14 Books Published by Yale University Press on Our Site — Book Cover Mosaic

Click for more detail about Beyond Aesthetics: Use, Abuse, and Dissonance in African Art Traditions by Wole Soyinka Beyond Aesthetics: Use, Abuse, and Dissonance in African Art Traditions

by Wole Soyinka
Yale University Press (Nov 12, 2019)
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An intimate reflection on culture and tradition, creativity and power, that draws on a lifetime’s commitment to aesthetic encounter

The playwright, poet, essayist, novelist, and Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka is also a longtime art collector. This book of essays offers a glimpse into the motivations of the collector, as well as a highly personal look at the politics of aesthetics and collecting. Detailing moments of first encounter with objects that drew him in and continue to affect him, Soyinka describes a world of mortals, muses, and deities that imbue the artworks with history and meaning.

Beyond Aesthetics is a passionate discussion of the role of identity, tradition, and originality in making, collecting, and exhibiting African art today. Soyinka considers objects that have stirred controversy, and he decries dogmatic efforts—whether colonial or religious—to suppress Africa’s artistic traditions. By turns poetic, provocative, and humorous, Soyinka affirms the power of collecting to reclaim tradition. He urges African artists, filmmakers, collectors, and curators to engage with their aesthetic and cultural histories.


Click for more detail about The Frederick Douglass Papers: Series Three: Correspondence, Volume 2: 1853-1865 by Frederick Douglass The Frederick Douglass Papers: Series Three: Correspondence, Volume 2: 1853-1865

by Frederick Douglass
Yale University Press (Jan 23, 2018)
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The second collection of the meticulously edited correspondence of abolitionist, author, statesman, and former slave, Frederick Douglass, covers the years leading up the Civil War through the close of the conflict, offering readers an illuminating portrait of an extraordinary American and the turbulent times in which he lived. An important contribution to historical scholarship, the documents included offer fascinating insights into the abolitionist movement during wartime and the author’s relationship to Abraham Lincoln and other prominent figures of the era.


Click for more detail about Protest at Selma: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by David J. Garrow Protest at Selma: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Voting Rights Act of 1965

by David J. Garrow
Yale University Press (Sep 08, 2015)
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“The work of David J. Garrow is more than a day-by-day account of how the historic Voting Rights Act of 1965 came into being.  It is also a skillful analysis of the dynamics of protest activity and more particularly of the ways in which successful protesters deliberately use the mass media to influence uninvolved audiences.” –American Historical Review
“A valuable book, because it is a reminder of both the heroism and the brutality displayed in the great civil rights crusade.” –David Herbert Donald, The New Republic
“One of the most comprehensive studies yet of a single campaign within the civil-rights movement.” –Pat Watters, New York Times Book Review
“An excellent fusion of important theoretical constructs with careful and thoughtful empirical analysis.  A desirable addition to most college libraries, useful for a variety of courses….Thoroughly documented.  Recommended.” –Choice


Click for more detail about Eslanda: The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson by Barbara Ransby Eslanda: The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson

by Barbara Ransby
Yale University Press (Feb 25, 2014)
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Eslanda ’Essie’ Cardozo Goode Robeson lived a colourful and amazing life, embroiled in much of the twentieth century’s social turmoil and travelling to every corner of the globe to fight for downtrodden and oppressed peoples. She was a woman of unusual accomplishment - an anthropologist, a prolific journalist, a tireless advocate of women’s rights, an outspoken anti-colonial and antiracist activist, and an internationally sought-after speaker. Yet historians for the most part have confined Essie to the role of Mrs. Paul Robeson, a wife hidden behind the large shadow cast by her famous husband. In this masterful book, biographer Barbara Ransby refocuses attention on Essie, one of the most important and fascinating black women of the twentieth century. Chronicling Essie’s eventful life, the book explores her influence on her husband’s early career and how she later achieved her own unique political voice. Essie’s friendships with a host of literary icons and world leaders, her renown as a fierce defender of justice, her defiant testimony before Senator Joseph McCarthy’s infamous anti-communist committee, and her unconventional open marriage that endured for over 40 years - all are brought to light in the pages of this inspiring biography. Essie’s indomitable personality shines through, and her contributions to American and world history can be fully appreciated at last.


Click for more detail about My Bondage and My Freedom by Frederick Douglass My Bondage and My Freedom

by Frederick Douglass
Yale University Press (Jan 28, 2014)
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Born into slavery in 1818, Frederick Douglass escaped to freedom and became a passionate advocate for abolition and social change and the foremost spokesperson for the nation’s enslaved African American population in the years preceding the Civil War. My Bondage and My Freedom is Douglass’s masterful recounting of his remarkable life and a fiery condemnation of a political and social system that would reduce people to property and keep an entire race in chains.

This classic is revisited with a new introduction and annotations by celebrated Douglass scholar David W. Blight. Blight situates the book within the politics of the 1850s and illuminates how My Bondage represents Douglass as a mature, confident, powerful writer who crafted some of the most unforgettable metaphors of slavery and freedom—indeed of basic human universal aspirations for freedom—anywhere in the English language.


Click for more detail about Of Africa by Wole Soyinka Of Africa

by Wole Soyinka
Yale University Press (Nov 12, 2013)
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A member of the unique generation of African writers and intellectuals who came of age in the last days of colonialism, Wole Soyinka has witnessed the promise of independence and lived through postcolonial failure. He deeply comprehends the pressing problems of Africa, and, an irrepressible essayist and a staunch critic of the oppressive boot, he unhesitatingly speaks out. In this magnificent new work, Soyinka offers a wide-ranging inquiry into Africa’s culture, religion, history, imagination and identity. He seeks to understand how the continent’s history is entwined with the histories of others, while exploring Africa’s truest assets: "its humanity, the quality and valuation of its own existence, and modes of managing its environment - both physical and intangible (which includes the spiritual)". Fully grasping the extent of Africa’s most challenging issues, Soyinka nevertheless refuses defeatism. With eloquence he analyzes problems ranging from the meaning of the past to the threat of theocracy. He asks hard questions about racial attitudes, inter-ethnic and religious violence, the viability of nations whose boundaries were laid out by outsiders, African identity on the continent and among displaced Africans, and more. Soyinka’s exploration of Africa relocates the continent in the reader’s imagination and maps a course toward an African future of peace and affirmation.


Click for more detail about American Lynching by Ashraf H. A. Rushdy American Lynching

by Ashraf H. A. Rushdy
Yale University Press (Oct 30, 2012)
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After observing the varying reactions to the 1998 death of James Byrd Jr. in Texas, called a lynching by some, denied by others, Ashraf Rushdy determined that to comprehend this event he needed to understand the long history of lynching in the United States. In this meticulously researched and accessibly written interpretive history, Rushdy shows how lynching in America has endured, evolved, and changed in meaning over the course of three centuries, from its origins in early Virginia to the present day.Rushdy argues that we can understand what lynching means in American history by examining its evolution—that is, by seeing how the practice changes in both form and meaning over the course of three centuries, by analyzing the rationales its advocates have made in its defense, and, finally, by explicating its origins. The best way of understanding what lynching has meant in different times, and for different populations, during the course of American history is by seeing both the continuities in the practice over time and the specific features in different forms of lynching in different eras.


Click for more detail about Carl Van Vechten And The Harlem Renaissance: A Portrait In Black And White by Emily Bernard Carl Van Vechten And The Harlem Renaissance: A Portrait In Black And White

by Emily Bernard
Yale University Press (Feb 28, 2012)
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Carl Van Vechten was a white man with a passion for blackness who played a crucial role in helping the Harlem Renaissance, a black movement, come to understand itself. Carl Van Vechten and the Harlem Renaissance is grounded in the dramas occasioned by the Harlem Renaissance, as it is called today, or New Negro Renaissance, as it was called in the 1920s, when it first came into being. Emily Bernard focuses on writing—the black and white of things—the articles, fiction, essays, and letters that Carl Van Vechten wrote to black people and about black culture, and the writing of the black people who wrote to and about him. Above all, she is interested in the interpersonal exchanges that inspired the writing, which are ultimately far more significant than the public records would suggest.This book is a partial biography of a once controversial figure. It is not a comprehensive history of an entire life, but rather a chronicle of one of his lives, his black life, which began in his boyhood and thrived until his death. The narrative at the core of Carl Van Vechten and the Harlem Renaissance is not an attempt to answer the question of whether Van Vechten was good or bad for black people, or whether or not he hurt or helped black creative expression during the Harlem Renaissance. As Bernard writes, the book instead “enlarges that question into something much richer and more nuanced: a tale about the messy realities of race, and the complicated tangle of black and white.”

Book Review

Click for more detail about Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, And Black Women In America by Melissa V. Harris-Perry Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, And Black Women In America

by Melissa V. Harris-Perry
Yale University Press (Sep 20, 2011)
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Jezebel’s sexual lasciviousness, Mammy’s devotion, and Sapphire’s outspoken anger—these are among the most persistent stereotypes that black women encounter in contemporary American life. Hurtful and dishonest, such representations force African American women to navigate a virtual crooked room that shames them and shapes their experiences as citizens. Many respond by assuming a mantle of strength that may convince others, and even themselves, that they do not need help. But as a result, the unique political issues of black women are often ignored and marginalized.In this groundbreaking book, Melissa V. Harris-Perry uses multiple methods of inquiry, including literary analysis, political theory, focus groups, surveys, and experimental research, to understand more deeply black women’s political and emotional responses to pervasive negative race and gender images. Not a traditional political science work concerned with office-seeking, voting, or ideology, Sister Citizen instead explores how African American women understand themselves as citizens and what they expect from political organizing. Harris-Perry shows that the shared struggle to preserve an authentic self and secure recognition as a citizen links together black women in America, from the anonymous survivors of Hurricane Katrina to the current First Lady of the United States.

Book Review

Click for more detail about A Fragile Freedom by Erica Armstrong Dunbar A Fragile Freedom

by Erica Armstrong Dunbar
Yale University Press (Apr 15, 2011)
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A startling and eye-opening look into America’s First Family, Never Caught is the powerful narrative of Ona Judge, George and Martha Washington’s runaway slave who risked it all to escape the nation’s capital and reach freedom.

When George Washington was elected president, he reluctantly left behind his beloved Mount Vernon to serve in Philadelphia, the temporary seat of the nation’s capital, after a brief stay in New York. In setting up his household he took Tobias Lear, his celebrated secretary, and nine slaves, including Ona Judge, about which little has been written. As he grew accustomed to Northern ways, there was one change he couldn’t get his arms around: Pennsylvania law required enslaved people be set free after six months of residency in the state. Rather than comply, Washington decided to circumvent the law. Every six months he sent the slaves back down south just as the clock was about to expire.

Though Ona Judge lived a life of relative comfort, the few pleasantries she was afforded were nothing compared to freedom, a glimpse of which she encountered first-hand in Philadelphia. So, when the opportunity presented itself one clear and pleasant spring day in Philadelphia, Judge left everything she knew to escape to New England. Yet freedom would not come without its costs.

At just twenty-two-years-old, Ona became the subject of an intense manhunt led by George Washington, who used his political and personal contacts to recapture his property.

Impeccably researched, historian Erica Armstrong Dunbar weaves a powerful tale and offers fascinating new scholarship on how one young woman risked it all to gain freedom from the famous founding father.


Click for more detail about Black Gotham: A Family History Of African-Americans In Nineteenth Century New York City by Carla L. Peterson Black Gotham: A Family History Of African-Americans In Nineteenth Century New York City

by Carla L. Peterson
Yale University Press (Feb 22, 2011)
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Part detective tale, part social and cultural narrative, Black Gotham is Carla Peterson’s riveting account of her quest to reconstruct the lives of her nineteenth-century ancestors. As she shares their stories and those of their friends, neighbors, and business associates, she illuminates the greater history of African-American elites in New York City.Black Gotham challenges many of the accepted "truths" about African-American history, including the assumption that the phrase "nineteenth-century black Americans" means enslaved people, that "New York state before the Civil War" refers to a place of freedom, and that a black elite did not exist until the twentieth century. Beginning her story in the 1820s, Peterson focuses on the pupils of the Mulberry Street School, the graduates of which went on to become eminent African-American leaders. She traces their political activities as well as their many achievements in trade, business, and the professions against the backdrop of the expansion of scientific racism, the trauma of the Civil War draft riots, and the rise of Jim Crow.Told in a vivid, fast-paced style, Black Gotham is an important account of the rarely acknowledged achievements of nineteenth-century African Americans and brings to the forefront a vital yet forgotten part of American history and culture.

Book Review

Click for more detail about On Classical Economics by Thomas Sowell On Classical Economics

by Thomas Sowell
Yale University Press (Mar 31, 2006)
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Thomas Sowell’s many writings on the history of economic thought have appeared in a number of scholarly journals and books, and these writings have been praised, reprinted, and translated in various countries around the world.The classical era in the history of economics is an important part of the history of ideas in general, and its implications reach beyond the bounds of the economics profession.  On Classical Economics is a book from which students can learn both history and economics. It is not simply a Cook’s tour of colorful personalities of the past but a study of how certain economic concepts and tools of analysis arose, and how their implications were revealed during the controversies that followed. In addition to a general understanding of classical macroeconomics and microeconomics, this book offers special insight into the neglected pioneering work of Sismondi?and why it was neglected?and a detailed look at John Stuart Mill’s enigmatic role in the development of economics and the mysteries of Marxian economics.Clear, engaging, and very readable, without being either cute or condescending, On Classical Economics can enable a course on the history of economic thought to make a contribution to students’ understanding of economics in general—whether in price theory, monetary theory, or international trade.  In short, it is a book about analysis as well as history.


Click for more detail about The Sage Of Sugar Hill: George S. Schuyler And The Harlem Renaissance by Jeffrey Ferguson The Sage Of Sugar Hill: George S. Schuyler And The Harlem Renaissance

by Jeffrey Ferguson
Yale University Press (Nov 01, 2005)
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This book is the first to focus a bright light on the life and early career of George S. Schuyler, one of the most important intellectuals of the Harlem Renaissance. A popular journalist in black America, Schuyler wielded a sharp, double-edged wit to attack the foibles of both blacks and whites throughout the 1920s. Jeffrey B. Ferguson presents a new understanding of Schuyler as public intellectual while also offering insights into the relations between race and satire during a formative period of African-American cultural history.Ferguson discusses Schuyler’s controversial career and reputation and examines the paradoxical ideas at the center of his message. The author also addresses Schuyler’s drift toward the political right in his later years and how this has affected his legacy.


Click for more detail about Bessie: Revised and Expanded Edition by Chris Albertson Bessie: Revised and Expanded Edition

by Chris Albertson
Yale University Press (Jun 10, 2005)
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The basis for the HBO film airing in May 2015, this revised and expanded edition of the definitive biography of Bessie Smith, known as the “Empress of the Blues", debunks many of the myths that circulated after her untimely death in 1937. For this new edition, Chris Albertson provides more details of Bessie’s early years, new interview material, and a chapter devoted to events and responses that followed the original publication.

“The first estimable full-length biography not only of Bessie Smith but of any black musician.”—Whitney Balliett, New Yorker (on the first edition)
“A remarkably clear-eyed examination of Smith’s personality (and sexuality) and, more important, of the gritty and greedy music business.”—Benjamin Schwarz, Atlantic Monthly
“A vivid portrait of this quintessential American diva."—Will Friedwald, New York Sun
“The most devastating, provocative, and enlightening work of its kind ever contributed to the annals of jazz literature.”—Leonard Feather, Los Angeles Times (on the first edition)
“An exemplary biography . . . [with] a gripping, often moving, narrative.”—John Mole, Times Literary Supplement




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