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
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’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)