A Publication for the faculty, staff, administrators and friends of California State University, Chico
December 9, 2004 Volume 35/Number 4

New Books

James Hamilton of South Caroline by Robert TInkler





The Ascension of Authorship

James Hamilton of South Carolina by Robert Tinkler

Robert Tinkler’s recently published James Hamilton of South Carolina, Louisiana State University Press, is a biography of an important antebellum figure that is significant for its embodiment of the downfall of many plantation owners during the pre-Civil War and Civil War eras. Hamilton championed states’ interests over a strong central national government during his tenure in Congress during the 1820s. He was governor of South Carolina from 1830 until 1832 and presided over the Nullifcation Crisis of 1832.

Hamilton’s undoing began with a series of ill-advised cotton speculations that left him deeply and very publicly in debt by 1839. He desperately sought monetary relief, while alienating old allies through such acts as supporting the Compromise of 1850. To his fellow Southerners, especially plantation owners in similar straits, Hamilton became a scourge and embarrassment.

Historian James Brewer Stewart said of Tinkler’s biography, “A revealing portrayal of an incontestably important political figure. The Deep South’s transition from national to sectional politics during the early antebellum years is carefully analyzed in this fine biography of Hamilton. This is a study that commands the attention of serious students of pre-Civil War politics and those who appreciate artful biography.”

Tinkler received his Phd from the University of North Carolina, which had “an excellent archive in Southern history,” said Tinkler. He received his BA from Princeton. Tinkler’s emphasis is in antebellum and Civil War history.


The Ascension of Authorship by Jed Wyrick

Jed Wyrick’s The Ascension of Authorship: Attribution and Canon Formation in Jewish, Hellenistic, and Christian Traditions has been published in both hardback and paperback versions by Harvard Studies in Comparative Literature. The book traces the history of the idea of the author in the ancient world, beginning with the attribution practices of Second Temple and Rabbinic Judaism.

Wyrick asks such questions as “When did people begin thinking the bible was inspired?” and “How and why were specific authors attached to specific texts?” Authorship was thought of completely differently in the ancient world than it is now. In the Second Temple, documents were kept archived, with only a few scholars having access to preserve the idea of legitimacy of the texts (there was great concern that false text or non-orthodox text might be added). For ancient Greeks, there were no archives, but authorship was often ascribed in terms of the stature of the piece. For example, one way of establishing the authority of a text was to judge the name of the author that was attached to it.

Wyrick’s work is an investigation of historical principles for determining authorship and for regulating the formation and solidification of canons. His premise for the book is “authorship is the product of an historical development featuring cultures with completely opposing views on the nature of the individual and value of the writer.”

Wyrick, an assistant professor of Religious Studies since fall 1999, was born in Poughkeepsie, New York. He received his BA from Brandeis University in Classics (Greek and Latin literature) in 1990, and his PhD from Harvard University in Comparative Literature (specializing in ancient Greek, Hebrew, and Yiddish literature) in 1999.



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