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Just published—The Readex Report: November 2014

Posted on 11/11/2014

IN THIS ISSUE: Myth and fact mingle in early depictions of the Muslim world; history redeems a Justice of the Antebellum Supreme Court; and stitching together facts to visualize Colonial clothing.

The Muslim World in Early U.S. Texts
By Julie R. Voss, Assistant Professor of English, Coordinator of American Studies Program, Lenoir-Rhyne University

About a decade ago, I began researching representations of Islam in early national American literary texts; when someone would ask what the subject of my dissertation was, and I gave this answer, I often received responses along the lines of, “Was there any literature about Islam in the early U.S.?” Like my interlocutors, I was initially surprised when I stumbled upon the presence of Islam in early American writing.  Somehow, through the many American history classes in my education, I had missed learning about the Barbary conflicts that followed the Revolutionary War.  The Muslim world was never as separate from Europe (and Colonial America) as we moderns might believe, and between 1785 and 1815, Americans were intensely aware of Muslim North Africa in particular.  > Full Story

Finding John McKinley: Fresh Discoveries about a Forgotten Supreme Court Justice
By Steven P. Brown, Professor and Chair, Department of Political Science, Auburn University

When I moved to Alabama in 1998 to take a faculty position with Auburn University’s Department of Political Science, I already knew a great deal about two of the nation’s most notable Supreme Court justices appointed from that state. John Archibald Campbell resigned from the Court at the outset of the Civil War only to return later as an attorney to argue several important cases before his former colleagues. Hugo Black, the first Supreme Court appointee of Franklin Roosevelt, spurred an expansion of the protections contained in the Bill of Rights against state and local government infringement. Upon arriving in Alabama, however, I was surprised to learn of a third justice from the state—a man named John McKinley—who was the first Alabamian to serve on the United States Supreme Court upon his appointment in 1837. McKinley intrigued me.  > Full Story

“Suitable To The Season”: Using Historical Newspapers to Help Reproduce 18th-Century Clothing
By Hallie Larkin, past president of the Costume Society of America, Northeast Region

Cinnamon, nutmeg, claret, coffee and chocolate are not just spices or beverages; they were adjectives commonly used in the 18th century to describe the color of cloth.  Easily visualized today, colors like cinnamon and coffee help us form a picture of goods on the shelf of an 18th-century New England shop.  As a costumer specializing in the accurate reproduction of Colonial Era clothing, I have found Early American Newspapers an invaluable reference source on early American garments.  > Full Story

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