Monthly Archives: January 2007

When Buildings Speak

January 18, 2007
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When Buildings Speak

Yet another title in our art and architecture catalog has received some favorable press, this time in the Nota Bene section of the January 12 Chronicle of Higher Education. In Richard Byrnes’ piece on Anthony Alofsin’s recent book, When Buildings Speak: Architecture as Language in the Hapsburg Empire and Its Aftermath, he notes that the Hapsburg Empire “spoke… in many diverse languages in a highly politicized context…” but that—as Alofsin’s book demonstrates—this struggle for cultural authority was also “fought in bricks and blueprints.” Byrnes article quotes Alofsin as he explains: “A rich architectural polyglotism in Austria-Hungary paralleled the varied languages of its people… not only were many architectural languages expressed simultaneously, but they reflected various and even opposing issues of ethnic and national identity, as well as conservative or liberal ideologies.” Thus, in When Buildings Speak readers can see how the multiplicity of cultures living under Hapsburg rule sought to express their autonomy by tapping into the limitless possibilities of art and architectural styles. Lavishly illustrated with newly commissioned color photographs, When Buildings Speak is essential reading not only for students of architecture but for anyone wanting to better understand the complex history and politics of the Austro-Hungarian region under . . .

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Review: Smith, Plan of Chicago

January 17, 2007
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Review: Smith, Plan of Chicago

Art and architecture critic Kevin Nance wrote a noteworthy review of Carl Smith’s recent book, The Plan of Chicago: Daniel Burnham and the Remaking of the American City for the January 7 Chicago Sun-Times. Praising the book for shedding new light on one of the most influential documents in the history of urban planning, Nance writes: Daniel Burnham’s 1909 Chicago Plan is a primary text of the city’s architectural and urban planning circles, but it’s also a little like the Dead Sea Scrolls: a rare and exotic document that most people have heard of, many people know little about and even fewer have actually read. Enter author Carl Smith, whose The Plan of Chicago: Daniel Burnham and the Remaking of the American City is a concise and reader friendly introduction to the visionary and ambitious plan that helped shape much of the windy city as we know it today. Nance’s article even offers some first hand testimonial from the experts: “I’m very impressed with the book as a very accessible history of the plan and the conditions that led to its origin,” says Chicago cultural historian Tim Samuelson. “I’ve heard readers of the book talk about how happy they are . . .

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Review: Moser, Wondrous Curiosities

January 16, 2007
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Review: Moser, Wondrous Curiosities

In a review written for the January 9th edition of The Independent Nicola Smyth praises Stephanie Moser’s new book, Wondrous Curiosities: Ancient Egypt at the British Museum, for its revealing look at the powerful role of museums in shaping our understanding of science, culture, and history. According to Smyth, Moser’s book is a fascinating study of the ways the British Museum has extended the domain of western culture by appropriating not only the physical objects in its collection—but their cultural significance as well. Citing artifacts gained through looting or as trophies of war, to the considerations of pattern and juxtaposition meant to manipulate viewer’s perspectives of the objects on display, Smyth writes: Moser makes a compelling case that, throughout its early history, the British Museum’s attitude to its ancient Egyptian artifacts reinforced one basic message: that the story of the ancient world was one of a rise from primitive beginnings to the classical perfection of ancient Greece. The story, in other words, of the triumph of western art.&hellip Moser presents a picture of an institution in which—in the early years at least—the Egyptian antiquities were badly presented in ill-lit and overcrowded chambers, uncontextualized, and contrasted unfavorably with the classical Greek . . .

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Martin Luther King Jr. Day

January 15, 2007
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Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Since 1986 Martin Luther King day has been celebrated as a federal holiday in honor of one of the most influential and effective leaders of the American civil rights movement. And what better way to spend your day off than taking a little time to reflect on the long story of America’s struggle toward equality, past and present. The Press has published a comprehensive list of books on civil rights in America, covering everything from the life of Martin Luther King’s mentor Bayard Rustin, to more contemporary views on African-American citizenship. To find more books on the American civil rights movement and the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. see our related complete catalog categories in Black Studies, Politics, and Sociology. Happy MLK day! . . .

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TGIF: Have an audiovisual weekend

January 12, 2007
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TGIF: Have an audiovisual weekend

Clint Eastwood made our day by talking about Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney’s Kamikaze Diaries: Reflections of Japanese Student Soldiers during an interview on Fresh Air about his latest film, Letters from Iwo Jima. (Discussion of the theme of the book starts about eight minutes in.) Thanks, Clint. Robert Appelbaum was interviewed on the BBC Radio program Thinking Allowed. Host Laurie Taylor played clips from a production of Shakespeare’s Twelth Night to introduce Appelbaum’s Aguecheek’s Beef, Belch’s Hiccup, and Other Gastronomic Interjections: Literature, Culture, and Food Among the Early Moderns. Appelbaum decoded the Shakespearean food references to kick off the discussion of literature, food, aphrodisiacs, history, cookbooks, and culture. Howard Rheingold pointed to a video stream of the Stanford Library symposium celebrating the legacy of the Whole Earth Catalog. Fred Turner and his book From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism played a central role in the symposium. Geneviève Zubrzycki appeared on the PBS NewsHour to comment on the resignation of Warsaw archbishop Stansilaw Wielgus after the revelation of his collaboration with the secret police during the Communist era in Poland. Zubrzycki is the author of The Crosses of Auschwitz: Nationalism and Religion in . . .

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Review: Dürrenmatt, Selected Writings

January 11, 2007
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Review: Dürrenmatt, Selected Writings

The December 22 & 29 issue of the TLS is packed with reviews of our new volumes of the writings of Friedrich Dürrennmatt (see below). Each of the reviews—not to mention the books themselves—merits a separate blog post. Michael Butler’s review of Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s Selected Writings completes the TLS‘s coverage of our publications from this prodigious and engaging writer who is regrettably known only for several of his plays. Butler notes that since Dürrenmatt’s death in 1990, his work has suffered a “long silence at least outside of the industrious groves of academe.” Butler continues: The University of Chicago’s bold attempt with these meticulously presented volumes to “rediscover” Dürrenmatt for an English speaking readership is therefore welcome. The names of such distinguished scholars as Kenneth J. Northcott and Theodore Ziolkowski are a guarantee of high editorial standards, and each volume is equipped with a succinct and sensible introduction.… English readers have much to be grateful for. Above all, they have been provided with translations of impressive accuracy. Dürrenmatt is not an easy author to get into English, but Joel Agee has succeeded splendidly. He catches with admirable linguistic agility the shifts of tone and the unexpected shafts of humor amid . . .

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Review: Dürrenmatt, The Inspector Barlach Mysteries

January 10, 2007
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Review: Dürrenmatt, The Inspector Barlach Mysteries

In the December 22 & 29 edition of the Times Literary Supplement Ian Brunskill’s review of Dürrenmatt’s The Inspector Barlach Mysteries: The Judge and His Hangman and Suspicion begins: The more well-ordered a world (or narrative) appears to be, the greater the potential for devastation …. that, to a large extent, is what drew Dürrenmatt in the 1950s to the traditionally disciplined realm of crime fiction, the conventions and formulas of which he proceeded, with some relish, to turn upside down. The resulting short novels have long been among his most popular works. Now wonderfully translated by Joel Agee, they are part of the University of Chicago Press’s promotion of the author. And indeed with these translations of The Inspector Barlach Mysteries the Press has done its best to reinvigorate interest in Dürrenmatt’s atypical crime stories. Both of the mysteries in this book make a radical departure from convention as they follow Inspector Barlach through worlds in which the distinction between crime and justice seems to have vanished. In The Judge and His Hangman, Barlach forgoes the arrest of a murderer in order to manipulate him into killing another, more elusive criminal. And in Suspicion, Barlach pursues a former . . .

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W.J.T. Mitchell: Chicagoan of the Year

January 10, 2007
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W.J.T. Mitchell: Chicagoan of the Year

Cultural critic Julia Keller named U of C professor W.J.T. Mitchell one of 2006’s Chicagoans of the Year. In a piece published December 31, 2006 for the Chicago Tribune, Keller gives a brief synopsis of why she thinks Mitchell stands out, calling him “Chicago’s renaissance man,” and a “restless and vivid thinker who goes where his passionate interests lead him.” Topping her list of his accomplishments is his book What Do Pictures Want?: The Lives and Loves of Images. Keller writes: This year brought fresh distinction to Mitchell’s scholarly expeditions. His latest book, What Do Pictures Want?… recently received the James Russell Lowell Prize from the Modern Language Association, the group’s annual award for best book. The citation lauded his “provocative and remarkably accessible collection of essays,” essays that consider aspects of the visual world such as monuments and paintings, advertising images and Dolly, the cloned sheep. Mitchell also reflects on the iconography of the World Trade Center and the meanings of 9/11. Mitchell’s new book is a wonderful addition to the large corpus of work he has already brought to the Press. Follow the links to find out more about some of our recent releases and web features from . . .

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Phillip Gossett on 98.7 WFMT

January 8, 2007
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Phillip Gossett on 98.7 WFMT

Tonight—Monday, January 8—at 10 p.m. 98.7 WFMT Radio’s Critical Thinking with Andrew Patner will present the first of two programs with University of Chicago musicologist Philip Gossett discussing his new book Divas and Scholars: Performing Italian Opera, illustrating his points on bel canto opera performance with musical extracts. The second program will air Monday, January 15, at 10 p.m. Divas and Scholars is a dazzling and beguiling account of how opera comes to the stage, filled with Philip Gossett’s personal experiences of triumphant—and even failed—performances and suffused with his towering and tonic passion for music. Writing as a fan, a musician, and a scholar, Gossett, the world’s leading authority on the performance of Italian opera, brings colorfully to life the problems, and occasionally the scandals, that attend the production of some of our most favorite operas. Read an excerpt. . . .

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Review: Ekeland, The Best of All Possible Worlds

January 3, 2007
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Review: Ekeland, The Best of All Possible Worlds

Joseph Mazur, a professor of mathematics at the University of Marlborough, published a review today of Ivar Ekeland’s newest book The Best of all Possible Worlds: Mathematics and Destiny in the international journal of science, Nature. In his review, Mazur praises the book for its fascinating exploration of the work of eighteenth-century French intellectual Maupertuis, a philosopher and physicist whose ideas—as Mazur notes—continue to have a profound impact in both fields to this day. Mazur writes: The eighteenth-century French philosopher Pierre-Louis Moreau de Maupertuis gave us the principle of least action: in all natural phenomena, a quantity called ‘action’—for him, the product of mass, distance travelled and velocity—tends to be minimized. In his view, God, being the supreme mathematician, had created the “best of all possible worlds” by insisting that everything in it obey the principle of least action, an economy of effort—a metaphysical rule designed to support the laws of mechanics. In The Best of All Possible Worlds, Ivar Ekeland skillfully traces the historical developments of de Maupertuis’ principle as it matured from a metaphysical directive in physical two- or three-dimensional space to a mathematical principle in a conceptual space where the action is not just minimized but stopped . . .

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