Mary D. Sheriff, internationally celebrated art historian and educator, died on October 19, 2016, at the age of 66. From Susan Bielstein, executive editor at the University of Chicago Press: We’re sad to report that our beloved author Mary Sheriff died on October 19, 2016, after a short, intense fight with pancreatic cancer. Sheriff was the W.R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Art History in the Art Department of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. A leader in the study of eighteenth-century art, she published three books with the Press: Fragonard: Art and Eroticism (1990), The Exceptional Woman: Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun and the Cultural Politics of Art (1996), and Moved by Love: Inspired Artists and Deviant Women in Eighteenth-Century France (2004). We expect to publish her new book, Enchanted Islands: Picturing the Allure of Conquest in Eighteenth-Century France, and will announce a publication date in due course. From Sheriff’s partner, Keith Luria: specialized in eighteenth-century French art and transformed the field by re-evaluating rococo painting, introducing feminist perspectives, and examining European art in a global context. She published widely on artists such as Fragonard and Vigée-Lebrun, as well as on questions of art and gender. She taught at the . . .
Jacob Neusner (1932-2016), one of the world’s premier scholars of Jewish rabbinical texts, died earlier this month, on October 8, 2016. Neusner was the author or editor of more than 900 books for students, scholars, and general readers in Judaism, comparative religion, and the history and analysis of rabbinic texts, including the landmark, 35-volume The Talmud of the Land of Israel, published by the University of Chicago Press. Among those institutions he taught at during his distinguished academic career were Dartmouth College, Brown University, the University of South Florida, and Bard College. Below follow some remembrances of Nesuner’s life and works. From Aaron Hughes for the American Academy of Religion: Jacob Neusner was born to Samuel and Lee Neusner on July 12, 1932, in West Hartford, Connecticut. His father owned the Connecticut Jewish Ledger, a Jewish weekly that continues to serve the Connecticut region and western Massachusetts. The young Neusner received his first typewriter at age twelve and, by his junior year in high school, could do all the jobs associated with a newspaper. From a young age he could write both quickly and to make deadlines. Neusner grew up attending public school as opposed to Jewish day school, and his values . . .
An excerpt from Mark Goble’s review of Bill Brown’s latest take on the literary and humanistic chops of material culture, Other Things, from the most recent issue of Modernism/Modernity: As a series of essays reflecting Brown’s own shifting intellectual commitments and the various objects that have patterned them, Other Things is structurally predisposed toward cases and examples. Every chapter in the book save one is parenthetically named for a writer or artist (from Woolf and Man Ray to Shawn Wong and Spike Lee) whose works occasion Brown’s more sweeping meditations on materiality and more. Yet Brown’s investment in the singular example is no mere consequence of how this book is engineered. He has a very sharp eye for things that can appear wonderfully “obtuse,” and Brown is especially insightful on the lump of glass at the center of Woolf’s “Solid Objects” or Man Ray’s creepy, all-observing metronome “Object to be Destroyed” (decorated with a photographic eye). Brown does brilliant labor excavating the historical situation of the English glass industry after World War One to give a rationale for Woolf’s material motivations, and engages Michael Fried to argue that a difference between “art” and “objecthood” is seriously hard to maintain both within a surrealist tradition, and within a book . . .
The University of Chicago Press published David Antin’s Radical Coherency: Selected Essays on Art and Literature, 1966 to 2005, in 2011. The book collected Antin’s singular talk pieces and lecture-performances, as well as a variety of critical takes on everything from his art world contemporaries to exhumations of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s minor philosophical asides. It was a big deal to me to get to work on the book and to exchange emails with David, and it’s certainly the only piece of marketing copy for which the work triggered my use of the phrase, “trademark antiformalist panache.” I’ll miss David, and talking with David—it was talking, after all, that was truly his medium, made all the more inimitable by the combination of a ceaseless curiosity and real sense of living in (and writing one’s self into) history. That said, rather than the usual series of formal obits (though you can read them here, and here, and also here), here’s a couple of remembrances from Antin’s friends, Charles Bernstein and Marjorie Perloff, another way of paying tribute to and honoring his conversations. From Charles Bernstein, at Jacket2: A great inspiration, radical model, dearest friend, and ever an iconoclast. David Antin was one of the great American . . .
In honor of World Animal Day and to raise awareness of its significance, University of Chicago Press author Marc Bekoff dedicated his recurring Huffington Post column to the event, which originated in 1925 (and whose fascinating history you can read here). The purpose of World Animal Day? From the mission statement: Raise the status of animals in order to improve welfare standards around the globe. Building the celebration of World Animal Day unites the animal welfare movement, mobilising it into a global force to make the world a better place for all animals. It’s celebrated in different ways in every country, irrespective of nationality, religion, faith or political ideology. Through increased awareness and education we can create a world where animals are always recognised as sentient beings and full regard is always paid to their welfare. Bekoff’s post considers the ongoing relevance of a day devoted to invoking awareness around animal needs and welfare, including the hyperlink-filled excerpt below, which connects to just a few of the concerns worth our attention, chief among them the continued role we play in animal abuse, and what we can do about it: There’s no shortage of examples in which billions of nonhuman animals (animals) are abused by humans . . .