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Subject: History

Staging and Stage Décor: Early Modern Spanish Theater

Edited by Bárbara Mujica, Georgetown University

ISBN: 978-1-64889-346-9
Availability: Pre-order
$84 £65 €72

This is the first book on staging and stage décor to focus specifically on early modern Spanish theater, from the 16th to the early 20th centuries. The introduction provides an overview of Spanish theater design from the 16th century, with particular attention to the corral theater and Lope de Vega. The scope of the book is vast, with some of the articles deal with early modern stagings, while others deal with contemporary productions. It contains articles by an international array of specialists on topics such as stage décor and costuming, lighting, and performance space. It also broaches little-studied areas such as the use of alternative performance spaces, most notably prisons. The book provides in-depth analyses of particular archetypes - the melancholiac, the queen, the astrologer - and how they were, and are, staged. The focus on performance and performance space, costuming, set design, lighting, and audience seating make this a truly unique volume. This book is aimed at students of Spanish literature and theater, researchers interested in theater history and early modern Spain, as well as specialists in Spanish theater.

The Hamilton Phenomenon

Edited by Chloe Northrop, Tarrant County College

ISBN: 978-1-64889-125-0
Availability: Pre-order
248pp. ¦ $83 £64 €71

'The Hamilton Phenomenon' brings together a diverse group of scholars including university professors and librarians, educators at community colleges, Ph.D. candidates and independent scholars, in an exploration of the celebrated Broadway hit. When Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical sensation erupted onto Broadway in 2015, scholars were underprepared for the impact the theatrical experience would have. Miranda’s use of rap, hip-hop, jazz, and Broadway show tunes provides the basis for this whirlwind showcase of America’s past through a reinterpretation of eighteenth-century history. Bound together by their shared interest in 'Hamilton: an American Musical', the authors in this volume diverge from a common touchstone to uncover the unique moment presented by this phenomenon. The two parts of this book feature different emerging themes, ranging from the meaning of the musical on stage, to how the musical is impacting pedagogy and teaching in the 21st century. The first part places Hamilton in the history of theatrical performances of the American Revolution, compares it with other musicals, and fleshes out the significance of postcolonial studies within theatrical performances. Esteemed scholars and educators provide the basis for the second part with insights on the efficacy, benefits, and pitfalls of teaching using Hamilton. Although other scholarly works have debated the historical accuracy of Hamilton, 'The Hamilton Phenomenon' benefits from more distance from the release of the musical, as well as the dissemination of the hit through traveling productions and the summer 2020 release on Disney+. Through critically engaging with Hamilton these authors unfold new insights on early American history, pedagogy, costume, race in theatrical performances, and the role of theatre in crafting interest in history.

John Lenthall, The Life of a Naval Constructor

Stephen Chapin Kinnaman

ISBN: 978-1-64889-348-3
Availability: Pre-order
$77 £56 €64

Many stirring words have been written about the heroic deeds of the officers and the men of the U.S Navy before, during and after the Civil War. But very little has been published about the naval constructors who built the warships that made their exploits possible. Of all of the Navy’s constructors of this era, none had more impact than John Lenthall. A native of Washington D.C and the son of an ambitious English artisan, John Lenthall designed the early steamer Susquehanna and the large Merrimack class steam frigates, also working on the construction of Princeton, the world’s first war steamer designed with a screw propeller. His stellar rise through the ranks of U.S. naval constructors soon led to his appointment as the chief of the Bureau of Construction and Repair, the highest-ranking naval architect. Bred to the intricacies of Washington’s bureaucracy, John Lenthall was a survivor and continued on as bureau chief throughout the unrelenting turmoil of the Civil War. It was only during the first years of the notorious Secretary Robeson’s reign that Lenthall was finally moved aside. By then, he had served for over seventeen years, a recording that has never been equaled. “John Lenthall: The Life of a Naval Constructor” is thoroughly documented with previously untapped primary archival source material, offering historical insights, gripping narratives and illustrations that have never appeared before in print. It presents the results of ground-breaking original research on a subject that has never been fully explored. Kinnaman’s treatment of Lenthall and the legacy of his fellow constructors brings to life a previously untold chronicle of American ingenuity and achievement.

The Holy Warrior: Osama Bin Laden and his Jihadi Journey in the Soviet-Afghan War

Reagan Fancher, University of North Texas

ISBN: 978-1-64889-397-1
Availability: Available 4 weeks
206pp. ¦ $59 £43 €49

Fought between 1979 and 1989, the Soviet-Afghan War provided vital combat experience for Osama bin Laden and his senior lieutenants in al-Qaeda, allowing them to hone their newly acquired skills in guerrilla warfare to later support Islamist insurgencies worldwide. Yet the ruthless al-Qaeda chief’s success depended on the Soviet leadership’s reluctant prolonging of its military occupation out of fear of leaving Afghanistan in hostile hands. As relative latecomers to the ferocious Afghan frontlines, the inexperienced Arab fighters benefitted militarily from the combat training unwittingly provided by their Soviet foes. After skillfully obtaining this command and battle experience by working within the wartime atmosphere, bin Laden channeled al-Qaeda’s efforts in a global jihadi campaign targeting a second superpower and its allies. While allegations of U.S. support for the Arab jihadis have contributed to a popular image of bin Laden and al-Qaeda as C.I.A. creations, the historical facts appear to demonstrate that the combat opportunities provided by the Soviet occupation forces played a far larger role in transforming them into seasoned guerrilla fighters. In contrast to the dozens of previous works on bin Laden and al-Qaeda, this book is the first to focus primarily on the Soviet-Afghan War’s impact on training the Arab fighters from Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere, in battle, and preparing them to export their guerrilla war to assist their comrades in their native countries. As a teaching tool that re-examines and clarifies the impact of bin Laden’s wartime actions, this book will be particularly useful to scholars of history and international relations seeking to acquire and spread new knowledge in the classroom and to better understand the origins of al-Qaeda’s deadly skills and martial resilience. It offers an opportunity for today’s decision-makers to learn from history and avoid creating new generations of bin Ladens.

Art and its Observers

Patricia Emison, University of New Hampshire

ISBN: 978-1-64889-400-8
Availability: Pre-order
[Color] $97 £71 €81

What ties western art together? This extended essay attempts to distill some of the basic ideas with which artists and observers of their art have grappled, ideas worthy of ongoing consideration and debate. The fostering of visual creativity as it has morphed from ancient Greece to the present day, the political and economic forces underpinning the commissioning and displacement of art, and the ways in which contemporary art relates to past periods of art history (and in particular, the Renaissance), are among the topics broached. Architecture, drawings, prints, films, painting, sculpture, and decorative arts from Europe and the US are considered and examined, often including nonstandard examples, occasionally including ones from the immediate surroundings of the author (who is based in New England). Although this book is primarily geared to those who would like a brief introduction to some basic aspects of a visual tradition spanning thousands of years, students of aesthetics might also discover useful benchmarks in this concise overview. The author places the emphasis on how art has been used and loved (or sometimes despised or ignored) more than on which works should be most famous.