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Bringing the Civic Back In

Zane L. Miller and American Urban History

Edited by Larry Bennett, John D. Fairfield, and Patricia Mooney-Melvin

With the passing of Zane L. Miller in 2016, academia lost a renowned scholar and one of the key founders of new urban history—a branch of the discipline that placed urban life at the center of American history and treated the city as an arena for civic and political action. He was a devoted, tireless mentor who published or fostered dozens of books and articles on urban history. He also co-founded Temple University Press’ foundational series Urban Life, Landscape, and Policy.

Bringing the Civic Back In provides a critical overview, appreciation, and extension of Miller’s work as scholar, editor, mentor, colleague, and citizen. Included are three excerpts from Miller’s final, unfinished work, in which he presented cities as the source of a civic nationalism he viewed as fundamental to the development of American democracy. The editors—along with contributors Robert B. Fairbanks and Charles Lester—reflect on the life and work of their friend as well as his role in creating a Cincinnati school of urban history. These original essays by practitioners of Miller’s approach highlight the power of ideas to shape social change.

Reviews

“In the 1960s, Zane Miller was a pioneer in urban history. By the time of his death in 2016, he had become a legend in urban history. He wrote or edited a dozen books, mentored scores of graduate students, made Cincinnati a focus of research, and set a standard of scholarship that inspired persons everywhere. Bringing the Civic Back In gives us a taste of his influence across many fields and perspectives.”
Kenneth T. Jackson, Barzun Professor Emeritus of History at Columbia University, and President Emeritus of the New York Historical Society

“For anyone who wants a better understanding of the evolution of the U.S. urban history field from the 1960s to today, Bringing the Civic Back In offers a well-rounded and comprehensive overview of a towering figure within the discipline. The astute critical overview and remembrances of Zane L. Miller’s career, interests, and reception are fleshed out by strong contributions that provide insights on his analytical frameworks and commitments. Every current or prospective urbanist scholar would benefit from knowing Miller’s influence in shaping conversations within this research area across time.”
Benjamin Looker, Associate Professor of American Studies at St. Louis University, and author of A Nation of Neighborhoods: Imagining Cities, Communities, and Democracy in Postwar America

About the Author(s)

Larry Bennett is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at DePaul University. He is the coeditor of The Many Futures of Work: Rethinking Expectations and Breaking Molds (Temple) and of Temple University Press’s Urban Life, Landscape, and Policy book series. In 2017 and 2018 Professor Bennett was interim Executive Director of North Branch Works, a neighborhood economic development organization in Chicago.

John D. Fairfield is Professor of History at Xavier University and the author of The Public and its Possibilities: Triumphs and Tragedies in the American City (Temple), The Mysteries of the Great City: The Politics of Urban Design, 1877-1937, and Oakley: From Hamlet to the Center of Cincinnati.

Patricia Mooney-Melvin is Associate Professor of History at Loyola University Chicago. She is the coeditor of Making Sense of the City: Local Government, Civic Culture, and Community Life in Urban America; editor of American Community Organizations: A Historical Dictionary; coauthor of The Urbanization of Modern America: A Brief History, 2nd Edition; and author of The Organic City: Urban Definition and Neighborhood Organization 1880-1920.

In the Series

Urban Life, Landscape, and Policy

The Urban Life, Landscape, and Policy Series, edited by David Stradling, Larry Bennett, and Davarian Baldwin, was founded by the late Zane L. Miller to publish books that examine past and contemporary cities. While preserving the series’ foundational focus on the policy, planning, and environmental issues so central to metropolitan life, we also join scholarly efforts to push the boundaries of urban studies. We are committed to publishing work at the shifting intersections of cultural production, community formation, and political economy that shape cities at all scales, from the neighborhood to the transnational.

In honor of Zane Miller, the late founding editor of our series, Urban Life, Landscape, and Policy, we invite first-time authors to apply for a grant of up to $2,500 to help advance the careers of scholars from underrepresented communities with limited financial resources.  For more information, Zane L. Miller Book Development Award