“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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Read an Excerpt from Rebecca K. Marchiel’s “After Redlining”

February 16, 2021
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Read an Excerpt from Rebecca K. Marchiel’s “After Redlining”

Some of the most quietly pernicious manifestations of American racism can be found in the discriminatory actions of financial and real estate institutions, particularly in the urban segregation policies that came to be labeled “redlining.” In this excerpt from Rebecca K. Marchiel’s After Redlining: The Urban Reinvestment Movement in the Era of Deregulation, we get an inside look at pioneering efforts to recognize these unjust actions and fight them on their own turf. In 1970, in the midst of the ongoing battle with panic peddlers, Shel Trapp led members of the West Side Coalition against Panic Peddling into the offices of Chicago’s second-largest savings and loan association, Bell Federal. The group had a meeting scheduled with the bank president to ask why his institution wasn’t lending in their neighborhood, leaving new homebuyers at the mercy of panic peddlers and contract sales. Several West Siders came to Trapp complaining that the bank had rejected their applications for loans with no explanation. Trapp reasoned the best way to get answers was to confront the president face to face. That afternoon, when the West Siders huddled into the banker’s office, they saw something that changed their understanding of what was going on in . . .

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#AuthorAtHome: Michael Marshall on “The Genesis Quest”

February 4, 2021
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We often think of the New Year as a time for both reflecting on the past and planning new beginnings. So, as we launch into 2021 in earnest, why not ponder one of the most colossal (or rather, microscopic) beginnings in the history of our planet: the origins of life. Some scientists have argued that life began in the chemical-rich seas of the early Earth, the famous primordial soup, while others are convinced that life began in strange vents pumping hot water out of the seafloor, where the chemical reactions that sustain living cells could get started. Or perhaps life began in volcanic ponds on land, or in meteorite impact zones—or even in beds of clay. Each theory has attracted staunch believers who promote it with an almost religious fervor. But our pursuit of life’s origins is more than a tale of bizarre (and sometimes unscientific) investigative zeal: it is a story that takes in some of the greatest discoveries in modern biology, from cells to DNA, and from evolution to life’s family tree. Stretching from 1920s Soviet Russia to the Manhattan Project and the latest discoveries, Michael Marshall’s The Genesis Quest: The Geniuses and Eccentrics on a Journey to . . .

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Six Questions with Anjuli Fatima Raza Kolb, author of “Epidemic Empire”

January 28, 2021
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Terrorism has often been described as a cancer, an infection, an epidemic, a plague. In her new book, Epidemic Empire, Anjuli Fatima Raza Kolb tracks this persistent trope of terrorism as a “social contagion,” from its roots in anti-rebellion colonial rhetoric through to the global war on terror. Raza Kolb’s demonstrates that the metaphor surfaces again and again at moments of crisis—including the current COVID-19 crisis. We asked the author a few questions about her book. Epidemic Empire has turned out to be quite prescient. We began preparing the book for publication in early 2020, just before we entered COVID-19 lockdown. How have the events of this past year sharpened your understanding of the themes in the book? Thank you for asking this question—it’s been on my mind constantly over the last ten months. Also, suddenly, on everyone else’s mind! In the early days of my research, I was getting a lot of pushback on my work’s relationship to what’s casually called “social construct” theory, an effect of deconstruction, which argues that certain seemingly stable ontological categories like gender or race are in fact products of the social. Judith Butler’s monumental Gender Trouble is a good example here, and it’s also . . .

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Read an Excerpt from “White Market Drugs” Our Winter #ReadUCP Book Club Pick

January 20, 2021
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We’re excited to share that our winter Twitter Book Club pick is David Herzberg’s White Market Drugs: Big Pharma and The Hidden History of Addiction in America. To get you started, we’ve included a short excerpt from the Introduction below. Then, order the book for 30% off with the code READUCP on our website, and join us on Twitter for a conversation with David on February 23 at 2:00 PM Central. Follow the hashtag #ReadUCP for updates. Thinking past the medicine-drug divide White markets are an open secret of American history, widely ac- knowledged but rarely examined in depth. This is, in part, because they fall into a scholarly gap between historians who study medicines and historians who study drugs. These are different people, who belong to different scholarly societies, each with their own journals and conferences, and who organize their research around their own distinctive questions. Addictive medicines sit directly in the gap between these groups and fit only awkwardly into either. Not all historians respect this boundary between medicines and drugs; a number of excellent works tell key parts of the story.11 Yet much of the story has not been told. Pharmaceutical opioids do not yet have their . . .

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Ten Things I’ve Learned Designing for a University Press

January 19, 2021
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We’re often introduced to a book through its cover. Catching our eye on a bookstore display, in a social media post, or shared by a favorite reviewer, covers give us a glimpse into what each book holds. But how does a cover come into existence? What goes into the process and how do designers dream them up? We checked in with Natalie Sowa, one of our very own in-house designers, to hear about working in book design. In turn, she offers the ten things she’s learned while designing covers for a university press. 1. A book cover is an overture. A cover cannot possibly contain everything in the book; its function is entirely different. An overture is a broad musical interpretation of a larger work of music; it picks themes and snippets from the work and puts them on display to whet the aural appetite. This is the function of a good book cover. The book is the entire musical composition, complete and exhaustive. The cover hints at what is inside and entices readers to open it. The best covers often focus on a single idea and visualize it in a way that’s difficult for potential readers to ignore. 2. . . .

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Five Books to Help You Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

January 4, 2021
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At the beginning of each year, many of us make resolutions. But often, it’s hard to know just how to get started or stay committed. That’s where we come in! Books are one of the best ways to explore how to best fulfill a resolution, and so we’ve offered some suggestions below of books to get you started on the path to self-improvement. Improve your writing with Wordcraft: The Complete Guide to Clear, Powerful Writing. In one of the most broadly useful writing books ever written, legendary writing coach Jack Hart breaks the writing process into a series of manageable steps, from idea to polishing. Filled with real-world examples, both good and bad, Wordcraft shows how to bring such characteristics as force, brevity, clarity, rhythm, and color to any kind of writing. Find new ways to relax: Doodling for Academics: A Coloring and Activity Book With the help of hilarious illustrations by Lauren Nassef, Julie Schumacher infuses the world of campus greens and university quads with cutting wit, immersing you deep into the weirdly creative challenges of university life. Offering a satirical interactive experience for scholars, the combination of humor and activities in this book will bring academia into entertaining . . .

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