Monthly Archives: March 2007

Caitlin Zalooom on BBC Radio 4

March 16, 2007
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Caitlin Zalooom on BBC Radio 4

Author Caitlin Zaloom was recently featured on BBC Radio 4’s Thinking Allowed discussing her new book Out of the Pits: Traders and Technology from Chicago to London. Host Laurie Taylor talks with Zaloom about the stock market’s gradual transition from face-to-face exchanges made on the trading room floor to internet based trading and how this move into the digital realm effects the culture and business of global trade markets. You can listen to archived audio of the discussion on the BBC’s Thinking Allowed website. We also have an excerpt from the book. . . .

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Review: Attlee, Isolarion

March 15, 2007
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Review: Attlee, Isolarion

James Attlee’s Isolarion: A Different Oxford Journey has been getting some great press lately. The latest review of this unconventional travelogue of the author’s sojourn on Oxford’s Cowley Road appears in the April/May issue of Bookforum. Rebecca Mead, staff writer at the New Yorker—and a former Oxford resident—writes: The Cowley Road…is also home to Attlee, and it is the governing conceit of Isolarion: A Different Oxford Journey that an intellectually curious and personally inquisitive voyager might travel through his own neighborhood in a manner as revelatory as that of any pilgrim to foreign lands. The fish-out-of-water travelogue is a staple of the bookstore, but Attlee, a father of young children, with a job in London to which he commutes daily, has set himself a different task: to be the fish and to give a detailed description of the properties of the water. … I was surprised, on reading this book … how much I missed while whistling down the street on my bike on my way to the library. But Attlee’s reading, unlike that of a student cramming to prepare this week’s essay, is deep and wide and engagingly circuitous. Isolarion, Mead concludes, “reveals how a book about a road . . .

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Charles Bernstein on Poetry Daily

March 14, 2007
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Charles Bernstein on Poetry Daily

Every day the website Poetry Daily presents at least one new work from a contemporary poet excerpted from a book, magazine, or journal currently in print, with the goal of exposing the general reader to the wonderful, but often esoteric realm of modern poetics. Last Friday two of Charles Bernstein’s poems were featured on the site, including the poem “Thank You for Saying Thank You” from his most recent book Girly Man. Befitting, or perhaps belying Poetry Daily’s theme of “poetry for the people” Bernstein’s poem begins: This is a totally accessible poem. There is nothing in this poem that is in any way difficult to understand. All the words are simple & to the point. There are no new concepts, no theories, no ideas to confuse you. This poem has no intellectual pretensions. It is purely emotional. You can check out the rest of this poem as well as Bernstein’s “Didn’t We” on the Poetry Daily website. . . .

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Press Release: Glaude, In a Shade of Blue

March 13, 2007
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Press Release: Glaude, In a Shade of Blue

John Dewey once said that every generation has to accomplish democracy for itself, because social justice is something that cannot be handed down from one person to another: it has to be worked out in terms of the needs, problems, and conditions of the present moment and its distinct challenges. In this impassioned and inspirational work, Eddie S. Glaude Jr. puts Dewey’s idea into the service of his fellow African Americans. According to Glaude, black politics have grown increasingly stagnant and even ineffectual because of their basis in the sufferings and indignities of the past instead of the real-live obstacles of the present moment. To remedy this, Glaude here dislodges black politics from the dogmas and fixed ideas of the Civil Rights movement and points them in the direction of more pragmatic solutions rooted in the here and now. Poor health, alarming rates of imprisonment, drugs, and the advanced concentration of poverty in our nation’s cities warrant a form of political engagement that steps out of the shadows of the black freedom struggles of the 1960s and rises to the complexities of the 21st century with more innovative thinking, a greater emphasis on responsibility and personal accountability, and a fuller . . .

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Review: Levine, Powers of the Mind

March 12, 2007
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Review: Levine, Powers of the Mind

The current issue of the New York Review of Books is running an interesting article titled “Scandals of Higher Eduction” written by Andrew Delbanco, professor in the humanities and director of American studies at Columbia University. The article is the typical NYRB in-depth review of recent books, in this case offering varying critiques of the state of the American educational system, especially the higher educational system as it is embodied by the nation’s elite schools. Delbanco’s article draws on several books that rehash now commonplace critiques of flawed admissions policies that favor money over smarts. But he reserves a special place for former U of C dean Donald Levine’s new book, Powers of the Mind: The Reinvention of Liberal Learning in America; a work with an insightful approach that picks up where the others fall short in its incisive analysis of the state of higher eduction. Delbanco writes: If…it is a scandal that so few disadvantaged students are able to attend our most advantageous colleges, it is also urgent, in the words (the italics are his) of Donald Levine, former dean of the college at the University of Chicago, to notice that the scandal of higher education in our time . . .

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Review: Atlee, Isolarion

March 9, 2007
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Review: Atlee, Isolarion

An appreciative review of James Attlee’s new book, Isolarion: A Different Oxford Journey, is in yesterday’s Economist. The review praises Attlee’s literary sojourn along Cowley Road in Oxford saying: James Attlee’s scholarly, reflective, and sympathetic journey up the Cowley Road is one of the best travel books that has been written about Britain’s oldest university city. It is not—at least not directly—the Oxford of punts and gowns. His raw material is diversity: the Cowley Road as a corner of the outside world, where change and excitement are squeezed into the cramped hinterland of the scholarly theme park of the city centre. … Isolarion, named after a detail on a medieval map, is unsparing, but not bleak. It blends humour and passion… a vivid account of daily life, fluid and unsettling, in a modern British town with powerful allegorical reflections on the connections between past and present, time and space, and high culture and the hard scrabble world that sustains it. Oxford may be the city of lost causes, and this book is indeed ambitious; it could easily sound sententious or twee. But it works, gloriously. We have an excerpt from Isolarion. The excerpt is the chapter titled “Further Purification . . .

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Review: Kripal, Esalen

March 8, 2007
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Review: Kripal, Esalen

Situated along the picturesque coastline of Big Sur California, the Esalen institute has long been a world leader in alternative and experiential education—on the cutting edge of everything from Zen to hallucinogenics. Attracting such luminaries as Henry Miller, Joseph Campbell, Aldous Huxley, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and Hunter S. Thompson, the institute has had a profound influence on the American counterculture ever since it was first conceived by maverick intellectuals Michael Murphy and Richard Price in the early ’60s. Forthcoming from author Jeffery Kripal, Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion is a highly readable and entertaining account of the institute and the unique synthesis of religion, science, and philosophy envisioned by its leaders. Here’s an excerpt from an advance review in last month’s Publishers Weekly to whet your appetite for Kripal’s revealing new look at one of the most important hothouses of America’s counterculture: Many readers will probably not have heard of Esalen—but that doesn’t mean they wont find its history fascinating. Kripal, a professor of religious studies at Rice University, tells the story of this beautiful retreat in California’s Big Sur region—its history at once sexy, salacious, intellectual, and political—with reverence and playfulness, alternating between the hushed . . .

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Eddie Glaude on the Tavis Smiley Show

March 7, 2007
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Eddie Glaude on the Tavis Smiley Show

Eddie S. Glaude Jr., author and Princeton University professor of religious studies, was featured on the Tavis Smiley Show last weekend discussing “how his new book, In a Shade of Blue: Pragmatism and the Politics of Black America, offers a starting point for examining the upcoming election season through the eyes of African Americans.” You can listen to archived audio from the program online at the Tavis Smiley Show website. With In a Shade of Blue Glaude, one of our nation’s rising young African American intellectuals, makes an impassioned plea for black America to address its social problems by recourse to experience and with an eye set on the promise and potential of the future, rather than the fixed ideas and categories of the past. Heady, inspirational, and brimming with practical wisdom, this timely book is a remarkable work of political commentary on a scale rarely seen today. To follow its trajectory is to learn how African Americans arrived at this critical moment in their history and to envision where they might head in the twenty-first century. Read an excerpt. . . .

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Press Release: Ferguson, The Trial in American Life

March 7, 2007
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Press Release: Ferguson, The Trial in American Life

As the recent furor over the publication of O.J. Simpson’s "confession" demonstrates, the impact of a high-profile trial doesn’t end with the delivery of the verdict—the emotional, cultural, and political effects can resonate for decades. With The Trial in American Life, distinguished legal scholar Robert Ferguson explores the role of the high-profile trial from America’s earliest days to the present, arguing that far from being mere spectacles, such trials provide an essential forum for discussion of contentious issues. In a bravura performance that ranges from Aaron Burr to O.J. Simpson, Ferguson traces both the legal implications and the cultural ripples of prominent trials. He brings together courtroom transcripts with newspaper and literary accounts of high-profile trials—including those of John Brown, Lincoln assassination conspirator Mary Surratt, the Haymarket defendants, and Julius and Ethel Rosenberg—to show what happens when courtrooms are forced to cope with unresolved communal anxieties and make legal decisions that change the American public’s very idea of itself. Read the press release. Read an excerpt. . . .

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Review: McLaren, Impotence

March 6, 2007
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Review: McLaren, Impotence

Impotence: A Cultural History, a forthcoming work from Angus McLaren, is a detailed exploration of the cultural history of sexual impotence through the entire course of human civilization. Serious, as well as, of course, highly entertaining, the book is an eloquent demonstration of how cultural attitudes regarding male sexual potency have transformed throughout the ages. An advance review published last week in the Library Journal summarizes the work nicely: Once seen mainly as a function of siring children, is now regarded as an important component of a healthy emotional state. McLaren offers a dynamic survey of masculinity, perceptions of impotence, and the never-ending search for help with male sexual dysfunction. He starts with the Greek and Roman view of male potency, then moves to the understanding of impotence during the early Christian era, the Age of Reason, the 19th century, the Freudian era, and the rise of modern medical research as exemplified by the famous Kinsey and Masters and Johnson studies. The author ends with a timely, thoughtful analysis of the contemporary approach, driven by major drug companies. From marriage manuals to metrosexuals, from Renaissance Italy to Hollywood movies, Impotence is an insightful examination of a problem . . .

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