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Besieged Leningrad

Aesthetic Responses to Urban Disaster

During the 872 days of the Siege of Leningrad (September 1941 to January 1944), the city’s inhabitants were surrounded by the military forces of Nazi Germany. They suffered famine, cold, and darkness, and a million people lost their lives, making the siege one of the most destructive in history. Confinement in the besieged city was a traumatic experience. Unlike the victims of the Auschwitz concentration camp, for example, who were brought from afar and robbed of their cultural roots, the victims of the Siege of Leningrad were trapped in the city as it underwent a slow, horrific transformation. They lost everything except their physical location, which was layered with historical, cultural, and personal memory.

In Besieged Leningrad, Polina Barskova examines how the city’s inhabitants adjusted to their new urban reality, focusing on the emergence of new spatial perceptions that fostered the production of diverse textual and visual representations. The myriad texts that emerged during the siege were varied and exciting, engendered by sometimes sharply conflicting ideological urges and aesthetic sensibilities. In this first study of the cultural and literary representations of spatiality in besieged Leningrad, Barskova examines a wide range of authors with competing views of their difficult relationship with the city, filling a gap in Western knowledge of the culture of the siege. It will appeal to Russian studies specialists as well as those interested in war testimonies and the representation of trauma.
 

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The Blue Kind

In Neom the laws of physics are lax and everyone still gets high. The city squares do it so they can keep working nonstop. The hipsters do it so they can accept things as they are and not long for how they want them to be. And, for a thousand years, Alison has done it to cope with the burdens of immortality. If you can’t die, she says, at least you can be as stoned as the living dead.

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Burmese (Myanmar)

An Introduction to the Script

The third volume in a four-part language course, this textbook enables students to become competent in reading and writing Burmese script. Most students find it helpful to begin learning the script at the same time as they start on the spoken language, but this volume can be used independently if preferred. In addition to lists of words for reading and writing practice, presented in a series of short graduated lessons, Okell includes sample texts from Burmese materials such as product labels, newspaper headlines, and maps. Appendices on handwriting and cursive forms, display fonts, the Burmese names of the characters, Burmese alphabetical order, and common abbreviations round out the book.
One of the challenges of learning a non-roman script language from traditional course books is that the use of the roman alphabet to describe sounds is not as effective as hearing the sounds. The extensive audio files that accompany this volume allow the learner to hear and produce the sounds corresponding to the symbols. Language professors and their students or those learning Burmese on their own will appreciate the accessible approach and the manageable size of the lessons of the very practical textbooks in this series.

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The Campaign State

Communist Mobilizations for the East German Countryside, 1945-1990

Communist regimes are defined by dictatorial power, state planning, and active propaganda machines. In The Campaign State, Gregory Witkowski explores the intersection of these three elements in East Germany by focusing on mass mobilizations. He dissects the anatomy of campaigns and argues that while mass mobilizations are often perceived as symbols of strength, they also indicate underlying systemic weaknesses. By focusing on the ability of regimes to mobilize individuals to transform society, he explains both the durability and the ultimate demise of the German Democratic Republic.

This study seamlessly blends an analysis of top-down campaign initiatives with the influence of such mobilizations on the grassroots level. For more than thirty years, East German leaders doggedly extended such mobilization efforts, yet complete success remained elusive. Witkowski reveals how local leaders, campaign participants, and peasants acted in ways both compliant and noncompliant with party goals to create societal change.

Campaigns became a ubiquitous part of life under communist rule. Witkowski shows that such mobilizations were initially an integral part of state-planning efforts and only later became ritualized, as party portrayals of goals and accomplishments diverged from East Germans’ lived experience. He argues that incessant campaigns exposed a substantial gap between rhetoric and reality in the German Democratic Republic that undermined the regime’s legitimacy. This valuable and original study will appeal to scholars and students of German history, Communism, and state planning.

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Catch the Fire

Soaking Prayer and Charismatic Renewal

A recent phenomenon of charismatic renewal took place in Toronto in the mid-1990s. Commonly known as the “Toronto Blessing” and operated by the former Vineyard Church leaders John and Carol Arnott, the renewal was defined by reports of uncontrollable laughter, weeping, speaking in tongues, animal noises, and falling on the floor during worship. Sympathetic Christians embraced these practices while others who believed that this form of worship boarded on spectacle rejected them. By the end of the 1990s most people thought that the renewal was over.

Yet, in the first decade of the 21st century, the authors—a sociologist and a theologian—heard rumors that the Toronto church, now known as “Catch the Fire,” was still holding mass meetings with upwards of 2,000 people in attendance. They also learned of an emerging practice of “soaking prayer,” an adaption of Pentecostal-charismatic prayer that, participants and leaders claim, facilitates and expands the reception of divine love in order to give it away in acts of forgiveness, reconciliation, compassion, and benevolence. Soaking, the authors reveal, is a metaphor for practices like resting in the Spirit, prayer for spiritual gifts, healing, prophecy, impartation, and supports overall charismatic spirituality. Attending “Catch the Fire” conferences, churches, and house meetings in the United States, Canada, Britain, Australia, and New Zealand, Wilkinson and Althouse observed first-hand how people soak, what it means to soak, and why soaking is considered an important practice among charismatics.

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Claiming Lincoln

Progressivism, Equality, and the Battle for Lincoln’s Legacy in Presidential Rhetoric

Abraham Lincoln is clearly one of the most frequently cited figures in American political rhetoric, especially with regard to issues of equality. But given the ubiquity of Lincoln’s legacy, many references to him, even on the presidential level, are often of questionable accuracy. In Claiming Lincoln, Jividen posits that in much 20th-century presidential rhetoric, especially from progressive leaders, Lincoln’s understanding of equality is slowly divorced from its grounding in the natural rights thinking of the American Founding and reinterpreted in light of progressive history. Claiming Lincoln examines the manner in which rhetoricians have appealed to Lincoln’s legacy only to distort that legacy in the process. Focusing on Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson and touching on Barack Obama, Jividen argues that presidential rhetorical use and abuse of Lincoln has profound consequences not only for how we understand Lincoln but also for how we understand American democracy. Jividen’s original take on Lincoln and the Progressives will be of interest to scholars of American politics and all those invested in Lincoln’s legacy.

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Confronting Savery

Edward Coles and the Rise of the Nineteenth-Century America

Edward Coles, who lived from 1786-1868, is most often remembered for his antislavery correspondence with Thomas Jefferson in 1814, freeing his slaves in 1819, and leading the campaign against the legalization of slavery in Illinois during the 1823-24 convention contest.   

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The Constellations

It’s 1974 in DeKalb County, Illinois, and the planets have failed to align for Roy Conlon. Widowed and broke, he finds that his eight-year-old son Eric is suddenly a mystery to him. The boy has become aware of a sky awhirl with stars and of the universe outside his small Midwestern town. And as powerful forces pull Eric away, Roy’s efforts to hold onto his son are threatened by weakness, guilt, and his participation in a foolish crime.

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Coxey’s Crusade for Jobs

Unemployment in the Gilded Age

In the depths of a depression in 1894, a highly successful Gilded Age businessman named Jacob Coxey led a group of jobless men on a march from his hometown of Massillon, Ohio, to the steps of the nation’s Capitol. Though a financial panic and the resulting widespread business failures caused millions of Americans to be without work at the time, the word unemployment was rarely used and generally misunderstood. In an era that worshipped the self-reliant individual who triumphed in a laissez-faire market, the out-of-work “tramp” was disparaged as weak or flawed, and undeserving of assistance. Private charities were unable to meet the needs of the jobless, and only a few communities experimented with public works programs. Despite these limitations, Coxey conceived a plan to put millions back to work building a nationwide system of roads and drew attention to his idea with the march to Washington.

In Coxey’s Crusade for Jobs, Jerry Prout recounts Coxey’s story and adds depth and context by focusing on the reporters who were embedded in the march. Their fascinating depictions of life on the road occupied the headlines and front pages of America’s newspapers for more than a month, turning the spectacle into a serialized drama. These accounts humanized the idea of unemployment and helped Americans realize that in a new industrial economy, unemployment was not going away and the unemployed deserved attention. This unique study will appeal to scholars and students interested in the Gilded Age and US and labor history.

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The Dangerous God

Christianity and the Soviet Experiment

At the heart of the Soviet experiment was a belief in the impermanence of the human spirit: souls could be engineered; conscience could be destroyed. The project was, in many ways, chillingly successful. But the ultimate failure of a totalitarian regime to fulfill its ambitions for social and spiritual mastery had roots deeper than the deficiencies of the Soviet leadership or the chaos of a “command” economy. Beneath the rhetoric of scientific communism was a culture of intellectual and cultural dissidence, which may be regarded as the “prehistory of perestroika.” This volume explores the contribution of Christian thought and belief to this culture of dissent and survival, showing how religious and secular streams of resistance joined in an unexpected and powerful partnership.

The essays in The Dangerous God seek to shed light on the dynamic and subversive capacities of religious faith in a context of brutal oppression, while acknowledging the often-collusive relationship between clerical elites and the Soviet authorities. Against the Marxist notion of the “ideological” function of religion, the authors set the example of people for whom faith was more than an opiate; against an enduring mythology of secularization, they propose the centrality of religious faith in the intellectual, political, and cultural life of the late modern era. This volume will appeal to specialists on religion in Soviet history as well as those interested in the history of religion under totalitarian regimes.

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