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John Cage and the American Experimental Tradition
Christopher Shultis has observed an intriguing contrast between John Cage's affinity for Thoreau and fellow composer Charles Ives's connection with Emerson. Although both Thoreau and Emerson have been called transcendentalists, they held different views about the relationship between nature and humanity and about the artist's role in creativity. Shultis explores the artist's "sounded" or "silenced" selves--the self that takes control of the creative experience versus the one that seeks to coexist with it--and shows how recognizing this distinction allows a better understanding of Cage. He then extends the contrasts between Emerson and Thoreau to distinctions between objective and projective verse. Having placed Cage in this experimental tradition of music, poetry, and literature, Shultis offers provocative interpretations of Cage's aesthetic views, especially as they concern the issue of non-intention, and addresses some of his most path-breaking music as well as several experimentally innovative written works.
The Making and Unmaking of a National Marine Sanctuary
The Gerry E. Studds Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary is located at the mouth of Massachusetts Bay, only twenty-five miles east of Boston. The area's nutrient-rich waters attract a cornucopia of sea life--which in turn supports both recreational and commercial fisheries, along with a lucrative whale-watching industry. Peter Borrelli, who served on the sanctuary's federally appointed advisory council for more than ten years, provides an insider's view of the problems of managing a chronically under-funded marine preserve that is often of two minds about its mission. This is a sobering and well-considered examination of what happens when well-intentioned legislation meets the reality of trying to protect an extremely delicate and intensely popular ecosystem.
Women's Strategic Use of Humor
Published by Viking in 1991 and issued as a paperback through Penguin Books in 1992, Snow White became an instant classic for both academic and general audiences interested in how women use humor and what others (men) think about funny women. Barreca, who draws on the work of scholars, writers, and comedians to illuminate a sharp critique of the gender-specific aspects of humor, provides laughs and provokes arguments as she shows how humor helps women break rules and occupy center stage. Barreca's new introduction provides a funny and fierce, up-to-the-minute account of the fate of women's humor over the past twenty years, mapping what has changed in our culture--and questioning what hasn't.
The personal reflections and insights of one professor and writer on the experience of teaching at the “poorest college in America” Since 1986, Robert Klose has taught biology at a “small, impoverished, careworn” college in central Maine. Located on a former military base, the school became first the South Campus of the University of Maine, or SCUM, and later, Penobscot Valley Community College, then Bangor Community College, and most recently University College of Bangor. Despite its improved nomenclature, University College of Bangor remains an open-admissions environment at which “one never knows what’s going to come in over the transom.” Klose’s nontraditional students have included, in addition to single parents and veterans, the homeless, the abused, ex-cons, and even a murderer (who was otherwise “a very nice person”). Chronicling his experiences teaching these diverse students, Klose describes with equal doses of care and wry wit those who are profoundly unfit for college, their often inadequate command of the lingua franca, and the alacrity with which they seize upon the paranormal (the three-legged woman) while expressing skepticism about mainstream science. He reflects on the decline of reading for enjoyment and the folly of regarding email as a praiseworthy substitute for expository writing. He details what works in the classroom, identifies what has failed, and relates stories of the absurd, the sublime, and the unanticipated, such as one student’s outburst following a discussion of evolution: “For what you have taught today you shall be damned to everlasting fires of hell!” Tempering thoughtfulness with a light touch and plenty of humor, these essays prove that teaching, an “imperfect occupation,” remains a “special profession.”
Edmund Wilson and Mary McCarthy on Cape Cod
The Cape as evoked and experienced by a legendary literary couple Edmund Wilson (1895–1972) and Mary McCarthy (1912–1989), famed authors, literary critics, libertines, and leftists, were married for seven years and had one child together, Reuel K. Wilson. While bringing forward new biographical revelations, as well as texts that have never been published before, Reuel K. Wilson chronicles his parents’ lives on Cape Cod, together and apart, while examining their relationships with the landscape around them, both human and physical. The book combines biography, cultural history, and literary analysis in an effort to, as the author writes, “impart a sense of the two protagonists’ flesh, blood, nerves, and determination to make an artistic synthesis from observation and experience. If they recreate the place, my role has been to recreate them in it.”
America's Failing Infrastructure and the Way Forward
In August 2007, the I-35W Bridge in Minneapolis collapsed, killing 13 people and injuring 145 others. Investigations following the tragedy revealed that it was not an unavoidable accident, but one that could have been prevented--and one that threatens to be repeated at many thousands of bridges located across the nation. Already more than 50 percent of our bridges are past their intended lifespan. Using the I-35W Bridge as a starting point, LePatner chronicles the problems that led to that catastrophe--poor bridge design, shoddy maintenance, ignored expert recommendations for repair, and misallocated funding--and then explores the responses to the tragedy, including the NTSB document which failed to report the full story to our nation.
From here LePatner evaluates what the I-35W Bridge collapse means for the country as a whole--outlining the possibility of a nationwide infrastructure breakdown. He exposes government failure on a national as well as state level, uncovering how our nation's transportation system prioritizes funding for new projects over maintenance funding for aging infrastructure. He explains the imperatives for why we must maintain an effective infrastructure system, and how it plays a central role in supporting both our nation's economic strength and our national security.
Written both for those who can effect change and for those who must demand it, Too Big to Fall presents an eye-opening critique of a bureaucratic system that has allowed political best interests to trump those of the American people.
Helping Writers Survive and Thrive
All writers have stories of how some teacher, workshop participant, friend, or spouse gave them commentary that undermined their confidence and their writing. This "toxic feedback" has tainted feedback's reputation as a whole, causing too many writers to avoid or mismanage this valuable resource.
In the first book to focus on this vital but delicate dynamic, Joni B. Cole applies first-person experience, real-life teaching examples, and her own unique ability to entertain while reaffirming the many merits of feedback. Cole shows writers how to use feedback to energize and inform their writing at every stage of the process. For feedback providers, she delivers insights into constructive criticism and the difference between being heard and being obnoxious. Finally, she offers advice to workshops and critique groups on how to thrive in this collective experience.
In addition, established writers ranging from Julia Alvarez and Khaled Hosseini to Gregory Maguire and Jodi Picoult share their own feedback stories -- from useful to inspiring to deranged -- underscoring Cole's message that feedback plays a critical role in every writer's success.
Through a mixture of instruction, anecdotes, and moral support, Cole manages to detoxify the feedback process with humor and without laying blame, inspiring both sides of the interaction to make the most of this powerful resource.
Beyond Women and Men
In this extraordinary book, based on 150 in-depth interviews, Lori B. Girshick, a sociologist and social justice activist, brings together the voices of sex- and gender-diverse people who speak with absolute candor about their lives. Girshick presents transpeople speaking in their own voices about identity, coming out, passing, sexual orientation, relationship negotiations and the dynamics of attraction, homophobia (including internalized fears), and bullying. She exposes the guilt and the shame that "gender police" use in their attempts to exert control and points out the many ways transpeople are discriminated against in daily life, from filling out identification documents to gender-segregated bathrooms.
By showing us a variety of descriptions of diverse real lives and providing a thorough exploration of the embodied experiences of gender variant people, Girshick demonstrates that there is nothing inherently binary about gender, and that the way each of us experiences our own gender is, in fact, normal and natural.
The Life and Times of Senator Claiborne Pell
The only biography of Claiborne Pell, the six-term senator from Rhode Island best known as the sponsor of the educational Pell Grants Claiborne Pell (1918–2009) was Rhode Island’s longest serving U.S. senator, with six consecutive terms from 1961 to 1997. A liberal Democrat, Pell is best known as the sponsor of the Pell Grants. He was also the force behind the creation of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and a visionary in high-speed rail transportation and other areas. An early environmentalist and opponent of the Vietnam War, Pell left his mark on several treaties and peace initiatives. Born into the wealthy family that settled the Bronx, New York, Pell married Nuala O’Donnell, an heiress to the A&P fortune. He lived on the waterfront in exclusive Newport, Rhode Island, yet was a favorite of blue-collar voters. Frugal and quirky, he believed in ESP and UFOs, and was often seen jogging in a sports coat and shorts. Both his hard work and his personality left an indelible mark on this small but influential state—and on America. This lively biography was written with the cooperation of the senator’s family, and with exclusive access to family records and the extensive archives at the University of Rhode Island.
The Kennedys, a Sailboat, and the Sea
To truly understand the dynamics and magic of the Kennedy family, one must understand their passion for sailing and the sea. Many families sail together, but the Kennedys' relationship with Victura, the 25-foot sloop purchased in 1932, stands apart. Throughout their brief lives, Joe Jr., Jack, and Bobby spent many hours racing Victura. Lack of effort in a race by one of his sons could infuriate Joseph P. Kennedy, and Joe Jr. and Jack ranked among the best collegiate sailors in New England. Likewise, Eunice emerged as a gifted sailor and fierce competitor, the equal of any of her brothers.
The Kennedys believed that Jack's experience sailing Victura helped him survive the sinking of his PT boat during World War II. In the 1950s, glossy Life magazine photos of Jack and Jackie on Victura's bow helped define the winning Kennedy brand. Jack doodled sketches of Victura during Oval Office meetings, and it's probable that his love of seafaring played a role in his 1961 decision to put a man on the moon, an enterprise he referred to as "spacefaring."
Ted loved Victura as much as any of his siblings did and, with his own children and the children of his lost brothers as crew, he sailed into his old age: past the shoals of an ebbing career, and into his eventual role as the "Lion of the Senate." In Victura, James W. Graham charts the progress of America's signature twentieth-century family dynasty in a narrative both stunningly original and deeply gripping. This true tale of one small sailboat is an invaluable contribution to our understanding of the great story of the Kennedys.