Commentary

Scott McLemee on publicity in the digital age

July 7, 2006
By
Scott McLemee on publicity in the digital age

Last month at the Association of American University Presses annual meeting, Scott McLemee participated in a session on “Publicity in the Digital Age.” He has posted a version of his remarks on Inside Higher Ed where he writes the Intellectual Affairs column. Says McLemee: “There may now be more opportunities than ever to connect up readers with the books that will interest them.…The bad news is that, for the most part, it isn’t happening.” The problem, as he sees it, is that “very few people at university presses have made the transition to full engagement with the developing digital public sphere.” By and large, McLamee believes, university presses are missing the potential publicity available via academic bloggers. Academic bloggers do not receive appropriate review copies of university press books. “It would also help if more publishers were inclined to make extracts from their new books available online,” says McLemee. And “signing up for e-mail notifications of new books from university presses rarely pays off.” Read the whole piece—it’s worth the time. And, here at Chicago, we’ll try harder. . . .

Read more »

[Zippy title goes here]

June 19, 2006
By
[Zippy title goes here]

In his June 18 "On Language" column in the New York Times Magazine, William Safire gives a nod to Mark Monmonier’s new book, From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow: How Maps Name, Claim, and Inflame. Safire briefly discusses the three "slurs" or "vulgarisms" in the title of the book. (Can you spot them? I knew you could.) Mr. Safire further nods to us and our colleagues when he says: "This scholarly treatise of topography and cartographic analysis was given a zippy title by the swinging marketers in Chicago." We were taken aback by that word "swinging.&quot Isn’t that what the parental units were doing in Ice Storm? Does Mr. Safire know something about the Chicago marketing department that we don’t know? And if "scholarly treatise" sounds a bit dismissive, do yourself the favor of reading an excerpt from Monmonier’s zippy little tome. . . .

Read more »

Getting in before they closed the door

April 17, 2006
By
Getting in before they closed the door

When did restrictions on immigration into the U.S. begin? The first comprehensive legislation to control immigration was enacted in the 1920s. But, as this excerpt from American Immigration by Maldwyn Allen Jones explains, the movement to restrict immigration began decades earlier: The dedication ceremonies for the Statue of Liberty in October 1886 took place, ironically enough, at precisely the time that Americans were beginning seriously to doubt the wisdom of unrestricted immigration. In the prevailing atmosphere, Emma Lazarus’ poetic welcome to the Old World’s “huddled masses” struck an almost discordant note. Already the first barriers had been erected against the entry of undesirables. In response to public pressure Congress had suspended Chinese immigration and had taken the first tentative steps to regulate the European influx. Organized nativism, moreover, was just reviving after a lapse of a quarter of a century and would shortly be demanding restrictions of a more drastic and general nature. This renewed agitation was no passing phase. It marked, on the contrary, the opening of a prolonged debate which was not to culminate until the 1920’s, when the enactment of a restrictive code brought the era of mass immigration to a close. Of all this there was . . .

Read more »

While discussing matters of style

March 6, 2006
By
While discussing matters of style

Okay, we admit to occasionally reading the blog of Mimi Smartypants. She works in Chicago, for one thing, and so we are just trying to stay hip to the blogging scene in Chicago. It’s more than that though. As noted by Rebecca J. Roberts in the JournalStar of Lincoln, NE—a town whose hipness is vastly underrated—Ms. Smartypants is “unashamedly articulate and intelligent, with a twisted bent—someone you want to drink yourself silly with on dollar beers while discussing The Chicago Manual of Style and obsessive-compulsive disorder and oral sex, possibly all at the same time.” And you know how we like to talk about The Chicago Manual of Style. . . .

Read more »

James Frey and Norman Maclean

February 20, 2006
By
James Frey and Norman Maclean

A passage about the truth-telling power of fiction, from the closing paragraphs of Norman Maclean’s novella A River Runs Through It, is being cited in commentary about James Frey and his apparently fictionalized memoir A Million Little Pieces. (For example, this piece by John MacDonald in the Arizona Republic.) Near the end of the story, Norman’s father speaks to him: “You like to tell true stories, don’t you?” he asked, and I answered, “Yes, I like to tell stories that are true.” Then he asked, “After you have finished your true stories sometime, why don’t you make up a story and the people to go with it? “Only then will you understand what happened and why.” We have an excerpt from the opening pages of the novella. . . .

Read more »

Be my surreal valentine

February 13, 2006
By
Be my surreal valentine

If you believe that love is better described as “the drunken kisses of cyclones” than the predictable cheesiness found in a Hallmark card, then you’ll be cheered by the paperback release of Surrealist Love Poems, edited by Mary Ann Caws. This collection from such luminaries as André Breton, Robert Desnos, and Paul Eluard celebrates the irrational, obsessive, impassioned, and erotic states of love, demonstrating throughout the truth of Breton’s words, that “the embrace of poetry like that of the flesh / As long as it lasts / Shuts out all the woes of the world.” The book also includes fourteen alluring photographs from the likes of Man Ray, Lee Miller, and Claude Cahun. Read three poems from the book. . . .

Read more »

Send a valentine: give a book

February 10, 2006
By
Send a valentine: give a book

Since ancient times, the heart has been associated with love and passion, but the familiar heart shape (♥) dates from the Middle Ages. Heart-shaped valentines are actually a special instance of the entwining of books and hearts that Eric Jager examined in The Book of the Heart. When we published his book, Jager wrote a special feature for our website in which he traces the heart-as-book metaphor through history. Read his essay, “Reading the Book of the Heart from the Middle Ages to the Twenty-First Century.” . . .

Read more »

Only an idiot laughs at everything

February 6, 2006
By

Paul Lewis, a professor of English at Boston College, has an op-ed piece in the Hartford Courant on the protests in the Muslim world over cartoons originally published in a Danish newspaper. “It’s easy to see that the protesters fail to appreciate how a free press operates,” says Lewis. The question however is not whether newspapers have a right to publish such satire, “but whether papers should have chosen to print these cartoons.” Lewis has thought a great deal about the place of humor in contentious times, as will be evident in his book, Cracking Up: American Humor in a Time of Conflict, which we will publish later this year. . . .

Read more »

Foucault and the Iranian Revolution

February 1, 2006
By
Foucault and the Iranian Revolution

On February 1, 1979, the Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Iran after fifteen years of exile. The Shah had fled Iran about two weeks earlier and Khomeini was acclaimed the leader of the Iranian Revolution. Later that year revolutionary students would storm the U.S. embassy in Tehran and take the staff hostage, to profound consequence. One observer of the Iranian Revolution was Michel Foucault, who was a special correspondent for Corriere della Sera and le Nouvel Observateur, for whom he wrote a series of articles. In Foucault and the Iranian Revolution: Gender and the Seductions of Islamism, Janet Afary and Kevin B. Anderson illuminate Foucault’s support of the Islamist movement. and show how Foucault’s experiences in Iran contributed to a turning point in his thought. Read one of Foucault’s essays, “What Are the Iranians Dreaming About?” . . .

Read more »

Three years after the Columbia accident

February 1, 2006
By
Three years after the Columbia accident

Howard Nemerov (1920-1991), many of whose books were published by Chicago, wrote two poems about the space shuttle. “On An Occasion of National Mourning” was written after the Challenger accident. “Witnessing the Launch of the Shuttle Atlantis” was written for NASA, during the time that Nemerov was poet laureate of the United States. . . .

Read more »

Search for books and authors