Monthly Archives: February 2009

Of course, it’s Darwin’s birthday too

February 10, 2009
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Of course, it’s Darwin’s birthday too

Martin Buber is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Based on the overwhelming anecdotal evidence, this week must have one of the highest-ever concentrations of famous birthdays. In addition to the Lincoln bicentennial to which it seems we’ve been building up—especially in Illinois—for over a year now, Darwin’s equally talked-about 200th birthday also occurs on February 12. In recognition of the occasion, the New York Times devotes today’s Science Times to a suite of stories about Darwin and his lasting influence, not the least of which is this column on “Charles Darwin: Live & In Concert.” The Darwin special inspired our own roundup, which begins with Darwin’s own The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, a volume which, as today’s Times put it, traces “connections between humans and animals in the muscles used to express emotions such as grief and terror.” In Darwin and the Emergence of Evolutionary Theories of Mind and Behavior, Robert Richards discusses the celebrated scientist’s ideas about instinct, reason, and morality, against the background of Darwin’s personality, training, scientific and cultural concerns, and intellectual community. The relationship between science and religion is, of course, one of the issues most popularly discussed today in . . .

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Press Release: Fielding, Look at me

February 10, 2009
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Press Release: Fielding, Look at me

Sight is central to the medium of photography. But what happens when the subjects of photographic portraits cannot look back at the photographer or even see their own image? An in-depth pictorial study of blind school children in Mexico, Look at me draws attention to (and distinctions between) the activity of sight and the consciousness of form. Combining elements of his earlier, acclaimed street work with an innovative approach to portraiture, Chicago-based photographer Jed Fielding dwells closely on these children’s features and gestures, exploring the enigmatic boundaries between surface and interior, innocence and knowing, beauty and grotesque. Fielding’s work achieves what only great art, and particularly great portraiture can: it launches and then complicates a process of identification across the barriers that separate us from each other. Look at me contains more than sixty arresting images from which we often want to look away, but into which we are nevertheless drawn by their deep humanity and palpable tenderness. This is a monograph of uncommon significance by an important American photographer. Read the press release. . . .

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The soldier-artists of the Mekong Delta

February 9, 2009
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The soldier-artists of the Mekong Delta

The latest issue of Time magazine is running a noteworthy review of Sherry Buchanan’s new book, Mekong Diaries: Viet Cong Drawings and Stories, 1964-1975—a collection of works by ten artists recruited by the Viet Cong during the U.S. conflict to carry their sketchbooks, ink, and watercolors into combat. Buchanan traveled across Vietnam to gather some of this never-before-published material, and as the Time review notes, the resulting book is a fascinating departure from the “common American narrative,” offering “extraordinary insight into Vietnamese hearts, military and civilian.” To find out more read the article on the Time magazine website or see these sample pages featuring a selection of artworks form the book. . . .

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Martin Buber at 131

February 9, 2009
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Martin Buber at 131

February 8 marked the 131th anniversary of the birth of Martin Buber, theologian, philosopher, and political radical. Buber (1878–1965) was actively committed to a fundamental economic and political reconstruction of society as well as the pursuit of international peace. In his voluminous writings on Arab-Jewish relations in Palestine, Buber united his religious and philosophical teachings with his politics, which he felt were essential to a life of public dialogue and service to God. Buber’s presences looms large over the Chicago Jewish studies list; in addition to Buber’s own writings in print, the Press also recently published a study analyzing his interpretation of Hasidic spirituality as a form of cultural criticism. In honor of this influential thinker’s life and work, we offer a Martin Buber reading list. A Land of Two Peoples: Martin Buber on Jews and Arabs Martin Buber, Edited with Commentary and a new Preface by Paul Mendes-Flohr Collected in A Land of Two Peoples are the private and open letters, addresses, and essays in which Buber advocated binationalism as a solution to the conflict in the Middle East. A committed Zionist, Buber steadfastly articulated the moral necessity for reconciliation and accommodation between the Arabs and Jews. From the . . .

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The untold story of an influential African American intellectual

February 6, 2009
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The untold story of an influential African American intellectual

Black History Month offers an occasion to highlight some the nation’s most influential African-American scholars, activists, and leaders. Mostly, the focus is on the usual list of iconic figures—Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and now, Barack Obama. But this year authors Leonard Harris and Charles Molesworth offer a timely tribute to one of the lesser known, yet most influential African American intellectuals of the twentieth century with their new book, Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher. A fascinating look at the life of a man often called the “father of the Harlem Renaissance” and whom the authors dub “the most influential African American intellectual born between W.E.B. Du Bois and Martin Luther King, Jr.,” as book critic Carlin Romano writes in his review for the Philadelphia Inquirer, the untold story of Locke’s profound impact on twentieth-century American culture and thought has been long overdue. From the review: This long-overdue book—astoundingly, the first full biography ever of a thinker for whom schools, prizes and societies across America are named—closes a project decided to do together after originally embarking on separate lives of their subject. Why has it taken so long for a definitive biography of Locke . . .

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Tim Reid and Tom Dreesen on NPR

February 5, 2009
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Tim Reid and Tom Dreesen on NPR

Comedians Tim Reid and Tom Dreesen, authors of Tim and Tom: An American Comedy in Black and White, were interviewed Wednesday on NPR’s News & Notes. In the interview Tim and Tom join host Tony Cox to talk about the trials and tribulations they faced touring the country in the late 60’s as the nation’s first—and last—interracial comedy duo, as well as some of their more recent experiences touring with their new book. Listen to the archived audio of the interview on the NPR website or see the video on the News & Views blog. We have an excerpt from the book. . . .

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Debating the stimulus

February 5, 2009
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Debating the stimulus

As U.S. senators continue to debate the economic stimulus package on which they could vote as early as tonight, their deliberation over such a huge bill heightens the implications of the questions Gary Mucciaroni and Paul Quirk pose in Deliberative Choices: Debating Public Policy in Congress. Does debate genuinely inform members of Congress and the public? Or does it mostly mislead and manipulate them? Mucciaroni and Quirk argue that in fashioning the claims they use in debate, legislators make a strategic trade-off between boosting their rhetorical force and ensuring their ability to withstand scrutiny. They show how legislators’ varying responses to such a trade-off shape the issues they focus on, the claims they make, and the information they provide in support of those claims. Mucciaroni and Quirk conclude that congressional debate generally is only moderately realistic and informed. It often trades in half-truths, omissions, and sometimes even outright falsehoods. Yet some debates are highly informative. We can only hope today’s will fall into this last category. But in any case, it’s always possible to improve deliberation, and the authors recommend reforms designed to do so. . . .

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UCP wins big at AAUP Book, Jacket, and Journal Show

February 4, 2009
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UCP wins big at AAUP Book, Jacket, and Journal Show

Judging for the 2009 American Association of University Press’s Book, Jacket and Journal Show—a competition that recognizes meritorious achievement in the design, production, and manufacture of books, jackets, and journals by members of the university press community—took place last month at the AAUP Office in New York City. Approximately 289 books, 292 jacket and covers, and 7 journals competed, and 53 books, 36 jackets/covers, and one journal were chosen by the jurors as the very best examples from this pool of excellent design. The University of Chicago Press is proud to announce that it had eleven winning entries in the show. Congratulations to the winners! Design Category: Scholarly TypographicImages in Spite of All: Four Photographs from Auschwitz by Georges Didi-HubermanDesigner: Maia Wright Design Category: Scholarly IllustratedCutting a Figure:Fashioning Black Portraiture by Richard J. PowellDesigner: Matt Avery Design Category: Scholarly IllustratedThe Terezín Album of Mariánka Zadikow Annotated by Debórah DworkDesigner: Jill Simabukuro Design Category: Trade TypographicCollections of Nothing by William Davies KingDesigner: Jill Shimabukuro Design Category: Trade IllustratedThe Chicagoan: A Lost Magazine of the Jazz Age by Neil HarrisDesigner: Maia Wright Design Category: Trade IllustratedSleeping Beauty: A One-Artist Dictionary by John Sparagana and Mieke BalDesigner: Jill Shimabukuro Design Category: Poetry and . . .

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The Heiress as Urban Guerilla

February 4, 2009
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The Heiress as Urban Guerilla

Thirty-five years ago today, on February 4, 1974, 19-year-old Patty Hearst, daughter of newspaper magnate Randolph Hearst, was kidnapped from her Berkeley, Calif., apartment by armed members of the Symbionese Liberation Army. Nine weeks later, Hearst, along with her captors and conspirators, robbed a San Francisco bank. After more than a year on the lam, Hearst was captured on September 18, 1975 and convicted of armed robbery in March 1976. She served only twenty-one months of her seven-year sentence before it was commuted by President Jimmy Carter. In 2001, Patty Hearst was pardoned by President Bill Clinton. The bizarre story of brainwashed heiress captured a nation’s attention, and, even today, the sensational tale seems to defy belief. But William Graebner sees the robbery—and the spectacular 1976 trial that ended with Hearst’s criminal conviction—as oddly appropriate to the troubled mood of the nation at the time, an instant exemplar of a turbulent era. In Patty’s Got a Gun: Patricia Hearst in 1970s America, the first substantial reconsideration of Patty Hearst’s story in more than twenty-five years, Graebner vividly re-creates the atmosphere of uncertainty and frustration of mid-1970s America. Drawing on copious media accounts of the robbery and trial—as well as cultural . . .

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Go deeper than Google

February 3, 2009
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Go deeper than Google

In this morning’s story about the new version of Google Earth, which for the first time lets users explore Earth’s oceans, the New York Times notes that “organizations seeking to reconnect people directly with nature expressed guarded optimism when the new features of Google Earth were described.” “Electronic images can boost awareness and sometimes even inspire, but there’s no substitute for direct experience in nature,” Cheryl Charles, president of Children and Nature Network, told the paper. “Hopefully those exploring Google’s virtual oceans, especially children, can still find the time to get wet, as well.” While it’s too cold in many parts of the world to make that a pleasant prospect, we have what is perhaps the next-best thing: beautiful books on the oceans and marine life that—long before Google Earth—literally put in our hands a new view of ocean depths around the globe, giving us a glimpse of worlds rarely seen. With hundreds of beautiful full-color photographs and explanatory diagrams, charts, and maps, Dorrik Stow’s Oceans combines the visual splendor of ocean life with up-to-date scientific information to provide an invaluable and fascinating resource on this vital realm. Tony Koslow’s The Silent Deep, meanwhile, tells the story of the exploration . . .

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