Monthly Archives: April 2008

Another tenure controversy

April 14, 2008
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Another tenure controversy

Disputes over tenure know no ideological bounds. Controversy surrounds the tenure status of another UCP author, this time with the criticism coming from a different corner of the political arena. John Yoo, author of The Powers of War and Peace: The Constitution and Foreign Affairs after 9/11 is a tenured professor at Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. He has long been under attack for his role in authoring memos while working for the Department of Justice that were used to justify DoJ policies for the detention and interrogation of suspected terrorists (including practices defined in international law as torture). A campaign has developed calling for Yoo’s ouster from his academic position. The story was covered today by the online publication Inside Higher Ed. Last week Christopher Edley, Jr. , the Dean of Boalt Hall, released a statement asserting that he had seen no evidence of wrongdoing that would merit Yoo’s dismissal. When we published his book, Yoo explained his view of executive war powers in an interview. Updated: The Chronicle of Higher Education has a roundup of blogger commentary on the Yoo case. . . .

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Tenure as a fact on the ground

April 14, 2008
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Tenure as a fact on the ground

We have previously noted the tenure battle over Nadia Abu El-Haj, at the center of which is the book we published in 2001, Facts on the Ground: Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society. Abu El-Haj was granted tenure by Barnard last November. A sort of post-mortem on the whole affair appears in today’s issue of the New Yorker. Jane Kramer reviews Abu El-Haj’s academic career, the controversy over her tenure decision, and the continuing debate—at Columbia University and elsewhere—over fact and bias in Middle Eastern studies departments. Throughout the swirl of rhetoric, the articles and editorials, speeches and screeds, petitions and counter-petitions Abu El-Haj remained silent, trying to avoid the distraction. She finally spoke to Kramer for the New Yorker article. “What happened last year—it wasn’t about me. I was a cog in the big wheel of the Middle East and Israel.” Only an abstract of the article is online at the New Yorker website. But a pdf has been posted elsewhere. Also, Jane Kramer spoke with Jon Wiener on KPFK’s On the Radio (starts about 21 minutes in). . . .

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Southern exposure

April 11, 2008
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Southern exposure

The Shelf, a literary blog associated with the Canadian magazine The Walrus has just posted an interview with Elise Partridge discussing her new book of poems, Chameleon Hours. Partridge, who splits her time between Vancouver, BC, and Washington State, talks with Jared Bland about the reception of her work in the U.S. and, alternatively, how she sees it fitting into a Canadian literary tradition: Much of your work has been published in the States, including in the New Yorker, and this new book is being simultaneously issued by the University of Chicago Press. In other words, you have more southern exposure than many Canadian poets. Does this effect the way in which you see your work fitting into a Canadian poetic tradition? Not to force you into any immodest comparisons, but what strain of poetic thought do you see your work coming out of? I think writers inevitably belong in some way to their native countries and languages, but are also often hybrids of their own making, based on their sensibilities, influences, and so on. As an English-speaking North American (a dual citizen of Canada and the United States) I’ve been influenced by all kinds of literature in English—British, American, . . .

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Minow and LeMay on The Biz

April 11, 2008
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Minow and LeMay on The Biz

Newton N. Minow and Craig L. LeMay, authors of Inside the Presidential Debates: Their Improbable Past and Promising Future were interviewed recently on The Biz, the blog of TVGuide editor Stephen Battaglio. In the interview Battaglio engages the authors in a discussion of the presidential debates as “one of the biggest TV attractions of the year” and their ever increasing ability to draw record ratings for broadcast television networks: TVGuide.com: Your book points out how both Presidents Johnson and Nixon didn’t want to debate their challengers…. Now it seems that it would be impossible for a presidential candidate to avoid it. Minow: Young people who have grown up with presidential debates expect them. I don’t think any candidate can escape it. Lamay: Absolutely. Remember in 1992 when President George H.W. Bush was followed around on the campaign trail by the guy in the chicken suit? If you avoided a debate today, you’d have millions of virtual chickens . TVGuide.com: The first 2004 debate between President Bush and Sen. John Kerry set a record with 62.5 million viewers. Will a meeting between Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama . . .

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The monumental AACM

April 10, 2008
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The monumental AACM

In 1965 a group of Chicago musicians dedicated to exploring the frontiers of American jazz banded together to create the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians—one of the most radical and influential musical collectives in the history of the genre. Now, author George E. Lewis has chronicled the definitive history of the movement in, A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music, a book music critic Peter Margasak praises in today’s Chicago Reader for “ deeper into the formation and development of the AACM than any previous history, and as a formal acknowledgment of the group’s enormous importance and influence….” Margasak’s article continues: In the early 60s the marketplace was indifferent or hostile to creative jazz, and the AACM was the first sustained musician-run group to support it, producing legendary artists like Anthony Braxton, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, and Henry Threadgill. The organization remains active today, led by reedist Douglas Ewart and flutist Nicole Mitchell, and its members still display the fierce determination and brilliant creativity that made its name a seal of quality. And on Tuesday, April 15, 4:15 pm you’ll have a chance to see some of the AACM’s brilliant creativity yourself if . . .

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Good soil = healthy plants

April 8, 2008
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Good soil = healthy plants

The Chicago Tribune ran an article recently featuring James B. Nardi’s Life in the Soil: A Guide for Naturalists and Gardeners that gives some great advice on cultivating a bumper crop in your garden this spring. Writing for the Tribune Beth Botts’ article begins: The part of the garden we love is above ground: flowers, leaves, stems, branches, bark, birds, squirrels. But that part can’t thrive without the part we hardly notice except when we dig. James Nardi, an entomologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is so fascinated by that part of the garden that he wrote a field guide to it: Life in the Soil: A Guide for Naturalists and Gardeners. Some of the organisms he describes break down dead plant matter and release its nutrients to be absorbed by the roots of living plants. Others help make roots more efficient. Some improve the texture of the soil so plant roots can get air and water. And some eat others, maintaining the population balance that keeps the whole underground society—what scientists call the soil food web—humming along. The article continues citing the best kinds of soils (“loam, with at least two sizes of mineral particles”) and what . . .

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Mark Feeney wins Pulitzer prize

April 8, 2008
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Mark Feeney wins Pulitzer prize

Mark Feeney, arts writer for the Boston Globe and author of Nixon at the Movies: A Book about Belief, has won the Pulitzer prize in criticism for ten of his recent essays on visual culture. In an article posted to the Globe’s website Monday afternoon Don Aucoin writes: Feeney won the Pulitzer for 10 critical essays that suggest the fluency and brio of his writing style, and the range of interests on which he brings that style to bear. He wrote of the “unheroic loneliness of everyday people'” reflected in the paintings of Edward Hopper, the “pure visual kapow” of aerial photos by Bradford Washburn and Frank Gohlke, the collision between art and celebrity in the work of photographer Annie Leibovitz, the artistic trajectory traveled by filmmaker Stanley Kubrick, and the sense of community in the work of photographer Charles (Teenie) Harris. The essay on Hopper bears one of Feeney’s trademarks, namely, the ability to see connections among disparate works, from high art to low. Feeney alludes to John Updike, Ernest Hemingway, and Alexis de Tocqueville, but then goes on to describe an artistic kinship between Hopper (or at least the world he created) and such figures as lyricist Lorenz . . .

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Press Release: Voisine, Rare High Meadow of Which I Might Dream

April 8, 2008
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Press Release: Voisine, Rare High Meadow of Which I Might Dream

Haunted by the afterlife of medieval theology and literature yet grounded in distinctly modern quandaries of desire, Connie Voisine’s female speakers reverberate with notes of Marie de France’s tragic heroines. For Voisine, poems are occasions for philosophical wanderings, extended lyrics that revolve around the binding and unbinding of desire, with lonely speakers struggling with the impetus of wanting as well as the necessity of a love affair’s end. With fluency, intelligence, and deeply felt emotional acuity, Rare High Meadow of Which I Might Dream navigates the heady intersection of obsessive love and searing loss. Read the press release. . . .

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Press Release: Partridge, Chameleon Hours

April 8, 2008
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Press Release: Partridge, Chameleon Hours

Whether writing poems about North American life and landscape; or love poems; or elegies for family and friends; or poems on serious, debilitating illness and the transformations it can effect—Elise Partridge offers in Chameleon Hours words forged by suffering and courage. Full of wit and empathy, Partridge’s poems draw inspiration from sources as whimsical as tortoises and pontoons, as poignant as a homeless woman taking shelter inside a post office on a winter night, and as deeply personal as her own cancer diagnosis at a young age. Chameleon Hours is a book about the rewards of being reminded of one’s own mortality and the lyric expression of life in all its intensity. Read the press release. . . .

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Press Release: Schwartz, Blessings for the Hands

April 8, 2008
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Press Release: Schwartz, Blessings for the Hands

Blessings for the Hands follows various speakers—often disabled speakers, who never once figure themselves as objects of complaint or self-pity—through the haunted dreamscape of “normalcy.” Indeed, dreams are continuous presences in this unusually subtle and elegant debut collection that juxtaposes physical circumstances with the vast interior life of the imagination. The subjects of Blessings for the Hands are real and imagined confrontations—and reconciliations—between family members, friends, strangers, and animals. Matthew Schwartz’s quasi-autobiographical verse complicates and clarifies the emotions waiting just underneath the patterns and expectations of the speakers’ daylight lives, where anger, joy, corporeality, and mortality all seem to collide. For Schwartz, poetry is a sleight of hand that keeps the reader guessing through nearly imperceptible shifts between present vision and absent reality. Blessings for the Hands is a lyric reckoning of the tension between the life we are given and the life we are determined to lead. Read the press release. . . .

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