Anthropology

Q & A with Henry Gee

November 15, 2013
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Q & A with Henry Gee

As promised, to close out University Press Week, here’s a Q & A with author Henry Gee, whose recent book The Accidental Species: Misunderstandings of Human Evolution questions the value of concepts like the “missing link” and the Great Chain of Being, positioning them as metaphors that paint a inaccurate portrait of how human evolution really works, and pinning down human exceptionalism as a gross error that continues to infect scientific thought. He also talks about Carl Sagan, Darwin’s vocabulary, and the ubiquity of battered copies of Beowulf in UK bookstores, after the jump.

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UCP: The Accidental Species is a serious work about a serious topic—the subject of how and where we locate our own   (flawed) notion of human exceptionalism—filled with pop-cultural references such as “Lady Marmalade,” sports cars, elephant jokes, The Hobbit, the works of Lewis Carroll, and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Could you describe your sensibility as a paleontologist trying to write a trade book accessible for the general reader?

HG: I’m quite sensitive to a possible criticism of didactic books like this—that is, they can get rather preachy. So, rather than gently introducing readers . . .

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Henry Gee on the evolution* of scholarly publishing

November 14, 2013
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Henry Gee on the evolution* of scholarly publishing

Continuing our week-long series of posts for University Press Week, we asked Henry Gee, senior editor at Nature and author of The Accidental Species: Misunderstandings of Human Evolution, for his unique perspective on university press publishing. Gee has contributed several books to Chicago’s lists in science and anthropology and is, of course, all too familiar with shepherding the work of scholars, reviewers, and critics through its final stage runs prior to publication. What follows below are thoughts on his experiences with the University of Chicago Press (including working with our Editorial Director for the Sciences and Social Sciences Christie Henry). Stay tuned tomorrow for a Q & A with Gee about human exceptionalism, science fiction, and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

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Chicago and I go back a long way. The first time I ever went to the United States, it was in Chicago I landed. It was the North American Paleontological Convention, in 1992. To this wide-eyed Brit it felt like I’d walked onto a movie set. I’ve been to Chicago many times since and I love the place—every grimy, shiny, rough, vibrant particle of it. There’s a table at . . .

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Introducing UCP’s Summer Shorts

June 18, 2013
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Introducing UCP’s Summer Shorts

“Still longer than a tweet and still shorter than A River Runs Through It—”

SUMMER CHICAGO SHORTS

Publication Date: June 18, 2013

The University of Chicago Press is pleased to announce the launch of our summer series of Chicago Shorts—distinguished selections, including never-before-published material, off-the-radar reads culled from the University of Chicago Press’s commanding archive, and the best of our newest books, all priced for impulse buying and presented exclusively in DRM-free e-book format.

Aimed at the general reader and running the gamut from the latest in contemporary scholarship to can’t-miss chapters from classic publications, Chicago Shorts continues to turn the page on the twenty-first-century reading experience.

With summer upon us, we’ve selected a group of shorts that offer all the pleasures you look for in that season: they’re light, funny, and engaging; they stoke our dreams of faraway places and outdoor adventures; and like summer itself—they leave you wanting more.

Among the Summer Shorts, you’ll find:

Ain’t Love Grand! From Earthworms to Elephant Seals by Marty Crump God: The Autobiography by Franco Ferrucci (trans. by Raymond Rosenthal) Spiral Jetta Summer: Swimming in the Great Salt Lake by Erin Hogan It’s Alive! The . . .

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How Animals Grieve (for Howard Stern)

May 3, 2013
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How Animals Grieve (for Howard Stern)

Barbara J. King is having quite a week—at least in terms of traversing brave new (pop-cultural) frontiers for the scholarly pursuits of animal intelligence and emotion. First came an excerpt from King’s latest book How Animals Grieve in a recent edition of the New York Post—noteworthy enough; so noteworthy, in fact, that it led to a mention of the book and King’s work on an episode of Howard Stern’s syndicated SIRIUS radio show (Stern, who along with his wife, is an animal rights advocate, experienced the traumatic loss of his English bulldog Bianca just a year ago; he even gave the book a plug via his Twitter feed). As if all this weren’t enough to render a tear in academic publishing’s space-time continuum, King herself made an appearance on Stern’s show, evidencing some of the ideas surrounding animal mourning that her book draws upon.

In How Animals Grieve, King considers a recent shift in anthropological attention to our companion species, which recognizes our long-chided tendency to anthropomorphize animal emotions might instead hold grains of truth. She tells of elephants surrounding their matriarch as she weakens and dies, and, in the following days, attending to her corpse as if holding a vigil. . . .

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2012: A Year in Books

December 21, 2012
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2012: A Year in Books

In wrapping of the year’s best-of-2012 lists, we couldn’t help but single out the University of Chicago Press titles that made the cut as reads worth remembering. With that in mind, here’s a list of our books that earned praise as cream of the crop here and abroad, from scholarly journals, literary blogs, metropolitan newspapers, and the like. If you’re looking, might we (and others) recommend—

        

A Naked Singularity by Sergio De La Pava

made the Philadelphia City Paper’s Best of the Year list named one of the best books of the year by the Houston Chronicle included in Bookriot’s list of the five most overlooked books of 2012 picked as the book of the year by a bookseller at the Oxford Blackwell’s: “ feel so evangelical about I want to run around screaming ‘YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK OR YOUR LIFE WILL BE INCOMPLETE,’ in Billy Graham style.” named one of the ten best fiction books of 2012 by the Wall Street Journal named by Wall Street Journal fiction editor Sam Sacks as one of his own favorite fiction books of 2012 named by Sasha Frere-Jones of the New Yorker as . . .

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Braided Worlds: I had a dream last night

November 13, 2012
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Braided Worlds: I had a dream last night

#UPWeek continues—Why do university presses matter? How do they conceive themselves and their role in publishing’s none-too-subtly shifting domain?

Today’s highlights:

MIT Press editorial director Gita Manaktala discusses adapting to changes in scholarship and knowledge production—and how collaboration and timeliness remain key.

At the University of California Press blog, library relations manager Rachel Lee emphasizes the importance of university press publishing to research libraries, as they confront industry-wide shifts, as well as the changing role of the humanities as a key discipline.

University of Hawai’i Press editorial board member Barbara Watson Andaya takes on the importance of specialist knowledge in our increasingly fragmented yet globalized world.

R. Bruce Elder blogs for Wilfrid Laurier Press on “the state of humanity in a society dominated by technology, unearthing the heart of academic publishing and its impact on an ever-conforming world.”

And finally: three University Press of Florida interns (Claire Eder, Samantha Pryor, and Alia Almeida) write about how their time at the Press shaped—and challenged—their direction.

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One of the ways in which scholarly publishing continues to matter is in offering a home to interdisciplinary . . .

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Announcing the 2012 Guggenheim Fellows

April 13, 2012
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Announcing the 2012 Guggenheim Fellows

 

The 2012 class of Guggenheim Fellows was announced this week by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, inciting some exuberant responses on the part of several winners (check out Terry Teachout’s Twitter feed). The Guggenheim has long been hailed as the “mid-career award,” honoring scholars, scientists, poets, artists, and writers, who have likely published a book or three, professed a fair amount of research, and are actively engaged in projects of significant scope. 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).

Among this year’s crop (we dare say more forward-leaning than previous years?) is a roster of standout “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,” affiliated with the University of Chicago Press:

Creative Arts

Christian Wiman, editor of Poetry magazine and author of three poetry collections, coeditor of . . .

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A Knight and Marshall, both: New honors for Sahlins

October 25, 2011
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A Knight and Marshall, both: New honors for Sahlins

Marshall Sahlins—globally renowned ethnographer, Polynesian historian, and the Charles F. Grey Distinguished Service Professor of Anthropology (Emeritus) at the University of Chicago—has had quite a series of weeks.

First came notice from the French Ministry of Culture, helmed by Frédéric Mitterand: Sahlins has been named a Chevalier des Arts et des Letters (Knight in the Order of Arts and Letters), an honorary position that commends artists, scholars, and others who have contributed “to the enrichment of French culture.”

In addition, Sahlins is set to receive not one—but, two—honorary doctorates, from the Sorbonne and the London School of Economics.

In addition, the Sorbonne will host a daylong conference on Monday, November 14, 2011, in celebration of Sahlins and his work, featuring contributions from sociologists, anthropologists, and philosophers from around the world.

The author of numerous books (an assortment of which have been translated into French,

including The Western Illusion of Human Nature), Sahlins is also the executive publisher of Prickly Paradigm Press. Among those books of Sahlins published by the University of Chicago Press are Culture and Practical Reason, winner of the Gordon J. Laing Prize; How Natives “Think”: About Captain Cook, For Example; Islands of History; Apologies to . . .

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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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Chungking Express at the Center of the World

July 12, 2011
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Chungking Express at the Center of the World

The tale told in Wong Kar-Wai’s 1994 film Chungking Express isn’t particularly straightforward. In between the stop-motion jumps and alternative shots, the flick tells two stories: a cop with a jones for a lost love buys tins of pineapple that are due to expire the same day as his affection, while another cop. . . . Well, there’s some mirroring with postdated boarding passes and a girl named Faye and California, the restaurant and the place and that kind of Dreamin’ from the Mamas and the Papas song, and . . . uh, flight attendants and cousins . . . and. . . . Suffice to say it’s perfectly complicated. The title of the film in Chinese literally translates to “Chungking Jungle,” which refers to both its dense urban landscape and the Chungking Mansions in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong, where much of the movie’s first sequence is set. Like the film, the Chungking Mansions offer an idiosyncratic slice of life in our transnational capitalist society.

Curry shops, African record stands, clothing stalls, sari tailors, Nigerian exporters, Sub-Saharan internet cafes, Lahore Fast Food, barbershops, Bollywood video kiosks, guestrooms inhabited by 120 distinct nationalities (on any given day), porno stands, . . .

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