Blog Archives

Exploring Chicago’s Maxwell Street with Tim Cresswell

April 17, 2019
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To study the disappearing past of Chicago's Maxwell Street neighborhood and acquaint himself with its present, Tim Cresswell explored the area on foot, photographing everything he saw. Here are a few of our favorite photos, from Cresswell's newly released book, Maxwell Street: Writing and Thinking Place. . . .

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Women’s History Month: Spotlight on the Women of UCP

March 20, 2019
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Women’s History Month: Spotlight on the Women of UCP

To continue our celebration of Women's History Month this March, we want to introduce a few of the amazing young women working behind the scenes at UChicago Press. . . .

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Women’s History Month: Let’s Talk about Sexual Division of Labor

March 13, 2019
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Feminist linguist Deborah Cameron's new book isn't out until May, but we're giving you a sneak peek in celebration of Women's History Month. . . .

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Black History Month—Read an Excerpt of ‘Street Players: Black Pulp Fiction and the Making of a Literary Underground’

February 20, 2019
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The uncontested center of the black pulp fiction universe for more than four decades was the Los Angeles publisher Holloway House. From the late 1960s until it closed in 2008, Holloway House specialized in cheap paperbacks with page-turning narratives featuring black protagonists in crime stories, conspiracy thrillers, prison novels, and Westerns that gave readers an unfailing veneration of black masculinity. Zeroing in on Holloway House, Kinohi Nishikawa’s Street Players explores how this world of black pulp fiction was produced, received, and recreated over time and across different communities of readers. Read on for an excerpt from the introduction of this exciting new look into the history and influence of black pulp fiction.  Irvine Welsh’s life changed after he found a copy of Pimp: The Story of My Life in a “used bookshop in Soho,” in London’s West End. Besides the title, what caught his attention was the author’s name. “How could you not pick up a book called Pimp written by a guy named Iceberg Slim?”1 he mused. The book did not disappoint. Originally published in 1967, Pimp was a coming- of- age story unlike any he had read. Abandoned by his father as a baby and left to his own devices by his mother as a kid, Slim recounted a boyhood spent on the streets of Milwaukee and Chicago, . . .

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5 Questions for Eitan Y. Wilf, author of ‘Creativity on Demand’

February 20, 2019
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5 Questions for Eitan Y. Wilf, author of ‘Creativity on Demand’

In his new book—Creativity on Demand: The Dilemmas of Innovation in an Accelerated Age—cultural anthropologist Eitan Y. Wilf focuses his keen eye on innovation in modern business, revealing how our obsession with ceaseless creativity stems from the long-standing value of acceleration in capitalist society. A masterful look at the contradictions of our capitalist age, this book is a model for the anthropological study of our cultures of work. We sent Wilf a few questions recently to learn more about his motivations for writing the book, his recent reads, and his former life as a jazz trumpeter. What’s the best book you’ve read lately? I just finished reading George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London. His prose is marvelous and his descriptions of, as well as insights about, poverty are ethnographic in the best sense of the term. How did you wind up in this academic field, and what do you love about it? Before studying anthropology, I majored in jazz performance as a trumpeter. Jazz is one of my biggest passions. I enjoyed music school very much but I also missed having a stronger theoretical-discursive focus. For the same reason, although I seriously considered fields such as medicine, physics, and civil engineering, I eventually decided to go in . . .

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5 Questions for Alexander L. Fattal, author of ‘Guerrilla Marketing’

January 15, 2019
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5 Questions for Alexander L. Fattal, author of ‘Guerrilla Marketing’

In his new book—Guerrilla Marketing: Counterinsurgency and Capitalism in Colombia—Alexander L. Fattal takes a detailed look at the Colombian government’s efforts to transform Marxist guerrilla fighters in the FARC into consumer citizens. In doing so, he illuminates a larger phenomenon: the convergence of marketing and militarism in the twenty-first century. A recent New Yorker review called Guerrilla Marketing “A sobering book on how armies burnish their brands. . . a detailed, eye-opening investigation.” We sent Fattal a few questions to learn more about his research for the book, his recent reads, and his motivations to delve into this topic. What’s the best book you’ve read lately? The best, hmm, I’ll pick two Chicago titles. Not because this is the UCP blog, really. W. J. T. Mitchell’s Cloning Terror: The War of Images, 9/11 to the Present and Susie Linfield’s The Cruel Radiance: Photography and Political Violence. Clearly I have a thing for smart, reasonably polemical books about the representation of political conflict. How did you wind up in this academic field, and what do you love about it? I became an anthropologist because I loved fieldwork. It’s trite but true. What I love about academia is the relative autonomy. Right now I’m finishing . . .

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Magic, Mayhem, and Maps in the Harlem Jazz Age

October 10, 2018
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  Historian Susan Schulten takes us on a deep dive into the fascinating story behind a favorite map from her new book, A History of America in 100 Maps. In 2016, the Beinecke Library at Yale University paid $100,000 to add Elmer Simms Campbell’s energetic profile of interwar Harlem to its celebrated collection of black history and culture. The Library described Campbell’s image as a “playful rendering” of the age, but it also captures the complex dynamics that made Harlem the cultural capital of black America. Campbell’s success may even have surprised him. After studying at the Art Institute of Chicago, he moved to Manhattan in 1929 to seek work, though faced a string of rejections due to his race before catching a break at the newly founded Esquire magazine in 1933. For the next four decades, Campbell supplied the magazine with cartoons and illustrations that shaped its knowing, urban, and often cheeky sensibility. Though he initially struggled to find work, Campbell immediately found in Harlem’s jazz scene. He quickly befriended Cab Calloway, who, along with Duke Ellington, presided over legendary performances at the Cotton Club. The men became drinking buddies and regulars at Harlem’s famed clubs and speakeasies, all of . . .

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6 Questions for Alastair Bonnett, author of ‘Beyond the Map’

July 13, 2018
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You never quite know where Alastair Bonnett will be off exploring on any given week. A modern day adventurer and lover of unusual places, Bonnett collected stories about his favorite intriguing spots around the world in his new book—Beyond the Map: Unruly Enclaves, Ghostly Places, Emerging Lands and Our Search for New Utopias. The New York Times Book Review praises: “Bonnett has a flair for communicating his passion for ‘the glee and the drama, the love and the loathing’ that emanate from the earth’s most perplexing and mutable places. . . .  provocative detours show us how much more we can know of the known world, if we know where to look, and how.” Publishers Weekly says, “By turns delightful and sobering, this book, like the best travel, inspires both the mind and the imagination.” We spoke with Bonnett recently to learn more about his upcoming travels, his motivations for writing the book, and some of his recommended reads. What are you reading at the moment? I’m going to Budapest next week so I thought I’d try something Hungarian; which has turned out to be Melancholy of Resistance by László Krasznahorkai. The title sounds really pretentious—maybe it’s better in Hungarian—and the sentences are ten miles long, but it’s . . .

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