Monthly Archives: September 2006

The Chicago Manual of Style Online

September 29, 2006
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The Chicago Manual of Style Online

One hundred years ago, in November 1906, this press published a small book with a long title: Manual of Style: Being a Compilation of the Typographical Rules in Force at the University of Chicago Press, to Which Are Appended Specimens of Types in Use. Over the years, it grew in length and in reputation, becoming a standard reference for compositors, copyeditors, and publishers. In the later decades of the twentieth century, the audience for the Manual grew to encompass individual writers and scholars.

In its 100th anniversary year, in its fifteenth edition, the Manual has become an online reference work. The online version of the Manual offers the fully searchable text of the fifteenth edition with added features including tools for editors, a quick citation guide, and searchable access to the popular Chicago Style Q&A.

In this still-emerging world of online publishing, the look and the role of online works are not well-established. We believe that we’ve created an online product that is useful for editors and publishers, effectively utilizes the technology of the online medium, and has a business model that’s attractive to the consumer and sustainable for the publisher. We believe that we have created innovative and user-friendly . . .

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In the News: The Chicago Manual of Style Online

September 29, 2006
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In the News: The Chicago Manual of Style Online

The online publication of The Chicago Manual of Style sparked pre-release feature stories in several publications including the New York Times and the Chronicle of Higher Education, heralding the transformation of a venerable reference work into a digital tool. From yesterday’s story in the Times:

Starting tomorrow the manual—sometimes known as publishing’s Miss Manners—will be available online by subscription, meaning that those who need to know, pronto, whether it is ever all right to capitalize the first letters of e. e. cumming’s name will no longer have to search through the more than 956-page volume to find the answer.… And if you listen to Anita Samen, managing editor of the press’s books division, having the manual online is going to revolutionize the way its users, who include writers, editors, and publishers, work. ‘You can consult it on the fly,’ she said, ‘so you are free to do your writing and editing without having to retain huge numbers of rules in your head.’

The article in the Chronicle of Higher Education also focused on the potential of the Manual‘s electronic versions:

The press hopes to build a virtual community surrounding the new online version, a space in which editors can debate . . .

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Walter Benjamin (July 15, 1892-September 27, 1940)

September 27, 2006
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Walter Benjamin (July 15, 1892-September 27, 1940)

Today, September 27th, is the anniversary of the death of Walter Benjamin. Widely considered to be one of the most important intellectuals of the twentieth century, Benjamin’s work synthesized Marxist philosophy with Jewish mysticism to produce a unique contribution to the fields of philosophy and literary criticism.

The quintessence of a renaissance thinker and outspoken critic of Fascism, Benjamin’s work was a powerful response to the totalitarian Nazi regime that plagued his native Germany. Through his writing Benjamin sought to expose the futility of the Fascist belief in historical and political progress by destabilizing the various dogmas underlying it. It was his powerful intellectual condemnation of Fascism that would make him a known target of the Nazi gestapo and eventually lead to his death by suicide on September 27, 1940 in a failed attempt to flee the Vichy regime across the French-Spanish border.

An opponent of the static belief systems that eventually condemned him, he might have appreciated the multitude of philosophical and literary works that have since taken him as their subject and the variety of interpretations each one lends to the significance of his life and death. A most recent and welcomed addition to such works is . . .

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Review: Smith, Reading Leo Strauss

September 26, 2006
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Review: Smith, Reading Leo Strauss

The purported links between the political philosophy of Leo Strauss and the neoconservative ideology of the Bush Adminstration has dramatically increased interest in Strauss’s work. Yet, as Steven B. Smith argues in his recent book, Reading Leo Strauss: Politics, Philosophy, Judaism, this association has done as much to obscure as expose the essence of his thought. Writing in the Times Higher Education Supplement, reviewer John Dunn has given his candid approval of Smith’s book for its timely project to dispel such popular misconceptions about the life and work of this fascinating thinker. From the review:

It is interesting to consider how far any thinker is responsible for the ways in which others interpret him; and Strauss himself was often too maddeningly evasive in the ways in which he chose to express himself to escape all responsibility for being widely misunderstood. But whatever he meant to commend, it can scarcely have been the political touch of George Bush with the world beyond the borders of the US. By now, Strauss’s teachings have been transmitted through several different academic generations and offered, among many others, to numerous complete idiots and some moderately evil people. They have also traveled far beyond the . . .

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Edward Rothstein on From Counterculture to Cyberculture

September 25, 2006
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Edward Rothstein on From Counterculture to Cyberculture

The countercultural movements of the sixties and seventies fostered a generation of utopian dreamers and reformers who shared a longing for a new society liberated from the hierarchical structures that dominated the cold war era. But who would have predicted that the internet, a product of the very military-industrial complex against which they rebelled, would assume a major role in those utopian visions?

Charting the rich intersection between the worlds of counterculture and cyberculture is the topic of Fred Turner’s From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, The Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism. Edward Rothstein’s “Connections” column in today’s New York Times shows how Turner traces a common desire for nonhierarchical communities from the romantic ideals of long-haired hippies, to modern “peer-to-peer, collaborative societies, interlinked by invisible currents of energy and information.”

“Fred Turner points out in his revealing new book …,” says Rothstein, “there is no way to separate cyberculture from counterculture; indeed, cyberculture grew from its predecessor’s compost. Mr. Turner suggests that Stewart Brand, who created the Whole Earth Catalog, was the major node in a network of countercultural speculators, promoters, inventors and entrepreneurs who helped change the world in ways quite different from . . .

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Press Release: Lewis, Cracking Up

September 25, 2006
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Press Release: Lewis, Cracking Up

Listen to Stephen Colbert’s controversial performance at this year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner, or take a look at recent Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad, and you’ll see that humor has become much more than a laughing matter. In fact, as Paul Lewis argues in Cracking Up, American humor has grown ever more purposeful and embattled over the past thirty years.

Covering topics that range from the revealing jokes of Jon Stewart to the deceiving one-liners of George W. Bush, and from the tongue-in-cheek sadism of Hanibal Lecter to the gentle humor of hospital clowns, Lewis shows that this purposeful comedy is both good and bad for Americans. In a culture that both enjoys and quarrels about jokes, it expresses our most nurturing and hurtful impulses, informs and misinforms us, and exposes as well as covers up the shortcomings of our leaders. In short, humor is delightful, relaxing, and distracting—and that’s precisely why we must recognize that by freeing us from the constraints of logic and the restraints of conscience, jokes and jokers can do real harm.

Read the press release.

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Press Release: Smith, The Plan of Chicago

September 25, 2006
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Press Release: Smith, The Plan of Chicago

The Plan of Chicago: Daniel Burnham and the Remaking of the American City is the first book to fully explore Burnham’s Plan, the defining document of American urban planning. As Smith relates, Burnham and his coauthor, Edward Bennett, were careful to leave no part of the city untouched. The Plan of Chicago called for an extensive greenbelt around Lake Michigan, recreational parks throughout the city’s limits, a streamlined transportation system, and cultural amenities like the Field Museum of Natural History. Streets were widened, bridges constructed, and even the Chicago River itself was straightened. Smith takes a closer look at Burnham as well as his contemporaries at the Commercial Club of Chicago, showing how their influence shaped the city itself. The Plan, Smith reveals, embodied their belief in the humanizing—or dehumanizing—effects of one’s environment. And at a time when everything essentially “American” was changing, The Plan suggested that human will could, in fact, change history.

Read the press release.

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Review: Turner, From Counterculture to Cyberculture

September 22, 2006
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Review: Turner, From Counterculture to Cyberculture

“On first glance, back-to-the-land hippies and dot-com entrepeneurs might not seem much alike,” begins the Publisher’s Weekly review of Fred Turner’s From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism, “but it turns out that they have a whole lot in common underneath those scraggly beards and goatees.” The review continues:

Drawing a direct line from dog-eared copies of the Whole Earth Catalog to the slickly techno-libertarian Wired magazine, Stanford University communications professor Turner follows countercultural figures like Stewart Brand, who shaped the information revolution, according to their aspirations to break down the boundaries of individual experience and embrace a larger collective consciousness. … The book shows how the ride of the Merry Pranksters and LSD experimentation led to the early online discussion board Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link (the WELL), and into the digital utopianism surrounding the hyperlinked World Wide Web. Turner offers a compelling genealogy of both the ideals and the disappointments of our digital world, one that is as important for scholars as it is illuminating for general readers.

Read the introduction and an excerpt from Chapter Four, "Taking the Whole Earth Digital.&quot

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Press Release: Nelson, Economics for Humans

September 22, 2006
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Press Release: Nelson, Economics for Humans

The essence of economics is to provide goods and services for human well-being and survival. Yet, many see it as something less altruistic: a cold, heartless machine. Given that we govern our economic world, is it possible to imbue it with a heart and a soul? In short, can we make economics more human?

In Economics for Humans, Julie A. Nelson discredits the deeply-embedded idea that our economic world should somehow be separate from our concerns for ethics and personal relationships. The major obstacle to a more considerate, equitable, and, indeed, more productive economic world, she argues, can be found in the prevailing notion of the economy as a machine. This idea, first popularized by Adam Smith, has blinded us to the qualities that make us work and care for one another—qualities that also make businesses thrive and grow. We can wed our desire for profits with our justifiable concerns for the environment and general social welfare. But we can only do so if we begin to think of economics not as a robot-like machine, but a living, beating heart that keeps the body running, while serving as an emblem of compassion and care.

Read the press release. Read . . .

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Press Release: Page, The Foreign Policy Disconnect

September 21, 2006
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Press Release: Page, The Foreign Policy Disconnect

American foreign policy profoundly affects the world’s most pressing issues. But as Benjamin Page and Marshall Bouton forcefully argue, our government’s foreign policies are not affected enough by American public opinion, which is much more sensible than conventional wisdom suggests. With midterm elections fast approaching and international events setting the tone for this fall’s most important political races, The Foreign Policy Disconnect: What Americans Want from Our Leaders but Don’t Get couldn’t have arrived at a better time to support with hard evidence its contention that our leaders should finally give the American people what we’ve long wanted: a more balanced, consistent, and democratic approach to foreign policy.

Read the press release.

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