Monthly Archives: May 2010

Mothers and Babies and Books, Oh My!

May 10, 2010
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Mothers and Babies and Books, Oh My!

Motherhood and babyhood are on our collective minds this month. Yesterday, of course, was Mother’s Day (did you call your mom? I did!). And this weekend, the documentary Babies opened in wide-release (we dare you to watch the trailer and not coo). For those wondering how we came to celebrate a holiday—marked by brunch, greeting cards, and pastel floral arrangements—Rebecca Jo Plant, author of the new book Mom: The Transformation of Motherhood in Modern America explores the origins of Mother’s Day in an essay on the History News Network. (The Chicago Tribune also noted Plant’s book yesterday.) But Mom does much more than explain national holidays. Exploring such topics as maternal caregiving, childbirth, and women’s political roles, Mom vividly brings to life the varied groups that challenged older ideals of motherhood, including male critics who railed against female moral authority, psychological experts who hoped to expand their influence, and women who wished to be defined as more than wives and mothers. In her careful analysis of how motherhood came to be viewed as a more private and partial component of modern female identity, Plant ultimately shows how women’s maternal role has shaped their place in American civic, social, and familial . . .

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Monday Publicity Round-up: Chicago Books in the News

May 10, 2010
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Monday Publicity Round-up: Chicago Books in the News

The books of the University Chicago Press have enjoyed a spate of recent publicity. Here are a few highlights of what’s making headlines in Chicago and beyond. In last week’s issue of Time Out Chicago, books editor Jonathan Messinger talks with city copy turned writer, Martin Preib, author of the new book The Wagon and Other Stories from the City. Messinger writes: Those expecting Law & Order or a cop thriller need not crack the spine. Instead, Preib begins the book with an essay about his first days on the force, working “the wagon,” the police truck that carries the dead. The work is both mind- and soul-numbing, essentially the saddest courier gig in the city.… The book, it should be noted, is not memoir. But neither is it fiction. Preib is working somewhere in the middle, not caring whether he’s recording an actual event or inventing it as he goes along. In the opening essay, he notes a conflict in his approach: He wanted to illuminate the city but felt constrained by nonfiction because of Chicago’s own ambivalence to truth. You can read the story “Body Bags” or listen to Preib read from the book in the latest edition . . .

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Christena Nippert-Eng on maintaining privacy in a more public world

May 7, 2010
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Christena Nippert-Eng on maintaining privacy in a more public world

In the our post-9/11 world, inundated by video surveillance, and where joining Facebook has become almost obligatory, debate about an individual’s right to privacy has begun to take center stage. While some argue that some loss of privacy is a small price to pay for our safety, and the benefits of staying connected online outweigh concerns over the use and abuse of personal information, others disagree. Recently Christena Nippert-Eng, professor of sociology at the Illinois Institute of Technology and author of the forthcoming Islands of Privacy, made an appearance on Chicago Public Radio’s Eight Forty-Eight in a panel discussion addressing the topic. Listen to the archived audio on the Chicago Public Radio website. About the book: In Islands of Privacy, Christena Nippert-Eng gives us an intimate view into the full range of ordinary people’s sometimes extraordinary efforts to preserve the border between themselves and the rest of the world. Packed with stories that are funny and sad, familiar and strange, Islands of Privacy tours the myriad arenas where privacy battles are fought, lost, and won. Nippert-Eng explores how we manage our secrets, our phone calls and e-mail, the perimeters of our homes, and our interactions with neighbors. She discovers that . . .

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Roger Ebert Finds His Voice Online, Wins Webby Person of the Year Award

May 6, 2010
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Roger Ebert Finds His Voice Online, Wins Webby Person of the Year Award

Not long after Roger Ebert published Awake in the Dark with the Press in 2006, he lost the ability to speak. But anyone who has been keeping up with his career over the past several years knows that he hasn’t been silent. Far from it, in fact. In addition to publishing two additional books with the Press (2008’s Scorsese by Ebert and the forthcoming The Great Movies III), he continues to review films for the Chicago Sun-Times and has even found time to compile his favorite rice cooker recipes into a cookbook, due out this fall (sadly, not from the UCP). But perhaps his most notable achievement is his robust cyber presence; indeed, as Chris Jones posited in his moving profile of the critic in the February issue of Esquire, he needed to lose his speaking voice to find his voice again online. Jones writes, “More than five hundred thousand words of inner monologue have poured out of him, five hundred thousand words that probably wouldn’t exist had he kept his other voice.… He spends several hours each night reclined in his chair, tending to his online oasis by lamplight. Out there, his voice is still his voice—not a reasonable . . .

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Press Release: Cohen, Duke Ellington’s America

May 6, 2010
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Press Release: Cohen, Duke Ellington’s America

Duke Ellington towered over the world of popular music for decades, a singular figure of nearly unmatched achievement and influence. From his unforgettable jazz standards like “Mood Indigo” and “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” to his longer, more orchestral suites that dramatically expanded the boundaries of the form, to his peerless leadership of his big band, Ellington left his mark on every aspect of jazz in its heyday. With Duke Ellington’s America, Harvey G. Cohen offers music fans a vivid, comprehensive account of Ellington’s life and times, setting the artist and his music fully in the context of twentieth-century American culture and history. Making use of unprecedented access to Ellington”s archives—as well as new interviews with his friends, family, and band members—Cohen illuminates Ellington’s constantly evolving approach to composition, performance, and the music business, while also taking into account his role as a spokesman for civil rights and racial justice. Throughout, Cohen regularly hands the mike to Ellington himself, drawing from countless interviews the bandleader gave over the years to lend Duke Ellington’s America an immediacy and intimacy unmatched by any previous account. . . .

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Who needs a world’s fair?

May 6, 2010
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Who needs a world’s fair?

Since it’s inception in 1851 the international exposition—now usually known as the World’s Fair—has showcased some of the most groundbreaking, and occasionally prolific, technological inventions and advancements. From the debut of the Ferris Wheel at the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, to the modern television displayed at a 1939-40 exhibition in New York, for most of the twentieth century the World’s Fair served as the public’s window on the future. An international exhibition is currently being held in Shanghai, China and held its opening ceremonies on May 1st. But in this day and age, when the internet can put us in touch with the latest technologies and trends without ever having to leave the house, some are asking whether the World’s Fair still has anything left to offer—including All Things Considered host Robert Siegel who recently posed the question to historian Robert W. Rydell who has written several books on the history of the Word’s Fair including All the World’s a Fair: Visions of Empire at American International Expositions, 1876-1916 and World of Fairs: The Century-of-Progress Expositions. From the interview: SIEGEL: … We live in times when even satellite television is old technology compared to the Internet. Who needs . . .

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Devra G. Kleiman, 1942-2010

May 5, 2010
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Devra G. Kleiman, 1942-2010

World renowned conservation biologist Devra G. Kleiman passed away on April 29 in Washington D.C. Kleiman is best known for her work at Smithsonian National Zoo where she led groundbreaking research into how zoos can be utilized to aid in preserving endangered species, sparking a “revolution of the role of zoos as conservation organizations,” according to Steven Monfort, director of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, who was quoted in an obituary appearing in yesterday’s Washington Post. Her book, co-edited by Mary E. Allen, Katerina V. Thompson, and Susan Lumpkin, Wild Mammals in Captivity: Principles and Techniques bears the fruits of much of this research. The first handbook of its kind, Wild Mammals in Captivity focuses on the advances made by Kleiman and the book’s other esteemed contributors to standard practice in the management of wild animals in captivity, and, with a second edition due out in August of this year, includes the most current information from field and captive studies of animal behavior, advances in captive breeding, research in physiology, genetics, and nutrition, and new thinking in animal management and welfare. Find out more about Kleiman and her work in the obit section of the Washington Post or find out . . .

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Should participation in organ donation programs be presumed?

May 5, 2010
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Should participation in organ donation programs be presumed?

A New York state assemblyman has proposed a measure that would change the way people opt-in to organ donation. Richard Brodsky wants to introduce a “presumed consent” system, in which, as the New York Times explains, “people would have to indicate in official documents — their driver’s licenses, most commonly — that they specifically don’t want to donate organs. If the box is not checked, it is presumed the person wants to donate.” Over on the Room for Debate blog, the Times gathered a roundtable of experts on the subject of organ donation to weigh in on the proposed change. Keiran Healy, a Duke sociologist and author of Last Best Gifts:Altruism and the Market for Human Blood and Organs, published by the Press in 2006, suggested that the new law won’t have the intended effect: “Support for donation was built up by publicizing the now familiar idea that organ donation is a unique, even sacred, sort of gift. A naive presumed consent proposal would run straight into this established understanding of donation.” Healy goes on to say that countries like Spain and Italy, which already have presumed consent laws on the books, “do not outperform countries like the U.S. by . . .

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Joseph Leo Koerner wins Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Achievement Award

May 5, 2010
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Joseph Leo Koerner wins Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Achievement Award

Joseph Leo Koerner, the Victor S. Thomas Professor of History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University and the author of The Moment of Self-Portraiture in German Renaissance Art and The Reformation of the Image, has been awarded one of three Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Achievement Awards for 2009. The awards, which include a hefty cash prize of up to $1.5 million each, “honor scholars who have made significant contributions to humanistic inquiry and enable them to teach and do research under especially favorable conditions while enlarging opportunities for scholarship and teaching at the academic institutions with which they are affiliated.” You can find the official press release at the Andrew W. Mellon website. More about Koerner’s books: The Moment of Self-Portraiture in German Renaissance Art In this groundbreaking and elegantly written study, Joseph Koerner establishes the character of Renaissance art in Germany. Opening up new modes of inquiry for historians of art and early modern Europe, Koerner examines how artists such as Albrecht Dürer and Hans Baldung Grien reflected in their masterworks the changing status of the self in sixteenth-century Germany. The Reformation of the Image Martin Luther preached the radical notion that we are saved through faith alone. . . .

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Free e-book of the month

May 4, 2010
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Free e-book of the month

If you missed our one-day-only free download of Mark Monmonier’s newest book, No Dig, No Fly, No Go, not to worry. Starting today and for the rest of the month you have another chance to sample the fascinating work of this prolific author/geographer with a Monmonier classic, Cartographies of Danger: Mapping Hazards in America—May’s free e-book of the month. About the book: No place is perfectly safe, but some places are more dangerous than others. Whether we live on a floodplain or in “Tornado Alley,” near a nuclear facility or in a neighborhood poorly lit at night, we all co-exist uneasily with natural and man-made hazards. As Mark Monmonier shows in this entertaining and immensely informative book, maps can tell us a lot about where we can anticipate certain hazards, but they can also be dangerously misleading. “No one should buy a home, rent an apartment, or even drink the local water without having read this fascinating cartographic alert on the dangers that lurk in our everyday lives.… Who has not asked where it is safe to live? Cartographies of Danger provides the answer.”—H. J. de Blij, NBC News Also read Monmonier’s list of ten risky places. E-books from the . . .

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