The Weekly Reader

January 27, 2011
By

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It’s that time again: we accidentally left a printout near the copier on the 3rd of May 2010 (Goya reference not lost upon us!), only to find it still there this afternoon. With that melding of the Born-Oppenheimer Approximation in mind (“Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday born I was/Thursday’s child”), let’s again revisit the week that was:

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The Times Higher Ed profiled Kenneth J. McNamara’s The Star-Crossed Stone: The Secret Life, Myths, and History of a Fascinating Fossil. Their verdict? “A scholarly but highly accessible book, peppered with stories of the archaeologists responsible for excavating sites containing fossils” which “skillfully mingles anecdote with hard evidence.”
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Just days before the book was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism, Susie Linfield’s The Cruel Radiance: Photography and Political Violence was the subject of Jed Perl’s thoughtful and challenging piece in the New Republic, where Perl commended Linfield’s “natural appetite for photographic images” and her refusal “to be boxed in by any particular discipline or literary genre.” What’s all the fuss about? Excerpt here.
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In the Guardian, Ann Fabian’s The Skull Collectors: Race, Science, and America’s Unburied Dead was featured in the Birdbooker Report as “an interesting story” that “takes readers on a darkly fascinating trip down a little-visited but surprisingly important byway of American history.”
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The just-released February/March 2011 issue of Bookforum includes reviews on two recent University of Chicago Press books: Rebecca Messbarger’s The Lady Anatomist: The Life and Work of Anna Morandi Manzolini and James Attlee’s Nocturne: A Journey in Search of Moonlight. Since both reviews are part of the print edition, you’ll have to take our word for the praises below:
“Decaying corpses, flayed limbs, home laboratories—Rebecca Messbarger’s new book has all the makings of a horror story. . . . Messbarger draws on her deep knowledge of the period as well as on a rich trove of archival materials to make a strong case for her subject’s exceptional status as both artist and anatomist.”
“For Attlee, the power of moonlight is not so much what it allows us to see as what it allows us to look away
from. . . . When we undermine the dominance of sight, we remember how to feel our way through the world and encounter a lost intuition.”
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Michael P. Jeffries, whose book Thug Life: Race, Gender, and the Meaning of Hip-Hop just made its debut, has a thoughtful piece up at the Atlantic entitled, “Is Barack Obama Really the Hip-Hop President?” With a nod to Young Jeezy, multiple subjectivity, and Dreams from My Father, Jeffries interrogates the “sloppy racial reasoning that fuels pop-cultural romanticism.”
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Annelise Riles, author of the forthcoming Collateral Knowledge: Legal Reasoning in the Global Finance Markets, made the front page of today’s Huffington Post with a column offering an anthropologist’s perspective on market reform. Like what you read? Check out her Collateral Knowledge blog here
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Jeffrey J. Kripal, author of Authors of the Impossible: The Paranormal and the Sacred has a wonderfully nerdy piece up at Boing Boing on (echo? echo?) on the paranormal and popular culture. Arthur Koestler, Buddhist temples, the Johnson space station, superheroes, psychedelic tea, and a touch of sophistication, oh my!
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Thomas DaCosta Kauffmann’s Arcimboldo: Visual Jokes, Natural History, and Still-Life Painting was reviewed in Toronto’s National Post. The reviewer’s verdict on Arcimboldo? “He was easily the oddest damn artist of the whole Renaissance.” On the book? “Kaufmann, as a good historian, wants us to understand the Arcimboldo his contemporaries knew him.”
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And finally—Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses continues to ride the warp and weft of the World Wide Web. We’ve touched upon some of its successes here and can only add: if it was once the Summer of Hayek, can this mean that we’ve finally reached the Winter of Our Discontent?
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