Sunday, January 1, 2012

Bibliophile: Of Ossuaries and Operas

Is there any better way to ring in the New Year than with an examination of the books a university receives on a weekly basis?

Well, yes, actually. I can think of a half dozen or so rather quickly. But this is the way we're doing things here. Waiving the further adieu, here's Bibliophile.

There's a mere 1000 new books this week; it looks like the torrent dwindles to a trickle when most of the university staff are still out on break. A mere 1000. My, we'll be done this in no time.

Sins of old age 14 piano pieces [electronic resource] / composed by Gioachino Antonio Rossini. [S.l.] : ASV, 1998.
We appear to be getting another influx of musical sources. My google scholarship tells me that Rossini was a 19th century Italian composer, probably best known for his opera, the Barber of Seville. And the opera itself is probably best known for its Bugs Bunny parody, which I'll embed here:

I love Elmer Fudd's sense of entitlement on where it's okay to enter with a shotgun. It's like some hunter version of extreme golf; as long as the rabbit's in play, everywhere is fair game.

Cd-induced responses in plasma ionic regulation and oxidative stress in rainbow trout (O. mykiss) or lake whitefish (C. clupeaformis) during chronic waterborne exposure / by Amanda Mancini.
This entry is sandwiched between Preludi Ostinati and Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 9. I really don't understand how the entries in these lists that are outside the Library of Congress filing are organized.

Devil's trill, and other violin sonatas [electronic resource]. London : Hyperion, 1991. Tartini, Giuseppe, 1692-1770.
Going back a little further, we have Tartini, an 18th century composer. I thought I'd look into anyone who had a good claim to doing Satan and fiddles before "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" made it cool. And since I'm in an embedding sort of mood, here it is:

At 13 + minutes, it's a little beyond what I'd call easy listening, but it's not bad.

Controversy spaces : a model of scientific and philosophical change / edited by Oscar Nudler. Amsterdam ; Philadelphia : John Benjamins Pub. Co., c2011.
Almost half way in, and we hit the listings proper. Nudler's anthology looks at issues of science and philosophy in terms of theoretical model based on the controversy a particular theory can create. Some of the controversies covered include general histories of catastrophes, the history of the mind, irreversibility from Fourier to chaos theory, linguistics, and DNA molecules. That's a staggering range of scope, if nothing else. And at a $150 price tag on, this is one book that I'd definitely go with the library's copy.

Dial M for mentor : reflections on mentoring in film, television, and literature / Jonathan Gravells and Sue Wallace. Charlotte, NC : Information Age Publishing, c2011.
I'm focusing on this one because I was hoping they'd cover that Seinfeld episode where George attempts mentoring. Judging from Google Books, we're covering Shawshank Redemption, Jeeves and Wooster, Boston Legal, Lear, Buffy, The Matrix, and the Sopranos. So we have another very wide scope, albeit one of a very different nature. I'm not sure how you could approach something so large without it falling apart a bit, but the effort itself is noteworthy.

Cocktail hour under the tree of forgetfulness / Alexandra Fuller. New York : Penguin Press, 2011.
This one caught my eye as it was an unusual title to find outside of the fiction section. It appears to be a biographical examination of Fuller's mother, and her connection to Africa.

Players unleashed! : modding the Sims and the culture of gaming / Tanja Sihvonen. Amsterdam : Amsterdam University Press c2011.
Videogame books get a mention. Always. To be honest, you'd have to do some talking at this point to convince me that the Sims are still worth talking about, after being covered so thoroughly by game scholarship, but it sounds like Sihvonen is on the right track, focusing on the cultural contexts of Sims mods. And, browsing through her works cited (again, thanks to the power of Google. How did I ever do research before it? Don't answer that), she's mentioning all the right game studies people, from Aarseth to Wolf. Might be worth a look at some point. Mental note.

Next, a string of digital media books. First up:

Access contested : security, identity, and resistance in Asian cyberspace information revolution and global politics / edited by Ronald Deibert ... [et al.]. Cambridge, MA : MIT Press, c2012.
Essentially, it's a discussion of how the Internet, especially in terms of censorship and piracy, is evolving on the Asian continent. As you'd imagine, China looms large, but there's also discussion of the Malaysian blogosphere, regulation in Thailand, social institutions in the Phillipines, and opposition media in Burma. I can't say I recognize any of the contributors, but I imagine it would be a culturally enlightening read. Or utterly unfathomable. There tends not to be much middle ground in these cultural studies books.

Cultures of participation : media practices, politics and literacy / Hajo Greif ... [et al.] (eds.) Frankfurt am Main : Peter Lang, c2011.
Apparently, it's a collection of the papers delivered at the COST 298 Conference in Copenhagen, May 2009. It's an international, interdisciplinary conference focusing on how social media and technology change people's lives. Hmmm. Worth knowing that this conference exists, yes? The program for 2009 is here, if you're curious, though none of the panels in particular jump out at me.

Handbook of Internet studies / edited by Mia Consalvo and Charles Ess. Chichester, West Sussex, UK ; Malden, MA : Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.
And then there's this. This book probably wouldn't have made it on my radar, to be honest, as these very general anthologies tend to be a dime a dozen (figuratively speaking; practically speaking, they tend to be much, much more than a dime a dozen). But Consalvo, a game studies prof who has shown up here before, makes it worth a look. Glancing purely at the chapter headings, it seems a little perfunctory, ("Internet and religion," "Internet and Games") and the only user review floating around for it seems to be rather damning. All the essays seem to have been written for the book, which makes for an interesting contrast with other anthologies, such as Nayar's New Media and Cybercultures Anthology. Nayar's book, in contrast, is a collection of essays written elsewhere, and gathered because they speak to a particular context. The pitfall of the former method is that it covers everything, but without depth; the pitfall of the second is that the topics are always considered outside of the original intent. I suppose the difference is in the titles; a handbook needs to be a survey of the area, and an anthology is, comparatively, a collection of difference. Personally, I'd use the handbook for a first year course, and the anthology for a second. (And I actually have used Nayar's anthology to teach a second year course. So there you go.)

Empire of death : a cultural history of ossuaries and charnel houses. New York : Thames & Hudson, 2011. Koudounaris, Paul.
Because you can never get enough charnel houses.

Postal pleasures : sex, scandal, and Victorian letters / Kate Thomas. New York : Oxford University Press, c2012. Thomas, Katie-Louise.
And here we are in the literature section. It's still early, but rather short on fiction this time around; it's much more focused on the scholarship about fiction. I mention this book because, to be honest, I find all the 19th century writing I read to be incredibly boring, despite the attempt of numerous colleagues to the contrary. The actual history is incredibly fascinating, from the British Empire to the Industrial Revolution to the rise of science. But the fiction and poetry and so forth? Eh. This may--may--be a good way to challenge my views on that front.

Vigilante women in contemporary American fiction / Alison Graham-Bertolini. 1st ed. New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.
I was hoping for a book on Buffy and Sarah Conner and Ripley and the like. What we're getting here is a bit more "traditionalist" with a study of the writings of Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, and Faulkner and the like. Still good. I guess.

Portraits of a few of the people I've made cry : stories / Christine Sneed. Amherst : University of Massachusetts Press, c2010.
There's the fiction! I'd like a list of the people I've made cry. It would probably be a short list. The list of people who have made me cry is... I regret opening this line of discussion.

Later Days.

1 comment:

Veronica Wald said...

Oh my, it's been years, if ever, that I've seen Elmer and Bugs performance of The Barber of Seville. As an opera fan myself, I can say it is absolutely *WONDERFUL* but the opening scenes remind me more of The Barber of Fleet Street and Rossini's entertaining classic.
Happy new year, thanks for the fun!