Uncategorized

The detractor and the Donald

June 16, 2014
By
The detractor and the Donald

In Terror and Wonder, Pulitzer Prize–winning Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin assembled his most memorable writing from the past decade, as well as some polemical observations on the changing context of the built environment. Among them are two that have taken on a new life in the past couple of weeks: “The Donald’s Dud: Trump’s Skyscraper, Shortened by the Post-9/11 Fear of Heights, Reaches Only for Mediocrity” and “A Skyscraper of Many Faces: In Trump’s Context-Driven Chicago Skyscraper, Beauty Is in the Eye—and the Vantage Point—of the Beholder.” The first piece decries the original design, leaving little room for ambivalence; the other considers the finished construction, and all in all, mostly lauds its structure.

Fast forward. Trump’s skyscraper has now been branded unequivocally as part of Trump’s real estate empire, in twenty-foot-tall block letters that spell out his eponym. Kamin unleashed some sharp criticism of the sign in a Chicago Tribune column last week, pointing the blame at city government for allowing this particular type of self-aggrandizement to continue due to obscure politicking:

“It’s a lack of sophisticated design guidelines as well as the teeth to enforce them. Trump’s sign isn’t the only offender — it’s just the most egregious — in a city where skyline branding has . . .

Read more »

World Ocean(s) Day

June 11, 2014
By
World Ocean(s) Day

This past weekend, on June 8th to be exact, the Ocean Project and the World Ocean Network celebrated World Oceans Day. The event recognizes that there is “one world ocean” connecting the planet, and to this end, was known as “World Ocean Day” until 2009, when the “s” was added in accordance with the resolution passed by the United Nations General Assembly, which officially designated the annual date as “World Oceans Day.” Even this semantic quandry should evidence the passion yielded by those who champion and protect our hydrosphere—with that in mind, we’re revisiting The Deep, a project that launched new endeavors in “tidal” acquisitions for the Press, and has led to a remarkable list in the oceanic sciences (under the helm of Christie Henry, editorial director of the Sciences and Social Sciences).

The Deep explores the deepest realms of the ocean, revealing a cast of more than 200 sometimes terrifying and most mesmerizing creatures in crystalline detail, some photographed for the very first time.  The website associated with the book features an image gallery,an animated sampler, and beautiful pages, including the below profile of the glowing sucker octopus, one of the world’s few bioluminescent creatures, native to the North Atlantic:

 

In the wake of The Deep (pun . . .

Read more »

Isaac Tobin at CHGO DSGN

June 4, 2014
By
Isaac Tobin at CHGO DSGN

If you’re knowledgeable about the world of book design in Chicago, you’re likely familiar with the work of Isaac Tobin, senior designer at the University of Chicago Press,  an Art Directors Club Young Gun winner, and a frequent mention on New City‘s “Lit 50” annual list. As one profiler at Chicagoist remarked, “ work is simple yet striking, satiric at times and always beautiful. We appreciate his ability to work from all angles and truly capture the essence of what the containing work is all about. If Tobin’s on the project, definitely judge a book by its cover.”

If unfamiliar, don’t miss an opportunity to see “a long row” of Tobin’s covers, among the decade-spanning work of more than 100 other Chicagoans at CHGO DSGN, an exhibit curated by Rick Valicenti for the City’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, on view at the Cultural Center through November 2, 2014.

As a bit of a teaser, some candid images from the show’s opening  follow below:

 

 

 

. . .

Read more »

Wrigley Centennial Trivia Showdown

May 23, 2014
By
Wrigley Centennial Trivia Showdown

Who is Burt Hooton? Your guess is as good as mine, or more likely, it’s better than mine. My answer is he’s no Mickey Lolich, but that’s because I grew up in Detroit—though, as Susan Sontag would say, Under the Sign of Jack Morris. But back to your guess—if you’re schooled in Cubs lore, come to the Wrigley Centennial Trivia Showdown on Wednesday, May 28th, at the Harold Washington Library,  in celebration of the year that brought you the births of Sun Ra, Julio Cortázar, and a certain stadium. Your hosts are Stuart Shea, doyen of Cubs history, and the Chicago Tribune’s Rick Kogan, and you can win t-shirts, plates, commemorative posters, and gift certificates to Birrieria Zaragoza, Clark Street Sports, Girl and the Goat, The People’s Garment Company, & Tales, Taverns, and Towns.

From the Chicago Reader: 

Stuart Shea, author of Wrigley Field: The Long Life and Contentious Times of the Friendly Confines, and the Tribune‘s Rick Kogan host the Wrigley Centennial Trivia Showdown. Test your knowledge of the legendary ballpark alongside other Cubs enthusiasts and maybe win a Wrigley Field prize pack, or bragging rights that might earn you a free drink or two around Clark and Addison.

From . . .

Read more »

On Animals, Part III: A Conversation with Barbara J. King and Jessica Pierce

May 16, 2014
By
On Animals, Part III: A Conversation with Barbara J. King and Jessica Pierce

Today, we’re pleased to run the final installment of a conversation between Barbara J. King and Jessica Pierce, two of our most established experts on animal-human behavior. You can read Part I and Part II of their dialogue, on questions about animal confinement, evolution, and appropriate companionship, here and here. Below, they take on a particularly ethical dilemma: in light of evolution and morality, what should we and our animal companions eat for dinner?

PIERCE: Now, two questions for you:

1. Should we also “honor the evolutionary path” of humans, when it comes to food? And what exactly would this mean? Perhaps I am hypocritical: I honor the “natural” diet of my cat, but I don’t buy into arguments that there is some “natural” way of eating for humankind (and I am particularly skeptical of arguments that meat-eating is “natural” and therefore justified).

2. Which animals can we eat without too heavy a moral cost? Are there some?

KING: My cats are relieved that their species now joins dogs on the conditionally acceptable list! Seriously though, thanks for a good back-and-forth on that issue. As to your evolutionary question, I think there’s a distinction—a difference that . . .

Read more »

On Animals, Part II: A Conversation with Barbara J. King and Jessica Pierce

May 15, 2014
By
On Animals, Part II: A Conversation with Barbara J. King and Jessica Pierce

We’re back with Part II of a conversation between anthropologist Barbara J. King and bioethicist Jessica Pierce on the lives of animals—and how our relationships with them correspond with certain philosophical and ethical ideals. King’s current project extends a nuanced look at the ethical questions raised by eating (or not eating) animals; its working title is Animals We Eat. Pierce, too, has a book in the works: Run, Spot, Run, a scientifically and philosophically grounded exploration of the ethics of pet ownership that seriously questions whether we are good for our pets. Here, their dialogue draws on the confines of animal ownership—and the implications of our own food ethics on the choices we make for our pets. You can read yesterday’s post here; be sure to join us tomorrow for the conversation’s final installment.

***

PIERCE: So let me ask you about cats, since it sounds like you share your life with several feline companions. I think cats pose an interesting and challenging case. Although I have cats in the “maybe” category, I don’t feel confident that this is the right place for them. It’s possible that they belong on the “yes” list.

One of the big . . .

Read more »

On Animals, Part I: A Conversation with Barbara J. King and Jessica Pierce

May 14, 2014
By
On Animals, Part I: A Conversation with Barbara J. King and Jessica Pierce

To those interested in the ethical and philosophical issues surrounding our attachment to—and fascination with—our companion species, Barbara J. King and Jessica Pierce need no introduction. From her initial anthropological observations of wild monkeys in Kenya and the plight of captive apes to her pathbreaking work on animal emotion and cognition, King has become one of our most trusted commentators on the lives of animals (Just this week, the research that informed her most recent book How Animals Grieve was cited by television’s Cesar Millan, better known as “the Dog Whisperer.”). Pierce, author of The Last Walk: Reflections on Our Pets at the End of Their Lives and coauthor (with Marc Bekoff) of Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals, has spent the past two decades writing at the intersection of bioethics and human-animal interaction, defining the field of environmental bioethics along the way. Both writers are at work on new books (more on that tomorrow), so naturally, we thought to put them in conversation about the issues and personal stakes surrounding the work they do—the resulting dialogue is both touching and elucidating, and we’ll be running it on the blog for the rest of this week: stay tuned.

***

UCP: . . .

Read more »

2014 Gordon J. Laing Prize

April 28, 2014
By
2014 Gordon J. Laing Prize

Each year, the University of Chicago Press awards the Gordon J. Laing Prize, “to the faculty author, editor, or translator of a book published in the previous three years that has brought great distinction to the Press.”

This year, we were delighted to honor Alison Winter’s Memory: Fragments of a Modern History with the 2014 Laing Prize. From the official commendation:

“Tracing the cultural and scientific history of our understanding of memory, Winter introduces readers to innovative scientists and sensationalistic seekers. She draws on evidence ranging from scientific papers to diaries to movies in order to explore the way that new understandings from the laboratory have seeped out into psychiatrists’ offices, courtrooms and the culture at large. Along the way, she investigates the sensational battles over the validity of repressed memories and shows us how changes in technology—such as the emergence of recording devices and computers—have again and again altered the way we conceptualize and even try to study, the ways we remember.”

Winter, in turn, was kind enough to let us publish her remarks from the Laing Prize reception earlier this month; read them in full after the jump below.

***

Thank you. First . . .

Read more »

Defending The Public School Advantage

April 25, 2014
By
Defending The Public School Advantage

Christopher A. Lubienski and Sarah Theule Lubienski’s The Public School Advantage: Why Public Schools Outperform Private Schools takes on a daunting task: disputing the assertion that markets can solve our social problems, as evidenced by performances of private, voucher-based, and charter schools.

Since the first charter school was established in Minnesota, in 1992, and in the wake of No Child Left Behind, the fact of public agencies endowing private and semi-private educational institutions has remained controversial, as funding for capital improvements in our public schools (especially those in inner cities) continues to drop.

The case made by the Lubienskis is simple: drawing on two recent, large-scale, and nationally representative databases, they show that any benefit seen in private school performance now is more than explained by demographics. Private schools perform better because their students come from backgrounds of privilege, and are able to access support at many levels unfathomable for their public school counterparts. Despite this, as the Lubienskis demonstrate, gains in student achievement at public schools are at least as great and often greater than those at private ones.

In response to a recent piece published by Education Next, Chris Lubienski defended the arguments . . .

Read more »

The Oldest Living Things in the World

April 23, 2014
By

The Oldest Living Things in the World was a labor of love for artist and photographer Rachel Sussman—the project, to document and photograph continuously living organisms 2,000 years old and older, has been around in one form or another since 2004. The result is a stunning collection of images that function as much more than eye candy in the realm of flora and fauna—Sussman’s work quietly, and with unimpeachable integrity, makes a case for the living history of our planet: where we’ve come since year zero, what we stand to lose in the future if we don’t change our ways, and why we should commit to a more intuitive relationship with the natural world.

Above you can view a trailer for the book, which hints at the spectacular flora with which Sussman comes into contact: an 80,000-year-old colony of aspen in Utah and a 43,600-year-old self-propagating shrub in Tasmania, among them. Sussman continues to make a name for herself as part of a new wave of interdisciplinary artist-researchers, and was recently named a 2014 Guggenheim Fellow, as well as an inaugural Art + Technology Lab awardee from LACMA.

To explore a bit of the meaning behind the images in the book, here’s a brief . . .

Read more »

Search for books and authors