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In Imperial, George Bilgere’s sixth collection of poetry, he continues his exploration of the beauties, mysteries, and absurdities of being middle-aged and middle-class in mid-America. In poems that range from the Cold War anxieties of the 1950s to the perils and predicaments of an aging Boomer in a post-9/11 world, Bilgere’s rueful humor and slippery syntax become a trapdoor that at any moment can plunge the reader into the abyss. In Bilgere’s world a yo-yo morphs into an emblem for the atomic bomb. A spot of cancer flames into the Vietnam War. And the death of a baseball player reminds us, in this age of disbelief, of the importance—the necessity—of myth.
Enacting the Zen proverb “fall down seven times, get up eight,” this collection explores the ways we fall—through disillusionment, disappointment, and plain, old-fashioned mistakes, and the ways we rise up—out of personal debacles, unfortunate circumstances, family legacies, and collective struggles.
Rhetoric and Foreigner Relations
In Inessential Solidarity, Diane Davis examines critical intersections of rhetoric and sociality in order to revise some of rhetorical theory’s basic presumptions. Rather than focus on the arguments and symbolic exchanges through which social relations are defined, Davis exposes an underivable rhetorical imperative, an obligation to respond that is as undeniable as the obligation to age. Situating this response-ability as the condition for, rather than the effect of, symbolic interaction, Davis both dissolves contemporary concerns about linguistic overdetermination and calls into question long-held presumptions about rhetoric’s relationship with identification, figuration, hermeneutics, agency, and judgment. Spotlighting a rhetorical ‘situation’ irreducible to symbolic relations, Davis proposes that rhetoric—rather than ontology, epistemology, or ethics—is “first philosophy.” The subject or “symbol-using animal” comes into being, only inasmuch as it responds to the other; the priority of the other is not a matter of the subject’s choice, then, but of its inescapable predicament. Directing the reader’s attention to this inessential solidarity without which no meaning-making or determinate social relation would be possible, Davis aims to nudge rhetorical studies beyond the epistemological concerns that typically circumscribe theories of persuasion toward the examination of a more fundamental affectability, persuadability, responsivity.
A Century of Science and Public Health Response
Dehner examines the wide disparity in national and international responses to influenza pandemics, from the Russian flu of 1889 to the swine flu outbreak in 2009. He chronicles the technological and institutional progress made along the way and shows how these developments can shape an effective future policy.
This poetry collection is divided into three sections. The first opens with the speaker’s reflections on her childhood loss of her father and subsequent move to a new house and a new life, a life in which she is always alert to the absences and danger but also a life in which she begins to see language as a kind of salvation. This section also develops the speaker’s first knowledge of sex, primarily in the poems, “The Goose Girl” and “A Woman Was Raped Here.” The second section follows the speaker into adolescence and young adulthood, and these poems further explore the sexual violence in the world in which the speaker lives, and how this violence affects her own feelings toward sex and romantic love. In the third section, the book finds love, work, and family, and the poems in this section about motherhood echo back to the first section as the speaker’s own parenting is influenced by how difficult it is to love when you know people die.
Race, Racism, and University Writing Instruction in the Post-Civil Rights Era
In the late 1960s, colleges and universities became deeply embroiled in issues of racial equality. Hundreds of new programs were introduced to address the needs of “high-risk” minority and low-income students. In the years since, university policies have flip-flopped between calls to address minority needs and arguments to maintain “Standard English.” Today, anti-affirmative action and anti-access sentiments have put many of these programs in danger. Interests and Opportunities chronicles debates over writing programs for “high-risk” students on the national level and, locally, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Using the critical race theorist Derrick Bell’s concept of “interest convergence,” Steve Lamos shows that these programs were promoted or derailed according to how and when they fit the interests of underrepresented minorities and mainstream whites (administrators and academics). To Lamos, understanding the past dynamics of convergence and divergence is key to formulating new strategies of local action and “story-changing” that can preserve and expand race consciousness and high-risk writing instruction, even in adverse political climates.
Ways of Thinking about the Sciences and the Arts
The act of interpretation occurs in nearly every area of the arts and sciences. That ubiquity serves as the inspiration for the fourteen essays of this volume, covering many of the domains in which interpretive practices are found. Individual topics include: the general nature of interpretation and its forms; comparing and contrasting interpretation and hermeneutics; culture as interpretation seen through Hegel's aesthetics; interpreting philosophical texts; methodologies for interpreting human action; interpretation in medical practice focusing on manifestations as indicators of disease; the brain and its interpretative, structured, learning and storage processes; interpreting hybrid wines and cognitive preconceptions of novel objects; and the importance of sensory perception as means of interpreting in the case of dry German Rieslings. In an interesting turn, Nicholas Rescher writes on the interpretation of philosophical texts. Then Catherine Wilson and Andreas Blank explicate and critique Rescher's theories through analysis of the mill passage from Leibniz's Monadology.
Space Exploration and Soviet Culture
The launch of the Sputnik satellite in October 1957 changed the course of human history. In the span of a few years, Soviets sent the first animal into space, the first man, and the first woman. These events were a direct challenge to the United States and the capitalist model that claimed ownership of scientific aspiration and achievement. The success of the space program captured the hopes and dreams of nearly every Soviet citizen and became a critical cultural vehicle in the country’s emergence from Stalinism and the devastation of World War II. It also proved to be an invaluable tool in a worldwide propaganda campaign for socialism, a political system that could now seemingly accomplish anything it set its mind to. Into the Cosmos shows us the fascinating interplay of Soviet politics, science, and culture during the Khrushchev era, and how the space program became a binding force between these elements.
The Invention of the Kaleidoscope is a book of poetic elegies that discuss failures: failures of love, both sexual and spiritual; failures of the body; failures of science, art and technology; failures of nature, imagination, memory and, most importantly, the failures inherent to elegiac narratives and our formal attempt to memoralize the lost. But the book also explores the necessity of such narratives, as well as the creative possibilities implicit within the “failed elegy,” all while examining the various ways that self-destruction can turn into self-preservation.
Ellen Emerson may be the last living survivor of the Johnstown flood. She was only four years old on May 31, 1889, when twenty million tons of water decimated her hometown of Johnstown, PA. Thousands perished in what was the worst natural disaster in U.S. history at the time. As we witness in Kathleen George’s new novel, The Johnstown Girls, the flood not only changed the course of history, but also the individual lives of those who survived it. A century later, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporters Ben and Nina set out to interview one hundred and four year-old Ellen for Ben’s feature article on the flood. When asked the secret to her longevity, Ellen simply attributes it to “restlessness.” As we see, that restlessness is fueled by Ellen’s innate belief that her twin sister Mary, who went missing in the flood, is somehow still alive. Her story intrigues Ben, but haunts Nina, who is determined to help Ellen find her missing half. Author Kathleen George masterfully blends a factual history of the Johnstown flood into her heartrending tale of twin sisters who have never known the truth about that fateful day in 1889—a day that would send their lives hurtling down different paths. The Johnstown Girls is a remarkable story of perseverance, hard work, and never giving up hope in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. It’s also a tribute to the determination and indomitable spirit of the people of Johnstown through one hundred years, three generations, and three different floods.