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“I have read all of Daniel Aaron’s books, and admired them, but in The Americanist I believe he has composed an intellectual and social memoir for which he will be remembered. His self-portrait is marked by personal tact and admirable restraint: he is and is not its subject. The Americanist is a vision of otherness: literary and academic friends and acquaintances, here and abroad. Eloquently phrased and free of nostalgia, it catches a lost world that yet engendered much of our own.” —Harold Bloom “The Americanist is the absorbing intellectual autobiography of Daniel Aaron, who is the leading proponent and practitioner of American Studies. Written with grace and wit, it skillfully blends Daniel Aaron’s personal story with the history of the field he has done so much to create. This is a first-rate book by a first-rate scholar.” —David Herbert Donald, Professor Emeritus, Harvard University The Americanist is author and critic Daniel Aaron’s anthem to nearly a century of public and private life in America and abroad. Aaron, who is widely regarded as one of the founders of American Studies, graduated from the University of Michigan, received his Ph.D. from Harvard, and taught for over three decades each at Smith College and Harvard. Aaron writes with unsentimental nostalgia about his childhood in Los Angeles and Chicago and his later academic career, which took him around the globe, often in the role of America’s accidental yet impartial critic. When Walt Whitman, whom Aaron frequently cites as a touchstone, wrote, “I am large, I contain multitudes,” he could have been describing Daniel Aaron—the consummate erudite and Renaissance individual whose allegiance to the truth always outweighs mere partisan loyalty. Not only should Aaron’s book stand as a resplendent and summative work from one of the finest thinkers of the last hundred years, it also succeeds on its own as a first-rate piece of literature, on a par with the writings of any of its subjects. The Americanist is a veritable Who’s Who of twentieth-century writers Aaron interviewed, interacted with, or otherwise encountered throughout his life: Ralph Ellison, Robert Frost, Lillian Hellman, Richard Hofstadter, Alfred Kazin, Sinclair Lewis, Malcolm Muggeridge, John Crowe Ransom, Upton Sinclair, Edmund Wilson, Leonard Woolf, and W. B. Yeats, to name only a few. Aaron’s frank and personal observations of these literary lights make for lively reading. As well, scattered throughout The Americanist are illuminating portraits of American presidents living and passed—miniature masterworks of astute political observation that offer dazzlingly fresh approaches to well-trod subjects.
Public Evaluations of Congress and Electoral Consequences
Jones and McDermott's groundbreaking book makes a strong case for the proposition that the popular standing of Congress (not merely that of its individual members) influences voters' decisions. Voters enforce collective responsibility, they contend, and Congress takes notice. This will be an important read for all students of Congress and congressional elections. ---Gary C. Jacobson, Professor of Political Science, University of California, San Diego "Jones and McDermott have set a new standard for empirical analyses of responsiveness and representation in contemporary American politics. They frame the important substantive and normative questions, highlight the problems that have bedeviled previous work, and combine disparate data sets and sophisticated analytic techniques to develop new and important findings about the relationship between citizen preferences, legislator actions, and government policies. It is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the nature of citizen-representative linkages under real-world conditions." ---William Bianco, Professor of Political Science, Indiana University "This book engages important questions related to congressional elections with new theoretical arguments and new data. It comes to conclusions that are contrary to widely accepted views in the literature, arguing that the public cares politically about the policies produced by Congress, that voters are able to have a reasonable amount of information about what Congress does in this realm, and that voters' perceptions on these matters have important electoral consequences. I think this book will be widely read and cited, and that it will have an impact on the scholarly debates about elections and polarization." ---David W. Rohde, Professor of Political Science, Duke University "Americans, Congress, and Democratic Responsiveness is an interesting book with important and compelling results. Jones and McDermott restore meaning to democratic responsibility by finding that public evaluations affect Congress. In contrast to the popular depiction of the representatives controlling the represented rampant in the political science literature, Jones and McDermott show that the people are in control, determining not only the direction of policy in Congress, but also who stays, who retires, and who faces difficult reelection efforts. This book makes an important correction to our understanding of how Congress operates." ---Sean M. Theriault, Associate Professor, Department of Government, the University of Texas at Austin Voters may not know the details of specific policies, but they have a general sense of how well Congress serves their own interests and how closely politicians pay attention to public approval ratings. David Jones and Monika McDermott show, through new empirical analysis, that both politicians and voters take a hand in reconfiguring the House and Senate when the majority party is unpopular, as was the case during the 2008 elections. Candidates who continue to run under the party banner distance themselves from party ideology, while voters throw hard-line party members out of office. In this way, public approval and democratic responsibility directly affect policy shifts and turnovers at election time. Contrary to the common view of Congress as an insulated institution, Congress is indeed responsive to the people of the United States. David R. Jones is Professor of Political Science at Baruch College, City University of New York. Monika L. McDermott is Associate Professor of Political Science at Fordham University. Jacket photograph: iStockphoto.com © Slowgogo
Cultural Mobility and Exchange in New York, 1952-2011
America’s Japan and Japan’s Performing Arts studies the images and myths that have shaped the reception of Japan-related theater, music, and dance in the United States since the 1950s. Soon after World War II, visits by Japanese performing artists to the United States emerged as a significant category of American cultural-exchange initiatives aimed at helping establish and build friendly ties with Japan. Barbara E. Thornbury explores how “Japan” and “Japanese culture” have been constructed, reconstructed, and transformed in response to the hundreds of productions that have taken place over the past sixty years in New York, the main entry point and defining cultural nexus in the United States for the global touring market in the performing arts. Thornbury crosses disciplinary boundaries in her wide range of both primary sources and published scholarship, making the book of interest to students and scholars of performing arts studies, Japanese studies, and cultural studies.
The Culture of Capital Punishment
Thorough and unbiased, Among the Lowest of the Dead is a gripping narrative that provides an unprecedented journalistic look into the actual workings of the capital punishment system. "Has all the tension of the best true crime stories . . . This is journalism at its best." --Library Journal "A compelling argument against capital punishment. . . . Examining politicians, judges (including Supreme Court Justices), prosecutors, defense attorneys and the condemned themselves, the author makes an effective case that, despite new laws, execution is no less a lottery than it has always been." --Publishers Weekly "In a fine and important book, Von Drehle writes elegantly and powerfully. . . . Anyone certain of their opinion about the death penalty ought to read this book." -- Booklist "An extremely well-informed and richly insightful book of great value to students of the death penalty as well as intelligent general readers with a serious interest in the subject, Among the Lowest of the Dead is also exciting reading. The book is an ideal guide for new generations of readers who want to form knowledgeable judgments in the continuing--and recently accelerating--controversies about capital punishment." --Anthony Amsterdam, New York University "Among the Lowest of the Dead is a powerfully written and meticulously researched book that makes an invaluable contribution to the growing public dialogue about capital punishment in America. It's one of those rare books that bridges the gap between mass audiences and scholarly disciplines, the latter including sociology, political science, criminology and journalism. The book is required reading in my Investigative Journalism classes--and my students love it!" --David Protess, Northwestern University "Among The Lowest of the Dead deserves a permanent place in the literature as literature, and is most relevant to today's death penalty debate as we moderate advocates and abolitionists search for common ground." --Robert Blecker, New York Law School David Von Drehle is Senior Writer, The Washington Post and author of Triangle: The Fire that Changed America.
Studies in Lucan's Epic Technique
Imperial Latin epic has seen a renaissance of scholarly interest. This book illuminates the work of the poet Lucan, a contemporary of the emperor Nero who as nephew of the imperial adviser Seneca moved in the upper echelons of Neronian society. This
Performing Species Today
We all have an animal story—the pet we loved, the wild animal that captured our childhood imagination, the deer the neighbor hit while driving. While scientific breakthroughs in animal cognition, the effects of global climate change and dwindling animal habitats, and the exploding interdisciplinary field of animal studies have complicated things, such stories remain a part of how we tell the story of being human. Animal Acts collects eleven exciting, provocative, and moving stories by solo performers, accompanied by commentary that places the works in a broader context. Work by leading theater artists Holly Hughes, Rachel Rosenthal, Deke Weaver, Carmelita Tropicana, and others joins commentary by major scholars including Donna Haraway, Jane Desmond, Jill Dolan, and Nigel Rothfels. Una Chaudhuri’s introduction provides a vital foundation for understanding and appreciating the intersection of animal studies and performance. The anthology foregrounds questions of race, gender, sexuality, class, nation, and other issues central to the human project within the discourse of the “post human,” and will appeal to readers interested in solo performance, animal studies, gender studies, performance studies, and environmental studies.
Selections from Then and Now
Twenty-five years ago Grace Shackman began to document the history of Ann Arbor’s buildings, events, and people in the Ann Arbor Observer. Soon Shackman’s articles, which depicted every aspect of life in Ann Arbor during the city’s earlier eras, became much-anticipated regular stories. Readers turned to her illuminating minihistories when they wanted to know about a particular landmark, structure, personality, organization, or business from Ann Arbor’s past. Packed with photographs from Ann Arbor of yesteryear and the present day, Ann Arbor Observed compiles the best of Shackman’s articles in one book divided into eight sections: public buildings and institutions, the University of Michigan, transportation, industry, downtown Ann Arbor, recreation and culture, social fabric and communities, and architecture. For long-time residents, Ann Arbor expatriates, University of Michigan alumni, and visitors alike, Ann Arbor Observed provides a rare glimpse of the bygone days of a town with a rich and varied history. Grace Shackman is a history columnist for the Ann Arbor Observer, the Community Observer, and the Old West Side News, as well as a writer for University of Michigan publications. She is the author of two previous books: Ann Arbor in the 19th Century and Ann Arbor in the 20th Century.
Literary Traces of Eugene O'Neill and Agnes Boulton
An engrossing biography about the marital breakdown of a major literary figure, of particular interest for what it reveals about O'Neill's creative process, activities, and bohemian lifestyle at the time of his early successes and some of his most interesting experimental work. In addition, King's discussion of Boulton's efforts as a writer of pulp fiction in the early part of the 20th century reveals an interesting side of popular fiction writing at that time, and gives insight into the lifestyle of the liberated woman. ---Stephen Wilmer, Trinity College, Dublin Biographers of American playwright Eugene O'Neill have been quick to label his marriage to actress Carlotta Monterey as the defining relationship of his illustrious career. But in doing so, they overlook the woman whom Monterey replaced---Agnes Boulton, O'Neill's wife of over a decade and mother to two of his children. O'Neill and Boulton were wed in 1918---a time when she was a successful pulp novelist and he was still a little-known writer of one-act plays. During the decade of their marriage, he gained fame as a Broadway dramatist who rejected commercial compromise, while she mapped that contentious territory known as the literary marriage. His writing reflected her, and hers reflected him, as they tried to realize progressive ideas about what a marriage should be. But after O'Neill left the marriage, he and new love Carlotta Monterey worked diligently to put Boulton out of sight and mind---and most O'Neill biographers have been quick to follow suit. William Davies King has brought Agnes Boulton to light again, providing new perspectives on America's foremost dramatist, the dynamics of a literary marriage, and the story of a woman struggling to define herself in the early twentieth century. King shows how the configuration of O'Neill and Boulton's marriage helps unlock many of O'Neill's plays. Drawing on more than sixty of Boulton's published and unpublished writings, including her 1958 memoir, Part of a Long Story, and an extensive correspondence, King rescues Boulton from literary oblivion while offering the most radical revisionary reading of the work of Eugene O'Neill in a generation. William Davies King is Professor of Theater at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and author of several books, most recently Collections of Nothing, chosen by Amazon.com as one of the Best Books of 2008. Illustration: Eugene O'Neill, Shane O'Neill, and Agnes Boulton ca. 1923. Eugene O'Neill Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.
This book is a project in comparative history, but along two distinct axes, one historical and the other historiographical. Its purpose is to constructively juxtapose the early modern European and Chinese approaches to historical study that have been called "antiquarian." As an exercise in historical recovery, the essays in this volume amass new information about the range of antiquarian-type scholarship on the past, on nature, and on peoples undertaken at either end of the Eurasian landmass between 1500 and 1800. As a historiographical project, the book challenges the received---and often very much under conceptualized---use of the term "antiquarian" in both European and Chinese contexts. Readers will not only learn more about the range of European and Chinese scholarship on the past---and especially the material past---but they will also be able to integrate some of the historiographical observations and corrections into new ways of conceiving of the history of historical scholarship in Europe since the Renaissance, and to reflect on the impact of these European terms on Chinese approaches to the Chinese past. This comparison is a two-way street, with the European tradition clarified by knowledge of Chinese practices, and Chinese approaches better understood when placed alongside the European ones.
The great mathematician Archimedes, a Sicilian Greek whose machines defended Syracuse against the Romans during the Second Punic War, was killed by a Roman after the city fell, yet it is largely Roman sources, and Greek texts aimed at Roman audiences, that preserve the stories about him. Archimedes' story, Mary Jaeger argues, thus becomes a locus where writers explore the intersection of Greek and Roman culture, and as such it plays an important role in Roman self-definition. Jaeger uses the biography of Archimedes as a hermeneutic tool, providing insight into the construction of the traditional historical narrative about the Roman conquest of the Greek world and the Greek cultural invasion of Rome. By breaking down the narrative of Archimedes' life and examining how the various anecdotes that comprise it are embedded in their contexts, the book offers fresh readings of passages from both well-known and less-studied authors, including Polybius, Cicero, Livy, Vitruvius, Plutarch, Silius Italicus, Valerius Maximus, Johannes Tzetzes, and Petrarch. "Jaeger, in her meticulous and elegant study of different ancient accounts of his life and inventions...reveal more about how the Romans thought about their conquest of the Greek world than about 'science'." ---Helen King, Times Literary Supplement "An absolutely wonderful book on a truly original and important topic. As Jaeger explores neglected texts that together tell an important story about the Romans' views of empire and their relationship to Greek cultural accomplishments, so she has written an important new chapter in the history of science. A genuine pleasure to read, from first page to last." ---Andrew Feldherr, Associate Professor of Classics, Princeton University "This elegantly written and convincingly argued project analyzes Archimedes as a vehicle for reception of the Classics, as a figure for loss and recovery of cultural memory, and as a metaphorical representation of the development of Roman identity. Jaeger's fastening on the still relatively obscure figure of the greatest ancient mathematician as a way of understanding cultural liminality in the ancient world is nothing short of a stroke of genius." ---Christina S. Kraus, Professor and Chair of Classics, Yale University "Archimedes and the Roman Imagination forms a useful addition to our understanding of Roman culture as well as of the reception of science in antiquity. It will make a genuine contribution to the discipline, not only in terms of its original interpretative claims but also as a fascinating example of how we may follow the cultural reception of historical figures." ---Reviel Netz, Professor of Classics, Stanford University Cover art: Benjamin West. Cicero Discovering the Tomb of Archimedes. Yale University Art Gallery. John Hill Morgan, B.A. 1893, LL.B. 1898, M.A. (Hon.) 1929, Fund.