Monthly Archives: December 2008

Press Release: Leonard Harris and Charles Molesworth, Alain L. Locke

December 31, 2008
By
Press Release: Leonard Harris and Charles Molesworth, Alain L. Locke

When you think of the Harlem Renaissance, who comes to mind? Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes? W. E. B. Du Bois and Marcus Garvey? Whoever it is, chances are that it’s not Alain Locke, despite his deep influence on these and countless other key figures and his definitive anthology The New Negro, from which the movement took its name. Locke’s life story has languished untold until now, but Alain L. Locke—the first biography of this extraordinarily gifted thinker and architect of the Harlem Renaissance—finally reclaims his rightful place in the pantheon of America’s most important minds. In this engaging account, Leonard Harris and Charles Molesworth trace Locke’s life and times through his Philadelphia upbringing, his undergraduate years at Harvard—where William James helped spark his influential engagement with pragmatism—and his tenure as the first African American Rhodes Scholar. The heart of their narrative illuminates Locke’s heady years in 1920s New York City and his forty-year career at Howard University, where he helped spearhead the adult education movement of the 1930s and wrote on topics ranging from the philosophy of value to the theory of democracy.

An enthusiastic interlocutor and promoter of cultural figures from John Dewey to Jacob Lawrence, . . .

Read more »

William Davies King on Talk of the Nation

December 31, 2008
By
William Davies King on Talk of the Nation

William Davies King, author of Collections of Nothing, was the featured guest for a call-in session this Monday on NPR’s Talk of the Nation. In the show, Davies discusses his unusual passion for collecting, and what’s even more unusual, his passion for collecting items that most would consider junk. Davies describes his habit as a way of coping with difficulties in his life and a profound meditation on how and why we value things the way we do—and listening to the callers describe their own peculiar collections, apparently he’s not the only one. Listen to King’s radio appearance, and read an excerpt from his book on the NPR website.

Also, read another excerpt and an essay by the author on the press’s site.

. . .

Read more »

Holiday wrap

December 29, 2008
By
Holiday wrap

It was a quiet holiday week here in Chicago. The president-elect went on vacation and the governor seems to have stayed off the telephone. The most exciting thing, really, was the weather: bitter cold, a blizzard, a temperature climb of 60 degrees, lots of rain and flooding. No wonder they call Chicago a meteorologist’s nightmare. Or should.

What’s been in the news? Ha Jin’s The Writer as Migrant—his meditation on language, migration, and the place of literature in a rapidly globalizing world—has turned up everywhere. In the Washington Post, in the Times Higher Education, and on the Bookslut blog. Francine Prose writes for the Post:

In The Writer as Migrant, the Chinese-born Ha Jin, whose novel Waiting won the National Book Award in 1999, discusses the ways in which nationality and culture, exile and emigration affect the course of a writer’s life and career, and influence the work he produces. He considers the cases, at once exemplary and unique, of Joseph Conrad and Vladimir Nabokov, who both wrote in a second language (as he does), and of others, such as Alexander Solzhenitsyn, forced to leave their native land, causing a rupture from which they never fully recovered.…

. . .

Read more »

Happy Hannukah!

December 22, 2008
By
Happy Hannukah!

Okay, so maybe you’re not as ambitious as the recent Southern California group that, to celebrate the first day of Hanukkah, made the world’s largest latke cooked by a solar oven. For equally delicious but smaller-scale potato pancakes, you might try this delicious recipe culled from The Great Latke-Hamantash Debate. (There’s also a hamantashen recipe, if that’s the side on which you find yourself in said debate.)

But, of course, the book’s main attractions are not the recipes but the performances by members of elite American academies who attack the latke-versus-hamantash question with intellectual panache and an unerring sense of humor, if not chutzpah. This great latke-hamantash debate, occurring every November for the past six decades, brings Nobel laureates, university presidents, and notable scholars together to debate whether the potato pancake or the triangular Purim pastry is in fact the worthier food. What began as an informal gathering at the University of Chicago is now an institution that has been replicated on campuses nationwide.

If you didn’t make your local debate this year, you can have a taste of what you missed by reading (or listening to) Ted Cohen’s “Consolations of the Latke”—or, of course, by giving yourself a copy . . .

Read more »

Conor Cruise O’Brien, 1917-2008

December 19, 2008
By
Conor Cruise O’Brien, 1917-2008

Conor Cruise O’Brien, Irish intellectual, politician, diplomat, writer, critic, professor, journalist, historian, and playwright, died yesterday in Dublin at the age of 91. He had been in ill health since suffering a stroke in 1998.

The scope of O’Brien’s life and career can only be gestured at in this space. He was a special representative to Dag Hammarskjöld, secretary-general of the United Nations, in the Congo crisis of 1961. He was chancellor of the University of Ghana as well as the Albert Schweitzer Professor of Humanities at New York University. He was Ireland’s Minister for Posts and Telegraphs. He was editor-in-chief of the London-based newspaper the Observer. At the age when most retire from work, he taught and lectured at numerous universities around the world. And throughout he wrote many books.

The University of Chicago Press is honored to have published: The Great Melody: A Thematic Biography of Edmund Burke, which historian Paul Johnson described as “a book by the greatest living Irishman on the greatest Irishman who ever lived.” The Long Affair: Thomas Jefferson and the French Revolution, 1785-1800, which critic Richard Brookhiser said “should be read by anyone interested in Jefferson—or in a good fight.” Ancestral Voices: Religion . . .

Read more »

Where Would Jesus Invest?

December 18, 2008
By
Where Would Jesus Invest?

The Bible famously states that Christians cannot serve both God and mammon, and that it is easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a pin than for a rich man to enter heaven. But clearly, believers, as well as non-believers, benefited from the economic boom years just as surely as they’ve felt the pinch since the collapse. But how can Christian thought help us better understand the recession? To answer this question, we turned to religion and economic scholar Stewart Davenport, whose recent book, Friends of the Unrighteous Mammon: Northern Christians and Market Capitalism, 1815–1860 examines how antebellum Protestants reconciled their faith with the developing American economy.

The Economic Crisis: What Would Jesus Do?

To begin, I’d like to point out the folly of asking this question in the first place. “What would Jesus do?”—although a catchy slogan—is obviously not a substantive ethical question. “WWJD?” makes for good bracelets to sell to teenagers, in other words, but is thoroughly inadequate for the serious reflection of complex ethical dilemmas. I only wanted to include it in the title here so I could have the opportunity to distance myself from it. In what follows I will briefly explain why, . . .

Read more »

‘Tis the Season for Discomedusae

December 17, 2008
By
‘Tis the Season for Discomedusae

A prominent promoter of Darwin in Germany, Ernst Haeckel (1834–1919) was a pioneering biologist in his own right: he gave currency to the idea of the “missing link” between apes and man, formulated the concept of ecology, and promulgated the “biogenetic law”—the idea that the embryo of an advanced species recapitulates the stages the species went through in its evolutionary descent. But today, with detractors ranging from paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould to modern-day creationists and advocates of Intelligent Design, Haeckel is dogged by accusations of forgery and unfortunate associations with National Socialism. The Tragic Sense of Life: Ernst Haeckel and the Struggle over Evolutionary Thought aims to rehabilitate this tattered reputation, and, as the Times Literary Supplement noted earlier this year, “ Richards suceeds brilliantly in re-establishing Haeckel as a significant scientist and a major figure in the history of evolutionary thought.”

In the field, a sketch pad was as essential to Haeckel as a microscope, and his extraordinary scientific illustrations—of undulating siphonophorae and crouched embryos—remain icons of biological art. And, at least according to John Holbo over at Crooked Timber, they are perfect for seasons greetings. Holbo has created a Flickr gallery featuring manipulations of plates from . . .

Read more »

Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio Nobel Lecture

December 17, 2008
By
Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio Nobel Lecture

Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize in literature, delivered his Nobel Lecture on December 7th at the Swedish Academy, Stockholm. Navigate to www.Nobelprize.org to view video from the lecture (French language only) or download an English translation in PDF. The lecture begins:

Why do we write? I imagine that each of us has his or her own response to this simple question. One has predispositions, a milieu, circumstances. Shortcomings, too. If we are writing, it means that we are not acting. That we find ourselves in difficulty when we are faced with reality, and so we have chosen another way to react, another way to communicate, a certain distance, a time for reflection. If I examine the circumstances which inspired me to write—and this is not mere self-indulgence, but a desire for accuracy—I see clearly that the starting point of it all for me was war.

The site also features a variety of other media including an interview with Le Clézio , a video clip of the author reading from one of his novels, and a photo gallery.

In 1993 the Press published Le Clézio’s The Mexican Dream: Or, The Interrupted Thought of Amerindian Civilizations, . . .

Read more »

An education in education

December 16, 2008
By
An education in education

President-elect Obama’s nomination of Arne Duncan as Education Secretary has put U.S. education policy—and educational reform in the Chicago system—in the national and international spotlight.

With all the global tumult in the news, these headlines will, inevitably, recede, but our growing list of education titles will sustain anyone’s continuing interest in education and the people for whom it’s not a passing news story but a way of life. Dan C. Lortie’s Schoolteacher: A Sociological Study, for example, has been dubbed one of the best portraits available of the world and culture of this vitally important profession. And we are excited to announce that, this spring, Lortie will follow up his classic text with School Principal: Managing in Public, a compelling look at what principals do, how they do it, and why. Examining a third group of people vital to children’s education, Parents and Schools: The 150-Year Struggle for Control in American Education is an invaluable guide to understanding how parent-teacher cooperation, which is essential for our children’s educational success, might be achieved.

And if your interest in education runs deep enough that you choose to pursue it as a career? We publish a slew of books in curriculum and methodology . . .

Read more »

Neil Harris discusses the Chicagoan

December 16, 2008
By
Neil Harris discusses the Chicagoan

Author Neil Harris appeared yesterday evening on WFMT’s Critical Thinking with Andrew Patner for the first of two conversations about his new book, The Chicagoan: A Lost Magazine of the Jazz Age. You can catch the second part of the conversation on WFMT next Monday, December 22. But until then, listen to the archived audio from yesterday’s show and after each broadcast from the Critical Thinking webpage.

The Windy City’s lost counterpart to the New Yorker, the Chicagoan sought to transform the city’s reputation for organized crime, political mayhem, and industrial squalor by demonstrating the presence of style and sophistication in the Midwest. But after nine years of publication that straddled the roaring 20s and the Great Depression, the magazine folded and was forgotten. Now, Harris’s book, featuring a stunning collection of articles, illustrations, and covers, resurrects the magazine in all its brilliance offering a window into one of the most exciting chapters in the city’s history.

Also, read an interview with the author, see a gallery of covers and illustrations from the magazine and sample pages in PDF (7mb) from the book.

. . .

Read more »

Search for books and authors