New History Dissertation Roundup: Marietta Holley, Lyman Beecher, and Drug Addiction on Stage

Editor’s note: In today’s post, we highlight a few recent dissertations on drug use among young people from around the world. These entries are part of an ongoing drug-related dissertation bibliography being compiled by Jonathon Erlen, which was formerly published in the Social History of Alcohol and Drugs journal but is now periodically featured on the Points blog. Contact Dr. Erlen through the link above.

Marietta Holley on Temperance and Women’s Rights: Framing and Interpreting a Legacy of Social Reform

Author: LaCoss, Joan Harkin

Abstract: The values of historical figures may be misconstrued when later scholars view the past through a perspective of newer facts and beliefs. Such revisionist research can apply new values to reshape understanding, but in the process may inadvertently marginalize or invalidate the original values at stake. Consequently, the interpretation of past events and cultural trends can be very different from the intended meaning of the principals involved. An examination of the life, work, and legacy of Marietta Holley exemplifies this type of skewed interpretation. As a writer, supporter of political rights for women, and advocate of social reforms in late nineteenth and early twentieth century America, Holley had ample opportunity both to express her personal values and to influence American society. Holley became a focus of twentieth century feminist scholars who framed her work to further a specific interpretation of feminist history – in the process these scholars displaced Holley’s values and the meaning of her legacy and niche in American culture. Studying Holley illuminates the creative ways through which a group can exercise freedom within a restrictive social environment, using that very creativity to challenge that environment. This thesis will address two major questions: how Holley constructed a unique personal legacy through the use of language and actions as a humorist, temperance and women’s rights proponent, and social reformer; and how a number of twentieth and twenty-first century researchers distorted her intended impact on American social and cultural development. The Holley analysts placed her within a frame of women’s rights and distanced the scholarship from an alternative interpretation that temperance was her main reform cause and the impetus behind her women’s rights stance. As this thesis will reveal, both life and literature reflected values that found expression in female involvement in the temperance and women’s rights movements. Holley believed in political and social empowerment for women, especially as that female power could be used constructively toward reform. With Holley as a focal point for the convergence of women’s history, culture, and literature, this study will explore her place in popular fiction and find alternative interpretations for the influence she hoped to have on society.Read More »

The Points Interview: Chris Finan

chrisChris Finan is the author of the books Alfred E. Smith: The Happy Warrior (Hill & Wang, 2002), From the Palmer Raids to the Patriot Act: A History of the Fight for Free Speech in America (Beacon Press, 2008), and Drunks: An American History (Beacon, 2017). He currently serves as Executive Director for the National Coalition Against Censorship and was previously President of American Booksellers for Free Expression. Finan received his PhD. in American History from Columbia University in 1992 and has been involved in anti-censorship efforts for the past 35 years. He lives in Brooklyn.

Describe your book in terms your bartender could understand.

Actually, one of the first persons I described the book to was a bartender.  I was at a reception at book convention in Minneapolis, and he wandered over before it was time to start pouring drinks to talk about my book, which was on display.  He had been lucky enough to get sober in the “land of 1,000 rehabs.”  I told him that my book tells the stories of the people who have led the recovery movement since the colonial period and ultimately saved his life–and mine.
drunks

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Big Nicotine, Part I: Big Tobacco’s Drug Problem

Just over a week ago, the United States Food and Drug Administration announced what new FDA chief Dr. Scott Gottileb called “a cornerstone of our new and more comprehensive approach to effective tobacco regulation”: an initiative to reduce the nicotine content in cigarettes to “minimally or nonaddictive” levels. The 2009 Tobacco Control Act gave FDA authority to reduce any “additives, constituents…, or other component of a tobacco product.”

Obama Tobacco
President Barack Obama signing the Tobacco Control Act

Public health historian Robert Proctor was thrilled. “This is exceptionally good news for tobacco control, and for human health,” he wrote last week in the New York Times. Not so for companies like Altria and British American Tobacco, whose stock value fell within an hour of the statement (and recovered somewhat before the closing bell).

Big Tobacco was reeling for good reason: nicotine is the primary addictive component of cigarette smoking, not incidentally the leading cause of preventable deaths in the U.S. The addictive capacity of nicotine is now practically indisputable. For over sixty years, government regulators, independent researchers, and tobacco company scientists have investigated the extent of that capacity and the danger it poses when delivered via tar-laden cigarettes.Read More »

Dissertation Roundup: Drug Use and Young People, International Edition

Editor’s note: In today’s post, we highlight a few recent dissertations on drug use among young people from around the world. These entries are part of an ongoing drug-related dissertation bibliography being compiled by Jonathon Erlen, which was formerly published in the Social History of Alcohol and Drugs journal but is now periodically featured on the Points blog. Contact Dr. Erlen through the link above. Stay tuned for original content, coming soon!

The Development of Health Risk Behaviors by Mexican-Origin Youth

Author: Bacher, Kelly Beaumont

Abstract: This dissertation investigates the development of risky health behaviors by Mexican-origin youth. The two papers comprising this dissertation utilize data from a community sample of Mexican-origin adolescents participating in a prospective, longitudinal research study. Paper 1 examines the longitudinal relationship between ethnic discrimination and adolescent substance use behaviors. This study extends previous work by examining these processes in children of Mexican origin, who are often neglected in research on discrimination. Findings reveal that ethnic discrimination from peers at school predicts increases in substance use across a five-year period of adolescence. Paper 1 also assesses supportive parenting as a source of resilience by investigating potential compensatory and buffering effects on adolescent drug and alcohol use. Paper 2 examines the extent to which, during the transition from late childhood into adolescence, individual and contextual characteristics of female youth predict engagement in risky sexual behavior. This paper addresses a need in the current literature on sexual risk-taking by investigating predictors of this behavior for girls of Mexican origin, who often report higher levels of risky sexual behavior than other ethnic groups. Results indicate that early pubertal development and affiliating with deviant peers are important direct predictors of later sexual behavior. This study also examines indirect and transactional relationships between study variables. Together, these papers enhance our understanding of the family, peer, and personal characteristics of minority children that influence the development of health risk behaviors.Read More »