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July 26th, 2017

The Political Thought of African American Resistance



Struggle on Their Minds

“[This book's aim] is to provide an intellectual history of when resistance to racial inequality was palpable in key African American political movements. If resistance is at once an activity and an experience that resists comprehensive analysis because it has no singular essence—if there is no way ever to develop fully a philosophical definition of the practice itself—we should study moments in which what occurs can clearly be called ‘resistance.’” — Alex Zamalin

This week, our featured book is Struggle on Their Minds: The Political Thought of African American Resistance, by Alex Zamalin. Today, we are happy to present an excerpt from Zamalin’s introduction, in which he lays out the project for his book and explains what he means by “resistance” (and why the idea is such an important one).

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Struggle on Their Minds!

July 25th, 2017

New Book Tuesday: Big Money Thinks Small, From Head Shops to Whole Foods, Down and Out in New Orleans, and More!



Big Money Thinks Small

Our weekly listing of new books now available:

Big Money Thinks Small: Biases, Blind Spots, and Smarter Investing
Joel Tillinghast

From Head Shops to Whole Foods: The Rise and Fall of Activist Entrepreneurs
Joshua Clark Davis

Down and Out in New Orleans: Transgressive Living in the Informal Economy
Peter J. Marina

Mythopoetic Cinema: On the Ruins of European Identity
Kriss Ravetto-Biagioli

Excessive Subjectivity: Kant, Hegel, Lacan, and the Foundations of Ethics
Dominik Finkelde

Sociology and Social Policy: Essays on Community, Economy, and Society
Herbert J. Gans

Religion, Theory, Critique: Classic and Contemporary Approaches and Methodologies
Edited by Richard King

Now available in paperback:
Waking, Dreaming, Being: Self and Consciousness in Neuroscience, Meditation, and Philosophy
Evan Thompson. Foreword by Stephen Batchelor.

Now available in paperback:
Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery
Siddharth Kara

July 25th, 2017

Author Theodore Martin and Series Editor Matt Hart Discuss *Contemporary Drift*



Contemporary Drift

Recently Theodore Martin, author of Contemporary Drift: Genre, Historicism, and the Problem of the Present just published in the Literature Now series, and Matt Hart, a co-editor of the series, discussed Martin’s new book. Here’s their conversation:

Matt Hart: In the opening paragraph of Contemporary Drift, you write that your goal isn’t to say what “the contemporary” means but, instead, to explore “how difficult the question is to settle.” Why is that? I mean, why is it so hard to define the contemporary and what do you gain by focusing on the difficulty of that question, rather than trying to answer it?

Theodore Martin: A great many people study contemporary culture without agreeing—or even feeling the need to agree—about what “contemporary” means or what its historical boundaries are. This fascinates me. How should it be possible to get such critical mileage out of a concept that has no consensus definition? When I suggest that we focus on the difficulty of defining the contemporary, I mean to call attention to the simple fact of these competing definitions. Faced with the question of whether our contemporary moment begins in 1945 or 1973 or 2001, it would be nice simply to be able to choose one of these options and get on with it. But I strongly believe that would miss the point.

MH: Miss the point how?

TM: Because there are bigger and more complicated questions at stake. How do we decide in the first place that the contemporary means what we think it means? How do we manage to make sense of the lived and living history of our volatile present moment? This how—the conceptual and critical work that give us some basic idea of what counts as contemporary—is at the heart of my study; it is what I think the “difficulty” of the contemporary names and illuminates.

MH: So should we give up on trying to define “the contemporary”?

TM: Definitely not. There’s a considerable distance between difficulty and impossibility; I don’t think it is impossible to define the contemporary. Nor do I mean to suggest that the difficulty of the contemporary inevitably terminates in plurality, multiplicity, or undecidability. I simply think that the real work of analyzing and unpacking the concept of the contemporary should be expected to yield something more significant than a set of dates.

MH: Do you think it’s always been hard to define the contemporary? Or is there something about the “contemporary contemporary” (sorry!) that makes it particularly tough to pin down?

TM: That’s a question I’ve been asking myself since I began writing this book, and I think it’s an extremely important question to get right. On one hand, this means acknowledging that the problem of defining the contemporary—of grasping the historical moment one is living in—is in one sense the central historical dilemma of modernity. Since at least the French Revolution, modern historical consciousness has been shaped by the question of what it means to live in a present that seems in some fundamental way distinct from the not-so-distant past.

MH: So what’s different about the present?

TM: It seems to me that both the desire to pin down the contemporary and the difficulty of doing so are more pronounced today than they have been before. It’s not hard to imagine why that might be. The story of modern capitalism is a story of constant acceleration. All the temporal rhythms by which we measure contemporary life—from economic cycles to news cycles—have sped up to unimaginable degrees in the past half-century. In this context, we can see how the hyper-accelerated forms of capitalism that have reshaped western societies over the last several decades would ultimately conspire to make the present an intensified site of anxiety, instability, and uncertainty. That uncertainty—the sense of being at sea in a present that is itself at sea in history—is what my book calls “drift.” What is unique about the problem of the contemporary in our contemporary moment, I would suggest, is the way it indexes the unprecedented challenges that come with trying to orient ourselves in a present that is, in very real and historically specific ways, more adrift than it ever has been before—while also reminding us that such challenges are not themselves sui generis but have their own history.

MH: In your book, you pay particular attention to five familiar narrative genres—realism, film noir, the western, the detective novel, and post-apocalyptic fiction—and you argue that “the historical drag of genre” gives us a kind of analytical counterweight to the “drift” of the present. Can you explain what you mean by “drag”? How does paying attention to genre help us think historically?

TM: I see genre and the contemporary as two versions of the same problem: the problem of how we articulate an image of the present by deciding where it departs from the past. In the case of the contemporary, that image is prone to uncertainty and drift; we hear the term constantly but can never be quite sure what it means. Genre, in turn, counteracts that drift by allowing us to trace the process of exactly how our ideas of the contemporary get formulated.

Read the rest of this entry »

July 24th, 2017

Book Giveaway! Struggle on Their Minds: The Political Thought of African American Resistance



Struggle on Their Minds

“Fred Moten memorably wrote that the ‘history of blackness is testament to the fact that objects can and do resist.’ Alex Zamalin reaffirms this assertion through exquisite examination of narratives of resistance—not merely protest—by David Walker, Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells, Huey Newton, and Angela Davis. Zamalin’s deft treatise demonstrates how Afro-modern political thought refashions our fundamental understandings of resistance and the attendant ideals of democracy and freedom.” — Neil Roberts, Williams College

This week, our featured book is Struggle on Their Minds: The Political Thought of African American Resistance, by Alex Zamalin. 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.

July 21st, 2017

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.)

Let’s start with some history. The University of Michigan Press continues their series of posts commemorating the 1967 Detroit Riot; this week, Brian Matzke discusses the failures of Detroit’s public institutions. Picking up on the themes of public education and racial justice, Kay Whitlock at Beacon Broadside reminds us of the connections between school privatization and criminal justice reform. Over at NYU, Stanley I. Thangaraj urges us to “Say Her Name”—to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of women of color to everything from professional sports to civil rights movements.

Several posts this week explore the ways in which scientific discovery and innovation intersect with social concerns. At Stanford Press, Londa Schiebinger traces flows of medical knowledge between European, Amerindian, and slave communities in the Atlantic World and identifies points of rupture. Bernd Brunner at Yale Books investigates the origins and legacy of the Apollo program, questioning whether a trip to the moon really benefitted American society and speculating on the future of space travel. Denis Alexander at Cambridge argues that science and religion have always been more closely intertwined than we tend to think, and Bonnie L. Keeler at Oxford lays out a plan for restructuring academic institutions so that future scientific innovation more directly benefits society and the planet.

Science has already given us answers to some of the most pressing questions of our time—for example, the urgent question of what wine to pair with dessert. At Yale Books, Ian Tattersall and Rob DeSalle provide a lively introduction to the science of taste, debunking myths about taste buds and explaining why the shape of a wineglass matters. I would recommend pairing that article with Mack McCormick’s enticing exploration of regional American stews over at Kentucky Press, or the University of Illinois Press’s brief history of the humble hot dog.

At the intersection of politics and aesthetics, Erin Greer, of Indiana University Press, examines the philosophy of conversation through the lens of Virginia Woolf. David Ebony of Yale Books criticizes the Venice Biennale, a major international art show, for lacking depth and incisiveness, though he highlights several works of art that amuse, provoke, and unsettle.

The poetic inversion of art in a sinking city might well be floating junk: Beacon Broadside interviews Marcus Eriksen, who crossed the ocean on a raft made out of garbage in order to raise awareness about plastic pollution. If, unlike Eriksen, you’re not building your own seaworthy vessels out of garbage, you probably don’t know much about the sophisticated machines you use every day—but Dennis Tenen at Stanford argues that you should have the right to tinker with, interpret, and understand your technology.

From the grab-bag of the eye-catching and the odd: To celebrate the return of Game of Thrones this week, Greg Garrett at Oxford asks what the abundance of zombie apocalypses on TV reveals about modern society. For more family-friendly entertainment, Travis D. Stimeling says, go enjoy a local bluegrass festival and learn about this uniquely American music genre.

Have a great week.

July 20th, 2017

Designed Leadership: A Case Study



Designed Leadership

“C3 presented an opportunity to demonstrate that, in Vancouver, things can be done differently. We can break down the disciplinary isolation in our institutions. We can collaborate more effectively while providing a real-world learning environment for students.” — Moura Quayle

This week, our featured book is Designed Leadership, by Moura Quayle. Today, we are happy to start the feature off with an excerpt from the book’s case studies section, in which Quayle uses her real world experience working with Vancouver’s Campus City Collaborative (C3) to meet the city’s challenging “greenest city” goals.

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

July 19th, 2017

Introduction to the Principles of Designed Leadership



Designed Leadership

“Designed leadership depends on having some sort of problem-solving or opportunity-seeking process to help you when you need to plan or when you are ‘stuck.’ Even when you may not be quite sure of where you are going, having a thinking process is essential. It is a touchstone along the journey.” — Moura Quayle

This week, our featured book is Designed Leadership, by Moura Quayle. Today, Quayle provides an introduction to the principles of designed leadership she discusses at greater length in her book.

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

Introduction to the Principles of Designed Leadership
By Moura Quayle

Looking at familiar places, I realized that the last time I had worked in our capital city was in the private sector, as the principal of a built environment design business – it would now be called a “start-up.” Close to four decades later, looking out my government office window when tasked with reviewing and updating a system of twenty five institutions with assets in around fifty locations and links in a hundred countries, serving over one hundred eighty thousand students, and governed by twenty five boards with combined operating budgets of $1.6 billion, I wondered what in the world prepared me for this task. The products I was dealing with were ideas and people, with no common bricks and mortar, or other tangible form. My task was providing leadership for organizational and institutional transformation.

Yet I felt comfortable and confident in using a strategic design approach. Over the previous quarter century I had studied and applied it, scaled up and out. More importantly, perhaps, I had learned the importance of the old saw that to go far you need to go with others. When applying risk management and fiscal accountability in integrating diverse interests, this meant building common understanding of terms of reference and decision-making values as well as information infrastructure. When the context is complex and dynamic for the long-term, the skills are not intuitive but learned. Designed leadership. Read the rest of this entry »

July 18th, 2017

Strategic Design in Action



Designed Leadership

“This book is about how we can lead better. As we remember the joys and potential of lifelong learning, it is also worth remembering that the leaders among us, from every sector, all once faced the world as fresh-faced, wide-eyed, and innocent preschoolers…. The principles here will connect the surviving naïfs in us all to the disciplined future leaders that we all have the capacity to become.” — Moura Quayle

This week, our featured book is Designed Leadership, by Moura Quayle. Today, we are happy to start the feature off with an excerpt from the book’s introduction, in which Quayle discusses the need for theories of effective leadership, what design principles and practices actually are, and the value of integrating design and leadership.

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

July 18th, 2017

New Book Tuesday: The New Age of Reproductive Biology, the Impossibility and Necessity of Classifying Psychiatric Disorders, and More!



Fear, Wonder, and Science in the New Age of Reproductive Biotechnology

Our weekly listing of new books now available:

Fear, Wonder, and Science in the New Age of Reproductive Biotechnology
Scott Gilbert and Clara Pinto-Correia. Foreword by Donna Haraway.

The Diagnostic System: Why the Classification of Psychiatric Disorders Is Necessary, Difficult, and Never Settled
Jason Schnittker

The Demand for Health: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation
Michael Grossman

Children Affected by Armed Conflict: Theory, Method, and Practice
Edited by Myriam Denov and Bree Akesson

Now available in paperback:
Investment: A History
Norton Reamer and Jesse Downing

July 17th, 2017

Book Giveaway! Designed Leadership



Designed Leadership

“This book contributes a very thoughtful set of observations about the principles and practices of successful leaders who rely on a ‘strategic design’ approach. Moura Quayle draws on a diverse and impressive range of personal leadership experiences to illustrate and emphasize her points. Insightful, yet still accessible.” — Jeanne Liedtka, University of Virginia Darden School of Business

This week, our featured book is Designed Leadership, by Moura Quayle. 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.

July 14th, 2017

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 number of university press blogs this week discussed race in America across the centuries. The University of Washington Press shares an excerpt from Coll Thrush’s book Native Seattle, which looks at the historical and present-day survivance—survival/resistance—of Indigenous communities in Seattle. Over at Harvard Press, Katherine Benton-Cohen reflects on the centennial of the “Bisbee Deportation,” an illegal mass deportation of over a thousand striking mineworkers in Arizona, while Glenda M. Flores at the NYU Press blog talks about the efforts of Latina teachers in L.A. to protect children with undocumented parents. At the University of Michigan Press, Brian Matzke kicks off a series of posts on the context and legacy of the 1967 Detroit riot. Finally, Duke University Press gives us a reading list of articles on racial justice as part of its Read and Respond Series. Read the rest of this entry »

July 14th, 2017

Introducing The Age of Lone Wolf Terrorism



The Age of Lone Wolf Terrorism

“We argue … that violent radicalization is a social process involving behavior that can be observed, comprehended, and modeled in a clearly understandable diagram. Thus, insofar as the behavioral patterns can be detected by family members, friends, and other associates, a lone wolf attack may be preventable. In this book we provide evidence that lone wolf attacks have, in fact, been stopped by the interventions of family members and ordinary citizens.” — Mark S. Hamm and Ramón Spaaij

This week, our featured book is The Age of Lone Wolf Terrorism, by Mark S. Hamm and Ramón Spaaij, with a foreword by Simon Cottee. For the final day of the week’s feature, we are happy to present the authors’ introduction to their book, in which they lay out what they refer to as “lone wolf terrorism,” why the topic is so important, and what they hope their project will accomplish.

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

July 13th, 2017

The (Updated) Curious Legacy of James Comey



The Age of Lone Wolf Terrorism

“Because the FBI’s sting program concentrates its resources primarily in Muslim-American communities, critics charge that the FBI has eroded community trust in those areas, instigated fear, and silenced dissent necessary for participatory democracy. Moreover, say the critics, the United States is manufacturing terrorism by entrapping innocent Muslims.” — Mark Hamm and Ramón Spaaij

This week, our featured book is The Age of Lone Wolf Terrorism, by Mark S. Hamm and Ramón Spaaij, with a foreword by Simon Cottee. Today’s article originally appeared on the Columbia University Press blog in June, but we are happy to repost it with some revisions made based on recent events.

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

The Curious Legacy of James Comey
Mark S. Hamm and Ramón Spaaij

Say what you will about James Comey—to his supporters the fired FBI Director is a bona fide American hero while President Trump has derided him as a “showboat” and a “nut job”—but of this we can be sure: Comey’s revelations about Donald Trump’s possible attempt to obstruct justice in the investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections has deflected public attention away from Comey’s performance as the nation’s top law enforcement official in the fight against domestic terrorism. He has much to answer for. The United States experienced more than two dozen terrorist attacks on Comey’s watch (September 2013-May 2017), including the ISIS-inspired mass shootings in San Bernardino and Orlando, along with shooting rampages by homegrown jihadists and anti-government extremists in Kansas, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, Louisiana, Colorado, and Oregon. In all, more than two-hundred were killed or wounded in these attacks, including a number of police officers. The most lethal attacks were perpetrated by atomized “lone wolf” terrorists.

A major approach to preventing lone wolf terrorism in the United States is an aggressive FBI sting program designed to catch terrorists before they strike. Inaugurated by the Bush administration after 9/11, the FBI’s sting program became the nation’s leading preemptive counter-terrorism strategy during Comey’s tenure as director. In February 2015, at the peak of his influence, Comey announced that the bureau had investigations into “homegrown violent extremism” in all fifty states. Most were sting operations against suspects with an affinity for al-Qaeda and ISIS. Read the rest of this entry »

July 12th, 2017

Simon Cottee on The Age of Lone Wolf Terrorism



The Age of Lone Wolf Terrorism

“The enduring merit of The Age of Lone Wolf Terrorism is that it provides an empirically robust and theoretically nuanced framework for addressing how ordinary individuals can become the agents of extraordinary violence and destruction.” — Simon Cottee

This week, our featured book is The Age of Lone Wolf Terrorism, by Mark S. Hamm and Ramón Spaaij, with a foreword by Simon Cottee. Today, we are happy to present an excerpt from Cottee’s foreword, in which he explains how Hamm and Spaaij firmly ground their work in extensive empirical research on actual terrorists, lists some of the important things that their research shows, and argues that they show that “however tangled and complex the lives of lone actor terrorists are, there are commonalities of experience cross scores of cases.”

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

July 11th, 2017

New Book Tuesday: The Mathematics of Inequality, the Development of Life Insurance, and More!



How Much Inequality Is Fair?

Our weekly listing of new books now available:

How Much Inequality Is Fair?: Mathematical Principles of a Moral, Optimal, and Stable Capitalist Society
Venkat Venkatasubramanian

Morals and Markets: The Development of Life Insurance in the United States
Viviana A. Rotman Zelizer. Foreword by Kieran Healy.

Now available in paperback:
Born Translated: The Contemporary Novel in an Age of World Literature
Rebecca L. Walkowitz

Now available in paperback:
Marx After Marx: History and Time in the Expansion of Capitalism
Harry Harootunian

Fiber City: A Vision for the Shrinking Megacity, Tokyo 2050 [Bilingual: Japanese/English]
Hidetoshi Ohno
(University of Tokyo Press)

Studying Waltz with Bashir
Giulia Miller
(Auteur)

July 10th, 2017

Book Giveaway! The Age of Lone Wolf Terrorism



The Age of Lone Wolf Terrorism

“Covering characters as diverse as James Earl Ray, Sirhan Sirhan, Mark Essex, Lynnette “Squeaky” Fromme, Ted Kaczynski, Eric Rudolph, Jared Loughner, Wade Page, and Christopher Dorner, Hamm and Spaaij have written an excellent and well-researched survey of lone wolf terrorists in the United States—and a major addition to the field.” — Charles B. Strozier, founding director, Center on Terrorism at John Jay College of Criminal Justice

This week, our featured book is The Age of Lone Wolf Terrorism, by Mark S. Hamm and Ramón Spaaij, with a foreword by Simon Cottee. 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.

July 4th, 2017

New Book Tuesday: Poetry and Punk Rock in NYC, a History of Consumer Surveillance in the US, and More!



Our weekly listing of new books now available:

“Do You Have a Band?”: Poetry and Punk Rock in New York City
Daniel Kane

Creditworthy: A History of Consumer Surveillance and Financial Identity in America
Josh Lauer

The Origins of Neoliberalism: Modeling the Economy from Jesus to Foucault
Dotan Leshem

Wright’s Writings: Reflections on Culture and Politics, 1894–1959
Kenneth Frampton
(Columbia Books on Architecture and the City)

The Cinema of Wes Anderson: Bringing Nostalgia to Life
Whitney Crothers Dilley
(Wallflower Press)

The Holy Mountain
Alessandra Santos
(Wallflower Press)

June 30th, 2017

Holiday Weekend Reads



Designed Leadership

Holidays are made for reading. As we head into the Fourth of July holiday weekend we thought we’d share a round-up of recent excerpts for you to dip into to help discover your next great read. Whether you’re hightailing it out of town on a train or plane, headed to the beach, relaxing at a backyard bbq, or waiting for a fireworks display, we’ve got something for you.

NONFICTION:

“When Fascist Heroes Took Over the Movies” – in a feature on fascism, Slate (http://slate.me/2t70Yyu) ran an excerpt from Thomas Doherty’s Pre-Code Hollywood.

Mark Hamm and Ramón Spaaij, the authors of The Age of Lone Wolf Terrorism, discuss the U.S.’s approach for combating lone wolf terrorism in an excerpt in Foreign Policy‘s Best Defense blog.

The June issue of Natural History has an excerpt from Mark Denny’s Making Sense of Weather and Climate on geoengineering and the modification weather. It’s not just science fiction. Denny explains the implications, the history, and the future of the practice.

Get a snapshot of 1960s New York in an excerpt form Down the Up Staircase, in which authors Bruce D. Haynes and Syma Solovitch recount the hustle and bustle of the Harlem of Haynes’s youth.

Jadaliyya, the e-zine of the Arab Studies Institute, has an excerpt from Irene Gendzier’s Dying to Forget that examines the roots of U.S. policy toward Israel and Palestine.

Robert McNally’s Crude Volatility provides an eye-opening history of the oil market. To find out why boom-bust oil prices might be here to stay, listen to an interview with the author and read the introduction to Crude Volatility on the Marketplace website.

FICTION:

Ch’ae Manshik was one of 20th century Korea’s most accomplished writers, known for his distinctive voice and colloquial style. His short story “Angel For A Day”, published in Lit Hub, captures city life and traveling by public transportation. The newly published anthology Sunrise: A Ch’ae Manshik Reader, edited and translated by Bruce and Ju-Chan Fulton, includes this story and collects Ch’ae’s work across different genres.

It’s hard to summarize the writer Iliazd’s Modernist novel Rapture, newly rediscovered and translated into English by Thomas Kitson. Open Letters Monthly called it “a fast-paced, mordantly funny yarn that borrows from (and subverts) the adventure genre.” The best thing you can do is check it out for yourself. For those in the Boston area, there will be an event for Rapture next Friday, July 7th, at The Center for Arts at the Armory Cafe in Somerville, MA.

Yi Mun-yol is one of Korea’s most celebrated writers. His Meeting with My Brother, translated by Heinz Insu Fenkl with Yoosup Chang, is a semi-autobiographical novella, about a divided family and the volatile relationship between the two Koreas, which the Times Literary Supplement called “a seminal and timeless work.” You can read an excerpt from the book here.

Often compared to Franz Kafka, Abe Kōbō is one of Japan’s greatest post-war writers. Abe’s early novel Beasts Head For Home, translated by Richard Calichman, follows Kuki Kyūzō, a Japanese youth, as he struggles to return home to Japan from Manchuria in the wake of World War II. You can read an excerpt in the Guardian‘s Translation Tuesday blog and can read a second excerpt here.

Like what you read? Use coupon code CUP30 to save 30% when ordering these titles through our website.

June 30th, 2017

Capitalism and the History of the iPhone



Moving Data: The iPhone and the Future of Media, Pelle Snickars and Patrick Vonderau

For the iPhone’s 10th birthday, take a look back at the iPhone’s history with an excerpt from Moving Data: The iPhone and the Future of Media, by Pelle Snickars and Patrick Vonderau. In this section, Snickars and Vonderau explore what makes the iPhone distinct as both a device and an object of study. They also consider how the device grew out of other technologies and take a look at its historical precedents.

A History of Possibilities
Pelle Snickars and Patrick Vonderau

In order to come to terms with Apple’s iPhone, it is important to consider the dynamic intersection among these marketing, technological, and cultural forces. Despite the iPhone’s economic success, elegance, and “revolutionary” newness, the question still remains how and why to engage in studying the iPhone as a media object in the first place. In their seminal book, Digital Play: The Interaction of Technology, Culture, and Marketing, Stephen Kline, Nick Dyer-Whiteford, and Greig de Peuter suggest investigating this interdependent dynamic of technology, culture, and marketing efforts as propelling the “circuit of capital” and growth in information capitalism. The political economy of media provides a critical but fairly general perspective on the iPhone as an “ideal-type commodity form,” one that reflects the social organization of capitalism at its present moment. Recent ventures into the field of media-industry analysis have testified to the productivity of this critical tradition. Focusing solely on the iPhone “moment” in the media history of consumer capitalism, however, also introduces a number of fallacies that obscure—rather than clarify—what seems to be at stake. To favor the emergent and the immediate at the expense of the old and the contingent, or of failures and devaluation, often leads to a skewed picture of innovation processes and of media history generally, and potentially even to a fetishization of branded consumer products, which the iPhone epitomizes.

Read the rest of this entry »

June 29th, 2017

Kyūzō and the Red Army



Beasts Head for Home

“During that night, however, Kyūzō’s mother went out to the back shed to find some empty packing crates. There she was hit by a stray bullet, shattering her back. They called for a doctor, but after administering an injection he hurried away without issuing any clear instructions. Everyone was in a state of high agitation. Not knowing what to do, Kyūzō merely remained at his mother’s bedside staring blankly ahead.” — Abe Kōbō

This week, our featured book is Beasts Head for Home: A Novel, by Abe Kōbō, translated by Richard F. Calichman. Today, we are happy to present an excerpt from the book describing the chaos at the end of the Second World War experienced by the Japanese inhabitants of Manchuria.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Beasts Head for Home!