“Failing schools. Underprivileged schools. Just plain bad schools.”
That’s how Eve L. Ewing opens Ghosts in the Schoolyard: describing Chicago Public Schools from the outside. The way politicians and pundits and parents of kids who attend other schools talk about them, with a mix of pity and contempt.
But Ewing knows Chicago Public Schools from the inside: as a student, then a teacher, and now a scholar who studies them. And that perspective has shown her that public schools are not buildings full of failures—they’re an integral part of their neighborhoods, at the heart of their communities, storehouses of history and memory that bring people together.
Never was that role more apparent than in 2013 when Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced an unprecedented wave of school closings. Pitched simultaneously as a solution to a budget problem, a response to declining enrollments, and a chance to purge bad schools that were dragging down the whole system, the plan was met with a roar of protest from parents, students, and teachers. But if these schools were so bad, why did people care so much about keeping them open, to the point that some would even go on a hunger strike?
Ewing’s answer begins with a story of systemic racism, inequality, bad faith, and distrust that stretches deep into Chicago history. Rooting her exploration in the historic African American neighborhood of Bronzeville, Ewing reveals that this issue is about much more than just schools. Black communities see the closing of their schools—schools that are certainly less than perfect but that are theirs—as one more in a long line of racist policies. The fight to keep them open is yet another front in the ongoing struggle of black people in America to build successful lives and achieve true self-determination.
This book demonstrates the ways in which the kitchen—the centerpiece of domesticity and consumerism—was deployed as a recurring motif in the ideological and propaganda battles of the Cold War. Beginning with the famous Nixon–Khrushchev kitchen debate, Baldwin shows how Nixon turned the kitchen into a space of exception, while contemporary writers, artists, and activists depicted it as a site of cultural resistance. Focusing on a wide variety of literature and media from the United States and the Soviet Union, Baldwin reveals how the binary logic at work in Nixon’s discourse—setting U.S. freedom against Soviet totalitarianism—erased the histories of slavery, gender subordination, colonialism, and racial genocide. The Racial Imaginary of the Cold War Kitchen treats the kitchen as symptomatic of these erasures, connecting issues of race, gender, and social difference across national boundaries. This rich and rewarding study—embracing the literature, film, and photography of the era—will appeal to a broad spectrum of scholars.
Southern Exposure: The Overlooked Architecture of Chicago’s South Side is the first book devoted to the South Side’s rich and unfairly ignored architectural heritage. With lively, insightful text and gallery-quality color photographs
by noted Chicago architecture expert Lee Bey, Southern Exposure documents the remarkable and largely unsung architecture of the South Side. The book features an array of landmarks—from a Space Age dry cleaner to a nineteenth-century lagoon that meanders down the middle of a working-class neighborhood street—that are largely absent from arts discourse, in no small part because they sit in a predominantly African American and Latino
section of town better known as a place of disinvestment, abandonment, and violence.
Inspired by Bey’s 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial exhibition, Southern Exposure visits sixty sites, including lesser-known but important work by luminaries such as Jeanne Gang, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Eero Saarinen, as well as buildings by pioneering black architects such as Walter T. Bailey, John Moutoussamy, and Roger Margerum.
Pushing against the popular narrative that depicts Chicago’s South Side as an architectural wasteland, Bey shows beautiful and intact buildings and neighborhoods that reflect the value—and potential—of the area. Southern Exposure offers much to delight architecture aficionados and writers, native Chicagoans and guests to the city alike.