itself with his spirited singing, humor, and array of banjo picking styles.

 

Bluegrass Generation: A Memoir

Neil V. Rosenberg

Neil V. Rosenberg met the legendary Bill Monroe at the Brown County Jamboree. Rosenberg’s subsequent experiences in Bean Blossom put his feet on the intertwined musical and scholarly paths that made him a preeminent scholar of bluegrass music. Rosenberg’s memoir shines a light on the changing bluegrass scene of the early 1960s. Already a fan and aspiring musician, his appetite for banjo music quickly put him on the Jamboree stage.

 

 

Bill Monroe: The Life and Music of the Blue Grass Man

Tom Ewing

The Father of Bluegrass Music, Bill Monroe was a major star of the Grand Ole Opry for over fifty years; a member of the Country Music, Songwriters, and Rock and Roll Halls of Fame; and a legendary figure in American music. This authoritative biography sets out to examine his life in careful detail–to move beyond hearsay and sensationalism to explain how and why he accomplished so much. Filled with a wealth of previously unknown details, Bill Monroe offers even the most devoted fan a deeper understanding of Monroe’s towering achievements and timeless music.

 

The Music of the Stanley Brothers

Gary B. Reid

The Music of the Stanley Brothers brings together forty years of passionate research by scholar and record label owner Gary B. Reid. A leading authority on the Stanleys, Reid augments his own vast knowledge of their music with interviews, documents ranging from books to folios sold by the brothers at shows, and the words of Ralph Stanley, former band members, guest musicians, session producers, songwriters, and bluegrass experts. The result is a reference that illuminates the Stanleys’ art and history.

 

 

Foggy Mountain Troubadour: The Life and Music of Curly Seckler

Penny Parsons

With his trademark mandolin style and unequaled tenor harmonies, Curly Seckler has carved out a seventy-seven-year career in bluegrass and country music. His foundational work in Flatt and Scruggs’s Foggy Mountain Boys secured him a place in bluegrass history, while his role in The Nashville Grass made him an essential part of the music’s triumphant 1970s revival.

 

 

 

Don’t Give Your Heart to a Rambler: My Life with Jimmy Martin, the King of Bluegrass

Barbara Martin Stephens

As charismatic and gifted as he was volatile, Jimmy Martin recorded dozens of bluegrass classics and co-invented the high lonesome sound. Barbara Martin Stephens became involved with the King of Bluegrass at age seventeen. Don’t Give your Heart to a Rambler tells the story of their often tumultuous life together. Straightforward and honest, Don’t Give your Heart to a Rambler is a woman’s story of the world of bluegrass and one of its most colorful, conflicted artists.

 

Minstrel and Classic Banjo: American and English Connections

by Robert B. Winans and Elias J. Kaufman

American Music
Vol. 12, No. 1 (Spring, 1994)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ethnomusicology
Vol. 19, No. 3 (Sep., 1975)

Tom Ewing presents fans of bluegrass music with an in-depth and long-awaited biography on the Blue Grass Man himself, Bill Monroe. Called “insightful” by The Wall Street Journal,  Bill Monroe: The Life and Music of the Blue Grass Man covers Monroe’s story from birth through childhood and adolescence, his beginnings and growth in the music industry, and his relationships with the people that came in and out of his life. Read the excerpt below for a glimpse into Bill’s early life, balancing work with his love of music.


Bill, eighteen, was still in Kentucky when spring came in 1930, but not for long. Uncles Andrew and Jack might have encouraged him to “go to public work” like John, Birch, Charlie, and Speed. Speed, thirty-four, had recently come home after working in Owensboro and married thirty-one-year-old divorcée Geanie (Clark) Whitehead. “I reckon my people figured I would never make anything there,” Bill said, “and that they should try to get me out of there to where I could make a decent living.”

Possibly delaying his decision to go was a brief romance. All he ever said about it was, “I never had a date ’til I was eighteen. I never kissed a girl ’til I was eighteen years old. I didn’t know what I was doin’.” It may have inspired many “what ifs” in the years to come.

I could have stayed in Kentucky and been a farmer. I’d have been satisfied with
that. I could’ve probably planned a married life and raised a family. But my
people went and talked me into leaving Kentucky and going up to where there
was money. I was afraid to leave Kentucky because I’d never been around no place
like that. I didn’t know whether I could find my way around or not.

Shortly after they returned to Detroit, Birch and Charlie were laid off again, so they and brother John headed back to the Calumet. A letter home may have convinced Bill to join them in Whiting, where they could all live together cheaply.

On the morning of Wednesday, April 30, 1930, after the crops had been planted, Bill said goodbye to Uncle Pen, whom he had lived with for nearly two years. Bill never spoke of this parting, but it couldn’t have been easy: “He done a lot of good things for me. A man that old, and crippled, that would cook for you and see that you had a bed and a place to stay and something for breakfast and dinner and supper, and you know it come hard for him. . . . Maybe, if I hadn’t heard of him, I’d have never learned anything about music at all.” Bill carried his suitcase and tater bug (stowed in a pillowcase, it’s said) down to the Rosine depot and was met there by Speed. “It never hurt him so bad as anything in his life to put his little brother on a train goin’ north,” said Frances Harvey, who had heard about that morning. With tears in his eyes, Speed gave Bill a twenty-dollar bill and sent him on his way.

“I didn’t have music on my mind. I went up there to work,” Bill said. But finding a job wasn’t easy; by the end of June, he was still unemployed. Charlie was working at the Sinclair Oil Refinery in East Chicago, southeast of Whiting, and in July he used his influence as a standout player on the companybaseball team to get Bill hired: “[The] manager of the team was my boss at the plant—Max Tucker. . . . I said, ‘Max, I’ve got a brother here, eighteen years old. Now, he’s not well. Now, if we can’t get him through that gate out there, I’m going to have to leave Sinclair’s ball team and company.’” Charlie played on Tucker’s sympathies, using Bill’s cross-eyed appearance to claim he wasn’t completely normal. But it worked, and he was given a job.

At that time, Jimmie Rodgers was in Hollywood, California, recording for Victor Records. He had been dubbed “America’s Blue Yodeler” for the series of “blue yodels” he’d recorded, combining his black-sounding blues singing with a seemingly effortless yodel (which, for some early listeners, confirmed he was white). On July 11, 1930, he recorded a new one, “Blue Yodel No. 8,” subtitled “Mule Skinner Blues,” and when it was released, Bill’s avid record-buying brothers would’ve bought it immediately. Bill would’ve been easily drawn to it, with its frank mention of using a whip “on a mule’s behind” and of working for “a dollar and a half a day,” something he himself had done recently.

Bill was assigned to “the barrel house” at Sinclair, cleaning and stacking empty oil barrels. In later years he described his job, which, like logging in the 1890s, seems to define hard work.

Many’s a day I’ve stacked a thousand barrels—two thousand barrels. We could
unload a freight car in forty-five minutes. There would be two inside the car and
two or three of us outside and they would spin those barrels down on you and
you would have to catch them—just like playing ball. And then we would clean
barrels with gasoline. Some of them weighed one hundred and fifty pounds.
I learned how to handle those barrels just like a man throwing a ball, throwing
a curve. I got to where I could handle a drum—you’d be surprised at what I could
do with it and how far I could throw it and make it set up. I believe I could clean
thirty-six drums in fifteen minutes and have them all setting in the dryer.”

With Charlie and Bill both working, sisters Maude and Bertha were encouraged to come to Whiting and, after they arrived from Rosine on August 5, they moved in with their four brothers. Then Charlie’s temper flared and he was fired at Sinclair after a fistfight with a co-worker. Bill, earning $65 every two weeks, was suddenly the sole breadwinner for six Monroes. He recalled:

Well, there was a time when my brothers couldn’t find work. And my two sisters
were there, and they wasn’t workin’ either. But I worked every day. The people out
at the Sinclair refineries, some of them was from Kentucky, and they knew that
I needed the money to take care of everything—pay our rent and buy groceries.
And they let me work thirty days in the month, ’cause they knew I needed the
work. And I took care of everything. I would work there, and I’d go out on the
streetcar to go to work, and my brothers would go out and pick up my check.
They’d take it back and get it cashed, and pay all the bills. And I’d hang in there
and work.

It was a situation that appears to have happened more than once during the next few years. “I never could put any money aside,” Bill said later. “I’ve often wondered if I was doing the right thing. I guess I was. It wouldn’t be right not to support your people.”

After work, Bill was surrounded by new worlds of entertainment: movie theaters with “talking pictures” (which he had not yet seen), nightclubs, vaudeville shows, dance halls. Even old familiar radio seemed new, with numerous local stations coming in loud and clear, unlike the static-filled signals he’d heard at Crowder’s store. Most powerful was WLS in nearby Chicago, then a 5,000-watt station owned by the Prairie Farmer newspaper.

In 1930, the stars of its Saturday night Barn Dance included cowboy singer Arkie, called the Arkansas Woodchopper (Luther Ossenbrink of Missouri, who wore riding britches as part of his stage costume); Kentucky folksinger Bradley Kincaid (whose repertoire included “The Butcher Boy”); and the original Cumberland Ridge Runners (Karl Davis, mandolin; Doctor Howard “Doc” Hopkins, banjo; leader John Lair, jug; Gene Ruppe, fiddle; and Hartford Connecticut “Harty” Taylor, guitar), all from Kentucky. Bill must
have heard they were all earning a better living than he was by just singing and playing on the radio.

Before long, Charlie found a job at Sinclair’s competitor, Standard Oil in Hammond, due south of Whiting; Maude and Bertha were hired at the Queen Anne Candy Company (famous for their chocolate-covered cherries), also in Hammond; and Birch went to work at Sinclair. With some time off, Bill made a bold move: no longer worried about “finding his way around,” he took his tater bug, journeyed to a small radio station in Hammond he’d been listening to, 100-watt WWAE, and guested on one of its many live shows. “I was the first Monroe to go on radio,” he told John Hartford in 1990 (forgetting, at age seventy-eight, about Charlie and Birch’s radio debut in 1927), “and the next day, the Monroe Brothers was together—we’s all on it.” Thereafter, the three visited WWAE occasionally, but their main musical activity remained playing for parties. As Bill later put it, “We’d play wherever we’d get to play, anybody that wanted us, they didn’t have to pay us nothing, we just wanted the experience. We thought it was great for somebody to want us to play.”

After most of the Monroes were employed, they began looking for a new place to live, closer to their jobs. That fall they moved into an apartment building in East Chicago at 4714 Magoun [Ma-goon] Avenue, near the busy intersection of Chicago Avenue and Forsythe Avenue (now Indianapolis Boulevard). It was a short streetcar ride for Bill and Birch to Sinclair, and Charlie had only another half mile farther north to go to get to Standard Oil in Hammond. The Queen Anne factory in Hammond was less than a mile to the west of the apartment building for Maude and Bertha. Brother John, meanwhile, couldn’t find work and returned to Rosine in November 1930.

By 1931, Bill had a reputation as a solid and dependable worker. As was his style throughout life, he thrived on hard work, but he then had the happy-go-lucky attitude of youth. “I weighed about 165 pounds and was young then,” he said in 1977. “I got kind of a kick out of doing it.” Co-worker Roy Hatton and Bill would pick up and deliver oil barrels and building materials around the refinery, with Hatton driving a tractor and Bill riding in a wagon behind it. Hatton remembered nineteen-year-old Bill singing and yodeling at the
top of his voice as they traveled around the huge Sinclair facility.

While Bill worked, the WLS Barn Dance grew in popularity, especially after WLS boosted its power to 50,000 watts in early 1931 (a year before WSM in Nashville). Joining the Barn Dance cast that year were duet pioneers Mac and Bob (Kentuckian Lester McFarland, tenor singer and mandolinist, and Tennessean Robert Gardner, lead singer and guitarist). Bill would learn a great deal from McFarland, especially about using a mandolin to accompany singing. Also new were twenty-four-year-old Gene Autry, then an interpreter of Jimmie Rodgers’s songs; tenor-voiced Hugh Cross, who replaced Doc Hopkins with the Cumberland Ridge Runners and sang a song called “Footprints in the Snow”; and comic Max Terhune, “the Hoosier Mimic,” who could “make all kinds of funny noises” and “keep a crowd happy for hours at a stretch.”

As the Depression deepened, two new duet-singing duos emerged in 1931—the Delmore Brothers (of Alabama) and Karl and Harty (Karl Davis and Harty Taylor of the Cumberland Ridge Runners)—and both recorded near the end of the year. But sales were limited, and both would have to wait until 1934 before they had another record released.

In early 1932, the news from home was mixed. Uncle Andrew, J. B.’s general store partner, died on February 1 of cancer and double pneumonia at age seventy-two. Then, on March 27, thirty-four-year-old brother John, once again farming, married thirty-two-year-old divorcée Clara Wilson (not related to Clarence Wilson). But there is no indication that the Monroes of East Chicago returned home during this time.

That March, the WLS Barn Dance moved from a small studio to the 1,200-seat Eighth Street Theater, to accommodate the crowds thronging to see it. Caught up in the rising “hillbilly fever,” little WWAE began to increase its country music programs. Live shows titled Old Time Music or Old Time Tunes were broadcast three to five times a week, and a weekly Old Time Midnight Frolic was added on Wednesday nights. Birch, Charlie, and Bill undoubtedly guested on these shows, and, before long, were approached about doing a show of their own.

Read more in Bill Monroe: The Life and Music of the Blue Grass Man!

Andrew C. Billings is a professor and Ronald Reagan Chair of Broadcasting in the Department of Journalism and Creative Media at the University of Alabama. He is the coauthor of Olympic Television: Broadcasting the Biggest Show on Earth and Media and the Coming Out of Gay Male Athletes in American Team SportsJason Edward Black is chair and a professor of communication studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He is a coeditor of Decolonizing Native American Rhetoric: Communicating Self-Determination, the author of American Indians and the Rhetoric of Removal and Allotment, and a coeditor of An Archive of Hope: Harvey Milk’s Speeches and Writings. They answered some questions for us about their new book, Mascot Nation: The Controversy over Native American Representations in Sports.


Q: Your book, Mascot Nation, addresses the issue of Native American mascots in sports using both social scientific data and rhetorical/cultural criticism. Why did you decide this joint approach was necessary?

There seemed to be two approaches to discussing the mascot debate in this country: (a) mass media surveys about the issue and (b) humanistic approaches to exploring the history and cultural import of the mascot. These two bases acknowledged each other, but rarely worked in tandem. That was our goal here—to infuse both breadth and depth not only methodologically but also by deconstructing the mascot into three parts: names, images, and rituals (three parts of the debate that create a compelling Venn diagram yet with not as much overlap as one would presume). This was a project that neither of us could have remotely conceived on our own because of our own training strengths and limitations. That made it a learning and broadening project for us, too, which we enjoyed.

Q: You state that one of your goals in this book is to not to wade into the debate about whether Native American mascots (particularly the NFL team in Washington) should change its name, but to analyze the presumptions embedded in the debate. What are a few of the questions you analyze in this way?

There are differences in the constructs people ascribe to these discussions without even knowing it. For instance, if one wants the mascot to change, people have differing opinions on what entity/entities have the power to do so, whether that is an owner, fanbase, players’ union, league, or university. We tried to uncouple some of those presumptions; in doing so, we found for instance, that there is a difference between asking whether a mascot is “acceptable” or “offensive”. Moreover, we found that arguing “should change” and “should have to change” are two different questions. Before anyone can discern answers, we have to figure out how sentiments shift when the language is altered.

Q: What was one of the important lessons you learned from analyzing pro-mascot and anti-mascot discourse in Facebook comments?

Examining the pro-mascot and anti-mascot language by way of an informal, dialogic social media site such as Facebook presented a number of lessons. The most important lesson, in terms of the pro-mascot rhetoric, was the way that long-standing, centuries-old colonial ideologies concerning Native-U.S. relations clearly found their way into the social media discussions. For instance, pro-mascotters relied consistently on senses of ownership in terms of how they, as fans, ought to be able to decide on a Native American mascot to the detriment of even Native communities themselves. This replicates the ideology of territorial possession that was so important to settler-colonialism from the 17th to 20th Centuries. Now, we see those ideologies moving from colonial control of land, labor, and bodies to 21st Century neocolonial control over Native American symbols. In line with a trove of social media theory, we found that such colonial logics were expressed with very little evidence and reasoning, but rather with vitriol. This demonstrates, as other scholars have noted and as any active social media user may attest, that people are way looser with their words online than they would perhaps be in a face-to-face context. Compared to the qualitative comments from our national survey – most of which made clear arguments – the social media comments focused a great deal on personal attack and incredulity, perhaps due to the less formal landscape that social media allows.

Q: What was enlightening about your comparison between University of Illinois’s Chief Illiniwek, which was discontinued in 2007, and Florida State University’s Chief Osceola, which continues to have tribal support?

Both fanbases had a sense of wishing to mitigate their cases against more egregiously problematic Native American mascots present in society, particularly the NFL team in Washington. Both bases also believe there was something unique or special about their circumstance compared to others. However, what was most interesting was that the perceived threats that Florida State reported were found to be much smaller when change was initiated in a case like Illinois. Very few fans of the Illini felt their fandom shifted when the change was made while a significant portion of the Florida State fans indicated that such a shift would hurt or change their fandom.

Q: Why do you think people should be concerned about the use of mascots in sports? What broader social implications does it have for treatment of Native Americans?

The appropriation, commodification, and misuse of Native symbols has been a long-standing tradition in U.S. cultures of politics, economy, popular media, and leisure. Whether used in advertisements (i.e., Redman chewing tobacco; Land O’Lakes butter), parlayed into Hollywood movie caricatures, co-opted through feigned inauthentic rituals of the outdoors (Boy Scouts) and savagery (children “playing” cowboys and Indians), or misrepresented as disappearing cultures therein open to use/abuse of their symbols, Native American communities have suffered from gross stereotypes almost from time immemorial in their contact with settlers. The use of Native symbols as mascots follows in this tradition. Native mascots only appear after the end of the Indian Wars, when Native people were “safely” disciplined and, therefore, made safe for consumption. They were made popular when non-Natives in the U.S., almost Cartesian-like, attempted to sow their less-civilized and more ruggedly outdoor roots in the midst of an industrial age (this is why Braves, Indians, and Warriors became popular Native mascots in the early 20th century).

Given that politic, the arguments that mascots respect and honor genuinely fall apart. The question remains: in a universe of natural (i.e., Heat, Thunder), animal (i.e., Bears, Tigers), criminal (i.e., Raiders, Vandals), mystical (i.e., Magic, Galaxy), disastrous (Hurricanes, Cyclones), and past “dead” culture (i.e., Spartans, Vikings) mascots, why would U.S. universities and teams want to make caricatures – in textual, visual, and ritual form – out of living, thriving human cultural groups? Add to this query why marginalized communities specifically should be mascotted and an additional layer of speciousness arises.

The use of Native American mascots ought to concern us as we come to grips with our nation’s past indiscretions regarding marginalized communities (especially those colonized by the U.S. government and U.S. public), our present views and treatment of said marginalized communities, and the future potentialities of reconciling these treatments in a continually growing nation of diverse people in need of more inclusive politics. Sports and politics are inextricable. In fact, sport is socio-political. The implications for Native people is that continued stereotypes by way of the mascot reinforces a colonial past and makes fresh contemporary abuses of indigenous communities