Racism in America: Suggested Readings

June 1, 2020
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As we grieve and seek a way forward for a more just, more equitable world, it’s important to understand what has brought us here and the obstacles we have yet to overcome. To get started, here are some suggestions for further reading. You can browse even more in our subject listings. The Torture Letters: Reckoning with Police Violence Laurence Ralph Citizen Brown: Race, Democracy, and Inequality in the St. Louis Suburbs Colin Gordon Tacit Racism Anne Warfield Rawls and Waverly Duck Crusade for Justice: The Autobiography of Ida B. Wells Second Edition Edited by Alfreda M. Duster, With a New Foreword by Eve L. Ewing and a New Afterword by Michelle Duster Remembering Emmett Till Dave Tell Beyond the Usual Beating: The Jon Burge Police Torture Scandal and Social Movements for Police Accountability in Chicago Andrew S. Baer Murder in New Orleans: The Creation of Jim Crow Policing Jeffrey S. Adler Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago’s South Side Eve L. Ewing The Color of Mind: Why the Origins of the Achievement Gap Matter for Justice Derrick Darby and John L. Rury Building the Prison State: Race and the Politics of Mass Incarceration Heather Schoenfeld The . . .

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Pandemic Participation: Christopher M. Kelty on Isolation and Participation in a Public Health Crisis

May 28, 2020
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Drawing from ideas in his book, The Participant: A Century of Participation in Four Stories, Christopher M. Kelty discusses how participation changes during a pandemic and what it means for the future. I make a provocative claim in The Participant: To treat participation as general—and democracy as a more specific apparatus to which it responds—amounts to asserting that participation is prior to democracy. Participation is not a simple component of democracy, but something problematic enough that things like representative parliamentary democracy, federal constitutions, secret ballots, and regimes of audit and regulation are oriented toward dealing with too much, too little, or the wrong kind of participation. This is not a conventional way of looking at democracy, and it will not fit well with a political theory tradition in which participation plays only a bit part in the great historical drama of democracy. I think, however, there is something to be gained by reversing this relation. Instead, one can view participation as a longstanding problem of the relation between persons and collectives, and see liberal democracy as existing in an intermediate temporality where institutions, theories, constitutions, legal systems are in a process of steady transformation. The apparatus we call “liberal representative . . .

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Close Your Eyes, Open Your Ears: Read an Excerpt from “Seeing Silence” by Mark C. Taylor

May 26, 2020
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Mark C. Taylor’s forthcoming book, Seeing Silence, offers a new philosophy of silence for our nervous, chattering age. Taylor explores the many variations of silence by considering the work of leading modern and postmodern visual artists, weaving in the insights of philosophers, theologians, writers, and composers. During times of stress and uncertainty, Taylor encourages us to turn to silence as a means to understand the world around us—to hear what is not said, and to attend to what remains unsayable. Pause to listen and read along as Taylor narrates the opening passages of Seeing Silence. Video by Oscar d’Angeac. Produced by Armand Latreille & Lucas Zabotin. Silence is no weakness of language. It is, on the contrary, its strength. It is the weakness of language not to know this. —Edmond Jabès Close your eyes, open your ears. Close your eyes, open your ears and listen. Listen attentively, listen patiently. What do you hear? Now imagine . . . try to imagine the impossibility of imagining Now. Imagine, try to imagine not being—not being here, not being now. Not being here, not being now, not being elsewhere, not being anywhere. Imagine being before being. Imagine being after being. Imagine being Not. . . .

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Poet Rachel DeWoskin Reads from Her New Collection

May 18, 2020
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UChicago Press is now on Youtube! . . .

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We Are All Fluxus Artists Now: Natilee Harren on Making the Most of Mundane Tasks

May 12, 2020
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As we continue to shelter at home and stay safe during the current pandemic, many of our days are occupied by the routines of cooking, cleaning, eating, and maintaining the household. During this time, Fluxus Forms author Natilee Harren looks to a peculiar group of artists, the Fluxus collective, to cast new light on our mundane daily tasks. Fluxus artists found creative value in a variety of surprising places, including the rituals of seemingly boring everyday tasks. Harren shows us how, even while staying safe at home, we can observe ourselves, become an object, and live some Fluxus art. Museums and moviehouses continue their closures. Countless events remain canceled. As we practice enforced or voluntary forms of social distancing, we are bombarded with appeals to satisfy our cultural appetites with virtual museum tours, Instagram conversations, live-streamed concerts, and hours of content newly liberated from paywalls. But how much time per day can we really spend with our eyes fixed on digital screens, especially when so many of our work and schooling obligations have also moved online? At the same time, stuck at home and attempting to keep a virus at bay, we find ourselves spending more time than ever before on mundane, everyday . . .

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Guilty Until Proven Innocent?: Marianne Mason, editor of “The Discourse of Police Interviews,” on the Guilt-Presumptive Nature of Interrogations

May 7, 2020
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“Step up and tell the truth.” “No more lies.” “This is your chance to tell us what really happened.” Who hasn’t rooted for a TV detective when they’ve said these lines in an interrogation or when the detective managed to convince someone not to seek counsel? While these lines and manipulations have been played off on procedural shows as fairly benign, they actually represent an interrogation method that, instead of presuming innocence like the US justice system is meant to, actually presumes guilt and focuses on soliciting a confession. In her chapter in The Discourse of Police Interviews, “The Guilt-Presumptive Nature of Custodial Interrogations in the United States,” editor Marianne Mason investigates this interrogation style’s history, techniques, and tactics as well as loopholes past the Miranda warning and suggests areas for further research. We invited her to reflect on her chapter and bring to light its key points and place it within The Discourse of Police Interviews as a whole. It is past time that police interviews undergo such analysis and scrutiny. Since the early 2000s I have been researching language and the law. I have examined language use in covertly-taped conversations of drug cartel members, such as the Cali Cartel, the bilingual . . .

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Five Questions with Joseph Calamia, Senior Editor for Science

May 5, 2020
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Joseph Calamia recently joined the Press as senior editor in the Books Division, acquiring new titles in the physical sciences, mathematics, oceanography, and digital studies. Joe came to us from Yale University Press, where he spent ten years, most recently, as senior editor for science and technology. We’ve been excited to welcome him not only to the Press but to Chicago, and by way of introduction, we put together some questions about his interests. What are you looking for in a book, and what kind of project gets you excited? Editors are excitable—I want to get excited. But, when pursuing a book for publication, I must answer two questions. First, what’s new? Second, who will read this? The first question considers originality; the second, audience. I should say that my answer to this question is not original. When reading a proposal, I hear these questions in my head. At commissioning meetings, I hear them from colleagues. I should also say that the two questions are connected. One of the many great things about working at a university press is the encouragement to create a program that includes books for different audiences, including popular, course, and academic readers. For public-facing or . . .

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Join the #ReadUCP Book Club: Read the Opening Extract from “The Safe House: A Novel”

April 30, 2020
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Friends, we have your quarantine reading right here: The Safe House: A Novel by Christophe Boltanski and translated from the French by Laura Marris. In Paris’s exclusive Saint-Germain neighborhood is a mansion. In that mansion lives a family. Deep in that mansion. The Bolts are that family, and they have secrets. The Safe House tells their story. The Safe House was a literary sensation when published in France in 2015 and won the Prix de Prix, France’s most prestigious book prize. With hints of Oulipian playfulness and an atmosphere of dark humor, The Safe House is an unforgettable portrait of a self-imprisoned family. We invite you to read with us throughout May and June and then join us for our virtual book club meeting with translator Laura Marris on Twitter on June 25 at 2PM CT. Follow #ReadUCP and @LauraMarris on Twitter for all the latest. CAR: 1 I never saw them walk outside alone. Or even together. Never saw them so much as stroll the length of a block. They only ventured out on wheels. Sitting pressed against each other, shielded by the body of the car— behind some cover, no matter how slight. In Paris, they drove around in a Fiat 500 Lusso, a white one. It was a . . .

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Price V. Fishback on Werner Troesken’s “The Pox of Liberty” and Our Current Tradeoffs between Quarantines and Economic Freedom

April 21, 2020
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Economist and Press author Price V. Fishback shared with us recently his thoughts on a previous Press book that speaks to our current situation and looks at the political and economic history of how the US government has responded to other pandemics. The current crisis has brought into focus the tradeoffs between quarantines and economic freedom.  For an excellent book about the history of these tradeoffs in the United States, read Werner Troesken’s The Pox of Liberty:  How the Constitution Left Americans Rich, Free, and Prone to Infection (University of Chicago Press, 2015). Werner traces the history of how governments at all levels of the American federal system dealt with three deadly and recurring diseases:  smallpox, yellow fever, and typhoid. All of the issues the world is facing today to avoid horrid deaths are discussed in Werner’s book:  inadequate testing, the absence of vaccines, attempts to develop vaccines, tradeoffs between economic losses and quarantines, the uncertainties that the disease might return in the future, and inadequate medical facilities.  The situations developed in the nineteenth-century societies when there were much higher death rates, lower incomes, and at best rudimentary medical care.  In his preface, Werner says that he started out trying to . . .

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Zachary Dorner, author of “Merchants of Medicine,” on the Coronavirus and Black Americans

April 15, 2020
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The death of black Americans due to coronavirus at a disproportionately high rate recalls the ways differential mortality reflects and has shaped ideas of inherent bodily difference in the past. Zachary Dorner discusses this connection using ideas and examples from his book Merchants of Medicines: The Commerce and Coercion of Health in Britain’s Long Eighteenth Century (available in May). Data recently collected by The Washington Post (link) point to stark disparities in morbidity and mortality during the current pandemic between black and white Americans. While upsetting, such a finding does not come as a particular surprise to a historian of medicine and empire. (Nor, for that matter, does it to scholars of race or to people whose lived experience is one of unequal health). Such health outcomes are often the result, intended and not, of longstanding policies and practices used to construct the economic and political realities we live with today. Notably, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams has attributed his own cardiovascular issues, and therefore susceptibility to the virus, to the “legacy of growing up poor and black in America.” Structural disparities not only contribute to disparate health outcomes as starkly demonstrated this year by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, but historically . . .

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