Monthly Archives: July 2009

What the Lincoln-Douglas debates mean

July 17, 2009
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What the Lincoln-Douglas debates mean

Harry V. Jaffa’s Crisis of the House Divided: An Interpretation of the Issues in the Lincoln-Douglas Debates, first published in 1959, has long been regarded as the standard historiography of the pivotal 1858 debates between Abraham Lincoln during his candidacy for the U.S. Senate and Democratic incumbent Stephen A. Douglas on the issue of slavery. And in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of the book’s publication, the University of Chicago Press has just reissued a new edition of Jaffa’s classic work, acknowledged today by Forbes magazine columnist Peter Robinson in an article that quotes Jaffa himself to demonstrate how the debates “turned on issues that were present at the very founding of western civilization—and that we must face again today.” In the article Jaffa argues that “the issue between Lincoln and Douglas was identical to the issue between Socrates and Thrasymachus in the first book of Plato’s Republic.” Just as Thrasymachus argues that justice “possesses no independent or objective standing” and is at the mercy of those in power, so too did Douglas argue that “the citizens of Kansas or Nebraska could make slavery acceptable in their states simply by voting in favor of it.” The article continues: Lincoln considered . . .

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Millennium turns five

July 16, 2009
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Millennium turns five

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An aerosol e-book enhancer

July 16, 2009
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An aerosol e-book enhancer

This link, posted to one of the list-serves for the American Association of University Presses this afternoon, was just too amusing not not share here. For all those whose desire to purchase that new e-book reader has been hampered by a nostalgic longing for the experience of turning through the pages of the real thing, Smell of Books™ has at least one base covered. According to their website, with Smell of Books™ “revolutionary new aerosol e-book enhancer… you can finally enjoy reading e-books without giving up the smell you love so much.” And it comes in five different scents! For the ladies there’s the “Scent of Sensibility” and my personal favorite, “Eau, You Have Cats.” You can pick some up at smellofbooks.com, and after they’ve convinced you to run out and buy that new e-reader, fill it up with some of the 700 and counting e-book titles now available for direct download through our website or other e-book retailers like Amazon and Sony. . . .

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Gladney on Uighur Identity in Modern China

July 15, 2009
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Gladney on Uighur Identity in Modern China

Earlier this month, tensions erupted in the western province of Xinjiang China between the Uighurs, a Turkish-speaking Muslim minority, and the Han Chinese. On July 5, a protest in the capital city Urumqi turned bloody after police tried to break up the demonstration; more than 150 were reported dead and thousands were injured. Sporadic violence in the region continues. The fighting highlights underlying unrest between China’s ethnic minorities and the ruling majority. On Monday, PRI’s The World called on Dru Gladney, author of Dislocating China: Muslims, Minorities, and Other Subaltern Subjects, to explain cultural politics in China. You can listen to the story here. In Dislocating China, Gladney challenges the simplistic view of Western scholars who have tended to accept the Chinese representation of non-Han groups as marginalized minorities, arguing instead that the very oppositions of majority and minority, primitive and modern, are historically constructed and are belied by examination of such disenfranchised groups as Muslims, minorities, or gendered others. Gladney locates China and Chinese culture not in some unchanging, essential “Chinese-ness,” but in the context of historical and contemporary multicultural complexity. He investigates how this complexity plays out among a variety of places and groups, examining representations of minorities . . .

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New Digital Editions from the University of Chicago Press

July 15, 2009
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New Digital Editions from the University of Chicago Press

The University of Chicago Press is pleased to announce that beginning this month, in partnership with BiblioVault, the digital repository run by Chicago Distribution Services for scholarly presses, we now offer over 700 titles available for direct download through our Web site. No more lugging twenty pounds of books across campus, no more waiting for recalls and interlibrary loans, no more papercuts; just load Adobe’s Digital Editions software on your computer or handheld device and start downloading! The Press currently offers three e-book licensing options: Perpetual ownership at list price, 180-day ownership for about 50% off, and 30-day ownership for just $5.00. According to Patti O’Shea, executive director of information systems at Chicago, “the limited-time plans will allow students who only need a book for a semester-long course, or for a research paper they’re working on, to get the book immediately and own it for only as long as they need it.” If you’d like to test how it works go ahead and download a sample chapter from Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals, or for more information see our info page and press release for Chicago Digital Editions. . . .

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Backstage at the revolution

July 14, 2009
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Backstage at the revolution

At the start of NPR’s Bastille Day-inspired story this morning about the music of the French Revolution, listeners were asked to “imagine it’s the year 1789 and you are waking up in Paris. You might hear an angry mob outside your window, about to storm the Bastille prison.” For those who wish to take this kind of mental journey back in time, Victoria Johnson’s Backstage at the Revolution zooms in from the birds-eye view to the street level, where some of that mob is busy searching for weapons—at the Paris Opera. The Opera, as Johnson tells it, began the Revolution at center stage when a part of the crowd on its way to the Bastille stopped at the opera house for the arms they thought would be stashed inside. The organization’s official caterer, Charles Mangin, unlocked the doors and, as he later wrote, “armed the citizens of the District of St. Martin des Champs with halbards, pikes, and sabres belonging to the Opera.” The long story of the Opera’s Revolutionary life neither begins nor ends, of course, on that fateful July 14. Johnson’s cultural history explains how, despite its reputation for despotism and wasteful extravagance, the Opera survived the Revolution . . .

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Press Release: Weiner, At the Barriers

July 14, 2009
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Press Release: Weiner, At the Barriers

Maverick gay icon of poetry Thom Gunn (1929—2004) and his body of work have long dared the British and American poetry establishments to either claim or disavow him. To critics in the UK and United States alike, Gunn demonstrated that formal poetry could successfully include new speech rhythms and open forms. Along the way, Gunn’s verse captured the social upheavals of the 1960s, the existential possibilities of the late twentieth century, and the tumult of post-Stonewall gay culture. The first book-length collection of essays on this major poet, At the Barriers surveys Gunn’s career from his youth in 1930s Britain to his final years in California, bringing together some of the most important poet-critics from both sides of the Atlantic to assess his oeuvre. This landmark volume traces how Gunn, in both his life and his writings, pushed at boundaries of different kinds, be they geographic, sexual, or poetic—and how his influence has only grown since his death. Read the press release. . . .

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Oak Park Public Library Warrior Librarians take the gold

July 14, 2009
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Oak Park Public Library Warrior Librarians take the gold

We first saw the Oak Park Public Library’s book cart drill team at a local Fourth of July parade a few years back. It was a revelation—a display of precision choreography never seen in the stacks. The team has come a long way since then and last Sunday, as reported by NPR, the Oak Park Public Library Warrior Librarians, as they are now known, reached the pinnacle of book cart drill team competition and grabbed the Gold Book Cart Award at the Chicago convention of the American Library Association. Cognotes A brief clip of their winning moves is available with the NPR story. Also see a video on Youtube of an earlier version of the team’s routine at the Illinois Library Association conference last fall. The OPPL Valkries are, apparently, headed for Disneyland. . . .

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The Sotomayor Confirmation Hearings and the Role of the Supreme Court

July 13, 2009
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The Sotomayor Confirmation Hearings and the Role of the Supreme Court

Today in Washington, confirmation hearings begin for Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama’s choice to replace David Souter on the Supreme Court. If confirmed, Sotomayor will be the first Hispanic justice—and only the third female—to sit on the high court’s bench. Despite some conservative outcry over remarks Sotomayor made regarding the wisdom of Latina judges (“I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life”), she is widely believed to be confirmed, barring any unforeseen revelations. As the court readies to welcome its 111th justice, a refresher on the history of the institution is in order. That’s where Robert G. McCloskey’s The American Supreme Court comes in handy. The best and most concise account of the Supreme Court and its place in American politics, McCloskey’s wonderfully readable book is an essential guide to its past, present, and future prospects of this institution. Revised here in a fourth edition, The American Supreme Court address the Court’s most recent decisions, including its controversial ruling in Bush v. Gore and its expansion of sexual privacy in Lawrence v. Texas. First published more than . . .

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Ben Hecht back in print

July 13, 2009
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Ben Hecht back in print

In 1921 Ben Hecht began writing a column for the Chicago Daily News called “One Thousand and One Afternoons in Chicago.” In it, Hecht famously explored city life beyond the usual dry, factual, reportage; extracting, as his editor Henry Justin Smith once wrote, “the stuff of literature” from the grit and grime of Chicago’s city streets. And though Hecht would eventually become better known as one of the most prolific Hollywood screenwriters of all time, his groundbreaking work for the Chicago Daily News still endears him to the city as well as demonstrates one of the greatest literary achievements of his career. In an article appearing in yesterday’s Chicago Tribune cultural critic Julia Keller sings the praises of Hecht’s journalism and the Press’s newly reprinted collection of his work in A Thousand and One Afternoons in Chicago, illustrated by Herman Rosse and with a new introduction by William Savage. Keller writes: The columns in are scruffy time capsules of an earlier Chicago, an era that is long gone but still recognizable to readers’ imaginations. Michigan Avenue, Lake Michigan, street names such as Dearborn and Adams and LaSalle and Wabansia, places such as the . . .

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