Saturday, October 25, 2014

"The History of American Higher Education"

New from Princeton University Press: The History of American Higher Education: Learning and Culture from the Founding to World War II by Roger L. Geiger.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book tells the compelling saga of American higher education from the founding of Harvard College in 1636 to the outbreak of World War II. The most in-depth and authoritative history of the subject available, The History of American Higher Education traces how colleges and universities were shaped by the shifting influences of culture, the emergence of new career opportunities, and the unrelenting advancement of knowledge.

Roger Geiger, arguably today’s leading historian of American higher education, vividly describes how colonial colleges developed a unified yet diverse educational tradition capable of weathering the social upheaval of the Revolution as well as the evangelical fervor of the Second Great Awakening. He shows how the character of college education in different regions diverged significantly in the years leading up to the Civil War—for example, the state universities of the antebellum South were dominated by the sons of planters and their culture—and how higher education was later revolutionized by the land-grant movement, the growth of academic professionalism, and the transformation of campus life by students. By the beginning of the Second World War, the standard American university had taken shape, setting the stage for the postwar education boom.

Breathtaking in scope and rich in narrative detail, The History of American Higher Education is the most comprehensive single-volume history of the origins and development of American higher education.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 24, 2014

"Dark Mirror"

New from Metropolitan Books: Dark Mirror: The Medieval Origins of Anti-Jewish Iconography by Sara Lipton.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Dark Mirror, Sara Lipton offers a fascinating examination of the emergence of anti-Semitic iconography in the Middle Ages

The straggly beard, the hooked nose, the bag of coins, and gaudy apparel—the religious artists of medieval Christendom had no shortage of virulent symbols for identifying Jews. Yet, hateful as these depictions were, the story they tell is not as simple as it first appears.

Drawing on a wide range of primary sources, Lipton argues that these visual stereotypes were neither an inevitable outgrowth of Christian theology nor a simple reflection of medieval prejudices. Instead, she maps out the complex relationship between medieval Christians’ religious ideas, social experience, and developing artistic practices that drove their depiction of Jews from benign, if exoticized, figures connoting ancient wisdom to increasingly vicious portrayals inspired by (and designed to provoke) fear and hostility.

At the heart of this lushly illustrated and meticulously researched work are questions that have occupied scholars for ages—why did Jews becomes such powerful and poisonous symbols in medieval art? Why were Jews associated with certain objects, symbols, actions, and deficiencies? And what were the effects of such portrayals—not only in medieval society, but throughout Western history? What we find is that the image of the Jew in medieval art was not a portrait of actual neighbors or even imagined others, but a cloudy glass into which Christendom gazed to find a distorted, phantasmagoric rendering of itself.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 23, 2014

"Wrestling the Angel"

New from Oxford University Press: Wrestling the Angel: The Foundations of Mormon Thought: Cosmos, God, Humanity by Terryl L. Givens.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this first volume of his magisterial study of the foundations of Mormon thought and practice, Terryl L. Givens offers a sweeping account of Mormon belief from its founding to the present day. Situating the relatively new movement in the context of the Christian tradition, he reveals that Mormonism continues to change and grow.

Givens shows that despite Mormonism's origins in a biblical culture strongly influenced by nineteenth-century Restorationist thought, which advocated a return to the Christianity of the early Church, the new movement diverges radically from the Christianity of the creeds. Mormonism proposes its own cosmology and metaphysics, in which human identity is rooted in a premortal world as eternal as God. Mormons view mortal life as an enlightening ascent rather than a catastrophic fall, and reject traditional Christian concepts of human depravity and destiny. Popular fascination with Mormonism's social innovations, such as polygamy and communalism, and its supernatural and esoteric elements-angels, gold plates, seer stones, a New World Garden of Eden, and sacred undergarments-have long overshadowed the fact that it is the most enduring and even thriving product of the nineteenth century's religious upheavals and innovations.

Wrestling the Angel traces the essential contours of Mormon thought from the time of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young to the contemporary LDS church, illuminating both the seminal influence of the founding generation of Mormon thinkers and the significant developments in the church over almost 200 years. The most comprehensive account of the development of Mormon thought ever written, Wrestling the Angel will be essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the Mormon faith.
Terryl L. Givens is Professor of Literature and Religion and James A. Bostwick Chair of English, University of Richmond. His books on Mormonism and American religious culture include The Latter-Day Saint Experience in America, By the Hand of Mormon, Viper on the Hearth, and People of Paradox.

The Page 99 Test: People of Paradox.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

"Relentless Reformer"

New from Princeton University Press: Relentless Reformer: Josephine Roche and Progressivism in Twentieth-Century America by Robyn Muncy.

About the book, from the publisher:
Josephine Roche (1886–1976) was a progressive activist, New Deal policymaker, and businesswoman. As a pro-labor and feminist member of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration, she shaped the founding legislation of the U.S. welfare state and generated the national conversation about health-care policy that Americans are still having today. In this gripping biography, Robyn Muncy offers Roche’s persistent progressivism as evidence for surprising continuities among the Progressive Era, the New Deal, and the Great Society.

Muncy explains that Roche became the second-highest-ranking woman in the New Deal government after running a Colorado coal company in partnership with coal miners themselves. Once in office, Roche developed a national health plan that was stymied by World War II but enacted piecemeal during the postwar period, culminating in Medicare and Medicaid in the 1960s. By then, Roche directed the United Mine Workers of America Welfare and Retirement Fund, an initiative aimed at bolstering the labor movement, advancing managed health care, and reorganizing medicine to facilitate national health insurance, one of Roche’s unrealized dreams.

In Relentless Reformer, Muncy uses Roche’s dramatic life story—from her stint as Denver’s first policewoman in 1912 to her fight against a murderous labor union official in 1972—as a unique vantage point from which to examine the challenges that women have faced in public life and to reassess the meaning and trajectory of progressive reform.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

"The Lives of Chang and Eng"

New from The University of North Carolina Press: The Lives of Chang and Eng: Siam's Twins in Nineteenth-Century America by Joseph Andrew Orser.

About the book, from the publisher:
Connected at the chest by a band of flesh, Chang and Eng Bunker toured the United States and the world from the 1820s to the 1870s, placing themselves and their extraordinary bodies on exhibit as "freaks of nature" and "Oriental curiosities." More famously known as the Siamese twins, they eventually settled in rural North Carolina, married two white sisters, became slave owners, and fathered twenty-one children between them. Though the brothers constantly professed their normality, they occupied a strange space in nineteenth-century America. They spoke English, attended church, became American citizens, and backed the Confederacy during the Civil War. Yet in life and death, the brothers were seen by most Americans as "monstrosities," an affront they were unable to escape.

Joseph Andrew Orser chronicles the twins' history, their sometimes raucous journey through antebellum America, their domestic lives in North Carolina, and what their fame revealed about the changing racial and cultural landscape of the United States. More than a biography of the twins, the result is a study of nineteenth-century American culture and society through the prism of Chang and Eng that reveals how Americans projected onto the twins their own hopes and fears.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 20, 2014

"Pemmican Empire"

New from Cambridge University Press: Pemmican Empire: Food, Trade, and the Last Bison Hunts in the North American Plains, 1780-1882 by George Colpitts.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the British territories of the North American Great Plains, food figured as a key trading commodity after 1780, when British and Canadian fur companies purchased ever-larger quantities of bison meats and fats (pemmican) from plains hunters to support their commercial expansion across the continent. Pemmican Empire traces the history of the unsustainable food-market hunt on the plains, which, once established, created distinctive trade relations between the newcomers and the native peoples. It also resulted in the near annihilation of the Canadian bison herds north of the Missouri River. Drawing on fur company records and a broad range of Native American history accounts, George Colpitts offers new perspectives on the market economy of the western prairie that was established during this time, one that created asymmetric power among traders and informed the bioregional history of the West where the North American bison became a food commodity hunted to nearly the last animal.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 19, 2014

"Heaven's Gate: America's UFO Religion"

New from New York University Press: Heaven's Gate: America's UFO Religion by Benjamin E. Zeller.

About the book, from the publisher:
In March 1997, thirty-nine people in Rancho Santa Fe, California, ritually terminated their lives. To outsiders, it was a mass suicide. To insiders, it was a graduation. This act was the culmination of over two decades of spiritual and social development for the members of Heaven’s Gate, a religious group focused on transcending humanity and the Earth, and seeking salvation in the literal heavens on board a UFO.

In this fascinating overview, Benjamin Zeller not only explores the question of why the members of Heaven’s Gate committed ritual suicides, but interrogates the origin and evolution of the religion, its appeal, and its practices. By tracking the development of the history, social structure, and worldview of Heaven’s Gate, Zeller draws out the ways in which the movement was both a reflection and a microcosm of larger American culture.The group emerged out of engagement with Evangelical Christianity, the New Age movement, science fiction and UFOs, and conspiracy theories, and it evolved in response to the religious quests of baby boomers, new religions of the counterculture, and the narcissistic pessimism of the 1990s. Thus, Heaven’s Gate not only reflects the context of its environment, but also reveals how those forces interacted in the form of a single religious body.

In the only book-length study of Heaven’s Gate, Zeller traces the roots of the movement, examines its beliefs and practices, and tells the captivating story of the people of Heaven’s Gate.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 18, 2014

"Collective Violence and the Agrarian Origins of South African Apartheid"

New from Cambridge University Press: Collective Violence and the Agrarian Origins of South African Apartheid, 1900-1948 by John Higginson.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book examines the dark odyssey of official and private collective violence against the rural African population and Africans in general during the two generations before apartheid became the primary justification for the existence of the South African state. John Higginson discusses how Africans fought back against the entire spectrum of violence ranged against them, demonstrating just how contingent apartheid was on the struggle to hijack the future of the African majority.
John Higginson is Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is also a research Fellow in the College of Human Sciences and the department of history at the University of South Africa in Pretoria, South Africa. He is the author of A Working Class in the Making: Belgian Colonial Labor Policy, Private Enterprise and the African Mineworker, 1907–1951 (1989).

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 17, 2014

"K-Pop"

New from the University of California Press: K-Pop: Popular Music, Cultural Amnesia, and Economic Innovation in South Korea by John Lie.

About the book, from the publisher:
K-Pop: Popular Music, Cultural Amnesia, and Economic Innovation in South Korea seeks at once to describe and explain the emergence of export-oriented South Korean popular music and to make sense of larger South Korean economic and cultural transformations. John Lie provides not only a history of South Korean popular music—the premodern background, Japanese colonial influence, post-Liberation American impact, and recent globalization—but also a description of K-pop as a system of economic innovation and cultural production. In doing so, he delves into the broader background of South Korea in this wonderfully informed history and analysis of a pop culture phenomenon sweeping the globe.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 16, 2014

"The Birth of Hedonism"

New from Princeton University Press: The Birth of Hedonism: The Cyrenaic Philosophers and Pleasure as a Way of Life by Kurt Lampe.

About the book, from the publisher:
According to Xenophon, Socrates tried to persuade his associate Aristippus to moderate his excessive indulgence in wine, women, and food, arguing that only hard work can bring happiness. Aristippus wasn’t convinced. Instead, he and his followers espoused the most radical form of hedonism in ancient Western philosophy. Before the rise of the better known but comparatively ascetic Epicureans, the Cyrenaics pursued a way of life in which moments of pleasure, particularly bodily pleasure, held the highest value. In The Birth of Hedonism, Kurt Lampe provides the most comprehensive account in any language of Cyrenaic ideas and behavior, revolutionizing the understanding of this neglected but important school of philosophy.

The Birth of Hedonism thoroughly and sympathetically reconstructs the doctrines and practices of the Cyrenaics, who were active between the fourth and third centuries BCE. The book examines not only Aristippus and the mainstream Cyrenaics, but also Hegesias, Anniceris, and Theodorus. Contrary to recent scholarship, the book shows that the Cyrenaics, despite giving primary value to discrete pleasurable experiences, accepted the dominant Greek philosophical belief that life-long happiness and the virtues that sustain it are the principal concerns of ethics. The book also offers the first in-depth effort to understand Theodorus’s atheism and Hegesias’s pessimism, both of which are extremely unusual in ancient Greek philosophy and which raise the interesting question of hedonism’s relationship to pessimism and atheism. Finally, the book explores the “new Cyrenaicism” of the nineteenth-century writer and classicist Walter Pater, who drew out the enduring philosophical interest of Cyrenaic hedonism more than any other modern thinker.
--Marshal Zeringue