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In Memoriam: Yves Bonnefoy (1923–2016)

July 5, 2016
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In Memoriam: Yves Bonnefoy (1923–2016)

French poet, translator, and critic Yves Bonnefoy (1923–2016) died on July 1, 2016. Professor emeritus and former chair of the comparative study of poetry (following the death of Roland Barthes) at the Collège de France, Bonnefoy was regarded by many, including the French president François Hollande and the Encyclopedia Britannica, as one of the most important poets of the second half of the twentieth century. Frequently speculated to be a candidate for the Nobel Prize, Bonnefoy was the recipient of many prizes in his lifetime, including the Prix Goncourt and the Griffin Lifetime Recognition Award. Bonnefoy was the author of more than 100 books, among them original collections of poetry, art and literary criticism, compilations on mythology, and works in translation (those of Shakespeare and Yeats, most prominently). The University of Chicago Press published four of those books—The Act and the Place of Poetry: Selected Essays (1989), In the Shadow’s Light (1991), New and Selected Poems (1995), Shakespeare and the French Poet (2004)—along with several volumes in his Mythologies series. In recent years, Seagull Books has published several additional works, including The Arrière-Pays (2012), The Present Hour (2013), Rue Traversière (1972; 2015), The Digamma (2014), The Anchor’s Long Chain (2015), and Ursa Major (forthcoming 2016). From the BBC: In his writing, he said he tried to capture some of primal emotions . . .

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Hélio Oiticica: Folding the Frame launch at e-flux

June 27, 2016
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Hélio Oiticica: Folding the Frame launch at e-flux

Irene V. Small recently launched her much-anticipated book Hélio Oiticica: Folding the Frame—a critical examination of the Brazilian conceptualist’s works, set against a backdrop of the nation’s dramatic postwar push for modernization—via a conversation with Sofia Hernández Chong Cuy at New York’s e-flux in late May. We’re late to the party with the photos, but not the swagger: To read more about Hélio Oiticica, click here.   . . .

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Sonia Sotomayor cites Pulled Over in her Supreme Court dissent

June 22, 2016
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Sonia Sotomayor cites Pulled Over in her Supreme Court dissent

From Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s dissent to this week’s Supreme Court verdict in Utah vs. Strieff, which twice cited Pulled Over: How Police Stops Define Race and Citizenship, including its core argument about how police stops deleteriously convey messages about citizenship and racial disparity: Writing only for myself, and drawing on my professional experiences, I would add that unlawful “stops” have severe consequences much greater than the inconvenience suggested by the name. This Court has given officers an array of instruments to probe and examine you. When we condone officers’ use of these devices without adequate cause, we give them reason to target pedestrians in an arbitrary manner. We also risk treating members of our communities as second-class citizens. Although many Americans have been stopped for speeding or jaywalking, few may realize how degrading a stop can be when the officer is looking for more. This Court has allowed an officer to stop you for whatever reason he wants—so long as he can point to a pretextual justification after the fact. . . . The indignity of the stop is not limited to an officer telling you that you look like a criminal (See Epp, Pulled Over, at 5). To read more about Pulled . . .

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The Book of Frogs lights the internet aflame

May 31, 2016
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The Book of Frogs lights the internet aflame

I mean, truly—here’s a positively radiant review, by Jesse Nee-Vogelman for Spectrum Culture: Review 1 I’m not an expert on frogs. In all likelihood neither are you. If you desire to remedy this ignorance, The Book of Frogs contains a significant amount of information about frogs. Two thumbs up. Review 2 I don’t think I’ve ever cared for anything the way Tim Halliday cares for frogs. By comparison, I am emotionally barren. I can barely handle a single romantic relationship. Batrachophilia is a much more work-intensive ardor. The Book of Frogs details over 600 species of frogs, which, mind-bogglingly, comprises less than one-tenth of total frog species. Tim Halliday writes about each one as if it were his lover. Consider his description of the Atlantic Coast Leopard Frog, a “slim, athletic frog with…long, muscular legs,” which isn’t even one of the prettier frogs in the catalog. Halliday is an emotional cosmonaut, exploring the outermost reaches of human feeling. He has breached the extremities of passion. Should not we all hope to touch, if briefly, such fondness for the world and its creatures? . . . . . .

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An excerpt from America’s Snake by Ted Levin

May 4, 2016
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An excerpt from America’s Snake by Ted Levin

“Diamond Dave and the Porcupine Hollow” An excerpt from the Prologue to America’s Snake by Ted Levin *** Why would Alcott Smith, at the time nearly seventy, affable and supposedly of sound mind, a blue-eyed veterinarian with a whittled-down woodman’s frame and lupine stamina, abruptly change his plans (and clothes) for a quiet Memorial Day dinner with his companion, Lou-Anne, and drive from his home in New Hampshire to New York State, north along the western rim of a wild lake, to a cabin on a corrugated dirt lane called Porcupine Hollow? Inside the cabin fifteen men quaffed beer, while outside a twenty-five-inch rattlesnake with a mouth full of porcupine quills idled in a homemade rabbit hutch. It was the snake that had interrupted Smith’s holiday dinner. Because of a cascade of consequences there aren’t many left in the Northeast: timber rattlesnakes are classified as a threatened species in New York and an endangered species everywhere in New England except Maine and Rhode Island where they’re already extinct. They could be gone from New Hampshire before the next presidential primary. Among the cognoscenti it’s speculated whether timber rattlesnakes ever lived in Quebec; they definitely did in Ontario, where rattlesnakes inhabited the sedimentary . . .

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Our 2016 Fall Books catalog has arrived!

April 29, 2016
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Our 2016 Fall Books catalog has arrived!

Our 2016 Fall Books catalog has arrived—at 427+ pages, it’s our biggest yet. Click here to download a PDF and read up on its 759 titles, or visit Edelweiss for up-to-the minute, detailed bibliographic information for each book. Phew! . . .

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Mary Cappello on mood for NPR

April 27, 2016
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The above video was recorded at the American Academy in Berlin, where Mary Cappello presented a selection of lyric essays and experimental writings on mood, the subject of her forthcoming book Life Breaks In: A Mood Almanack, which we’re psyched to publish later this fall. You can hear more about the project in an interview Cappello did with NPR/Berlin. From our catalog copy for the book: This is not one of those books. This book is about mood, and how it works in and with us as complicated, imperfectly self-knowing beings existing in a world that impinges and infringes on us, but also regularly suffuses us with beauty and joy and wonder. You don’t write that book as a linear progression—you write it as a living, breathing, richly associative, and, crucially, active, investigation. Or at least you do if you’re as smart and inventive as Mary Cappello. And, to whet your appetite, an excerpt from “Gong Bath”: Swimming won’t ever yield the same pleasure for me as being small enough to take a bath in the same place where the breakfast dishes are washed. No memory will be as flush with pattering—this is life!—as the sensation that is the sound of . . .

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2016 American Academy of Arts and Sciences new members

April 25, 2016
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2016 American Academy of Arts and Sciences new members

Congratulations to the new members elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, including an impressive array of current, former, and future University of Chicago Press authors: Horst Bredekamp Andrea Campbell Candice Canes-Wrone Thomas Conley Theaster Gates Sander Gilman David Nirenberg Jahan Ramazani Kim Lane Scheppele Michael Sells David Simpson Christopher Wood The Academy “convenes leaders from the academic, business, and government sectors to address critical challenges facing our global society.” This year’s cohort marks the 235th class of inductees, stemming from an inaugural selection of members in 1781, including Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and Beyoncé, who is a spectre as ageless as Melisandre from Game of Thrones. . . .

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Sandra M. Gustafson on the 2016 State of the Union address

January 20, 2016
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Sandra M. Gustafson on the 2016 State of the Union address

“The Four Questions” by Sandra M. Gustafson *** On January 6, 1941, Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivered the State of the Union address known as the “Four Freedoms” speech. Then recently elected to an unprecedented third presidential term, Roosevelt had run on a platform that included the promise to “not send American boys into any foreign wars.” In the days leading up to his speech, Nazi Germany had begun a bombing campaign on the coal port at Cardiff, Wales, and the Roosevelt administration had announced the Liberty Ship Program to build freighters for the war effort. A few days after the address, thousands of Jews were killed in a pogrom in Bucharest, Romania, and over the next several weeks, anti-Jewish measures spread across Eastern Europe. This was the state of things that prompted Roosevelt to articulate “four essential human freedoms” as a basis for a secure world: freedom of expression; freedom of religion; freedom from want, which, he explained, “translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants everywhere in the world”; and freedom from fear, focusing on dramatic reductions in armaments to eliminate the possibility of wars of aggression. . . .

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Of Beards and Men

December 14, 2015
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Of Beards and Men

From Matthew Schneier’s review of Christopher Oldstone-Moore’s Of Beards and Men: The Revealing History of Facial Hair for the New York Times Book Review: Oldstone-Moore, a lecturer in history at Wright State University (and, at least as recently as his faculty head shot, a beard-wearer), approaches facial hair as an index of the vertiginous roil of masculinity itself. “Whenever masculinity is redefined, facial hairstyles change to suit,” he writes. “The history of men is literally written on their faces.” In considering the subject, Oldstone-Moore is in good company. The Supreme Court, the Roman Catholic Church, Rousseau and Plutarch have all weighed in on the subject. He is monomaniacal in his attentions, charting the course of human history in the reflection of a razor. Like Zelig, at any given moment in history, beards were (or, as suggestively, weren’t) there. ­Oldstone-Moore finds them (and their corollary, mustaches) everywhere: in ancient Sumer and ancient Rome; in the Bayeux Tapestry, the plays of Shakespeare and the poems of Whitman; in the courts of Europe as well as its festering proletarian dens. (One of the book’s acknowledged shortcomings is the demographic limit of its ­focus, largely on Western Europe and the United States.) Even in our current beard­ophile . . .

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