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Africans in Europe
The Culture of Exile and Emigration from Equatorial Guinea to Spain
Michael Ugarte
University of Illinois Press, 2013
What differentiates emigration from exile? This book delves theoretically and practically into this core question of population movements. Tracing the shifts of Africans into and out of Equatorial Guinea, it explores a small former Spanish colony in central Africa. Michael Ugarte examines the writings of Equatorial Guinean exiles and migrants, considering the underlying causes of such moves and arguing that the example of Equatorial Guinea is emblematic of broader dynamics of cultural exchange in a postcolonial world.

Based on personal stories of people forced to leave and those who left of their own accord, Africans in Europe captures the nuanced realities and widespread impact of mobile populations. By focusing on the geographical, emotional, and intellectual dynamics of Equatorial Guinea's human movements, readers gain an inroad to "the consciousness of an age" and an understanding of the global realities that will define the cultural, economic, and political currents of the twenty-first century.

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Anne Carson
Ecstatic Lyre
Joshua Marie Wilkinson, editor
University of Michigan Press, 2015
Anne Carson’s works re-think genre in some of the most unusual and nuanced ways that few writers ever attempt, from her lyric essays, enigmatic poems, and novels in verse to further forays into video and comics and collaborative performance. Carson’s pathbreaking translations of Ancient Greek poetry and drama, as well as her scholarship on everything from Sappho to Celan, only continue to demonstrate the unique vision she has for what’s possible for a work of literature to become.

Anne Carson: Ecstatic Lyre is the first book of essays dedicated to the breadth of Anne Carson’s works, individually, spanning from Eros the Bittersweet through Red Doc. With contributions from Kazim Ali, Dan Beachy-Quick, Julie Carr, Harmony Holiday, Cole Swensen, Eleni Sikelianos, and many others (including translators, poets, essayists, scholars, novelists, critics, and collaborators themselves), we learn from Carson’s greatest admirers and closest readers about the books that moved and inspired them.
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Becoming Modern
Individual Change in Six Developing Countries
Alex Inkeles and David Horton Smith
Harvard University Press, 1974

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Between Two Worlds
My Life as a Child of Deaf Adults
David Sorensen
Gallaudet University Press, 2019
In his memoir, David Sorensen explores his identity as a coda, or a child of Deaf adults. He describes his experiences with the roles often placed on codas at a young age, such as interpreter, confidant, and decision-maker. His story reveals a person seeking acceptance and belonging while straddling the Deaf and hearing worlds, and shows how he found reconciliation within himself and with both worlds.

       Sorensen relays the dynamics of his family life; he had a strained relationship with his father, who was an active leader and role model in the Deaf community and the Mormon Church, yet struggled to bond with his own son. Sorensen rebelled as a youth and left home as a teenager, completely detaching from the Deaf community. After struggling to establish himself as an independent adult, he discovered that he wanted to return to the Deaf world and use his ASL fluency and cultural understanding as a mental health therapist and community advocate. Now he considers himself an ambassador between the Deaf and hearing worlds, as well as between the older and younger generations of Deaf people. Between Two Worlds: My Life as a Child of Deaf Adults shares the unique experiences of a coda and passes on the rich cultural past shared by the American Deaf community.
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Blood in the Tracks
The Minnesota Musicians behind Dylan's Masterpiece
Paul Metsa
University of Minnesota Press, 2023

The story of the Minneapolis musicians who were unexpectedly summoned to re-record half of the songs on Bob Dylan's most acclaimed album

When Bob Dylan recorded Blood on the Tracks in New York in September 1974, it was a great album. But it was not the album now ranked by Rolling Stone as one of the ten best of all time. “When something’s not right, it’s wrong,” as Dylan puts it in “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go”—and something about that original recording led him to a studio in his native Minnesota to re-record five songs, including “Idiot Wind” and “Tangled Up in Blue.” Six Minnesota musicians participated in that two-night recording session at Sound 80, bringing their unique sound to some of Dylan’s best-known songs—only to have their names left off the album and their contribution unacknowledged for more than forty years. This book tells the story of those two nights in Minneapolis, introduces the musicians who gave the album so much of its ultimate form and sound, and describes their decades-long fight for recognition.

 

Blood in the Tracks takes readers behind the scenes with these “mystery” Minnesota musicians: twenty-one-year-old mandolin virtuoso Peter Ostroushko; drummer Bill Berg and bass player Billy Peterson, the house rhythm section at Sound 80; progressive rock keyboardist Gregg Inhofer; guitarist Chris Weber, who owned The Podium guitar shop in Dinkytown; and Kevin Odegard, whose own career as a singer-songwriter had paralleled Dylan’s until he had to take a job as a railroad brakeman to make ends meet. Through in-depth interviews and assiduous research, Paul Metsa and Rick Shefchik trace the twists of fate that brought these musicians together and then set them on different paths in its wake: their musical experiences leading up to the December 1974 recording session, the divergent careers that followed, and the painstaking work required to finally obtain the official credit that they were due. 

 

A rare look at the making—or remaking—of an all-time great album, and a long overdue recognition of the musicians who made it happen, Blood in the Tracks brings to life a transformative moment in the history of rock and roll, for the first time in its true context and with its complete cast of players.

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Bookmarks
A Companion Text for Like Water for Chocolate
Janet Giannotti
University of Michigan Press, 1999
A Companion Text forLike Water for Chocolate provides exercises and activities for ESL students who are reading the English translation of the novel by Laura Esquivel (published by Doubleday). Set during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Like Water for Chocolate is a story about an extended Mexican family and what happens when one daughter is not permitted to marry the man she loves. Cooking and food are central to the story line and help thread the story together.
A Companion TextforLike Water for Chocolate is made up of six units, each covering two chapters in the novel. Every unit contains a preview section, free writing exercises, a short glossary (to help with Spanish words), comprehension quizzes, vocabulary exercises and summarizing exercises, a section devoted to response journals, and topics for discussion. The "Beyond the Novel" section includes facts about U.S. and Mexican history and folk tales. Illustrations throughout the book help to engage students and offer visual support for reading comprehension.


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The Breaking of Style
Hopkins, Heaney, Graham
Helen Vendler
Harvard University Press, 1995

Style is the material body of lyric poetry, Helen Vendler suggests. To cast off an earlier style is to do an act of violence to the self. Why might a poet do this, adopting a sharply different form? In this exploration of three kinds of break in poetic style, Vendler clarifies the essential connection between style and substance in poetry. Opening fresh perspectives on the work of three very different poets, her masterful study of changes in style yields a new view of the interplay of moral, emotional, and intellectual forces in a poet’s work.

Gerard Manley Hopkins’ invention of sprung rhythm marks a dramatic break with his early style. Rhythm, Vendler shows us, is at the heart of Hopkins’ aesthetic, and sprung rhythm is his symbol for danger, difference, and the shock of the beautiful. In Seamus Heaney’s work, she identifies clear shifts in grammatical “atmosphere” from one poem to the next—from “nounness” to the “betweenness” of an adverbial style—shifts whose moral and political implications come under scrutiny here. And finally Vendler looks at Jorie Graham’s departure from short lines to numbered lines to squared long lines of sentences, marking a move from deliberation to cinematic “freeze-framing to coverage, each with its own meaning in this poet’s career.

Throughout, Vendler reminds us that what distinguishes successful poetry is a mastery of language at all levels—including the rhythmic, the grammatical, and the graphic. A fine study of three poets and a superb exposition of the craft of poetry, The Breaking of Style revives our lapsed sense of what style means.

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Changing Paths
Travels and Meditations in Alaska's Arctic Wilderness
Bill Sherwonit
University of Alaska Press, 2009

Changing Paths: Travels and Meditations in Alaska’s Arctic Wilderness is an autobiographical exploration of author Bill Sherwonit’s relationship with the Alaska wilderness. Written in three parts, it first describes Sherwonit’s introduction to the Brooks Range and his years as an exploration geologist. Taking a step back, the author then takes us into the past to explore his childhood roots in rural Connecticut and his recognition of wild nature as a refuge. He concludes with his emergence as a nature writer and wilderness advocate.

An engrossing, fascinating, and eye-opening tale of one man’s life and of wilderness conceptions, this vivid description of an area of Alaska that few people get to experience is authentic and enlightening. It is an extraordinary contribution to the literature of place from one of Alaska’s most accomplished nature writers.

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The Channeling Zone
American Spirituality in an Anxious Age
Michael F. Brown
Harvard University Press, 1997

Few expressions of New Age spirituality evoke greater skepticism and derision than does channeling, the practice of serving as a vessel for the voices of ancient or otherworldly beings. Channelers claim to be possessed by angels, aliens, and "ascended masters" who speak through them, offering advice and solace. Intellectuals dismiss them as cranks and charlatans; evangelical Christians accuse them of trafficking with Satanic forces. Meanwhile, the steady spread of channeling from the West Coast to the American heartland fuels the fear that the United States now confronts an epidemic of public irrationality.

The Channeling Zone reveals that this controversial practice has deep roots in earlier forms of American spiritualism while manifesting the most current concerns and anxieties of American life at the end of the twentieth century. Basing his analysis on dozens of interviews with practicing channels and extensive participant-observation research in New Age workshops, Michael Brown takes readers into the world of those who find meaning and inspiration--and occasionally a lucrative career--in regular conversations with spectral beings. Drawing on his previous research among Amazonian Indians, he brings a historical and comparative perspective to the study of this flamboyant expression of contemporary spirituality.

Neither a debunker nor an advocate, Brown weaves together the opinions and life stories of practicing channels and their clients to bring their world and its assumptions into higher relief. He describes the experiences that lead often highly educated, middle-class Americans to conclude that useful information is filtered through the spirit world. He pursues the nature of the quest--the fears, hopes, and expectations of the seekers--and finds its roots in traditional American notions of individualism and self-perfection. The Channeling Zone is a lively journey into the complex social world of the thousands of Americans who have abandoned mainstream religions in search of direct and improvisational contact with spiritual beings.

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Chicago Heights
Little Joe College, the Outfit, and the Fall of Sam Giancana
Charles Hager with David T. Miller, Foreword by Louis Corsino, Afterword by Ashleigh D'Andrea
Southern Illinois University Press, 2018
Winner, ISHS Best of Illinois History Award, 2019

In this riveting true story of coming of age in the Chicago Mob, Charles “Charley” Hager is plucked from his rural West Virginia home by an uncle in the 1960s and thrown into an underworld of money, cars, crime, and murder on the streets of Chicago Heights.
 
Street-smart and good with his hands, Hager is accepted into the working life of a chauffeur and “street tax” collector, earning the moniker “Little Joe College” by notorious mob boss Albert Tocco. But when his childhood friend is gunned down by a hit man, Hager finds himself a bit player in the events surrounding the mysterious, and yet unsolved, murder of mafia chief Sam Giancana.
 
Chicago Heights is part rags-to-riches story, part murder mystery, and part redemption tale. Hager, with author David T. Miller, juxtaposes his early years in West Virginia with his life in crime, intricately weaving his own experiences into the fabric of mob life, its many characters, and the murder of Giancana.
 
Fueled by vivid recollections of turf wars and chop shops, of fix-ridden harness racing and the turbulent politics of the 1960s, Chicago Heights reveals similarities between high-level organized crime in the city and the corrupt lawlessness of Appalachia. Hager candidly reveals how he got caught up in a criminal life, what it cost him, and how he rebuilt his life back in West Virginia with a prison record.
 
Based on interviews with Hager and supplemented by additional interviews and extensive research by Miller, the book also adds Hager’s unique voice to the volumes of speculation about Giancana’s murder, offering a plausible theory of what happened on that June night in 1975. 
 
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The Claremont Run
Subverting Gender in the X-Men
J. Andrew Deman; Foreword by Jay Edidin
University of Texas Press, 2023

A data-driven deep dive into a legendary comics author’s subversion of gender norms within the bestselling comic of its time.

By the time Chris Claremont’s run as author of Uncanny X-Men ended in 1991, he had changed comic books forever. During his sixteen years writing the series, Claremont revitalized a franchise on the verge of collapse, shaping the X-Men who appear in today’s Hollywood blockbusters. But, more than that, he told a new kind of story, using his growing platform to articulate transgressive ideas about gender nonconformity, toxic masculinity, and female empowerment.

J. Andrew Deman’s investigation pairs close reading and quantitative analysis to examine gender representation, content, characters, and story structure. The Claremont Run compares several hundred issues of Uncanny X-Men with a thousand other Marvel comics to provide a comprehensive account of Claremont’s sophisticated and progressive gender politics. Claremont’s X-Men upended gender norms: where female characters historically served as mere eye candy, Claremont’s had leading roles and complex, evolving personalities. Perhaps more surprisingly, his male superheroes defied and complicated standards of masculinity. Groundbreaking in their time, Claremont’s comics challenged readers to see the real world differently and transformed pop culture in the process.

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Contemporary Culture
New Directions in Art and Humanities Research
Edited by Judith Thissen, Robert Zwijnenberg, and Kitty Zijlmans
Amsterdam University Press, 2013
Are the humanities still relevant in the twenty-first century? In the context of pervasive economic liberalism and shrinking budgets, the importance of humanities research for society is increasingly put into question. This volume claims that the humanities do indeed matter by offering empirically grounded critical reflections on contemporary cultural practices, thereby opening up new ways of understanding social life and new directions in humanities scholarship. The contributors argue that the humanities can regain their relevance for society, pose new questions and provide fresh answers, while maintaining their core values: critical reflection, historical consciousness and analytical distance. 
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Contemporary Irish Poetry and the Pastoral Tradition
Donna L. Potts
University of Missouri Press, 2011

In Contemporary Irish Poetry and the Pastoral Tradition, Donna L. Potts closely examines the pastoral genre in the work of six Irish poets writing today. Through the exploration of the poets and their works, she reveals the wide range of purposes that pastoral has served in both Northern Ireland and the Republic: a postcolonial critique of British imperialism; a response to modernity, industrialization, and globalization; a way of uncovering political and social repercussions of gendered representations of Ireland; and, more recently, a means for conveying environmentalism’s more complex understanding of the value of nature.

Potts traces the pastoral back to its origins in the work of Theocritus of Syracuse in the third century and plots its evolution due to cultural changes. While all pastoral poems share certain generic traits, Potts makes clear that pastorals are shaped by social and historical contexts, and Irish pastorals in particular were influenced by Ireland’s unique relationship with the land, language, and industrialization due to England’s colonization.
For her discussion, Potts has chosen six poets who have written significant collections of pastoral poetry and whose work is in dialogue with both the pastoral tradition and other contemporary pastoral poets. Three poets are men—John Montague, Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley—while three are women—Eavan Boland, Medbh McGuckian, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill. Five are English-language authors, while the sixth—Ní Dhomhnaill—writes in Irish. Additionally, some of the poets hail from the Republic, while others originate from Northern Ireland. Potts contends that while both Irish Republic and Northern Irish poets respond to a shared history of British colonization in their pastorals, the 1921 partition of the country caused the pastoral tradition to evolve differently on either side of the border, primarily because of the North’s more rapid industrialization; its more heavily Protestant population, whose response to environmentalism was somewhat different than that of the Republic’s predominantly Catholic population; as well the greater impact of the world wars and the Irish Troubles.

In an important distinction from other studies of Irish poetry, Potts moves beyond the influence of history and politics on contemporary Irish pastoral poetry to consider the relatively recent influence of ecology. Contemporary Irish poets often rely on the motif of the pastoral retreat to highlight various environmental threats to those retreats—whether they be high-rises, motorways, global warming, or acid rain. Potts concludes by speculating on the future of pastoral in contemporary Irish poetry through her examination of more recent poets—including Moya Cannon and Paula Meehan—as well as other genres such as film, drama, and fiction.

 
 
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Crossings
A White Man's Journey Into Black America
Walt Harrington
University of Missouri Press, 1999

One day in the dentist's office journalist Walt Harrington heard a casual racist joke that left him enraged. Married to a black woman, Harrington is the father of two biracial children. His experience in the dentist's office made him realize not only that the joke was about his own children but also that he really knew very little about what it was like to be a black person in America.

After this rude awakening, Harrington set off on a twenty- five-thousand-mile journey through black America, talking with scores of black and white people along the way, including an old sharecropper, a city police chief, a jazz trumpeter, a convicted murderer, a welfare mother, and a corporate mogul. In Crossings, winner of the Gustavus Myers Award for the Study of Human Rights, he relates what he learned as he listened.

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Culture and the Radical Conscience
Eugene Goodheart
Harvard University Press, 1973

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Enchanted by Prairie
Bill Witt
University of Iowa Press, 2009
June grass at sunset, Indian grass at sunrise, hawk moths and monarch butterflies nectaring on purple fringed orchids and rough blazing star, little bluestem and saw-tooth sunflowers and butterfly milkweed in hill prairies and sand prairies, and blue skies and one bright rainbow arching over them all. Bill Witt has been photographing Iowa’s wild places for more than thirty years, and the result is this collection of splendid images that reveal the glorious beauty and diversity of the state’s prairie remnants.

Witt gives us close-ups of pasque flower shoots covered with ice in spring, coneflowers dancing in a summer breeze, and prairie dropseed in its autumn colors as well as such prairie companions as sandhill cranes, northern harriers, and bison. His panoramic visions of prairie landscapes in all seasons focus on the personal pleasure and spiritual sustenance that connecting with prairies, even small and neglected ones, can bring us. Osha Davidson’s essay compares today’s prairie remnants with yesterday’s expanses and calls for us to restore balance to this damaged landscape. Altogether, Enchanted by Prairie celebrates today’s prairie landscape and encourages us, in Davidson’s words, to restore its “beauty and scents and textures and sounds.”
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The Ethics of Swagger
Prizewinning African American Novels, 1977–1993
Michael DeRell Hill
The Ohio State University Press, 2013
After World War II and well beyond the Black Arts Movement, African American novelists struggled with white literary expectations imposed upon them. Aesthetics as varied as New Criticism and Deconstruction fueled these struggles, and black writers—facing these struggles— experienced an ethical crisis. Analyzing prizewinning, creative fellowship, and artistic style, this book considers what factors ended that crisis.
 
The Ethics of Swagger explores how novelists who won major prizes between 1977 and 1993 helped move authors of black fiction through insecurity toward autonomy. Identifying these prizewinners—David Bradley, Ernest Gaines, Charles Johnson, Toni Morrison, Gloria Naylor, Alice Walker, and John Edgar Wideman—as a literary class, this book focuses on how they achieved imaginative freedom, recovered black literary traditions, and advanced the academic study of African American writing.
 
The post–Civil Rights era produced the most accomplished group of novelists in black literary history. As these authors worked in an integrating society, they subjected white narrative techniques to the golden mean of black cultural mores. This exposure compelled the mainstream to acknowledge fresh talent and prodded American society to honor its democratic convictions. Shaping national dialogues about merit, award-winning novelists from 1977 to 1993, the Black Archivists, used swagger to alter the options for black art and citizenship.
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The Fear of Barbarians
Beyond the Clash of Civilizations
Tzvetan Todorov
University of Chicago Press, 2010

The relationship between Western democracies and Islam, rarely entirely comfortable, has in recent years become increasingly tense. A growing immigrant population and worries about cultural and political assimilation—exacerbated by terrorist attacks in the United States, Europe, and around the world—have provoked reams of commentary from all parts of the political spectrum, a frustrating majority of it hyperbolic or even hysterical.

In The Fear of Barbarians, the celebrated intellectual Tzvetan Todorov offers a corrective: a reasoned and often highly personal analysis of the problem, rooted in Enlightenment values yet open to the claims of cultural difference. Drawing on history, anthropology, and politics, and bringing to bear examples ranging from the murder of Theo van Gogh to the French ban on headscarves, Todorov argues that the West must overcome its fear of Islam if it is to avoid betraying the values it claims to protect. True freedom, Todorov explains, requires us to strike a delicate balance between protecting and imposing cultural values, acknowledging the primacy of the law, and yet strenuously protecting minority views that do not interfere with its aims. Adding force to Todorov's arguments is his own experience as a native of communist Bulgaria: his admiration of French civic identity—and Western freedom—is vigorous but non-nativist, an inclusive vision whose very flexibility is its core strength.

The record of a penetrating mind grappling with a complicated, multifaceted problem, The Fear of Barbarians is a powerful, important book—a call, not to arms, but to thought. 

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Final Negotiations
A Story of Love, and Chronic Illness
Carolyn Ellis
Temple University Press, 1995

When Carolyn Ellis, a graduate student, and Gene Weinstein, her Professor, fell in love, he was experiencing the first stages of emphysema. As he became increasingly disabled and immobile, these two intensely connected partners fought to maintain their love and to live a meaningful life. They learned to negotiate their daily lives in a way that enabled each of them to feel sufficiently autonomous—him not always like a patient and her not always like a caretaker. Writing as a sociologist, Ellis protrays their life together as a way to understand the complexities of romance, of living with a progressive illness, and, in the final negotiation and reversal of positions, of coping with the loss of a loved one.

This rare memoir full of often raw details and emotions becomes an intimate conversation about the intricacies of feeling and relating in a relationship. What Ellis calls experimental ethnography is a finely crafted, forthright, and daring story framed by the author's reflections on writing about and analyzing one's own life. Casting off the safe distance of most social science inquiry, she surrenders the private shroud of a complex relationship to bring sociology closer to literature.

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Final Negotiations
A Story of Love, Loss, and Chronic Illness
Carolyn Ellis
Temple University Press, 2018
In this revised and expanded edition of Final Negotiations—a personal account of caring for her partner, Gene Weinstein, and then coping with losing him to chronic emphysema— Ellis reflects back on her experiences as a caregiver, focusing on identity, vulnerability, emotions, and the aging process of an engaged academic. Now, decades later, she reconsiders who she was then, and how she has continued to be affected both by these events and by writing about them. She contemplates how she might act, think, and feel if she were going through the caregiving process again, now.

Taking an autoethnographic perspective, Ellis focuses on her feeling and thinking self in relationships, narrating particular lived experiences that offer a gateway into understanding interpersonal and cultural life. In her new epilogue, “From New Endings to New Beginnings,” Ellis describes her changed identity and how Final Negotiations informs her life and her understanding of how she and her current partner grow older together. She hopes her book provides companionship and comfort to readers who also will suffer loss in their lives.
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The Given and the Made
Strategies of Poetic Redefinition
Helen Vendler
Harvard University Press, 1995

Join Professor Helen Vendler in her course lecture on the Yeats poem "Among School Children". View her insightful and passionate analysis along with a condensed reading and student comments on the course.

How does a poet repeatedly make art over a lifetime out of an arbitrary assignment of fate? By asking this question of the work of four American poets--two men of the postwar generation, two young women writing today--Helen Vendler suggests a fruitful way of looking at a poet's career and a new way of understanding poetic strategies as both mastery of forms and forms of mastery.

Fate hands every poet certain unavoidable "givens." Of the poets Vendler studies, Robert Lowell sprang from a family famous in American and especially New England history; John Berryman found himself an alcoholic manic-depressive; Rita Dove was born black; Jorie Graham grew up trilingual, with three words for every object. In Vendler's readings, we see how these poets return again and again to the problems set out by their givens, and how each invents complex ways, both thematic and formal, of making poetry out of fate.

Compelling for its insights into the work of four notable poets, this book by a leading critic of poetry is also invaluable for what it has to tell us about the poetic process--about how art copes with the obdurate givens of life, and about the conflict in art between the whim of fate and the artist's will to choose.

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Is Progress Speeding Up
Multiplying Multitudes Of Blessings
John Marks Templeton
Templeton Press, 1998

This book is a thought-provoking view of the progress of humankind in the last century. In spite of the pessimism that prevails in the media, people are better fed, better clothed, better housed, and better educated than at any previous time.

The facts within the book provide documentation for a positive outlook toward our nutrition and health, living standards and working conditions, political and economic freedoms, educational facilities, ability to communicate, ease of movement, increasing leisure, and, most important, our ability to get along with one another and with our Creator. The statistics, charts, and photographs that illustrate this book enhance the reassuring and uplifting view of the state of the world and where it is going.

“His analysis gives us a refreshing balance to the negative, sometimes cynical, views in the media that tend to portray the worst rather than the best in human civilization.” —Jimmy Carter

“After reading Sir John Templeton's latest book, I believe more than ever that we are living in the most exciting time in history. Despite the challenges we face, his demonstration of mankind's progress gives all of us great hopes and high expectations for our next century and the new millennium.” —Jack Kemp, former HUD secretary, director of Empower America

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Jorie Graham
Essays on the Poetry
Edited by Thomas Gardner
University of Wisconsin Press, 2005
Jorie Graham is one of the most important American poets now writing. This first book-length study brings together thirteen previously published essays and review essays by many of the major critics currently interested in her work and five new essays commissioned for this volume. Commenting on each of Graham's eight poetry collections, these essays encompass the range of critical thought that her work has attracted, both surveying it broadly and engaging closely with individual poems.
These essays identify three broad concerns that run through each of her strikingly different volumes of poems: the movement of the mind in action, the role of the body in experiencing the world, and the pressures of material conditions on mind and body alike. Gardner both shows how Graham is being read at the moment and charts new areas of investigation likely to dominate thinking about her over the next decade. This collection is sure to become the crucial first step for all future work on Graham and on American poetry of the last two decades.
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The Making of a Black Scholar
From Georgia to the Ivy League
Horace A. Porter
University of Iowa Press, 2003
This captivating and illuminating book is a memoir of a young black man moving from rural Georgia to life as a student and teacher in the Ivy League as well as a history of the changes in American education that developed in response to the civil rights movement, the war in Vietnam, and affirmative action. Born in 1950, Horace Porter starts out in rural Georgia in a house that has neither electricity nor running water. In 1968, he leaves his home in Columbus, Georgia—thanks to an academic scholarship to Amherst College—and lands in an upper-class, mainly white world. Focusing on such experiences in his American education, Porter's story is both unique and representative of his time.

The Making of a Black Scholar is structured around schools. Porter attends Georgia's segregated black schools until he enters the privileged world of Amherst College. He graduates (spending one semester at Morehouse College) and moves on to graduate study at Yale. He starts his teaching career at Detroit's Wayne State University and spends the 1980s at Dartmouth College and the 1990s at Stanford University.
Porter writes about working to establish the first black studies program at Amherst, the challenges of graduate study at Yale, the infamous Dartmouth Review, and his meetings with such writers and scholars as Ralph Ellison, Tillie Olsen, James Baldwin, and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. He ends by reflecting on an unforeseen move to the University of Iowa, which he ties into a return to the values of his childhood on a Georgia farm. In his success and the fulfillment of his academic aspirations, Porter represents an era, a generation, of possibility and achievement.
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Modernity At Large
Cultural Dimensions of Globalization
Arjun Appadurai
University of Minnesota Press, 1996

Examines the role of imagination in the cultural development of our shrinking world.

The world is growing smaller. Every day we hear this idea expressed and witness its reality in our lives-through the people we meet, the products we buy, the foods we eat, and the movies we watch. In this bold look at the cultural effects of a shrinking world, leading cultural theorist Arjun Appadurai places these challenges and pleasures of contemporary life in a broad global perspective.

Offering a new framework for the cultural study of globalization, Modernity at Large shows how the imagination works as a social force in today's world, providing new resources for identity and energies for creating alternatives to the nation-state, whose era some see as coming to an end. Appadurai examines the current epoch of globalization, which is characterized by the twin forces of mass migration and electronic mediation, and provides fresh ways of looking at popular consumption patterns, debates about multiculturalism, and ethnic violence. He considers the way images-of lifestyles, popular culture, and self-representation-circulate internationally through the media and are often borrowed in surprising (to their originators) and inventive fashions.

Appadurai simultaneously explores and explodes boundaries-between how we imagine the world and how that imagination influences our self-understanding, between social institutions and their effects on the people who participate in them, between nations and peoples that seem to be ever more homogeneous and yet ever more filled with differences. Modernity at Large  offers a path to move beyond traditional oppositions between culture and power, tradition and modernity, global and local, pointing out the vital role imagination plays in our construction of the world of today-and tomorrow.

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The Mountains of Paris
How Awe and Wonder Rewrote My Life
David Oates
Oregon State University Press, 2019
Living in Paris for a winter and a spring and waking each morning to a view of Notre Dame, David Oates is led to revise his life story from one of trudging and occasional woe into one punctuated by nourishing and sometimes unsettling brilliance. In The Mountains of Paris, he offers a technique of reimagining one’s life story that might be available to anyone.

The present tense of the book takes place during the seasons he spends in Paris, sharing an artist’s residency. It is a rare opportunity to consider what it means to be human, through time-stopping moments with music, art, and deep history. The past tense of the book offers memories that intrude into the bustle of Paris life: a Billy Graham crusade at age thirteen, a mountain pass, a love, a loss.

In long years of mountaineering Oates fought the self-loathing which had infused him as the gay kid in the Baptist pew. In The Mountains of Paris, he ascends to a place of wonder through intense, personal narrative encounter with the strangeness of being alive. In his searching, luminous, and inimitable prose, Oates invites readers to share the sense of awe awakened by a Vermeer painting, or the night sky, or the echoing strains of music fading down a Paris street, lifting the curtain on a cosmos filled with a terrifying yet beautiful rightness.
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My Way
Speeches and Poems
Charles Bernstein
University of Chicago Press, 1998
"Verse is born free but everywhere in chains. It has been my project to rattle the chains." (from "The Revenge of the Poet-Critic")

In My Way, (in)famous language poet and critic Charles Bernstein deploys a wide variety of interlinked forms—speeches and poems, interviews and essays—to explore the place of poetry in American culture and in the university. Sometimes comic, sometimes dark, Bernstein's writing is irreverent but always relevant, "not structurally challenged, but structurally challenging."

Addressing many interrelated issues, Bernstein moves from the role of the public intellectual to the poetics of scholarly prose, from vernacular modernism to idiosyncratic postmodernism, from identity politics to the resurgence of the aesthetic, from cultural studies to poetry as a performance art, from the small press movement to the Web. Along the way he provides "close listening" to such poets as Charles Reznikoff, Laura Riding, Susan Howe, Ezra Pound, Allen Ginsberg, and Gertrude Stein, as well as a fresh perspective on L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, the magazine he coedited that became a fulcrum for a new wave of North American writing.

In his passionate defense of an activist, innovative poetry, Bernstein never departs from the culturally engaged, linguistically complex, yet often very funny writing that has characterized his unique approach to poetry for over twenty years. Offering some of his most daring work yet—essays in poetic lines, prose with poetic motifs, interviews miming speech, speeches veering into song—Charles Bernstein's My Way illuminates the newest developments in contemporary poetry with its own contributions to them.

"The result of [Bernstein's] provocative groping is more stimulating than many books of either poetry or criticism have been in recent years."—Molly McQuade, Washington Post Book World

"This book, for all of its centrifugal activity, is a singular yet globally relevant perspective on the literary arts and their institutions, offered in good faith, yet cranky and poignant enough to not be easily ignored."—Publishers Weekly

"Bernstein has emerged as postmodern poetry's sous-chef of insouciance. My Way is another of his rich concoctions, fortified with intellect and seasoned with laughter."—Timothy Gray, American Literature
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Old Blue's Road
A Historian's Motorcycle Journeys in the American West
James Whiteside
University Press of Colorado, 2014
In Old Blue’s Road, historian James Whiteside shares accounts of his motorcycle adventures across the American West. He details the places he has seen, the people he has met, and the personal musings those encounters prompted on his unique journeys of discovery.
 
In 2005, Whiteside bought a Harley Davidson Heritage Softail, christened it “Old Blue,” and set off on a series of far-reaching motorcycle adventures. Over six years he traveled more than 15,000 miles. Part travelogue and part historical tour, this book takes the reader along for the ride.  Whiteside’s travels to the Pacific Northwest, Yellowstone, Dodge City, Santa Fe, Wounded Knee, and many other locales prompt consideration of myriad topics—the ongoing struggle between Indian and mainstream American culture, the meaning of community, the sustainability of the West's hydraulic society, the creation of the national parks system, the Mormon experience in Utah, the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, and more.

Delightfully funny and insightful, Old Blue’s Road links the colorful history and vibrant present from Whiteside’s unique vantage point, recognizing and reflecting on the processes of change that made the West what it is today. The book will interest the general reader and western historian alike, leading to new appreciation for the complex ways in which the American West's past and present come together.

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The Palace of the Snow Queen
Winter Travels in Lapland and Sápmi
Barbara Sjoholm
University of Minnesota Press, 2023

An exploration of the winter wonders and entangled histories of Scandinavia’s northernmost landscapes—now back in print with a new afterword by the author
 

After many years of travel in the Nordic countries—usually preferring to visit during the warmer months—Barbara Sjoholm found herself drawn to Lapland and Sápmi one winter just as mørketid, the dark time, set in. What ensued was a wide-ranging journey that eventually spanned three winters, captivatingly recounted in The Palace of the Snow Queen

 

From observing the annual construction of the Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, to crossing the storied Finnmark Plateau in Norway, to attending a Sámi film festival in Finland, Sjoholm dives deep into the rich traditions and vibrant creative communities of the North. She writes of past travelers to Lapland and contemporary tourists in Sápmi, as well as of her encounters with Indigenous reindeer herders, activists, and change-makers. Her new afterword bears witness to the perseverance of the Sámi in the face of tourism, development, and climate change.  

 

Written with keen insight and humor, The Palace of the Snow Queen is a vivid account of Sjoholm’s adventures and a timely investigation of how ice and snow shape our imaginations and create a vision that continues to draw visitors to the North.

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Phenomenological Approaches to Popular Culture
Michael T. Carroll
University of Wisconsin Press, 2000
Within popular culture studies, one finds discussions about quantitative sociology, Marxism, psychoanalysis, myth criticism, feminism, and semiotics, but hardly a word on the usefulness of phenomenology, the branch of philosophy concerned with human experience. In spite of this omission, there is a close relationship between the aims of phenomenology and the aims of popular culture studies, for both movements have attempted to redirect academic study toward everyday lived experience.
    The fifteen essays in this volume demonstrate the way in which phenomenological approaches can illuminate popular culture studies, and in so doing they take on the entire range of popular culture.
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A Poetics
Charles Bernstein
Harvard University Press, 1992

This rich collection is far more than an important work of criticism by an extraordinary poet; it is a poetic intervention into criticism. "Artifice of Absorption," a key essay, is written in verse, and its structures and rhythms initiate the reader into the strength and complexity of the argument. In a wild variety of topics, polemic, and styles, Bernstein surveys the current poetry scene and addresses many of the hot issues of poststructuralist literary theory. "Poetics is the continuation of poetry by other means," he writes. What role should poetics play in contemporary culture? Bernstein finds the answer in dissent, not merely in argument but in form--a poetic language that resists being easily absorbed into the conventions of our culture.

Insisting on the vital need for radical innovation, Bernstein traces the traditions of modern poetry back to Stein and Wilde, taking issue with those critics who see in the "postmodern" a loss of political and aesthetic relevance. Sometimes playful, often hortatory, always intense, he joins in the debate on cultural diversity and the definition of modernism. We encounter Swinburne and Morris as surprising precursors, along with considerations of Wittgenstein, Khlebnikov, Adorno, Jameson, and Pac-Man. A Poetics is both criticism and poetry, both tract and song, with no dull moments.

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Postmodernism and the Other
New Imperialism of Western Culture
Ziauddin Sardar
Pluto Press, 1997
This controversial work examines postmodernism from a non-Western perspective, and exposes its claims as a sham. Sardar makes a systematic assessment of the salient spheres of postmodernism - from philosophy and architecture, to film, music and new age religions - and reveals that, contrary to commonly-held notions, postmodernism operates to further marginalise the reality of the non-West and confound its aspirations.
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Rattler One-Seven
A Vietnam Helicopter Pilot's War Story
Chuck Gross
University of North Texas Press, 2004

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Return to Childhood
The Memoir of a Modern Moroccan Woman
By Leila Abouzeid
University of Texas Press, 1998

Leila Abouzeid, whose novel Year of the Elephant has gone through six reprintings, has now translated her childhood memoir into English. Published in Rabat in 1993 to critical acclaim, the work brings to life the interlocking dramas of family ties and political conflict.

Against a background of Morocco's struggle for independence from French colonial rule, Abouzeid charts the development of personal relationships, between generations as well as between husbands and wives. Abouzeid's father is a central figure; as a strong advocate of Moroccan nationalism, he was frequently imprisoned by the French and his family forced to flee the capital. Si Hmed was a public hero, but the young daughter's memories of her famous father and of the family's plight because of his political activities are not so idyllic.

The memoir utilizes multiple voices, especially those of women, in a manner reminiscent of the narrative strategies of the oral tradition in Moroccan culture. Return to Childhood may also be classified as an autobiography, a form only now gaining respect as a valid literary genre in the Middle East. Abouzeid's own introduction and Elizabeth Fernea's foreword discuss this new development in Arabic literature.

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Rick Perry
A Political Life
Brandon Rottinghaus
University of Texas Press, 2024

How Rick Perry navigated and shaped Texas politics as the state’s longest serving governor.

Rick Perry, the charming rancher, pilot, and politician from West Texas who was governor from 2000 to 2015, is one of the most important but polarizing figures in the state's history. Over the nearly forty years he spent in the political arena, his political instincts served as a radar primed to sense future political opportunities. Hugging the arc of Texas political change, he shifted from a rural, “blue dog” Democrat to one of the most conservative politicians the state had elected up to that time, overseeing the enactment of controversial redistricting, voting, and abortion measures. Yet his evolution was complicated and incomplete, as his stands on such topics as immigration, vaccine requirements, and the use of state funds to attract business ran into opposition from a growing and ever-more conservative wing of the Republican Party in Texas—and the nation.

Rick Perry is both a biography of Perry as a politician and a study of the shifts in state politics that took place during his time in office. Demonstrating that Perry ranks among the most consequential governors in Texas history, Brandon Rottinghaus chronicles the profound ways he accumulated power and shaped the governorship.

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River Fever
Adventures on the Mississippi, 1969-1972
Will Bagley
Signature Books, 2019

Beginning in the spring of 1969, Huckleberry Finn inspired a question: Could you build a raft, float down the Mississippi River to New Orleans, and on the way learn something about America and its peoples? Will Bagley, a vagrant longhair and future prize-winning western historian, and his friends could, and did. Now, a half century after the adventure, Bagley tells his story.

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Shakespeare Observed
Studies in Performance on Stage and Screen
Samuel Crowl
Ohio University Press, 1993
In this lively study of both modern film and stage productions of Shakespeare, Samuel Crowl provides fascinating insights into the ways in which these productions have been influenced by one another as well as by contemporary developments in critical approaches to Shakespeare's plays.

Crowl’s study demonstrates the surprising resonances between Roman Polanski's 1971 film of Macbeth and Adrian Noble's heralded recent production of the play for The Royal Shakespeare Company; argues that Orson Welles's films of Othello and Cabins at Midnight are not only brilliant remaining of Shakespeare in another art form but make a powerful contribution to our contemporary understanding of performance as interpretation; and chronicles the impact of Peter Hall's creation of the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1960 on performance approaches to Shakespeare in the past thirty years.

Shakespeare Observed provides full interpretative readings of key recent Shakespeare productions in England and includes an intimate behind-the-scenes glimpse into the rehearsal process which produced Ron Daniels's emotionally charged version of Romeo and Juliet for the RSC in 1980. The final chapter uses Kenneth Branagh's highly successful film of Henry V as a summary example of the trends and influences Crowl's study traces, seeing the film as gathering its interpretative energies from both Olivier's famous film version of the play and Adrian Noble's stage production featuring Branagh as the king.

Written in a style which places a premium on capturing the vivid and often dazzling moments of stage and film performances of Shakespeare, Crowl's study will be of interest to the avid film and theatergoer as well as to the scholar and student. Shakespeare Observed joins a growing list of recent critical works which have significantly expanded and redefined the boundaries of Shakespeare studies in our time.
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A Two-Spirit Journey
The Autobiography of a Lesbian Ojibwa-Cree Elder
Ma-Nee Chacaby
University of Manitoba Press, 2016

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Utopia Limited
The Sixties and the Emergence of the Postmodern
Marianne DeKoven
Duke University Press, 2004
Utopia Limited is an original, engaging account of how postmodernism emerged from the political and cultural upheaval of the 1960s. Marianne DeKoven argues that aspects of sixties radical politics and culture simultaneously embodied the full, final flowering of the modern and the beginning of the postmodern. Analyzing classic sixties texts, DeKoven shows where the utopian master narratives underlying the radical and countercultural movements gave way to the “utopia limited” of the postmodern as a range of competing political values and desires came to the fore. She identifies the pivots where the modern was superseded by the nascent postmodern: where modern mass culture was replaced by postmodern popular culture, modern egalitarianism morphed into postmodern populism, and modern individualism fragmented into postmodern politics and cultures of subjectivity.

DeKoven rigorously analyzes a broad array of cultural and political texts important in the sixties—from popular favorites such as William S. Burroughs’s Naked Lunch to political manifestoes including The Port Huron Statement, the founding document of SDS (Students for a Democratic Society). She examines texts that overtly discuss the conflict in Vietnam, Black Power, and second-wave feminism—including Frances FitzGerald’s Fire in the Lake, James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, and Shulamith Firestone’s The Dialectic of Sex; experimental pieces such as The Living Theatre’s Paradise Now; influential philosophical works including Roland Barthes’s Mythologies and Herbert Marcuse’s One-Dimensional Man; and explorations of Las Vegas, the prime location of postmodernity. Providing extensive annotated bibliographies on both the sixties and postmodernism, Utopia Limited is an invaluable resource for understanding the impact of that tumultuous decade on the present.

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