Author Events

Dreaming of future books

April 20, 2010
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Dreaming of future books

Andrew Piper’s Dreaming in Books: The Making of the Bibliographic Imagination in the Romantic Age explores literary culture at the turn of the nineteenth century to show how, alongside the period’s innovations in mass printing, romantic writing and writers themselves played crucial roles in creating the age’s “bookish culture.” And in keeping with the theme of his book, Piper will appear at the Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival on Saturday, April 24, at 1 p.m to participate in a panel discussion titled: “Reading the World: The Future of the Book” as part of the five-day long festivities, which begin Wednesday. An article on the festival in the Saturday edition of the Montreal Gazette cites Piper on the “bookish culture” of today: When McGill professor Andrew Piper was a child, punishment meant being sent to his room to read. Today, if the father of two metes out punishment to either his 5-year-old son or 3-year-old daughter, it means taking away a bedtime story, be it Scaredy Squirrel’s latest adventure or a Frog and Toad tale. Piper grew into his love of books and became an expert on the relationship between the book and literature in the 18th and 19th centuries. . . .

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A Humboldtian Renaissance

March 30, 2010
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A Humboldtian Renaissance

Humboldt who? That’s usually the reaction from modern readers when introduced to the father of geography, Alexander von Humboldt. He was admired by Darwin and Jefferson, yet Humboldt is less well-known than the men he inspired. So why is it important to keep his legacy alive? And what does this nineteenth-century German-born naturalist have to offer science and the humanities in the twenty-first century anyway? A lot. At least that’s what the University of Chicago Press thinks, and we’ve begun publishing books that translate his writing and contextualize his explorations. Last year, the Press published The Passage to Cosmos: Alexander von Humboldt and the Shaping of America, Laura Dassow Walls’s reintroduction of this seminal thinker to new audiences. Her book traces Humboldt’s ideas for Cosmos —the book that crowned his career—to his 1799 journey to the Americas, where he first experienced the diversity of nature and of the world’s peoples—and envisioned a new cosmopolitanism that would link ideas, disciplines, and nations into a global web of knowledge and cultures. Walls recently spoke about Humboldt and her book at the Virginia Festival of the Book, and Book TV was there to film the presentation. After you watch her speech here, be . . .

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The Emergence of the Modern Surveillance State

February 11, 2010
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The Emergence of the Modern Surveillance State

During the Progressive Era, social activists in New York employed private investigators to seek out behavior they viewed as sexually promiscuous, politically undesirable, or downright criminal. The goal was to uncover the roots of society’s problems, and the information collected eventually empowered government regulators in the Progressive era and beyond, strengthening a federal state that grew increasingly repressive in the interest of pursuing a national security agenda. Jennifer Fronc’s history of this urban movement, New York Undercover: Private Surveillance in the Progressive Era, follows these investigators—often journalists or social workers with no training in surveillance—on their information-gathering visits to gambling parlors, brothels, and meetings of criminal gangs and radical political organizations. Drawing on the hundreds of detailed reports that resulted from these missions, Fronc reconstructs the process by which organizations like the National Civic Federation and the Committee of Fourteen generated the knowledge they needed to change urban conditions. Revealing the central role of undercover investigation in both social change and the constitution of political authority, New York Undercover narrates previously untold chapters in the history of vice and the emergence of the modern surveillance state. Fronc recently discussed her book as part of a series at New York City’s . . .

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“Picturing the Studio,” Dec. 11—Feb. 13 at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago

December 8, 2009
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“Picturing the Studio,” Dec. 11—Feb. 13 at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Beginning with a reception this Friday, December 11th at 4:30 pm at the Art Institute of Chicago’s Sullivan Galleries and running through February 13, 2010, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago presents “Picturing the Studio“—an exhibition exploring “the richly complex politically- and psychologicaly-charged notion of the artist’s studio today… with works by over 30 artists spanning the past two decades… including several specially designed installations undertaken by artists on site.” Curated by Michelle Grabner, (SAIC), and Annika Marie, (Columbia College), featured artists include: Jan Bas Ader, Conrad Bakker, John Baldessari, Stephanie Brooks, Ivan Brunetti, Ann Craven, Julian Dashper, Dana DeGuilio, Susanne Doremus, Joe Fig, Dan Fischer, Julia Fish, Nicholas Frank, Alicia Frankovich, Judith Geichman, Rodney Graham, Karl Haendel, Shane Huffman, Barbara Kasten, Matt Keegan, Daniel Lavitt, Daniel; Adelheid Mers, Tom Moody, Bruce Nauman, Paul Nudd, Leland Rice, David Robbins, Kay Rosen, Amanda Ross-Ho, Carrie Schneider, Roman Signer, Amy Sillman, Frances Stark, Nicholas Steindorf, and James Welling. In conjunction with the School of the Art Institute the University of Chicago press is also pleased to announce the forthcoming companion volume to the exhibition, The Studio Reader: On the Space of Artists edited by Mary Jane Jacob and Michelle Grabner. . . .

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The chimera of global legalism

October 22, 2009
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The chimera of global legalism

Bloggingheads.tv has posted an interesting interview with Eric A. Posner, author of The Perils of Global Legalism. In the interview Posner and host Henry Farrell discuss a variety of issues related to the topic of Posner’s new book which offers a provocative argument against the establishment of an international rule of law. Watch the complete interview below or navigate to Bloggingheads.tv. With The Perils of Global Legalism, Eric A. Posner contends that advocates of global legalism demonstrate a dangerously naive belief that law can be effective even in the absence of legitimate institutions of governance. After tracing the historical roots of the concept, Posner carefully lays out the many illusions—such as universalism, sovereign equality, and the possibility of disinterested judgment by politically unaccountable officials—on which the legalistic view is founded. Drawing on such examples as NATO’s invasion of Serbia, attempts to ban the use of land mines, and the free-trade provisions of the WTO, Posner demonstrates throughout that the weaknesses of international law confound legalist ambitions—and that whatever their professed commitments, all nations stand ready to dispense with international agreements when it suits their short- or long-term interests. To find out more read an excerpt from the book. . . .

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Go look at Look at me

September 10, 2009
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Go look at Look at me

Photographer Jed Fielding, whose collection Look at me was published by the University of Chicago Press in March, has a show opening tonight at the Andrea Meislin Gallery in New York City . Writing about the gallery opening, The New Yorker raves: Fielding’s photographs of the blind children he met at schools in Mexico City are not in the tradition of photojournalistic muckraking. Like his terrific earlier series from the streets of Naples, these images are vivacious, audacious, and in your face. His subjects are not pitiable victims; they’re rambunctious, apparently happy kids at play, responding to Fielding’s attention with curiosity and delight. They may be cut off from the visual world, but they relish physical contact, both with one another and with the patient photographer. The best of the work was made at close range, where that connection was most tangible, and young faces fill the frames with fragile, vivid life. For those not fortunate enough to be in Manhattan during the show’s run (it’s up through October 17), Fielding’s photographs are available in convenient book form. An in-depth pictorial study of blind schoolchildren in Mexico, Look at me contains more than sixty arresting images from which we often . . .

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The Burnham Plan Centennial with author Carl Smith

August 7, 2009
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The Burnham Plan Centennial with author Carl Smith

In 1909, with the backing of the Commercial Club of Chicago, architects Daniel Burnham and Edward Bennett published one of the most influential documents in the history of urban planning: The Plan of Chicago. Responsible for many of the city’s most distinctive features, including its lakefront parks and roadways, the Magnificent Mile, and Navy Pier, the Plan (see a digitized scan of the original Plan at the Encyclopedia of Chicago website) reflected the city elite’s response to the massive influx of inhabitants to urban centers during America’s industrial age. Even today as the City of Chicago celebrates the centennial of the Plan‘s publication Burnham’s influential document continues to spark debate over how urban planners can strike a balance between providing a livable habitat and one that can sustain industrial and economic growth. For the centennial celebration, the city—along with the University of Chicago, the Press, the Chicago Public Library, and many other supporting organizations—is offering a chance for Chicagoans to engage that debate first-hand with a number of events and activities this summer and fall—from Zaha Hadid and the UNStudio’s architectural exhibits in Millennium Park, “honoring the forward-looking spirit of the Plan of Chicago, to the CPL’s One Book, One . . .

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“Chicago Gardens: Past and Present” at the Chicago Tourism Center

June 22, 2009
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“Chicago Gardens: Past and Present” at the Chicago Tourism Center

A new exhibit at the Chicago Tourism Center showcasing some of Chicago’s most gorgeous gardens is currently on display from June 17-August 16. According to the Chicago Tourism Center website, the exhibit highlights the planning and growth of Millennium Park’s Lurie Garden; public gardens in Chicago parks; community gardens; garden inspired photography and artwork, as well as gardens as explored in Cathy Jean Maloney’s, Chicago Gardens: The Early History. Demonstrating how Chicago earned the sobriquet, Urbs in Horto, in Chicago Gardens Maloney draws on decades of researching the city’s horticultural heritage to reveal the unusual history of Chicago’s first gardens. Challenged by the region’s clay soil, harsh winters, and fierce winds, Maloney shows how innovative horticulturalists found both pragmatic and aesthetic uses for many of the area’s hardy native species. This same creative spirit thrived in the city’s local fruit and vegetable markets, encouraging the growth of what would become the nation’s produce hub. And her vibrant depictions of Chicagoans like “Bouquet Mary,” a flower peddler who built a greenhouse empire, add charming anecdotal evidence to her argument—that Chicago’s garden history rivals that of New York or London and ensures its status as a world-class capital of horticultural innovation. With . . .

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Knossos and the Prophets of Modernism—talk and book signing at the Corcoran Gallery

June 8, 2009
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Knossos and the Prophets of Modernism—talk and book signing at the Corcoran Gallery

In the spring of 1900, British archaeologist Arthur Evans began an unprecedented project to reconstruct the palace of Knossos on Crete, but instead, as Cathy Gere demonstrates in her new book, Knossos and the Prophets of Modernism, created a complex of concrete buildings on the site owing at least as much to modernist architecture as to Bronze Age remains. As Tom Holland of the Times Literary Supplement writes: “the fabulously ancient palace of Knossos enjoys, as Gere points out in her arresting first sentence, ‘the dubious distinction of being one of the first reinforced concrete buildings ever erected on the island.'” Gere shows how Evans’ idiosyncratic reconstruction of the palace of Knossos was nevertheless successful at bringing ancient Greek legends to life and sparking the imaginations of a host of twentieth century artists and intellectuals. Influencing the likes of Joyce, Picasso, and Sigmund Freud to name a few, Evans’ often fanciful vision of Cretan civilization, promulgated through the work of visionaries like these, had a profoundly transformative effect on the way Western culture viewed its past, as well as its future. On Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 7:00 PM Gere is scheduled to make an appearance at Washington DC’s Corcoran . . .

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Will Dunne joins the conversation

April 30, 2009
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Will Dunne joins the conversation

The City of Chicago’s annual Great Chicago Places & Spaces festival takes place in May, featuring “an incredible line-up of free tours, events and activities downtown and at community sites throughout Chicago.” For the second year the festival includes our Conversations Within Communities reading series featuring Press authors Cathy J. Maloney, Will Dunne, Ann Durkin Keating, and Joel Greenberg. Tomorrow (Friday) at 12:15 pm at the Chicago Cultural Center and again at 6:30 pm at Second City, Will Dunne will speak about his new book The Dramatic Writer’s Companion: Tools to Develop Characters, Cause Scenes, and Build Stories—a handbook to script writing that draws on the author’s own extensive experience as a world renown playwright and teacher, having led over fifteen hundred workshops through his San Francisco program, and authored such plays as How I Became an Interesting Person and Hotel Desperado. Dunne is resident playwright at Chicago Dramatists. Other upcoming readings will feature Anne Durkin Keating, speaking about her new book Chicago Neighborhoods and Suburbs: A Historical Guide on May 8, and Joel Greenberg author of Of Prairie, Woods, and Water: Two Centuries of Chicago Nature Writing on the 15th. For more information see our author events listings. Also . . .

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