Monthly Archives: November 2010

I thought Don Draper wanted Nixon to win?

November 10, 2010
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I thought Don Draper wanted Nixon to win?

Uh-oh. TV Squad has the contemporary political equivalent of the long-stemming left brain-right brain debate: a chart of the most popular Republican and Democratic television shows (with the opposing party’s strangely proportional tally in parentheses!). Based on a new study by Experian Simmons, the results situate the Grand Old Party on the couch in front of populist-charting favorites such as American Idol and Dancing with the Stars, while the lefties decompress with Law and Order: SVU and Mad Men. Chart toppers? Op-ed news network programming faves Glenn Beck and Keith Olbermann, rather unsurprisingly. Nearly twenty-five years ago, public opinion studies pioneers Shanto Iyengar and Donald R. Kinder first published News that Matters: Television and American Opinion. Just released in an updated edition, the book was the first to document a series of sophisticated and innovative experiments that demonstrated how the order and emphasis of news stories varied in selected television broadcasts. Now hailed as a political science classic, News that Matters, Updated Edition (with a new preface and epilogue, and available as an ebook) shows how and why extended coverage in the national news and broadcast television causes matters to gain or lose credibility, as criteria for everything from evaluating . . .

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Waiting for Superman to school citizens

November 10, 2010
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Waiting for Superman to school citizens

This week’s issue of the New York Review of Books takes a stance on a hot-button issue that just happens to be the subject of a major new documentary. If you watch Oprah, read the Nation or Time magazine, or, you know, listen to conversations with President Obama on the nightly news, you know that Davis Guggenheim, director of the Academy Award-winning film An Inconvenient Truth (shoutout to Al Gore and polar bears!), helms a new movie about the fate of public education in America and the plight of five children competing for admission to in-demand charter schools. Waiting for “Superman” paints a provocative portrait of the rise of a new generation of charter schools, many funded by the government but privately run, and each presenting an alternative to troubled U.S. public schools. But as Diane Ravitch notes in the NYRB article: Waiting for “Superman” and the other films appeal to a broad apprehension that the nation is falling behind in global competition. If the economy is a shambles, if poverty persists for significant segments of the population, if American kids are not as serious about their studies as their peers in other nations, the schools must be to blame. . . .

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Light Reading

November 5, 2010
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Light Reading

This weekend marks the fifth annual NY Art Book Fair (though things technically got underway last night) at MOMA’s PS1 in Long Island City, Queens. Sponsored by Printed Matter, the non-profit institution dedicated to the promotion of artists’ books and material ephemera, the Fair features cutting-edge art organizations, journals, scholars (Boris Groys), and contemporary artists (Paul Chan and Kristin Lucas, among them), alongside over 200 exhibitors, including native Chicagoans Soberscove Press and Temporary Services. In celebration of the conference, we’d like to point you toward some events and exhibitions organized around the work of one of our own purveyors of that soon-to-be discussed art-book hybrid, Press author Josiah McElheny. McElheny’s The Light Club: On Paul Scheerbart’s “The Light Club of Batavia” has already enjoyed a profile in ARTnews, a centenary party cohosted by Cabinet, and mention in the Chronicle of Higher Education. A recent editor’s choice review in BOMB engages the book in sum: The slim volume The Light Club reveals McElheny’s passion for modernity’s early days, its promises, its failures, and its forgotten stories. The book offers the first English translation of Der Lichtklub von Batavia, a futuristic satire from 1912 by German novelist and theorist Paul Scheerbart, who . . .

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So, um, what are you going to do with that?

November 4, 2010
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So, um, what are you going to do with that?

Here’s the thing about viral videos: take a snooze for a few days, righteously celebrate a pagan holiday, or watch an older and more conservative electorate radically alter the shape of the American political landscape, and you’re already a day late and a dollar short. This week, that video is Xtranormal’s “So You Want to Get a PhD in the Humanities?” Picked up across the web by sites as diverse as Open Culture, a peer-to-peer educational forum, and 3 Quarks Daily, an intelligent commentary webzine, as well as by blogger Scott McLemme and nearly every graduate English student’s Facebook feed, this satiric animated exchange between a tenured professor and an ambitious would-be Humanities PhD has pithily summarized long-brewing debates about the overcrowded academic job market, low-paying adjunct salaries, and grim prospects for those who, you know, continue to study the human in all of its endeavors. We might not have a ready solution to all that ails, here at Chicago, but we do have plenty of resources for students similarly driven. Andrew Roberts’s The Thinking Student’s Guide to College: 75 Tips for Getting a Better Education is a great prequel to that one-on-one conversation with professors near and dear around . . .

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A Little History of The Cruel Radiance

November 2, 2010
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A Little History of The Cruel Radiance

Susie Linfield is the director of the cultural reporting and criticism program at New York University, where she’s an associate professor of journalism. Like many in her field, Linfield approaches the topic of her most recent University of Chicago Press book The Cruel Radiance: Photography and Political Violence head-on, arguing that learning to see the people in politically violent photographs is an ethically necessary act in today’s visually proliferated world. Surveying the work of photographers as varied as James Nachtwey, Gilles Peress, and Jack Birns, and ranging in scope from China’s cultural revolution and the events surrounding 9/11 to the Nigerian-Biafran and Bosnian wars, The Cruel Radiance adroitly considers how photography has—and should—respond to the increasingly nihilistic trajectory of modern warfare. It should be unsurprising, to say the least, that the book has picked up steam in the weeks surrounding today’s elections. You can check out several excerpts—this one at the UCP site on the history of photography, from Benjamin to Sontag; another at Guernica entitled “September 11th and the Democracy of Images”; and yet another at Tablet, which questions the right and wrong ways of looking at Holocaust-era photography. Just yesterday, Artforum posted a 500 Words piece by Linfield, . . .

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