Between the Nile River and the Red Sea, in the northern half of Egypt's Eastern Desert, live the Bedouins of the Ma'aza tribe. Joseph Hobbs lived with the Khushmaan Ma'aza clan for almost two years, gathering information for a study of traditional Bedouin life and culture. The resulting work, Bedouin Life in the Egyptian Wilderness, is the first modern ethnographic portrait of the Ma'aza Bedouins.
Combining behind-the-scenes coverage of an often besieged religious group with a personal account of one woman's struggle to find meaning in it, Betrayal of the Spirit takes readers to the center of life in the Hare Krishna movement.
Nori J. Muster joined the International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)--the Hare Krishnas--in 1978, shortly after the death of the movement's spiritual master, and worked for ten years as a public relations secretary and editor of the organization's newspaper, the ISKCON World Review. In this candid and critical account, Muster follows the inner workings of the movement and the Hare Krishnas' progressive decline.
Combining personal reminiscences, published articles, and internal documents, Betrayal of the Spirit details the scandals that beset the Krishnas--drug dealing, weapons stockpiling, deceptive fundraising, child abuse, and murder within ISKCON–as well as the dynamics of schisms that forced some 95 percent of the group's original members to leave. In the midst of this institutional disarray, Muster continued her personal search for truth and religious meaning as an ISKCON member until, disillusioned at last with the movement's internal divisions, she quit her job and left the organization.
In a new preface to the paperback edition, Muster discusses the personal circumstances that led her to ISKCON and kept her there as the movement's image worsened. She also talks about "the darkest secret"–child abuse in the ISKCON parochial schools--that was covered up by the public relations office where she worked.
As a young blind girl, Georgina Kleege repeatedly heard the refrain, “Why can’t you be more like Helen Keller?” Kleege’s resentment culminates in her book Blind Rage: Letters to Helen Keller, an ingenious examination of the life of this renowned international figure using 21st-century sensibilities. Kleege’s absorption with Keller originated as an angry response to the ideal of a secular saint, which no real blind or deaf person could ever emulate. However, her investigation into the genuine person revealed that a much more complex set of characters and circumstances shaped Keller’s life.
Blind Rage employs an adroit form of creative nonfiction to review the critical junctures in Keller’s life. The simple facts about Helen Keller are well-known: how Anne Sullivan taught her deaf-blind pupil to communicate and learn; her impressive career as a Radcliffe graduate and author; her countless public appearances in various venues, from cinema to vaudeville, to campaigns for the American Foundation for the Blind. But Kleege delves below the surface to question the perfection of this image. Through the device of her letters, she challenges Keller to reveal her actual emotions, the real nature of her long relationship with Sullivan, with Sullivan’s husband, and her brief engagement to Peter Fagan. Kleege’s imaginative dramatization, distinguished by her depiction of Keller’s command of abstract sensations, gradually shifts in perspective from anger to admiration. Blind Rage criticizes the Helen Keller myth for prolonging an unrealistic model for blind people, yet it appreciates the individual who found a practical way to live despite the restrictions of her myth.
Larry Hogan is one of the most popular political figures in the United States today. The two-term Republican governor of Maryland first won his seat after upsetting a favorite of the Democratic political establishment, and then overcame the Trump-driven wave in the heartland of the #resistance to win a second term in 2018.
Blue-State Republican is the remarkable story of how his carefully messaged, pragmatic approach to governance helped build a coalition of moderate and conservative Democrats, independents, women, college-educated and Black voters and maintained his GOP base during a time of polarization and negative partisanship. Mileah Kromer takes readers inside Maryland politics to illustrate exactly how Hogan won where Republicans lose and consider whether the un-Trump Republican offers any lessons for how the GOP can win the center-right voters who continue to make up a majority of the country.
Kromer conducts interviews with key political leaders and insiders, including Hogan himself, to explain the mechanics of his political success. She also provides a cogent analysis of public opinion polls and focus groups, ultimately showing why the success of a blue-state Republican matters outside of his home state, especially as Hogan considers a 2024 Presidential run.
As exemplary representatives of a form of critical feminism, the writings of Judith Butler, Katherine Hayles, and Donna Haraway offer entry into the great crises of contemporary society, politics, and culture. Butler leads readers to rethink the boundaries of the human in a time of perpetual war. Hayles turns herself into a “writing machine” in order to find a dwelling place for the digital humanities within the austere landscape of the culture of the code. Haraway is the one contemporary thinker to have begun the necessary ethical project of creating a new language of potential reconciliation among previously warring species.
According to Arthur Kroker, the postmodernism of Judith Butler, the posthumanism of Katherine Hayles, and the companionism of Donna Haraway are possible pathways to the posthuman future that is captured by the specter of body drift. Body drift refers to the fact that individuals no longer inhabit a body, in any meaningful sense of the term, but rather occupy a multiplicity of bodies: gendered, sexualized, laboring, disciplined, imagined, and technologically augmented.
Body drift is constituted by the blast of information culture envisioned by artists, communicated by social networking, and signified by its signs. It is lived daily by remixing, resplicing, and redesigning the codes: codes of gender, sexuality, class, ideology, and identity. The writings of Butler, Hayles, and Haraway, Kroker reveals, provide the critical vocabulary and political context for understanding the deep complexities of body drift and challenging the current emphasis on the material body.
Poet, translator, and critic Annie Finch is director of the Stonecoast low-residency MFA program at the University of Southern Maine. She is co-editor, with Kathrine Varnes, of An Exaltation of Forms: Contemporary Poets Celebrate the Diversity of Their Art, and author of The Ghost of Meter: Culture and Prosody in American Free Verse, Eve, and Calendars. She is the winner of the eleventh annual Robert Fitzgerald Prosody Award for scholars who have made a lasting contribution to the art and science of versification.
“We were trying to change the vision and the conversation about border fears.”
Border Odyssey takes us on a drive toward understanding the U.S./Mexico divide: all 1,969 miles—from Boca Chica to Tijuana—pressing on with the useful fiction of a map.
“We needed to go to the place where countless innocent people had been kicked, cussed, spit on, arrested, detained, trafficked, and killed. It would become clear that the border, la frontera, was more multifaceted and profound than anything we could have invented about it from afar.”
Along the journey, five centuries of cultural history (indigenous, French, Spanish, Mexican, African American, colonist, and U.S.), wars, and legislation unfold. And through observation, conversation, and meditation, Border Odyssey scopes the stories of the people and towns on both sides.
“Stories are the opposite of walls: they demand release, retelling, showing, connecting, each image chipping away at boundaries. Walls are full stops. But stories are like commas, always making possible the next clause.”
Among the terrain traversed: walls and more walls, unexpected roadblocks and patrol officers; a golf course (you could drive a ball across the border); a Civil War battlefield (you could camp there); the southernmost plantation in the United States; a hand-drawn ferry, a road-runner tracked desert, and a breathtaking national park; barbed wire, bridges, and a trucking-trade thoroughfare; ghosts with guns; obscured, unmarked, and unpaved roads; a Catholic priest and his dogs, artwork, icons, and political cartoons; a sheriff and a chain-smoking mayor; a Tex-Mex eatery empty of customers and a B&B shuttering its doors; murder-laden newspaper headlines at breakfast; the kindness of the border-crossing underground; and too many elderly, impoverished, ex-U.S. farmworkers, braceros, lined up to have Thompson take their photograph.
When she was 54, Lisa Knopp’s weight dropped to a number on the scale that she hadn’t seen since seventh grade. The severe food restricting that left her thin and sick when she was 15 and 25 had returned. This time, she was determined to understand the causes of her malady and how she could heal from a condition that is caused by a tangle of genetic, biological, familial, psychological, cultural, and spiritual factors. This compelling memoir, at once a food and illness narrative, explores the forces that cause eating disorders and disordered eating, including the link between those conditions in women, middle-aged and older, and the fear of aging and ageism.
Winner of the 2017 Nebraska Book Award for Memoir
2017 Choice Outstanding Academic Title
“When I was eleven the world was filled with birds,”writes Lisa Knopp of her girlhood in Burlington, Iowa. Picking up where she left off in her first book, Field of Vision, Knopp knits together sections of her life story through a pattern of images drawn from nature. The most prevalent of these unifying themes are metaphors of flight—birds, wind, moving upward and outward and across the midwestern landscape from Nebraska and Iowa to southern Illinois.
Reminiscent of Thoreau's introspective nature writing and Dillard's taut, personal prose, each chapter in Flight Dreams stands alone as a distinct narrative, yet each is linked by profoundly personal descriptions of dreams, the natural world, defining experiences, and chance encounters with people that later prove to be fateful. Part Eastern meditation, part dream sequence, part historical reconstruction, Flight Dreams testifies to a deep understanding of how the natural world—its visible and invisible elements—guides our destinies.
Raouf Mama is widely beloved by children and adults alike for his books and especially for his African and multicultural storytelling, which incorporates poetry, song, music, and dance.
In Fortune’s Favored Child, the master storyteller tells his own story, beginning in the West African country of Benin. Through a harrowing experience with sickness, an encounter with a clairvoyant traditional healer, and astonishing twists of fortune, the protagonist struggles to uncover his real identity, to get an education, and to make his own way in the world. His journey takes him to the shores of the United States to attend graduate school at the University of Michigan and begin a new chapter in his life.
Reading various works by U.S. expatriates Ezra Pound and Gertrude Stein, Parry compares the cultural politics of U.S. canonical modernism with alternative representations of temporality, hybridity, erasure, and sexuality in the work of the Taiwanese writers Yü Kwang-chung and Hsia Yü and the Asian American immigrant author Theresa Hak Kyung Cha. Juxtaposing poems by Pound and Yü Kwang-chung, Parry shows how Yü’s fragmented, ambivalent modernist form reveals the effects of neocolonialism while Pound denies and obscures U.S. imperialism in Asia, asserting a form of nondevelopmental universalism through both form and theme. Stein appropriates discourses of American modernity and identity to represent nonnormative desire and sexuality, and Parry contrasts this tendency with representations of sexuality in the contemporary experimental poetry of Hsia Yü. Finally, Parry highlights the different uses of modernist forms by Pound in his Cantos—which incorporate a multiplicity of decontextualized and ahistorical voices—and by Cha in her 1982 novel Dictee, a historicized, multilingual work. Parry’s sophisticated readings provide a useful critical framework for apprehending how “minor modernisms” illuminate the histories erased by certain canonical modernist texts.
Yiddish-speaking Jews thought Cuba was supposed to be a mere layover on the journey to the United States when they arrived in the island country in the 1920s. They even called it “Hotel Cuba.” But then the years passed, and the many Jews who came there from Turkey, Poland, and war-torn Europe stayed in Cuba. The beloved island ceased to be a hotel, and Cuba eventually became “home.” But after Fidel Castro came to power in 1959, the majority of the Jews opposed his communist regime and left in a mass exodus. Though they remade their lives in the United States, they mourned the loss of the Jewish community they had built on the island.
As a child of five, Ruth Behar was caught up in the Jewish exodus from Cuba. Growing up in the United States, she wondered about the Jews who stayed behind. Who were they and why had they stayed? What traces were left of the Jewish presence, of the cemeteries, synagogues, and Torahs? Who was taking care of this legacy? What Jewish memories had managed to survive the years of revolutionary atheism?
An Island Called Home is the story of Behar’s journey back to the island to find answers to these questions. Unlike the exotic image projected by the American media, Behar uncovers a side of Cuban Jews that is poignant and personal. Her moving vignettes of the individuals she meets are coupled with the sensitive photographs of Havana-based photographer Humberto Mayol, who traveled with her.
Together, Behar’s poetic and compassionate prose and Mayol’s shadowy and riveting photographs create an unforgettable portrait of a community that many have seen though few have understood. This book is the first to show both the vitality and the heartbreak that lie behind the project of keeping alive the flame of Jewish memory in Cuba.
Reader Guide (http://rutgerspress.rutgers.edu/pages/behar_reader_guide.aspx)
Born a German Jew in 1915, Rudy Baum was eighty-six years old when he sealed the garage door of his Dallas home, turned on the car ignition, and tried to end his life. After confronting her father’s attempted suicide, Karen Baum Gordon, Rudy’s daughter, began a sincere effort to understand the sequence of events that led her father to that dreadful day in 2002. What she found were hidden scars of generational struggles reaching back to the camps and ghettos of the Third Reich.
In The Last Letter: A Father’s Struggle, a Daughter’s Quest, and the Long Shadow of the Holocaust, Gordon explores not only her father’s life story, but also the stories and events that shaped the lives of her grandparents—two Holocaust victims that Rudy tried in vain to save in the late 1930s and early years of World War II. This investigation of her family’s history is grounded in eighty-eight letters written mostly by Julie Baum, Rudy’s mother and Karen’s grandmother, to Rudy between November 1936 and October 1941. In five parts, Gordon examines pieces of these well-worn, handwritten letters and other archival documents in order to discover what her family experienced during the Nazi period and the psychological impact that reverberated from it in the generations that followed.
Part of the Legacies of War series, The Last Letter is a captivating family memoir that spans events from the 1930s and Hitler’s rise to power, through World War II and the Holocaust, to the present-day United States. In recreating the fatal journeys of her grandparents and tracing her father’s efforts to save them an ocean away in America, Gordon discovers the forgotten fragments of her family’s history and a vivid sense of her own Jewish identity. By inviting readers along on this journey, Gordon manages to honor victim and survivor alike and shows subsequent generations—now many years after the tragic events of World War II—what it means to remember.
When his father developed Alzheimer’s disease, Don Lago realized that the stories and traditions of his Swedish ancestors would be lost along with the rest of his father’s memories. Haunted by this inevitable tragedy, Lago set out to fight back against forgetting by researching and reclaiming his long-lost Scandinavian roots.
Beginning his quest with a visit to his ancestral home of Gränna, Sweden, Lago explores all facets of Scandinavian America—Swedish, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, and Icelandic—along the way. He encounters Icelanders living in the Utah desert, a Titanic victim buried beneath a gigantic Swedish coffee pot in Iowa, an Arkansas town named after the famous Swedish opera singer Jenny Lind, a real-life Legoland in southern California, and other unique remnants of America’s Scandinavian past. Visits to Sigurd Olson’s legendary cabin on the banks of Burntside Lake in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota and Carl Sandburg’s birthplace in Galesburg, Illinois, further provide Lago with an acute sense of the Scandinavian values that so greatly influenced, and continue to influence, American society.
More than just a travel memoir, On the Viking Trail places Scandinavian immigrants and their history within the wider sweep of American culture. Lago’s perceptive eye and amusing tales remind readers of all ethnic backgrounds that to truly appreciate America one must never forget its immigrant past.
In this truly one-of-a-kind book, the author/narrator—a representative, in extremis, of contemporary American obsession with beauty, celebrity, transmitted image—finds himself suspended, fascinated, in the remoteness of our wall-to-wall mediascape. It is a remoteness that both perplexes and enthralls him.
Through dazzling sleight of hand in which the public becomes private and the private becomes public, the entire book—clicking from confession to family-album photograph to family chronicle to sexual fantasy to pseudo-scholarly footnote to reportage to personal essay to stand-up comedy to cultural criticism to literary criticism to film criticism to prose-poem to litany to outtake —becomes both an anatomy of American culture and a searing self-portrait.
David Shields reads his own life—reads our life—as if it were an allegory about remoteness and finds persuasive, hilarious, heartbreaking evidence wherever he goes.
Winner of the PEN / Revson Award?
Behar calls herself an anthropologist who specializes in homesickness. Repeatedly returning to her homeland of Cuba, unwilling to utter her last goodbye, she is obsessed by the question of why we leave home to find home. For those of us who travel heavy with our own baggage, Behar is an indispensable guide, full of grace and hope, in the perpetual search for connection that defines our humanity.
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