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Old Dominion University faculty members past and present are celebrating the publication of new books.

In his new book, "Race and Racism in Literature," (Greenwood Press) Charles E. Wilson Jr., University Professor of English, explores how racial issues have been treated in a dozen major novels widely read by high school students and undergraduates.

The works discussed are from different historical periods and reflect a range of cultural perspectives, including African American, Latino, Native American, Asian American, Italian American, Jewish American, and Jewish-Arab experiences.

The volume begins with an introductory essay on race and racism in literature. Each of the chapters that follow examines a particular novel, including "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," "Native Son," "The House on Mango Street," "Ceremony," "The Chosen" and others. The chapters include a plot summary, an overview of the work's historical background, a discussion of overt and subtle racism in the novel, and suggestions for further reading

In her latest work about the Native Americans of the Midatlantic region, Helen C. Rountree, professor emerita of anthropology, tells the story of the two key leaders of the tribe met the first white colonists at Jamestown.

Pocahontas may be the most famous Native American who ever lived, but during the settlement of Jamestown, and for two centuries afterward, the great chiefs Powhatan and Opechancanough were the subjects of considerably more interest and historical documentation than the young woman.

In "Pocahontas, Powhatan, Opechancanough: Three Indian Lives Changed by Jamestown," (University of Virginia Press) Rountree says it was Opechancanough who captured the foreign captain "Chawnzmit"-- John Smith -- who gave Opechancanough a compass, described to him a spherical earth that revolved around the sun, and wondered if his captor was a cannibal. Opechancanough, who was no cannibal and knew the world was flat, presented Smith to his elder brother, the paramount chief Powhatan.

Despite their roles as senior politicians in these watershed events, no biography of either Powhatan or Opechancanough exists. And while there are other "biographies" of Pocahontas, they have for the most part elaborated on her legend more than they have addressed the known facts of her remarkable life. As the 400th anniversary of Jamestown's founding approaches, nationally renowned scholar of Native Americans, Helen Rountree, provides in a single book the definitive biographies of these three important figures.

A first-hand account of the only Confederate ship to circumnavigate the globe is presented in "The Voyage of the CSS Shenandoah: A Memorable Cruise," (University of Alabama Press) edited by D. Alan Harris, associate professor emeritus of history at Old Dominion University, and Anne B. Harris, adjunct assistant professor of history at ODU.

The journals of Lt. William Whittle, one of the ship's officers, are presented here, with annotations from other journals, the official records and logs, and newspaper accounts of the Confederate cruiser Shenandoah's activities, together bringing to life the history of this remarkable voyage.

The Shenandoah was the last of a group of commerce raiders deployed to prey on Union merchant ships. Ordered to the Pacific Ocean to "greatly damage and disperse" the Yankee whaling fleet in those waters, the Shenandoah's successful pursuit of her quarry compared favorably with the exploits of the more celebrated Alabama and Florida, but has never been as well known because it coincided with the war's end and the Confederacy's downfall.

It was, however, one of the best documented naval expeditions -- from England to the Indian Ocean, Australia and the South Pacific, the Bering Sea, San Francisco, and finally to port in Liverpool -- during the Civil War.

This article was posted on: May 6, 2005

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