Thursday, November 30, 2023

"Penning Poison"

New from Oxford University Press: Penning Poison: A history of anonymous letters by Emily Cockayne.

About the book, from the publisher:
Accusatory, libellous, or just bizarre, Penning Poison unveils the history of anonymous letter-writing.

'er at number 14 is dirty

Receiving an unexpected and unsigned note is a disconcerting experience. In Penning Poison, Emily Cockayne traces the stories of such letters to all corners of English society over the period 1760-1939. She uncovers scandal, deception, class enmity, personal tragedy, and great loneliness. Some messages were accusatory, some libellous, others bizarre. Technology, new postal networks, forensic techniques, and the emergence of professional police all influence the phenomenon of poison letter campaigns. This book puts the letters back into their local and psychology context, extending the work of detectives, to discover who may have written them and why.

Emily Cockayne explores the reasons and motivations for the creation and delivery of these missives and the effect on recipients - with some blasé, others driven to madness. Small communities hit by letter campaigns became places of suspicion and paranoia. By examining the ways in which these letters spread anxiety in the past Penning Poison grapples with the question of how nasty messages can turn into an epidemic. The book recovers many lost stories about how we used to write to one another, finding that perhaps the anxieties of our internet age are not as new as we think.
Visit Emily Cockayne's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

"The Afterlife of Ottoman Europe"

New from Stanford University Press: The Afterlife of Ottoman Europe: Muslims in Habsburg Bosnia Herzegovina by Leyla Amzi-Erdogdular.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Afterlife of Ottoman Europe examines how Bosnian Muslims navigated the Ottoman and Habsburg domains following the Habsburg occupation of Bosnia Herzegovina after the 1878 Berlin Congress. Prominent members of the Ottoman imperial polity, Bosnian Muslims became minority subjects of Austria-Hungary, developing a relationship with the new authorities in Vienna while transforming their interactions with Istanbul and the rest of the Muslim world. Leyla Amzi-Erdoğdular explores the enduring influence of the Ottoman Empire during this period—an influence perpetuated by the efforts of the imperial state from afar, and by its former subjects in Bosnia Herzegovina negotiating their new geopolitical reality. Muslims' endeavors to maintain their prominence and shape their organizations and institutions influenced imperial considerations and policies on occupation, sovereignty, minorities, and migration. This book introduces Ottoman archival sources and draws on Ottoman and Eastern European historiographies to reframe the study of Habsburg Bosnia Herzegovina within broader intellectual and political trends at the turn of the twentieth century. Tracing transregional connections, imperial continuities, and multilayered allegiances, The Afterlife of Ottoman Europe bridges Ottoman, Islamic, Middle Eastern, and Balkan studies. Amzi-Erdoğdular tells the story of Muslims who redefined their place and influence in both empires and the modern world, and argues for the inclusion of Islamic intellectual history within the history of Bosnia Herzegovina and Eastern Europe.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

"Sexualizing Cancer"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Sexualizing Cancer: HPV and the Politics of Cancer Prevention by Laura Mamo.

About the book, from the publisher:
The virus that changed how we think about cancer and its culprits—and the vaccine that changed how we talk about sex and its risks.

Starting in 2005, people in the US and Europe were inundated with media coverage announcing the link between cervical cancer and the sexually transmitted virus HPV. Within a year, product ads promoted a vaccine targeting cancer’s viral cause, and girls and women became early consumers of this new cancer vaccine. An understanding of HPV’s broadening association with other cancers led to the identification of new at-risk populations—namely boys and men—and ignited a plethora of gender and sexual issues related to cancer prevention.

Sexualizing Cancer is the first book dedicated to the emergence and proliferation of the HPV vaccine along with the medical capacity to screen for HPV—crucial landmarks in the cancer prevention arsenal based on a novel connection between sex and chronic disease. Interweaving accounts from the realms of biomedical science, public health, and social justice, Laura Mamo chronicles cervical cancer’s journey out of exam rooms and into public discourse. She shows how the late twentieth-century scientific breakthrough that identified the human papilloma virus as having a causative role in the onset of human cancer galvanized sexual politics, struggles for inclusion, new at-risk populations, and, ultimately, a new regime of cancer prevention. Mamo reveals how gender and other equity arguments from within scientific, medical, and advocate communities shaped vaccine guidelines, clinical trial funding, research practices, and clinical programs, with consequences that reverberate today. This is a must-read history of medical expansion—from a “woman’s disease” to a set of cancers that affect all genders—and of lingering sexualization, with specific gendered, racialized, and other contours along the way.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 27, 2023

"From Deep Learning to Rational Machines"

New from Oxford University Press: From Deep Learning to Rational Machines: What the History of Philosophy Can Teach Us about the Future of Artificial Intelligence by Cameron J. Buckner.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book provides a framework for thinking about foundational philosophical questions surrounding the use of deep artificial neural networks ("deep learning") to achieve artificial intelligence. Specifically, it links recent breakthroughs to classic works in empiricist philosophy of mind. In recent assessments of deep learning's potential, scientists have cited historical figures from the philosophical debate between nativism and empiricism, which concerns the origins of abstract knowledge. These empiricists were faculty psychologists; that is, they argued that the extraction of abstract knowledge from experience involves the active engagement of psychological faculties such as perception, memory, imagination, attention, and empathy. This book explains how recent deep learning breakthroughs realized some of the most ambitious ideas about these faculties from philosophers such as Aristotle, Ibn Sina (Avicenna), John Locke, David Hume, William James, and Sophie de Grouchy. It illustrates the utility of this interdisciplinary connection by showing how it can provide benefits to both philosophy and computer science: computer scientists can continue to mine the history of philosophy for ideas and aspirational targets to hit, and philosophers can see how some of the historical empiricists' most ambitious speculations can now be realized in specific computational systems.
Visit Cameron Buckner's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 26, 2023

"Accommodating the Republic"

New from The University of North Carolina Press: Accommodating the Republic: Taverns in the Early United States by Kirsten E. Wood.

About the book, from the publisher:
People have gathered in public drinking places to drink, relax, socialize, and do business for hundreds of years. For just as long, critics have described taverns and similar drinking establishments as sources of individual ruin and public disorder. Examining these dynamics as Americans surged westward in the early nineteenth century, Kirsten E. Wood argues that entrepreneurial, improvement-minded men integrated many village and town taverns into the nation's rapidly developing transportation network and used tavern spaces and networks to raise capital, promote innovative businesses, practice genteel sociability, and rally support for favored causes—often while drinking the staggering amounts of alcohol for which the period is justly famous. White men's unrivaled freedom to use taverns for their own pursuits of happiness gave everyday significance to citizenship in the early republic. Yet white men did not have taverns to themselves.

Sharing tavern spaces with other Americans intensified white men's struggles to define what, and for whom, taverns should be. At the same time, temperance and other reform movements increasingly divided white men along lines of party, conscience, and class. In both conflicts, some improvement-minded white men found common cause with middle-class white women and Black activists, who had their own stake in rethinking taverns and citizenship.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 25, 2023

"Branding Trust"

New from the University of Pennsylvania Press: Branding Trust: Advertising and Trademarks in Nineteenth-Century America by Jennifer M. Black.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the early nineteenth century, the American commercial marketplace was a chaotic, unregulated environment in which knock-offs and outright frauds thrived. Appearances could be deceiving, and entrepreneurs often relied on their personal reputations to close deals and make sales. Rapid industrialization and expanding trade routes opened new markets with enormous potential, but how could distant merchants convince potential customers, whom they had never met, that they could be trusted? Through wide-ranging visual and textual evidence, including a robust selection of early advertisements, Branding Trust tells the story of how advertising evolved to meet these challenges, tracing the themes of character and class as they intertwined with and influenced graphic design, trademark law, and ideas about ethical business practice in the United States.

As early as the 1830s, printers, advertising agents, and manufacturers collaborated to devise new ways to advertise goods. They used eye-catching designs and fonts to grab viewers’ attention and wove together meaningful images and prose to gain the public’s trust. At the same time, manufacturers took legal steps to safeguard their intellectual property, formulating new ways to protect their brands by taking legal action against counterfeits and frauds. By the end of the nineteenth century, these advertising and legal strategies came together to form the primary components of modern branding: demonstrating character, protecting goodwill, entertaining viewers to build rapport, and deploying the latest graphic innovations in print. Trademarks became the symbols that embodied these ideas—in print, in the law, and to the public.

Branding Trust thus identifies and explains the visual rhetoric of trust and legitimacy that has come to reign over American capitalism. Though the 1920s has often been held up as the birth of modern advertising, Jennifer M. Black argues that advertising professionals had in fact learned how to navigate public relations over the previous century by adapting the language, imagery, and ideas of the American middle class.
Visit Jennifer M. Black's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 24, 2023

"Flowers, Guns, and Money"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Flowers, Guns, and Money: Joel Roberts Poinsett and the Paradoxes of American Patriotism by Lindsay Schakenbach Regele.

About the book, from the publisher:
A fascinating historical account of a largely forgotten statesman, who pioneered a form of patriotism that left an indelible mark on the early United States.

Joel Roberts Poinsett’s (1779–1851) brand of self-interested patriotism illuminates the paradoxes of the antebellum United States. He was a South Carolina investor and enslaver, a confidant of Andrew Jackson, and a secret agent in South America who fought surreptitiously in Chile’s War for Independence. He was an ambitious Congressman and Secretary of War who oversaw the ignominy of the Trail of Tears and orchestrated America’s longest and costliest war against Native Americans, yet also helped found the Smithsonian. In addition, he was a naturalist, after whom the poinsettia—which he appropriated while he was serving as the first US ambassador to Mexico—is now named.

As Lindsay Schakenbach Regele shows in Flowers, Guns, and Money, Poinsett personified a type of patriotism that emerged following the American Revolution, one in which statesmen served the nation by serving themselves, securing economic prosperity and military security while often prioritizing their own ambitions and financial interests. Whether waging war, opposing states’ rights yet supporting slavery, or pushing for agricultural and infrastructural improvements in his native South Carolina, Poinsett consistently acted in his own self-interest. By examining the man and his actions, Schakenbach Regele reveals an America defined by opportunity and violence, freedom and slavery, and nationalism and self-interest.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 23, 2023

"Tea: Consumption, Politics, and Revolution, 1773–1776"

New from Cornell University Press: Tea: Consumption, Politics, and Revolution, 1773–1776 by James R. Fichter.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Tea, James R. Fichter reveals that despite the so-called Boston Tea Party in 1773, two large shipments of tea from the East India Company survived and were ultimately drunk in North America. Their survival shaped the politics of the years ahead, impeded efforts to reimburse the company for the tea lost in Boston Harbor, and hinted at the enduring potency of consumerism in revolutionary politics.

Tea protests were widespread in 1774, but so were tea advertisements and tea sales, Fichter argues. The protests were noisy and sometimes misleading performances, not clear signs that tea consumption was unpopular. Revolutionaries vilified tea in their propaganda and prohibited the importation and consumption of tea and British goods. Yet merchant ledgers reveal these goods were still widely sold and consumed in 1775. Colonists supported Patriots more than they abided by non-consumption. When Congress ended its prohibition against tea in 1776, it reasoned that the ban was too widely violated to enforce. War was a more effective means than boycott for resisting Parliament, after all, and as rebel arms advanced, Patriots seized tea and other goods Britons left behind. By 1776, protesters sought tea and, objecting to its high price, redistributed rather than destroyed it. Yet as Fichter demonstrates in Tea, by then the commodity was not a symbol of the British state, but of American consumerism.
Visit James Fichter's website.

The Page 99 Test: So Great a Proffit.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

"Heir through Hope"

New from Oxford University Press: Heir through Hope: Thomas Jefferson's Lifelong Investment in William Short by Peter Thompson.

About the book, from the publisher:
The relationship between Thomas Jefferson and William Short, the eldest son of an established Virginia family and relative of Martha Jefferson, began as a patron-protégé arrangement conventional for the era. Jefferson encouraged Short's legal career and gave him his first legal work. Thus began a bond of forty years that that both men characterized in paternal and filial terms and that sheds considerable light on the enigmatic Founding Father.

In the aftermath of Jefferson's precipitous "flight from Monticello," Short underwrote substantial short-term loans to him. Jefferson took the younger man to France as his private secretary in 1784 but, quickly concluding that his moral well-being and political judgment were at risk, he urged Short to return to America and settle down. Short, however, wished to pursue a foreign service career and a long affair with a French aristocrat. Jefferson wanted Short to embrace a Virginia way of looking at the world, even buying him a farm near Monticello. Short resisted--and rejected Jefferson's ideas about slavery, economics, marriage, the practice of democratic government, and republican morality, but without rejecting his "friend and father." He showed little respect for Jefferson's political achievements, viewing him as a well-meaning "visionary," yet he was conscious of living in the statesman's shadow. William Short was not Thomas Jefferson's intellectual equal, was not a political collaborator, and never became a neighbor, yet the elder man invested considerable emotional energy and time in his "adoptive son," even during his vice-presidency and presidency. By efficiently managing the younger man's financial affairs Jefferson enabled his extended stay in France, but also diverted Short's money for his own use. Although he believed Short's political judgment had been clouded by his enjoyment of French society and savagely criticized his reaction to the French Revolution, he never gave up on Short the private individual.

Heir through Hope reveals a figure who served as a unique sounding board to a Founder, while underscoring the distinct ways Jefferson envisioned the United States' destiny vis à vis Europe. Fascinating in its own right, their complex relationship highlights the tensions between the founding generation and its successors while illuminating the operation of political power in early national America and Revolutionary Europe.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

"No Longer Ladies and Gentlemen"

New from Stanford University Press: No Longer Ladies and Gentlemen: Gender and the German-Jewish Migration to Mandatory Palestine by Viola Alianov-Rautenberg.

About the book, from the publisher:
For the sixty thousand German Jews who escaped Nazi Germany and found refuge in Mandatory Palestine between 1933 and 1940, migration meant radical changes: it transformed their professional and cultural lives and confronted them with a new language, climate, and society. Bridging German-Jewish and Israeli history, this book tells the story of German-Jewish migration to Mandatory Palestine/Eretz Israel as gender history. It argues that this migration was shaped and structured by gendered policies and ideologies and experienced by men and women in a gendered form—from the decision to immigrate and the anticipation of change, through the outcomes for family life, body, self-image, and sexuality.

Immigration led to immediate transformations in allocations of tasks within the family, concepts of masculinity and femininity, and participation in the labor market and domestic life. Through a close examination of archival materials in German, English, and Hebrew, including administrative records, personal documents, newspapers, and oral history interviews conducted by the author, this book follows Jewish migrants along their journey from Germany and into the workplaces, living rooms, and kitchens of their new homeland, providing a new perspective on everyday life in Mandatory Palestine. Viola Alianov-Rautenberg's work illuminates key issues at the intersection of migration studies, German-Jewish studies, and Israeli history, demonstrating how the lens of gender enriches our understanding of social change, power, ethnicity, and nation-building.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 20, 2023

"Slavery and Race"

New from Oxford University Press: Slavery and Race: Philosophical Debates in the Eighteenth Century by Julia Jorati.

About the book, from the publisher:
Millions of Africans were enslaved and transported to the Americas in the eighteenth century. Europeans--many of whom viewed themselves as enlightened--endorsed, funded, legislated, and executed the slave trade. This atrocity had a profound impact on philosophy, but historians of the discipline have so far neglected to address the topics of slavery and race. Many authors--including enslaved and formerly enslaved Black authors--used philosophical ideas to advocate for abolition, analyze racist attitudes, and critique racial bias. Other authors attempted to justify the transatlantic slave trade by advancing philosophical defenses of racial chattel slavery.

Slavery and Race: Philosophical Debates in the Eighteenth Century explores these philosophical ideas and arguments, with a focus on the role race played in discussions of slavery. In doing so, author Julia Jorati reveals how closely associated Blackness and slavery were at that time and how many White people viewed Black people as naturally destined for slavery. In addition to examining well-known authors like David Hume, Immanuel Kant, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Jorati also discusses less widely studied philosophers like Quobna Ottobah Cugoano, Lemuel Haynes, and Olympe de Gouges. By revealing important aspects of debates about slavery in North America and Europe, this book and its companion volume on the sixteenth and seventeeth centuries are valuable resources for readers interested in a more complete history of early modern philosophy.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 19, 2023

"The Sonoran Dynasty in Mexico"

New from the University of Nebraska Press: The Sonoran Dynasty in Mexico: Revolution, Reform, and Repression by Jürgen Buchenau.

About the book, from the publisher:
Two generals from the northwestern state of Sonora, Álvaro Obregón and Plutarco Elías Calles, dominated Mexico between 1920 and 1934, having risen to prominence in the course of the Mexican Revolution. Torn between popular demands for ending the privileges of wealthy foreign investors and opposition by a hawkish U.S. administration and enemies at home, the two generals and their allies from their home state mixed radical rhetoric with the accommodation of entrenched interests.

In The Sonoran Dynasty in Mexico Jürgen Buchenau tells the story of this ruling group, which rejected the Indigenous and Catholic past during the decades of the revolution and aimed to reinvent Mexico along the lines of the modern and secular societies in western Europe and the United States. In addition to Obregón and Calles, the Sonoran Dynasty included Adolfo de la Huerta and Abelardo L. Rodríguez, four Sonorans among six presidents in less than two decades. Although the group began with the common aims of nationalism, modernization, central political control, and enrichment, Buchenau argues that this group progressively fell apart in a series of bloody conflicts that reflected broader economic, political, and social disagreements. By analyzing the dynasty from its origins through its eventual downfall, Buchenau presents an innovative look at the negotiation of power and state formation in revolutionary Mexico.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 18, 2023

"To Organize the Sovereign People"

New from the University of Virginia Press: To Organize the Sovereign People: Political Mobilization in Revolutionary Pennsylvania by David W. Houpt.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book explores the struggle to define self-government in the critical years following the Declaration of Independence, when Americans throughout the country looked to the Keystone State of Pennsylvania for guidance on political mobilization and the best ways to create a stable arrangement that could balance liberty with order. In 1776 radicals mobilized the people to overthrow the Colonial Assembly and adopt a new constitution, one that asserted average citizens’ rights to exercise their sovereignty directly not only through elections but also through town meeting, petitions, speeches, parades, and even political violence. Although highly democratic, this system proved unwieldy and chaotic.

David Houpt finds that over the course of the 1780s, a relatively small group of middling and elite Pennsylvanians learned to harness these various forms of "popular" mobilization to establish themselves as the legitimate spokesmen of the entire citizenry. In examining this process, he provides a granular account of how the meaning of democracy changed, solidifying around party politics and elections, and how a small group of white men succeeded in setting the framework for what self-government means in the United States to this day.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 17, 2023

"From Migrants to Refugees"

New from Duke University Press: From Migrants to Refugees: The Politics of Aid along the Tanzania-Rwanda Border by Jill Rosenthal.

About the book, from the publisher:
In From Migrants to Refugees Jill Rosenthal tells the history of how Rwandan migrants in a Tanzanian border district became considered either citizens or refugees as nation-state boundaries solidified in the wake of decolonization. Outlining the process by which people who have long lived and circulated across the Rwanda-Tanzania border came to have a national identity, Rosenthal reveals humanitarian aid’s central role in the ideological processes of decolonization and nation building. From precolonial histories to the first Rwandan refugee camps during decolonization in the 1960s to the massive refugee camps in the 1990s, Rosenthal highlights the way that this area became a testing ground for novel forms of transnational aid to refugees that had global implications. As local and national actors, refugees, and international officials all attempted to control the lives and futures of refugee groups, they contested the authority of the nation-state and the international refugee regime. This history, Rosenthal demonstrates, illuminates how tensions between state and international actors divided people who share a common history, culture, and language across national borders.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 16, 2023

"Moral Articulation"

New from Oxford University Press: Moral Articulation: On the Development of New Moral Concepts by Matthew Congdon.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book explores the historical development of new moral concepts. Starting from examples of new moral terms invented in the twentieth century, like 'sexual harassment', 'genocide', 'racism', and 'hate speech', this book asks: what we are doing when we bring ethically significant acts and events under new descriptions? Are we simply naming moral phenomena that already exist, fully formed and intact, prior to their expression in language? Or are moral phenomena sensitive to the descriptions under which they fall, such that new modes of moral expression can reshape the phenomena they bring to light?

Moral Articulation outlines an ethical framework that allows us to embrace a version of the latter, transformative view without sacrificing notions of moral truth, objectivity, and knowledge. The book presents a view of moral meaningfulness as extending beyond what we can presently put into words, urging that expansions in our moral vocabularies often begin in dissonant experiences of conceptual and linguistic limits. Resisting a tendency in contemporary ethics to start with situations and dilemmas whose descriptions are already given, this book argues that the struggle to piece together a discursively articulate picture of a situation is an ethical task in its own right. The result is a picture of ethical life that emphasizes the role of language in shaping who we are.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

"False Starts"

New from NYU Press: False Starts: The Segregated Lives of Preschoolers by Casey Stockstill.

About the book, from the publisher:
An inside look at the racial and class divides between Head Start and private pre-K classrooms for children and their families

The benefits of preschool have been part of our national conversation since the 1960s, when Head Start, a publicly funded preschool program for low-income children, began. In the past two decades, forty-four states have expanded access to preschool, often citing preschool as an anti-poverty policy. Yet, as Casey Stockstill shows, two-thirds of American preschools are segregated―concentrating primarily poor children of color or affluent white children in separate schools. Stockstill argues that, as a result, segregated preschools entrench rather than disrupt inequality.

Stockstill spent two years observing children and teachers at two preschools in Madison, Wisconsin. Madison, like many other small and medium cities in the United States, is segregated, with affluent and middle-class white people and working class or low-income people of color occupying different sectors of the city. Stockstill observed one preschool that was 95% white and another that was 95% children of color. She shows that this segregation was more than a background variable or inconvenient image; segregation had an impact on children’s experiences in multiple ways, but especially in the ways they spent their time, the supervision and instruction they received, and the ways they learned and socialized with other children. Stockstill shows that even in high-quality preschools that on paper have similar resources, de facto segregation creates different school experiences for children that ultimately reinforce racial and class inequality.

False Starts suggests that as we continue to invest in preschool as an anti-poverty policy, we need a fuller understanding of how segregated classroom environments impact children's educational outcomes and their ability to thrive.
Visit Casey Stockstill's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

"The Labor of Hope"

New from Stanford University Press: The Labor of Hope: Meritocracy and Precarity in Egypt by Harry Pettit.

About the book, from the publisher:
Technological advancements, expanding education, and unfettered capitalism have encouraged many around the world to aspire to better lives, even as declines in employment and widening inequality are pushing more and more people into insecurity and hardship. In Egypt, a generation of young men desire fulfilling employment, meaningful relationships, and secure family life, yet find few paths to achieve this. The Labor of Hope follows these educated but underemployed men as they struggle to establish careers and build satisfying lives. In so doing, this book reveals the lived contradiction at the heart of capitalist systems—the expansive dreams they encourage and the precarious lives they produce.

Harry Pettit follows young men as they engage a booming training, recruitment, and entrepreneurship industry that sells the cruel meritocratic promise that a good life is realizable for all. He considers the various ways individuals cultivate distraction and hope for future mobility: education, migration, consumption, and prayer. These hope-filled practices are a form of emotional labor for young men, placing responsibility on the individual rather than structural issues in Egypt's economy. Illuminating this emotional labor, Pettit shows how the capitalist economy continues to capture the attention of the very people harmed by it.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 13, 2023

"Being Single in Georgian England"

New from Oxford University Press: Being Single in Georgian England: Families, Households, and the Unmarried by Amy Harris.

About the book, from the publisher:
Being Single in Georgian England is the first book-length exploration of what family life looked like, and how it was experienced, when viewed from the perspective of unmarried and childless family members. Using a micro-historical approach, Amy Harris covers three generations of the famous musical and abolitionist Sharp family. The abundance of records the Sharps produced and preserved reveals how single family members influenced the household economy, marital decisions, childrearing practices, and conceptions about lineage and genealogy. The Sharps' exceptional closeness and good humor consistently shines through as their experiences reveal how eighteenth-century families navigated gender and age hierarchies, marital choices, and household governance. The importance of childhood relationships and the life-long nature of siblinghood stand out as central aspects of Sharp family life, no matter their marital status. Along the way, Being Single explores humor, music, religious practice and belief, death and mourning, infertility, disability, slavery, abolition, philanthropy, and family memory.

The Sharps' experiences uncover how important lateral kin like siblings and cousins were to marital and household decisions. The analysis also reveals additional layers of Georgian family life, including: single sociability not centered on courtship; the importance of aunting and uncling on their own terms; the ways charitable acts and philanthropic endeavors could serve as outlets or partial replacements for parenthood; and how genealogical practices could be tied to values and identity instead of to biological descendants' possession of property.

Ultimately, the Sharp siblings' remarkable lives and the single family members' efforts to preserve a record of those lives, show the enduring contribution of unmarried people to family relationships and household dynamics.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 12, 2023

"When Rape Goes Viral"

New from the University of California Press: When Rape Goes Viral: Youth and Sexual Assault in the Digital Age by Anna Gjika.

About the book, from the publisher:
Stories of teen sexting scandals, cyberbullying, and image-based sexual abuse have become commonplace fixtures of the digital age, with many adults struggling to identify ways to monitor young people's digital engagement. In When Rape Goes Viral, Anna Gjika argues that rather than focusing on surveillance, we should examine such incidents for what they tell us about youth peer cultures and the gender norms and sexual ethics governing their interactions. Drawing from interviews with teens and high-profile cases of mediated juvenile sexual assault, Gjika exposes the deeply unequal and heteronormative power dynamics informing teens' intimate relationships and online practices, and she critically interrogates the role of digital cultures and broader social values in sanctioning abuse. The book also explores the consequences of social media and digital evidence for young victim-survivors and perpetrators of sexual assault, detailing the paradoxical capacities of technology for social and legal responses to gender-based violence.
Anna Gjika is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the State University of New York at New Paltz.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 11, 2023

"The Gilded Cage"

New from Princeton University Press: The Gilded Cage: Technology, Development, and State Capitalism in China by Ya-Wen Lei.

About the book, from the publisher:
How China’s economic development combines a veneer of unprecedented progress with the increasingly despotic rule of surveillance over all aspects of life

Since the mid-2000s, the Chinese state has increasingly shifted away from labor-intensive, export-oriented manufacturing to a process of socioeconomic development centered on science and technology. Ya-Wen Lei traces the contours of this techno-developmental regime and its resulting form of techno-state capitalism, telling the stories of those whose lives have been transformed—for better and worse—by China’s rapid rise to economic and technological dominance.

Drawing on groundbreaking fieldwork and a wealth of in-depth interviews with managers, business owners, workers, software engineers, and local government officials, Lei describes the vastly unequal values assigned to economic sectors deemed “high-end” versus “low-end,” and the massive expansion of technical and legal instruments used to measure and control workers and capital. She shows how China’s rise has been uniquely shaped by its time-compressed development, the complex relationship between the nation’s authoritarian state and its increasingly powerful but unruly tech companies, and an ideology that fuses nationalism with high modernism, technological fetishism, and meritocracy.

Some have compared China’s extraordinary transformation to America’s Gilded Age. This provocative book reveals how it is more like a gilded cage, one in which the Chinese state and tech capital are producing rising inequality and new forms of social exclusion.
Visit Ya-Wen Lei's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 10, 2023

"Musical Models of Democracy"

New from Oxford University Press: Musical Models of Democracy by Robert Adlington.

About the book, from the publisher:
Music's role in animating democracy--whether through protests and demonstrations, as a vehicle for political identity, or as a means of overcoming social divides--is well understood. Yet musicians have also been drawn to the potential of embodying democracy itself through musical processes and relationships. In this book, author Robert Adlington uses modern democratic theory to explore what he terms the 'musical modelling of democracy' as manifested in modern and experimental music of the global North.

Throughout the book, Adlington demonstrates how composers and musicians have taken strikingly different approaches to this kind of musical modelling. For some, democratic principles inform the textural relationships inscribed into musical scores, as in the case of Elliott Carter's 'polyvocal' compositions. Pioneers of musical indeterminacy sought to democratise the relationship between composer and performers by leaving open key decisions about the realisation of a work. Musicians have involved audiences in active participation to liberate them from the passivity of spectatorship. Free improvisation groups have experimented with new kinds of egalitarian relationships between performers to reject old hierarchies. In examining these different approaches, Adlington illuminates the achievements and ambiguities of musical models of democracy.

As a result, this book not only offers an important new perspective on modern musicians' engagement with a central political idea of the past century, but it also encourages a deeper and more critical engagement with the idea of democracy within present-day musical life.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 9, 2023

"The Kings of Algiers"

New from Princeton University Press: The Kings of Algiers: How Two Jewish Families Shaped the Mediterranean World during the Napoleonic Wars and Beyond by Julie Kalman.

About the book, from the publisher:
A richly detailed history of the Bacris and the Busnachs, two renowned Jewish families whose influence and reputation shook the capitals of Europe and America

At the height of the Napoleonic Wars, the Bacri brothers and their nephew, Naphtali Busnach, were perhaps the most notorious Jews in the Mediterranean. Based in the strategic port of Algiers, their interconnected families traded in raw goods and luxury items, brokered diplomatic relations with the Ottomans, and lent vital capital to warring nations. For the French, British, and Americans, who competed fiercely for access to trade and influence in the region, there was no getting around the Bacris and the Busnachs. The Kings of Algiers traces the rise and fall of these two trading families over four tumultuous decades in the nineteenth century.

In this panoramic book, Julie Kalman restores their story―and Jewish history more broadly―to the histories of trade, corsairing, and high-stakes diplomacy in the Mediterranean during the Napoleonic Wars and their aftermath. Jacob Bacri dined with Napoleon himself. Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Horatio Nelson considered strategies to circumvent the Bacris’ influence. As the families’ ambitions grew, so did the perils, from imprisonment and assassination to fraud and family collapse.

The Kings of Algiers brings vividly to life an age of competitive imperialism and nascent nationalism and demonstrates how people and events on the periphery shaped perceptions and decisions in the distant metropoles of the world’s great nations.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

"When Cowboys Come Home"

New from Rutgers University Press: When Cowboys Come Home: Veterans, Authenticity, and Manhood in Post–World War II America by Aaron George.

About the book, from the publisher:
When Cowboys Come Home: Veterans, Authenticity, and Manhood in Post–World War II America is a cultural and intellectual history of the 1950s that argues that World War II led to a breakdown of traditional markers of manhood and opened space for veterans to reimagine what masculinity could mean. One particularly important strand of thought, which influenced later anxieties over “other-direction” and “conformity,” argued that masculinity was not defined by traits like bravery, stoicism, and competitiveness but instead by authenticity, shared camaraderie, and emotional honesty. To elucidate this challenge to traditional “frontiersman” masculinity, Aaron George presents three intellectual biographies of important veterans who became writers after the war: James Jones, the writer of the monumentally important war novel From Here to Eternity; Stewart Stern, one of the most important screenwriters of the fifties and sixties, including for Rebel without a Cause; and Edward Field, a bohemian poet who used poetry to explore his love for other men. Through their lives, George shows how wartime disabused men of the notion that war was inherently a brave or heroic enterprise and how the alienation they felt upon their return led them to value the authentic connections they made with other men during the war.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

"The Muslim Secular"

New from Oxford University Press: The Muslim Secular: Parity and the Politics of India's Partition by Amar Sohal.

About the book, from the publisher:
Concerned with the fate of the minority in the age of the nation-state, Muslim political thought in modern South Asia has often been associated with religious nationalism and the creation of Pakistan. The Muslim Secular complicates that story by reconstructing the ideas of three prominent thinker-actors of the Indian freedom struggle: the Indian National Congress leader Abul Kalam Azad, the popular Kashmiri politician Sheikh Abdullah, and the nonviolent Pashtun activist Abdul Ghaffar Khan. Revising the common view that they were mere acolytes of their celebrated Hindu colleagues M.K. Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, this book argues that these three men collectively produced a distinct Muslim secularity from within the grander family of secular Indian nationalism; an intellectual tradition that has retained religion within the public space while nevertheless preventing it from defining either national membership or the state. At a time when many across the decolonising world believed that identity-based majorities and minorities were incompatible and had to be separated out into sovereign equals, Azad, Abdullah, and Ghaffar Khan thought differently about the problem of religious pluralism in a postcolonial democracy. The minority, they contended, could conceive of the majority not just as an antagonistic entity that is set against it, but to which it can belong and uniquely complete. Premising its claim to a single, united India upon the universalism of Islam, champions of the Muslim secular mobilised notions of federation and popular sovereignty to replace older monarchical and communitarian forms of power. But to finally jettison the demographic inequality between Hindus and Muslims, these thinkers redefined equality itself. Rejecting its liberal definition for being too abstract and thus prone to majoritarian assimilation, they replaced it with their own rendition of Indian parity to simultaneously evoke commonality and distinction between Hindu and Muslim peers. Azad, Abdullah, and Ghaffar Khan achieved this by deploying a range of concepts from profane inheritance and theological autonomy to linguistic diversity and ethical pledges. Retaining their Muslimness and Indian nationality in full, this crowning notion of equality-as-parity challenged both Gandhi and Nehru's abstractions and Mohammad Ali Jinnah's supposedly dangerous demand for Pakistan.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 6, 2023

"Feeling Their Pain"

New from Oxford University Press: Feeling Their Pain: Why Voters Want Leaders Who Care by Jared McDonald.

About the book, from the publisher:
The 2020 Presidential Election in the United States marked, for many, a return to "compassionate politics." Joe Biden had run on a platform of empathy, emphasizing his personal history as a means of connecting with everyone from American workers who had lost jobs to military families who had lost loved ones. Although perceptions of candidate compassion are broadly understood to influence vote choice, less understood is the question of how candidates convince voters they truly "care about people like them." In Feeling their Pain: Why Voters want Leaders who Care, Jared McDonald provides a framework for understanding why voters view some politicians as more compassionate than others.

McDonald shows that perceptions of compassion in candidates for public office are based on the number and intensity of commonalities that bind citizens to political leaders. Commonalities can come in many forms, such as a shared experience ("I've been through what you've been through"), a shared emotion ("I feel the way you feel"), or a shared identity ("I am who you are"). Compassion is conceptualized through the lens of self-interest. Compassion may be universal, such as when candidates convey empathy to all individuals who are struggling. Or compassion may be exclusionary, such as when candidates express a preference for some groups over others. Thus, the way campaigns choose to wield compassion in their messaging strategies has important implications not only for election outcomes, but for American political polarization as well.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 5, 2023

"America's Black Capital"

New from Basic Books: America's Black Capital: How African Americans Remade Atlanta in the Shadow of the Confederacy by Jeffrey O. G. Ogbar.

About the book, from the publisher:
The remarkable story of how African Americans transformed Atlanta, the former heart of the Confederacy, into today’s Black mecca

Atlanta is home to some of America’s most prominent Black politicians, artists, businesses, and HBCUs. Yet, in 1861, Atlanta was a final contender to be the capital of the Confederacy. Sixty years later, long after the Civil War, it was the Ku Klux Klan’s sacred “Imperial City.”

America’s Black Capital chronicles how a center of Black excellence emerged amid virulent expressions of white nationalism, as African Americans pushed back against Confederate ideology to create an extraordinary locus of achievement. What drove them, historian Jeffrey O. G. Ogbar shows, was the belief that Black uplift would be best advanced by forging Black institutions. America’s Black Capital is an inspiring story of Black achievement against all odds, with effects that reached far beyond Georgia, shaping the nation’s popular culture, public policy, and politics.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 4, 2023

"Arctic Convoys"

New from Yale University Press: Arctic Convoys: Bletchley Park and the War for the Seas by David Kenyon.

About the book, from the publisher:
An incisive account of the Arctic convoys, and the essential role Bletchley Park and Special Intelligence played in Allied success

Between 1941 and 1945, more than eight hundred shiploads of supplies were delivered to the Soviet Union protected by allied naval forces. Each journey was a battle against the elements, with turbulent seas, extreme cold, and the constant dread of torpedoes. These Arctic convoys have been mythologized as defenseless vessels at the mercy of deadly U-boats—but was this really the case?

David Kenyon explores the story of the war in the Arctic, revealing that the contest was more evenly balanced that previously thought. Battles included major ship engagements, aircraft carriers, and combat between surface ships. Amid this wide range of forces, Bletchley Park’s Naval Section played a decisive role in Arctic operations, with both sides relying heavily on Signals Intelligence to intercept and break each other’s codes. Kenyon presents a vivid picture of the Arctic theater of war, unearthing the full-scale campaign for naval supremacy in northern waters.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 3, 2023

"The Starving Empire"

New from Cornell University Press: The Starving Empire: A History of Famine in France's Colonies by Yan Slobodkin.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Starving Empire traces the history of famine in the modern French Empire, showing that hunger is intensely local and sweepingly global, shaped by regional contexts and the transnational interplay of ideas and policies all at once. By integrating food crises in Algeria, West and Equatorial Africa, and Vietnam into a broader story of imperial and transnational care, Yan Slobodkin reveals how the French colonial state and an emerging international community took increasing responsibility for subsistence, but ultimately failed to fulfill this responsibility.

Europeans once dismissed colonial famines as acts of god, misfortunes of nature, and the inevitable consequences of backward races living in harsh environments. But as Slobodkin recounts, drawing on archival research from four continents, the twentieth century saw transformations in nutrition, scientific racism, and international humanitarianism that profoundly altered ideas of what colonialism could accomplish. A new confidence in the ability to mitigate hunger, coupled with new norms of moral responsibility, marked a turning point in the French Empire's relationship to colonial subjects―and to nature itself.

Increasingly sophisticated understandings of famine as a technical problem subject to state control saddled France with untenable obligations. The Starving Empire not only illustrates how the painful history of colonial famine remains with us in our current understandings of public health, state sovereignty, and international aid, but also seeks to return food―this most basic of human needs―to its central place in the formation of modern political obligation and humanitarian ethics.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 2, 2023

"Weakness of Will and Delay Discounting"

New from Oxford University Press: Weakness of Will and Delay Discounting by Nora Heinzelmann.

About the book, from the publisher:
Breaking one's dieting rule or resolution to quit smoking, procrastination, convenient lies, even the failure of entire nations to follow through with plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions or keep a pandemic in check - these phenomena have been discussed by philosophers and behavioural scientists as examples of weakness of will and delay discounting. Despite the common subject matter both fields have to date rarely worked together for mutual benefit. For the empirical literature is hardly accessible to a reader not familiar with econometric theory; and researchers in the behavioural sciences may find philosophical accounts invoking discounting models difficult to understand without inside knowledge of the debates and historical background.

Nora Heinzelmann targets this lacuna by making the ideas and findings from both disciplines intelligible to outsiders. This reveals that discounting - as philosophers have conceived of it - is neither necessary nor sufficient for weakness of will, even though there is substantial overlap. Heinzelmann develops a richer descriptive account of weakness of will that is based on the empirically founded assumption that weak-willed behaviour is determined by uncertainty about whether or when a good materialises. She also explains why weakness of the will understood in this way is irrational: the agent yields to a cognitive bias that leads them to underestimate the greater good they think they ought to and can obtain. Finally, she explores practical implications for individuals and policymakers.
--Marshal Zeingue

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

"The Accidental Equalizer"

New from the University of Chicago Press: The Accidental Equalizer: How Luck Determines Pay after College by Jessi Streib.

About the book, from the publisher:
A startling discovery—that job market success after college is largely random—forces a reappraisal of education, opportunity, and the American dream.

As a gateway to economic opportunity, a college degree is viewed by many as America’s great equalizer. And it’s true: wealthier, more connected, and seemingly better-qualified students earn exactly the same pay as their less privileged peers. Yet, the reasons why may have little to do with bootstraps or self-improvement—it might just be dumb luck. That’s what sociologist Jessi Streib proposes in The Accidental Equalizer, a conclusion she reaches after interviewing dozens of hiring agents and job-seeking graduates.

Streib finds that luck shapes the hiring process from start to finish in a way that limits class privilege in the job market. Employers hide information about how to get ahead and force students to guess which jobs pay the most and how best to obtain them. Without clear routes to success, graduates from all class backgrounds face the same odds at high pay. The Accidental Equalizer is a frank appraisal of how this “luckocracy” works and its implications for the future of higher education and the middle class. Although this system is far from eliminating American inequality, Streib shows that it may just be the best opportunity structure we have—for better and for worse.
Visit Jessi Streib's website.

The Page 99 Test: Privilege Lost.

--Marshal Zeringue