Monday, December 09, 2013

Winter 2013 Booknotes

The Allure of the Archives, by Arlett Farge (Yale, 2013) A new translation of a classic. “Originally published in 1989, Farge’s classic work communicates the tactile, interpretive, and emotional experience of archival research while sharing astonishing details about life under the Old Regime in France. At once a practical guide to research methodology and an elegant literary reflection on the challenges of writing history, this uniquely rich volume demonstrates how surrendering to the archive’s allure can forever change how we understand the past.” –publisher’s description 
The App Generation: How Today’s Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy, and Imagination in a Digital World, by Howard Gardner and Katie Davis (Yale, 2013). The authors “approach their subject in a constructive spirit, providing analytical tools to distinguish among apps, the ones that will stifle and the ones that will nurture.” –Sherry Turkle, MIT
The Arab Avant-Garde: Music, Politics, Modernity, edited by Thomas Burkhalter, Kay Dickinson, and Benjamin J. Harbart (Wesleyan University, 2013). “Investigates the plethora of compositional and improvisational techniques, performance styles, political motivations, professional trainings, and inter-continental collaborations that claim the mantle of "innovation" within Arab and Arab diaspora music.” –publisher’s description
Black Code: Inside the Battle for Cyberspace (Random House, 2013). An in-depth look at the growing insecurity of the Internet…a meticulous examination of the “malicious threats that are growing from the inside out” and which “threaten to destroy the fragile ecosystem we have come to take for granted.”—Adam Thierer, George Mason University
Communicating Climate Change and Energy Security: New Methods in Understanding Audiences, by Greg Philo and Catherine Happer (Routledge, 2013). “Examines the contemporary public debate on climate change and the linked issue of energy security…The authors address fundamental questions about how to adequately inform the public and develop policy in areas of great social importance when public distrust of politicians is so widespread. The new methods of attitudinal research pioneered here combined with the attention to climate change have application and resonance beyond the UK. –publisher’s description
The Cool School: Writing from America’s Hip Underground, edited by Glenn O’Brien (Library of America, 2013). “A kaleidoscopic guided tour through the margins and subterranean tribes of mid-twentieth century America—the worlds of jazz, of disaffected postwar youth, of those alienated by racial and sexual exclusion, of outlaws and drug users creating their own dissident networks. Whether labeled as Bop or Beat or Punk, these outsider voices ignored or suppressed by the mainstream would merge and recombine in unpredictable ways, and change American culture forever.” –publisher’s description
Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government is Smarter, by Ilya Somin (Stanford, 2013). "Illuminates both the extent of political ignorance and why maintaining such ignorance is rational for voters who recognize the near-futility of their efforts at political engagement."—Sanford Levinson, The University of Texas Law School
The Democratic Surround: Multimedia and American Liberalism From World War II to the Psychedelic Sixties, by Fred Turner (University of Chicago. 2013). “A dazzling cultural history that demonstrates how American intellectuals, artists, and designers from the 1930s to the 1960s imagined new kinds of collective events—different from fascism’s crowds—that were intended to promote a powerful experience of American democracy in action. Drawing parallels across a wide set of venues—from MoMA’s Road to Victory and Family of Man shows of the mid-century period to the 1959 National Exhibition in Moscow to the Happenings of the sixties counterculture, Turner challenges us to think about the lines between information, entertainment, art, and propaganda. Along the way he shows how important the media have become to the design of collective experiences and forms of democratic citizenship” --Lynn Spigel, Northwestern University
Different Bodies: Essays on Disability in Film and Television, edited by Marja Evelyn Mogk (McFarland, 2013). ”Collection of 19 new essays by 21 different authors from the United States, the UK, Canada, Australia and India focusing on contemporary film and television (1989 to the present) from those countries as well as from China, Korea, Thailand and France.
Digital Politics in Western Democracies: A Comparative Study by Cristian Vaccari (Johns Hopkins, 2013). “Greatly advances our understanding of digital politics while engaging with the wider debates in political science, as well as media and communications studies, through rigorous comparative analysis and engaging writing.” –Bruce Bimber, University of California, Santa Barbara
Framing the Net: The Internet and Human Rights, by Rikke Frank Jorgensen (Edward Elgar, 2013). “Deconstructing four key metaphors-- the Internet as infrastructure, public sphere, medium and culture…shows where the challenges to human rights protection online lie and how to confront them…develops clear policy proposals for national and international Internet policy-makers, all based on human rights.”Wolfgang Benedek, University of Graz, Austria
The Future of Social Movement Research: Dynamics, Mechanisms, and Processes, edited by Jacquelien van Stekelenburg, Conny Roggeband, and Bert Klandermans (University of Minnesota, 2013). “ Major, very important work which brings together the leading lights in the international, interdisciplinary, invisible college of social movement scholars…combines thoughtful essays on the state of the art in the study of contentious politics with grounded speculation on the many still unanswered or incompletely answered questions. The authors do an excellent job of distinguishing what is based on solid empirical research and what would require additional research to answer with confidence.” --William Gamson, Boston College  
The Gamble: Choice and Chance in the 2012 Presidential Election, by John Sides and Lynn Vavreck (Princeton, 2013). "The 2012 election was when Moneyball defeated Game Change--and Sides and Vavreck explain why political scientists and number-crunchers were able to forecast the results well in advance, while the conventional wisdom was so often wrong…definitive account of what really happened and what really mattered in the campaign."--Nate Silver, author of The Signal and the Noise
Hatemail, by Salo Aizenberg ( University of Nebraska, 2013). Examines the content and usage of anti-Semitic postcards throughout the world, especially during the pre-Holocaust years. 
How Media Inform Democracy: A Comparative Approach, edited by Toril Aalberg and James Curran (Routledge, 2013). Leading researchers consider how media inform democracy in six countries – the United States, the United Kingdom, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden.
How to Watch Television, edited by Ethan Thompson and Jason Mittell (New York University, 2013). “Brings together forty original essays from today’s leading scholars on television culture, writing about the programs they care (and think) the most about. Each essay focuses on a particular television show, demonstrating one way to read the program and, through it, our media culture.” –publisher’s description 
Listening Publics: The Politics and Experience of Listening in the Media Age, by Kate Lacy (Polity, 2013). A sparkling synthesis of broadcast history and social theory that is full of original insights and nuggets from primary research...unfolds the neglected politics and ethics of the ear. A marvelously sane plea for listening as a key mode of participation in the public sphere." --John D. Peters, University of Iowa 
Saturday Night Live and American TV, edited by Nick Mar, Matt Sienkiewicz, and Ron Becker (Indiana University Press, 2013). Critical assessment of the show in relation to its media environment.
 Serial Fu Manchu: The Chinese Supervillain and the Spread of Yellow Peril Ideology, by Ruth Mayer (Temple University Press, 2013). Chinese characters in books, movies, comic books, and television since 1913. 
Social Acceleration: A New Theory of Modernity, by Hartmut Rosa (Columbia, 2013).“…the most developed and most important social theoretical analysis of the acceleration of time from the perspective of critical theory. His theory of social acceleration is of great importance, since it explains how our social lives are speeding up, and extends critical theory into a new and fruitful avenue of inquiry -- and maybe even into a new generation of social theorizing and critique.” --Jerald Wallulis, University of South Carolina.
Social Media and the Law: A Guidebook for Communication Students and Professions, edited by Daxton R. Stewart (Routledge, 2013). The legal ramifications of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and Flickr in relation to issues of free speech, defamation, privacy, terms of use, intellectual property, student speech, government information, obscenity, cyberbullying, social media in courtrooms, and policies for journalist, advertisers and public relations professionals. 
Social Media in the Courtroom: A New Era for Criminal Justice? by Thaddeus A. Hoffmeister (ABC-Clio, 2013). Social media is now used as proof of a crime; further, social media has become a vehicle for criminal activity. How should the law respond to the issue of online predators, stalkers, and identity thieves? This book comprehensively examines the complex impacts of social media on the major players in the criminal justice system: private citizens, attorneys, law enforcement officials, and judges. It outlines the many ways social media affects the judicial process, citing numerous example cases that demonstrate the legal challenges; and examines the issue from all sides, including law enforcement's role, citizens' privacy issues, and the principles of the Fourth Amendment. –Publisher’s website
Spam: A Shadow History of the Internet, by Finn Brunton (MIT, 2013).  “Shows us how spam has coevolved with social media, an arms race where new communal tools and behaviors designed to fight spam lead to new kinds of spam, which leads to still newer tools and behaviors.” –Clay Shirky, New York University
Supercinema: Film-Philosophy for the Digital Age, by William Brown (Berghahn Books, 2013). Drawing on a variety of popular films, including Avatar, Enter the Void, Fight Club, The Matrix, Speed Racer, X-Men and War of the Worlds… studies the ways in which digital special effects and editing techniques require a new theoretical framework in order to be properly understood… proposes that while analogue cinema often tried to hide the technological limitations of its creation through ingenious methods, digital cinema hides its technological omnipotence through the continued use of the conventions of analogue cinema. As such, digital cinema is analogous to Superman hiding his powers behind the persona of Clark Kent - as opposed to most other superheroes who hide their limitation behind their superheroic alter ego. --publisher’s description
Surveillance on Screen: Monitoring Contemporary Films and Television Programs, by Sebastien Lefait (University of Corsica, 2013)  “Drawing on the rapidly developing field of surveillance studies, Lefait offers an in-depth analysis of television shows and films, which complement current theoretical approaches to those subjects. This unique combination of surveillance theories with the latest concepts of film, television, and Internet studies is based on a large and diversified range of popular series and films, including the shows 24, Lost, and Survivor as well as such films as Minority Report, Paranormal Activity, The Truman Show, and the on-screen version of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.”—publisher’s description

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