Smart Gifts for Smart Moms

For May, DiverseBooks.net puts the spotlight on books for and about mothers. If your mom is a scholar, professor or student, or just interested in issues related to motherhood, consider some selections from our publishers.

Through its partnerships with leading publishers – representing university and independent presses large and small – DiverseBooks.net brings you scholarly and academic titles that you will not find elsewhere about diversity, education, history and many other topics. Visit www.DiverseBooks.net offers books at significant discounts for classroom use, research or pleasure reading.

Academic Mothers, by Venitha Pillay, $26.35 (List Price: $31), Trentham Books, September 2007, ISBN 9781858564173, pp. 206.

 Dr Venitha Pillay, a senior lecturer at the University of Pretoria, explores the lives of three white South African women in their struggle to combine motherhood with their academic careers. She challenges notions that relegate women to the realm of emotion and nurturance, while reserving the life of the intellect for men, and examines how women in academia straddle both worlds. See Review from Diverseeducation.com  http://diverseeducation.com/article/10855/

Robbing the Mother: Women in Faulkner
, by Deborah Clarke, $17 (List price: $20) University of Mississippi Press, January 2006, ISBN 9781578068807, pp. 224.

William Faulkner once said, “If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; the ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ is worth any number of old ladies.” While his words reflect candor, they do not convey a wellspring of love and affection for women. Clarke examines Faulkner’s work for clues about his attitudes toward women and argues that he “almost certainly feared and mistrusted” them and yet saw them as a powerful force that could be useful in his writing.

Shaping Our Mothers’ World: American Women’s Magazines, by Nancy A. Walker $18.70, (List Price:  $22) University of Mississippi Press, September 2000, ISBN 9781578062959, pp. 280.

The mass media of the mid-20th century helped to define and reshape the images of American womanhood in ways that have not been fully appreciated. Walker, a professor of English at Vanderbilt University, puts such mainstream women’s magazines as Good Housekeeping, Vogue, Mademoiselle and Redbook under a microscope to probe their roles in perpetuating stereotypes of the middle-class homemaker of the era and in the undoing of those same stereotypes. She argues that these periodicals presented a far more complicated, nuanced view of life, domestic and external, at a crucial juncture in history, than they are a sometimes given credit for.

Somebody Always Singing You, by Kaylynn Sullivan TwoTrees, $25.50 (List price: $30), University of Mississippi Press, May 1997, ISBN 9780878059812, pp. 160.

The author is a Miami University scholar who has studied with the elders of indigenous cultures in North America, Africa and New Zealand. In this memoir, she tells of her own experience as the daughter of African-American and Native American parents and of how she came to understand her complex heritage. Her father was a Lakota from a South Dakota reservation and her mother was a black woman from Des Moines, Iowa. Because her mother was murdered when TwoTrees was very young, her black, middle-class grandparents raised her, but she visited her paternal grandmother on a reservation in the summers. (The title comes from one of the sayings of that grandmother.) TwoTree’s story reflects not only the pains of being called a “half breed” or “mixed blood” and of being the only person of color in a Catholic boarding school, but also the pleasures of learning to weave together the strands of her dual heritage.

Tillie Olsen and a Feminist Spiritual Vision, by Elaine Neil Orr, $21.25 (List price: $25) University of Mississippi Press, July 2007, ISBN 9781604734126, pp. 222.

Tillie Olsen, who died in 2007, was a feminist writer from Omaha, Nebraska, and an enigmatic figure. Orr, who teaches English at North Carolina State University and in the master of fine arts program at Spalding University, reflects on the spiritual vision of Olsen as demonstrated through her novels. It is a vision “rooted in her Russian Jewish heritage and in her own history as an American worker, a member of the Communist party, a humanist, a feminist, and a mother,” as the publisher describes it.

You Must Be from the North: Southern White Women in the Memphis Civil Rights Movement, by Kimberly K. Little, $34 (List Price: $40), University of Mississippi Press, May 2009, ISBN 9781604732283, pp. 208.

This book focuses on a generation of white women in Memphis, Tennessee, who were born between the two World Wars and who carried out their social activism outside of the structures of the real Civil Rights Movement. They are not the women who joined sit-ins, marched alongside black demonstrators or risked their lives driving civil-rights workers through hostile territory at night. Instead, they are the “ladies” who joined such organizations as the Junior League to take on civic and charitable projects but eventually found themselves embroiled in and transformed by the inescapable war on segregation and racial disparity. That struggle came to a head in their city when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed there in 1968. That event transformed the women, the author argues, and they in turn were instrumental in changing the racial climate of Memphis and continued to influence their society long after the Movement.