New in our Studies in American Literary Realism and Naturalism series!

Following the golden age of British Gothic in the late eighteenth century, the American Gothic’s pinnacle is often recognized as having taken place during the decades of American Romanticism. However, Haunting Realities explores the period of American Realism—the end of the nineteenth century—to discover evidence of fertile ground for another age of Gothic proliferation.

At first glance, “Naturalist Gothic” seems to be a contradiction in terms. While the Gothic is known for its sensational effects, with its emphasis on horror and the supernatural, the doctrines of late nineteenth-century Naturalism attempted to move away from the aesthetics of sentimentality and stressed sobering, mechanistic views of reality steeped in scientific thought and the determinism of market values and biology. Nonetheless, what binds Gothicism and Naturalism together is a vision of shared pessimism and the perception of a fearful, lingering presence that ominously haunts an impending modernity. Indeed, it seems that in many Naturalist works reality is so horrific that it can only be depicted through Gothic tropes that prefigure the alienation and despair of modernism.

In recent years, research on the Gothic has flourished, yet there has been no extensive study of the links between the Gothic and Naturalism, particularly those which stem from the early American Realist tradition. Haunting Realities is a timely volume that addresses this gap and is an important addition to scholarly work on both the Gothic and Naturalism in the American literary tradition.

Monika Elbert
is a professor of English at Montclair State University and coeditor of Romantic Education in Nineteenth-Century American Literature: National and Transatlantic Contexts and Transnational Gothic: Literary and Social Exchanges in the Long Nineteenth Century.

Wendy Ryden is an associate professor of English at Long Island University Post and coauthor of Reading, Writing, and the Rhetorics of Whiteness.

Stephen Arch / Dennis Berthold / Kenneth K. Brandt / Donna M. Campbell / Dara Downey / Monika Elbert / David Greven / Lisa A. Long / Patricia Luedecke / Steve Marsden / Agnieszka Soltysik Monnet / Daniel Mrozowski / Charlotte L. Quinney / Alicia Mischa Renfroe / Wendy Ryden / Gary Totten / Christine A. Wooley

Haunting Realities is an interesting and compelling collection that offers a new and fascinating perspective on the influence of the Gothic on naturalist texts.”
—Keith Newlin, author of Hamlin Garland: A Life and editor of The Oxford Handbook of American Literary Naturalism

“No book before Haunting Realities has explored the relationship between the Gothic and the modes of Realism and Naturalism, which are apparently antithetical to it. Yet, in the central paradox identified by Elbert and Ryden, Gothic tropes are everywhere in the literature of the post-Civil War period, and reveal much about the age’s crisis of faith in progress—and about our own times as well. This is a wide-ranging and thoughtful collection and will be studied by anyone interested in the Gothic and the literature of the United States.”
—Charles L. Crow, author of History of the Gothic: American Gothic and editor of American Gothic: An Anthology, 1787-1916

Studies in American Literary Realism and Naturalism
Gary Scharnhorst, series editor

304 pages / 1 B&W figure
ISBN: 978-0-8173-1937-3 Cloth
ISBN: 978-0-8173-9053-2 Ebook

New! “The Mark of Criminality” by Bryan J. McCann

In The Mark of Criminality: Rhetoric, Race, and Gangsta Rap in the War-on-Crime Era, Bryan J. McCann argues that gangsta rap should be viewed as more than a damaging reinforcement of an era’s worst racial stereotypes. Rather, he positions the works of key gangsta rap artists, as well as the controversies their work produced, squarely within the law-and-order politics and popular culture of the 1980s and 1990s to reveal a profoundly complex period in American history when the meanings of crime and criminality were incredibly unstable.

At the center of this era—when politicians sought to prove their “tough-on-crime” credentials—was the mark of criminality, a set of discourses that labeled members of predominantly poor, urban, and minority communities as threats to the social order. Through their use of the mark of criminality, public figures implemented extremely harsh penal polices that have helped make the United States the world’s leading jailer of its adult population.

At the same time when politicians like Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton and television shows such as COPS and America’s Most Wanted perpetuated images of gang and drug-filled ghettos, gangsta rap burst out of the hip-hop nation, emanating mainly from the predominantly black neighborhoods of South Central Los Angeles. Groups like NWA and solo artists (including Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and Tupac Shakur) became millionaires by marketing the very discourses political and cultural leaders used to justify their war on crime. For these artists, the mark of criminality was a source of power, credibility, and revenue. By understanding gangsta rap as a potent, if deeply imperfect enactment of the mark of criminality, we can better understand how crime is always a site of struggle over meaning. Furthermore, by underscoring the nimble rhetorical character of criminality, we can learn lessons that may inform efforts to challenge our nation’s failed policies of mass incarceration.

Bryan J. McCann
is an assistant professor of rhetoric and cultural studies in the Department of Communication Studies at Louisiana State University. His articles have appeared in journals such as Rhetoric Society Quarterly and Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies. In addition to appearing on local newscasts and the national program Democracy Now!, he gave a TEDxLSU talk in 2014 on race and criminal justice.

The Mark of Criminality offers readers, especially ones not familiar with the conjuncture of gangsta rap and the militarization of policing tactics targeting black and brown bodies, a necessary history and some very intriguing cultural moments related to the era under scrutiny.”
—Eric King Watts, author of Hearing the Hurt: Rhetoric, Aesthetics, and Politics of the New Negro Movement

Rhetoric, Culture, and Social Critique
John Louis Lucaites, series editor

208 pages / 11 B&W figures
ISBN: 978-0-8173-1948-9 Cloth
ISBN: 978-0-8173-9117-1 Ebook

New! “Ancient Ocean Crossings” by Stephen C. Jett

In Ancient Ocean Crossings: Reconsidering the Case for Contacts with the Pre-Columbian Americas, Stephen C. Jett encourages readers to reevaluate the common belief that there was no significant interchange between the chiefdoms and civilizations of Eurasia and Africa and peoples who occupied the alleged terra incognita beyond the great oceans.

More than a hundred centuries separate the time that Ice Age hunters are conventionally thought to have crossed a land bridge from Asia into North America and the arrival of Columbus in the Bahamas in 1492. Traditional belief has long held that earth’s two hemispheres were essentially cut off from one another as a result of the post-Pleistocene meltwater-fed rising oceans that covered that bridge. The oceans, along with arctic climates and daunting terrestrial distances, formed impermeable barriers to interhemispheric communication. This viewpoint implies that the cultures of the Old World and those of the Americas developed independently.

Drawing on abundant and concrete evidence to support his theory for significant pre-Columbian contacts, Jett suggests that many ancient peoples had both the seafaring capabilities and the motives to cross the oceans and, in fact, did so repeatedly and with great impact. His deep and broad work synthesizes information and ideas from archaeology, geography, linguistics, climatology, oceanography, ethnobotany, genetics, medicine, and the history of navigation and seafaring, making an innovative and persuasive multidisciplinary case for a new understanding of human societies and their diffuse but interconnected development.

Stephen C. Jett holds a PhD in geography from Johns Hopkins University and is a professor emeritus of geography and of textiles and clothing at the University of California, Davis. He has authored books on Navajo culture and is the founding editor of Pre-Columbiana: A Journal of Long-Distance Contacts.

Ancient Ocean Crossings is a stupendous work, one chock full of exciting ideas and fascinating facts about the cultural history of the world. The work gives new meaning to the expression tour de force.”
—Daniel W. Gade, author of Curiosity, Inquiry, and the Geographical Imagination and Nature and Culture in the Andes

“By most accounts, the heyday of scholarly explanations of cultural origins and change involving early transoceanic diffusion has long passed. Stephen Jett’s massive reprise of themes long dormant, along with new evidentiary material, could force major reconsideration of specific cases as well as general propositions. Jett makes the case(s) for early transoceanic diffusion with unprecedented clarity and thoroughness.”
—Kent Mathewson, coeditor of Carl Sauer on Culture and Landscape: Readings and Commentaries

528 pages / 39 B&W figures
ISBN: 978-0-8173-1939-7 Cloth
ISBN: 978-0-8173-907504 Ebook