Monthly Archives: October 2013

Huey Copeland’s Bound to Appear

October 31, 2013
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Huey Copeland’s Bound to Appear

Partial excerpt: “Introduction: The Blackness of Things,”  from Bound to Appear: Art, Slavery, and the Site of Blackness in Multicultural America by Huey Copeland *** In Bound to Appear, I explore the significance of transatlantic slavery within critical aesthetic practice at the close of the twentieth century, when, for the first time in history, an appreciable number of artists of non-European ancestry figured prominently in the mainstream United States art world. What emerges from this study is a detailed picture of a how a generation of African American practitioners in the late 1980s and early ’90s negotiated both racialized discourses and art-historical antecedents in framing their work, recasting the appearance of blackness, and making common cause with marked subjects the world over. While few scholars have tried their hands at charting this terrain, the aesthetic and political contradictions that black artists and their audiences confronted did not go unnoticed at the time; indeed, they were heralded and discussed at length in the pages of Time magazine: So often, the news from black America seems to be all bad: crime, broken families, failing schools, abject hopelessness. Yet amid the bleak circumstances that envelop so much of the African-American community, a singularly . . .

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MOMA names Dave Kehr Adjunct Film Curator

October 28, 2013
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MOMA names Dave Kehr Adjunct Film Curator

Congrats are due to film critic, programmer, and UCP author Dave Kehr on his new gig as adjunct curator of film at MOMA, where he will take on the task of creating exhibitions for MOMA’s New York-based cinemas, as well as engaging with the vast holdings of their film archive. From Rajendra Roy, MOMA’s Chief Curator of Film, in the press release: Dave Kehr has a hard-earned and dedicated international following as a champion of the under-recognized and long-forgotten in cinema. His writing has helped uncover numerous lost gems, provided support for their preservation, and inspired countless cinephiles and filmmakers alike. We are thrilled to have him dive into our collection and add his voice to the celebration of the art of the motion picture. Kehr was chief film critic at the Chicago Reader from 1974 to 1985, before moving to the Chicago Tribune (1985–92), the New York Daily News (1993–98), and finally the New York Times, where he took over the “At the Movies” column in 2000 and where he continues to write on DVD releases. When Movies Mattered: Reviews from a Transformative Decade presents a selection of Kehr’s greatest hits from his stint at the Reader, including his . . .

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Jezebel on The Library: A World History

October 25, 2013
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Jezebel on The Library: A World History

Laura Beck at Jezebel stared down the facade of The Library: A World History and liked what she saw (“You’re Gonna Drool Over This Pure, Perfect Library Porn“): The new book The Library: A World History, is filled with gorgeous photography of book palaces around the world. That one above is the grand Philosophical Hall, at Strahov Abbey in Prague, and it’s straight Beauty and the Beast-style. I half expect Belle to come flying by on a rolling staircase talking about the book with the far-off places and a prince in disguise. It’s her favorite! For added context, here’s UK-based author James W. P. Campbell’s take on the library in the world: The irony is that today we are told that the book and hence the library, is under threat. So will this study serve merely as a memorial to a defunct building type? Perhaps, but not quite yet. Today more books are bring printed each year than ever before. While public libraries are being closed in Europe, other parts of the world, such as China, are building them. The sales of physical books are increasing, not diminishing: 229 million books were sold in the United Kingdom alone in 2010, . . .

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Manufacturing Morals

October 24, 2013
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Manufacturing Morals

Michel Anteby’s Manufacturing Morals: The Values of Silence in a Business School Education explores the pedagogy behind corporate accountability—from within the closed doors of Harvard Business School, where Anteby, an associate professor, offers an unprecedented take as to how silence, ambiguity, and open-ended directives play key roles in generating a model of learning that leaves wiggle room for moral complexity. Anteby riffed on this topic in a recent op-ed for the Guardian, where he observed that, “While business schools’ relative silence on moral issues like inequality might have worked in the past, the situation today has dramatically changed.” He goes on to consider the grounds for this ideological shift: These business schools’ inclusive historical DNA allowed them to train thousands of students, but also left a lasting imprint on many institutions’ moral outlook. A diverse membership required flexibility on moral issues. To be sure, teaching about increasing productivity, ensuring sufficient margins, and maintaining workers’ satisfaction assumed an implicit moral stand: one that offered legitimacy to profit-making ventures. Yet, the broader aspirations of these ventures often remained elusive. An idea of higher ethical goals prevailed (such as “setting higher business standards” and conducting business “decently”), but their content was vague: the . . .

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Neil Verma and War of the Worlds

October 21, 2013
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Neil Verma and War of the Worlds

Neil Verma’s work examines idiosyncratic and affective spaces in media history, often those whose eccentricity hinges on particularly interdisciplinary cultural turns. In Theater of the Mind: Imagination, Aesthetics, and American Radio Drama, Verma engages with an archive of over six-thousand radio play recordings—including those penned by Norman Corwin, Wyllis Cooper, and Lucille Fletcher—in order to build a case for the radio drama as one of the most defining forms of mid-twentieth-century genre fiction. Most recently, Verma has been curating a series of web-based essays on the radio plays of Orson Welles at the Sound Studies blog, which will run until January 2014. October 30, 2013, marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of “The War of the Worlds,” initially aired by Welles as an episode of The Mercury Theatre on the Air. To commemorate this, Verma will deliver a lecture and slideshow at the Music Box’s 35mm screening of Byron Haskin’s film War of the Worlds (1953) on October 27th and again at an airing of Welles’s original broadcast at Doc Films on October 29th. On top of this, Verma will helm a nationwide (!) stream and response via social media (hashtag: #WOTW75) to the original recording, in addition to a re-airing and . . .

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Harlem: The Unmaking of a Ghetto

October 18, 2013
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Harlem: The Unmaking of a Ghetto

Camilo José Vergara is the kind of person of whom it might be said, “the epithet ‘polymath’ wouldn’t be cliché.” His photographic work, which often applies a time-lapsed and documentary style to the de-urbanization of American cityscapes, is both complicated and mirrored by his interests as a sociologist and ethnographer, themselves often focused on fracture, erosion, decline, and transformation. In 2002, he won a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant,” which cemented his reputation as one of our foremost chroniclers of the “urban.” His most recent book Harlem: The Unmaking of a Ghetto, sees him returning to many of the same locations over the course of decades (beginning in 1970) in order to document a community that is constantly changing, demographically and architecturally. From a recent Publishers Weekly starred review of the book: MacArthur Fellowship recipient Vergara’s archival stills are full of movement; the historic Baby Grand becomes King Party Center, a gift store, and then a Radio Shack. An ordinary address, 65 East 125th Street, first photographed in 1977, is transformed over the course of 13 photographs, becoming the Grocery Candy Smoke Shop, then a Sleepy’s, and finally, in 2011, a church. . . . To experience Vergara’s photos is to live, . . .

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Our Once and Future Planet

October 16, 2013
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Our Once and Future Planet

Paddy Woodworth is an investigative journalist and a former staff writer for the Irish Times, used to taking on assignments from the foreign affairs desk, such as the terrorism of Basque separatist groups or the relationship between political turmoil in Spain that faced by Northern Ireland. In his most recent book Our Once and Future Planet: Restoring the World in the Climate Change Century—a project ten years in the making—he instead focuses on the global challenges and successes of one of the least known and most dynamic areas of environmental experimentation: ecological restoration. In a recent appearance on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight, Woodworth pointed out some of the restorative projects taking place on our home turf, here in Chicago (an accompanying excerpt offers some background). But to help frame the arguments central to environmental restoration’s rise, Woodworth turns early in his book to American naturalist Aldo Leopold (1887–1948) and an approach central, though understated, in much of Leopold’s writings: what happens when we turn to the past in order to face the challenges of the future. More on all of this, excerpted from Our Once and Future Planet, below: *** Keeping Every Cog and Wheel A quotation from Leopold became one . . .

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Marketing Schools, Marketing Cities

October 15, 2013
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Marketing Schools, Marketing Cities

Maia Bloomfield Cucchiara’s Marketing Schools, Marketing Cities considers the relationship between private markets and public education by focusing on Philadelphia’s Center City Schools Initiative. The Initiative targeted (largely white) middle- and upper-middle class families living in a recently gentrified downtown neighborhood and adopted a slick marketing campaign to convince these residents to elect (and thus, invest in) a series of hand-selected local public elementary schools. Hoping that the Initiative would result in an increase of both property tax revenue and personal investment these schools, proponents saw a viable link between a revitalized downtown and what would become an improved public school system. The problem? The School District of Philadelphia continues to face its worst-ever financial crisis, replete with layoffs, school closures, and program cuts. And those seats in the City Center elementary schools? Turns out they weren’t empty. As Cucchiara reports in a piece at the Atlantic drawn from the book’s research: The marketing worked: According to my analysis of School District of Philadelphia data, by 2009 the number of Center City children enrolled in first grade in the three most desirable public schools had increased by 60 percent, from 111 to 177. Through fundraising and the activation of social and . . .

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Jane Austen’s Cults and Cultures

October 14, 2013
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Jane Austen’s Cults and Cultures

Congrats due to author Claudia L. Johnson, whose Jane Austen’s Cults and Cultures garnered the Christian Gauss Award from the Phi Beta Kappa Society. Johnson, the Murray Professor of English Literature at Princeton University, a specialist in eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century literature, with a particular emphasis on the novel, is also the author of Jane Austen: Women, Politics, and the Novel and Equivocal Beings: Politics, Gender, and Sentimentality in the 1790s—Wollstonecraft, Radcliffe, Burney, Austen, both of which we were fortunate enough to publish. Jane Austen’s Cults and Cultures A quick description from the citation: The Christian Gauss Award is offered for books in the field of literary scholarship or criticism. The prize was established in 1950 to honor the late Christian Gauss, the distinguished Princeton University scholar, teacher and dean who also served as President of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. Other previous award winners have included books written by eminent authors such as Harold Bloom, Christopher Benfey, and Marjorie Garber. Johnson’s book considers the transformation of Jane Austen, sort of well-heeled nineteenth-century author of six novels, into “Jane Austen,” the figure whose silhouette adorns greeting cards sent by your grandmother, who introduced most of the American public to Colin Firth . . .

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End of an era: Farewell to Jack Cella

October 11, 2013
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End of an era: Farewell to Jack Cella

After this Sunday, October 13, Hyde Park will never be the same. Jack Cella, the general manager of the Seminary Co-op Bookstore for the past 43 years, will retire after helping the store transform from a locally centered cooperative to the nation’s premier scholarly bookstore, with more 50,000 members and three locations. It would be nearly impossible to exaggerate the depth and breadth of Cella’s contribution to the culture of scholarly publishing and to this remarkable institution, and in turn, his value to the Hyde Park community, and especially to the University of Chicago Press. From our promotions director Levi Stahl: Being a regular at a bookstore is one of life’s great pleasures. And what you want above all—your reward for being a regular—is good company: you go to the store to talk with the people there, to find out what they’ve been doing and seeing (and of course reading), to hear what they’ve spotted that they think you might like, to catch up on the flood of new books you’d otherwise miss. What you want is to talk to Jack Cella. It’s almost impossible to leave a conversation with Jack—quiet, understated, serious, friendly Jack—without a new book if not . . .

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