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Get Ready for the Movie of “A Naked Singularity” with This Interview and Excerpt

July 30, 2021
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On August 6, the movie Naked Singularity, based on a novel by Sergio De La Pava and starring John Boyega, Olivia Cooke, and Bill Skarsgård, will hit theaters. That’s only the most recent chapter in the wild backstory of this acclaimed novel, which itself reads a bit like something out of Hollywood: A New York public defender writes an incredibly inventive 700-page novel that covers the criminal justice system, our fragmented culture, the fate of the universe, a heist, and more. He sends it to agents. It’s rejected 88 times. So, in 2010, he self-publishes it. Which, let’s be honest, should have been the end of the story. But this book is too good for that fate. It caught the eye of online reviewers, whose praise led our Marketing Director, Levi Stahl, to pick it up. Within 50 pages, he was hooked and convinced that this book deserved a wide audience. We published it in 2012 to praise from Slate, the Chicago Tribune, Toronto Star, London Times, and Wall Street Journal—which named it one of the 10 best works of fiction that year. Months later, PEN awarded it the Robert W. Bingham Prize for the best debut novel. In the . . .

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Read an Excerpt from “Climate the Making of Worlds” by Tobias Menely

July 21, 2021
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In his new book, Climate and the Making of Worlds, Tobias Menely explores a long literary history of poetic rewritings and critical readings that continually engage with the climate as a condition of human world-making. Poems, he argues, provide a distinct archive of geohistorical change. We asked Menely to tell us more about how his experience of climate change in the present informed his approach to literary history. Read on for his commentary, followed by an excerpt from the first chapter, in which he shows how Milton’s great epic Paradise Lost was marked by the Little Ice Age. “fire, flood, famine”: Reading Paradise Lost ­­across Geohistory The first chapter in my new book, Climate and the Making of Worlds, lays out a geohistorical reading of Paradise Lost. Milton planned and composed his epic retelling of the Christian creation story during a period of intense historical tumult: the disintegration of the Commonwealth and the restoration of the monarchy, a visitation of the bubonic plague, and a fire that destroyed much of London. This period of crisis, as climate historians such as Geoffrey Parker have shown, corresponds with one of the most acute phases of the Little Ice Age, which saw unusually . . .

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An Intro to Cosmic Zoom Media: A Watchlist from Zachary Horton

July 13, 2021
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Negotiating differences in scale can be, to say the least, a complex undertaking—from the minuscule and microscopic to the vastness of human populations to the magnificent size of the space beyond our home planet. In his book The Cosmic Zoom: Scale, Knowledge, and Mediation, Zachary Horton considers the “cosmic zoom,” a trope that has influenced media forms for decades, and he uses this as a starting point to develop a cross-disciplinary theory of scale. Here, he gives us an intro to cosmic zoom media through a watchlist of seven films. The cosmic zoom, a media form that aestheticizes continuity across a wide range of scales, is ubiquitous today. It is used to evoke wonder at the cosmos, celebrate scientific knowledge and practice, render radically alien scales accessible to humans, paper over differences between scales, and re-center the human observer in physical and medial environments that seem to be slipping (scaling) out of our control.  Though cosmic zooms are not always visual, their most mesmeric versions have often been in time-based media. Here are seven cosmic zooms that exemplify the form: Eva Szasz, Cosmic Zoom, 1968 Canadian artist Eva Szasz adapted Dutch educator Kees Boeke’s 1957 book, Cosmic View, into this . . .

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Read an Excerpt from “Pilgrimage to Dollywood”

July 1, 2021
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Summer is here, and there is no better time to pack up the car with family or friends, snacks, music, and a sense of adventure and head out on a great American road trip. In Pilgrimage to Dollywood: A Country Music Road Trip through Tennessee, Helen Morales does just that as she sets out to discover Dolly Parton’s Tennessee. Morales’s travels allows her to compare the imaginary Tennessee of Parton’s lyrics with the real Tennessee where the singer grew up, looking at essential connections between country music, the land, and a way of life. Accompanied by her partner, Tony, and their nine-year-old daughter, Athena, Morales, a recent transplant from England, seeks to understand America and American values through the celebrity sites and attractions of Tennessee. Read on for an excerpt from Pilgrimage to Dollywood about Dolly’s birthplace. Perhaps the original house no longer exists. In any case, its mythic status for Dolly Parton fans gives it an imaginary power that is greater than any physical reality. More than one simulation of the house exists. Famously, Dolly has a replica of the house on show at Dollywood that we were to see when we visited the theme park the following day. It . . .

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Read an Excerpt from “Nature Remade: Engineering Life, Envisioning Worlds”

June 23, 2021
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Read an Excerpt from “Nature Remade: Engineering Life, Envisioning Worlds”

For well over a century, the Marine Biological Laboratory has been a nexus of scientific discovery, a site where scientists and students from around the world have convened to innovate, guide, and shape our understanding of biology and its evolutionary and ecological dynamics. As work at the MBL continuously radiates over vast temporal and spatial scales, the very practice of science has also been shaped by the MBL community, which continues to have a transformative impact the world over. The Convening Science series highlights the ongoing role MBL plays in the creation and dissemination of science, in its broader historic context as well as current practice and future potential. Books in the series will be broadly conceived and defined, but each will be anchored to MBL, originating in workshops and conferences, inspired by MBL collections and archives, or influenced by conversations and creativity that MBL fosters in every scientist or student who convenes at the Woods Hole campus. Publishing this July, Nature Remade: Engineering Life, Envisioning Worlds is the fourth installment in Convening Science. In it, fourteen original essays trace material practices of the engineering of biology from the development of field sites for experimentation to the new frontiers of . . .

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Five Questions with Ross A. Slotten, MD, author of “Plague Years”

June 15, 2021
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June 2021 marks a grimly significant anniversary: forty years ago this month, the CDC reported the first US cases of the disease that would come to be known as AIDS. Ross A. Slotten, MD—a Chicago-based family practitioner—has been deeply involved with the fight against HIV/AIDS since the beginning of his medical career in the 1980s. In Plague Years: A Doctor’s Journey through the AIDS Crisis—praised by Nature as a “powerful, humane, and stylish memoir”—Slotten provides an intimate yet comprehensive view of the disease’s spread alongside heartfelt portraits of his patients and his own conflicted feelings as a medical professional, drawn from more than thirty years of personal notebooks. We asked Ross a few questions about the book. The acknowledgments page for Plague Years points out that this book emerged from a memoir writing course at StoryStudio Chicago. How is the finished book different from your initial vision for it, and is there anything from earlier drafts that you were sad to have to cut from the final version? Initially, I intended to write something more academic. When I showed an early version of the book to an editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association, she thought that a . . .

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Announcing the Recipients of the 2021-2022 Mellon University Press Diversity Fellowships

June 9, 2021
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The University of Chicago Press along with the University of Washington Press, the MIT Press, Cornell University Press, the Ohio State University Press, Northwestern University Press, and the Association of University Presses (AUPresses) are excited to announce the recipients of the 2021-2022 Mellon University Press Diversity Fellowships. These fellowships are generously funded by a four-year, $1,205,000 grant awarded to the University of Washington Press from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the continued development and expansion of the pipeline program designed to diversify academic publishing by offering apprenticeships in acquisitions departments. This second grant builds on the success of the initial 2016 grant from the Mellon Foundation, which funded the first cross-press initiative of its kind in the United States to address the marked lack of diversity in the academic publishing industry. Please join us in welcoming the 2021-2022 Mellon University Press Diversity Fellows: Chad M. Attenborough joins the University of Washington Press from Vanderbilt University, where he is a PhD candidate studying black responses to the British abolition of the slave trade in the Caribbean. While completing his research, Chad worked for Vanderbilt University Press as a graduate assistant where his passion for publishing developed in earnest and . . .

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Six Questions with Sujit Sivasundaram, author of “Waves Across the South”

May 27, 2021
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This is a story of tides and coastlines, winds and waves, islands and beaches. In Waves Across the South, Sujit Sivasundaram offers a fresh history of revolution and empire which centers on island nations and ocean-facing communities, turning the familiar narrative of the Age of Revolutions and the origins of the British Empire on its head. Waves Across the South has been praised for the awe-inspiring depth of its research, as well as its captivating storytelling. We asked Sujit Sivasundaram a few questions about his work. To start us off, what is the Age of Revolutions? How does Waves Across the South reconceptualize it? Usually, the Age of Revolutions is an Atlantic story, encompassing for instance the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the Haitian Revolution, and other uprisings in the Caribbean and Latin America. These events are taken as a pivotal origin point for our modern condition: for ideas of rights and belonging, a system of nation states as well as the application of reason and reform, for instance with respect to labor or governance. Waves Across the South moves this story to the Indian and Pacific oceans. In this vast oceanic zone, there was a pattern of indigenous creativity, unrest, revolt, and association; this was a first wave. There was then a response . . .

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The University of Chicago Press Welcomes the American Library Association as a New Distribution Client

May 12, 2021
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The University of Chicago Press and the Chicago Distribution Center are excited to announce a new distribution partnership with the American Library Association (ALA) throughout North America starting July 1, 2021. This includes books published by ALA Editions/ALA Neal-Schuman, ACRL Publications, and other ALA units; posters, bookmarks, READ-branded and other items that promote literacy and libraries, published by ALA Graphics; and ALA’s physical award seals such as the Newbery, Caldecott, Printz, and Carnegie Medals seals. The ALA is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice for academic, public, school, government, and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit ala.org. “The opportunity to partner with a company whose values so closely align with where ALA is right now and where ALA is headed in the next few years is exciting,” said Mary Mackay, ALA Associate Director of Publishing. “We have been delighted by CDC’s responsiveness, their willingness to learn about our business, and their commitment to pivoting with . . .

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5 Questions with Michelle Oyakawa, Coauthor of “Prisms of the People”

May 6, 2021
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Grassroots organizing and collective action have always been fundamental to American democracy but have been burgeoning since the 2016 election, as people struggle to make their voices heard in this moment of societal upheaval. In Prisms of the People, Hahrie Han, Elizabeth McKenna, and Michelle Oyakawa show how the power of successful movements most often is rooted in their ability to act as  “prisms of the people,” turning participation into political power just as prisms transform white light into rainbows. Understanding the organizational design choices that shape the people, their leaders, and their strategies can help us understand how grassroots groups achieve their goals. We asked Michelle Oyakawa a few questions about the book. How did you become interested in grassroots organizing and collective action? What led you to write about it? Each of us came to this work by engaging directly with organizations that engage people in public life and agitate for change. Participating in organizing and witnessing the promise it holds for both personal and political transformation inspired us to further investigate and understand how people can come together to build power for themselves and their communities. We are motivated by hope and resistance against cynicism and despair. . . .

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