Bookbeat: November 2007

Journal for the Study of Religion and NatureJournal for the Study of Religion, Nature, and Culture

edited by Bron Taylor, Department of Religion
Available through the International Society for the Study of Religion

The second issue of the new Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture has just been released by the International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, led by UF religion professor Bron Taylor. This edition is focused on astrology, religion and nature, including both historical articles and an examination of how astrological nature religion is changing in the environmental age.

The idea for this journal began in the late 1990s during the process of creating the interdisciplinary Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature, edited by Taylor, to which 520 scholars from diverse academic fields contributed 1,000 entries. The more interesting the encyclopedia became, the more obvious it was that it was only the beginning in what would likely be a longstanding and fertile academic field.

This recognition led to a number of conversations, also beginning in the late 1990s, about scholarly publications currently available exploring the religion/nature/culture nexus. It seemed that there was no journal providing a venue for research with the same kind disciplinary range as had characterized the encyclopedia project.
Janet Joyce, of Equinox Publishing, immediately saw the potential for a journal with such a vision, and after conversations with Taylor and Celia Deane-Drummond, editor of Ecotheology (between 1996–2006), in 2004 it was agreed that the journal would expand its scope.

The vision for the reconfigured and renamed journal is explained in its précis, and in the editorial introduction to the journal, “Exploring Religion, Nature and Culture” by Taylor.

In 2005, an initiative to create an International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture (ISSRNC) gained momentum in both the United States and Europe as scholars met to consider such a possibility. A planning meeting with representatives from both Europe and America was held in September 2005. Seeing the obvious synergies, its planners endorsed a proposal to make the Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture its first, official scholarly publication. The society was officially formed through elections held a year later, in September 2006.

For more information on the society and journal, visit

Nationalism and the Formation of Caribbean LiteratureNationalism and the Formation of Caribbean Literature

by Leah Rosenberg, Department of English
(Palgrave MacMillan, 2007)
Available through Amazon

This book tells the story of how intellectuals in the English-speaking Caribbean first created a distinctly Caribbean and national literature. As traditionally told, this story begins in the 1950s with the arrival and triumph of V.S. Naipaul, George Lamming, and their peers in the London literary scene. However, Afro-Caribbeans were writing literature already in the 1840s as part of larger movements for political rights, economic opportunity, and social status. Rosenberg offers a history of this first one hundred years of anglophone Caribbean literature and a critique of Caribbean literary studies that explains its neglect. A historically contextualized study of both canonical and noncanonical writers, this book makes the case that the few well-known Caribbean writers from this earlier period, Claude McKay, Jean Rhys, and C.L.R. James, participated in a larger Caribbean literary movement that directly contributed to the rise of nationalism in the region. This movement reveals the prominence of Indian and other immigrant groups, of feminism, and of homosexuality in the formation of national literatures.

- Publisher

"This is important literary history and criticism, bringing more fully to light work begun on 19th century Trinidadian and Jamaican literature by Caribbean critics such as Rhonda Cobham, Selwyn Cudjoe and Evelyn O'Callaghan. I am confident that this text will become a 'must read' for anyone interested in the historical, ideological, and aesthetic origins of the literature of the English-speaking Caribbean."

- Glyne Griffith, University at Albany, State University of New York

Legendary RomeLegendary Rome: Myth, Monuments and Memory on the Palatine and Capitoline

by Jennifer Rea, Department of Classics
(Duckworth Press, 2007)
Available through Amazon

Legendary Rome is the first book to offer a comparative treatment of the reinvention of Rome’s origins in the poetry of Vergil, Tibullus and Propertius. It also examines the impact that the changing topography of Rome, as orchestrated by the emperor Augustus, had on those poets’ renditions of Rome’s legendary past.

When the poets explore the significance of Augustus’ reconstruction of the Palatine and Capitoline hills, they create new meaning and memories for the story of Rome’s legendary foundations. As the tradition of Rome’s mythic and legendary origins evolves through each poetic revision, the past transforms and is reinvented anew. The exploration of what constitutes a civilised landscape for each poet leads to significant conclusions about the dynamic and evolving nature of shared public memories.

Written when Rome was in the process of defining a new, post-war identity, the poems studied here capture the growing tension between community and individual development, the restoration of peace versus expansion through military means, and stability and change within the city.

- Publisher

Empire of DreamsEmpire of Dreams

by Andrew Gordon, Department of English
(Rowman Littlefield, 2007)
Available through Rowman Littlefield

Empire of Dreams is the first definitive look at all of the science fiction (SF), fantasy, and horror films directed by Steven Spielberg, one of the most popular and influential filmmakers in the world today. In the 1970s and 1980s, along with George Lucas, Spielberg helped spark the renaissance of American SF and fantasy film, and he has remained highly productive and prominent in these genres ever since. SF, fantasy, and horror films form the bulk of his work for over thirty years; of the twenty-six theatrical features he directed from 1971 to 2005, sixteen are of these genres, a coherent and impressive body of work. His films have become part of a global consciousness and his cinematic style part of the visual vocabulary of world media.

Spielberg's SF, fantasy, and horror films are often cinematic fairytales. "I dream for a living," Spielberg says. "I interpret my dreams one way and make a movie out of them and people see my movies and make them part of their dreams." Following not only a large part of Spielberg's oeuvre but also the reactions of audiences and critics, Empire of Dreams shows that Spielberg's appeal as a storyteller is primarily visceral and emotional-for he has found ways to tap into his own feelings and to evoke profound emotion in audiences.

- Publisher

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