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America Goes to War

The Civil War and Its Meaning in American Culture

Bruce Catton

A fascinating study of the first modern war and its effect on American Culture.

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America Town

Building the Outposts of Empire

Mark L. Gillem

American servicemen and -women are currently stationed in more than 140 countries from Central America to Western Europe to the Middle East, often living and working on military bases that not only dominate foreign territories but also re-create familiar space that “feels like home”—gated communities filled with rambling subdivisions, franchised restaurants, and lush golf courses.

 

In America Town, Mark Gillem reveals modern military outposts as key symbols of not just American power but also consumer consumption. Through case studies of several U.S. military facilities—including Aviano Air Base in Italy, Osan and Kunsan Air Bases in South Korea, and Kadena Air Base in Japan—Gillem exposes these military installations as exports of the American Dream, as suburban culture replicated in the form of vast green lawns, three-car garages, and big-box stores. With passion and eloquence he questions the impact of this practice on the rest of the world, exposing the arrogance of U.S. consumption of foreign land.

 

Gillem contends that current U.S. military policy for its overseas troops practices avoidance—relocating military bases to isolated but well-appointed compounds designed to prevent contact with the residents. He probes the policy directives behind base building that reproduce widely spaced, abundantly paved, and extensively manicured American suburbs, regardless of the host nation’s terrain and culture or the impact on local communities living under empire’s wings.

 

Throughout America Town, Gillem demonstrates how the excesses of American culture are strikingly evident in the way that the U.S. military builds its outposts. The defense of the United States, he concludes, has led to the massive imposition of tract homes and strip malls on the world—creating mini-Americas that inhibit cultural understanding between U.S. troops and our allies abroad.

 

Mark L. Gillem is assistant professor of architecture and landscape architecture at the University of Oregon. He is also a licensed architect, a certified planner, and a former active-duty U.S. Air Force officer.

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American Architects and Their Books, 1840-1915

edited by Kenneth Hafertepe and James F. O'Gorman

Since the Renaissance, architects have been authors and architecture has been the subject of publications. Architectural forms and theories are spread not just by buildings, but by the distribution of images and descriptions fed through the printing press. The study of an architect's library is an essential avenue to understanding that architect's intentions and judging his or her achievements. In this well-illustrated volume, a chronological sequel to American Architects and Their Books to 1848, twelve distinguished historians of architecture discuss from various points of view the books that inspired architects both famous and not-so-famous, and the books the architects themselves produced. They examine the multifaceted relationship of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century architects to print culture—the literary works that architects collected, used, argued over, wrote, illustrated, designed, printed, were inspired by, cribbed from, educated clients with, advertised their services through, designed libraries for, or just plain enjoyed. The result is a volume that presents the intersection of the history of architecture, the history of ideas, and the history of the book. Changes in print culture during this period had a significant impact on the architectural profession, as revealed in these well-informed scholarly essays. In addition to the editors, contributors include Jhennifer A. Amundson, Edward R. Bosley, Ted Cavanagh, Elspeth Cowell, Elaine Harrington, Michael J. Lewis, Anne E. Mallek, Daniel D. Reiff, Earle G. Shettleworth, Jr., and Chris Szczesny-Adams. Among the architects discussed are A. J. Downing, Charles Sumner Greene, James Sims, Samuel Sloan, John Calvin Stevens, Thomas U. Walter, and Frank Lloyd Wright.

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American Faces

A Cultural History of Portraiture and Identity

Richard H. Saunders

Portraits. We know what they are, but why do we make them? Americans have been celebrating themselves in portraits since the arrival of the first itinerant portrait painters to the colonies. They created images to commemorate loved ones, glorify the famous, establish our national myths, and honor our shared heroes. Whether painting in oil, carving in stone, casting in bronze, capturing on film, or calculating in binary code, we spend considerable time creating, contemplating, and collecting our likenesses.

In this sumptuously illustrated book, Richard H. Saunders explores our collective understanding of portraiture, its history in America, how it shapes our individual and national identity, and why we make portraits—whether for propaganda and public influence or for personal and private appreciation. American Faces is a rich and fascinating view of ourselves.

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The American Kaleidoscope

Race, Ethnicity, and the Civic Culture

Lawrence H. Fuchs

Do recent changes in American law and politics mean that our national motto -- e pluribus unum -- is at last becoming a reality? Lawrence H. Fuchs searches for answers to this question by examining the historical patterns of American ethnicity and the ways in which a national political culture has evolved to accommodate ethnic diversity. Fuchs looks first at white European immigrants, showing how most of them and especially their children became part of a unifying political culture. He also describes the ways in which systems of coercive pluralism kept persons of color from fully participating in the civic culture. He documents the dismantling of those systems and the emergence of a more inclusive and stronger civic culture in which voluntary pluralism flourishes.

In comparing past patterns of ethnicity in America with those of today, Fuchs finds reasons for optimism. Diversity itself has become a unifying principle, and Americans now celebrate ethnicity. One encouraging result is the acculturation of recent immigrants from Third World countries. But Fuchs also examines the tough issues of racial and ethnic conflict and the problems of the ethno-underclass, the new outsiders. The American Kaleidoscope ends with a searching analysis of public policies that protect individual rights and enable ethnic diversity to prosper.

Because of his lifelong involvement with issues of race relations and ethnicity, Lawrence H. Fuchs is singularly qualified to write on a grand scale about the interdependence in the United States of the unum and the pluribus. His book helps to clarify some difficult issues that policymakers will surely face in the future, such as those dealing with immigration, language, and affirmative action.

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American Pietàs

Visions of Race, Death, and the Maternal

Ruby C. Tapia

In American Pietàs, Ruby C. Tapia reveals how visual representations of racialized motherhood shape and reflect national citizenship. By means of a sustained engagement with Roland Barthes’s suturing of race, death, and the maternal in Camera Lucida, Tapia contends that the contradictory essence of the photograph is both as a signifier of death and a guarantor of resurrection.

Tapia explores the implications of this argument for racialized productions of death and the maternal in the context of specific cultural moments: the commemoration of Princess Diana in U.S. magazines; the intertext of Toni Morrison’s and Hollywood’s Beloved; the social and cultural death in teen pregnancy, imaged and regulated in California’s Partnership for Responsible Parenting campaigns; and popular constructions of the “Widows of 9/11” in print and televisual journalism.

Taken together, these various visual media texts function in American Pietàs as cultural artifacts and as visual nodes in a larger network of racialized productions of maternal bodies in contexts of national death and remembering. To engage this network is to ask how and toward what end the racial project of the nation imbues some maternal bodies with resurrecting power and leaves others for dead. In the spaces between these different maternities, says Tapia, U.S. citizen-subjects are born—and reborn.

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Analyzing Design Review Conversations

Design is ubiquitous. Speaking across disciplines, it is a way of thinking that involves dealing with complex, open-ended, and contextualized problems that embody the ambiguities and contradictions in everyday life. It has become a part of pre-college education standards, is integral to how college prepares students for the future, and is playing a lead role in shaping a global innovation imperative. Efforts to advance design thinking, learning, and teaching have been the focus of the Design Thinking Research Symposium (DTRS) series. A unique feature of this series is a shared dataset in which leading design researchers globally are invited to apply their specific expertise to the dataset and bring their disciplinary interests in conversation with each other to bring together multiple facets of design thinking and catalyze new ways for teaching design thinking. Analyzing Design Review Conversations is organized around this shared dataset of conversations between those who give and those who receive feedback, guidance, or critique during a design review event. Design review conversations are a common and prevalent practice for helping designers develop design thinking expertise, although the structure and content of these reviews vary significantly. They make the design thinking of design coaches (instructors, experts, peers, and community and industry stakeholders) and design students visible. During a design review, coaches notice problematic and promising aspects of a designer’s work. In this way, design students are supported in revisiting and critically evaluating their design rationales, and making sense of a design review experience in ways that allow them to construct their design thinking repertoire and evolving design identity.

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Anarchism and Art

Democracy in the Cracks and on the Margins

Mark Mattern

Interprets popular art forms as exhibiting core anarchist values and presaging a more democratic world.

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Anarchy

New York City–January 1988

John Cage

"That government is best which governs not at all; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have." This quote from Henry David Thoreau's Essay on Civil Disobedience is one of thirty quotations from which John Cage created Anarchy, a book-length lecture comprising twenty mesostic poems. Composed with the aid of a computer program to simulate the coin toss of the I Ching, Anarchy draws on the writings of many serious anarchists including Emma Goldman, Peter Kropotkin, and Mario Malatesta, not so much making arguments for anarchism as "brushing information against information," giving the very words new combinations that de-familiarize and re-energize them. Now widely available of the first time, Anarchy marks the culmination of Cage's work as a poet, composer and as a thinker about contemporary society.

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Ancient Origins of the Mexican Plaza

From Primordial Sea to Public Space

By Logan Wagner, Hal Box, and Susan Kline Morehead

Extensively illustrated with detailed site plans and photographs, this architectural history of the Mexican plaza reveals why this central public space has been the heart of the community from ancient Mesoamerican times until the present.

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