Monthly Archives: April 2013

2013 Laing Prize: Andreas Glaeser’s Political Epistemics

April 30, 2013
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2013 Laing Prize: Andreas Glaeser’s Political Epistemics

The Gordon J. Laing Prize is awarded annually by the University of Chicago Press to the faculty author, editor, or translator of a book published in the previous three years that brings the Press the greatest distinction. The varied expertise of past recipients has spanned the disciplines—from intellectual property wars and evolutionary theory to racial profiling and eighteenth-century Italian opera—and helped to generate an enviable listing of scholars that the University is lucky to call their own. On top of all that, this year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Prize, first awarded to Bernard Weinberg in 1963 for A History of Literary Criticism in the Italian Renaissance. This year, the 2013 Laing Prize went to Andreas Glaeser, associate professor of soci0logy at the University, for Political Epistemics: The Secret Police, the Opposition, and the End of East German Socialism. Glaeser’s book considers socialist East Germany’s unexpected self-dissolution in 1989, building on extensive in-depth interviews with former secret police officers and the dissidents they tried to control, among other resources, to offer an epistemic account of socialism’s failure that differs markedly from existing explanations. Included below are some snapshots from the recent Laing Prize reception taken by our editorial director . . .

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Our Fountains of Youth: An excerpt from The Longevity Seekers

April 25, 2013
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Our Fountains of Youth: An excerpt from The Longevity Seekers

The Longevity Seekers: Science, Business, and the Fountain of Youth by Ted Anton The tale of the fountain of youth is a mythic encounter that dates back to Herodotus, which has enraptured would-be seekers for two-thousand-years and counting. In The Longevity Seekers, science writer Ted Anton updates the search and takes readers inside a story of contemporary bioscience that began with worms and branched out to snare innovative minds from California to Crete, investments from big biotech, and endorsements from TV personalities like Oprah and Dr. Oz. Below follows an excerpt from the book’s preface, which invites its reader to “explore the relation of a unique science of its time and, in so doing, the relation of any science to any time.” *** The Laboratory of Molecular Biology sat at the end of Hills Road on the southern edge of Cambridge, England. In 1983 the weather had been so miserable that twenty-nine-year-old Cynthia Kenyon taped a yellow sun on her single window overlooking distant hedgerows and a lone traffic light. She was checking her experiments in her tiny three feet of bench space in a room in one of the leading institutions of molecular biology. The room was small and crammed with . . .

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Earth Day

April 22, 2013
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Earth Day

As Adam Rome’s new history of Earth Day–recently reviewed in the New Yorker–reminds us: Earth Day has been around for a long, long time now. And while progress certainly has been made, from the big (the establishment of the EPA) to the small (the fact that when Don Draper casually chucks a beer can into the park in Mad Men, it feels as old-timey as anything in the whole series), the overall project–of conservation, preservation, and restoration–is never done. Given the strength of our list in science and conservation, it’s no surprise that we’re big Earth Day fans over here–we’d be fans of Earth Year, Earth Millennium, or even Universe Eternity if it could be worked. But you start with what you know, so here we are for Earth Day, with a reminder about some of our best recent conservation photography books, perfect for inspiring and educating people about the importance of biodiversity and conservation. The best way to appreciate David Liitschwager’s A World in One Cubic Foot is to check out the slideshow at National Geographic‘s site. There you’ll see Liittschwager’s breathtaking portraits of the stunning variety (and quantity) of living things that passed through a single cubic foot . . .

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Euripides’ Iphigenia among the Taurians, translated by Anne Carson

April 19, 2013
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Euripides’ Iphigenia among the Taurians, translated by Anne Carson

Iphigenia among the Taurians by Euripides (newly translated by Anne Carson) From the Introduction: The date of this play is uncertain, but approximately 414 BCE is a fairly safe guess. The story involves two important variants on the legend of the House of Atreus: the transportation of Iphigenia to the Tauric Chersonese on the northern coast of the Black Sea to serve as a priestess of Artemis; and the last wanderings of Orestes, which unite him with his lost sister. These variants are clearly explained in the text, at lines 1–41 and 940–78, respectively. Iphigenia among the Taurians is technically a tragedy, that is, a serious play in elevated poetical language presented on the occasion when tragedies were produced. But in the modern sense of the term it is not “tragic.” It has often been called “romantic comedy,” of a type also exemplified in Euripides’ Helen, his Ion, and many lost plays by various Greek dramatists. It is not merely a matter of the happy ending. Other tragedies have that. But here the emphasis is, even more than usually, on plot, on the how rather than the why of the story. Danger hovers; there is excitement, and pathos, but no catastrophe; . . .

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Announcing the 2013 Guggenheim Fellows

April 12, 2013
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Announcing the 2013 Guggenheim Fellows

Congratulations to the 2013 class of Guggenheim Fellows, announced this week by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. The Guggenheim, a “mid-career award,” which honors scholars, scientists, poets, artists, and writers, extends its fellowships to assist with research and artistic creation. As we’ve noted in the past, the fellowship possesses some tortured origins—(John) Simon Guggenheim, who served as president of the American Smelting and Refining Company and Republican senator from Colorado, seeded the award (1925) following the death of this son John (1922) from mastoiditis (Guggenheim’s second son George later committed suicide, and more infamously his older brother Benjamin went down with the Titanic). We’re delighted to see included among the “professionals who have demonstrated exceptional ability by publishing a significant body of work in the fields of natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, and the creative arts,” a roster of fellowship winners affiliated with the University of Chicago Press: *** African Studies Jennifer Cole, professor of anthropology in the Department of Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago, author of Sex and Salvation: Imagining the Future in Madagascar (2010) and coeditor (with Lynn M. Thomas) of Love in Africa (2009) Anthropology and Cultural Studies Philippe Bourgois, the Richard Perry . . .

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Roger Ebert (1942–2013)

April 5, 2013
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Roger Ebert (1942–2013)

Rodney F. Powell, our editor for film and cinema studies, remembers Roger Ebert: Alas, Roger Ebert has passed, too soon at 70. The University of Chicago Press has been privileged to publish three of his books—Awake in the Dark: The Best of Roger Ebert, Scorsese by Ebert, and The Great Movies III. I worked on all three, and Ebert’s professionalism and good humor were always evident. It was also a pleasure to note his passionate advocacy of the printed word—as a voracious reader, as well as an enthusiastic film-lover. Ebert’s celebrity status tended to obscure the fact that was hidden in plain sight throughout his career—that he was, first and foremost, an excellent writer. His ability to recognize the essential in films was matched by his ability to write clearly, concisely, and evocatively about those essential qualities, with a welcoming, unforced ease. He brought those same qualities from his daily reviews to the longer and more reflective essays he wrote for his Great Movies series. And, at his best, there was something more. Like other lasting critics, he could make his readers understand the moral qualities of the works he valued most by revealing how they made audiences think about . . .

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