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Archive for March, 2010

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Amy Allen on New Directions in Critical Theory series

Critical theory has emerged again as a vital component of understanding the contemporary epoch in relation to the past, the future, and perhaps most importantly, to the present.

Columbia University Press’s New Directions in Critical Theory series highlights the integral relationship from one critical perspective to another and another and another. We’ve interviewed Amy Allen, the editor of this series, in an “outside-the-text” approach to appreciating and understanding this series.

Q: What does New Directions in Critical Theory “mean” as a whole? That is, what do you think the most important strains and themes emerge in the series?

Amy Allen: My vision for the series was to provide a forum for re-envisioning the project of critical social theory. Traditionally, this project has been rooted in the work of the Frankfurt School, a group of German philosophers and social theorists whose best-known members are Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, and Jürgen Habermas. The general impetus that drives the work of these thinkers is the goal of developing a theoretically informed, empirically grounded critical theory of society that takes as its practical aim the overcoming of domination. But this general impetus also motivates a number of other closely related theoretical approaches, including poststructuralist theory, feminist and queer theory, post-colonial and critical race theory, and so on. So the idea for the series was that it should be rooted in the project of critical theory as that has been understood in the Frankfurt school tradition, but that it should also publish works that push the boundaries of that tradition by engaging intellectually with alternative critical approaches.

Q: As the name of the series suggests, there is more than one new direction in critical theory today; what currents have you seen recede or dominate in the last ten years? Are those trends changing, in your opinion?

AA: I think that critical theory is in an exciting phase of reinventing and re-imagining itself, and I hope that the titles that we have published so far are indicative of that. For example, in the 1980s and 1990s, there were a series of very heated debates between Habermasian critical theorists, on the one hand, and poststructuralists, on the other hand. Those debates generated a lot of heat but not that much light. Now that the more polemical phase of that intellectual exchange has passed, we are seeing more constructive engagements across these traditions, and I think that the titles published in the series thus far reflect that spirit. The 1990s was also a time when critical theorists became focused on the politics of recognition (inspired by work of Axel Honneth and others on this theme), but the current discussion has begun to focus once more on economic issues and reviving the critique of capitalism (in this connection, the work of Nancy Fraser has been very important). Moreover, because critical theory has always been committed methodologically to critical, theoretical reflection on our actually existing social world (as opposed to a construction of an ideal theory of justice, for example), it has always been shaped by and responsive to events in the world. And I think the titles in the series are evidence of that responsiveness, whether the topic is immigration and citizenship issues (Stevens), the politics of race (Jones) and gender (Allen), the accelerating pace of globalization (Fraser), or violence and war and their aftermath (Lara, McAfee, Cavarero).


Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Sylvia Beach Interview

Greta Schiller’s 1995 documentary Paris was a Woman , explores the vital role that women played in the artistic and intellectual life in inter-war Paris. The film includes archival footage and interviews with many of the leading figures, including none other than Sylvia Beach, founder of the legendary bookstore Shakespeare and Company. (We of course have Beach on our minds with the forthcoming publication of The Letters of Sylvia Beach, edited by Keri Walsh.)

This clip from Paris was a Woman includes part of an interview with Beach and includes discussions of her relationship with Adrienne Monnier, her friendship with Gertrude Stein, and 1920s Paris. Enjoy!

Monday, March 29th, 2010

Kenneth Posner on Hunting for the next “Black Swan”

Ken PosnerThe Black Swan Theory is used to explain hard-to-predict, rare events, but how should investors cope, react, and even try to anticipate such events? In an op-ed in Institutional Investor, Ken Posner, author of Stalking the Black Swan: Research and Decision Making in a World of Extreme Volatility, argues that “investors who want to avoid Black Swan losses might want to think twice before betting on pundits’ Black Swan forecasts.”

Instead Posner advances an approach that combines the classic fundamental research approach of Warren Buffet, Benjamin Graham, and David Dodd with more recent developments in cognitive science, computational theory, and quantitative finance. Posner writes, “Fundamental research is more than financial statement analysis and valuation. At its heart, research is the study of causation, so that we can make predictions about companies, industries, or economic variables. Ignored by academics, fundamental research remains the primary method by which Wall Street analysts make investment decisions.”

Posner begins his op-ed by questioning the recent advice of pundits to load up on gold and other commodities and concludes with the following strategy for those looking to find and avoid the next Black Swan:

We’d all like to nail the next Black Swan, and placing all of your bets on inflation might seem like a tempting strategy to do so. But experienced traders know that in a world of extreme volatility, survival is the first priority. Don’t bet your whole portfolio on one strategy. Rather, consider allocating part of your portfolio to securities that would benefit from lower-than-expected interest rates and a persistent steep yield curve. Certain financial stocks might work. For example, take a look at mortgage REITs, currently trading at or below book value, some with double-digit dividend yields. Happy hunting.

Friday, March 26th, 2010

Edward Hess talks to Business Insider about Smart Growth

In an interview with Business Insider (see below), Edward Hess, author of Smart Growth: Building an Enduring Business by Managing Risks, challenges Wall Street’s accepted wisdom about growth.

Hess argues that growth is not always good; bigger is not always better; companies don’t need to grow to survive; and that there is more to a successful business than good quarterly earnings. The emphasis on growth has led companies to led to short-term strategies that are not always in a company’s long-term interests, such as deferring investments to make quarterly goals.

Hess also cited the example of Toyota as a case in which the emphasis on growth ended up hurting the company, by shifting its focus from being the best to the biggest, they created risk they could not manage.

Here’s the video of his interview:

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Interview with Donna V. Jones author of The Racial Discourses of Life Philosophy

Donna JonesThe following is an interview with Donna V. Jones, the author of The Racial Discourses of Life Philosophy: Négritude, Vitalism, and Modernity

Q: The title of the book is The Racial Discourses of Life Philosophy: Négritude, Vitalism, and Modernity. What does the title tell us about the book?

Donna V. Jones: The Great War was a catastrophic shock to world civilization. I am interested in how that shock reverberated both in European philosophy and in the thought of colonial subjects, especially among a group of African and Afro-Caribbean thinkers from the French colonies who formed a poetic movement called Négritude. The rationalization of slaughter raised the question of what value Western civilization actually placed on life, but the fascist reaction to the horrors of the First World War also gave new meaning to life and identified it with death.  We find an obsession with intense lived experience of the battlefield and an irrational commitment to the vitality of the nation, predicated on the racist destruction of life that is weak. The bully boys found that there was no better way to silence the reasonable criticism of an opponent than to paint him as against life. Life became a political banner, but we find a very different response to the crisis of the interwar years in the Négritude poets. Following the lead of F. Abiola Irele, I argue that it is illuminating to read them in dialogue with the great life philosopher Henri Bergson, whose influence on the arts of his day surpasses that of any philosopher after him, and in the book I am interested in Bergson’s influence on modernism in general. I focus, however, on the two extraordinary Négritude poets who were also leading statesmen, Aimé Césaire and Leopold Sédar Senghor, and show that their interpretation and development of Bergson’s life philosophy were profound indeed. However, I insist that Césaire alone found the proper limits of life philosophies. The irony here is that both imperialist racialism and anticolonial revolt are implicated in life philosophy.

Q: What, then, is life philosophy or vitalism?

D.V.J.: It’s a deceptively simple answer to two ancient questions: What ought we do, and what is the good life? Vitalism (and there are many forms of it, but I shall begin here) names the temptation and tautology to seek in the nature of life itself an answer to basic ethical questions. Life ought to be for life and the good life is the lively life. We have so much reverence and awe for the life process of which we are but an evanescent product that we cannot but consult it. Should not life itself, then, hold the answer to what life is for? It is not even clear that we have anywhere else to turn.

But do life itself and our existential dependence on it really provide any clues whatsoever to what are our individual lives are for? The common answer that follows even today is discomforting in light of the fascist historic use of the life concept, to say the least: life is for more life—reproductive fitness: power, mating, and progeny. We have no other purpose. Now it is well known that racial dystopias have been created in the name of health, vigor, and vitality. Life itself was thought to hold the answer to the question of which lives are not worth living in the Lebensphilosophie favored by fascism. At the end of my last chapter I read Césaire’s Notebook of a Return to My Native Land as an affirmation of all black existence in what Judith Butler would call its precariousness, in opposition to the strong man’s embrace of only that which is vital.


Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Jonathan Holslag on Chindia

Jonathan HolslagIn an interview with Time, Jonathan Holslag, author of China and India: Prospects for Peace discusses some of the existing and potential tensions conflicts that might develop between the two countries.

Holslag argues that increased competition between the nations might lead to conflict. More precisely, he suggests that as India industrializes it will challenge China’s core economic strength. The two nations will not only be competing for economic opportunities but for regional political influence. Politically unstable but resource-rich nations like Burma and Nepal might become sites of proxy wars between China and India. Mutual distrust among China and India along with unresolved conflicts about borders and territory might also jeopardize the uneasy peace between the countries.

And the role of the U.S. in the conflict? Holslag says:

Since the U.S. has prioritized stabilizing Afghanistan over everything else in Asia, it has lost a lot of credit in both Delhi and Beijing. It is increasingly reliant on China, but has also undertaken security exercises [under the Bush Administration] that tried to work together with democratic countries like Japan, India and Australia at the exclusion of China. This fed into the traditional political claustrophobia many in China have — a sense that, in the end, Asia will be a very hostile environment for their development and geopolitical rise.

At the same time, India won’t let itself be drowned in America’s orbit. It’s important for India to have its strategic independence. It has a very long and historically close relationship with Russia, which in turn is close to China. So it’s a little more complicated. I don’t think the Americans have thought very strategically about all of this.

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Paul Offit: Autism’s False Prophets now available in paperback

Paul Offit’s best-selling Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure is now available in paperback with a new preface.

While the hardcover was first published in 2008 events have kept the book in the headlines. Most notably was The Lancet‘s decision to retract Andrew Wakefield’s article which claimed a link between vaccines and autism. Recently, Chris Mooney interviewed Paul Offit on the popular podcast Points of Inquiry, hosted by Chris Mooney. In the interview, Offit discusses the state of the vaccine skeptic movement in light of [the news about Wakefield]. In particular, Offit explores why the tides may be turning on the movement—as well as the grave public health consequences of ongoing vaccine avoidance.

On his blog The Intersection, Chris Mooney writes about the interview with Paul Offit here, here, and here.

Also, here’s a video we made for the book when it was first published:

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Roger Hardy on Islamism and why the West gets it wrong

Roger HardyIn a recent editorial in the Guardian, Roger Hardy, author of The Muslim Revolt: A Journey Through Political Islam, argues that the West has simplified and misunderstood the nature and motivations of Islamism.

Hardy’s editorial and book are based on his more than thirty years of travel in the Muslim world, mostly as a BBC correspondent. In the editorial, Hardy charts the development of Islamism from the Muslim Brotherhood and Sayyid Qutb to the internationalization of the movement in 1979 with the overthrow of the Shah in Iran and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. He goes on to suggest that even though Islamism has had success on the grassroots level in the Muslim World, this has not transferred real governing power.

While some observers, most notably Farid Zakaria, have argued that Islamism might be losing its hold in the Muslim world and that al-Qaeda has lost the ideological battle, Hardy sees this as “wishful thinking.”

Hardy concludes the piece:

Much of the talk about winning Muslim “hearts and minds” is shallow and misguided. The issue is often seen, especially in the United States, as a matter of public relations – as if America has an image problem in the Muslim world, and dollars can buy it a better one. Or it is seen, in a facile way, as a matter of bolstering “good Muslims” while clobbering “bad Muslims”. Without a surer grasp of Islamism and its discontents, the battle for Muslim hearts and minds will be lost.

Friday, March 19th, 2010

Ronald Reagan and General Electric — Thomas Evans

General Electric is currently sponsoring the Ronald Reagan Centennial Celebration. Regan’s relationship with GE is the subject of Thomas Evans’s recent book The Education of Ronald Reagan: The General Electric Years and the Untold Story of His Conversion to Conservatism, in which he examines Reagan’s role not only as host of GE Theater but as the company’s public-relations envoy.

In particular, Evans reveals the profound influence of GE executive Lemuel Boulware, who would become Reagan’s political and ideological mentor. Boulware, known for his tough stance against union officials and his innovative corporate strategies to win over workers, championed the core tenets of modern American conservatism—free-market fundamentalism, anticommunism, lower taxes, and limited government.

The G.E. site is featuring articles by various figures including Tom Brokaw, Pat Buchanan, and Thomas Evans, who in his essay Vision Accomplished explores Reagan’s years at G.E. and how they shaped his presidency and his “vision which developed from study and talks with GE workers and executives all over the country.”

And just for fun (and at the risk of shilling for GE), here is a promotional spot Reagan did on GE theater:

On a more serious note, here is a radio interview with Ronald Reagan from 1958 in which he discusses union-management and reveals his evolving political views:

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Catherine Malabou: Heir to Heidegger, Hegel, and Derrida?

Catherine Malabou
Rather than having to wait a year or more for reviews of scholarly books, the Web has allowed for more immediate attention and discussion of scholarly books to emerge in a more shorter time. For instance, Catherine Malabou’s Plasticity at the Dusk of Writing: Dialectic, Destruction, and Deconstruction, published in November 2009, has already received a lot of attention, including a recent review in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews (NDPR).

In his review, John Protevi writes, “[Plasticity at the Dusk of Writing] has the form of an intellectual autobiography, though it is not really about Malabou the person, but about the concepts of our era, or more strikingly still, about the “materiality of existence and [the transformations of] its ontological meaning.” Protevi continues calling it an “excellent work,” and praises Malabou for “providing us with an exhilarating tour of a masterful reader, writer, and thinker of the hugely important tradition gathered under the names Hegel, Heidegger, and Derrida.”

For the past month, the excellent group blog An und fur sich, which is comprised of professors and grad students, has been having a book event for Plasticity at the Dusk of Writing. Like the NDPR review, the discussion at An und Fur sich focuses on the importance of Malabou for contemporary thought.

Clayton Crockett, who wrote the foreword to the book, opened the discussion at An und fur sich, writing:

I think that Malabou’s ideas have many resonances and are important for many areas of thought. In terms of Continental philosophy of religion and radical theology, I think that her sharp rejection of messianism is provocative and important for thinking about the relationship between deconstruction and religion…. Finally, although Malabou is a student of Derrida, her work is studded with insights of Deleuze, and plasticity helps draw out some of the implications of Deleuze’s discussions of the brain, most powerfully in Cinema 2. So for me at least plasticity is this incredibly rich notion with which to think, and Malabou has given us these incisive and brilliant readings of important philosophical thinkers, and I think she deserves to be considered one of the major contemporary philosophers in the world today.

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Sylvia Beach, editor and letter-writer

Sylvia BeachThink about a book you’ve read over and over. You may have turned to it for advice, or chuckled at an inadvertent reference. You know that book backwards and forwards. Now stop and try to think of who the editor is. Odds are, you have no idea.

Occasionally we speak of Maxwell Perkins, or Gordon Lish, whose names are uttered in reverence alongside their famed authors, but for the most part editors are an underappreciated bunch. For one influential editor to the literary stars, that’s about the change thanks to Keri Walsh and her forthcoming collected The Letters of Sylvia Beach.

Sylvia Beach was one of the most well-connected and influential women of modern literature. When James Joyce wanted to invite Ernest Hemingway to a dinner party, he did it through Beach (in part because Hemingway didn’t have a phone!) Simultaneously a librarian, promoter, bookstore owner, banker, broker, and editor, Beach served as what Noel Riley Fitch calls in her preface to the letters “a literary midwife,” most notably to Joyce’s Ulysses, which she published, promoted and managed for over a decade.

In the face of widespread talk regarding the impending death of the publishing industry, New Yorker Book Bench blogger Macy Halford recently proclaimed, “every thinking person … needs to be reminded that great books are often the result of encounters between individuals—sometimes within a larger institutional framework, but sometimes not, meaning that they will continue to occur so long as there are writers and readers, however small the industry becomes,” and the first spot on her list of great individual encounters rightly belongs to Beach and Joyce.

Keep an eye out for The Letters of Sylvia Beach when it is released next month to learn more about how this spectacular woman influenced the books and writers you love. And don’t forget to thank an editor next time you see one.

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Spring Sale! Save up to 80% on more than 1000 books

Spring Sale Columbia University Press

Click here to browse sale books by subject.

Monday, March 15th, 2010

Edward Hess on Smart Growth

Edward Hess discusses his new book Smart Growth: Building an Enduring Business by Managing the Risks of Growth.

For more on the book, you can also read an interview in which Hess challenges conventional thinking regarding growth and business. From the interview:

Q: What are some of the key lessons from your research?

E.H.: Some findings are (1) “Grow or die” is not based in science or business reality; (2) consistent above-average growth for five years or more is the exception not the rule; (3) growth creates risks that need to be managed because it can stress culture, customer value proposition – the business’s differentiating value delivered to the customer, – quality controls, and employees; (4) growth is much more than just a strategy. Growth is a mindset; an experimental learning process; and growth requires an internal enabling growth system.

Friday, March 12th, 2010

My Life with the Taliban video and NYT interview

The New York Times blog At War recently interviewed Felix Kuehn and Alex Strick van Linschoten, editors of My Life with the Taliban, the autobiography of Abdul Salam Zaeef, a former senior member of Afghanistan’s Taliban and a principal actor in its domestic and foreign affairs.

In the interview, Kuehn and van Linschoten discuss the recent history of Afghanistan, Zaeef’s decision to join the Taliban, and Al Qaeda’s role in Afghanistan. The editors were also asked about Zaeef’s time in Guantánamo:

Q. Do you think that Guantánamo was the ultimate trauma of Zaeef’s life, as the book seems to suggest? Worse than what he experienced in war?

Felix: I don’t know. His entire life has been a trauma. I think Guantánamo probably transcends his personal experience. It’s a prism that shapes how he views foreign governments, how he views the United States, how he views foreign military organizations. The deceit, the dishonesty, the talk about democracy and human rights, and then experiencing the complete opposite. But beyond that, I think it’s a collective experience in a way, because it resonates within Afghan society.

For more on the book here is a video of the editors discussing the book:

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

Siobhan Phillips: “Poems and Everyday Reading”

Siobhan PhillipsThe following post is by Siobhan Phillips author of The Poetics of the Everyday: Creative Repetition in Modern American Verse.

When I wrote The Poetics of the Everyday, I wanted to learn how quotidian experience could foster rather than frustrate poetry: how twentieth-century poets turn everyday life, so often a chore or requirement, into a creative activity. More specifically, I wanted to learn how poets ground creativity in everyday time, that over-and-over in which each morning seems both the same as and different from the one before. My investigations focused, then, on repetition and verse writing. Recently, though, I’ve been thinking also about verse reading. How do I and others read poetry, ordinarily? I don’t mean how we comprehend or analyze it—rather and more basically, how do we take it in? How does this reading fit among other everyday activities? How should it?

Like many of you, I would venture, I tend to read poems in different ways. If it’s poetry that I will write about or teach, I read with pen in hand, notes nearby, or laptop humming. But if it’s poetry that I consume without academic purpose, I could be sitting in a chair, outside with my computer, browsing a bookstore, or paging through a journal on a bus. My attention varies in quantity and quality; some weeks I consume more poems, and some days I expend more energy on them—memorizing a stanza, say, rather than nodding and moving on. Sometimes I read everything by one writer in a continuous immersion, like a lover sequestered for a long weekend, and sometimes I read around, like a party guest moving from conversation to conversation.

When I began to consider reading and the everyday, however, I wondered what would happen if my desultory poetry consumption were more conscious. I thought I would try to make my reading habits part of the ordinary repetition I had been studying. After my caffeinated a.m. trawl of email messages and newspaper headlines, I decided, I would take in a regular allotment of just-for-pleasure poems, every morning. I would use some of the many sites that present daily or nearly-daily verse: “Today’s Poem” at the Academy of American Poets, the “Featured Poem” at Poetry magazine, the morning selection at Poetry Daily and Verse Daily, the “new poems” column at thepage.name—plus a site that offers a Shakespeare sonnet each day.

These rounds added maybe twenty minutes to my schedule; they weren’t onerous and didn’t feel drastically altering. But as I settled into the regimen, as I read and meta-read, taking notes and assessing results, I tracked definite shifts in reflection and perception.


Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

Billy Collins and David Allen Sibley discuss Bright Wings

In anticipation of tomorrow’s reading from Bright Wings: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems About Birds the American Museum of Natural History, the museum’s Web site has posted interviews with the book’s editor Billy Collins and illustrator David Allen Sibley.

Collins and Sibley will be joined by other poets to read from the collection and tickets are still available for the event. Want a signed copy of the book by Billy Collins? There is still time to enter our contest to win a Billy Collins-autographed copy of the book.

Here is an excerpt from the interview with Billy Collins:

Q: As a group, birds seem to inspire more poets than do mammals, say. Is there something particularly poetic about birds? Flight?

Billy Collins: I tried to simplify the appeal of birds to poets in the book’s introduction by saying that they do two things that poets long to do: sing and fly. And sometimes they perform these natural miracles simultaneously! Another reason might be the amazing variety of bird species, ranging from the hummingbird to the sand hill crane. Birds offer an immense spectrum of types, certainly compared to the wolf, say, or the rhino.


Monday, March 8th, 2010

The Cinema of Kathryn Bigelow: Hollywood Transgressor

Kathryn BigelowWhile discussion of Kathryn Bigelow’s work is sure to grow following last night’s win at the Oscars, currently one of the few books to give serious consideration to her films is The Cinema of of Kathryn Bigelow, edited by Deborah Jermyn and Sean Redmond.

Though published in 2003, it includes discussion of all her films with the exception of The Hurt Locker. Interestingly, the book came out during a period when Bigelow’s career was at somewhat of a low ebb following the less-than-stellar box office reception to The Weight of Water and K19: The Widowmaker and the critically acclaimed Strange Days.

Essays in the book consider Kathryn Bigelow as an auteur who challenges Hollywood commercial conventions to create her own distinct films. Individual contributors also discuss her treatment of gender, her toying with genre conventions, her relationship with James Cameron, and her status of maverick female director in a male-dominated Hollywood.

Essays include: “‘Momentum and Design: Interview with Kathryn Bigelow,” Gavin Smith; “‘Suck … Don’t Suck’: Framing Ideology in Kathryn Bigelow’s Near Dark,” Stephen Jay Schneider; “All That Is Male Melts into Air: Bigelow on the Edge of Point Break, Sean Redmond; “Straight from the Cerebral Cortex: Vision and Affect in Strange Days, Steven Shaviro; “The Strange Days of Kathryn Bigelow and James Cameron,” Christina Lane; “Rescuing Strange Days: Fan Reaction to a Critical and Commercial Failure,” Will Brooker; and others.

And just for fun, here is the preview to Bigelow’s Point Break:

Friday, March 5th, 2010

The Basement Boys: George Will on Gary Cross’s Men to Boys

Gary Cross, Men to BoysIt’s not every day that a prominent conservative columnist discusses a university press book, so it is worth mentioning the lengthy references by George Will in his Newsweek column to Gary Cross’s Men to Boys: The Making of Modern Immaturity.

In the column, Will talks about what he sees as a “a culture of immaturity among the many young men who are reluctant to grow up.” Will discusses this phenomenon in the context of various socioeconomic trends, including the growing educational disparity between women and men (women are better educated these days) and the preponderance of men who have lost jobs during this current recession.

Will very selectively draws on Cross’s book to explore some of the historical developments that have led to a culture of immaturity among young men. In particular, Will cites various explanations offered by Cross, including more permissive parenting, changes in popular culture, consumerism, the entry of women into the workforce, and the radical movements of the 1960s.

Will writes:

Gary Cross, a Penn State University historian, wonders, “Where have all the men gone?” His book, Men to Boys: The Making of Modern Immaturity, argues that “the culture of the boy-men today is less a life stage than a lifestyle.” If you wonder what has become of manliness, he says, note the differences between Cary Grant and Hugh Grant, the former, dapper and debonair, the latter, a perpetually befuddled boy.

To read portions of and to get a truer sense of Men to Boys please click here.

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Win a copy of Bright Wings signed by Billy Collins!

On Wednesday, March 10th at 6:30 pm, the American Museum of Natural History will be hosting an event for Bright Wings: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems about Birds.

The event will feature several poets reading from the book. Among them will be the book’s editor Billy Collins, who will also be joined by David Allen Sibley, whose bird paintings illustrate the book.

In connection with the event, we are offering three free copies of the book signed by Billy Collins!

To get your free copy, all you need to do is match the poet with the bird they’ve written about (see below) and send your answer to pl2164@columbia.edu before Tuesday, March 9th at 5:00 pm. For some hints, you can visit the book’s web page.

1. Wallace Stevens                   a. Frigate Pelican
2. Emily Dickinson                  b. Eagle
3. Marianne Moore                  c. Pheasant
4. Thomas Hardy                    d.  Seagull
5. Sylvia Plath                         e.  Robin
6. John Updike                        f.  Sparrow
7. Billy Collins                         g.  Goldfinch
8. Walt Whitman                   h.  Blackbird

We will randomly select three winners from among those who have submitted the correct answers. (We will notify the winners via e-mail, and books can be shipped to U.S. addresses only).

Good luck, and if you are in New York City—tickets are still available for the special reading at the American Museum of Natural History!

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

Need the right quote? There’s an app for that!

The Columbia World of Quotations is now available as app for the iPhone, and features 65,000 quotations by more than 5,000 authors covering 3,000 years—from Bella Abzug to Frank Zappa and Galileo to Themistocles.

The application is based on an expanded and updated version of the classic and frequently updated print version. The Columbia World of Quotations is the largest searchable database of quotations available as an iPhone application, providing its users with easy navigation and search capabilities.

Users can search for quotations in the application by author or speaker’s name, by subject, words within quotations, exact phrase, nationality, occupation, birth date, and century. Any or all of these categories can be selected for search criteria. The iPhone application also allows users to create lists of favorites, e-mail quotes, or just browse at random through the world of quotations.

The Columbia World of Quotations