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Remembering Marshall Sahlins (1930-2021)

April 9, 2021
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Remembering Marshall Sahlins (1930-2021)

Marshall Sahlins, a giant in the field of anthropology and a celebrated Press author, died earlier this week at his home in Hyde Park. Best known for his ethnographic work in the Pacific and for his contributions to anthropological theory, he was the Charles F. Grey Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of Chicago and the author of many books. Retired anthropology editor T. David Brent had the honor of working closely with Sahlins throughout his career, and he offered these words of remembrance for a significant author and friend. Marshall Sahlins was a distinguished scholar, a great anthropologist, a treasured author of the University of Chicago Press, and my dear friend. I had the privilege of being the editor for several of his books including Islands of History (1985), Anahulu: The Anthropology of History in the Kingdom of Hawaii volumes 1 & 2, co-authored with Patrick V. Kirch (1992), How “Natives” Think: About Captain Cook, For Example (1995), Apologies to Thucydides: Understanding History as Culture and Vice-Versa (2004) and What Kinship Is . . . And Is Not (2013). I also helped shepherd his Culture and Practical Reason (1976) into publication just after I joined the Press . . .

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Read an Excerpt from “Cruising the Dead River: David Wojnarowicz and New York’s Ruined Waterfront”

April 6, 2021
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Polymath artist David Wojnarowicz blazed a singular trail through the New York avant-garde from the 1970s until his untimely death in 1992. His incendiary and deeply personal work—often physically and spiritually rooted in the desolation of the Manhattan waterfront—roamed freely between painting, photography, film, and music to confront mainstream inaction on the AIDS epidemic. With the new documentary Wojnarowicz screening now in virtual cinemas, it’s the perfect time to revisit Fiona Anderson’s Cruising the Dead River: David Wojnarowicz and New York’s Ruined Waterfront, which Attitude Magazine called “a fascinating journey in cruising, sex, and the art scene of Manhattan’s dilapidated waterfront in the 1970s and 1980s.” Detailed descriptions of sex at the West Side piers appear in David Wojnarowicz’s personal journals from the summer of 1977. Walking “through Soho and over to Christopher Street” that September, he found himself in the dilapidated districts he had spent time in as a hustling teenager, by “the big pier past the old truck lines and the Silver Dollar Café/Restaurant.” There, he wrote, “away from the blatant exhibitionist energies of the NYC music scenes gay scenes,” he felt “uncontrollably sane.” In journal entries, poetry, memoir essays, photographs, short films, and drawings, he depicted the . . .

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Marvell Marvelled: Katie Kadue on Andrew Marvell’s 400th Birthday

March 31, 2021
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Marvell Marvelled: Katie Kadue on Andrew Marvell’s 400th Birthday

The poet Andrew Marvell was born on this day in 1621 near Hull, England. Marvell’s poetry has inspired readings by some of our finest literary critics, from T. S. Eliot and Cleanth Brooks to Barbara Herrnstein Smith, Christopher Ricks, and Leah S. Marcus. Indeed, it was 300 years ago today that Eliot published his now-classic essay “Andrew Marvell” in the Times Literary Supplement. For Marvell’s quadricentenary, we asked our author Katie Kadue for a brief essay on the poet, touching on the themes of her forthcoming Domestic Georgic: Labors of Preservation from Rabelais to Milton. Kadue illuminates what Marvell’s poetry still preserves for us, and the best literary criticism, too.  Andrew Marvell’s poetry is best known for images of time’s hurtling, inexorable movement toward a spectacular end: the winged chariot hurrying near, warning us of death’s encroachment, in “To His Coy Mistress,” or, less hurtlingly, the annihilation of all that’s made in “The Garden.” Marvell wrote his poems and was active in politics during the English Civil War and its aftermath, when the nation was captivated by providential time; his “Horatian Ode” to Oliver Cromwell is emphatic that the time to act is “now.” But Marvell also took his sweet time . . .

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Read an Excerpt from “Wild Thought”

March 29, 2021
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To celebrate the release of our exciting new translation of Claude Lévi-Strauss's iconic work, La Pensée sauvage, we're sharing a sneak peek at the translators' intro. . . .

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“Feminisms: A Global History” Playlist

March 25, 2021
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In Feminisms: A Global History, historian Lucy Delap looks to the global past to give us a usable history of the movement against gender injustice—one that can help clarify questions of feminist strategy, priority, and focus in the contemporary moment. Rooted in recent innovative histories, the book incorporates alternative starting points and new thinkers, challenging the presumed priority of European feminists and ranging across a global terrain of revolutions, religions, empires, and anti-colonial struggles. The book’s final chapter explores the rich but often muted history of feminist music-making, shining a light on the chants, songs, and musical innovations that helped foster solidarity and subvert the status quo. Delap asks: “What is it like to hear feminism? Historical distance and the intangible nature of sound mean that there are limits to the aural archive. But by reading historical documents against the grain, it is possible to ‘hear feminism’ even at the distance of several centuries. The traces of its rich soundtrack of oratory, songs, chants, and keening gives us a final entry point into understanding the useable past of feminisms.” To help us tune into the aural dimensions of feminism, Delap created a playlist of global feminist songs, including some discussed . . .

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Read an Excerpt from “Believing in South Central”

March 18, 2021
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In Believing in South Central, Pamela J. Prickett takes a close look at the Los Angeles neighborhood of South Central—an area often overshadowed by stereotypes—and illuminates the lives and history of a community of Black Muslims centered around the Masjid al-Quran (MAQ). In this excerpt, she highlights a time during the mosque’s formation, telling the story of its origins in the mid-twentieth century as the Nation of Islam (NOI) expanded beyond Detroit. She discusses how the MAQ fostered the growth of economic, racial, and communal solidarity in South Central and how figures like Malcolm X were integral to the story of the Nation of Islam and to this group of Black Muslim Angelenos. The Rise of a “Ghetto” Counterpublic The Nation of Islam grew rapidly during the late 1950s and early 1960s as a result of the appeal of Elijah Muhammad’s race empowerment ideology. In 1956, it had ten temples, concentrated in the Midwest and along the East Coast. By 1975, that number had increased to more than one hundred throughout the United States, including the one established in 1957 in South Central. As with many NOI temples, MAQ members had little choice but to set up their community in . . .

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“Ghosts in the Schoolyard” by Eve L. Ewing Receives the 2020 Laing Award

March 16, 2021
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The University of Chicago Press is pleased to announce that Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago’s South Side is the recipient of the 2020 Gordon J. Laing Award. The award will be presented during a reception in September at the University of Chicago Rubenstein forum. The Gordon J. Laing Award is conferred annually by vote of the Board of University Publications on the faculty author, editor, or translator whose book has brought the greatest distinction to the list of the University of Chicago Press. Books published in 2018 and 2019 were eligible for this year’s award. The award is named in honor of the scholar who, serving as general editor from 1909 until 1940, firmly established the character and reputation of the University of Chicago Press as the premier academic publisher in the United States. Published in hardcover in 2018 and reprinted in paperback in 2020, Ghosts in the Schoolyard draws on Ewing’s insider experience in the Chicago Public School system—as a student, a teacher, and a researcher— to situate the City’s wave of school closings in 2013 within a larger context. Ewing reveals that this issue is about much more than just schools. Black communities . . .

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A History of Chicago in 10 Books

March 4, 2021
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On March 4, 1837, Chicago was officially incorporated as a city. In the one hundred and eighty-four years since then, the city has grown and changed. On this anniversary of incorporation, we suggest ten books to get to know this complex city a little bit better. Sun Ra’s Chicago: Afrofuturism and the City In Sun Ra’s Chicago, William Sites brings this visionary musician back to earth—specifically to the city’s South Side, where from 1946 to 1961 he lived and relaunched his career. The postwar South Side was a hotbed of unorthodox religious and cultural activism: Afrocentric philosophies flourished, storefront prophets sold “dream-book bibles,” and Elijah Muhammad was building the Nation of Islam. It was also an unruly musical crossroads where the man then known as Sonny Blount drew from an array of intellectual and musical sources—from radical nationalism, revisionist Christianity, and science fiction to jazz, blues, Latin dance music, and pop exotica—to construct a philosophy and performance style that imagined a new identity and future for African Americans. Sun Ra’s Chicago shows that late-twentieth-century Afrofuturism emerged from a deep, utopian engagement with the city—and that by excavating the postwar black experience of Sun Ra’s South Side milieu, we can come to see the . . .

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In Memoriam Kristofer Marinus Schipper

February 24, 2021
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In honor of Press author and scholar Kristofer Marinus Schipper, Franciscus Verellen, coeditor of The Taoist Canon, offers this tribute. The doyen of Daoist studies Kristofer Marinus Schipper (1934-2021), coeditor with Franciscus Verellen of The Taoist Canon: A Historical Companion to the Daozang, passed away in Amsterdam on February 18, 2021, aged 86. A former member of the École Française d’Extrême-Orient (1962-1972), Kristofer Schipper carried out fieldwork on the living liturgical tradition of Daoism in Taiwan that would launch half a century of path-breaking research into “China’s high religion,” transform our understanding of religious life in the Chinese world, and foster new approaches to the study of Chinese society and religion in East Asia and the West. A member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Kristofer Schipper was director of the Institute of Chinese Studies, Collège de France, from 1987 to 1992. As professor of Chinese History at the University of Leiden and professor in the History of Daoism at the École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris, he trained a generation of specialists in Chinese religion, many of whom carry on his legacy today. His unending supply of far-sighted intuitions was at the origin of some of . . .

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Celebrate Wayne Booth’s 100th with an Excerpt from “The Rhetoric of Fiction”

February 22, 2021
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On the occasion of what would have been the 100th birthday of distinguished critic Wayne C. Booth (1921–2005), we invited Press author and University of Chicago professor James Chandler to offer a tribute to Booth to accompany an excerpt from Booth’s The Rhetoric of Fiction, which transformed the criticism of fiction. Wayne Booth’s was a career famously dedicated to “intellectual community,” a value that organized his energies and marked virtually everything he achieved. His commitment to this value was a matter of constant vigilance on his part, even in relatively casual circumstances. When he attended lectures, he would often position himself in such a way as to be able to watch both to the speaker and the effect the speaker was having—or not having—on an audience. When a member of an audience asked a question whose point was lost on a speaker, Wayne would instinctively jump in to clear things up. It drove him mad to see people talking past one another. In the classroom, the creation of intellectual community was, arguably, the true object of Wayne’s teaching. He had a rare genius for turning a given assortment of students into a group of productive discussants. This, too, was born in part of his diligence. He obsessed . . .

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