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Calibrations

Reading For The Social

Ato Quayson

Ato Quayson explores a practice of reading that oscillates rapidly between domains—the literary-aesthetic, the social, the cultural, and the political—in order to uncover the mutually illuminating nature of these domains. He does this not to assert the often repeated postmodernist view that there is nothing outside the text, but to outline a method of reading he calls calibrations: a form of close reading of literature with what lies beyond it as a way of understanding structures of transformation, process, and contradiction that inform both literature and society.

Quayson surveys a wide array of texts—ranging from Bob Marley lyrics, Toni Morrison’s work, Walter Benjamin’s Theses on the Philosophy of History, and Althusser’s reflections on political economy—and treats a broad range of themes: the comparative structures of alienation in literature and anthropology, cultural heroism as a trope in African society and politics, literary tragedy as a template for reading the life and activism of Ken Saro-Wiwa, trauma and the status of citizenship in post-apartheid South Africa, representations of physical disability, and the clash between enchanted and disenchanted time in postcolonial texts.


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Califia Women

Feminist Education against Sexism, Classism, and Racism

By Clark A. Pomerleau

A dynamic exploration of the Califia Community, a long-running Los Angeles-based grassroots alternative education group formed in the mid-1970s, whose richly diverse membership offered a compelling array of responses to feminism’s key issues.

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California

A Fire Survey

Stephen J. Pyne

The coastal sage and shrublands of California burn. The mountain-encrusting chaparral burns. The conifer forests of the Sierra Nevada, Cascades, and Trinity Alps burn.  The rain-shadowed deserts after watering by El Niño cloudbursts and the thick forests of the rumpled Coast Range—all burn according to local rhythms of wetting and drying. Fire season, so the saying goes, lasts 13 months.

In this collection of essays on the region, Stephen J. Pyne colorfully explores the ways the region has approached fire management and what sets it apart from other parts of the country. Pyne writes that what makes California’s fire scene unique is how its dramatically distinctive biomes have been yoked to a common system, ultimately committed to suppression, and how its fires burn with a character and on a scale commensurate with the state’s size and political power. California has not only a ferocity of flame but a cultural intensity that few places can match. California’s fires are instantly and hugely broadcast. They shape national institutions, and they have repeatedly defined the discourse of fire’s history. No other place has so sculpted the American way of fire.

California is part of the multivolume series describing the nation’s fire scene region by region. The volumes in To the Last Smoke also cover Florida, the Northern Rockies, the Great Plains, the Southwest, and several other critical fire regions. The series serves as an important punctuation point to Pyne’s fifty-year career with wildland fire—both as a firefighter and a fire scholar. These unique surveys of regional pyrogeography are Pyne’s way of “keeping with it to the end,” encompassing the directive from his rookie season to stay with every fire “to the last smoke.”

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California Condors in the Pacific Northwest

Jesse D'Elia and Susan M. Haig

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California Crucible

The Forging of Modern American Liberalism

By Jonathan Bell

In the three decades following World War II, the Golden State was not only the fastest-growing state in the Union but also the site of significant political change. From the late 1940s through the mid-1970s, a generation of liberal activists transformed the political landscape of California, ending Republican dominance of state politics and eventually setting the tone for the Democratic Party nationwide.

In California Crucible, Jonathan Bell chronicles this dramatic story of postwar liberalism—from early grassroots organizing and the election of Pat Brown as governor in 1958 to the civil rights campaigns of the 1960s and the campaigns against the New Right in the 1970s. As Bell argues, the emergent "California liberalism" was a distinctly post-New Deal phenomenon that drew on the ambitious ideals of the New Deal but adapted them to a diverse population. The result was a broad coalition that sought to extend social democracy to marginalized groups—such as gay rights and civil rights organizations—that had not been well served by the Democratic Party in earlier decades. In building this coalition, liberal activists forged an ideology capable of bringing Latino farm workers, African American civil rights activists, and wealthy suburban homemakers into a shared political project.

By exploring California Democrats' largely successful attempts to link economic rights to civil rights and serve the needs of diverse groups, Bell challenges common assumptions about the rise of the New Right and the decline of American liberalism in the postwar era. As Bell shows, by the end of the 1970s California had become the spiritual home of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party as much as that of the Reagan Revolution.

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California Cuisine and Just Food

Sally K. Fairfax, Louise Nelson Dyble, Greig Tor Guthey, Lauren Gwin, Monica Moore, and Jennifer Sokolove

An account of the shift in focus to access and fairness among San Francisco Bay Area alternative food activists and advocates.

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California Dreaming

Boosterism, Memory, and Rural Suburbs in the Golden State

Paul J.P. Sandul

California Dreaming analyzes the growth, promotion, and agricultural colonization that fed this dream during the early 1900s. Through this analysis, Paul J. P. Sandul introduces a newly identified rural-suburban type: the agriburb, a rural suburb deliberately planned, developed, and promoted for profit. Sandul reconceptualizes California’s growth during this time period, establishing the agriburb as a suburban phenomenon that occurred long before the booms of the 1920s and 1950s.

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California Dreaming

Ideology, Society, and Technology in the Citrus Industry of Palestine, 1890-1939

Multidisciplinary study of the citrus industry in Palestine before World War II. The citrus industry of Palestine has often been associated with the myths and ideals of the Labor Movement and its Zionist-Socialist ideology. The Jaffa orange, like the young pioneer and the collective kibbutz, was emblematic of a colonizing meta-narrative that marginalized or even denounced the private entrepreneurs—both Arabs and Jews—who were the true founders and proponents of the flourishing citrus industry in Palestine. California Dreaming reveals that these private entrepreneurs regarded the California citrus industry as their primary model of emulation. Utilizing an innovative multidisciplinary approach, Nahum Karlinsky vividly reconstructs the social fabric, economic structure, and ideological tenets of the Jewish citrus industry of Palestine in the early twentieth century. Also accentuated is the role of Palestinian-Arab citrus growers, whose industry predated that of their Jewish counterparts, and the complex relationship between the two national sectors that operated side by side.

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California Indian Languages

Victor Golla

Nowhere was the linguistic diversity of the New World more extreme than in California, where an extraordinary variety of village-dwelling peoples spoke seventy-eight mutually unintelligible languages. This comprehensive illustrated handbook, a major synthesis of more than 150 years of documentation and study, reviews what we now know about California’s indigenous languages. Victor Golla outlines the basic structural features of more than two dozen language types, and cites all the major sources, both published and unpublished, for the documentation of these languages—from the earliest vocabularies collected by explorers and missionaries, to the data amassed during the twentieth-century by Alfred Kroeber and his colleagues, and to the extraordinary work of John P. Harrington and C. Hart Merriam. Golla also devotes chapters to the role of language in reconstructing prehistory, and to the intertwining of the language and culture in pre-contact California societies, making this work, the first of its kind, an essential reference on California’s remarkable Indian languages.

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California Mennonites

Brian Froese

Books about Mennonites have centered primarily on the East Coast and the Midwest, where the majority of Mennonite communities in the United States are located. But these narratives neglect the unique history of the multitude of Mennonites living on the West Coast. In California Mennonites, Brian Froese relies on archival church records to examine the Mennonite experience in the Golden State, from the nineteenth-century migrants who came in search of sunshine and fertile soil to the traditionally agrarian community that struggled with issues of urbanization, race, gender, education, and labor in the twentieth century to the evangelically oriented, partially assimilated Mennonites of today. Froese places Mennonite experiences against a backdrop of major historical events, including World War II and Vietnam, and social issues, from labor disputes to the evolution of mental health care. California Mennonites include people who embrace a range of ideologies: many are historically rooted in the sixteenth-century Reformation ideals of the early Anabaptists (pacifism, congregationalism, discipleship); some embrace twentieth-century American evangelicalism (missions, Billy Graham); and others are committed to a type of social justice that involves forging practical ties to secular government programs while maintaining a quiet connection to religion. Through their experiences of religious diversity, changing demographics, and war, California Mennonites have wrestled with complicated questions of what it means to be American, Mennonite, and modern. This book—the first of its kind—will appeal to historians and religious studies scholars alike.

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