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Faint Praise Cover

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Faint Praise

The Plight of Book Reviewing in America

Gail Pool

For more than two hundred years, book reviewers have influenced American readers, setting our literary agenda by helping us determine not only what we read but also what we think about what we read. And for nearly as long, critics of these critics have lambasted book reviews for their overpraise, hostility, banality, and bias.

            Faint Praise takes a hard and long-overdue look at the institution of book reviewing. Gail Pool, herself an accomplished reviewer and review editor, analyzes the inner workings of this troubled trade to show how it works—and why it so often fails to work well. She reveals why bad reviewing happens despite good intentions and how it is that so many intelligent people who love books can say so many unintelligent things on their behalf.

            Reviewers have the power to award prestige to authors, give prominence to topics, and shape opinion and taste; yet most readers have little knowledge of why certain books are selected for review, why certain reviewers are selected to review them, and why they so often praise books that aren’t all that good. Pool takes readers behind the scenes to describe how editors choose books for review and assign them to reviewers, and she examines the additional roles played by publishers, authors, and readers. In describing the context of reviewing, she reveals a culture with little interest in literature, much antipathy to criticism, and a decided weakness for praise. In dissecting the language of reviews, Pool demonstrates how it often boils down to unbelievable hype.

Pool explores the multifaceted world of book reviewing today, contrasting traditional methods of reviewing with alternative book coverage, from Amazon.com to Oprah, and suggesting how the more established practices could be revised. She also explores the divide between service journalism practiced by reviewers versus the alleged high art served up by literary critics—and what this fuzzy boundary between reviewing and criticism really means.

This is the first book to analyze the field in depth, weighing the inherent difficulties of reviewing against the unacceptable practices that undermine the very reasons we read—and need—reviews. Faint Praise is a book not just for those who create and review books but also for everyone who loves books. By demystifying this hidden process, Pool helps everyone understand how to read reviews—and better decide what to read.

A Fair Chance in the Race of Life Cover

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A Fair Chance in the Race of Life

The Role of Gallaudet University in Deaf History

Brian H. Greenwald and John Vickrey Van Cleve, Editors

Despite its prominence as a world cultural center and a locus of research on deaf culture, history, education, and language for more than 150 years, Gallaudet University has only infrequently been the focal point of historical study. Eminent historians Brian H. Greenwald and John Vickrey Van Cleve have remedied this scarcity with A Fair Chance in the Race of Life: The Role of Gallaudet University in Deaf History. In this collection, a remarkable cast of scholars examine the university and its various roles through time, many conducting new research in the Gallaudet University Archives, an unsurpassed repository of primary sources of deaf history. Pulitzer-Prize-winning historian James M. McPherson sets the stage in his essay “A Fair Chance in the Race of Life,” President Abraham Lincoln’s first statement to Congress championing the rights of all people. The papers that follow scrutinize Gallaudet’s long domination by hearing presidents, its struggle to find a place within higher education, its easy acquiescence to racism, its relationship with the federal government, and its role in creating, shaping, and nurturing the deaf community. These studies do more than simply illuminate the university, however. They also confront broad issues that deal with the struggles of social conformity versus cultural distinctiveness, minority cohesiveness, and gender discrimination. “Deaf” themes, such as the role of English in deaf education, audism, and the paternalism of hearing educators receive analysis as well.

Fair Copy Cover

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Fair Copy

Fair Copy, byRebecca Hazelton, is a meditation on the difficulties of distinguishing the real from the false, the copy from the original. It is in part an exploration of the disparity between our conception of love as either true or false and the messy reality that it can sometimes be both. If “true” love is not to be found, is an approximation a “fair” substitute? These poems repeatedly question the veracity of memory—sometimes toying with the seductiveness of nostalgia while at other times pleading for the real story. Here, the fairy tale and the everyday nervously coexist, the bride is an uneasy molecule, and happiness comes in the form of a pill. Composed of acrostics from lines by Emily Dickinson, the collection retains a direct and recurrent tie to Dickinson’s work, even while Hazelton deftly branches off into new sonic, rhythmic, and conceptual territories.

Fair Exotics Cover

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Fair Exotics

Xenophobic Subjects in English Literature, 1720-1850

By Rajani Sudan

Arguing that the major hallmarks of Romantic literature—inwardness, emphasis on subjectivity, the individual authorship of selves and texts—were forged during the Enlightenment, Rajani Sudan traces the connections between literary sensibility and British encounters with those persons, ideas, and territories that lay uneasily beyond the national border. The urge to colonize and discover embraced both an interest in foreign "fair exotics" and a deeply rooted sense of their otherness.

Fair Exotics develops a revisionist reading of the period of the British Enlightenment and Romanticism, an age during which England was most aggressively building its empire. By looking at canonical texts, including Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, Johnson's Dictionary, De Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium Eater, and Bronte's Villette, Sudan shows how the imaginative subject is based on a sense of exoticism created by a pervasive fear of what is foreign. Indeed, as Sudan clarifies, xenophobia is the underpinning not only of nationalism and imperialism but of Romantic subjectivity as well.

The Fair Sex Cover

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The Fair Sex

White Women and Racial Patriarchy in the Early American Republic

Pauline Schloesser

Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2002

Once the egalitarian passions of the American Revolution had dimmed, the new nation settled into a conservative period that saw the legal and social subordination of women and non-white men. Among the Founders who brought the fledgling government into being were those who sought to establish order through the reconstruction of racial and gender hierarchies. In this effort they enlisted “the fair sex,”&#—white women. Politicians, ministers, writers, husbands, fathers and brothers entreated Anglo-American women to assume responsibility for the nation's virtue. Thus, although disfranchised, they served an important national function, that of civilizing non-citizen. They were encouraged to consider themselves the moral and intellectual superiors to non-whites, unruly men, and children. These white women were empowered by race and ethnicity, and class, but limited by gender. And in seeking to maintain their advantages, they helped perpetuate the system of racial domination by refusing to support the liberation of others from literal slavery.

Schloesser examines the lives and writings of three female political intellectuals—;Mercy Otis Warren, Abigail Smith Adams, and Judith Sargent Murray—;each of whom was acutely aware of their tenuous position in the founding era of the republic. Carefully negotiating the gender and racial hierarchies of the nation, they at varying times asserted their rights and demurred to male governance. In their public and private actions they represented the paradigm of racial patriarchy at its most complex and its most conflicted.

Fair Trade and Social Justice Cover

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Fair Trade and Social Justice

Global Ethnographies

Sarah Lyon, Mark Moberg, 0

“This outstanding collection not only serves as an accessible introduction to Fair Trade but illuminates the gap between the sunny rhetoric and the actual practice. With ethnographic richness and nuance, the authors complicate our understanding of the market as a means of achieving economic and social justice.”

Fair Trade from the Ground up Cover

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Fair Trade from the Ground up

New Markets for Social Justice

April Linton

Fair Trade from the Ground Up documents achievements at both the producer and the consumer ends of commodity chains and assesses prospects for future growth, meeting a long-felt need among economic-justice activists, consumer groups, and academics for a reliable qualitative and quantitative overview of achievements of the Fair Trade movement.

Fair Ways Cover

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Fair Ways

How Six Black Golfers Won Civil Rights in Beaumont, Texas

By Robert J. Robertson

In the summer of 1955, early in the modern civil rights era, six African American golfers in Beaumont, Texas, began attacking the Jim Crow caste system when they filed a federal lawsuit for the right to play the municipal golf course. The golfers and their African American lawyers went to federal court and asked a conservative white Republican judge to render a decision that would not only integrate the local golf course but also set precedent for desegregation of other public facilities, as well. In Fair Ways, Beaumont native Robert J. Robertson chronicles three parallel stories that converged in this important case. He tells the story of the plaintiffs—avid golfers who had learned the game while working as caddies and waiters—and their young lawyers, recent graduates from Howard University law school, and the Republican judge just appointed to the bench by President Eisenhower. Would the judge apply the new principles of Brown v. Board of Education to the questions before him? Would he use federal judicial power to override state laws and outlaw local customs? Fair Ways gives an uncommonly vivid picture of racial segregation and the forces that brought about its end. Using public case papers, public records, newspapers, and oral histories, Robertson has recreated the scene in Beaumont on the eve of desegregation, describing in detail the parallel white and black communities that characterized the Jim Crow caste system. Through this account, the forces at work in the South—education, military experience, rising expectations, the NAACP, and the rule of law—are personified dramatically by the golfers, the lawyers, and the judge.

Faire équipe pour l'éducation à la santé en milieu scolaire Cover

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Faire équipe pour l'éducation à la santé en milieu scolaire

Edited by Johanne Grenier

Au primaire, au secondaire, au collégial et à l’université, des gens engagés dans l’éducation à la santé ont développé des outils, imaginé des méthodes et exploré des pistes pour contribuer, selon leurs moyens, à l’éducation à la santé en milieu scolaire. Cet ouvrage collectif, qui présente leurs projets, leurs recherches et leurs réflexions, démontre l’importance de faire participer parents, élèves, personnel enseignant et non enseignant, et autres acteurs des milieux communautaire et de la santé publique. Les intervenants des milieux scolaires de tous les ordres d’enseignement y trouveront des ressources et des références pour alimenter leurs réflexions et, surtout, pour soutenir leurs actions.

Fairy Godfather Cover

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Fairy Godfather

Straparola, Venice, and the Fairy Tale Tradition

By Ruth B. Bottigheimer

In the classic rags-to-riches fairy tale a penniless heroine (or hero), with some magic help, marries a royal prince (or princess) and rises to wealth. Received opinion has long been that stories like these originated among peasants, who passed them along by word of mouth from one place to another over the course of centuries. In a bold departure from conventional fairy tale scholarship, Ruth B. Bottigheimer asserts that city life and a single individual played a central role in the creation and transmission of many of these familiar tales. According to her, a provincial boy, Zoan Francesco Straparola, went to Venice to seek his fortune and found it by inventing the modern fairy tale, including the long beloved Puss in Boots, and by selling its many versions to the hopeful inhabitants of that colorful and commercially bustling city.

With innovative literary sleuthing, Bottigheimer has reconstructed the actual composition of Straparola's collection of tales. Grounding her work in social history of the Renaissance Venice, Bottigheimer has created a possible biography for Straparola, a man about whom hardly anything is known. This is the first book-length study of Straparola in any language.

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