Friday's Guest Blogger
Stuart Wells covers book news and continuing education for the Office of News & Communications at Duke. He’s also in charge of news release production and distribution and the gathering of Duke-related news clips.
You’ll need an extra large book bag to hold all the new titles arriving this winter from the studies, offices and sabbatical hideouts of Duke authors.
From history to politics, from witch trials to the economics of obesity, Duke faculty have been generously sharing insights and personal reflections.
Oxford University Press has just published history professor William Chafe’s book, The Rise and Fall of the American Century: The United States from 1890-2010.
The book describes the rise -- and potential fall -- of the U.S., a nation more powerful, more wealthy and more dominant than any in human history.
Chafe also acknowledges the persistent challenges the U.S. has faced and continues to face -- inequalities of race, gender and income that contradict its vision of itself as "a land of opportunity."
And unlike our memories of U.S. history classes in high school, Chafe brings his account to the present day. The epilogue discusses important economic and political events through 2008, including the financial crisis and the 2008 presidential election.
By the way, Chafe’s groundbreaking set of interviews about African-American life in the segregated South, Remembering Jim Crow, is now available in an affordable paperback edition with a remastered MP3 CD of the companion radio documentary program produced by American RadioWorks. The book was also edited by Duke public policy professor Robert Korstad and Duke history professor Raymond Gavins.
Art and art history professor Kristine Stiles wrote the monograph-length survey text for a new book on the internationally renowned Serbian performance artist, Marina Abramovic. The book, Marina Abramovic, has been published by Phaidon in its artist book series.
As the first book in more than a decade to look at Abramovic’s work in its entirety, this monograph will offer a fresh take on an artist whose work is key to understanding the latest developments in contemporary art.
Abramovic was the winner of the Golden Lion at the 47th Venice Biennale in 1997 for her piece "Balkan Baroque," a multimedia installation and performance.
Watch an excerpt on YouTube here.
Art historian Richard Powell's new book, Cutting a Figure: Fashioning Black Portraiture (The University of Chicago Press), offers a stunning visual tour of the evolution of black portraiture from the late 18th century through the modern day, linking art with slavery and the civil rights movement.
The term “cutting a figure” gained popularity during the 19th century and refers to people who make a spectacular display of themselves, he says.
One such figure, the legendary African musician Fela Anikulapo Kuti, is portrayed in truly iconic terms by Barkley L. Hendricks, whose Fela: Amen, Amen, Amen … could be viewed full size (60 X 48 inches) at the recent Nasher Museum of Art show. Powell writes that Hendricks’ Fela “employs his art as a creative offense and his body as a jump-suited defense against moral hypocrisy, political corruption, and, above all, social invisibility.”
This Month at Duke article here.
Professor Powell’s website here.
Law professor Jedediah Purdy’s new book critiquing America's ideology of freedom is getting the best kind of advance praise – a starred review in Publishers Weekly.
Coming to bookstores on March 3, Purdy’s A Tolerable Anarchy: Rebels, Reactionaries, and the Making of American Freedom (Knopf) is touted by the magazine as a “tour de force of engaged political philosophy.”
In his wide-ranging account from the author of For Common Things, we’re reminded that our ideas of self-mastery and freedom have given us both stirring liberation movements and pointless wars.
At this time when economic forces swirl beyond our control, Purdy believes realizing our ideals of freedom today will require the political vision to reform the institutions we share.
Visiting economics instructor Eric Finkelstein has been getting timely attention for his new book, The Fattening of America: How the Economy Makes Us Fat, If It Matters, and What to Do About It. Finkelstein, a health economist, told Politico earlier this month that tighter family budgets are making fresh produce and whole-grain foods less affordable, pushing families toward fast food and other less healthful alternatives.
Gerda Lerner, a visiting professor of history, is out with Living With History/Making Social Change, a stimulating collection of essays in an autobiographical framework that spans the period from 1963 to the present. The essays illuminate how thought and action connected in Lerner’s life, how the life she led before she became an academic affected the questions she addressed as a historian, and how the social and political struggles in which she engaged informed her thinking.
On Wednesday, April 1, at 3:30 p.m., at an event hosted by the Sally Bingham Center, Gerda Lerner will give a reading and book signing at the Biddle Rare Book Room in Perkins Library. The Gothic Bookshop will be on site to sell copies of the book.
Duke history professor Thomas Robisheaux is on the public radio/bookstore circuit this month to let folks know about the release of his new book, The Last Witch of Langenburg.
The release coincides with the anniversary of Anna Fessler’s death on the festive holiday of Shrove Tuesday in 1672 Germany. Fessler died after eating one of her neighbor's buttery cakes. Could it have been poisoned? Robisheaux chronicles one of Europe's last and most complicated witch trials.
He joined “State of Things” host Frank Stasio this week to talk about the roles
religion, gender and fearful imagination play in this vivid story and in
our society. You can listen to the segment here.
I’ll have a few more Duke books to share in a future post, but maybe that’s enough for now to keep us reading -- and thinking this winter.