Monthly Archives: February 2010

William H. McNeill awarded a National Humanities Medal

February 26, 2010
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William H. McNeill awarded a National Humanities Medal

In a ceremony that took place yesterday in the East Room of the White House President Barack Obama awarded University of Chicago historian and author William H. McNeill a National Humanities Medal. According to the NEH press release McNeill was awarded the prize in recognition of “his exceptional talent as a teacher and scholar… and as an author of more than twenty books, including The Rise of the West, which traces civilizations through 5,000 years of recorded history.”

An article in today’s Washington Post notes that alongside McNeill, a rather eclectic assortment of prominent figures in the arts, including singer Bob Dylan, actor and director Clint Eastwood, painter Frank Stella, and Nobel laureate and author Elie Wiesel, also received awards. The article in the Post continues:

Leaders in the arts and humanities are surveyed by the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, both federally funded agencies, and the final list is selected by the White House.

“These individuals and organizations show us how many ways art works every day,” NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman said in a statement. “They represent the breadth and depth of American architecture, design, film, music, performance, theater and visual . . .

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Not that Left Behind

February 26, 2010
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Not that Left Behind

A feature on the New Yorker‘s Book Bench blog caught our eye today. “Books seem to be in dialogue,” they wrote. They offer, then, covers that reply to one another. Among the six books featured was Sebastian Edwards’s Left Behind: Latin America and the False Promise of Populism. His book was “responded to” by a memoir called “I want to be Left Behind: Finding Rapture Here on Earth.” Now, I haven’t read Brenda Peterson’s book, but I’m guessing aside from the title, it has little in common with Edwards’s.

In fact, our book has nothing to do with rapture, end times, or anything like that. In Left Behind, Edwards examines the political and economic history of Latin America, explains why the region has fallen further behind developed nations, and warns against the recent turn to economic populism. He argues the way forward for Latin America lies in further market reforms, more honestly pursued and fairly implemented; he also singles out Brazil, which under the successful administration of President Luis Inácio da Silva (Lula) has finally begun to show signs of reaching its true economic potential.

As the global financial crisis has reminded us, the risks posed by failing economies extend . . .

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Key ingredients for “baking up a good school”

February 25, 2010
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Key ingredients for “baking up a good school”

In an article that appeared in yesterday’s Chicago Journal, reporter Megan Cottrell offers a nice summary of the results of a study conducted by researchers from the Consortium on Chicago School Research and recently published in Organizing Schools for Improvement: Lessons from Chicago. The study, conducted over a seven-year period, aimed to track the effects of the 1988 decentralization of the Chicago Public School system—a move that granted parents and communities significant resources and authority to reform schools. But, as Cottrell notes, the researchers found that the results of these reforms varied greatly from school to school, some dramatically improving the academic performance of their students, while others floundered.

In their book, Anthony S. Bryk, Penny Bender Sebring, Elaine Allensworth, Stuart Luppescu, and John Q. Easton have sifted through mountains of data to identify the key ingredients required to, as Cottrell’s article puts it, ‘bake up a good school.” Cotrell writes:

A good school, it turns out, is a lot like a cake. Put in sugar, eggs and oil, but forget the flour, and all you end up with is a sweet, sloppy mess. Without all the right ingredients, success will continually evade you.

It all starts with the . . .

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Premiere at Met Features a Forthcoming UCP Verdi Edition

February 24, 2010
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Premiere at Met Features a Forthcoming UCP Verdi Edition

Two notable firsts took place at New York’s Metropolitan Opera last night: Italian conductor Riccardo Muti made his Met debut, and he was conducting Giuseppe Verdi’s Attila from our forthcoming critical edition by Helen Greenwald. Muti specifically chose Attila for the occasion and worked from second proofs of our score; after the performances, he will give us his input which we will incorporate into the final volume, to be published later this year.

In conjunction with the premiere, the American Institute of Verdi Studies, based at New York University, is holding a symposium on Friday, Feb. 26, prior to the second performance on Saturday, the 27th. The speakers will include Greenwald, the volume editor; Philip Gossett, general editor of the series (and author of Divas and Scholars: Performing Italian Opera; Francesco Izzo, editor of our forthcoming Verdi volume Un giorno di regno, David Lawton, editor of Macbeth and Il trovatore; and the moderator is Roberta Marvin, editor of the volumes I masnadieri and Hymns. Go here for more information on the program.

The verdict? The New York Times reports a mixed reaction at the premiere: cheers for Muti and the performers but boos for the production. They go so . . .

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Adrian Johns on the Short Stack Blog

February 24, 2010
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Adrian Johns on the Short Stack Blog

Adrian Johns, author of Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates has written a posting for the Washington Post‘s Short Stack blog. In his post, Johns discusses the blowback that can result from attempts to clamp down on illegal copying:

Over the last half-millennium, measures to defend creative property have repeatedly proved counterproductive—not just because individual pirates themselves escaped, but because those measures triggered public reactions against their own proponents. The major transitions that constitute the history of intellectual property itself were repeatedly caused by precisely this kind of reaction. In effect, the present nature of both copyrights and patents is a legacy of this long history of police overreach.

For more navigate to the Washington Post‘s Short Stack blog. We also have an excerpt from the book.

. . .

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Michael Forsberg multimedia in Nature Conservancy Magazine

February 23, 2010
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Michael Forsberg multimedia in Nature Conservancy Magazine

Michael Forsberg, the man behind the lens in Great Plains: America’s Lingering Wild has an article in the Spring 2010 edition of Nature Conservancy Magazine. Forsberg discusses his three year project to photograph the stark beauty of the remaining natural habitats in this once thriving ecosystem that stretches over one million square miles from southern Canada to northern Mexico, but which is now one of the most threatened environments in North America. Complete with a special Youtube video that matches some of the images from the book with Forsberg’s commentary, the article drives home the urgent need for to protect the Great Plains and the surprising abundance of wildlife that rely on it. Read it online at the Nature Conservancy Magazine website.

Also see a gallery of photographs from the book and sample pages in PDF format (4.2Mb).

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Yo-Ho-Ho and a Stack of Positive Reviews

February 22, 2010
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Yo-Ho-Ho and a Stack of Positive Reviews

February roared in like a pirate, and it goes out like one, too. To kick off the month, on February 1, the Press offered a one-day only free download of Adrian Johns’s new book Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates (after that offer expired, we put forth John’s previous book The Nature of the Book: Print and Knowledge in the Making, which is still available for free download until the end of the month). Not only did our little experiment generate some news, but Johns’s book has been making headlines ever since (check out the reviews in The National, Inside Higher Ed, and the Weekend Australian). Now, as February comes to a close, Johns and his history of intellectual property appear in two prestigious publications.

Times Higher Education profiles both the man and the book. Matthew Reisz writes:

Today, Johns argues, the many disputes and confusions about intellectual property “seem to be heading towards the kind of crisis that precedes a revolution”. Yet he firmly believes that a historical approach can help illuminate our current dilemmas and reveal how seemingly intractable problems can be solved.

And in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Jeffrey R. Young sits . . .

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Roger Ebert’s Big Month

February 19, 2010
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Roger Ebert’s Big Month

For a man that hasn’t uttered a word since 2006, Roger Ebert is speaking loudly to all of us this week. He has been in the news twice recently, most notably for his candid interview in the new issue of Esquire magazine (which includes a jarring portrait of the famous film critic, whose face has transformed nearly beyond recognition since he last graced our television screens and offered his famous thumbs up or down from the balcony of the set of “At the Movies”). Ebert emerges in Chris Jones’s touching prose as a fighting spirit who has reconciled his lot and turn tragedy into triumph—Ebert now blogs prolifically (and in meta moment facilitated by the immediacy of online publishing, Ebert wrote this week about his interview, the reception of the article, and that photo on his blog just as buzz about the Esquire article was reaching a crescendo online) and has become a popular tweeter on Twitter. On which platform he again made headlines. You see, pop singer John Mayer recently made some contentious comments in a Playboy magazine interview, and Ebert chimed in, defending the very women Mayer derided. (You can read all about the tongue-in-cheek Twitter tsk-ing . . .

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The Scariest Forum on the Internet?

February 18, 2010
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The Scariest Forum on the Internet?

Although The Chicago Manual of Style has long been regarded as the bible of people who work with words, it wasn’t until recently that these people had a place to meet. Earlier this month, the Press launched The Chicago Manual of Style Online Forum, an internet home for subscribers wishing to kvetch, commiserate, and trade secrets about all things writing, editing, and publishing.

The historic first post read: “I’m afraid to post here. Could there be a more intimidating place to post?” (The response: “Fear and intimidation were also my first thoughts when I considered posting here. Then I decided that at least some of you were probably sitting around in your pajamas with your hair uncombed. It took some of the pressure off.”) Since the launch, CMOS Online subscribers have adopted the latter sentiment, and the Forum has received hundreds of posts about such topics as gender bias in language, the virtues of the semicolon, and the extent to which copyeditors should perform fact checking.

Today, our friends at Inside Higher Ed published a feature story that asks if the Forum is, in fact, “the scariest forum on the internet.” (We hope not.) As reporter Serena Golden writes:

. . .

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BHL the Botulist

February 17, 2010
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BHL the Botulist

In popular American culture, French philosophers might be said to have a bit of a reputation as all style and no substance. But in France itself, philosophers have long enjoyed media attention that typically casts these thinkers in a more flattering light—that is until recently, when one of France’s most popular public intellectuals, Bernard-Henri Lévy—in France often referred only by his initials BHL—made the error of citing the work of a made-up philosopher in his latest book, De la Guerre en Philosophie. As a story in the Telegraph notes:

In his book, which has received lavish praise from some quarters, the open-shirted Mr Lévy lays into the philosopher Immanuel Kant as being unhinged and a “fake”. To support his claims, he cites a certain Jean-Baptiste Botul, whom he describes as a post-War authority on Kant.

But the chorus of approval turned to laughter after a journalist from Le Nouvel Observateur pointed out that Mr Botul does not exist: he is a fictional character created by a contemporary satirical journalist, Frédéric Pagès.…

He has even given rise to a school of philosophical thought called Botulism—a play on words with the lethal disease—and has created a theory of “La Metaphysique du . . .

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