Subjects

Free e-book for December: Outside the Box

December 1, 2016
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Free e-book for December: Outside the Box

Our free e-book for December is Hillary L. Chute’s Outside the Box: Interviews with Contemporary Cartoonists. Download your copy here. *** We are living in a golden age of cartoon art. Never before has graphic storytelling been so prominent or garnered such respect: critics and readers alike agree that contemporary cartoonists are creating some of the most innovative and exciting work in all the arts. For nearly a decade Hillary L. Chute has been sitting down for extensive interviews with the leading figures in comics, and with Outside the Box she offers fans a chance to share her ringside seat. Chute’s in-depth discussions with twelve of the most prominent and accomplished artists and writers in comics today reveal a creative community that is richly interconnected yet fiercely independent, its members sharing many interests and approaches while working with wildly different styles and themes. Chute’s subjects run the gamut of contemporary comics practice, from underground pioneers like Art Spiegelman and Lynda Barry, to the analytic work of Scott McCloud, the journalism of Joe Sacco, and the extended narratives of Alison Bechdel, Charles Burns, and more. They reflect on their experience and innovations, the influence of peers and mentors, the reception of . . .

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Alice in Space (in Nature)

November 30, 2016
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Alice in Space (in Nature)

Gillian Beer wrote “History: Untangling Alice” for Nature, synthesizing some of the research from her book Alice In Space, which examines the Alice books by Lewis Carroll via the immediate context in which they landed: the 1860s, a decade rife with new languages and concepts drawn from scientific, linguistic, and educational developments. (Note: this book is so great!) In Beer’s words: When I started writing it more than a decade ago, I wondered how far intuition and familiarity with Victorian intellectual culture should take me in asserting Carroll’s participation in the ideas thronging around him. I had to rely on the Alice books for evidence of allusion and parodies. Now I have a fuller picture of how Carroll used fantasy to pursue thoughts — on radical mathematics and Boolean logic, for example — that he constrained in his professional life as a devout Euclidean. The Victorian culture within which the Alice books were written is largely invisible to us now. It was a period of immense intellectual upheaval in fields from mathematics to language theory, evolution and education. Carroll slips these ideas into the layers of his jokes, sliding infant puns above learned references. He had a teasing openness to the ideas being pursued by his contemporaries . . .

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The Prince of Tricksters at the Guardian

November 28, 2016
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The Prince of Tricksters at the Guardian

From a recent review of Matt Houlbrook’s The Prince of Tricksters: The Incredible True Story of Netley Lucas, Gentleman Crook, at the Guardian: Between 1917 and 1924, Lucas was taken to court five times. In a society of strangers, his crimes were subversive, suggesting all you needed was money and the veneer of class to pass yourself off as a gentleman. For historian Matt Houlbrook, Lucas’s life story reveals deeper truths about the period after the first world war. He cites the criminologist Henry Rhodes: “Show me your crimes and I will show you the nature of your society.” New forms of mass culture and democracy promised greater possibilities of personal reinvention: “Lucas’s crimes were unusual, but his aspirations echoed those of countless ordinary men and women in a period when advertising encouraged dreamlike fantasies of social mobility.” . . . Lucas drank himself into an early grave in 1940. Few mourned the passing of the man known as the “prince of tricksters.” Even Houlbrook acknowledges that Lucas was a “lying bastard.” But he can’t help but be beguiled by this extraordinary character: “I’m obsessed with making sense of you.” Lucas is an exquisitely slippery subject and Houlbrook admits that “my writing echoes . . .

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The Sovereign Exception of Guantánamo (A Turkey Pardon)

November 24, 2016
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The Sovereign Exception of Guantánamo (A Turkey Pardon)

This oldie but goodie by Magnus Fiskesjö from Prickly Paradigm Press definitely remains the singular anthropological text published on the relationship between the Thanksgiving turkey pardon and the War on Terror: Each Thanksgiving, the president of the United States symbolically pardons one turkey from the fate of serving as a holiday dinner. In this pamphlet, anthropologist Magnus Fiskesjö uncovers the hidden horrors of such rituals connected with the power of pardon, from the annual turkey to the pardoning of the original Teddy Bear. It is through these ritualized and perpetually remembered acts of mercy, Fiskesjö contends, that we might come to understand the exceptional—and troubling—status of the “War on Terror” prisoners being held by the United States at Guantánamo Bay. “In The Thanksgiving Turkey Pardon, Swedish anthropologist Magnus Fiskesjö, see in the annual presidential reprieve of an otherwise doomed turkey something much more than a lark. (Just ask a vegetarian; it’s no joke.) ‘It is really a symbolic pardoning act which, through public performance, establishes and manifests the sovereign’s position at the helm of the state by highlighting . . . his power to control matters of life and death.’ That observation leads Fiskesjö to some troubling thoughts on the . . .

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Katherine J. Cramer on politicizing rural consciousness

November 23, 2016
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Katherine J. Cramer on politicizing rural consciousness

In a recent piece for Vox, Katherine J. Cramer outlined some of the arguments she makes in The Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness in Wisconsin and the Rise of Scott Walker, which draws upon years of research on Wisconsin’s shifting electorate to analyze the role played by rural consciousness, and the ongoing influence of place-based identities in politics. Here’s part of Cramer’s takeaway: Once I passed out my business cards, handed out tokens of appreciation like Badger football schedules, and turned on my recorder, I asked them, “What are the big concerns of people in this community?” Regardless of geography, people in most of these communities talked about their concerns about health care, jobs, and taxation. But in the rural places and small towns, people expressed a deeply felt sense of not getting their “fair share” — defined in different ways. They felt that they didn’t get a reasonable proportion of decision-making power, believing that the key decisions were made in the major metro areas of Madison and Milwaukee, then decreed out to the rest of the state, with little listening being done to people like them. They also thought that they didn’t get their fair share of tax money. To them, too . . .

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Norte in the New York Times

November 21, 2016
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Norte in the New York Times

Praise from the New York Times Book Review for Edmundo Paz Soldán’s Norte, the story of three unconnected persons, some drawn from real life, who travel north of the US–Mexico border: This searing novel about three Latinos lost north of the border is not for the faint of heart. In the opening chapter, Jesús — based on a Mexican serial murderer known as the Railroad Killer — gang-rapes and stabs a prostitute. As Jesús, both victim and monster, slips into drugs, sexual abuse, psychosis, incest and necrophilia, Paz Soldán perfectly modulates the tension, evincing our sympathy even as we recoil. . . . “One should show compassion to all creatures scrabbling along their path in life, should be willing to throw a cloak of pity over the shoulders of even a man like Jesús,” the ranger leading the manhunt ponders. We don’t forgive, but we understand. This is the Bolivian-born Paz Soldán’s miraculous gift. With unflinching realism and steely grace, “Norte” reminds us why literature can do what journalism cannot: We inhabit the minds of people we’d prefer to forget. To read the New York Times Book Review piece in full, click here. To read more about Norte, click here. . . .

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Excerpt: The Politics of Resentment

November 18, 2016
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Excerpt: The Politics of Resentment

An excerpt from Katherine J. Cramer’s The Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness in Wisconsin and the Rise of Scott Walker *** My Window Is Wisconsin My window to the way the politics of resentment works is Wisconsin. This is a state in which the debate over the appropriate role of government has played out prominently and over a sustained period. It has been central to the conservative response to the disarray of the Republican Party after the George W. Bush presidency and Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential victory. Wisconsin was a predominantly Republican state until the 1950s, but Democratic presidential candidates have repeatedly carried the state since 1988. Since 2000, however, it has been a partisan battleground, or swing state. You can see the push-and-pull of partisan fights here in multiple ways. Wisconsin scored highest on the number of “Bush-Obama counties”; no other state had as many counties that went for George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election and then for Barack Obama in 2008 (Achenbach 2012). Wisconsin went from having a Democratically controlled state legislature with a Democratic governor and two Democratic senators in 2009 to having a narrowly Republican-controlled state legislature, Republican governor, and a split U.S. senate . . .

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Staff Profile: Levi Stahl on community and the Parker novels

November 16, 2016
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Staff Profile: Levi Stahl on community and the Parker novels

It’s #UPWeek, and you can read more about it here. The theme—for year 38, the 79th university of the AAUP—is community, and with that in mind, we asked associate marketing director Levi Stahl to talk a bit about a series of crime noir qua boilerplate mystery novels written by Donald E. Westlake, under the pseudonym Richard Stark, and  Stahl’s effort to tap into the community surrounding the cult novelist, an unusual move by a university press:             Reading is a solitary activity. That’s one of its glories.  But for a lot of us, it’s also just the first step. After reading, we want to tell people about what we’ve read, recommend it, discuss it, argue about it. And that’s where community begins. We experienced that, powerfully, back in 2008, when we decided to bring back into print Richard Stark’s crime novels featuring Parker the heister. We knew they were brilliant crime novels and that people over the years had loved them. What we learned very quickly, however, was that by bringing these back, we were joining the crime fiction community—and those are readers who aren’t shy about sharing their enthusiasm. The excitement, seen everywhere from . . .

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Big Bosses: A Working Girl’s Memoir of Jazz Age America

November 14, 2016
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Big Bosses: A Working Girl’s Memoir of Jazz Age America

This illustration is everything. (Also: “As future secretary to a diamond merchant, my future reflected much light.”) To read more about Big Bosses, click here. . . .

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Ghosh and climate change in the Guardian

November 10, 2016
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Ghosh and climate change in the Guardian

Speaking of climate change. . . . Pankaj Mistra on Amitav Ghosh’s The Great Derangement at the Guardian: How such “progress” changes the global environment is revealed, along with other true faces of easternisation, by Ghosh in his short but broad-ranging and consistently stimulating indictment of our era of the “great derangement”. It has been a time, he writes, when “most forms of art and literature were drawn into the modes of concealment that prevented people from recognising the realities of their plight.” Ghosh details the original damage inflicted by the west’s carbon-fuelled modes of economic and political imperialism. But it was, he adds, the “expanding industrialisation of Asia’s most populous nations, beginning in the 1980s, that brought the climate crisis to a head.” China’s carbon emissions per head of population have now surpassed the EU’s; India is not far behind. Briskly, Ghosh outlines the devastating consequences: the loss in India of “some of the country’s most fertile lands”; the disappearance of “many of the subcontinent’s low-lying islands, like the Lakshadweep chain”; the “migration of up to 50 million people in India and 75 million in Bangladesh”; not to mention that “if the glaciers continue to shrink at the present rate, the most . . .

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