New Books & New Paperbacks, July 2018

We are pleased to announce the publication of these news books and paperbacks this month.

July 3, 2018
Now in Paperback
Agents of Terror: Ordinary Men and Extraordinary Violence in Stalin’s Secret Police
Alexander Vatlin
Edited, translated, and with an introduction by Seth Bernstein
Foreword by Oleg Khlevniuk

“Groundbreaking. In the first detailed description of Stalin’s mass terror, Vatlin unfolds the day-to-day working of the Soviet political police who carried out orders to select, arrest, interrogate, and often murder their fellow citizens. An absorbing, heartrending account.”—David Shearer, author of Policing Stalin’s Socialism

“A sensationally significant, detailed microhistory of Stalin’s Great Terror, based on the criminal files of NKVD agents who were arrested as scapegoats at the end of the terror—what some historians have called the purge of the purgers.”—Lynne Viola, author of The Unknown Gulag

July 3, 2018
Now in Paperback
The Athenian Adonia in Context: The Adonis Festival as Cultural Practice
Laurialan Reitzammer

Wisconsin Studies in Classics

“Persuasively reinterprets the Adonia as a ritual that brought Athenian women’s dissenting voices into the public arena to critique male social institutions and values. This innovative work draws on an immense range of ancient sources—literary, documentary, artistic, and material.”—Laura McClure, series editor

“Uncovers remarkable and unsuspected depths in the works of such figures as Aristophanes and Plato. This is the most compelling and sophisticated study available of any single Athenian ritual and the most challenging to received notions about the wider role of religion in city-state society.”—Richard P. Martin, Stanford University

July 3, 2018
Freedom in White and Black: A Lost Story of the Illegal Slave Trade and Its Global Legacy
Emma Christopher

“By following the paper trail of a single West African slave-trading business, Christopher opens a window onto the shadowy world of illicit slavers and those they enslaved after the British abolition of the trade in 1807. Indeed, she has found the only known first-hand accounts from Africans employed in Sierra Leone’s slave factories. An extraordinary achievement.”—Randy J. Sparks, author of Where the Negroes Are Masters

“A compelling and entirely unique glimpse into the daily operation of a slave-trading business, including accounts of individual British and American slavers, enslaved Africans employed on the coast, and captive Africans who narrowly escaped the middle passage.”—Rebecca Shumway, author of The Fante and the Transatlantic Slave Trade

July 10, 2018
Now in Paperback
Anna Karenina and Others: Tolstoy’s Labyrinth of Plots
Liza Knapp

“Makes an invaluable contribution to Tolstoy studies and the theory of the novel. Knapp’s comparative readings highlight biographical, philosophical, religious, and literary roots of the ‘hidden labyrinth of linkages’ that connect the two plots of Anna Karenina.”—Elizabeth Cheresh Allen, Bryn Mawr College

“Knapp’s keen eye for prodding out books that play off one another illuminates not only the multiplot novel in its various guises, but the adultery novel as Tolstoy reinvented it, where sexual transgression is forced to serve the quest for God and faith. A mind-expanding book.”—Caryl Emerson, Princeton University

July 10, 2018
Now in Paperback
Trauma, Taboo, and Truth-Telling: Listening to Silences in Postdictatorship Argentina
Nancy J. Gates-Madsen

Critical Human Rights

“Opens our ears to silences and their meanings. Gates-Madsen persuasively shows how the unsaid shapes memories of the traumatic past. An outstanding contribution to the study of human rights memory.”—Rebecca J. Atencio, author of Memory’s Turn: Reckoning Dictatorship in Brazil

“This richly insightful analysis makes perceptible the way silence shifts, from being imposed by a military regime to silence as a legacy of this era.”—Cynthia Milton, Université de Montréal

July 17, 2018
Bread, Justice, and Liberty: Grassroots Activism and Human Rights in Pinochet’s Chile
Alison J. Bruey

Critical Human Rights

“A critical contribution to understanding human rights politics during the Cold War in South America.”—Jessica Stites Mor, University of British Columbia

“The extremely rich ethnographic content provides a unique bird’s-eye view of activism and lived experience in two of Santiago’s most famous working-class neighborhoods.”—Heidi Tinsman, University of California, Irvine

July 17, 2018
Now in Paperback
Inside Rwanda’s Gacaca Courts: Seeking Justice after Genocide
Bert Ingelaere

Critical Human Rights

“Rigorous and reliable. It has much to say about the difficulties of reconciliation politics.”Choice

“Warns of the dangers of romanticizing . . . local processes of transitional justice: notions of authenticity, tradition, and ‘truth’ are continually contested.”African Studies Review

“An exhaustively researched, thoroughly analyzed, and beautifully written trove of data on one of the most ambitious and controversial legal experiments of the twenty-first century.”Canadian Journal of African Studies

July 24, 2018
Paradox of Authenticity: Folklore Performance in Post-Communist Slovakia
Joseph Grim Feinberg

Folklore Studies in a Multicultural World

“A theoretically rich and vividly written ethnography that provocatively embraces larger questions of social theory and philosophy. Introducing English-speaking readers to a wide range of European and Russian folklore scholarship, Feinberg brings fresh and challenging perspectives to long-held ideas about authenticity, performance, and nationalism”—Petr Janeček, editor of Folklore of the Atomic Age

 

 

Telling the Real Story of Nam Theun 2

Dead in the Water, a new book co-edited by today’s guest blogger Bruce Shoemaker, is published this week as part of the series New Perspectives in Southeast Asian Studies.

When I tell people I went to my first meeting on the Nam Theun 2 (NT2) hydropower project in Laos way back in 1991, I sometimes don’t know whether to be embarrassed or proud. At times it seems it has become an unhealthy obsession. But in reality this involvement has been sporadic and my renewed interest in the project over the last few years represents a return to NT2 after years during which I paid it little attention.

For a time, when I was living in Laos in the mid-1990s, the NT2 controversy was the biggest thing happening—dominating discussions and debate among NGOs, those in the diplomatic and bilateral aid community and discussions with Lao government officials and other local colleagues. As several international NGOs agreed to either endorse or accept paid contracts from the project developers, NT2 created large rifts and the controversy quickly spread beyond Laos and into the international media.

NT2 had a large impact on me personally. Witnessing the extent to which large corporate, government and international financial institutions would go to manipulate public debate and promote a misleading narrative in order to justify their favored project left me with a much more critical eye and what has become a life-long orientation towards questioning the agendas and initiatives of self-interested institutions claiming they are acting in the public good.

In 2001, as momentum built to proceed with NT2, I participated in a “river-based livelihoods” study of the Xe Bang Fai, the river slated to be dramatically affected. Our study, which documented the existing livelihood links local communities had to their river, never mentioned the dam. But it was very much in the background and its publication sent Bank planners scrambling to play catch-up in devoting more (albeit still inadequate) attention to potential downstream impacts.

NT2’s approval by the World Bank in 2005 was the source of not a small amount of disillusionment and cynicism–there seemed to be so many solid arguments against it, so many good reasons why it was the wrong project at the wrong time in the wrong country. But many governments and institutions had bought into the Bank’s rebranding of NT2 as a socially and environmentally responsible “model project.”

While I continued to visit the country for other work, for a long period I didn’t even have anything to do with NT2. While I stayed engaged in the region, I just tried to put it out of my mind and focus on other things.

This continued well past the time that the project was completed and became operational in 2010. My re-engagement dates from 2011 when the World Bank published its own book on NT2, Doing a Dam Better. I saw it as a self-congratulatory and premature puff-piece written before NT2’s many promises could even begin to be realized. In retrospect, its publication sparked my first interest in trying to eventually set the record straight.

By 2012 multiple reports were coming out suggesting that, in contrast to the public pronouncements of NT2’s supporters, not all was well. The reports of the project’s Panel of Experts, people I had previously unfairly dismissed as uncritical project cheerleaders, were becoming critical, even scathing at times, as implementation failures revealed the hollowness of the project’s social and environmental promises.

This first led to a renewed interest in examining what had happened on the Xe Bang Fai, through participation in a return study to the river in early 2014. A peer reviewer for our subsequent journal article, who apparently had a very positive view of NT2, ended up accepting our critical assessment of NT2 impacts on the river–but insisted that we should balance that by “focusing on all of the other positive aspects of NT2.”

This book, a collaboration with my longtime friend and colleague William Robichaud, as well as many other contributors with long histories with the project, is I guess a response to that challenge and to Doing a Dam Better. And as we approached publication in early 2018 the World Bank declared success and announced the closure of its NT2 social and environmental project. Our book tells a different story and suggests that the World Bank’s decision is both premature and unwarranted.

 

Bruce Shoemaker is an independent consultant on development and natural resources who has conducted extensive research on the impacts of the Nam Theun 2 dam. His books include The People and Their River: River-based Livelihoods in the Xe Bang Fai Basin in Laos.

THE AMBIGUOUS CLARITY OF THE OXYMORON

 

Today’s guest blogger is author Lyudmila Parts. Her new book In Search of True Russia: The Provinces in Contemporary Nationalist Discourse is published this week.

The oxymoron is a figure of speech that combines contradictory terms. It brings together (near) opposites, say, “open secret” or “new tradition,” and reveals the complexity of the thing through the layering of its meaning. It creates a paradox, and, paradoxically, makes complex things easier to understand. In working on the subject of the Russian provinces I had to address a great deal of opposites: center and periphery, Self and Other, past and future, spiritual and material. What makes this particular cultural myth so fascinating is not only how it operates by reversing the hierarchies inherent in these binaries, but also how it often collapses them into that clearly ambiguous entity, the oxymoron.

Rather than canceling each other out the opposites thus brought together create a thesis-antithesis-synthesis trajectory: by themselves the concepts of the center and periphery might mean little in today’s world, but a statement such as “the capital of the provinces” blends some of the old meanings into a new model.

As long as we imagine the map of our world in terms of the center and its opposite we live in the world defined and limited by binary thought. Elimination of the symbolic borderlines creates a new synthesized entity and moves us toward a fresh world vision. When the liberal media project Snob designates its target audience “Russian Europeans,” or the “global Russians” they create an oxymoron based on the readers’ deep-seated understanding of Russia and Europe as opposites. Were this oxymoron to cease to be perceived as such, were such thing as a global Russian to exist, it would put to rest old nationalists’ grievances and signal a more harmonious vision of the world. My book is about the kind of cultural and ideological situation that allows such paradoxical statements, the oxymorons, to become straightforward descriptions.

In the post-Soviet situation, these key concepts – Russia, the West, the center, and the periphery – enter into new configurations, both literally and rhetorically. Just like Russia and the West, the capital and the provinces always stand in opposition and can only be defined against each other: if one is the locus of meaning and goodness, the other is its reverse, the place of void or corruption. Can a place or a nation become a kind of third entity, taking only the positive connotations from the old binaries? If it ever happens that “the capital of the provinces” or “global Russians” do not sound controversial and oxymoronic, it would mean that Russian cultural imagination overcomes its reliance on opposites and binaries together with the conflicts inherent to them. The new nationalist thought might be willing to consider new versions of the Self and a new map of the world. How the new conceptual models are perceived, as oxymoronic or as straightforward, would determine Russia’s vision of itself and its relationship to the world.

Lyudmila Parts is an associate professor of Russian and Slavic studies at McGill University in Montreal. She is the author of The Chekhovian Intertext: Dialogue with a Classic and the editor of The Russian Twentieth-Century Short Story: A Critical Companion

 

 

LGBTQ+ Books to Read and Feel Proud

Pride month might only last 30 days, but you can read these books by LGBTQ+ authors all year long!

States of Desire Revisited: Travels in Gay America
Edmund White

The Village Voice calls Edmund White “the finest stylist working in candidly gay prose”

States of Desire Revisited looks back from the twenty-first century at a pivotal moment in the late 1970s: Gay Liberation was a new and flourishing movement of creative culture, political activism, and sexual freedom, just before the 1980s devastation of AIDS. Edmund White traveled America, recording impressions of gay individuals and communities that remain perceptive and captivating today. He noted politicos in D.C. working the system, in-fighting radicals in New York and San Francisco, butch guys in Houston and self-loathing but courteous gentlemen in Memphis, the “Fifties in Deep Freeze” in Kansas City, progressive thinkers with conservative style in Minneapolis and Portland, wealth and beauty in Los Angeles, and, in Santa Fe, a desert retreat for older gays and lesbians since the 1920s.

In the Province of the Gods
Kenny Fries

Living Out: Gay and Lesbian Autobiographies

A beguiling adventure in Japan

Kenny Fries embarks on a journey of profound self-discovery as a disabled foreigner in Japan, a society historically hostile to difference. As he visits gardens, experiences Noh and butoh, and meets artists and scholars, he also discovers disabled gods, one-eyed samurai, blind chanting priests, and A-bomb survivors. When he is diagnosed as HIV positive, all his assumptions about Japan, the body, and mortality are shaken, and he must find a way to reenter life on new terms.

Self-Made Woman: A Memoir
Denise Chanterelle DuBois

Living Out: Gay and Lesbian Autobiographies

For decades I kept Denise in the closet. Then I kept Dennis in the closet.

Denise Chanterelle DuBois’s transformation into a woman wasn’t easy. Born as a boy into a working-class Polish American Milwaukee family, she faced daunting hurdles: a domineering father, a gritty 1960s neighborhood with no understanding of gender nonconformity, trouble in school, and a childhood so haunted by deprivation that neckbone soup was a staple. Terrified of revealing her inner self, DuBois lurched through alcoholism, drug dealing and addiction, car crashes, dangerous sex, and prison time. Dennis barreled from Wisconsin to California, Oregon, Canada, Costa Rica, New York, Bangkok, and Hawaii on a joyless ride.

Defying all expectations, DuBois didn’t crash and burn. Embracing her identity as a woman, she remade herself. Writing with resolute honesty and humor, she confronts both her past and her present to tell an American story of self-discovery.

The Pox Lover: An Activist’s Decade in New York and Paris
Anne-christine d’Adesky

A testament with a message for every generation: grab at life and love, connect with others, fight for justice, keep despair at bay, and remember.

The Pox Lover is a personal history of the turbulent 1990s in New York City and Paris by a pioneering American AIDS journalist, lesbian activist, and daughter of French-Haitian elites. In an account that is by turns searing, hectic, and funny, Anne-christine d’Adesky remembers “the poxed generation” of AIDS—their lives, their battles, and their determination to find love and make art in the heartbreaking years before lifesaving protease drugs arrived.

What Drowns the Flowers in Your Mouth: A Memoir of Brotherhood
Rigoberto González

Living Out: Gay and Lesbian Autobiographies
David Bergman, Joan Larkin, and Raphael Kadushin, Founding Editors

A bittersweet chronicle of the bond between Latino brothers

Burdened by poverty, illiteracy, and vulnerability as Mexican immigrants to California’s Coachella Valley, three generations of González men turn to vices or withdraw into depression. As brothers Rigoberto and Alex grow to manhood, they are haunted by the traumas of their mother’s early death, their lonely youth, their father’s desertion, and their grandfather’s invective. Rigoberto’s success in escaping—first to college and then by becoming a writer—is blighted by his struggles with alcohol and abusive relationships, while Alex contends with difficult family relations, his own rocky marriage, and fatherhood.

Descending into a dark emotional space that compromises their mental and physical health, the brothers eventually find hope in aiding each other. This is an honest and revealing window into the complexities of Latino masculinity, the private lives of men, and the ways they build strength under the weight of grief, loss, and despair.

Read an excerpt in The Los Angeles Times

Understanding and Teaching U.S. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History: Second Edition
Edited by Leila J. Rupp and Susan K. Freeman

Best Special Interest Books, selected by the American Association of School Librarians
Best Special Interest Books, selected by the Public Library Reviewers
Winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Best LGBT Anthology
A Choice Outstanding Academic Book

The Harvey Goldberg Series for Understanding and Teaching History
John Day Tully, Matthew Masur, and Brad Austin, Series Editors

Sex Talks to Girls: A Memoir
Maureen Seaton

Living Out: Gay and Lesbian Autobiographies
David Bergman, Joan Larkin, and Raphael Kadushin, Founding Editors

Maureen Seaton traces the emergence of her identity in quick, droll, often surprising sketches. She finds herself alternately in the company of winos, swingers, and drag kings; in love with Jesus H. Christ and a butch named Mars; in charge of two children (her own!); writing stories that shrink painfully to poems; and unable to reckon how she landed in any of these predicaments. In her passage from near-nun to suburban mom to woke woman, she shakes herself out of a sloshed stupor and delights in the spree.

The Other Paris

 

Post-Colonial Paris: Fictions of Intimacy in the City of Light, a new book by today’s guest blogger Laila Amine, is published this week in the series Africa and the Diaspora: History, Politics, Culture

When I meet new people and they hear my French accent, the conversation often veers to Paris, its beauty, its rich culture, or to the dream of one day visiting the City of Light. Their fantasy of Paris (and France more broadly) and my experiences as a child of North African immigrants in government subsidized housing could not be more different. In the cultural imaginary of Paris, there is little room for the working class multi-racial outskirts, unless the subject is Islamic culture and the subjection of women and queer subjects.

The Paris imagined in Maghrebi, African American and French immigrant cultures was both invisible in the scholarship and hypervisible as the “Badlands of the Republic” in French mainstream media. Like the city of the Francophile tourists, this other Paris is largely an imagined territory, albeit associated with crime, unbridled patriarchy, and violence.

Un-shackling the sensational and the Paris outskirts, this book chronicles everyday life in the impoverished sectors of the French capital in various contexts and cultural traditions. We find versions of Postcolonial Paris in post-World War II Maghrebi and African American expatriate fiction, 1980s beur fiction and cinema, and contemporary French immigrant cultures. Together, works by Driss Chraïbi, Mehdi Charef, William Gardner Smith, Faïza Guène, J.R., and Princess Hijab register the shifting politics and grammars of race in a nation where it does not appear on the census and where the public overwhelmingly condemns it as an Anglo-Saxon importation.

Spanning 1955 to 2015, authors of African descent have pondered the French tyranny of universalism and interrogated the myth of Paris as a space of liberation for the African diaspora. Some of the most well-known Francophiles, such as James Baldwin, also wrote about a French capital marred by colonial exclusion. By desegregating the cultural study of Paris to include its impoverished outskirts, the book reveals that writers and filmmakers have deployed Franco-African intimate encounters to articulate the political exclusion of racialized subjects. In the colonial and contemporary eras, their narratives of intimacy can help us better understand the ways in which gender and sexual difference work(ed) to construct, maintain, or challenge racial boundaries.

Postcolonial Paris would not have been possible without the numerous scholars of Postcolonial French Studies, Paris Noir, and Black Europe who paved the way, including Sylvie Durmelat, Anne Donadey, Nacira Guénif-Souillamas, Trica Keaton, Alec Hargreaves, Jarrod Hayes, Michel Laronde, Neil MacMaster, Adlai Murdoch, Mireille Rosello, Paul Silverstein, Tyler Stovall, and Benjamin Stora.

Laila Amine is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was born and grew up in France.

The Decline—and Rise?—of LGBTQ+ Bookstores

Michael Lowenthal’s acclaimed novel, The Paternity Test, is now available in paperback. Lowenthal is our guest blogger today, the publication date of the paperback edition.

I came of age as a gay writer when LGBTQ+ bookstores were at their peak, with close to 100 in operation across the United States. Now only six such stores remain.

Publishing a novel with a gay protagonist feels entirely different in 2018 than it did when I published my first book, The Same Embrace, twenty years ago. On one hand, so-called mainstream culture has grown much more welcoming to a diversity of LGBTQ+ artists and stories; on the other hand, a once-thriving infrastructure that specifically supported LGBTQ+ literature has been largely erased.

I came of age as a writer—as a gay writer—in an era when the OutWrite conference for LGBTQ+ writers attracted 1,500 participants annually; when most cities in America supported a weekly LGBTQ+ newspaper that published robust coverage of gay arts; when “the Gay Book Boom” was a hotly discussed topic; and when LGBTQ+ bookstores were at their peak, with close to 100 in operation across the United States. Now only six such stores remain.

For her recent master’s thesis “LGBTQ Bookstores: Past, Present, and Future,” Emerson College student Stephanie Nisbet interviewed me about my experiences. On the occasion of the paperback publication of The Paternity Test, I’d like to share some of our discussion:

Stephanie Nisbet: What was the first LGBTQ+ bookstore you visited, and what do you remember about the experience?

Michael Lowenthal: Glad Day, in Boston, which at that time was located on the second floor of a building just across from the main branch of the Boston Public Library in Copley Square. To get to the store you walked up a narrow stairway, and on the way up I had to squeeze past a man who was on his way down, and that moment of contact set the tone for the whole experience: thrilling, terrifying, full of sexual frisson but also a sort of bookish bonding.

At the time, I was a college student in a small town in New Hampshire, probably 19 years old, recently out of the closet, and I had never been to a gay bar or community center or pride parade. The only public gay gatherings I had been to were my college gay-student group meetings. So I was fantastically nervous (had anyone seen me walk into the building? I felt like I was glowing in neon) and at the same time giddy with excitement.

Once I was in the store, I could barely look anyone in the eye; I mostly kept my gaze glued to the books. But when I did look up, I saw that everyone else was glancing around in a way that seemed both furtive and, shall we say, quite friendly. The store was really small, with not much space between shelves, so there was a lot of nudging past people and close breathing. The back of the store had more porny stuff, magazines and videos, and I was too scared to go back there. Two queeny young bookstore employees were joking at the register, talking too loudly, almost as if they were making fun of the hush-hush atmosphere, and I wanted to get to know them. Or to be them. I think I bought an Edmund White book, The Beautiful Room Is Empty.

When I left I was exhausted from the tension. I couldn’t wait to go back!

SN: Is there any one LGBTQ+ bookstore you feel particularly connected to?

ML: Definitely Glad Day, since Boston was the city I visited most often when I lived in rural New England, and since I moved here in 1994 and have lived here ever since. In fact, when I was moving to Boston, the first place I went was to Glad Day, to look at the big bulletin board in the hallway outside the store, which was where gay guys tacked up “seeking roommate” notices. Answering those ads was the only way I even considered finding a living situation. (Remember, this was before Craigslist, before apps.) So that’s how I found my first place in the city.

When I became a writer, Glad Day was the first bookstore where I ever gave a reading. I became friends with John Mitzel, the longtime manager (who later opened his own gay bookstore, Calamus Books), who was a witty, brilliant (if troubled) old-school raconteur. Because I was a book reviewer, I got sent lots of books by publishers, and I would often bring stacks of them into the store to sell. Wanting to support a young writer, John would pay me way more than they were worth, in cash, and then take me next door to his regular bar, where he would drink me under the table (while discussing politics, literature, and sex, not necessarily in that order), even though he had two martinis for every one that I drank. So, Mitzel, and Glad Day, gave me a big chunk of my gay education.

Image Credit: AP

While I felt particularly connected with Glad Day, I will note that I have also been to gay bookstores in New York, DC, Baltimore, Rehoboth Beach, Norfolk, Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Arizona, Toronto, Paris, London, Berlin, Madrid, Taipei . . . and probably many more that I’m forgetting. In many of these stores, I gave readings. But in others I was just a visitor. It used to be that when I was traveling to a new city, the first obvious stop would be the gay bookstore, to meet locals who could tell me all the right places to go and things to do. The bookstore was a community center, travel agency, pickup spot, and so many other things, all rolled into one.

SN: As of 2016, Boston no longer has an LGBTQ+ bookstore. Do you believe there is still a place for another Calamus, for example, in the city?

ML: I do think there’s room for an LGBTQ store in Boston, but the concept would need to be adjusted and updated, I imagine. I think LGBTQ people are hungering for community right now, because there are so few places/occasions for us to gather. Most of the bars have closed, and with some of the key civil rights battles won (for now), there are very few public marches or demonstrations, aside from our once-a-year pride parade, which is now mostly reserved for banks, politicians, and churches. Most people don’t read a weekly LGBTQ newspaper, the way we used to. So there’s an empty spot where we used to share a common ground. Folks feel isolated, or connected only to their own small circle of friends. If there’s an upside to the Trump era, I think it’s that it’s reminded people of the power, solace, and joy of gathering together with likeminded strangers and neighbors in relatively public places. I think people are looking for spaces and ways to harness the kind of spirit that we see at the Women’s Marches and trans-rights marches and anti-Muslim-ban marches and anti-gun-violence marches and Black Lives Matter demonstrations. I think a new LGBTQ bookstore that not only sold books but also offered, say, a coffee shop and an evening events venue for story slams, would attract a lot of people and energy.

Michael Lowenthal is the author of three previous novels: Charity Girl, Avoidance, and The Same Embrace. He is a core faculty member in Lesley University’s MFA program in creative writing and lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

 

 

 

 

 

New Books & New Paperbacks, June 2018

We are pleased to announce the following books, which are being published this month.

June 7, 2018
Now in Paperback
The Paternity Test: A Novel
Michael Lowenthal

“Credit Lowenthal with taking what could have been a safe, sweet story and turning it into something knotted and barbed. . . . [He] is aiming for something truer to life.”Washington Post

“What matters here is love. Sure, it’s a complicated, messy, and somewhat dysfunctional love, but it reads and feels like the real thing.”Lambda Literary Review

“Readers—both gay and straight—will come away from Lowenthal’s novel with a deeper understanding not only of the ethical issues surrounding surrogacy, but also of the ever-evolving gay community.”Publishers Weekly

June 7, 2018
Now in Paperback
Sex Talks to Girls: A Memoir
Maureen Seaton

Living Out: Gay and Lesbian Autobiographies

“Stories of marriages, divorces, alcoholism, motherhood, and coming out that are like little newsflashes, little bursts of light, little puffs of smoke.”Chicago Free Press

“Compellingly narrates her passage through a host of roles—pious adolescent, Stepford wife, recovering alcoholic, sexual adventurer, and bi mom—on the way to discovering her identity as sober lesbian poet.”Pleiades

“Stands beside important memoirs by lesbian poets including Eileen Myles’ Cool for You and S/He by Minnie Bruce Pratt.”Lambda Literary Review

“I was swept away with the feisty zeitgeist. . . . Reading Sex Talks to Girls jolted me to a fuller state of awareness.”The Rumpus

June 12, 2018
Postcolonial Paris: Fictions of Intimacy in the City of Light
Laila Amine

Africa and the Diaspora: History, Politics, Culture

“Effectively demonstrates how racialized stereotyping and ethnocultural marginalization of citizens of North African descent have long betrayed the French idyll of equality and integration. Perceptive and groundbreaking.”—Adlai Murdoch, author of Creolizing the Metropole

“A powerful, highly relevant, and innovative study of the cultural and political role of France’s largest ethnic and religious minority.”—Jarrod Hayes, author of Queer Nations: Marginal Sexualities in the Maghreb

June 19, 2018
Tito and His Comrades
Jože Pirjevec, Foreword by Emily Greble

“An enlightening, enthralling biography of Yugoslavia’s leader Tito.”Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

“Skillfully navigating the complex terrain of history and memory that Tito evokes, this biography is both respectful to his complicated legacy and sensitive to the emotionally charged questions of history that have fueled discord in the region. . . . Pirjevec does not take sides, nor does he ask his readers to do so.”—Emily Greble, from the foreword

“Tito’s life is an extraordinary story, a series of theatrical coups and ruptures on a stage with many of the great figures of the last century. [Pirjevec] shows all the paradoxes and ambiguities of this fervent revolutionary who nonetheless enjoyed luxury, entertaining Hollywood stars or the Queen of England with equal splendor.”Le Monde

June 26, 2018
In Search of the True Russia: The Provinces in Contemporary Nationalist Discourse
Lyudmila Parts

Russia’s provinces have long held a prominent place in the nation’s cultural imagination. Lyudmila Parts looks at the contested place of the provinces in twenty-first-century Russian literature and popular culture, addressing notions of nationalism, authenticity, Orientalism, Occidentalism, and postimperial identity.

“A fascinating study of how the internal Other of the provinces has been replacing the external Other of the West in post-Soviet cultural discourse. Useful for anyone interested in contemporary Russian culture.”—Anne Lounsbery, New York University

June 26, 2018
An Anti-Bolshevik Alternative: The White Movement and the Civil War in the Russian North

Liudmila Novikova, Translated by Seth Bernstein 

“”Novikova’s treatment of the Russian Civil War is both original and compelling. It will be an agenda-setting book in the literature on the period. Wonderfully written and well argued, it should appeal to those with interests in Russian history and twentieth-century history more broadly.”—Peter I. Holquist, author of Making War, Forging Revolution

“The White movement in North Russia had a character of its own, reflecting the particulars and peculiarities of the region, as this excellent new study reveals.”Revolutionary Russia

June 26, 2018
Dead in the Water: Global Lessons from the World Bank’s Model Hydropower Project in Laos
Edited by Bruce Shoemaker and William Robichaud; foreword by Yos Santasombat; afterword by Philip Hirsch

New Perspectives in Southeast Asian Studies

“Extremely insightful and succinct, this volume shows how badly the Nam Theun 2 dam project has failed across the areas of indigenous rights and development, sustaining fisheries and river life, livelihoods of the displaced, protecting wildlife, and forestry and the commons. An important book.”—Michael Goldman, author of Imperial Nature: The World Bank and Struggles for Social Justice in the Age of Globalization

“Offers a new understanding of Laos in a difficult period of nation building and development [and] a vital lesson to policy planners, scholars, and INGOs encountering the illusory success of a globalizing economy.”—Yos Santasombat, from the foreword

Land Economics Journal Welcomes New Editor

Daniel J. Phaneuf

When Daniel W. Bromley assumed the editorship of Land Economics in 1974, the journal had just celebrated fifty years of continuous publication. Bromley is the Anderson-Bascom Professor (Emeritus) of Applied Economics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and recipient of the 2011 Reimar Lüst Prize from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Under Bromley’s leadership, the journal has flourished as a forum for scholarship on the economic aspects of natural and environmental resources. Now, forty-four years later, as Land Economics approaches its centennial, Bromley will pass the baton to Daniel J. Phaneuf.

Phaneuf is the Henry C. Taylor Professor of Agricultural and Applied Economics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He boasts an impressive editorial resume, having served as the inaugural editor in chief of the Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (JAERE) and the managing editor of the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management. He is the president-elect of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists.

In his first “From the Editor” feature, which will appear in Land Economics volume 94 number 3 this July, Phaneuf expresses the ambition “to maintain the journal’s emphasis on empirical and pol­icy-relevant research in the field, while con­tinuing to expand its readership and author community to include broader swaths of re­searchers in the profession.” He continues, “My early emphasis will be on increasing the journal’s visibility, circulation, and overall impact—tasks for which I will call on current authors, readers, and reviewers for assistance and sug­gestions.” Phaneuf notes that he does not anticipate making any changes in the journal’s scholarly focus or the way it is managed.

Land Economics was established in 1925 by Richard T. Ely, founder of the American Economic Association, at the University of Wisconsin. (For more on Ely’s legacy, including the story of how he was tried as a socialist and anarchist in 1894, leading the UW Board of Regents to issue a groundbreaking defense of academic freedom, see this article.) Today, the articles in Land Economics contribute crucial knowledge to discussions of scholarly and public policy topics. The journal publishes research related to environmental quality, natural resources, housing, urban and rural land use, transportation, and other areas in both developed and developing country contexts.

Popular Wisconsin author Jerry Apps envisions a dangerous future in his new novel

A new novel from Jerry Apps is published this week: COLD AS THUNDER.

Since the Eagle Party took power in the United States, all schools and public utilities have been privatized, churches and libraries closed, and independent news media shut down. Drones buzz overhead in constant surveillance of the populace, and the open internet has been replaced by the network of the New Society Corporation. Environmental degradation and unchecked climate change have brought raging wildfires to the Western states and disastrous flooding to Eastern coastal regions.

In the Midwest, a massive storm sends Lake Michigan surging over the Door County peninsula, and thousands of refugees flee inland. In the midst of this apocalypse, the Oldsters, a resourceful band of Wisconsin sixty-somethings, lay secret plans to fight the ruling regime’s propaganda and remind people how to think for themselves.

Q. Cold as Thunder is an intriguing title. How did you come up with it?
A. When I was a kid growing up on a farm in central Wisconsin, when times got tough, prices were down, the rains didn’t come, or a cow had been sick, my dad would say, “These times are cold as thunder.” I’ve never forgotten that, and the picture I paint in this book, especially in the early chapters, would clearly fit my father’s comment that these were times “cold as thunder.”

Q. Dystopian fiction is a new direction for you. What are some of the themes in the book?
A major theme is what consequences could be expected if climate change is ignored, and little or nothing is done to slow it down and plan for it. Another theme: what would a society look like if all agencies, services, and institutions such as education, roads, and healthcare for seniors were privatized, all forms of communication were governmentally controlled, and surveillance of all human activity was widespread? The book is set in a fictional future sixteen years after the Eagle Party gains the presidency of the country and majorities in both houses of Congress.

Q. Who are some of the characters you’ve created in this book?
A. There is a former university professor who was forced from her job. She now heads up a group of seniors called “the Oldsters” who secretly work to educate others. There is a teenager deciding whether to go to Canada to train as an undercover agent. A former CIA agent, now a “fixer” for the National Office of Social Responsibility, shows up to infiltrate the local Oldsters group. And there is Bill the Bartender, who works at the Last Chapter Saloon. It was a library before all libraries were closed.

Jerry Apps

Jerry Apps is the award-winning author of more than thirty-five books on rural history and country life, including his series of Ames County novels. He is profiled in two documentaries aired nationally on public television and is a professor emeritus of education at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

He will speak this evening at a launch event at the Middleton Public Library.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Nazis co-opted German folklore studies

Our guest blogger is James R. Dow, whose new UWP book is published today: Heinrich Himmler’s Cultural Commissions: Programmed Plunder in Italy and Yugoslavia.

Traditional costumes, Folk Art Museum, Innsbruck. Photo by Reinhard Bodner.

“Oh, what a wonderful career you must have had, a specialist in German folklore! All those fairy tales and legends, beautiful folk songs, charming costumes , and those delightful buildings we’ve seen in open-air museums.”

Well, it’s more complicated than that. German folklorists and linguists included world-famous scholars, beginning with the Brothers Grimm and continuing well into the twentieth century. As the Nazis rose to power, however, these disciplines were distorted into racist pseudoscience. Under the direction of Heinrich Himmler’s SS-Ahnenerbe (Ancestral Inheritance), folklore became a tool for constructing a unified German realm and a manufactured lineage from ancient and “pure” Germanic and Nordic blood.

German folklorists and linguists were certainly not alone in selling out to the National Socialist regime, but they were called on to provide the ideological base for Heinrich Himmler’s SS-Ahnenerbe (SS-Ancestral Inheritance). A total of fourteen men and two women, mostly highly educated, became part of cultural commissions sent on a mission to two German-speaking areas: the province of South Tyrol in Italy and Gottschee in Slovenia.

Himmler assigned them to research “the space, spirit, deed, and inheritance of the Nordic races of the Indo-Germanic realm.” The commissions adhered to a belief in a stream of blood, but it proved to be nothing more than a popularized concept of “race,” with everything based on the self-deluding construction of a unified Germanic realm. This was pseudoscience masquerading as hereditary science.

The commissions found pre-Christian tales, ancient Germanic customs, worship sites, architecture, songs sung in parallel fifths, and the last remnants of a Gothic language still very much alive in the mountains, valleys, and villages of the Southern Alps.

Cow decorated with a floral swastika. Photo courtesy of Josef Rainer.

Why is this important? Himmler’s project was arguably the largest field investigation of traditional folklore in history, and the depth of the research carried out on that “Gothic” language, Cymbrian, is unparalleled. But the research was done as part of multiple projects of the SS-Ahnenerbe, which also included conducting medical “research” on prisoners in the concentration camps at Dachau and Natzweiler. When Wolfram Sievers, the business director of the Ahnenerbe, stood trial in Nürnberg in 1946, one piece of evidence brought against him was his collection of Jewish skulls, most likely from Natzweiler. You can view part of his trial on YouTube.

This was state-sponsored research, and some of the researchers were from the same universities where German excellence in scholarship had been unquestioned. The entire undertaking in Italy and Slovenia became nothing less than an affront to honest and responsible scholarship, state-mandated or otherwise. Public sector folklore studies and linguistic documentation today can learn much from this unprecedented and unparalleled occurrence in the annals of the humanities and social science scholarship.

James R. Dow is a professor emeritus of German at Iowa State University. He is the author of German Folklore: A Handbook and The Study of European Ethnology in Austria. He is the editor of numerous books, including The Facts on File Encyclopedia of World Mythologyand Legend and The Nazification of an Academic Discipline.