Monthly Archives: April 2006

Mullaney on BBC Radio 4

April 13, 2006
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Mullaney on BBC Radio 4

Yesterday, Jamie L. Mullaney discussed her new book Everyone Is NOT Doing It: Abstinence and Personal Identity on BBC Radio 4’s program "Thinking Allowed." Mullaney and host Laurie Taylor discussed abstinence and the significant role it plays in the formation of personal identity. In contrast to such earlier forms of abstinence as social protest, entertainment, or an instrument of social stratification, not doing something now gives people a more secure sense of self by offering a more affordable and manageable identity in a world of ever-expanding options. You can listen to an audio file of the program by visiting the Thinking Allowed Web site. . . .

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Review: Miller, Reluctant Capitalists

April 13, 2006
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Review: Miller, Reluctant Capitalists

The rise and dominance of superstore chains in the book retail industry is as much a fact of life in the UK as it is here in the States. In the UK, the 140-store Ottakar’s chain is a takeover target currently in the sights of the two largest players in the UK market, Waterstones and WH Smith. In his review in the New Statesman of Reluctant Capitalists: Bookselling and the Culture of Consumption by Laura J. Miller, Nicholas Cree writes, “Waterstone’s, it seems, is scarcely more popular among the bien-pensants than are giant supermarket chains. Why people might feel this antipathy, and how the rise of chain booksellers has affected consumers, are the subjects of Laura J Miller’s study.” Miller’s book charts the evolution of bookselling from independent bookstores through the era of shopping mall stores to the current dominance by superstore chains and online retailing. More than in most industries this transition has generated consumer antipathy, as Cree notes, as well as passionate debate among booksellers, publishers, and the public. Miller uses interviews with bookstore customers and members of the book industry to explain why books evoke such distinct and heated reactions. Read an excerpt from the book. . . .

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Weiner: "If You Read, You’ll Judge"

April 13, 2006
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Weiner: "If You Read, You’ll Judge"

In an essay for the Poetry Foundation, Joshua Weiner, author of The World’s Room, examines the poetry world’s ongoing debate over the "best" poems. When we read a list, on what do we pass judgment? On the list maker, to be sure… also ourselves…. And what are we judging in the list maker and, by extension, in ourselves? Two things, I think—personal taste and perception of history. We all have our personal lists of what we like best (taste) because we think it an example of the best of its kind (history). When a list goes public with the intention of establishing claims on our attention and gaining our approval, we become participants in the struggle of forming canons. And in the world of poetry, such struggles are ongoing, strange, and sometimes fierce. Weiner explores these struggles while comparing various poetry anthologies, and, in the end, discovers that T. S. Eliot’s "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" seems to be the one poem nearly everyone can agree on. Read the rest of Joshua Weiner’s essay "If You Read, You’ll Judge." Joshua Weiner’s The World’s Room is a dynamic first collection in which the literary and the personal, the elevated . . .

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Review: Monmonier, From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow

April 13, 2006
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Review: Monmonier, From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow

Library Journal recently praised Mark Monmonier’s new book From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow: How Maps Name, Claim, and Inflame: "An amusing, informative, and topical study of the contentious issue of place names, this is recommended for public and academic libraries." Brassiere Hills, Alaska. Mollys Nipple, Utah. Outhouse Draw, Nevada. In the early twentieth century, it was common for towns and geographical features to have salacious, bawdy, and even derogatory names. In the age before political correctness, mapmakers readily accepted any local preference for place names, prizing accurate representation over standards of decorum. From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow probes this little-known chapter in American cartographic history by considering the intersecting efforts to computerize mapmaking, standardize geographic names, and respond to public concern over ethnically offensive appellations. Interweaving cartographic history with tales of politics and power, celebrated geographer Mark Monmonier locates his story within the past and present struggles of mapmakers to create an orderly process for naming that avoids confusion, preserves history, and serves different political aims. . . .

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Harcourt on the "Language of the Gun"

April 12, 2006
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Harcourt on the "Language of the Gun"

Last week, Bernard Harcourt lectured at the University of Chicago Law School. His lecture was based on his book Language of the Gun: Youth, Crime, and Public Policy. In the book, Harcourt recounts in-depth interviews with youths detained at an all-male correctional facility, exploring how they talk about guns and what meanings they ascribe to them in a broader attempt to understand some of the assumptions implicit in current handgun policies. The University of Chicago Law School Faculty Blog features an audio file of Harcourt’s talk, along with slides that accompanied his presentation. . . .

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Author event: Zizek at the University of Chicago

April 12, 2006
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Author event: Zizek at the University of Chicago

On April 12 and April 19 at 4:00 p.m., Slavoj Zizek, Critical Inquiry visiting professor and co-author of The Neighbor: Three Inquiries in Political Theology, will present two lectures at the University of Chicago (1126 E. 59th Street). The April 12 lecture is titled "The Ignorance of Chicken, or, Who Believes What Today." The April 19 lecture is titled "The Uses and Misuses of Violence." Both events are free and open to the public. In The Neighbor, three of the most significant intellectuals working in psychoanalysis and critical theory collaborate to show how the problem of neighbor-love opens questions that are fundamental to ethical inquiry and that suggest a new theological configuration of political theory. Their three extended essays explore today’s central historical problem: the persistence of the theological in the political. In "Towards a Political Theology of the Neighbor," Kenneth Reinhard supplements Carl Schmitt’s political theology of the enemy and friend with a political theology of the neighbor based in psychoanalysis. In "Miracles Happen," Eric L. Santner extends the book’s exploration of neighbor-love through a bracing reassessment of Benjamin and Rosenzweig. And in an impassioned plea for ethical violence, Slavoj Zizek’s "Neighbors and Other Monsters" reconsiders the idea of . . .

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Review: Ohnuki-Tierney, Kamikaze Diaries

April 12, 2006
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Review: Ohnuki-Tierney, Kamikaze Diaries

Publishers Weekly recently reviewed Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney’s Kamikaze Diaries: Reflections of Japanese Student Soldiers. From the review: "Like Anne Frank’s diary, this collection of kamikaze pilot diaries uses the eyes of those on the cusp of adulthood to bring to life the unfathomable daily realities of war.… The range of views encompassed illustrates these young men’s varying convictions: the latent patriotism in one young idealist, Sasaki Hachiro ("We cannot succumb to the ‘Red Hair and Blue Eyes’"), the influence of Thomas Mann on Hayashi Tadao ("Japan, why don’t I love and respect you?"), the sentimentalism of Matasunaga Shigeo ("Those who, even then, love Japan are fortunate. / But, poor souls; it is the happiness of a wild goose. / It is the fake blue bird whose color fades away under light") and the resignation of Hayashi Ichizo ("I will do a splendid job sinking an enemy aircraft carrier. Do brag about me") together eerily illuminate the tragedy of war in a way no textbook could." Kamikaze Diaries is a moving history that presents diaries and correspondence left by members of the tokkotai and other Japanese student soldiers who perished during the war. Outside of Japan, these kamikaze pilots were considered unbridled . . .

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Campaigning for Hearts and Minds: an excerpt

April 11, 2006
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Campaigning for Hearts and Minds: an excerpt

It is common knowledge that televised political ads are meant to appeal to voters’ emotions, yet little is known about how or if these tactics actually work. Ted Brader’s innovative Campaigning for Hearts and Minds: How Emotional Appeals in Political Ads Work is the first scientific study to examine the effects that these emotional appeals in political advertising have on voter decision-making. The February 2006 issue of Public Opinion Pros features an excerpt from Campaigning for Hearts and Minds titled "Emotion and the Persuasive Power of Campaign Ads." From the excerpt: Fear plays a particularly decisive role in the process of persuasion. Appeals to fear, cued with harsh images and music, help to pry open the door to attitude change and unexpected choices. Fear does not guarantee a change of mind but, relative to either enthusiasm or less emotional appeals, it offers the best shot at doing so… Fear ads can win converts or create uncertainty among those who were initially opposed, but they do not achieve this entirely or even mainly by increasing acceptance of the ad’s message. The ads instead cause viewers to place less weight on prior preferences or ideology and more weight on contemporary assessments of . . .

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Review: Stow, Oceans

April 11, 2006
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Review: Stow, Oceans

Library Journal‘s new issue features a nice review of Dorrik Stow’s Oceans: An Illustrated Reference: "This authoritative reference work presents a thorough overview of the physical, geological, chemical, and biological properties of the world’s oceans.… Stow’s up-to-date and well-organized volume would make a valuable introduction to a huge field of knowledge and is therefore recommended for high school, public, and academic libraries." Although the oceans are vast, their resources are finite. Oceans clearly presents the future challenge to us all—that of ensuring that our common ocean heritage is duly respected, wisely managed, and carefully harnessed for the benefit of the whole planet. Lavishly illustrated and filled with current research, Oceans is a step in that direction: a rich, magnificent, and illuminating volume for anyone who has ever heard the siren song of the sea. . . .

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Review: Szczeklik, Catharsis

April 10, 2006
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Review: Szczeklik, Catharsis

The Times Higher Education Supplement recently reviewed Andrzej Szczeklik’s Catharsis: On the Art of Medicine. In the review, Niall O’Higgins said: "This book is timely in its publication and timeless in its content.… Drawing on mathematical ideas, physics, music, mythology, clinical science and clinical practice, Szczeklik never forces the issues or compels. He treads lightly. He reminds and explains. He draws attention to details of physiology that can be explained and those that remain mysterious. He shifts gears effortlessly between the known and the mysterious and, being a cardiologist, seems particularly at home in explaining the amazing conducting system of the heart. To describe a single extrasystole, an ectopic heartbeat, as like a slight stumble in a dance and to introduce the complex mechanism of hearing with the statement that ‘every one of us has a tiny harp inside his ear’ suggests that he is a skillful teacher.… The kathartai, forerunners of doctors in pre-Hippocratic Greece, were said to purify the soul by the soothing and calming combination of music, dance, poetry and song. Szczeklik is in tune with them." The ancient Greeks used the term catharsis for the cleansing of both the body by medicine and the soul by . . .

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