During the many years that they were separated by the perils of the American Revolution, John and Abigail Adams exchanged hundreds of letters. Writing to each other of public events and private feelings, loyalty and love, revolution and parenting, they wove a tapestry of correspondence that has become a cherished part of American history and literature.
With Abigail and John Adams, historian G. J. Barker-Benfield mines those familiar letters to a new purpose: teasing out the ways in which they reflected—and helped transform—a language of sensibility, inherited from Britain but, amid the revolutionary fervor, becoming Americanized. Sensibility—a heightened moral consciousness of feeling, rooted in the theories of such thinkers as Descartes, Locke, and Adam Smith and including a “moral sense” akin to the physical senses—threads throughout these letters. As Barker-Benfield makes clear, sensibility was the fertile, humanizing ground on which the Adamses not only founded their marriage, but also the “abhorrence of injustice and inhumanity” they and their contemporaries hoped to plant at the heart of the new nation. Bringing together their correspondence with a wealth of fascinating detail about life and thought, courtship and sex, gender and parenting, and class and politics in the revolutionary generation and beyond, Abigail and John Adams draws a lively, convincing portrait of a marriage endangered by separation, yet surviving by the same ideas and idealism that drove the revolution itself.
A feast of ideas that never neglects the real lives of the man and woman at its center, Abigail and John Adams takes readers into the heart of an unforgettable union in order to illuminate the first days of our nation—and explore our earliest understandings of what it might mean to be an American.
People rely on reason to think about and navigate the abstract world of human relations in much the same way they rely on maps to study and traverse the physical world. Starting from that simple observation, renowned geographer Gunnar Olsson offers in Abysmal an astonishingly erudite critique of the way human thought and action have become deeply immersed in the rhetoric of cartography and how this cartographic reasoning allows the powerful to map out other people’s lives.
A spectacular reading of Western philosophy, religion, and mythology that draws on early maps and atlases, Plato, Kant, and Wittgenstein, Thomas Pynchon, Gilgamesh, and Marcel Duchamp, Abysmal is itself a minimalist guide to the terrain of Western culture. Olsson roams widely but always returns to the problems inherent in reason, to question the outdated assumptions and fixed ideas that thinking cartographically entails. A work of ambition, scope, and sharp wit, Abysmal will appeal to an eclectic audience—to geographers and cartographers, but also to anyone interested in the history of ideas, culture, and art.
In spite of soaring tuition costs, more and more students go to college every year. A bachelor’s degree is now required for entry into a growing number of professions. And some parents begin planning for the expense of sending their kids to college when they’re born. Almost everyone strives to go, but almost no one asks the fundamental question posed by Academically Adrift: are undergraduates really learning anything once they get there?
For a large proportion of students, Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa’s answer to that question is a definitive no. Their extensive research draws on survey responses, transcript data, and, for the first time, the state-of-the-art Collegiate Learning Assessment, a standardized test administered to students in their first semester and then again at the end of their second year. According to their analysis of more than 2,300 undergraduates at twenty-four institutions, 45 percent of these students demonstrate no significant improvement in a range of skills—including critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing—during their first two years of college. As troubling as their findings are, Arum and Roksa argue that for many faculty and administrators they will come as no surprise—instead, they are the expected result of a student body distracted by socializing or working and an institutional culture that puts undergraduate learning close to the bottom of the priority list.
Academically Adrift holds sobering lessons for students, faculty, administrators, policy makers, and parents—all of whom are implicated in promoting or at least ignoring contemporary campus culture. Higher education faces crises on a number of fronts, but Arum and Roksa’s report that colleges are failing at their most basic mission will demand the attention of us all.
Accelerating energy innovation could be an important part of an effective response to the threat of climate change. Written by a stellar group of experts in the field, this book complements existing research on the subject with an exploration of the role that public and private policy have played in enabling—and sustaining—swift innovation in a variety of industries, from agriculture and the life sciences to information technology. Chapters highlight the factors that have determined the impact of past policies, and suggest that effectively managed federal funding, strategies to increase customer demand, and the enabling of aggressive competition from new firms are important ingredients for policies that affect innovative activity.
Anthony Powell’s universally acclaimed epic A Dance to the Music of Time offers a matchless panorama of twentieth-century London . Now, for the first time in decades, readers in the United States can read the books of Dance as they were originally published—as twelve individual novels—but with a twenty-first-century twist: they’re available only as e-books.
The third volume, The Acceptance World (1955), opens with Nick Jenkins, in his late twenties, beginning to make his way in the world of letters: working for a publisher, writing on his own, and establishing connections across the literary landscape. At the same time, he is making his way in love, as a surprise meeting with an old friend’s sister blossoms into an affair. Meanwhile, friends are diving into marriage and careers, and the patterns of life’s dance are starting to take shape—even as the future steps remain shadowy.
"Anthony Powell is the best living English novelist by far. His admirers are addicts, let us face it, held in thrall by a magician."--Chicago Tribune
"A book which creates a world and explores it in depth, which ponders changing relationships and values, which creates brilliantly living and diverse characters and then watches them grow and change in their milieu. . . . Powell's world is as large and as complex as Proust's."--Elizabeth Janeway, New York Times
"One of the most important works of fiction since the Second World War. . . . The novel looked, as it began, something like a comedy of manners; then, for a while, like a tragedy of manners; now like a vastly entertaining, deeply melancholy, yet somehow courageous statement about human experience."--Naomi Bliven, New Yorker
“The most brilliant and penetrating novelist we have.”--Kingsley Amis
Technology demands uniformity from human beings who encounter it. People encountering technology, however, differ from one another. Thinkers in the early twentieth century, observing the awful consequences of interactions between humans and machines—death by automobiles or dismemberment by factory machinery, for example—developed the idea of accident proneness: the tendency of a particular person to have more accidents than most people. In tracing this concept from its birth to its disappearance at the end of the twentieth century, Accident Prone offers a unique history of technology focused not on innovations but on their unintended consequences.
Here, John C. Burnham shows that as the machine era progressed, the physical and economic impact of accidents coevolved with the rise of the insurance industry and trends in twentieth-century psychology. After World War I, psychologists determined that some people are more accident prone than others. This designation signaled a shift in social strategy toward minimizing accidents by diverting particular people away from dangerous environments. By the 1960s and 1970s, however, the idea of accident proneness gradually declined, and engineers developed new technologies to protect all people, thereby introducing a hidden, but radical, egalitarianism.
Lying at the intersection of the history of technology, the history of medicine and psychology, and environmental history, Accident Prone is an ambitious intellectual analysis of the birth, growth, and decline of an idea that will interest anyone who wishes to understand how Western societies have grappled with the human costs of modern life.
A troubling portrait of democracy in US state legislatures.
State legislatures hold tremendous authority over key facets of our lives, ranging from healthcare to marriage to immigration policy. In theory, elections create incentives for state legislators to produce good policies. But do they?
Drawing on wide-ranging quantitative and qualitative evidence, Steven Rogers offers the most comprehensive assessment of this question to date, testing different potential mechanisms of accountability. His findings are sobering: almost ninety percent of American voters do not know who their state legislator is; over one-third of incumbent legislators run unchallenged in both primary and general elections; and election outcomes have little relationship with legislators’ own behavior.
Rogers’s analysis of state legislatures highlights the costs of our highly nationalized politics, challenging theories of democratic accountability and providing a troubling picture of democracy in the states.
Although many of the practical and intellectual traditions that make up modern science date back centuries, the category of “science” itself is a relative novelty. In the early eighteenth century, the modern German word that would later mean “science,” naturwissenschaft, was not even included in dictionaries. By 1850, however, the term was in use everywhere. Acolytes of Nature follows the emergence of this important new category within German-speaking Europe, tracing its rise from an insignificant eighteenth-century neologism to a defining rallying cry of modern German culture.
Today’s notion of a unified natural science has been deemed an invention of the mid-nineteenth century. Yet what Denise Phillips reveals here is that the idea of naturwissenschaft acquired a prominent place in German public life several decades earlier. Phillips uncovers the evolving outlines of the category of natural science and examines why Germans of varied social station and intellectual commitments came to find this label useful. An expanding education system, an increasingly vibrant consumer culture and urban social life, the early stages of industrialization, and the emergence of a liberal political movement all fundamentally altered the world in which educated Germans lived, and also reshaped the way they classified knowledge.
Though relatively unsung in the English-speaking world, Jean Rouch (1917–2004) was a towering figure of ethnographic cinema. Over the course of a fifty-year career, he completed over one hundred films, both documentary and fiction, and exerted an influence far beyond academia. Exhaustively researched yet elegantly written, The Adventure of the Real is the first comprehensive analysis of his practical filmmaking methods.
Rouch developed these methods while conducting anthropological research in West Africa in the 1940s–1950s. His innovative use of unscripted improvisation by his subjects had a profound impact on the French New Wave, Paul Henley reveals, while his documentary work launched the genre of cinema-vérité. In addition to tracking Rouch’s pioneering career, Henley examines the technical strategies, aesthetic considerations, and ethical positions that contribute to Rouch’s cinematographic legacy. Featuring over one hundred and fifty images, The Adventure of the Real is an essential introduction to Rouch’s work.
The United States boasts scores of organizations that offer crucial representation for groups that are marginalized in national politics, from women to racial minorities to the poor. Here, in the first systematic study of these organizations, Dara Z. Strolovitch explores the challenges and opportunities they face in the new millennium, as waning legal discrimination coincides with increasing political and economic inequalities within the populations they represent.
Drawing on rich new data from a survey of 286 organizations and interviews with forty officials, Strolovitch finds that groups too often prioritize the interests of their most advantaged members: male rather than female racial minorities, for example, or affluent rather than poor women. But Strolovitch also finds that many organizations try to remedy this inequity, and she concludes by distilling their best practices into a set of principles that she calls affirmative advocacy—a form of representation that aims to overcome the entrenched but often subtle biases against people at the intersection of more than one marginalized group. Intelligently combining political theory with sophisticated empirical methods, Affirmative Advocacy will be required reading for students and scholars of American politics.
African Studies, contrary to some accounts, is not a separate continent in the world of American higher education. Its intellectual borders touch those of economics, literature, history, philosophy, and art; its history is the story of the world, both ancient and modern. This is the clear conclusion of Africa and the Disciplines, a book that addresses the question: Why should Africa be studied in the American university?
This question was put to distinguished scholars in the social sciences and humanities, prominent Africanists who are also leaders in their various disciplines. Their responses make a strong and enlightening case for the importance of research on Africa to the academy.
Paul Collier's essay, for example, shows how studies of African economies have clarified our understanding of the small open economies, and contributed to the theory of repressed inflation and to a number of areas in microeconomics as well. Art historian Suzanne Blier uses the terms and concepts that her discipline has applied to Africa to analyze the habits of mind and social practice of her own field. Christopher L. Miller describes the confounding and enriching impact of Africa on European and American literary theory. Political scientist Richard Sklar outlines Africa's contributions to the study of political modernization, pluralism, and rational choice. These essays, together with others from scholars in history, anthropology, philosophy, and comparative literature, attest to the influence of African research throughout the curriculum.
For many, knowledge from Africa seems distant and exotic. These powerful essays suggest the contrary: that such knowledge has shaped the way in which scholars in various disciplines understand their worlds. Eloquent testimony to Africa's necessary place in the mainstream of American education, this book should alter the academy's understanding of the significance of African research, its definition of core and periphery in human knowledge.
"These essays are at once exceptionally thoughtful and remarkably comprehensive. Not only do they offer an unusually interesting overview of African studies; they are also striking for the depth and freshness of their insights. This is the sort of volume from which both seasoned regional experts and students stand to learn an enormous amount."—John Comaroff, University of Chicago
"These essays provide an important perspective on the evolution of African studies and offer insights into what Africa can mean for the different humanistic and social science disciplines. Many show in ingenious and subtle ways the enormous potential that the study of Africa has for confounding the main tenets of established fields. One could only hope that the strictures expressed here would be taken to heart in the scholarly world."—Robert L. Tignor, Princeton University
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