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Archive for August, 2016

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

An Interview with Jenny Davidson, author of “Reading Style”

Jenny Davidson, Reading Style

“Sentences are my obsession—I linger on them compulsively, it is the feeling of words in the mouth that got me hooked on literature in the first place as a very young child and I wanted to write a book that conveyed some of the magic of that way of reading.”—Jenny Davidson

The following is an interview with Jenny Davidson, author of Reading Style: A Life in Sentences, now available in paper:

Q: You’re a scholar of eighteenth-century English literature, a novelist, and a blogger; how did these three hats you wear inform your approach to writing Reading Style?

Jenny Davidson: From my point of view, those three hats—scholarship, fiction-writing, blogging—are part of a single fully integrated set of activities, and I wrote this book partly to show what that means for me as a reader and writer. The separation between scholarship and fiction-writing has always seemed to me largely artificial—I will write a novel because there’s a problem or topic that I’ve pursued as far as I can by scholarly means and want to think about further in a different medium, and the same thing goes in the other direction. Blogging is something I took up about ten years ago: it was largely for my own enjoyment, with some minor self-promotional aspect I suppose, but I found as I continued to do it that it became an excellent way to develop and refine an easy, fluent critical voice that I could then take back into the more formal kinds of criticism I also write.

Q: In an age of “big data” and “distant reading,” why have you decided to focus on the sentence?

JD: Not so much a choice as a compulsion, I think. Work by new media theorists and literary scholars like Lev Manovich and Franco Moretti is motivated in part by a sense of the insufficiencies of the kind of mainstream historicist literary criticism that predominates inside the academy in the United States. My own dissatisfaction with that kind of criticism increasingly stemmed from the sense I had that the kinds of interpretation I practiced in the classroom were at least as exciting and revealing as anything I was doing in my published scholarship, but that for some reason the professional protocol seemed to be that I couldn’t just “do” that kind of very close work with sentences in print. I’m kicking back against that here, and I’m interested in thinking more about how to explain and defend a methodology that is related to some older kinds of formalism—as practiced by critics like Roman Jakobson and Victor Shklovskii—and even to the New Criticism or Cambridge-style practical criticism in the tradition of I. A. Richards, but that also benefits from the insights of other more obviously historicized and politicized schools of criticism.

That is a fancy way, though, of saying that sentences are my obsession—I linger on them compulsively, it is the feeling of words in the mouth that got me hooked on literature in the first place as a very young child and I wanted to write a book that conveyed some of the magic of that way of reading.

Q: You begin the book by acknowledging that you’ve always been bothered by the notion that literature can “teach” us about life. What do we miss out on when we focus on the “lessons” of literature?

JD: That opening is a little bit tongue-in-cheek, in that obviously we do learn things about life from literature, and I have hugely enjoyed books like Alain de Bouton’s How Proust Can Change Your Life, Sarah Bakewell’s Montaigne biography and Rebecca Mead’s recent book about a lifetime of reading Middlemarch. But when it’s done with less sensitivity than these authors muster, it often leads to a kind of oversimplification—a lack of attention to what the books are actually doing, how they work—that makes me really annoyed. I will read novels by Austen or Henry James again and again neither because of the psychological insights they offer nor because of how those insights might illuminate aspects of my own experience in the world, but rather because the sentences are utterly ravishing, and because there is nowhere else on earth I can learn the things these books teach about narration and the techniques and conventions by which human experience is translated into language.

(more…)

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

Alan Schroeder on the Debating Styles of Kennedy and Nixon

“Kennedy ran for president not just as a politician, but as a leading man. In the debates as in the overall campaign, this positioning paid off. Presumed stardom led to genuine stardom.”—Alan Schroeder

The first televised presidential debate took place, of course, in 1960 pitting John F. Kennedy against Richard Nixon. Their first debate has become historic if not almost mythological in its importance and its legacy for the modern presidential campaign. In his introduction to Presidential Debates: Risky Business on the Campaign Trail, Alan Schroeder takes us behind the scenes of that now-legendary debate.

Below, we’ve also included an excerpt from later in the book in which Schroeder analyzes the performances of Kennedy and Nixon. In assessing the performance of JFK, Schroeder writes, “Kennedy ran for president not just as a politician, but as a leading man. In the debates as in the overall campaign, this positioning paid off. Presumed stardom led to genuine stardom.”

Nixon had actually very skillfully used television to his advantage while vice-president. His famous “Checkers” speech and the “kitchen debate” with Khrushchev showed his ability to to command the media spotlight. While fatigue and illness certainly played a part in Nixon’s weak performance, it can also be attributed to his lack of understanding about the nature of the debate. Schroeder explains, “Nixon had fundamentally misconceived the event, viewing it as a rhetorical exercise, while Kennedy approached it as a television show.”

In addition to the excerpt below, we also offer a clip from that first debate:

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

Interview with Alan Schroeder, author of Presidential Debates

Presidential Debates, Alan Schroeder

“Debaters must remember that audiences appreciate performers who relish the platform, who take pleasure in delivering a nimble performance. The best debaters—Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, for instance—always communicated a desire to engage with voters, to sell the message.”—Alan Schroeder

Today’s New York Times has an article on how Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are preparing or not preparing for their debate on September 26th. In the following interview with Alan Schroeder, author of Presidential Debates: Risky Business on the Campaign Trail, he addresses what makes for a good debater, what’s at stake, and how debates might be improved.

Question: The presidential primary debates of 2015-2016 set viewership records and generated enormous media coverage. How are general election debates different from primary debates?

Alan Schroeder: The key difference is that primary debates are produced by the television news networks, which approach them as vehicles for selling advertising and generating revenue. This became particularly true in the most recent campaign cycle, when the presence of Donald Trump in the Republican debates drew millions of viewers who otherwise would probably have tuned out. These primary debates generated tons of income for CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and various other media outlets. General election debates, on the other hand, are sponsored and produced by an independent debate commission and contain no commercial breaks or advertising messages. Despite their enormous ratings, these blockbuster events fall into the category of public service programming, which means they generate zero profits.

Another difference between primary and general election debates: the number of participants. This past cycle, with nearly 20 candidates on the Republican side, debate producers had to divide the field into two teams—varsity and junior varsity—as a way of bringing the production logistics under control. In a general election, obviously, there are usually only two (sometimes three) contenders sharing the stage, which creates an entirely different rhythm and dynamic. Last but not least, general election debates feature considerably higher stakes and a far higher profile than primary debates. Candidates who stumble in primary debates stand a good chance of recovering; in the big leagues, a poor performance resounds with vastly more damaging consequences.

Q: What makes a good presidential debater?

AS: A fundamental requirement of any good presidential debater is that he or she wants to be up on that stage debating. If we analogize debates to job interviews, then it follows that a candidate must use the 90 minutes at hand to make a positive impression on the folks who do the hiring—the voters. Too often candidates go into debates dreading the experience—Jimmy Carter in 1980, George H.W. Bush in 1992, George W. Bush in 2004. Seeking protection, these reluctant warriors arm themselves with talking points and one-liners that come across as phony. Debaters must remember that audiences appreciate performers who relish the platform, who take pleasure in delivering a nimble performance. The best debaters—Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, for instance—always communicated a desire to engage with voters, to sell the message.

Other qualities are also required: advance preparation, command of the issues, projection of authority, an appropriate attitude toward one’s opponent and toward the moderators who ask the questions. All these things matter a great deal, though not as much as that simple desire to be there.

Q: How has the rise of social media changed debates?

AS: Social media have reinvented the way people consume presidential debates. To an increasing degree, especially among the young, debate watching is a dual-screen ritual, with viewers keeping one eye on the debate and one on the reaction. The rise of social media has democratized the viewing experience, allowing the general public to have its say alongside that of professional journalists and pundits. Because reaction on social media can be measured in real time, the power of the people manifests itself more strongly and more immediately than ever.

Social media—especially Twitter—have shifted the debate conversation from a post-event activity to something that occurs while the debate unfolds. It used to be that winners and losers would be declared only after the fact, when pundits and spinners rushed on the air at debate’s end to render their judgments. Today post-debate spin has been largely supplanted by real-time reaction in social media. For the debaters themselves, this means that any misstep at any moment has the potential to instantaneously alter the commentary’s direction and tone. Pressure on presidential debaters has always been enormous, but with social media that pressure becomes even more relentless. After a widely panned first debate in 2012, for instance, Barack Obama spent the next two weeks trying to divert the story line back onto favorable terrain.

(more…)

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

New Book Tuesday: The Newest from Donald Keene, Essays by Abe Kobo and More!

The First Modern Japanese, Donald Keene

Our weekly listing of new titles now available:

The First Modern Japanese: The Life of Ishikawa Takuboku
Donald Keene

The Frontier Within: Essays by Abe Kobo (Now available in paper)
Abe Kobo; Edited, translated, and with an introduction by Richard F. Calichman

Global Cinematic Cities: New Landscapes of Film and Media
Edited by Johan Andersson and Lawrence Webb
(Wallflower Press)

Recognition and Ethics in World Literature: Religion, Violence, and the Human
Vincent van Bever Donker
(ibidem Press)

Monday, August 29th, 2016

Eric Kandel, Michael Mann, Kosher Food, Exhaustion, and More Author Events in September

Eric Kandel, Reductionism in Art and Brain Science

From how the brain perceives art and the fight against climate change denialism to the integration of Kosher food into the American mainstream and the history of exhaustion, We’ve got an excellent line-up of author events coming up in September.

We are very excited to be publishing Eric Kandel’s new book Reductionism in Art and Brain Science: Bridging the Two Cultures and he will be at the recently opened Rizzoli Bookstore in New York City on September 14th to discuss the book.

With words and cartoons, Michael Mann and Tom Toles continue their fight against climate denialism with their new book The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial Is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy. Mann will be in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Long Island to discuss the book as well as at the American Museum of Natural History on September 29th for what should be an amazing event.

Roger Horowitz will be at various locations on the East to discuss his book Kosher USA: How Coke Became Kosher and Other Tales of Modern Food while Anna Katharina Schaffner travels to Paris to present her much-discussed and critically acclaimed book Exhaustion: A History.

Monday, August 29th, 2016

Book Giveaway! “Presidential Debates”

With the election season heading into the home stretch, we are featuring the third edition of Presidential Debates: Risky Business on the Campaign Trail, by Alan Schroeder.

In addition to featuring the book and the author on the blog, we will also be posting about the book on twitter, and facebook.

We are also offering a FREE copy of Presidential Debates to one winner. To enter the contest please e-mail pl2164@columbia.edu and include your name and address. The winner will be selected Friday, September 2nd at 1:00 pm.

Allan Louden writes, “Schroeder reaches beyond the political junkie and occasional academic with Presidential Debates. Packed with illustrative stories and enough intrigue to be an ‘insider’s’ view, this book not only can be read as a history of presidential debates, but, more importantly, brings alive the dynamic and evolutionary nature of political debates.”

Friday, August 26th, 2016

Rape on Campus: The Title IX Revolution

Hunting Girls

“Anti-rape activism is on the vanguard of transferring the blame and responsibility from individuals to social systems and institutions. If ours is a rape culture, then the solution must also address the culture of sexual violence that perpetuates sexual assault and gender-based violence.” — Kelly Oliver

This week, our featured book is Hunting Girls: Sexual Violence from The Hunger Games to Campus Rape, by Kelly Oliver. For the final post of the feature, we are happy to provide an excerpt from “Rape on Campus: The Title IX Revolution,” an article by Kelly Oliver that originally appeared in The Philosophical Salon.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Hunting Girls!

Rape on Campus: The Title IX Revolution
By Kelly Oliver

Title IX legislation, associated primarily with equal opportunities for girls in high school and college athletics, has become a turning point in discussions of sexual assault. Until recently, the greatest impact of the 1972 Title IX legislation had been to ensure girls and women had access to sports. Although introduced to stop discrimination in higher education, Title IX became the hallmark of women’s athletics, to the point that today there is a women’s sporting clothing company named Title Nine, and last year President Obama spoke about the importance of Title IX for girls in terms of his own experience coaching his daughters’ basketball team and the confidence it gave them. Initially, Title IX was used to secure funding for girls and women’s sports, which had been lacking until required by this Federal statute.

On April 4, 2011, The United States Department of Education sent a “Dear Colleagues Letter” to institutions of higher learning, shifting the focus from college athletics to educational environment, specifically naming sexual violence as prohibited by Title IX. The letter defines sexual violence as “physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent due to the victim’s use of drugs or alcohol,” including “sexual assault, sexual battery, and sexual coercion,“ and makes colleges and universities responsible “to take immediate and effective steps to end sexual harassment and sexual violence.” (more…)

Thursday, August 25th, 2016

Social Media and the Lack of Consent

Hunting Girls

“Given the continued use of social media to target, harass, and humiliate young women, it is telling that these technologies were born out of sexist attitudes. In their inception, some of the most popular social media sites were designed to denigrate women.” — Kelly Oliver

This week, our featured book is Hunting Girls: Sexual Violence from The Hunger Games to Campus Rape, by Kelly Oliver. Today, we are happy to provide an excerpt from “Social Media and the Lack of Consent,” an article by Kelly Oliver that originally appeared in The Philosophical Salon. In this article, Oliver traces the “continued use of social media to target, harass, and humiliate young women” back to the sexist origins of many forms of social media.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Hunting Girls!

Social Media and the Lack of Consent
By Kelly Oliver

Social media such as Facebook, Snapchat, and Tinder were invented as part of a culture that objectifies and denigrates girls and women. It is well known that the Facebook founder and Harvard graduate, now one of the richest men in the country, invented the social media site Facebook to post pictures of girls for his college buddies to rate and berate. Reportedly, Evan Spiegel, Stanford graduate and inventor of Snapchat, sent messages during his days in a fraternity referring to women as “bitches,” “sororisluts” to be “peed on,” and discussed getting girls drunk to have sex with them. And the founders of the wildly popular hook-up site Tinder, were both involved in a sexual harassment suit involving their former Vice President of marketing, who claims she received harassing sexist messages calling her a “slut,” a “gold-digger,” and a “whore.”

Given the continued use of social media to target, harass, and humiliate young women, it is telling that these technologies were born out of sexist attitudes. In their inception, some of the most popular social media sites were designed to denigrate women. Of course lots of social media sites, like other forms of traditional media, bank on pictures of attractive girls and women looking sexy or cute, along with pornographic images. Creepshot sites in particular are a telling example of a new phenomenon, namely, the valorization and popularization of lack of consent. (more…)

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

Dismantling Fantasies of Consent and Violence: Three Excerpts from Hunting Girls

Hunting Girls

“From fairytales to pornography, popular culture is filled with girls and women, unconscious or sleeping, “enjoying” nonconsensual sex. And until we change our fantasies, it is going to be difficult to change our realities.” — Kelly Oliver

This week, our featured book is Hunting Girls: Sexual Violence from The Hunger Games to Campus Rape, by Kelly Oliver. Today, we have a few excerpts for you, all of which testify to Kelly Oliver’s gift for drawing connections between literature, film, popular culture, and rape culture. In the first excerpt, Oliver traces a distressing (and frighteningly current) male fantasy back to a fourteenth-century Catalan tale. In the second excerpt, Oliver considers the fraught relationship between the law and consent, exposing the dangers of focusing on one moment of affirmative consent in what is, in fact, an ongoing negotiation between sexual subjects. Finally, in the third excerpt, Oliver examines certain representations in recent literature and film of girls who “give as good as they get,” and shows how these representations send mixed messages–are our Katniss Everdeens and Tris Priors feminist revenge fantasies, or do their actions on screen normalize and valorize violence toward women?

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Hunting Girls!

Excerpt 1

Excerpt 2

Excerpt 3

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

Girls as Trophies: Introducing “Hunting Girls”

Hunting Girls

“Life imitates art, and vice versa. Thus, art often revolves around the objectification and assault of girls and women. Unfortunately, increasingly, life imitates pornography, particularly creepshot photographs of unsuspecting girls and women. With uncanny regularity, college and university officials are discovering Facebook pages, and other social media, used by fraternities, or creepshooters off the street, to post photographs of women, sometimes unconscious, naked, or in compromising positions.” — Kelly Oliver

This week, our featured book is Hunting Girls: Sexual Violence from The Hunger Games to Campus Rape, by Kelly Oliver. To start the week’s feature, we have excerpted part of Oliver’s introduction, in which she uses an episode of America’s Next Top Model from 2012 as a way into her discussion of how popular culture affects how women are both perceived and treated in reality.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Hunting Girls!

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

New Book Tuesday: the Madhouse Effect, the Psychic Cost of Free Markets, Chinese History and Culture, and More!

The Madhouse Effect

The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial Is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy
Michael E. Mann and Tom Toles

Capitalism and Desire: The Psychic Cost of Free Markets
Todd McGowan

Chinese History and Culture: Sixth Century B.C.E. to Seventeenth Century
Ying-shih Yü, with the Editorial Assistance of Josephine Chiu-Duke and Michael S. Duke

The Shenzi Fragments: A Philosophical Analysis and Translation
Eirik Lang Harris

Democracy: A Reader, second edition
Edited by Ricardo Blaug and John Schwarzmantel

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

Book Giveaway! Hunting Girls: Sexual Violence from The Hunger Games to Campus Rape

Hunting Girls

“Kelly Oliver’s brilliant analysis of how young girls’ path to womanhood is filled with beating, battery, abuse, and sexual assault is shocking and timely. Oliver’s meticulously researched volume moves back and forth between myths and fairy tales linked to rape, contemporary films, television shows and ads featuring violence to girls, along with studying rape culture, and ambiguities of ‘consent,’ on college campuses. It is essential reading, showing that women may not have liberated themselves after all.” — E. Ann Kaplan

This week, our featured book is Hunting Girls: Sexual Violence from The Hunger Games to Campus Rape, by Kelly Oliver. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

We are also offering a FREE copy of Hunting Girls. To enter our book giveaway, simply fill out the form below with your name and preferred mailing address. We will randomly select our winners on Friday, August 26th at 1:00 pm. Good luck, and spread the word!

Friday, August 19th, 2016

University Press Roundup

Welcome to our weekly roundup of the best articles from the blogs of academic publishers! As always, if you particularly enjoy something or think that we missed an important post, please let us know in the comments. (And look back at our University Press Roundup Manifesto to see why we do this post every Friday.)

Recently, University of California Press’s blog interviewed Arlene Dàvila, author of El Mall: The Spatial and Class Politics of Shopping Malls in Latin America. For this new book, which analyzes the financialization of the developing world, Dàvila studied how shopping malls are seen from the perspective of investors. For these participants in the changing economic and social makeup of Latin America, shopping malls are considered investments and “management concepts” that sell brands and experiences rather than products.

This week, Harvard University Press’s blog shared a few excerpts from the new book Finding Time: The Economics of Work-Life Conflict, which highlights struggles in maintaining a work-life balance in America and what that means for families today. The author, Heather Boushey, focuses on making people consider work-family policy as a serious economic issue by considering what it would look like if we sought to alleviate family economic insecurity. Boushey encourages people to think about how keeping people fully employed while they care for their children benefits individual families as well as the general economy.

As part of the centennial anniversary of the National Parks Service, Johns Hopkins University Press’ blog shared a post which questions: are national parks for people or for animals? Parks are very popular among people, but high volumes of tourists and nature-lovers can negatively impact the natural environment by damaging animal habitats and the normal patters of animal life. Previous research has demonstrated that wildlife will run away from people using nature trails, however the long term effects of human presence in the wilderness are unknown. This has led to a new project testing the effect of nature trails on wilderness, to see if a true human-animal balance can be achieved.

Zika is here to stay, says Dr. Alan Lockwood, emeritus professor of neurology at the University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY and a senior scientist at Physicians for Social Responsibility, Washington DC. He is also the author of the forthcoming book Heat Advisory, to be published by MIT Press, which draws a correlation between climate change and public health. According to Lockwood, an increase in temperatures and rainfall will result in a heightened number of mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus, which will spread the virus and increase the risk of transmission. Zika, which was originally confined in the tropical regions in Africa and Asia, has spread across the Pacific Ocean to the Americas, where it has reached epidemic levels particularly in Brazil, where a large number of children were born with microcephaly to women who had been infected by the Zika virus.

A new post on New York University’s From The Square blog highlights the growing trend of Korean immigrants who have returned to South Korea to tour their home country, reunite with birth families, and to live permanently. Since the 1950s, over 200,000 Korean children have been adopted by families in Western nations. Given this amount of time, Korean adoptees are from multiple generations, young adults to older adults, many of whom have founded organizations which provide resources for members of the Korean diaspora. Written by Catherine Ceniza Choy, author of Global Families: A History of Asian International Adoption in America, this post looks at this recent trend and questions what impacts this movement has had on Korea.

This week, Stanford University Press’ blog shared a post about the unconscious racism in sociology. Just as it failed to predict the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, sociology was unprepared for the racial conflict that led to the Black Lives Matter movement. Dominant views in the field held that the U.S. had made “great strides in race relations,” such as was highlighted by the “election of the first black president in 2008.” However, according to Aldon Morris, who recently wrote the book The Scholar Denied, sociologists have unconsciously practiced a white sociology by ignoring important contributions of black sociologists and therefore providing justification for racial hierarchy. The blot post argues that these issues are inherent in sociology, which was “formed within the culture of imperialism and embodied a cultural response to the colonized world.”

Thanks for reading! As always, we hope that you enjoyed the links. Please let us know what you think in the comments!

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

A Lost World of Socialism

Karl Polanyi

“One reason why thinking through Polanyi’s life is a rewarding exercise is that it enables us to think through the experience of reformist socialism, to explore a world that now appears marginal, even lost, and yet which only two or three generations ago was carving deep and distinctive tracks across the political and cultural landscape.” — Gareth Dale

This week, our featured book is Karl Polanyi: A Life on the Left, by Gareth Dale. Today, we have excerpted Dale’s epilogue, in which he considers the ways in which Polanyi’s legacy has changed over time.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Karl Polanyi!

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

The Man in the Middle

Projecting Race

“Sponsored cinema – produced by governmental agencies, NGOs, and industry groups – is otherwise framed as the disposable other of film studies, lacking the aura of more conventional and artistically rendered films. And yet such works, thanks to their immediacy and ephemeral nature, help us recuperate lost or repressed historical experiences and thwart ingrained narratives about the uniqueness of present day dilemmas.” — Stephen Charbonneau

The following is a guest post from Stephen Charbonneau, author of Projecting Race: Postwar America, Civil Rights, and Documentary Film:

The Man in the Middle
By Stephen Charbonneau

Stan Hamilton (left) in The Man in the Middle (d. George Stoney, 1966)

It’s an unexpected moment in a police training film from the sixties. The film image features an African American youth organizer named Stan Hamilton from South Jamaica, Queens pleading with school officials to treat young people with respect, to “listen to them…and let them tell you…what may be the underlying causes” for the social unrest in their community. Additional footage unfolds featuring Hamilton with the 103rd Precinct’s Youth Outreach and Community Officer, James Wren, as the film’s narrator urgently calls for collaboration between police and “street level leaders.”

The scene comes from The Man in the Middle (1966), one of a handful of training films produced by George Stoney for various police departments in the sixties. While most police training films function as mere inscriptions of proper police behavior, Stoney’s film embraces contemporary documentary techniques to pressure the police audience for this film to see local activists as collaborators rather than adversaries. In the film South Jamaica is positioned as a community that reflects a national crisis. By 1966, American cities are torn asunder by entrenched inequalities around race and class. Many communities of color were bereft of redress as the realities of structural racism continued to hold strong even after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This historical background fuels the film’s urgency to imagine a new paradigm of community policing, one that is collaborative and sees young African Americans as partners in resolving conflict.

The cinematography of the film is energetically spontaneous and improvisational, catching interactions as they occur. This approach compels the film to specify the historical actors documented: who they are, where they work, and the specific circumstances at hand. But it also – at times – modulates the representation of reality by moving it away from the ideal and towards the ambiguity of the real. Stoney’s film – particularly once it focuses on the 103rd Precinct – allows key moments of observation and participation to silence the narrator. Perhaps the most important scene in the film features Hamilton’s direct address to the camera. Seated in his office, surrounded by several young African Americans, Hamilton compels the film’s audience to see Jamaica through their eyes. As he speaks, he directs our attention to a series of photographs published in Life magazine.

Now when you speak of a police department here in Jamaica, you must look at it as young folks would…For example, here you have scenes in a magazine and just about every daily paper of police attitude and action done unto black folk throughout or somewhere in the United States. Now we’re not going to identify where in the United States, why in the United States, because this is no different – you understand? – to the viewer who sees this in South Jamaica. He isn’t going to worry whether it’s in Selma, Alabama or wherever. All he sees is [pointing at photos of riot police] there is a policeman, there is a dog, and there is abuse.

“There is a policeman, there is a dog, and there is abuse.” From The Man in the Middle

Hamilton’s use of the photograph compels the audience to see a reality they might not otherwise see, through the eyes of a young African American in South Jamaica. If showing us the photograph weren’t enough in and of itself, Hamilton specifically guides our look by pointing (‘there is a policeman, there is a dog, and there is abuse’). In doing so, the national scale of police violence and its inescapable racial inflections is both acknowledged and implicated at the local level of South Jamaica. For minority youth in Queens the events of Bloody Sunday in Selma are not bound by a particular geography. Rather, the ‘actions and attitudes’ exhibited by police in Selma traverse the country and constitute a national problem that links South Jamaica to other American cities. Lastly, the photographic spread draws our attention to mediation and the stakes of recording history as it happens. The imagery here retain their authenticity and document a crisis in process, one unfolding and overtaking the country at the moment of filming.

Nontheatrical films from the past – training films, community development films, educational films – have traditionally been overlooked (or mocked) for their presumed lack of artistry and utilitarian streak. Feature length documentaries and narrative films are the forms that are typically positioned as discrete works that endure. Sponsored cinema – produced by governmental agencies, NGOs, and industry groups – is otherwise framed as the disposable other of film studies, lacking the aura of more conventional and artistically rendered films. And yet such works, thanks to their immediacy and ephemeral nature, help us recuperate lost or repressed historical experiences and thwart ingrained narratives about the uniqueness of present day dilemmas.

The immediate visual evidence that has accompanied police abuse in recent years is echoed by an array of archival materials, like The Man in the Middle, that record and speak to a broader history of police misconduct towards persons of color. The experience of past police abuse in South Jamaica and the struggles highlighted in Stoney’s film were brought to the fore more recently in the mainstream media. A year and a half ago Eric L. Adams – Brooklyn Borough President and former police captain – authored a powerful op-ed for the New York Times, entitled “We Must Stop Police Abuse of Black Men” (12/4/14). While the piece closes with practical recommendations for curbing acts of police brutality towards African Americans, the opening is an unforgettable confessional about what it felt like to endure physical violence at the hands of police in South Jamaica, Queens as a fifteen-year-old: “I can recall it as if it were yesterday: looking into the toilet and seeing blood instead of urine. That was the aftermath of my first police encounter.” Adams was later determined to “make change from the inside by joining the police department,” although he encountered numerous cultural and institutional obstacles throughout his career. This testimony from the past echoes Hamilton’s pleas and contextualizes more recent acts of police abuse and violence as hallmarks of a long legacy of police abuse and distrust in communities of color.

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

Diagnosing the Virus: Karl Polanyi Against Fascism

Karl Polanyi

“With this, Polanyi had arrived at the essence of fascism. It lay not in Spann’s utopia but in what it sought to obscure: the construction of an ultracapitalist regime dedicated to reducing workers to commodity-producing automata, for which their exclusion from the political sphere is a prerequisite.” — Gareth Dale

This week, our featured book is Karl Polanyi: A Life on the Left, by Gareth Dale. Today, we have an excerpt from the book’s fourth chapter, “Challenges and Responses,” in which Dale describes Polanyi’s opposition to fascism.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Karl Polanyi!

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

Introducing “Karl Polanyi: A Life on the Left”

Karl Polanyi

“Although sometimes considered a thinker of gemeinschaft, Polanyi is better understood as a synthesizer, a freethinking humanist on a quest for community. As such, he was destined to tease out, and become entangled in, the contradictions between liberal and communitarian (and socialist) thought that formed (and form) the dominant creative tension within political philosophy— the seemingly contrary pulls of responsibility to individual and to community; the divergent demands of adherence to the doctrine of individual integrity and the duty of maintaining and developing community life.” — Gareth Dale

This week, our featured book is Karl Polanyi: A Life on the Left, by Gareth Dale. Today, to kick off the feature, we are happy to present Dale’s introduction to the book.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Karl Polanyi!

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

New Book Tuesday: Badiou on Heidegger, Broken Tablets, Homecomings, and More New Books!

Heidegger: His Life and His Philosophy, Alain Badiou

Heidegger: His Life and His Philosophy
Alain Badiou and Barbara Cassin; Translated by Susan Spitzer

Broken Tablets: Levinas, Derrida, and the Literary Afterlife of Religion
Sarah Hammerschlag

Homecomings: The Belated Return of Japan’s Lost Soldiers
Yoshikuni Igarashi

Centrifugal Empire: Central–Local Relations in China
Jae Ho Chung

The Philosophy of the Mòzi: The First Consequentialists
Chris Fraser

The Evolution of the Global Terrorist Threat: From 9/11 to Osama bin Laden’s Death (Now available in paper)
Edited by Bruce Hoffman and Fernando Reinares

Reading Style: A Life in Sentences (Now available in paper)
Jenny Davidson

Recovering Place: Reflections on Stone Hill (Now available in paper)
Mark C. Taylor

Starve and Immolate: The Politics of Human Weapons (Now available in paper)
Banu Bargu

Fast Forward: The Future(s) of the Cinematic Arts
Holly Willis
(Wallflower Press)

A History of Modern Chinese Fiction
C. T. Hsia
(The Chinese University Press)

Monday, August 15th, 2016

Book Giveaway! Karl Polanyi: A Life on the Left

Karl Polanyi

“One of the best biographies ever written of any intellectual emerging from the horrors of mid-twentieth-century Europe. It meticulously covers the whole ground—from the Jewish roots in Budapest through the First War, brilliantly reconstructs the milieu and debates of interwar Vienna, and adds enormously to our understanding of The Great Transformation. A compelling portrait, it is successful not just as an intellectual biography but as a personal one as well.” — John A. Hall, author of Ernest Gellner: An Intellectual Biography

This week, our featured book is Karl Polanyi: A Life on the Left, by Gareth Dale. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

We are also offering a FREE copy of Karl Polanyi: A Life on the Left. To enter our book giveaway, simply fill out the form below with your name and preferred mailing address. We will randomly select our winners on Friday, August 19th at 1:00 pm. Good luck, and spread the word!

Friday, August 12th, 2016

University Press Roundup

Welcome to our weekly roundup of the best articles from the blogs of academic publishers! As always, if you particularly enjoy something or think that we missed an important post, please let us know in the comments. (And look back at our University Press Roundup Manifesto to see why we do this post every Friday.)

A 2013 Washington Post article featured Jason Trigg, an MIT computer science graduate who had secured a job in finance and decided to continuously donate half of his income to the Against Malaria Foundation. Trigg, along with other recent graduates who work in high-paying fields, are among those described as an emerging class of young professionals who are making enough money to promise a significant portion of their income to charity in an article written by Peter Singer on Yale’s Yale Books Unbound blog. The New York Times columnist David Brooks warned against this, stating that taking a job just to make money could be “corrosive,” even if the money is used towards a greater good. However, most people who have undertaken this commitment say that their decision has made them happier.

A post written by Joshua D. Hendrick on New York University’s From the Square blog analyzes Fethullah Gülen, who leads a transnational social and economic network in Turkey called Hizmet, or the Gülen movement. After a July 15th, 2016 attempted coup d’état in Turkey that killed nearly 300 people, the Turkish government began a massive purge of state, military, and civil institutions in an attempt to remove power from any alleged plotters. Most of the purged are associated in some way to Fethullah Gülen, whose movement is a call away from Turkey’s primary Islamic political establishment and towards secular education and the market economy.

What kind of value does democracy have? Should we value it the way we value hammers, paintings, or persons?
muses Jason Brennan in a post this week on Princeton University Press’ blog. Hammers, according to Brennan, have a functional, instrumental purpose, paintings serve a symbolic function, and people have intrinsic value, as obviously people are important and function with self-dignity. If democracy has an inherent instrumental function, like a hammer, and we are able to identify a better functioning form of government, or “a form of government that better realizes procedure-independent standards of justice,” then we would “happily replace democracy with this better functioning regime.” In Brennan’s new book, Against Democracy, he argues that democracy is nothing more than a “hammer”- not intrinsically just, and if we can find a better hammer, then “we’re obligated to use it.”

In a recent guest post on the University of California Press blog, Harry W. Greene, author of Tracks and Shadows: Field Biology as Art, discusses how humans not only function as participants in, but also spectators of, nature. Greene considers how people can experience nature while still abiding by the “leave only footprints, take only pictures” rule, because “ecology signifies influential, multi-directional relationships among organisms, including us” which can include a person’s role as a spectator as well.

How has the way we read the news changed over the years? A technological shift from print to digital publication is the first answer many come up with, but, as Kevin Barnhurst discusses in a post on the University of Illinois Press’ blog, the form of news-writing has changed as well. The “main culprit”, Barnhurst says in his new book, Mister Pulitzer and the Spider: Modern News from Realism to the Digital, is “modernism from the ‘Mister Pulitzer’ era, which transformed news into an ideology called ‘journalism.’” Throughout the past century, stories have grown much longer and tend to elaborate more on background and context than on key events, locations, and names.

This week, the University of North Carolina Press blog shared a guest post discussing police brutality and racism in a historical context. J. Michael Butler, author of Beyond Integration: The Black Freedom Struggle in Escambia County, Florida, 1960-1980 , demonstrates that while activism during the 1960s eliminated the most visible signs of racial segregation, institutionalized forms of cultural racism still existed in the 1970s and continues to persist today. Drawing on the events surrounding the police killing of a young black man in Pensacola, Florida in 1975, Butler asserts how the recent murders of black people by law enforcement officers embody a much larger–and longer–national fight for racial justice.

North Philly Notes, Temple University Press’ blog, shared a blog post that addresses the theme of public security in Rio during the Olympics. Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes has said on multiple occasions that public security is the most important thing to consider in Rio, which has recently seen “rising street crime” and “newly emboldened gangs.” This is in addition to anti-Olympics protesters who are demonstrating against what they consider public money being misused on the Olympics, rather than used for health, education, and protesters who are fighting against the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff. Philip Evanson, author of Living in the Crossfire: Favela Residents, Drug Dealers, and Police Violence in Rio de Janeiro analyzes the safety precautions that Rio took at the beginning of the games.

Thanks for reading! As always, we hope that you enjoyed the links. Please let us know what you think in the comments!