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Pandemic, climate change, or war: our era is ripe with the odor of doomsday. In movies, books, and more, our imaginations run wild with visions of dreadful, abandoned cities and returning to the land in a desperate attempt at survival. In The Next Apocalypse: The Art and Science of Survival (Basic Books, 2021), archaeologist Chris Begley argues tha…
 
Today I talked to Nomi Claire Lazar about Out of Joint: Power, Crisis, and the Rhetoric of Time (Yale University Press, 2019). Drawing on stories of leaders and thinkers across a range of cultures and political contexts, ancient and modern, Nomi Claire Lazar shows how constructions of time can help stabilize or destabilize political order and spark…
 
With the war in Ukraine showing no signs of stopping anytime soon, it was thought a worthwhile idea to have an informed discussion with four expert historians of 19th and 20th century European and Eastern European, diplomatic and military history. As you can readily see from the below biographies, this is a superior and award-winning panel. Please …
 
The House of Marvellous Books by Fiona Vigo Marshall (Fairlight Books 2022) describes a publishing house called The House of Marvelous Books that houses an old library in the center of London and hovers on the brink of financial disaster. Told in journal entries over the course of a year by Junior editor Mortimer Blakely-Smith, the publishing house…
 
An interview with novelist Elif Batuman. The international bestseller and Pulitzer Prize finalist The Idiot now has a sequel. In Either/Or (Penguin, 2022), Batuman picks up the story as her character, Selin, returns for her sophomore year at Harvard. Either/Or, like its predecessor, is a novel of ideas wrapped in a campus novel, told in a voice so …
 
Today I talked to Sean Guillory. Sean did something pretty remarkable (and hard): He started a successful academic podcast. It's called the SRB Podcast and deals with Russian and Eurasian affairs. In the interview, Sean explains how he did it, how he does it, and his current project, a wonderful narrative podcast called Teddy Goes to the USSR. I hi…
 
New York City is a preeminent global city, serving as the headquarters for hundreds of multinational firms and a world-renowned cultural hub for fashion, art, and music. It is among the most multicultural cities in the world and also one of the most segregated cities in the United States. The people that make this global city function—immigrants, p…
 
Few substances have been researched as extensively, and debated as fiercely, as cannabis. In Marijuana on My Mind: The Science and Mystique of Cannabis (Cambridge University Press, 2022), psychiatrist Timmen Cermak offers a balanced, science-based analysis of how marijuana affects people physiologically, psychologically, and spiritually. Cermak dra…
 
The theme of exile in Irish writing often calls to mind Joyce or Beckett, but rarely does it conjure up other writers or literary networks, particularly those of the often-overlooked literary history of the nineteen thirties. Goldstone’s original new study, Irish Writers and the Thirties: Art, Exile and War (Routledge, 2020) takes up the theme of a…
 
Founded in 1884 and incorporated by Congress in 1889 for the promotion of historical studies, the American Historical Association provides leadership for the discipline and promotes the critical role of historical thinking in public life. The Association defends academic freedom, develops professional standards, supports innovative scholarship and …
 
Bassam Sidiki talks about the right to maim, the titular concept in Jasbir K. Puar’s book, and the related concept of debility. He explains how these concepts have changed how the field of disability studies orients itself. References are made to Anjuli Fatima Raza Kolb’s new book Epidemic Empire, the work of Anita Ghai, Tommy Orange’s novel There …
 
Elijah is a zealous prophet, attacking idolatry and injustice, championing God. He performs miracles, restoring life and calling down fire. When his earthly life ends, he vanishes in a whirlwind, carried off to heaven in a fiery chariot. Was this a spectacular death, or did Elijah escape death entirely? The latter view prevailed. Though residing in…
 
For centuries, art censorship has been a top-down phenomenon—kings, popes, and one-party states decided what was considered obscene, blasphemous, or politically deviant in art. Today, censorship can also happen from the bottom-up, thanks to calls to action from organizers and social media campaigns. Artists and artworks are routinely taken to task …
 
An interdisciplinary collection in the new field of environmental humanities, Chinese Environmental Ethics: Religions, Ontologies, and Practices (Rowman and Littlefield, 2021) brings together Chinese environmental ethics, religious ontology, and religious practice to explore how traditional Chinese religio-environmental ethics are actually put into…
 
It is 2084. Climate change has made life on the Caribbean island of Bajacu a gruelling trial. The sun is so hot that people must sleep in the day and live and work at night. In a world of desperate scarcity, people who reach forty are expendable. Those who still survive in the cities and towns are ruled over by the brutal, fascistic Domins, and the…
 
The word neoliberalism is often used more as an insult than a description of a set of beliefs. And people can be rather hazy about the beliefs it refers to – although the mix generally includes free markets, privatisation and globalisation and high levels of inequality. In his book The Rise and Fall of the Neoliberal Order: America and the World in…
 
Stewart Brand has long been famous if you know who he is, but for many people outside the counterculture, early computing, or the environmental movement, he is perhaps best known for his famous mantra "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." Steve Jobs's endorsement of these words as his code to live by is fitting; Brand has played many roles, but one of the m…
 
Unmasked: COVID, Community, and the Case of Okoboji (Vanderbilt UP, 2022) is the story of what happened in Okoboji, a small Iowan tourist town, when a collective turn from the coronavirus to the economy occurred in the COVID summer of 2020. State political failures, local negotiations among political and public health leaders, and community (dis)be…
 
Art historian Catherine McCormack challenges how culture teaches us to see and value women, their bodies, and their lives. Venus, maiden, wife, mother, monster—women have been bound so long by these restrictive roles, codified by patriarchal culture, that we scarcely see them. In Women in the Picture: What Culture Does with Female Bodies (Norton, 2…
 
Recent years have seen out-of-control wildfires rage across remote Brazilian rainforests, densely populated California coastlines, and major cities in Australia. What connects these separate events is more than immediate devastation and human loss of life. In Global Burning: Rising Antidemocracy and the Climate Crisis (Stanford UP, 2022), Eve Daria…
 
In this episode Kim speaks with Lauren Fournier about autotheory. Lauren has recently published a book on the subject, titled Autotheory as Feminist Practice in Art, Writing, and Criticism (MIT Press, 2021). In the episode she points to Maggie Nelson’s book The Argonauts as the book that made the term famous, but refers us to a longer history of au…
 
A powerful movement is happening in farming today—farmers are reconnecting with their roots to fight climate change. For one woman, that’s meant learning her tribe’s history to help bring back the buffalo. For another, it’s meant preserving forest purchased by her great-great-uncle, among the first wave of African Americans to buy land. Others are …
 
Against a groundswell of critiques of global English, Vernacular English: Reading the Anglophone in Postcolonial India (Princeton UP, 2022) argues that literary studies are yet to confront the true political import of the English language in the world today. A comparative study of three centuries of English literature and media in India, this origi…
 
Grain traders wandering across the steppe; the Russian conquest of Ukraine (in the 18th century, that is); boulevard barons and wheat futures; railroads; the first fast food breakfast; and war socialism. It’s all crammed into this discussion of wheat, and what it wrought, with Scott Nelson. Scott Reynolds Nelson is the Georgia Athletics Association…
 
Rivers host vibrant multispecies communities in their waters and along their banks, and, according to queer-trans-feminist river scientist Cleo Wölfle Hazard, their future vitality requires centering the values of justice, sovereignty, and dynamism. At the intersection of river sciences, queer and trans theory, and environmental justice, Underflows…
 
In China and the International Human Rights Regime (Cambridge University Press, 2021), Rana Siu Inboden examines the evolution of China’s posture towards the U.N. human rights system since the early 1980s. The book examines in unprecedented details China’s role and impact on the complex negotiations between U.N. members over the International Coven…
 
The Lost Promise: American Universities in the 1960s (University of Chicago Press, 2021) is a magisterial examination of the turmoil that rocked American universities in the 1960s, with a unique focus on the complex roles played by professors as well as students. The 1950s through the early 1970s are widely seen as American academia’s golden age, w…
 
Lives of Weeds: Opportunism, Resistance, Folly (Comstock Publishing, 2021) explores the tangled history of weeds and their relationship to humans. Through eight interwoven stories, John Cardina offers a fresh perspective on how these tenacious plants came about, why they are both inevitable and essential, and how their ecological success is ensured…
 
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