An Unfamiliar America : Essays in American Studies book cover
1st Edition

An Unfamiliar America
Essays in American Studies

Edited By

Ari Helo


Mikko Saikku

ISBN 9780367551414
Published November 13, 2020 by Routledge
264 Pages

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Book Description

This collection focuses on conceptions of the unfamiliar from the viewpoint of mainstream American history: aliens, immigrants, ethnic groups, and previously unencountered ideas and ideologies in Trumpian America. The book suggests bringing historical thinking back to the center of American Studies, given that it has been recently challenged by the influential memory studies boom. As much as identity-building appears to be the central concern for much of the current practice in American history writing, it is worth keeping in mind that historical truth may not always directly contribute to one's identity-building. The researcher’s constant quest for truth does not equate to already possessing it. History changes all the time, because it consists of our constant reinterpretation of the past. It is only the past that does not change. This collection aims at keeping these two apart, while scrutinizing a variety of contested topics in American history, from xenophobic attitudes toward eighteenth-century university professors, Apache masculinity, Ku Klux Klan, Tom Waits's lyrics, and the politics of the Trump era.

Table of Contents


Ari Helo and Mikko Saikku

Part 1: Facing and Adapting to an Unfamiliar America

1. "Hoist That Rag": Tom Waits, the Uncanny, and the Old, Weird America

Jeffrey L. Meikle

2. "Damn the European Professors": Higher Education and Xenophobia in Jefferson’s Virginia
Alan Taylor

3. "Brave Men to Brave Men": Experiencing Honor and Masculinities on a Settler Colonial Borderland

Janne Lahti

4. Aleš Hrdlička and the Boundaries of Whiteness

Mark A. Brandon

Part 2: Conservatives and Liberals in the Unfamiliar Trumpian America

5. Defending the Unreached and Unknown: American Evangelical Advocacy for International Religious Freedom

Lauren F. Turek

6. Elite Unfamiliarity and Popular Recognition: Texas Tea Party Republicans’ Embrace of Donald Trump in 2016

James Henson

7. Trump and the Christian Right: The Political Theology Behind the Mutual Attraction

Markku Ruotsila

8. Voting Against the Unfamiliar: The Rural/Urban Divide in U.S. Elections

Jerry Pubantz

9. It Can't Happen Here: The Struggle Against Tyranny and the Trouble with Liberalism

Bo Pettersson

Part 3: African American History and the Present

10. History Matters

William H. Chafe

11. Race in the Cultural Politics of the Civil Rights-Era Ku Klux Klan

Niko Heikkilä

12. Emmett Till, History and Memory

Elliott J. Gorn

13. The Lessons of the Civil Rights Movement for Activists in Xenophobic Times

Cheryl Greenberg

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Ari Helo is a Senior University Lecturer in North American Studies at the University of Helsinki.

Mikko Saikku is the McDonnell Douglas Professor of American Studies at the University of Helsinki.