Monthly Archives: August 2011

Remembering Fernando Coronil

August 25, 2011
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Remembering Fernando Coronil

Fernando Coronil, distinguished professor of anthropology and Latin American studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, passed away last week after a hard-fought battle with lung cancer. Numerous colleagues have remembered the committed internationalist and critic of globocentrism, noting his capacious intellect, incisive scholarship, and passion for teaching, while still others have mourned the passing of a beloved mentor and friend. We remember Coronil as the author of The Magical State: Nature, Money, and Modernity in Venezuela, which examined key twentieth-century transformations in the nation’s polity, culture, and economy, recasting theories of development and highlighting the relevance of these processes for other postcolonial nations. Below follows a more personal tribute from our own executive editor David Brent, who worked intimately with Coronil on The Magical State, and who offers a few good words on Coronil’s remarkable life:

A Tribute to the late Fernando Coronil (1944-2011)

As anyone knows who has read Fernando Coronil’s The Magical State: Nature, Money, and Modernity in Venezuela, or even just the endorsements of it on the back cover of the paperback edition, it is an exceptionally significant work not only for Latin American studies or anthropology in general but . . .

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Parker comes to the big screen

August 15, 2011
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Parker comes to the big screen

Parker—violent anti-hero, dangerous predator, single-named fictional protagonist who chases after ex-partners, ex-wives, and well-executed financial transfers—is about to become a cinema star again. Previous film adaptations of Donald Westlake qua Richard Stark’s popular crime fiction novels have been helmed by iconic male stars such as Lee Marvin, Peter Coyote, and yes, Mel Gibson (by iconic, we mean some combination of hardboiled, hallucinogenic, and headcase-y). In the Taylor Hackford-directed Parker (set to release in October 2012—if we’re not too distracted by the pending return of Quetzalcoatl), Jason Statham will take his turn at the marvelous villain, via a screenplay based on the recently rereleased Flashfire. The only thing that could make this all that much more interesting is . . . Jennifer Lopez. Done and done.

With all this in mind, and apologies to Jason Statham, we’ve reconsidered the casting and thought about five other actors fit to finesse our ruthless protagonist:

Joe Pesci: out of work, an air of desperation, likely can get down with the West Palm Beach aesthetic

Eddie Murphy as Axel Foley as Parker: “You wanna start some static?”

Klaus Kinski: a rarefied performance, no doubt; somewhere in purgatory, Parker heists a cruise ship . . .

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On the Nature of (Our) Things

August 15, 2011
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On the Nature of (Our) Things

In a recent issue of the New Yorker, UCP author Stephen Greenblatt reminds us of the “strikingly modern” outlook of De rerum natura, Roman philosopher Lucretius’s epic, 7400-line poem On the Nature of Things, and its Epicurean atomic mindblow. Amid the celestial provenance of fortuna—fate, not divine intervention—Lucretius mixed up explanations of the material world (lightning, earthquakes, and heat) with a primer on disease and a pestilent description of a plagued Athens.

As Greenblatt notes:

Every page reflected a core scientific vision—a vision of atoms randomly moving in an infinite universe—imbued with a poet’s sense of wonder. Wonder did not depend on the dream of an afterlife; in Lucretius, it welled up out of a recognition that we are made of the same matter as the stars and the oceans and all things else. And this recognition was the basis for the way he thought we should live—not in fear of the gods but in pursuit of pleasure, in avoidance of pain. As it turned out, there was a line from this work to modernity, though not a direct one.

Should we follow that path? In The Lucretian Renaissance: Philology and the Afterlife of Tradition, Gerard Passannante takes us along . . .

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All other persons

August 15, 2011
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All other persons

The Constitutional Convention took place from May 14th to September 17th, 1787. The delegates spent much of the early month of August adjourned as the Committee of Detail met to refine previously reached agreements, including the contentious role of slavery, before submitting what became an early draft of the U.S. Constitution. Though ten states had already outlawed the slave trade, three key Southern holdouts (Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina) threatened to leave the convention and stall progress if the trade were banned outright. Ultimately, delegates instead ratified the Three-Fifths compromise (Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the Constitution), which created this federal ratio in order to assess slaves (“all other persons”) as three-fifths of their actual number for purposes of representation in the House and Senate.

In A Slaveholders’ Union: Slavery, Politics, and the Constitution in the Early American Republic, George W. Van Cleve judiciously demonstrates that this Constitution was pro-slavery in its politics, its economics, and its law. Framing the development of a strong federal republic around the allegiance of the Southern states, A Slaveholders’ Union establishes this long-term protection of slavery as the consequence of Southern participation in the fledgling Union.

Pulitzer Prize-winner Annette Gordon-Reed, in . . .

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