UCP News

Remembering Leo Steinberg (1920-2011)

March 15, 2011
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Remembering Leo Steinberg (1920-2011)

Sad news from New York about the passing of Leo Steinberg, one of the twentieth century’s most acclaimed art historians, whose critical insights, eloquent writings, and articulate ideas about art from Renaissance to modern, sharpened the minds of several generations of scholars, critics, and artists. Born in Moscow, educated in Berlin and London, Steinberg earned his doctorate from New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts in 1960. Steinberg later taught at the City University of New York, Hunter College, and Harvard University, and was the Benjamin Franklin Professor of the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania, a position he held for sixteen years (1975-91). Steinberg pioneered a now much more common approach to art and letters: as his own body of work moved from criticism into art history, he continued to write articles for the most influential journals and magazines of his day, from Partisan Review and Harper’s to ArtNews and Art, many of which are collected in Other Criteria: Confrontations with Twentieth-Century Art. A maverick scholar of Rauschenberg (Encounters with Rauschenberg: A Lavishly Illustrated Lecture) and the Renaissance noted for his thoughtful integration of works, both internally and externally, Steinberg formed an infamously imagined triad with Clement . . .

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Remembering Miriam Bratu Hansen (1949-2011)

February 8, 2011
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Remembering Miriam Bratu Hansen (1949-2011)

This past Friday, the University of Chicago community mourned the loss of one of its brightest stars, when Miriam Bratu Hansen lost her decade-long battle with cancer. The Ferdinand Schevill Distinguished Service Professor in the Humanities; professor in the Departments of Cinema & Media Studies and English, and at the College; founder of the Film Studies Center; and a faculty board member of the University of Chicago Press (1991-96), Hansen shifted the confines of cinema studies to account for modernism’s more vernacular forms in line with the writings of Siegfried Kracauer, Walter Benjamin, and others from the Frankfurt school, as Hansen’s colleague Tom Gunning describes in his moving tribute: Coming to the United States, she worked at the Whitney Humanities Center at Yale and taught at Rutgers University before coming to Chicago in 1990. Her research moved to the history of early American cinema and to the work of the Frankfurt school and its satellites on cinema. Both of these areas were evident in her book Babel and Babylon: Spectatorship in American Silent Cinema published in 1991, a work which gave shape to the research that had been emerging in the eighties on early American cinema, seeing it through the . . .

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Who Wrote the (free) (E)Book of Love?

February 1, 2011
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Who Wrote the (free) (E)Book of Love?

February: lovesick and lambs-wooled. We call you fair of face, fleet of foot (only 28 days, after all), foxy, Phlox Lombardi’d, and inclined to repeatedly listen to Jonathan Richman and the airing of grievances. Black History Month ushers you in, while Gilbert Gottfried’s birthday Bears you Down. Amid all this, the bell tolls for thee: februum, after all, means “purification.” Chinese New Year goes ka-ka-ka-kat and our presidents are remembered for birth or pluck. What luck, February, grand dame of winter. We’ll take your lead and . . . turn to Southern California. With all that in mind, let us proclaim February the month of a free ebook: Who Wrote the Book of Love?, Lee Siegel’s fictional ode to an erotic coming of age. “Part of my plan,” Mark Twain wrote in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, “has been to try to pleasantly remind adults of what they once were themselves, and of how they felt and thought and talked.” With the same motive, Lee Siegel has written what Twain might have composed had he been Jewish, raised in Beverly Hills in the 1950s, and joyously obsessed with sex and love. ** “Hilarious. . . . A delicious, page-turning memoir . . .

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The Weekly Reader

January 27, 2011
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The Weekly Reader

It’s that time again: we accidentally left a printout near the copier on the 3rd of May 2010 (Goya reference not lost upon us!), only to find it still there this afternoon. With that melding of the Born-Oppenheimer Approximation in mind (“Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday born I was/Thursday’s child”), let’s again revisit the week that was: ** The Times Higher Ed profiled Kenneth J. McNamara’s The Star-Crossed Stone: The Secret Life, Myths, and History of a Fascinating Fossil. Their verdict? “A scholarly but highly accessible book, peppered with stories of the archaeologists responsible for excavating sites containing fossils” which “skillfully mingles anecdote with hard evidence.” ** Just days before the book was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism, Susie Linfield’s The Cruel Radiance: Photography and Political Violence was the subject of Jed Perl’s thoughtful and challenging piece in the New Republic, where Perl commended Linfield’s “natural appetite for photographic images” and her refusal “to be boxed in by any particular discipline or literary genre.” What’s all the fuss about? Excerpt here. ** In the Guardian, Ann Fabian’s The Skull Collectors: Race, Science, and America’s Unburied Dead was featured in the Birdbooker Report as “an interesting story” that . . .

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Thousands of (Free) Broadways

January 12, 2011
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Thousands of (Free) Broadways

Have you heard about our free e-book of the month? We’ve already Danced with Anthony Powell, schooled our Bourgeois Virtues, and even evaluated the Best of Roger Ebert. January, christened by Janus, the god of the doorway, what a cruel and miserly Home Depot construction project you’ve turned out to be! Inches of snow, bolting us over into the new year on January 1, the Feast of the Circumcision (I could not make this up). Wulf-monath! Wolf month! I wait for your Burns Night (January 25th) and ponder a month sanctioned National Thank You. No, no: thank you. In the midst of this, seeking the companionship of a book, I look for verse or reckoning: The English critic William Empson’s insight into pastoral is that the need to invent untroubled perfection always springs from anxiety: from suppressed loathing or dread. The dream of ease may be a denial of the nightmare, and therefore by implication a shadowy acknowledgment of it. In a culture notionally built on speed, change, mobility, and expansion, the thought of a quiet, human-scale community has been comforting—a half-real, half-invented shelter, refusing to explode under the successive historical pressures of slavery, economic depression, European war, technological change, . . .

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Another year, in memoriam

December 22, 2010
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Another year, in memoriam

The holidays always have the potential to be a little overwhelming, and in the rush to welcome the latest trends and advances—quite notable this past year, from growing ebook audiences to newly digitized archives—occasionally we miss the opportunity to acknowledge the losses that have also defined our year. We’d like to take a moment to reflect on the very recent passing of two members of the University of Chicago Press community. Muzaffer Atac (1931-2010) was one of the founding scientists of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and longtime head of Fermi’s detector development group, all while working simultaneously as a physics professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Texas at Dallas. In a career that spanned 40 years of service with the Department of Energy, Professor Atac played an integral role in the history relayed by Lillian Hoddeson, Adrienne W. Kolb, and Catherine Westfall’s Fermilab: Physics, the Frontier, and Megascience. Fermilab uses the backdrop of the cold war and captures the real human dramas played out by Atac and his colleagues at the cutting edge of science in the twentieth century (you can have a peek at Atac’s powerful legacy via a website devoted to . . .

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A holiday endeavor from Chicago

December 21, 2010
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A holiday endeavor from Chicago

“The days of the digital watch are numbered.”—Tom Stoppard Maybe it’s watching David Ulin’s piece at the Los Angeles Times on the rise of the ebook traffic through the internet, or maybe it’s nostalgia for the numbered days of all sorts of products: Tom Stoppard’s digital watch; Nike’s limited edition, Marty McFly-inspired, self-lacing shoes; or the CD boxed-set of Mariah Carey’s Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel, Collector’s Edition. In any case, it is (afterall, or we jest in the style of our esteemed distributed journals, Afterall) the season of giving. Is your Dance card full? Are you a cinephile in the vein of Jonathan Rosenbaum or do you side with Roger Ebert’s take on Groundhog Day? Do you wring your hands with anxiety about the sensibilities of Mr. and Mrs. Adams? Holidays have you feeling down? Probably not as down—or as pathos-driven—as Last Words of the Executed. Did you know that all of these books, along with many more Chicago favorites, are available in (highly portable! low cost!) electronic editions? And now, through December 31st, enter the promotional code EBK2010 in your shopping cart to receive a 30% discount on any ebook published by the University of Chicago Press. Happy . . .

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The Ballad of the Lonely Marketeer

December 10, 2010
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The Ballad of the Lonely Marketeer

‘Twas the night before editing class, when all through the house,Not a Tumblr was stirring, not even about Leo Strauss.Our Manual was hung by the Craigslist chair with care,In hopes that substantive freelance projects soon would be there. Its semicolons were nestled, all snug in their beds,While visions of in-line text citations danced in their heads.And yoga instructor partner in his ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,Had just settled our auto-insurance claim before a between blogging nap. When from the publicist in Reference Division there arose such a clatter,I sprang to The Chicago Manual of Style to see what was the matter.Away to my (still standing!) 2006 MacBook Core-Duo I flew like a flash,Tore open my freeware version of Word and threw up the sash. The moon on the breast of Chicago’s (seriously?) ten inches of snow,Gave lustre to the bags of Fiery Hot Cheetos on the sidewalk below.When, what to my wondering eyes should appear?But a miniature CMoS, available for download here. With such masterful copyediting (what symphonic soundtrack? Mahler?),I thought for certain it must be trademark Carol Fisher Saller.More rapid than in our Online Q & A, the pithy one-liners came,And mini-CMoS whistled, and shouted, and called them . . .

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Top Five or Ten: On the Digital Humanities

November 18, 2010
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Top Five or Ten: On the Digital Humanities

And with this whimsical title, we introduce a new Chicago Blog feature: the Top Five or Ten, a collection of materials occasionally preceding eleven and following nine—the Fermat prime, if you will, or the, um, bell that tolls multiple times for thee—geared for a day when you need a bit of neurotic listmaking in your life. Sometimes we double your pleasure (“Ten”) and other times we streamline your attention span (“Five”). That said, let’s inaugurate, shall we? On the heels of Patricia Cohen’s well-charted NYT piece on the digital humanities and Press author Dan Edelstein’s forward-thinking response, we’d like to point you towards five wholly relevant recent books that chart these brave new methodologies and help us to make sense of developments in the liberal arts and their bright digital future: Drumroll, please (and in no particular order): Lydia H. Liu’s The Freudian Robot: Digital Media and the Future of the Unconscious (forthcoming, January 2011) Liu’s book offers a rigorous study of the politics of digital writing and their fateful entanglement with Mr. Freud, from avant-garde literary experiments to the postphonetic and ideographic system of digital media. #literary theory #cybernetics #Joyce #neurotic machines N. Katherine Hayles’s My Mother Was a . . .

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Thursday, child, full of woe!

November 11, 2010
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Thursday, child, full of woe!

Thursday’s the perfect day for a wrap-up—good ol’ Thunor’s Day, Donderdag, or as Truman Capote had Holly Golightly put it best in Breakfast at Tiffany’s: “‘Thursday.’ She stood up. ‘My God,’ she said, and sat down again with a moan. ‘It’s too gruesome.'” Gruesome or not, *it is* almost Friday. And with that in mind, we’d like to proliferate a few news items and multimedia ephemera in what we hope will become a Chicago ritual: the wrap-up on the day that is not the day that wraps things up. Onward! With Veterans Day still weighing on hearts and minds, David Royko has reposted his father Mike Royko’s classic Veterans Day column from 1993. Many know the legend of Mike Royko, Newspaperman, but few are familiar with the tender naiveté Royko exhibited in his Air Force days, via the exchange of letters with his sweetheart (and later wife) Carol Duckman that became Royko in Love: Mike’s Letters to Carol. In unavoidably idiosyncratic news outside of scholarly publishing that we just can’t help touching upon: the Guardian and now People and the Los Angeles Times report the heroic, years-old tale of porpoises rescuing a sleeping, surfboard-helming Dick Van Dyke somewhere in the . . .

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