Monthly Archives: June 2010

Two local papers review Last Words of the Executed

June 3, 2010
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Two local papers review Last Words of the Executed

Two reviews of Robert K. Elder’s new book Last Words of the Executed have appeared recently—one in the Chicago Tribune and the other in Chicago’s Newcity magazine. Both reviews praise the book’s author for his neutrality—Elder is a former staff writer for the Tribune—noting the book’s broad appeal regardless of one’s stance towards capital punishment. From the Tribune: Those with no interest in using the book to make the case against capital punishment (or, for that matter, to justify the death penalty) should still find it worthwhile reading. I hesitate to use the word “entertaining” to describe the text. “Compelling” is more appropriate. And from Newcity: He’s committed to neutrality here—just the facts, ma’am—to avoid “rubbernecking,” and successfully keeps the spotlight on the last words of the convicted without erring into self-righteous coyness. Read the reviews and see these excerpts from the book. . . .

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As Oil Threatens the Gulf, a Reading List of Ocean Books

June 3, 2010
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As Oil Threatens the Gulf, a Reading List of Ocean Books

As the oil gushing from the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico continues to pollute the waters and sully the shores, renewed attention is being paid to our fragile oceanic ecosystem and the many species of animals that call it home. Over the last several years, the University of Chicago Press has published a number of books related to the ocean and the creatures that inhabit it. Here’s a few of the titles that, in light of this tragic catastrophe, have become more timely than ever. Although much has been made of the devastating losses to marine life, as well as the disruption to the livelihoods of those who depend on fishing the now blackened waters, another aspect of life in and on the oceans has been disrupted: scientific research. Ellen Prager’s passionate paean to science at sea immerses readers in the world of ocean scientists—aquanauts living underwater, marine biologists seeking unseen life in the deep ocean, and the tall-ship captains at the helm, among others—and tells the fascinating tale of what life—and science—is like at the mercy of Mother Nature. Filled with firsthand accounts of the challenges and triumphs of dealing with the extreme forces of nature . . .

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Why do people believe bunk?

June 2, 2010
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Why do people believe bunk?

Last week, Andrew Wakefield, the doctor whose research suggested a link between the childhood MMR vaccine and autism, was banned from practicing medicine in the United Kingdom. The New York Times reports: “The disciplinary tribunal’s action came after more than a decade of controversy over the links Dr. Wakefield and associates in Britain, as well as supporters among parents of some autistic children in Britain and the United States, have made between autism and a commonly used vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella. The suggestion of a link caused use of the vaccine in Britain and elsewhere in the world to plummet, a development that critics of Dr. Wakefield said contributed to a sharp rise in measles cases in countries where the vaccine was in use. Most scientific papers have failed to find any links between vaccines and autism.” Though the move was hailed by many as a victory of science over pseudoscience, some wonder if it is too little too late. Opines the Boston Globe: “But sadder still is the possibility that, in the minds of thousands of parents desperately clinging to hopes of finding a cure for autism, Wakefield’s legend might survive untarnished, possibly even exalted.” Why, even . . .

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Free e-book of the month: Freaks Talk Back

June 2, 2010
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Free e-book of the month: Freaks Talk Back

In Freaks Talk Back: Tabloid Talk Shows and Sexual Nonconformity author Joshua Gamson digs deep into the complex sexual politics of one of the most influential forces in modern American media—daytime TV talkshows. Using extensive interviews, hundreds of transcripts, focus-group discussions with viewers, and his own experiences as an audience member, Gamson argues that talk shows give much-needed, high-impact public visibility to sexual nonconformists while also exacerbating all sorts of political tensions among those becoming visible. With wit and passion, Freaks Talk Back illuminates the joys, dilemmas, and practicalities of media visibility—and for the month of June only, you can download it free from the University of Chicago Press website. Also, read an interview with the author and an excerpt from the book. Check back each month for more free e-books from the University of Chicago Press or for all our currently available e-books, see our complete list of e-books by subject. E-books from the University of Chicago Press are offered in Adobe Digital Editions format for Mac, PC, and a number of mobile devices such as the Sony Reader, IREX, BeBook, and more. Check out these links to find out more about Adobe Digital Editions or more about e-books . . .

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Spiders of Louise Bourgeois

June 1, 2010
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Spiders of Louise Bourgeois

Longtime Chicagoans may recall the 1983 retrospective of the work of sculptor Louise Bourgeois that came to the Museum of Contemporary Art (back when the museum was on East Ontario Street). It was an exhibit best seen, perhaps, in the company of a psychotherapist: primal and dark, layered with pain, abuse, betrayal, and brutality. This retrospective left one looking forward—warily—to further work from this provocative sculptor. There was more work, much more, all suffused with psychic confession. Bourgeois may be best known for her series of giant spiders, which she associated with her mother. The extensive installation Spider (1997) is the subject of a book by Mieke Bal, Louise Bourgeois’ Spider: The Architecture of Art-Writing, which comes into close engagement with the work and the issues of biography and autobiography which are never far away. The New York Times has an obituary and a slideshow of some of her works. . . .

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Michael Camille honored by the Dedalus Foundation

June 1, 2010
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Michael Camille honored by the Dedalus Foundation

The Dedalus Foundation, founded by Robert Motherwell to promote understanding of modern art and modernism, recently announced the winner of the annual Robert Motherwell Book Award, Cézanne’s Other: The Portraits of Hortense by R. Bruce Elder, published by the University of California Press. The foundation also announced a special commendation award for the posthumously published book by Michael Camille, The Gargoyles of Notre-Dame: Medievalism and the Monsters of Modernity, which we released last year. In announcing the special commendation, the Dedalus Foundation said: This study of the ‘monsters’ of the cathedral restored by Viollet-le-Duc in the nineteenth century explores the complex position of these creatures between past and present. Narrating their conception and realization on the basis of impressive archival research, Camille proceeds to track their impact in shaping the modern imagination—not only in the arts but in science, politics, and popular culture as well—from Victor Hugo and Jules Michelet to Disney and the Internet. These are our monsters. The Gargoyles of Notre-Dame is an expansive, interdisciplinary cultural analysis that questions defining assumptions of modern history and art history. Michael Camille (1958–2002) was professor of art history at the University of Chicago and we were pleased to also publish his . . .

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