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Music and Modernity in Contemporary Syria
How does a Middle Eastern community create a modern image through its expression of heritage and authenticity? In Among the Jasmine Trees: Music and Modernity in Contemporary Syria, Jonathan H. Shannon investigates expressions of authenticity in Syria's musical culture, which is particularly known for embracing and preserving the Arab musical tradition, and which has seldom been researched in depth by Western scholars. Music plays a key role in the process of self-imaging by virtue of its ability to convey feeling and emotion, and Shannon explores a variety of performance genres, Sufi rituals, song lyrics, melodic modes, and aesthetic criteria. Shannon shows that although the music may evoke the old, the traditional, and the local, these are re-envisioned as signifiers of the modern national profile. A valuable contribution to the study of music and identity and to the ethnomusicology of the modern Middle East, Among the Jasmine Trees details this music and its reception for the first time, offering an original theoretical framework for understanding contemporary Arab culture, music, and society.
New York City-January 1998
"That government is best which governs not at all; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have." This quote from Henry David Thoreau's Essay on Civil Disobedience is one of thirty quotations from which John Cage created Anarchy, a book-length lecture comprising twenty mesostic poems. Composed with the aid of a computer program to simulate the coin toss of the I Ching, Anarchy draws on the writings of many serious anarchists including Emma Goldman, Peter Kropotkin, and Mario Malatesta, not so much making arguments for anarchism as "brushing information against information," giving the very words new combinations that de-familiarize and re-energize them. Now widely available of the first time, Anarchy marks the culmination of Cage's work as a poet, composer and as a thinker about contemporary society.
Discourse, Ecology, and Reconnection with the Natural World
Animals are disappearing, vanishing, and dying out--not just in the physical sense of becoming extinct, but in the sense of being erased from our consciousness. Increasingly, interactions with animals happen at a remove: mediated by nature programs, books, and cartoons; framed by the enclosures of zoos and aquariums; distanced by the museum cases that display lifeless bodies. In this thought-provoking book, Arran Stibbe takes us on a journey of discovery, revealing the many ways in which language affects our relationships with animals and the natural world. Animal-product industry manuals, school textbooks, ecological reports, media coverage of environmental issues, and animal-rights polemics all commonly portray animals as inanimate objects or passive victims. In his search for an alternative to these negative forms of discourse, Stibbe turns to the traditional culture of Japan. Within Zen philosophy, haiku poetry, and even contemporary children's animated films, animals appear as active agents, leading their own lives for their own purposes, and of value in themselves.
Apples from Shinar was Hyam Plutzik's second complete collection. Originally published in 1959 as a part of Wesleyan University Press's newly minted poetry series, the collection includes "The Shepherd"--a section of the book-length poem "Horatio," which earned Plutzik a finalist position for the Pulitzer Prize. "The love and the words and the simplicity," that mark Plutzik's poetry, writes Philip Booth, "are all here [in Apples from Shinar], and the poems come peacefully, and wonderfully, alive." With a previously unpublished foreword by Hyam Plutzik and a new afterword by David Scott Kastan, this edition marks the centenary of Plutzik's birth and will introduce a new generation of readers to the work of one of the best mid-century American poets.
Music, Politics, Modernity
From jazz trumpeters drawing on the noises of warfare in Beirut to female heavy metallers in Alexandria, the Arab culture offers a wealth of exciting, challenging, and diverse musics. The essays in this collection investigate the plethora of compositional and improvisational techniques, performance styles, political motivations, professional trainings, and inter-continental collaborations that claim the mantle of "innovation" within Arab and Arab diaspora music. While most books on Middle Eastern music-making focus on notions of tradition and regionally specific genres, The Arab Avant Garde presents a radically hybrid and globally dialectic set of practices. Engaging the "avant-garde"--a term with Eurocentric resonances--this anthology disturbs that presumed exclusivity, drawing on and challenging a growing body of literature about alternative modernities.
Chapters delve into genres and modes as diverse as jazz, musical theatre, improvisation, hip hop, and heavy metal as performed in countries like Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and the United States. Focusing on multiple ways in which the "Arab avant-garde" becomes manifest, this anthology brings together international writers with eclectic disciplinary trainings--practicing musicians, area studies specialists, ethnomusicologists, and scholars of popular culture and media. Contributors include Sami W. Asmar, Michael Khoury, Saed Muhssin, Marina Peterson, Kamran Rastegar, Caroline Rooney, and Shayna Silverstein, as well as the editors.
Wesleyan University Press has made a significant commitment to the publication of the work of Samuel R. Delany, including this recent fiction, now available in paperback. The three long stories collected in Atlantis: three tales -- "Atlantis: Model 1924," "Erik, Gwen, and D. H. Lawrence's Aesthetic of Unrectified Feeling," and "Citre et Trans" -- explore problems of memory, history, and transgression.
Winner of both the Hugo and Nebula awards, and Guest of Honor at the 1995 World Science Fiction Convention in Glasgow, Delany was won a broad audience among fans of postmodern fiction with his theoretically sophisticated science fiction and fantasy. The stories of Atlantis: three tales are not SF, yet Locus, the trade publication of the science fiction field, notes that the title story "has an odd, unsettling power not usually associated with mainstream fiction."
A writer whose audience extends across and beyond science fiction, black, gay, postmodern, and academic constituencies, Delany is finally beginning to achieve the broader recognition he deserves.
An Ecology of Modernity
In this original and controversial book, historian and philosopher Reviel Netz explores the development of a controlling and pain-inducing technology--barbed wire. Surveying its development from 1874 to 1954, Netz describes its use to control cattle during the colonization of the American West and to control people in Nazi concentration camps and the Russian Gulag. Physical control over space was no longer symbolic after 1874.
This is a history told from the perspective of its victims. With vivid examples of the interconnectedness of humans, animals, and the environment, this dramatic account of barbed wire presents modern history through the lens of motion being prevented. Drawing together the history of humans and animals, Netz delivers a compelling new perspective on the issues of colonialism, capitalism, warfare, globalization, violence, and suffering. Theoretically sophisticated but written with a broad readership in mind, Barbed Wire calls for nothing less than a reconsideration of modernity.
Featuring more than 100 stunning full-color photographs along with helpful diagrams and historic photos, Barns of Connecticut captures both the iconic and the unique, including historic and noteworthy barns. The book discusses the importance of barns to Connecticut agriculture across our state and up to the present day. Markham Starr's Barns of Connecticut offers a lovely introduction to the architectural, functional, and agricultural roles these structures played in early Connecticut. Through text and color photographs, it tells a story of change and continuity. From the earliest colonial structures to the low steel buildings of modern dairy farms, barns have adapted to meet the needs of each generation; they've stored wheat, hay, and tobacco, and housed farm animals and dairy cows. These enduring structures display the optimism, ingenuity, hard work, and practicality of the people who tend land and livestock throughout the state.
The world that Donald Revell ponders in these poems replete with contrarieties. The same verbal playfulness and prophetic lyricism that made Revell a 1992 Guggenheim Fellow in Poetry and a winner of National Poetry Series, Pushcart, and PEN Center USA West awards are in full force in Beautiful Shirt. Here he traverses the rocky terrain of innocence, memory, disillusion, and salvation in a voice at once haunted and elliptical: "This is the world as I have known it./ It has a soft outline and is easily victimized."
Juxtaposed within a trio of long, introspective poems are shorter lyrics that push the limits of poetic syntaxes and dictions. In all, Beautiful Shirt searches for the true nature of the self through language unfettered by narrative constraints and conventional conceptual identities.
Charles Stratton, P. T. Barnum, and the Dawn of American Celebrity
When P. T. Barnum met twenty-five-inch-tall Charles Stratton at a Bridgeport, Connecticut hotel in 1843, one of the most important partnerships in entertainment history was born. With Barnum's promotional skills and the miniature Stratton's comedic talents, they charmed a Who's Who of the 19th century, from Queen Victoria to Charles Dickens to Abraham Lincoln. Adored worldwide as "General Tom Thumb," Stratton played to sold-out shows for almost forty years. From his days as a precocious child star to his tragic early death, Becoming Tom Thumb tells the full story of this iconic figure for the first time. It details his triumphs on the New York stage, his epic celebrity wedding, and his around-the-world tour, drawing on newly available primary sources and interviews. From the mansions of Paris to the deserts of Australia, Stratton's unique brand of Yankee comedy not only earned him the accolades of millions of fans, it helped move little people out of the side show and into the lime light.