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Forrest Stuart awarded 2018 Gordon J. Laing Prize

May 4, 2018
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The University of Chicago Press is pleased to announce that the 2018 Gordon J. Laing Prize has been awarded to sociologist Forrest Stuart for Down, Out, and Under Arrest: Policing and Everyday Life in Skid Row. Stuart’s book offers a fascinating look at the interactions between the criminal justice system and the low income residents of L. A.’s Skid Row. The result of years of fieldwork – not only with Skid Row residents, but with the police charged with managing them – Stuart’s book reveals an alarming decrease in support for our poorest citizens, accompanied by an increase in spending on policing and prisons that only serves to exacerbate the problems endemic to the nation’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods. Touching on some of his inspirations for the book as well as the historical role the University’s Department of Sociology and the Press have played in developing and disseminating the unique style of ethnographic study at the heart of Stuart’s work, the acceptance speech was hailed by Stuart’s acquiring editor Doug Mitchell as “one of the best Laing Prize speeches in memory.” And luckily enough, someone even managed to capture it in it’s entirety on their iphone! Check it out below, or find out . . .

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Lilliana Mason and the “Age of Mega Identity Politics” on the Ezra Klein Show

May 4, 2018
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Lilliana Mason and the “Age of Mega Identity Politics” on the Ezra Klein Show

Lilliana Mason is assistant professor in the Department of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland, College Park and also the author of a new book that Vox co-founder Ezra Klein calls “one of the most important published this year.” Her new book Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity takes a timely look at the growing social gulf across racial, religious, and cultural lines which has recently come to sharply divide the two major political parties. Dissecting the minutiae of group identification – how we come to associate ourselves with a group; how that group identity can can overrule our ability to make political choices in our best own interests; and how this works to undermine democracy – Mason ties political science to social psychology to provide an unprecedented view of the current political landscape in the U.S. On the April 30th edition of his podcast, Klein engages Mason in a fascinating discussion of her new book. As Klein writes for Vox: “If you want to understand the kind of identity politics that’s driving America in 2018, you should listen in.” Navigate to player.fm to stream or download the epidsode, “The age of ‘mega-identity’ politics”  or follow this . . .

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Book of Seeds featured on the Science Friday blog

April 20, 2018
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Book of Seeds featured on the Science Friday blog

So, maybe after you’re done listening to today’s show,head over to the Science Friday blog where the Science Friday team has collected a series of images taken from The Book of Seeds: A Life-Size Guide to Six Hundred Species from around the World to create a “yearbook of seeds” featuring all the coolest and most popular seeds in the class (spermatophyte I think?), posing awkwardly in front of cheesy ’80s backgrounds. With titles like “Biggest Beach Bum” (that one’s hilarious) or “Most Explosive,” as well as commentary by Kew botanist and editor of the book Paul Smith, it’s a humorous yet edifying segue into the weekend. Find out more about the book on the UCP website. . . .

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Choice Outstanding Academic Titles 2017

January 31, 2018
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Choice, the review magazine from the ALA aimed at academic libraries, has released its annual list of Outstanding Academic Titles, and, as usual, we are proud to find the University of Chicago Press represented by a substantial number of books. Congratulations to all the authors of the books below!   CHOICE Outstanding Academic Titles, 2017 Robert C. Bartlett, Sophistry and Political Philosophy: Protagoras’ Challenge to Socrates Charles Bernstein, Pitch of Poetry David Brody, Housekeeping by Design: Hotels and Labor Alison A. Chapman, The Legal Epic: “Paradise Lost” and the Early Modern Law Chip Colwell, Plundered Skulls and Stolen Spirits: Inside the Fight to Reclaim Native America’s Culture Helen Anne Curry, Evolution Made to Order: Plant Breeding and Technological Innovation in Twentieth-Century America Joel Dinerstein, The Origins of Cool in Postwar America Niles Elderidge, Telmo Pievani, Emanuele Serreli, and Ilya Temkin, eds, Evolutionary Theory: A Hierarchical Perspective Constance M. Furey, Poetic Relations: Intimacy and Faith in the English Reformation John Hollander, The Substance of Shadow: A Darkening Trope in Poetic History Matthew L. Jones, Reckoning with Matter: Calculating Machines, Innovation, and Thinking about Thinking from Pascal to Babbage Daniel LaChance, Executing Freedom: The Cultural Life of Capital Punishment in the United . . .

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Jonathan Z. Smith, historian of religion, 1938-2017

January 12, 2018
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Jonathan Z. Smith, historian of religion, 1938-2017

Historian of religion Jonathan Z. Smith died on December 30, aged seventy-nine. He leaves a remarkable legacy from his forty-five-year career at the University of Chicago as a teacher, mentor, writer, and scholar. His colleague Margaret M. Mitchell told the University of Chicago’s Andrew Bauld that Smith was “a quintessential Chicago scholar of indomitable intellectual energy and unforgettable wit, iconoclastic in the very best sense, and utterly dedicated to a life of learning and teaching—for himself, his students and for a civil society.” Bruce Lincoln, who studied with Smith as a graduate student, recalled him as a teacher: “As a lecturer, he was absolutely spellbinding. In exchanges with students he was wonderfully encouraging, challenging and inspiring.” We are proud to have published five books by Jonathan Smith. If you want to get a sense of his voice and breadth of knowledge, you can look at an excerpt from his book Relating Religion here. The University of Chicago has a more extensive obituary appreciation on its main site. Our thoughts are with his family.   . . .

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The Limits of “Diversity”

October 9, 2017
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In recent years, diversity has become a hallowed American value, shared and honored in a wide range of contexts. And even as the concept has faced renewed criticism since the rise of Donald Trump, it remains a much-praised cornerstone of corporate, educational, and civic values. But what do we mean by it? What are we talking about when we talk about diversity? What goals is it intended to serve? And who is it for? The answers to those questions are surprisingly hard to pin down, and they vary by context. Ellen Berrey has been studying diversity for years, in neighborhoods, colleges, and corporations, and in a piece for Salon a few years ago, she was blunt about what she’s discovered: Here’s what I’ve learned: diversity is how we talk about race when we can’t talk about race. It has become a stand-in when open discussion of race is too controversial or — let’s be frank — when white people find the topic of race uncomfortable. Diversity seems polite, positive, hopeful. Who is willing to say they don’t value diversity? One national survey found that more than 90 percent of respondents said they valued diversity in their communities and friendships. Berrey’s book The Enigma . . .

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Zzzzzzzzzzzzz . . . .

October 2, 2017
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Zzzzzzzzzzzzz . . . .

Sure–there are some subjects you wouldn’t ever go to a student for an opinion on. Proper nutrition, for one. Work-life balance, for another. But sleep? Oh, they understand sleep. That may be because it’s all they do–or it may be because they barely do it at all. But their knowledge? Rock solid. So to assess The Science of Sleep,  we turn to one of our student employees, Tunisia Kenyatta, an undergrad who, when we’re not loading her down with work for our publicity team, studies in the Department of Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies. Penned by Wallace B. Mendelson, retired professor of psychiatry and clinical pharmacology at the University of Chicago and former president of the Sleep Research Society, The Science of Sleep illuminates a phenomenon that has for far too long been kept in darkness. Approaching the topic of sleep from not only a scientific standpoint, but also evolutionary, historical, and social ones, the book offers an understanding of sleep in packaging that is accesible and valuable to those both inside and outside the realm of science. Mendelson did not hesitate to cast a wide net. In addition to the elements of human sleep states and clinical sleep disorders being thoroughly addressed, the book debunks . . .

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Machiavelli offers a good way to see out August

August 30, 2017
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This weekend brings the end of summer, that season which, at its opening, always seems to offer such promise. Just think of all the books we’ll read in our sunny back yards! Then Labor Day arrives and the stack of unread books remains higher than we would like, our efforts stymied by life’s many agents of distraction. It can be a time of frustration, of disappointment; it’s all too easy to enter autumn in a mood less autumnal than wintry. So today, we offer a passage from Machiavelli that we have always found comforting, even inspiring. It comes from a letter–collected in our volume of Machiavelli’s letters–that he sent to his benefactor, Francesco Vettori, on December 10, 1513: On the coming of evening, I return to my house and enter my study; and at the door I take off the day’s clothing, covered with mud and dust, and put on garments regal and courtly; and reclothed appropriately, I enter the ancient courts of ancient men, where, received by them with affection, I feed on that food which is only mine and which I was born for, where I am not ashamed to speak with them and to ask them the . . .

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Passchendaele, a century on

August 2, 2017
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Passchendaele, a century on

“Why should I not write it?” That’s Edmund Blunden, opening his now-classic memoir of World War I, Undertones of War, in 1928. Blunden, a poet, joined the Royal Sussex Regiment in 1915, and he served in a number of major battles of the war, including Passchendaele, which began July 31, 1917 and would continue–at a cost of nearly 600,000 dead–until November 10. Blunden’s book was one of a number published a decade or so after the war that both marked and brought about a change in English opinion about the war and its legacy. William Manchester, in The Last Lion, wrote, The most extraordinary thing about England’s disenchantment with the war is that it didn’t surface for over ten years. The reading public had been fed the self-serving memoirs of those responsible for the disaster and the thin fictional gruel of Bulldog Drummond and Richard Hannay. Those who had remained home were simply incapable of absorbing the truth. Aging Tommies told them that sixty thousand young Englishmen had fallen on the first day of the battle of the Somme without gaining a single yard. Sixty thousand! It couldn’t be true. Those who said so must be shell-shocked. But by 1929, after the publication of Undertones, Siegfried . . .

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Happy 200th Birthday, Henry David Thoreau!

July 12, 2017
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Happy 200th Birthday, Henry David Thoreau!

                  Henry David Thoreau was born on July 12, 1817. Laura Dassow Walls explains the trajectory of his life, which shaped his thinking about the world in every way: He was born on a colonial-era farm into a subsistence economy based on agriculture, on land that had sustained a stable Anglo-American community for two centuries and, before that, Native American communities for eleven thousand years. People had been shaping Thoreau’s landscape since the melting of the glaciers. By the time he died, in 1862, the Industrial Revolution had reshaped his world: the railroad transformed Concord from a local economy of small farms and artisanal industries to a suburban node on a global network of industrial farms and factories. His beloved woods had been cleared away, and the rural rivers he sailed in his youth powered cotton mills. In 1843, the railroad cut right across a corner of Walden Pond, but in 1845 Thoreau built his house there anyway, to confront the railroad as part of his reality. By the time he left Walden, at least twenty passenger and freight trains screeched past his house daily. His response was to call on his . . .

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