Bookbeat: October 2007

Natural Science in Western HistoryNatural Science in Western History

Frederick Gregory, Department of History
(Houghton Mifflin, 2007)
Available through Houghton Mifflin

Natural Science in Western History provides an up-to-date and comprehensive survey of western science from ancient times through the Enlightenment to the present. Author Frederick Gregory--past president of the History of Science Society--applies his expertise in teaching the history of science to this thorough and visually interesting survey. Numerous photographs and line drawings throughout this dynamic text illustrate some of the more complex scientific principles. Every chapter discusses a philosophical topic in the history of western science, including such topics as science vs. magic, mathematics vs. nature, and evolution vs. natural selection.

- Publisher

Rome and the Literature of Gardens

Rome and the Literature of Gardensby Victoria Pagán, Department of Classics
(Duckworth Academic and Bristol Classical Press, 2007 )
Available through Amazon

Rome and the Literature of Gardens explores the garden as a powerful focus of transformation and transgression in the De Re Rustica of Columella, the Satires of Horace, the Annals of Tacitus, and the Confessions of Saint Augustine. In keeping with the approach of this series, a concluding chapter examines the reincarnation of these expressions in the contemporary plays Arcadia and The Invention of Love by Tom Stoppard.

Many books on gardens in ancient Rome concentrate on either technical agricultural manuals, or pastoral poetry, or the physical remains of Roman gardens. Instead, this book considers images of gardens from a kaleidoscope of genres, especially those that the Romans made their own: satire, annalistic history, and autobiography. This atypical approach makes a unique contribution to the field of Latin literature and garden history, bridging the gap between material culture and cultural history.

Medium Cool: Music Videos from Soundies to Cellphones

Medium Cool: Music Videos from Soundies to Cellphonesby Roger Beebe, Department of English, and Jason Middleton
(Duke University Press, 2007 )
Available through Duke University Press

Music videos are available on more channels, in more formats, and in more countries than ever before. While MTV—the network that introduced music video to most viewers—is moving away from music video programming, other media developments signal the longevity and dynamism of the form. Among these are the proliferation of niche-based cable and satellite channels, the globalization of music video production and programming, and the availability of videos not just on television but also via cell phones, DVDs, enhanced CDs, PDAs, and the Internet. In the context of this transformed media landscape, Medium Cool showcases a new generation of scholarship on music video. Scholars of film, media, and music revisit and revise existing research as they provide historically and theoretically expansive new perspectives on music video as a cultural form.

The essays take on a range of topics, including questions of authenticity, the tension between high-art influences and mass-cultural appeal, the prehistory of music video, and the production and dissemination of music videos outside the United States. Among the thirteen essays are a consideration of how the rapper Jay-Z uses music video as the primary site for performing, solidifying, and discarding his various personas; an examination of the recent emergence of indigenous music video production in Papua New Guinea; and an analysis of the cultural issues being negotiated within Finland’s developing music video industry. Contributors explore precursors to contemporary music videos, including 1950s music television programs such as American Bandstand, Elvis’s internationally broadcast 1973 Aloha from Hawaii concert, and different types of short musical films that could be viewed in “musical jukeboxes” of the 1940s and 1960s. Whether theorizing music video in connection to postmodernism or rethinking the relation between sound and the visual image, the essays in Medium Cool reveal music video as rich terrain for further scholarly investigation.

- Publisher


“This lively collection brings music video studies up to date and expands its analytical horizons. One of the book’s great strengths is the methodological clarity of the articles assembled here, making this a very useful collection for teaching purposes. Even more impressively, this book moves beyond MTV in several important directions. It charts the international circulation of music video, provides background on understudied historical ancestors of the video clip, and introduces readers to emerging genres of audiovisual expression. This volume will be the new standard work on music video.”

—Will Straw, author of Cyanide and Sin:
Visualizing Crime in 50s America

“Medium Cool reopens the long-dormant field of music video studies in sharp and insightful ways. With a keen eye on questions of history, aesthetics, and globalization, the essays collected here lay out a bold new map for how future scholars should approach the study of music video in the post-MTV age.”

—Gilbert B. Rodman, author of Elvis After Elvis:
The Posthumous Career of a Living Legend

“Roger Beebe and Jason Middleton’s Medium Cool is a valuable and timely anthology that moves the scholarly discussion of music video beyond MTV, exploring the past, present, and future of the medium. It also introduces readers to important new voices in music and media studies.”

—Gayle F. Wald, author of Shout, Sister, Shout! The Untold Story of
Rock-and-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Public Policy: An Evolutionary Approach

Public Policy: An Evolutionary Approachby Joseph Stewart Jr., James P. Lester, and David M. Hedge, Department of Political Science
(Wadsworth Publishing, 2007 )
Available through Amazon

Public Policy: An Evolutionary Approach, 3rd edition, provides a historical context to the development of public policy theory, and gives a comprehensive overview of the different theories and approaches taken in public policy. It follows that by walking through each stage of the traditional policy process, and then explores in more detail four substantive policy areas: education, welfare, crime, and environment. To increase the instructional effectiveness of the text, the book has helpful summaries, charts, and discussion questions.

Exceptional State: Contemporary US Culture and the New Imperialism

Exceptional State: Contemporary US Culture and the New Imperialismcoedited by Malini Schueller, Department of English
(Duke University Press, 2007 )
Available through Amazon

Established and emerging cultural studies scholars, define culture broadly to include a range of media, literature, and political discourse. They do not posit September 11, 2001 as the beginning of U.S. belligerence and authoritarianism at home and abroad, but they do provide context for understanding U.S. responses to and uses of that event. Taken together, the essays stress both the continuities and discontinuities embodied in a present-day U.S. imperialism constituted through expressions of millennialism, exceptionalism, technological might, and visions of world dominance.

The contributors address a range of topics, paying particular attention to the dynamics of gender and race. Their essays include a surprising reading of the ostensibly liberal movies Wag the Dog and Three Kings, an exploration of the rhetoric surrounding the plan to remake the military into a high-tech force less dependent on human bodies, a look at the significance of the popular Left Behind series of novels, and an interpretation of the Abu Ghraib prison photos. They scrutinize the national narrative created to justify the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the ways that women in those countries have responded to the invasions, the contradictions underlying calls for U.S. humanitarian interventions, and the role of Africa in the U.S. imperial imagination. The volume concludes on a hopeful note, with a look at an emerging anti-imperialist public sphere.

"In this superb collection, leading theorists of cultural imperialism adroitly expose why neoliberalism is dangerously beguiling to a nation torn between fear of terrorism and desire to maintain superpower hegemony. Moving from powerful critiques to essays that empower resistance, this volume shows how historical accounts of U.S. imperialism can serve as enabling acts for a democratic future in the making."--Lee Quinby, author of Millennial Seduction: A Skeptic Confronts Apocalyptic Culture
"Exceptional State is a timely and important collection of essays, which together address crucial questions about change and continuity between the current imperial moment and the history of U.S. imperialism."--Amy Kaplan, coeditor of Cultures of United States Imperialism --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

- Publisher

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