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Digital Detroit Cover

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Digital Detroit

Rhetoric and Space in the Age of the Network

Jeff Rice

Since the 1967 riots that ripped apart the city, Detroit has traditionally been viewed either as a place in ruins or a metropolis on the verge of rejuvenation. In Digital Detroit: Rhetoric and Space in the Age of the Network, author Jeff Rice goes beyond the notion of Detroit as simply a city of two ideas. Instead he explores the city as a web of multiple meanings which, in the digital age, come together in the city’s spaces to form a network that shapes the writing, the activity, and the very thinking of those around it.

Rice focuses his study on four of Detroit’s most iconic places—Woodward Avenue, the Maccabees Building, Michigan Central Station, and 8 Mile—covering each in a separate chapter. Each of these chapters explains one of the four features of network rhetoric: folksono(me), the affective interface, response, and decision making. As these rhetorical features connect, they form the overall network called Digital Detroit. Rice demonstrates how new media, such as podcasts, wikis, blogs, interactive maps, and the Internet in general, knit together Detroit into a digital network whose identity is fluid and ever-changing. In telling Detroit’s spatial story, Rice deftly illustrates how this new media, as a rhetorical practice, ultimately shapes understandings of space in ways that computer applications and city planning often cannot. The result is a model for a new way of thinking and interacting with space and the imagination, and for a better understanding of the challenges network rhetorics pose for writing.

The Direct Cinema of David and Albert Maysles Cover

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The Direct Cinema of David and Albert Maysles

Jonathan B. Vogels

Vogels outlines how the Maysles brothers blended a unique amalgam of direct cinema characteristics, a modern humanist aesthetic, and a collaborative working process that included other directors and editors. Looking at the films as both shapers and reflections of American culture, he points out that the works offer insights into a wide range of contemporary topics including materialism, celebrity, modern art, and the American family. In addition to describing the changes in technology that made direct cinema possible, Vogels provides careful, scene-by-scene analyses that allow for a consideration of the Maysles brothers’ films as films, a tactic not frequently employed in nonfiction film studies.

Direct Theory Cover

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Direct Theory

Experimental Motion Pictures as Major Genre

Edward S. Small and Timothy W. Johnson

Making the case for the significance of experimental motion pictures
 
Undulating water patterns; designs etched or painted directly onto clear or black film leader; computer-generated, pulsating, multihued light tapestries—the visual images that often constitute experimental motion pictures are unlike anything found in either fictive narratives or documentary works. Thus, Direct Theory provides an historical and theoretical survey of this overlooked and misunderstood body of international films, videos, and digital productions that offers a strong case for the understanding of experimental motion pictures as a separate, major motion picture genre.
In a radical revision of film-theory that incorporates Ferdinand de Saussure's semiotic system, and adds to it historian Raymond Fielding’s technological determinism, Edward S. Small and Timothy W. Johnson argue that experimental moviemaking constitutes a special mode of theory that bypasses written and spoken words. By exploring the development of experimental motion pictures over nine decades, they trace the practice from its beginnings in the European avant-garde movement in the 1920s, through American underground productions, into international structuralist works that marked the experimental films of the 1970’s, and finally the digital experimental innovations of the twenty-first century.   
To demonstrate that the aesthetic of experimental motion pictures is best understood separately from other major film genres such as fictive narrative and documentary, Small and Johnson highlight eight defining technical and structural characteristics of experimental productions, including the autonomy of the artist, economic independence, brevity, and the use of dreams, reveries, hallucinations, and other mental imagery. They also highlight a number of films, including Ralph Steiner’s 1929 H2O and Bruce Conner’s 1958 A Movie, and provide a sampling of frames from them to demonstrate that the heightened reflexivity of these films  transmit meaning through images rather than words. 
A deft historical interweaving of experimental production and scholarly discourse, this thought-provoking work firmly establishes the importance of experimental motion pictures in the discipline of film studies (theory and history) and production.

Dispositional Properties Cover

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Dispositional Properties

David Weissman

In Dispositional Properties, David Weissman attacks a problem central to the philosophy of mind and, by implication, to the theory of being: Are there potentialities, capabilities, which dispose the mind to think in one way rather than another?

The volume is arranged in the form of four arguments that converge upon a single point. First, there is an intricate discussion of the shortcomings of Hume's account of mind as ideas and impressions. Next comes a brief treatment of the arguments of some of Weissman's contemporaries, including Carnap and Braithwaite. Third, Weissman discusses Wittgenstein's theories of learning and knowledge. Finally, there is a full discussion of Aristotle and his doctrine of potentialities.

The question this book ultimately raises is how to steer between a doctrine of mind as no more than a series of acts, on the one hand, and a doctrine of mind as a kind of unitary object, on the other. The solution is to show first of all that there must be a potentiality in the universe, and then to show clearly and in detail that the mind is shot through with that potentiality.

 

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Documentary Trial Plays in Contemporary American Theater

Jacqueline O’Connor


From the Chicago Conspiracy Trial and the O. J. Simpson trial to the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill congressional hearings, legal and legislative proceedings in the latter part of the twentieth-century kept Americans spellbound. Situated on the shifting border between imagination and the law, trial plays edit, arrange, and reproduce court records, media coverage, and first-person interviews, transforming these elements into a performance. In this first book-length critical study of contemporary American documentary theater, Jacqueline O’Connor examines in depth ten such plays, all written and staged since 1970, and considers the role of the genre in re-creating and revising narratives of significant conflicts in contemporary history.

Documentary theater, she shows, is a particularly appropriate and widely utilized  theatrical form for engaging in debate about tensions between civil rights  and institutional power, the inconsistency of justice, and challenges to gender norms. For each of the plays discussed, including The Trial of the Catonsville Nine, Unquestioned Integrity: The Hill/Thomas Hearings, and The Laramie Project, O'Connor provides historical context and a brief production history before considering the trial the play focuses on. Grouping plays historically and thematically, she demonstrates how dramatic representation advances our understanding of the law's power while revealing the complexities that hinder society's pursuit of justice. 

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Double Duty in the Civil War

The Letters of Sailor and Soldier Edward W. Bacon

Edited by George S. Burkhardt

Editor George Burkhardt has brought together letters and diary entries of Edward W. Bacon, a Union sailor and soldier who served as a captain’s clerk in the navy and as a captain in the 29th Connecticut Infantry (Colored). The correspondence gives a unique view of ship and camp life and makes evident the close-knit family life Bacon enjoyed, particularly with his father, Leonard Bacon, a prominent minister who spoke against slavery.

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Drafting for the Theatre

Dennis Dorn and Mark Shanda

In this newly revised second edition, veteran stage designers and technical directors Dennis Dorn and Mark Shanda introduce industry-standard drafting and designing practices with step-by-step discussions, illustrations, worksheets, and problems to help students develop and refine drafting and other related skills needed for entertainment set production work. By incorporating the foundational principles of both hand- and computer-drafting approaches throughout the entire book, the authors illustrate how to create clear and detailed drawings that advance the production process. 

Early chapters focus on the basics of geometric constructions, orthographic techniques, soft-line sketching applications, lettering, and dimensioning. Later chapters discuss real-life applications of production drawing and ancillary skills such as time and material estimation and shop-drawing nomenclature. Two chapters detail a series of design and shop drawings required to mount a specific design project, providing a guided path through both phases of the design/construction process. Most chapters conclude with one or more worksheets or problems that provide readers with an opportunity to test their understanding of the material presented. 

The authors' discussion of universal CAD principles throughout the manuscript provides a valuable foundation that can be used in any computer-based design, regardless of the software. Dorn and Shanda treat the computer as another drawing tool, like the pencil or T-square, but one that can help a knowledgeable drafter potentially increase personal productivity and accuracy when compared to traditional hand-drafting techniques. 

Drafting for the Theatre, second edition assembles in one book all the principal types of drawings, techniques, and conventional wisdom necessary for the production of scenic drafting, design, and shop drawings. It is richly illustrated with numerous production examples and is fully indexed to assist students and technicians in finding important information. It is structured to support a college-level course in drafting, but will also serve as a handy reference for the working theatre professional.

Ecospeak Cover

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Ecospeak

Rhetoric and Environmental Politics in America

M. Jimmie Killingsworth and Jacqueline S. Palmer

This first book-length study of rhetoric and environmental politics calls for an end to the present oversimplified conflict between economic and evolutionary progress and suggests instead a continuum embracing the full range of human views of nature.



The authors use a systematic analysis of well-known works of nonfiction literature (by such authors as Rachel Carson, Aldo Leopold, Barry Commoner, and Herman Daly) long neglected by literary, rhetorical, and cultural critics, as well as journalistic reports and stories, industry and activist polemics, government documents, textbooks, technical literature, and novels to show that rhetoric centered on the established dichotomy gives rise to ecospeak, which paralyzes instead of informing action.

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The Edge of Mosby's Sword

The Life of Confederate ColonelWilliam Henry Chapman

Gordon Blackwell Bonan

This first scholarly biography of Lieutenant Colonel William Henry Chapman (1840-1929) covers the life of Colonel John Singleton Mosby's second-in-commmand. Chapman, a student at the University of Virginia before the Civil War, started his own bridgade but later joined the cavalry as one of Mosby's Rangers. After the war's end, the Confederate embraced the Republican party and found employment with the Federal government as an IRS agent. Though he had fought enthusiastically and vigorously for his native South, when the war was over and the cause was lost, he accepted defeat with dignity and devoted the remainder of his life to rebuilding the nation.

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Edith Wharton on Film

Parley Ann Boswell

Edith Wharton (1862– 1937), who lived nearly half of her life during the cinema age when she published many of her well-known works, acknowledged that she disliked the movies, characterizing them as an enemy of the imagination. Yet her fiction often referenced film and popular Hollywood culture, and she even sold the rights to several of her novels to Hollywood studios.

Edith Wharton on Film explores these seeming contradictions and examines the relationships among Wharton’ s writings, the popular culture in which she published them, and the subsequent film adaptations of her work (three from the 1930s and four from the 1990s). Author Parley Ann Boswell examines the texts in which Wharton referenced film and Hollywood culture and evaluates the extant films adapted from Wharton’ s fiction.

The volume introduces Wharton’ s use of cinema culture in her fiction through the 1917 novella Summer, written during the nation’ s first wave of feminism, in which the heroine Charity Royall is moviegoer and new American woman, consumer and consumable. Boswell considers the source of this conformity and entrapment, especially for women. She discloses how Wharton struggled to write popular stories and then how she revealed her antipathy toward popular movie culture in two late novels. 

Boswell describes Wharton’ s financial dependence on the American movie industry, which fueled her antagonism toward Hollywood culture, her well-documented disdain for popular culture, and her struggles to publish in women’ s magazines.

This first full-length study that examines the film adaptations of Wharton’ s fiction covers seven films adapted from Wharton’ s works between 1930 and 2000 and the fifty-year gap in Wharton film adaptations. The study also analyzes Sophy Viner in The Reef as pre-Hollywood ingé nue, characters in Twilight Sleep and The Children and the real Hollywood figures who might have inspired them, and The Sheik and racial stereotypes.

Boswell traces the complicated relationship of fiction and narrative film, the adaptations and cinematic metaphors of Wharton’ s work in the 1990s, and Wharton’ s persona as an outsider. Wharton’ s fiction on film corresponds in striking ways to American noir cinema, says Boswell, because contemporary filmmakers recognize and celebrate the subversive qualities of Wharton’ s work.

Edith Wharton on Film, which includes eleven illustrations, enhances Wharton’ s stature as a major American author and provides persuasive evidence that her fiction should be read as American noir literature.

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