Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bibliophile: Superhero Studies and Church for Profit

My goodness. The holidays start, and suddenly I forget that Biblophile ever existed. Well, sooner mended then ended.

I like to think of Harriet Tubman [electronic resource] : chamber works / Wolff.
Now, this sounds interesting. A series of chamber music dedicated to Harriet Tubman, the 19th century abolitionist. And it's composed/performed by Christian Wolff, a composer who studied under and collaborated with John Cage. (John Cage trivia fact: it was Christian Wolff, whose parents owned a publishing company, who gave Cage an in-house translation of the I-Ching, which would go on to have a large impact on the composer's methods and thoughts.) I don't know how the actual music will sound, mind you, but I'm sure it'd be interesting.

Vaudeville accordion classics [electronic resource] : the complete music of Guido Deiro (1886-1950).
In case you're wondering, that sounds like this:

Why yes; our library did receive access to a new music database this week.

Person vanishes : John Dewey's philosophy of experience and the self / Yoram Lubling. New York : Peter Lang, c2011.
Mentioned mainly because I've got a soft spot for Dewey. Anyone who founds a widely-used library organization system is okay in my books, though personally I prefer the Library of Congress coding. ...I have a favorite library system. I am such a geek. Anyway, the book is attempting to synthesize a theory of personality based on Dewey's body of work, coming up with a version of self that emphasizes individual experience, and the limitations thereof. It's apparently a stand against dualism and attempts to apply the method to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The last bit sounds like a bit of a stretch; this may be one for Dewey completitionists. (He has those, right?)

Priority of events : Deleuze's Logic of Sense / Sean Bowden.
This week's dose of Deleuze. Bowden argues that Deleuze places events over substances, and presumably explains what that means. There is also, I understand, a heavy focus on Leibnez, Simondon, and individuation, which I last came across in my interminable Stiegler readings.

Hitchens vs. Blair : be it resolved religion is a force for good in the world / Christopher Hitchens and Tony Blair.
Here's a timely one. It's a transcription of their 2010 Toronto debate on the subject,which apparently happened without even showing up as a blip on my radar, because I pay virtually no attention to my surroundings. Sigh. It has Blair arguing in religion's favor, and Hitchens against it. (Although if you didn't already know which side Hitchens was arguing, you're probably not the audience for this book anyway.) Additionally, it has an interview with Hitchens by Noah Richler, and one with Blair by John Geiger. Oh wait; judging by the page numbers, this may be a version without the additional interviews. If you'd rather watch it to begin with, it's all on youtube, here.

Juvenile sexuality, Kabbalah, and Catholic reformation in Italy [electronic resource] : Tiferet bahurim by Pinhas Barukh ben Pelatiyah Monselice / by Roni Weinstein ; translated by Batya Stein.
Now there's a set of subjects that don't immediately seem to go together. Weinstein is actually analyzing a 17th century book, the Tiferet bahurim, a book telling Jewish young men of the period how to raise a family and conduct themselves sexually. His approach is to situate the advice in the wider context of Jewish tradition and 17th century (extremely Catholic) Italy. Is it odd that this premise interests me much more than a book investigating these subjects on a contemporary basis?

Commercial church : Black churches and the new religious marketplace in America / Mary Hinton.
Essentially, I'm just intrigued by the entanglements between religion and commerce. Ever since I was introduced to the "moneylenders in the temple" part of the Gospel, I've thought of it as an issue without an easy answer. Religion shouldn't be overly concerned with material wealth (easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to go to heaven) but at the same time, it can't, and shouldn't be avoided--commerce is a part of people's lives, a vital part, and the various churches and so forth can't ignore that. Anyway, Hinton's book is looking at a more specific phenomenon, religious groups and churches that cater to a predominantly black congregation. Moreover, it's critical in particular of the Potter's House Megachurch and Creflo Dollar's World Changers Church International, which is an amazingly loaded name in the context of the aforementioned moneylenders. The latter is also a proponent of Prosperity theology, the belief that, grossly simplified, that God wants Christians to be successful and have money. 'Cause you know, Jesus was known for being a big spender. Hinton's argument is that these two represent a break with the traditional black church, and yeah, it seems like she has a pretty obvious case.

In the traces of our name : the influece [sic] of given names in life. London : Karnac Books, 2011. Tesone, Juan Eduardo.
As someone whose first name (and middle name, for that matter) is common as dirt (in English-speaking countries, at least), I am interested in this topic. What is in a name? An awful lot, actually. Tesone looks at the personal name from a psychological perspective, both in terms of what it inscribes on the child from the parents, and how the child writes that name, and what that means. I'm not a big fan of psychological approaches in general, but this sounds promising.

Small powers in the age of total war, 1900-1940 / edited by Herman Amersfoort, Wim Klinkert. Leiden ; Boston : Brill, 2011.
The obvious question of the book is, which countries fall into the "small powers" category? Sorry, Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Norway and Switzerland--you've all been declared small fish in the early 20th century pond. And, I suspect, there but the grace of a Eurocentric focus goes Canada.

Cyprus problem : what everyone needs to know / James Ker-Lindsay.
There's an aggressive title, especially regarding a subject that may be uncharitably called a local issue. Why should everyone know? I'm not sure Ker-Lindsay answers that, besides an indirect answer: Cyprus been a focus point of UN and European concern for decades now, as its continuing civil war has brought it international attention. And whenever a war goes on for that long, the human suffering involved means it deserves some attention, especially in the form of compassion. Ker-Lindsay here outlines the issues--as the current UN expert advisor on the subject, he's in a good position to know what he's talking about.

Tales from the sausage factory : making laws in New York State / Daniel L. Feldman and Gerald Benjamin.
Catchy title. Essentially, it's a book on the history of New York legislature, where it went wrong, and how to make it right again. It's a subject I have very little interest in, but still: catchy title.

Re-made in Japan : everyday life and consumer taste in a changing society / edited and with an introduction by Joseph J. Tobin. New Haven : Yale University Press, c1992.
With my videogame focus, I tend to come into contact with a lot of Japanese products (videogames) that have been localized for Western audiences. This is the inverse trend--taking Western products and making them Japanese. The book's a little old (published in 1994), which makes it a little out-of-date in pop culture discussions, but it should be a fascinating read for anyone doing comparative culture studies with a focus on Japan.

Work of play : meaning-making in video games / Aaron Chia Yuan Hung. New York : Peter Lang, c2011.
Mentioned out of professional obligations. I'll have to put a hold on this one and flip through it once I get back from vacation. It looks like it's focused on game design for the purpose of education, which isn't really one of my interests, to be honest.

Surface tensions : surgery, bodily boundaries, and the social self / Lenore Manderson. Walnut Creek, Calif. : Left Coast Press, c2011.
Manderson interviews people who have suffered the loss of limbs, functions, and organ replacements, in terms of how they re-establish their bodies and identities afterwards. The perfect holiday gift for body/technology scholar on your list.

Revolution will be digitised : dispatches from the information war / Heather Brooke.
Here's one to cater to my digital humanities interest. Brooke questions who holds the power in the global information economy. The book covers her involvement with British access to information laws, Wikileaks, modern hackers, and the information manipulation of the American government. It's a very "us vs. big government" kind of story, whereas I'm all about the "us vs. big corporation" story, but that doesn't make it any less true. And it's endorsed by cybermedia superstar, Cory Doctorow!

Television as digital media / edited by James Bennett and Niki Strange. Durham [N.C.] : Duke University Press, 2011.
Having recently read Sheila C. Murphy's "How Television Invented Digital Media," this anthology appeals to me by acknowledging a simple truth: as much as a cell phone or a computer monitor, the modern television is a digital artifact, washing us in bits and bytes that it assembles into hypermediated wholes. The focus here seems to be television as a technology rather than specific programs, and the only contributor I recognize is Graeme Turner, though I'm at an utter loss to explain why I recognize his name. Still, a good topic, and I'm glad someone's doing it.

Digital condition : class and culture in the information network / Rob Wilkie. 1st ed. New York : Fordham University Press, 2011.
And for the digital media trifecta, we have Wilkie and Digital Condition. Essentially, Wilkie argues that the "disembodiment" side of cyberspace has lead to an obfuscation of social inequality. And the list of theorists is impressive enough: "Hardt and Negri, Poster, Deleuze and Guattari, Derrida, Haraway, Latour, and Castells." It's a veritable who's who of digital culture and social issues.

I'll have what she's having : mapping social behavior / Alex Bentley, Mark Earls, and Michael J. O'Brien. Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, c2011.
Points for the title. The subject, for those interested in such things, is a sociological study on how people use the actions of others to make choices.

Emperor has no clothes : teaching about race and racism to people who don't want to know / Tema Okun. Charlotte, N.C. : Information Age Pub., c2010.
Fatigue is setting in. The amount and quality of research I do into the titles will be considerably reduced from here on out. I'll just say, then, I like the idea of book. Racism is one of those issues where the worst cases are generally those most resistant to new information.

Blood at the root : lynching as American cultural nucleus / Jennie Lightweis-Goff.
Speaking of racism, I think that when there's a case to be made that your culture can be described in terms of the history of lynching, you've got a problem.

Writing your dissertation in fifteen minutes a day : a guide to starting, revising, and finishing your doctoral thesis / Joan Bolker. 1st ed. New York : H. Holt, 1998.
Now here's a real classic. I've heard this book recommended by professors, so it might be worth a look.

Bytes and backbeats : repurposing music in the digital age / Steve Savage. Ann Arbor, Mich. : University of Michigan Press, c2011.
Music is one of my weak points, both in terms of pop culture studies and personally (as I've alluded to before Remember when my blog was a participatory thing that people commented on? Yeah. ). Maybe this book could fill some gaps. Savage uses three digital music projects to explore the participatory and contextual nature of digital music, and how it can repurpose other forms.

Retromania : pop culture's addiction to its own past / Simon Reynolds. London ; [New York] : Faber & Faber, c2011.
This. How soon something can become nostalgic seems to be accelerating; I've heard people look back with fondness on the Rick Rolling internet meme. It might be the side effect of the acceleration of culture: the faster things get, the more we look fondly on anything we can use to differentiate the present from other time periods. I'll point you to recently reviewed Ready Player One for a rather unironic example of pop culture past addiction. Reynolds is looking more specifically music, asking whether such a backwards view means the death knell of creativity. I haven't read his book, but I'm guessing that he's arguing that it doesn't.

Clifton Childree : fuck that chicken from Popeyes.
I have no idea what this about, but I feel compelled to find out.

Game urbanism : manual for cultural spatial planning / Hans Venhuizen ; with contributions by Charles Landry, Francien van Westrenen ; [translation, Billy Nolan, Leo Reijnen].
Venhuizen espouses his theory place and culture into a ludic, gamelike space. I've got some friends interested in Augmented Reality type stuff; I might send this book their way.

New narratives : stories and storytelling in the digital age / edited by Ruth Page and Bronwen Thomas. Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, c2011.
Another book flagged as of interest for digital media scholars. It's an updated look at how narrative functions in technology, hypertext, and videogames, among other digital things. This is one of the rare essay collections I could see myself perusing soon; narrative theory is a persistent subject in my area, and keeing abreast of the most recent arguments is a good idea. And it's got a lot of the big names of the field. There's Marie-Laure Ryan on user participation; Michael Joyce on narrative transparency; Nick Montfort on the authorship system Curveship; Brian Greenspan on story maps; James Newman and Iain Simons on Lego Star Wars. (Narrative in a Star Wars video game? Take that, Jesper Juul.) Mental note: Definitely on my "to read" list.

Surveillance of women on reality television : watching The bachelor and The bachelorette / Rachel E. Dubrofsky. Lanham, Md. : Lexington Books, c2011.
This looks like a fun read.

Bachelors and bunnies : the sexual politics of Playboy / Carrie Pitzulo. Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 2011.
See above.

And here's a set of comic-based scholarship:
Superheroes of the Round Table : comics connections to Medieval and Renaissance literature / Jason Tondro. Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland, c2011.
Classics and comics / edited by George Kovacs and C. W. Marshall. Oxford [U.K.] ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2011.
Mutants & mystics : science fiction, superhero comics, and the paranormal / Jeffrey J. Kripal. Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 2011.
Tondro is apparently using classic literature--Shakespeare, Spenser, Authurian literature, and the like--to inform readings of Alan Moore, Jack Kirby, and Grant Morrison, and vice versa. Kovacs and Marshall's collection appears to be more of the same, although I'll note that it features an essay by Eric Shanower, he of the criminally underrated Bronze Age series. I guess which book you prefer depends on whether you're looking for a collection or a prolonged argument. Kripal's focus is a little different, examining how comic book writers use comics to explore the paranormal, from Moore and sex magic (with an emphasis on sex--I've read Promethea)to Jack Kirby's superhero pantheons. It's a banner week for superhero studies.

Supergods : what masked vigilantes, miraculous mutants, and a sun god from Smallville can teach us about being human / Grant Morrison. New York : Spiegel & Grau, 2011.
Speaking of which--Grant Morrison's book on philosophy and comics? Hells yeah. Another mental note, to recall the bejeezus out of this when I get back. Why do all the good books come to the library while I'm on vacay?

James Bond in world and popular culture : the films are not enough / edited by Robert G. Weiner, B. Lynn Whitfield and Jack Becker. 2nd ed. Newcastle upon Tyne : Cambridge Scholars, 2011
Clever title.

Hours / Michael Cunningham. New York : Picador USA ; Farrar, Straus and Giroux, [2000].
Mentioned because it's one of my favorite books. And still the most beautifully written book I've ever read.

And then there's the long slog through the sciences. Don't get me wrong. I love the sciences. Some of my best friends are... science-y. But the titles are... eh.

First steps in random walks : from tools to applications / J. Klafter and I.M. Sokolov. Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2011.
This one mildly amused me. I do hope it was deliberate.

Transylvanian dinosaurs / by David B. Weishampel and Coralia-Maria Jianu. Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011.
You thought raptors were tough? Try vampire raptors. Add zombie ninjas, and you've got yourself a meme.

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