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Good Reads

Eberly Scholars publish numerous books and articles annually. A short selection, bridging many disciplines, is included here. 

A Hanging At Cinder Bottom

Glenn Taylor 

A Hanging At Cinder Bottom

The latest novel from Glenn Taylor, assistant professor of English and National Book Critics Circle Award-finalist hit bookstores July 13. 

“A Hanging At Cinder Bottom” is the third book from the author, following “The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart” and “The Marrowbone Marble Company.” 

Set the year of Mark Twain’s death and a panic-inducing glance of Halley’s Comet, “A Hanging at Cinder Bottom” is a smart, historical fiction that is part heist caper, part love story. 

“I read a newspaper account of the last public hanging in the state, in 1897,” Taylor said. “It was a hell of an article. Without knowing why or to what end, I put Abe and Goldie on the gallows, and I just went, with little else beyond knowing what was in their past, which was, of course: cards, brothels, fights, shootings and liquor.”

Capitalism by Gaslight

Brain Luskey

Capitalism By Gaslight

Like the lamps that lit the streets of old U.S. cities, “Capitalism By Gaslight: Illuminating the Economy of Nineteenth-Century America,” exposes the shadowy transactions that helped to shape the nation’s economy.

Brian Luskey, associate professor of history, edited the essay collection along with his co-editor Wendy Woloson, who teaches history at Rutgers University-Camden. The University of Pennsylvania Press published the volume.

While powerful businessmen and bankers have occupied the attention of many historians of the era, the essays in this collection examine the prostitutes, dealers in used goods, mock auctioneers, illegal slavers, traffickers in stolen horses, emigrant runners, pilfering dockworkers, and other ordinary people who, through their economic activities, helped to create capitalism, too.

“Their transactions, business strategies, and ways of thinking about the morality of the market should be understood as part of capitalism’s history, rather than having it be marginalized in favor of the more well-known stories of the most successful and powerful citizens,” Luskey said.

“Our essayists have dug deeply into archival records around the country to unearth new stories about petty proprietors that offer vital new perspectives on our economic past,” Luskey said. “I hope ‘Capitalism by Gaslight’ helps readers understand how ordinary people tried to strive and survive through their economic activities in the nineteenth century.” 

Newspaper Warrior

Cari Carpenter

The Newspaper Warrior: Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins’ Campaign for American Indian Rights, 1864-1891

Sarah Winnemucca, a nineteenth century Northern Paiute woman who dedicated her life to improving the living conditions for American Indians in the West, was known for her activism.

While her life has been documented in a loose autobiography in the past, a new book by English Professor Cari Carpenter illustrates nearly 30 years of the icon’s life and fills in gaps in Winnemucca’s fascinating history.

“The Newspaper Warrior: Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins’ Campaign for American Indian Rights, 1864-1891,” is available from University of Nebraska Press.

“It’s really exciting to get it all put together and have a more complete picture of both how she was represented, which was often in a pretty negative way, and more importantly how she presented herself and tried to achieve American Indian rights,” said Carpenter, who co-edited the book with Carolyn Sorisio, an English professor at West Chester University.

The book contains newspaper articles by and about Sarah Winnemucca, who gave more than 400 speeches in support of the Paiutes and opened a school for Paiute children called the Peabody’s Institute near Lovelock, Nevada.

Winnnemucca's book, “Life Among the Piutes,” was an autobiography and the first book written by a Native American woman to ever be published. In it she records the history of the Paiutes and reaches out for readers to understand her people.

Carpenter presented the book and its accompanying website at the Native American Indigenous Studies Association Conference, the largest interdisciplinary gathering in its field.

Carpenter’s panel focused on classroom teaching using the book and website. It showed teachers how to use the book as a resource for studying Native American activism, 19th century newspaper articles and Winnemucca’s life.

The website that accompanies the book is still being developed by Beth Staley, an intern working on her Ph.D. in English Literature. It will be an archive that contains newspaper articles by and about Winnemucca that do not appear in the book. Many of these articles have only been found and were not able to make it into the book.

“We’re hoping to keep up on that and really have an active resource for people to come to if they’re teaching or doing research in the area,” Carpenter said.

Carpenter also hopes to include an unpublished transcript of Winnemucca’s 1884 presentation to a House subcommittee in Washington, D.C.

“That’s something that really hasn’t been available, except to the few scholars who have bothered to track it down,” said Carpenter. “So, it’s something that I think would be really exciting to have.” 


David Cerbone

Existentialism: All That Matters

David Cerbone knows it can be hard to read about philosophy. Throw in a bit of existentialism, and the challenge intensifies.

So Cerbone, a philosophy professor at WVU, has written a new book to help folks find their way through the maze of names like Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Sartre.

“Existentialism: All That Matters” is a guidebook to understanding the basic principles of existentialism. Existentialism is a philosophical school of thought that analyzes human existence. Existentialists study concepts such as human nature, freedom, anxiety, death and the absurd. 

Several chapters of the book are devoted to prominent figures in existentialism, such as Søren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche and Jean-Paul Sartre. The chapters will help to explain the work of these philosophers.

“Very often if you just try to pick up works in philosophy by existentialist writers, they can be very rough going,” Cerbone said. “It’s often difficult to just pick these books up, just start reading them and feel like you’re understanding them at all.

“I’ve been teaching existentialism for almost 20 years, and even students with a background in philosophy will struggle with it quite a bit. So, part of the purpose of the book is to lay out some of the basic ideas and cut through some of the difficult terminology.”

Existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre said that the central idea of existentialism is that when it comes to human existence, “Existence precedes essence.”

“That’s pretty mysterious, which is why you need an introductory book to explain what it means,” Cerbone said. “Basically, what he’s saying is to talk about the essence of something is to talk about what it is. To talk about existence is to talk about that it is.”

He explained that for most things in the world, what something is – its essence – determines the way that it is, so essence precedes existence. But what existentialism claims is that when it comes to human beings, it’s the other way around: there is nothing that we are prior to the way we actually exist. According to existentialism, we are free to determine the kind of beings we are: we determine our essence through the choices we make.

“There’s something distinctive about human existence, that it has a special character or a special structure,” Cerbone said. “Part of what existentialism as a whole is devoted to doing is trying to lay out or articulate what that special structure of human existence is.”

Cerbone teaches courses in existentialism and continental philosophy. His research includes themes in continental philosophy, phenomenology and the works of philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein.

“Existentialism: All That Matters,” was published in June 2015 by Hodder & Stoughton. It is available as a paperback and e-book in the United States, and a paperback in the United Kingdom.

Hodder & Stoughton’s ‘All That Matters’ series includes books from numerous authors that teach the readers ‘all that matters’ to have a basic understanding on a wide variety of topics. 

Good Reads Archive

4 New Books From Eberly Scholars

Eberly scholars publish numerous books and articles annually. A short selection, bridging many disciplines, is included here.

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