Press release: Zhang Zhen, An Amorous History of the Silver Screen

March 2, 2006
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Press release: Zhang Zhen, An Amorous History of the Silver Screen

Chinese cinema is now celebrating its centennial at the same time it is garnering increasing exposure around the world. Thus this first history of film’s emergence in China, Zhang Zhen’s Amorous History of the Silver Screen couldn’t have arrived at a better time. Named after a major 1931 feature film on the making of Chinese cinema, only part of which survives today, this sustained historical study covers the full sweep of the country’s early cinematic history—from 1896, when the first film was screened in China; to 1905, when the first film was produced in the country; to 1937, when the Japanese invasion halted the exciting cinematic transformations then in progress.… Read the press release. . . .

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Seeing Males Together: Brokeback Mountain and Picturing Men

March 1, 2006
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Seeing Males Together: Brokeback Mountain and Picturing Men

An essay by John Ibson, author of Picturing Men. History’s fundamental lesson warns those who are comfortable with contemporary social arrangements, as it reassures those who are oppressed by current practices: It hasn’t always been like this, and isn’t likely to stay this way forever. This lesson is certainly true when it comes to the way that American men today are inclined and allowed to express their affection for each other—whether that affection involves romance, sexual longing, or just profound fondness. Ang Lee’s magnificent film Brokeback Mountain is the sad story of two Wyoming ranch hands whose society severely inhibits their twenty-year-long affectionate and sexual relationship. They express their mutual attraction only when utterly alone in the wilderness, at huge expense to their emotional lives and also their relationships with women. Yet Brokeback Mountain may also be instructively seen as a movie that raises disturbing issues about the ways that all American men feel about the appropriate ways to express their fondness for each other, whether or not that fondness is accompanied by sexual desire. Our culture still so scorns sexual desire between two men that there is a common fear that such desire just might accompany any fondness, as . . .

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Chicago Manual of Style Q&A

March 1, 2006
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Chicago Manual of Style Q&A

Clear, concise, and replete with commonsense advice, the fifteenth edition of The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th Edition offers the wisdom of a hundred years of editorial practice while including a wealth of new topics and updated perspectives. For anyone who works with words, in any medium, this continues to be the one reference book you simply must have. However, even at nearly 1,000 pages, The Chicago Manual of Style can’t cover every detail. The Chicago Manual of Style Web site features a Q&A page, where the University of Chicago Press’s manuscript editing department interprets the Manual‘s recommendations and uncoils its intricacies. Anyone can submit a question to the Q&A. Every month new questions are featured—and answered—on the site. Here are some recent Q&As: Q. A colleague insists that this sentence is both ungrammatical and misuses a metaphor: "One of the major benefits of cloned stem cells could be as a more accurate window on diseases." While I think the sentence is clumsy, I don’t see the mistake in grammar. And, while "accurate window" also isn’t elegant, a quick search on the Web turned up plenty of uses of "accurate window" on reputable academic and government agency sites. Who’s right? . . .

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Wayne Booth Memorial Service

February 28, 2006
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Wayne Booth Memorial Service

On March 9, the University of Chicago will host a memorial service honoring the memory of Wayne Booth (1921-2005). The service will take place at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel (1156 E. 59th Street), from 4:30 PM to 6:00 PM. Wayne Booth wrote some of the most influential and engaging criticism of our time, most notably the 1961 classic The Rhetoric of Fiction, a book that transformed literary criticism and became the standard reference point for advanced discussions of how fiction works, how authors make novels accessible, and how readers re-create texts. This May, the University of Chicago Press will publish The Essential Wayne Booth. Read an excerpt from For the Love of It: Amateuring and Its Rivals. . . .

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Happy Birthday, Ben Hecht!

February 28, 2006
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Happy Birthday, Ben Hecht!

On February 28, 1894 Ben Hecht was born in New York City. Though he would find fame as a novelist, playwright, and screenwriter, Hecht was at heart a news reporter. His columns for the Chicago Daily News were collected in the 1922 book, A Thousand and One Afternoons in Chicago, a timeless classic of journalism. In 1925 Hecht went to Hollywood to try his hand at screenwriting. He wrote more than seventy screenplays, including Underworld (1927), for which he won an Oscar. He returned to his newspaper roots when he collaborated with Charles MacArthur on The Front Page, a play based on his adventures as a newsman, which became an enduring hit. . . .

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Paleolithic handprints

February 27, 2006
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Paleolithic handprints

In The Nature of Paleolithic Art, Dale Guthrie overturns many of the standard interpretations of the ancient cave paintings of the Paleolithic era. Among other things, Guthrie argues that many of the cave paintings were done by children and have similarities with present-day graffiti. Here is an illustration and short excerpt from the book: Missing Fingers in Art: Ritual, Disease, Frostbite, or Kids Playing? “Many hand images in the French Gargas-Tibran cave complex and Cosquer and in Maltravieso Cave in Spain appear to have missing fingers or other malformations. These “disfigured” hands have fueled discussions for the last 100 years. Groenen (1987) has provided a review of this debate. The central issue, of course, is that virtually all apparent mutilations are also replicable by simply contorting fingers in the stenciled hand (as one does in shadow art). But many people still insist that these represent real ritual amputations. “More recent speculation on possible causes of these disfigured hands has focused on Raynaud’s disease, in which capillaries fail to respond normally by flushing with warm blood when hands or feet get cold. I find this explanation unconvincing, because Raynaud’s disease is seldom expressed in young men (Larson 1996), and the hands . . .

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Why Are You Laughing?

February 27, 2006
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Why is the slapstick comedy of the Three Stooges funny? Why do we laugh when the Black Knight gets his arm hacked off in Monty Python and the Holy Grail? Paul Lewis, author of the forthcoming book, Cracking Up: American Humor in a Time of Conflict, recently discussed the appeal of violence in comedy on NPR’s Studio 360. In a Studio 360 segment called "Why Are You Laughing?," Lewis compared violent comedy to a roller coaster: "As you make your way up there’s a sense of apprehension. Will this be dangerous? Will it be thrilling? As you’re on your way down you’re either screaming or you’re laughing or some combination, which is familiar to people who enjoy sadistic or cruel humor." Listen an audio file of "Why Are You Laughing?" on NPR’s Studio 360 Web site. Cracking Up: American Humor in a Time of Conflict will be published by the University of Chicago Press later this year. . . .

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Review: David Schmid, Natural Born Celebrities

February 23, 2006
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Review: David Schmid, Natural Born Celebrities

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries recently reviewed David Schmid’s Natural Born Celebrities: Serial Killers in American Culture: "Schmid’s intriguing book thoroughly investigates the ‘celebrity’ serial killer phenomenon that has made killers like Jack the Ripper as famous as any movie star. Schmid explores how and why serial killers have obtained fame, the consequences of that fame, and what the killers’ celebrity status says about the roles that violence and fame play in culture. The subject matter is well researched and organized.… By examining the public fascination with serial killers, Schmid forces readers to confront their own roles in the creation of ‘celebrity’ serial killers and the public interest that generates celebrity status." Read an excerpt. . . .

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John Yoo interviewed on NPR

February 23, 2006
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John Yoo interviewed on NPR

John Yoo, author of The Powers of War and Peace: The Constitution and Foreign Affairs after 9/11, was interviewed by Steve Inskeep on NPR’s Morning Edition this morning. Yoo explained his view of the president’s expansive power in times of war, and the role of Congressional review and oversight. He also said that it’s “an exaggeration” that his views give the President “unlimited power.” We also have an interview with Yoo on our website. . . .

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Robert E. Wright discusses The First Wall Street on NPR

February 22, 2006
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Robert E. Wright discusses The First Wall Street on NPR

Earlier this week, Robert E. Wright talked to NPR’s Cheryl Glaser about his new book The First Wall Street: Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, and the Birth of American Finance. When Americans think of investment and finance, they think of Wall Street—though this was not always the case. During the dawn of the Republic, Philadelphia was the center of American finance. The first stock exchange in the nation was founded there in 1790, and around it the bustling thoroughfare known as Chestnut Street was home to the nation’s most powerful financial institutions. The First Wall Street recounts the fascinating history of Chestnut Street and its forgotten role in the birth of American finance. An audio file of the program is on NPR’s Marketplace Web site. Read an excerpt. . . .

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