Mars Hill University Professor Receives Choice Award for Book

Dr. David Gilbert

Dr. David Gilbert

Dr. David Gilbert, visiting assistant professor of history at Mars Hill University, has received a Choice Award for his book, The Product of Our Souls: Ragtime, Race, and the Birth of the Manhattan Musical Marketplace (University of North Carolina Press, 2015).

Choice awards are presented annually by Choice magazine, a publication of the American Library Association. The awards reflect the best in scholarly titles reviewed by Choice and reflect extraordinary recognition by the academic library community. The awards honor approximately 10% of the 7,000 works reviewed in Choice each year.

In awarding Outstanding Academic Titles, the editors apply several criteria: overall excellence in presentation and scholarship; importance relative to other literature in the field; distinction as a first treatment of a given subject in book or electronic form; originality or uniqueness of treatment; value to undergraduate students; and importance in building undergraduate library collections.

Product-Of-SoulsThe Product of Our Souls explores the historic appearance at Carnegie Hall in 1912 of the Clef Club Orchestra, an African American ensemble. The book explores how conductor James Reese Europe and other African American performers, at the height of the Jim Crow era, transformed their racial difference into the mass-market commodity known as “black music.” The movement not only introduced Americans to new styles of music but challenged the nation’s preconceived ideas about race and culture.

According to Gilbert, The Product of Our Souls grew out of his dissertation in U.S. history, which he had long hoped to develop into a book for a wider audience.

“For years, as I worked in and out of academia, my book project became a labor of love, though one aiming to contribute to the scholarly histories of African American music and U.S. popular culture more broadly,” Gilbert said. “Having worked for so long without institutional support and, often, during long nights in-between a wide variety of day jobs, it is remarkably gratifying to receive a national award that recognizes my work as part of scholarly conversations about race, equality, and U.S. American modernity.”

About Mars Hill University

Mars Hill University is a premier private, liberal arts institution offering over 30 baccalaureate degrees and one graduate degree in elementary education. Founded in 1856, the campus is located just 20 minutes north of Asheville in Mars Hill, North Carolina.

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