Monthly Archives: April 2010

Five press authors elected members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

April 22, 2010
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Five press authors elected members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences has recently announced its new 2010 members. The University of Chicago Press is pleased to note that five of our authors have made the list: Eric Posner, professor of law at the University of Chicago Law School has published several books with the Press including his 2009 publication The Perils of Global Legalism and his 2001 Cost-Benefit Analysis: Economic, Philosophical, and Legal Perspectives with co-editor Matthew D. Adler. His newest book co-edited with his colleague at the U of C law School, Cass R. Sunstein, engages in a fascinating study of the notion of happiness—or “hedonics”— as it relates to law and public policy. Law and Happiness brings together the best and most influential thinkers in this burgeoning field to explore the question of what makes up happiness—and what factors can be demonstrated to increase or decrease it. Marc Shell, professor of English and comparative literature at Harvard University, has dedicated much of his published work to the study of the intersection between economics and aesthetics, including his 1995 publication Art & Money—a frank, provocative, and entirely unconventional look at two worlds in tandem, focusing on what binds together and drives apart the . . .

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Samuel Clemens Centenary

April 21, 2010
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Samuel Clemens Centenary

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the passing of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, pen name Mark Twain. And as this article in the Guardian points out despite Clemens’ “1896 dictum that ‘What ought to be done to the man who invented the celebrating of anniversaries? Mere killing would be too light'” many are marking the 100th anniversary of his death—including well, us I guess, and also Sotheby’s auction house in New York where an unpublished 64 page manuscript of an intimate account of Clemens’ family life titled “A Family Sketch” will be up for bidding today. According to the Guardian, the memoir, “written shortly after Twain’s eldest daughter died of meningitis in 1896, is expected to sell for $120,000 to $180,000.” It doesn’t appear there are any plans on publishing the manuscript so if you can’t afford the six figure ticket you will have to skip on this autobiographical account of Clemens’ life for now, but you can of course always pick up the next best thing. Renowned Twain scholar Hamlin Hill’s biography Mark Twain: God’s Fool digs through many of the myths surrounding Clemens’ personal life to reveal a surprisingly frustrated writer plagued by paranoia. As Hill reveals, despite Twain . . .

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Press Release: Riley Romey’s Order

April 20, 2010
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Press Release: Riley Romey’s Order

Romey’s Order is a charged sequence of poems voiced by an invented (and inventive) boy called Romey, set alongside a river in the South Carolina lowcountry. Intently visceral, aural, oral, Atsuro Riley’s poems bristle with musical and imaginative pleasures, with storytelling and picture-making of a new and wholly unexpected kind. “Romey’s Order is the world of a young boy growing up in backwoods South Carolina. His father is an ex-soldier, his mother the Japanese wife the father brought home from his time as a soldier. Thus the radical dichotomies in the young boy’s world, rendered in a dense and beautiful, intensely expressive and inventive language. This language is indebted to Hopkins as well as Heaney, full of a child’s invented word-play trying to capture the smells and textures and country-speech he is constantly assaulted by. The boy is obsessed with language, words that save the dense world from extinction. Words confer almost a magical immediacy to experience, but also wound: half-Asian, at the fair he finds a stall with a game called ‘Shoot the Gook Down.’ The author frames all this as his heritage: ‘This is the house … I come from and carry.’ The result is amazing and indelible, . . .

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Dreaming of future books

April 20, 2010
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Dreaming of future books

Andrew Piper’s Dreaming in Books: The Making of the Bibliographic Imagination in the Romantic Age explores literary culture at the turn of the nineteenth century to show how, alongside the period’s innovations in mass printing, romantic writing and writers themselves played crucial roles in creating the age’s “bookish culture.” And in keeping with the theme of his book, Piper will appear at the Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival on Saturday, April 24, at 1 p.m to participate in a panel discussion titled: “Reading the World: The Future of the Book” as part of the five-day long festivities, which begin Wednesday. An article on the festival in the Saturday edition of the Montreal Gazette cites Piper on the “bookish culture” of today: When McGill professor Andrew Piper was a child, punishment meant being sent to his room to read. Today, if the father of two metes out punishment to either his 5-year-old son or 3-year-old daughter, it means taking away a bedtime story, be it Scaredy Squirrel’s latest adventure or a Frog and Toad tale. Piper grew into his love of books and became an expert on the relationship between the book and literature in the 18th and 19th centuries. . . .

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Press Release: Royko, Early Royko

April 20, 2010
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Press Release: Royko, Early Royko

Combining the incisive pen of a newspaperman and the compassionate soul of a poet, Mike Royko became a Chicago institution—in Jimmy Breslin’s words, “the best journalist of his time.” Early Royko: Up Against It in Chicago will restore to print the legendary columnist’s earliest writings, which chronicle 1960s Chicago with the moral vision, ironic sense, and razor-sharp voice that would remain Royko’s trademark. This collection of early columns from the Chicago Daily News ranges from witty social commentary to politically astute satire. Some of the pieces are falling-down funny and others are tenderly nostalgic, but all display Royko’s unrivaled skill at using humor to tell truth to power. From machine politicians and gangsters to professional athletes, from well-heeled Chicagoans to down-and-out hoodlums, no one escapes Royko’s penetrating gaze—and resounding judgment. Early Royko features a memorable collection of characters, including such well-known figures as Hugh Hefner, Mayor Richard J. Daley, and Dr. Martin Luther King. Accompanied by a foreword from Rick Kogan, this new edition will delight Royko’s most ardent fans and capture the hearts of a new generation of readers. As Kogan writes, Early Royko “will remind us how a remarkable relationship began—Chicago and Royko, Royko and Chicago—and how it . . .

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Looming NYC Doormen Strike Draws Attention to a Fractured Social Dynamic

April 19, 2010
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Looming NYC Doormen Strike Draws Attention to a Fractured Social Dynamic

New Yorkers may be left without anyone to hold the door this week if the union representing more than 30,000 workers in residential buildings calls for a strike. The proposed work stoppage—the first in nearly two decades—would begin at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, when the current contract expires. As the New York Times reports, the conflict between the doormen and the building owners is over benefits. While the base salary of the workers, which averages about $40,000 a year, isn’t a problem, it’s the coast of benefits, which the Times reports raise the total per employee to nearly $70,000, that has the two sides at a stalemate. The building owners have proposed measures to cut the cost of benefits, but the union will not agree to lower wages or the proposed move to 401(K) retirement plans in lieu of current pensions. The looming strike threatens to disrupt one of the most quintessentially New York relationships—that between the tenant and the doorman. As A. G. Sulzberger wrote in the Times, New Yorkers are left worrying: “Who will safeguard my apartment as I sleep? Greet my children when they come home from school? Accept deliveries? Clean the hallways? Sort the mail? Operate the . . .

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How volcanoes work

April 19, 2010
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How volcanoes work

While volcanic eruptions—like this recent one in the Alaskan wilderness—actually happen with some frequency, most do not make international headlines. The exception, of course, has been the recent eruption on Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull glacier, which, due to the engine-choking plumes of ash it has spread throughout the jet stream, has severely disrupted air traffic all over Europe. So if you’re one of the many people stuck sitting around airports or hotel rooms with nothing better to do than wait out the “storm,” (or even if you’re not), why not bone up on your knowledge of such natural phenomenon with E. C. Pielou’s The Energy of Nature? Pielou’s book is a fascinating exploration of energy’s role in nature—how and where it originates, what it does, and what becomes of it—and volcanoes of course, play a major role. The following is an excerpt from Chapter Fourteen: Turmoil at the Surface: Volcanoes …Consider volcanoes. Obviously the earth loses heat when volumes of red-hot lava gush out through the crust and cool off in the open air. Not so obvious is the reason the lava became molten in the first place. Volcanic lava (known as magma before it emerges into the open) usually comes from . . .

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The Press Congratulates the Guggenheim Fellows

April 16, 2010
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The Press Congratulates the Guggenheim Fellows

Yesterday, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation announced its eighty-sixth class of fellows. Among those honored with the prestigious award were a number of familiar faces at the Press. We recognize and congratulate each below. Andrew Apter, professor of history and anthropology at University of California, Los Angeles, studies ritual, memory, and indigenous knowledge. He has published three books with the University of Chicago Press—including Black Critics and Kings: The Hermeneutics of Power in Yoruba Society and The Pan-African Nation: Oil and the Spectacle of Culture in Nigeria; in his most recent book, Beyond Words: Discourse and Critical Agency in Africa, Apter confronts colonialist depictions of Africa in the discipline of anthropology and develops an ethnographic practice that transcends the politics of the continent’s imperial past. A professor of sociology at Northwestern University, Gary Alan Fine has published six book with the University of Chicago Press, covering topics from little league baseball to outsider art. His most recent book, Authors of the Storm: Meteorologists and the Culture of Prediction, takes us inside Storm Prediction Center in Oklahoma and the National Weather Service in Washington, D.C, to see first hand how meteorologists and forecasters predict the weather. Though perhaps best known . . .

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“The Terrorist Crop-Duster”

April 16, 2010
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“The Terrorist Crop-Duster”

As Lynn C. Klotz and Edward J. Sylvester write in this recent article from the Huffington Post, in the wake of 9/11, and the subsequent lethal anthrax letters, the United States has spent billions of dollars on measures to defend the population against the threat of biological weapons. Over the last decade a significant proportion of taxpayer dollars have been funneled into clandestine biosecurity labs where thousands of scientists labor to identify possible terrorist threats, and produce countermeasures to protect a vulnerable population. But in their article as in their recent book, Breeding Bio Insecurity: How U.S. Biodefense Is Exporting Fear, Globalizing Risk, and Making Us All Less Secure, Klotz and Sylvester convincingly argue that all that money and effort hasn’t actually made us any safer—in fact, it has made us more vulnerable. In the article, the authors use a scenario put forward by the congressional Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism—a scenario in which a single crop duster with a payload of anthrax could potentially “kill more Americans than died in World War II”—to demonstrate how efforts to defend against such far-fetched imaginary threats can actually play a major role in creating the . . .

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Press Release: Paley, The Boy on the Beach

April 15, 2010
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Press Release: Paley, The Boy on the Beach

Study after study has tackled the question of how young children learn—and for decades Vivian Gussin Paley has argued that if we want the best answers to that question, we simply need to listen to children. In her nearly fifty years as a teacher and writer, Paley has done just that, listening closely as kids, at play and at school, tell stories, invent characters, and imagine situations to help them understand the complicated and surprising world around them. With The Boy on the Beach, Paley continues her listening, using the stories of young children—recounted in their own words—to help understand how they use play and stories to build community in the classroom, on the playground, and at home. She then follows a kindergarten class through one school year, letting us watch as the children get to know one another and their teacher, and incisively analyzing the role their increasingly shared imaginative lives play in their education and development. Never less than charming, yet rich with ideas and insight, The Boy on the Beach is vintage Vivian Paley, sure to be embraced by teachers and parents alike. Read the press release. Also read an excerpt from the book. . . .

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