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Aaron Copland
The Life and Work of an Uncommon Man
Howard Pollack
University of Illinois Press, 1999
One of America's most beloved and accomplished composers, Aaron Copland played a crucial role in American music's coming of age. Indeed, Copland masterworks like Appalachian Spring and A Lincoln Portrait only begin to tell the epic story of a career spent composing a wealth of music for opera, ballet, chorus, orchestra, chamber ensemble, band, radio, and film.

Howard Pollack's expansive biography examines Copland's long list of accomplishments while also telling the story of the composer's musical development, political sympathies, personal life, relationships as an openly gay man, and tireless encouragement of younger composers. A winner of the Pulitzer Prize and an Academy Award, Copland played a vital role in the Yaddo Festival and as a beloved teacher at Tanglewood, Harvard, and the New School for Social Research. He turned to conducting later in life and via tours promoted American classical music overseas while taking it to appreciative audiences across the United States.

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The ABC of Life
Success Has 3 Letters
Marcus B. Muller
Amsterdam University Press, 2023
Nowadays it seems there is a manual for everything. What if there was a manual for how to interact with people so that we could all function optimally and succeed in life? This book comes closest to being the definitive manual for life. It is based on over 50 years of groundbreaking scientific research on self-determination theory which has produced a structural approach to social interaction—the ‘ABC of life’—as a concrete and actionable approach to success. For if you do not understand how people function, you will find it difficult to succeed in business, education, health, sports—or indeed almost any facet of life.
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Abigail Field Mott's The Life and Adventures of Olaudah Equiano
A Scholarly Edition
Eric D. Lamore
West Virginia University Press, 2023

An adaptation of Olaudah Equiano’s Interesting Narrative published for Black children in 1829, now given new life in a major scholarly edition.

In 1829, Samuel Wood and Sons, a New York publisher of children’s literature, printed and sold the Quaker Abigail Field Mott’s Life and Adventures of Olaudah Equiano. Mott adapted Olaudah Equiano’s Interesting Narrative, a bestselling autobiography first published in London in 1789, for Black children studying at New York African Free Schools, one of the first educational systems to teach individuals of African descent in the United States.

By reissuing Mott’s neglected adaptation with contextualizing scholarly apparatus, Eric D. Lamore disrupts the editorial tradition of selecting a London edition of Equiano’s Interesting Narrative, and positions Equiano in the United States instead of Great Britain. Lamore’s volume contains Mott’s children’s book, which includes a series of illustrations, in a facsimile edition; instructive notes on Life and Adventures; a provocative essay on the adaptation; and selections from relevant texts on the New York African Free Schools and other related topics. With its focus on the intersections of early Black Atlantic and American studies, children’s literature, history of education, life writing, and book history, this edition offers a fresh take on Equiano and his autobiography for a variety of twenty-first-century audiences.

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Action versus Contemplation
Why an Ancient Debate Still Matters
Jennifer Summit and Blakey Vermeule
University of Chicago Press, 2018
“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone,” Blaise Pascal wrote in 1654. But then there’s Walt Whitman, in 1856: “Whoever you are, come forth! Or man or woman come forth! / You must not stay sleeping and dallying there in the house.”
 
It is truly an ancient debate: Is it better to be active or contemplative? To do or to think? To make an impact, or to understand the world more deeply? Aristotle argued for contemplation as the highest state of human flourishing. But it was through action that his student Alexander the Great conquered the known world. Which should we aim at? Centuries later, this argument underlies a surprising number of the questions we face in contemporary life. Should students study the humanities, or train for a job? Should adults work for money or for meaning? And in tumultuous times, should any of us sit on the sidelines, pondering great books, or throw ourselves into protests and petition drives? 
 
With Action versus Contemplation, Jennifer Summit and Blakey Vermeule address the question in a refreshingly unexpected way: by refusing to take sides. Rather, they argue for a rethinking of the very opposition. The active and the contemplative can—and should—be vibrantly alive in each of us, fused rather than sundered. Writing in a personable, accessible style, Summit and Vermeule guide readers through the long history of this debate from Plato to Pixar, drawing compelling connections to the questions and problems of today. Rather than playing one against the other, they argue, we can discover how the two can nourish, invigorate, and give meaning to each other, as they have for the many writers, artists, and thinkers, past and present, whose examples give the book its rich, lively texture of interplay and reference.
 
This is not a self-help book. It won’t give you instructions on how to live your life. Instead, it will do something better: it will remind you of the richness of a life that embraces action and contemplation, company and solitude, living in the moment and planning for the future. Which is better? Readers of this book will discover the answer: both.
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Adaptation to Life
George E. Vaillant
Harvard University Press, 1998

Between 1939 and 1942, one of America's leading universities recruited 268 of its healthiest and most promising undergraduates to participate in a revolutionary new study of the human life cycle. The originators of the program, which came to be known as the Grant Study, felt that medical research was too heavily weighted in the direction of disease, and their intent was to chart the ways in which a group of promising individuals coped with their lives over the course of many years.

Nearly forty years later, George E. Vaillant, director of the Study, took the measure of the Grant Study men. The result was the compelling, provocative classic, Adaptation to Life, which poses fundamental questions about the individual differences in confronting life's stresses. Why do some of us cope so well with the portion life offers us, while others, who have had similar advantages (or disadvantages), cope badly or not at all? Are there ways we can effectively alter those patterns of behavior that make us unhappy, unhealthy, and unwise?

George Vaillant discusses these and other questions in terms of a clearly defined scheme of "adaptive mechanisms" that are rated mature, neurotic, immature, or psychotic, and illustrates, with case histories, each method of coping.

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Adapting VALUEs
Tracing the Life of a Rubric through Institutional Ethnography
Jennifer Grouling
University Press of Colorado, 2023
Adapting VALUEs traces the use of the American Association of Colleges and Universities' VALUE rubric for written communication at two small universities. Through the lens of institutional ethnography, Jennifer Grouling examines how faculty and administrators adapted the rubric for their own purposes and writing programs. Throughout the book, Grouling explores the ways in which faculty members' interactions on committees, views of the classroom, disciplinary affiliation, and racial privilege impacted their views of this national rubric. Overall, Adapting VALUEs offers valuable insights into the power of the rubric as both a national and a local text that dictates pedagogical and administrative practice.
 
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Advertising Revolutionary
The Life and Work of Tom Burrell
Jason P. Chambers
University of Illinois Press, 2024
The ad exec who revolutionized the image of Black Americans in advertising

Over a forty-year career, Chicagoan Tom Burrell changed the face of advertising and revolutionized the industry’s approach to African Americans as human beings and consumers. Jason P. Chambers offers a biography of the groundbreaking creator and entrepreneur that explores Burrell’s role in building brands like McDonald’s and Coca-Cola within a deeply felt vision of folding positive images of Black people into mainstream American life. While detailing Burrell’s successes, Chambers tells a parallel story of what Burrell tried to do that sheds light on the motivations of advertising creators who viewed their work as being about more than just selling. Chambers also highlights how Burrell used his entrepreneurial gifts to build an agency that opened the door for Black artists, copywriters, directors, and other professionals to earn livings, build careers, and become leaders within the industry.

Compelling and multidimensional, Advertising Revolutionary combines archival research and interviews with Burrell and his colleagues to provide a long overdue portrait of an advertising industry legend and his times.

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The Affirmation of Life
Nietzsche on Overcoming Nihilism
Bernard Reginster
Harvard University Press, 2009

Among all the great thinkers of the past two hundred years, Nietzsche continues to occupy a special place--not only for a broad range of academics but also for members of a wider public, who find some of their most pressing existential concerns addressed in his works. Central among these concerns is the question of the meaning of a life characterized by inescapable suffering, at a time when the traditional responses inspired by Christianity are increasingly losing their credibility. While most recent studies of Nietzsche's works have lost sight of this fundamental issue, Bernard Reginster's book The Affirmation of Life brings it sharply into focus.

Reginster identifies overcoming nihilism as a central objective of Nietzsche's philosophical project, and shows how this concern systematically animates all of his main ideas. In particular, Reginster's work develops an original and elegant interpretation of the will to power, which convincingly explains how Nietzsche uses this doctrine to mount a critique of the dominant Christian values, to overcome the nihilistic despair they produce, and to determine the conditions of a new affirmation of life. Thus, Reginster attributes to Nietzsche a compelling substantive ethical outlook based on the notions of challenge and creativity--an outlook that involves a radical reevaluation of the role and significance of suffering in human existence.

Replete with deeply original insights on many familiar--and frequently misunderstood--Nietzschean concepts, Reginster's book will be essential to anyone approaching this towering figure of Western intellectual history.

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Afghan Napoleon
The Life of Ahmad Shah Massoud
Sandy Gall
Haus Publishing, 2022
The first biography in a decade of Afghan resistance leader Ahmad Shah Massoud.

When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979, the forces of resistance were disparate. Many groups were caught up in fighting each other and competing for Western arms. The exception were those commanded by Ahmad Shah Massoud, the military strategist and political operator who solidified the resistance and undermined the Russian occupation, leading resistance members to a series of defensive victories.
 
Sandy Gall followed Massoud during Soviet incursions and reported on the war in Afghanistan, and he draws on this first-hand experience in his biography of this charismatic guerrilla commander. Afghan Napoleon includes excerpts from the surviving volumes of Massoud’s prolific diaries—many translated into English for the first time—which detail crucial moments in his personal life and during his time in the resistance. Born into a liberalizing Afghanistan in the 1960s, Massoud ardently opposed communism, and he rose to prominence by coordinating the defense of the Panjsher Valley against Soviet offensives. Despite being under-equipped and outnumbered, he orchestrated a series of victories over the Russians. Massoud’s assassination in 2001, just two days before the attack on the Twin Towers, is believed to have been ordered by Osama bin Laden. Despite the ultimate frustration of Massoud’s attempts to build political consensus, he is recognized today as a national hero.
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After Life
Eugene Thacker
University of Chicago Press, 2010
Life is one of our most basic concepts, and yet when examined directly it proves remarkably contradictory and elusive, encompassing both the broadest and the most specific phenomena. We can see this uncertainty about life in our habit of approaching it as something at once scientific and mystical, in the return of vitalisms of all types, and in the pervasive politicization of life. In short, life seems everywhere at stake and yet is nowhere the same.

In After Life, Eugene Thacker clears the ground for a new philosophy of life by recovering the twists and turns in its philosophical history. Beginning with Aristotle’s originary formulation of a philosophy of life, Thacker examines the influence of Aristotle’s ideas in medieval and early modern thought, leading him to the work of Immanuel Kant, who notes the inherently contradictory nature of “life in itself.” Along the way, Thacker shows how early modern philosophy’s engagement with the problem of life affects thinkers such as Gilles Deleuze, Georges Bataille, and Alain Badiou, as well as contemporary developments in the “speculative turn” in philosophy.

At a time when life is categorized, measured, and exploited in a variety of ways, After Life invites us to delve deeper into the contours and contradictions of the age-old question, “what is life?”

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After the Ice Age
The Return of Life to Glaciated North America
E. C. Pielou
University of Chicago Press, 1991
The fascinating story of how a harsh terrain that resembled modern Antarctica has been transformed gradually into the forests, grasslands, and wetlands we know today.

"One of the best scientific books published in the last ten years."—Ottowa Journal

"A valuable new synthesis of facts and ideas about climate, geography, and life during the past 20,000 years. More important, the book conveys an intimate appreciation of the rich variety of nature through time."—S. David Webb,Science
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After We Die
The Life and Times of the Human Cadaver
Norman L. Cantor
Georgetown University Press, 2011

What will become of our earthly remains? What happens to our bodies during and after the various forms of cadaver disposal available? Who controls the fate of human remains? What legal and moral constraints apply? Legal scholar Norman Cantor provides a graphic, informative, and entertaining exploration of these questions. After We Die chronicles not only a corpse’s physical state but also its legal and moral status, including what rights, if any, the corpse possesses.

In a claim sure to be controversial, Cantor argues that a corpse maintains a “quasi-human status" granting it certain protected rights—both legal and moral. One of a corpse’s purported rights is to have its predecessor’s disposal choices upheld. After We Die reviews unconventional ways in which a person can extend a personal legacy via their corpse’s role in medical education, scientific research, or tissue transplantation. This underlines the importance of leaving instructions directing post-mortem disposal. Another cadaveric right is to be treated with respect and dignity. After We Die outlines the limits that “post-mortem human dignity” poses upon disposal options, particularly the use of a cadaver or its parts in educational or artistic displays.

Contemporary illustrations of these complex issues abound. In 2007, the well-publicized death of Anna Nicole Smith highlighted the passions and disputes surrounding the handling of human remains. Similarly, following the 2003 death of baseball great Ted Williams, the family in-fighting and legal proceedings surrounding the corpse’s proposed cryogenic disposal also raised contentious questions about the physical, legal, and ethical issues that emerge after we die. In the tradition of Sherwin Nuland's How We Die, Cantor carefully and sensitively addresses the post-mortem handling of human remains.

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Against Life
Edited by Alastair Hunt and Stephanie Youngblood, with an afterword by Lee Edelman
Northwestern University Press, 2015

The contributors to Against Life think critically about the turn to life in theory and culture and especially about its redemptive tendencies. Editors Alastair Hunt and Stephanie Youngblood shape their collection to provocatively challenge an assumption rife in the humanities, mainly that the idea of redeeming life might hinder important ethical conversations.

They and their contributors question whether it is intelligent—or even necessary— to orient our collective ethico-political projects from figures of life, and to posit forms of equality and freedom that might emerge if we did not organize being-together under the sign of life. Taken together the essays in Against Life mark an important turn in the ethico-political work of the humanities.

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Alias Simon Suggs
The Life and Times of Johnson Jones Hooper
William Stanley Hoole
University of Alabama Press, 2008
A study of realism and folk literature and of the sources and techniques of storytelling

Alias Simon Suggs is a study in the life and writings of Johnson J. Hooper of Alabama, and is a masterful contribution to American biography and to American literature.
 
Extensively documented with illuminating footnotes and revealing references, its style is direct and captivating and will appeal to those who enjoy entertaining biography will relish the privilege of reading it.
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Alien Heart
The Life and Work of Margaret Laurence
Lyall Powers
University of Manitoba Press, 2005
Today, almost two decades after her death, Margaret Laurence remains one of Canada's best-known and most beloved writers. Twice winner of the Governor General's Award for fiction, she was, as the late William French wrote, "more profoundly admired than any other Canadian novelist of her generation."

Lyall Powers is both a respected scholar of literature and a lifelong friend of Laurence's, having met her when they were students together at Winnipeg's United College in the 1940s. Alien Heart is the first full-length biography of Margaret that combines personal knowledge and insights about Laurence with a study of her work, which often paralleled the events and concerns in her own life.

Drawing on letters, personal correspondence, journals, and interviews, Lyall Powers discusses the struggles and triumphs Laurence experienced in her efforts to understand herself in the roles of writer, wife, mother, and public figure. He portrays a deeply compassionate and courageous woman, who yet felt troubled by conflicting demands. While Laurence's work is not directly autobiographical, Powers illustrates how her writing expressed many of the same dilemmas, and how the resolution her characters achieved in the novels and stories had an impact on Laurence's own life.

Powers provides an in-depth analysis of all Laurence's work, including the early African essays, fiction, and translations, and her books for children, as well as the beloved Manawaka fiction. The study clearly shows the progression and expression of Laurence as a writer of great humanity and conscience.
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All God's Dangers
The Life of Nate Shaw
Theodore Rosengarten
University of Chicago Press, 2000
All God's Dangers won the National Book Award in 1975. "On a cold January morning in 1969, a young white graduate student from Massachusetts, stumbling along the dim trail of a long-defunct radical organization of the 1930s, the Alabama Sharecropper Union, heard that there was a survivor and went looking for him. In a rural settlement 20 miles or so from Tuskegee in east-central Alabama he found him—the man he calls Nate Shaw—a black man, 84 years old, in full possession of every moment of his life and every facet of its meaning. . . . Theodore Rosengarten, the student, had found a black Homer, bursting with his black Odyssey and able to tell it with awesome intellectual power, with passion, with the almost frightening power of memory in a man who could neither read nor write but who sensed that the substance of his own life, and a million other black lives like his, were the very fiber of the nation's history." —H. Jack Geiger, New York Times Book Review
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All Things Common
The Hutterian Way of Life
Victor Peters
University of Minnesota Press, 1966

All Things Common was first published in 1966. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

In Dr. Peters' study of the Hutterian Brethren (commonly called Hutterites), a group of devoutly religious farmers who have established many communal colonies in the midlands of the United States and Canada, he first traces the historical development of the group and then describes in detail their way of life by focusing on the Manitoba colonies.

After their church was founded in Central Europe at the time of the Reformation, the Hutterians moved slowly east until they settled in Russia, where they lived for over one hundred years. Then, in the 1870's, they immigrated to America and settled in the Dakota Territory. During World War I they fled to Canada under pressure of wartime hysteria. Since they moved to Canada, the Hutterians have encountered more problems but have successfully spread their colonies across the prairie provinces and back into the United States.

At present, the Hutterians are the oldest and most successful community group in the history of western civilization. They believe that their practice of Christian communism is in true harmony with the spirit and teachings of early Christianity. Other aspects of their behavior such as the refusal to do military service and their disapproval of radio, television, dancing, movies, and cosmetics have made them a source of interest and concern to their neighbors.

The book is a thorough introduction to the Hutterians for the general reader and will be of special interest to historians, theologians, sociologists, and economists.

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Amazon Sweet Sea
Land, Life, and Water at the River's Mouth
By Nigel J. H. Smith
University of Texas Press, 2002

Far into the Atlantic Ocean, the outflow from the Amazon River creates a "sweet sea" of fresh water. At the river's mouth, a vast delta of river channels and marshes, floodplain and upland forests, open and scrub savannas, floating meadows, and mangrove swamps hosts an astonishingly diverse assemblage of plant and animal life. So rich is this biological treasure house that early European explorers deemed it inexhaustible.

In this highly readable book, Nigel Smith explores how human use of the Amazon estuary's natural resources has been affected by technological change, rapid urban growth, and accelerated market integration. Avoiding alarmist rhetoric, he shows how human intervention in the estuary has actually diversified agriculture and helped save floodplain forests from wanton destruction. His findings underscore the importance of understanding the history of land use and the ecological knowledge of local people when formulating development and conservation policies. The book will be of interest to everyone concerned with the fate of tropical forests, conserving biodiversity, and developing natural resources in a sustainable manner.

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An American Dream
The Life of an African American Soldier and POW Who Spent Twelve Years in Communist China
Clarence Adams
University of Massachusetts Press, 2007
Throughout his life, Clarence Adams exhibited self-reliance, ambition, ingenuity, courage, and a commitment to learning—character traits often equated with the successful pursuit of the American Dream. Unfortunately, for an African American coming of age in the 1930s and 1940s, such attributes counted for little, especially in the South.

Adams was a seventeen-year-old high school dropout in 1947 when he fled Memphis and the local police to join the U.S. Army. Three years later, after fighting in the Korean War in an all-black artillery unit that he believed to have been sacrificed to save white troops, he was captured by the Chinese. After spending almost three years as a POW, during which he continued to suffer racism at the hands of his fellow Americans, he refused repatriation in 1953, choosing instead the People's Republic of China, where he hoped to find educational and career opportunities not readily available in his own country.

While living in China, Adams earned a university degree, married a Chinese professor of Russian, and worked in Beijing as a translator for the Foreign Languages Press. During the Vietnam War he made a controversial anti-war broadcast over Radio Hanoi, urging black troops not to fight for someone else's political and economic freedoms until they enjoyed these same rights at home.

In 1966, having come under suspicion during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, he returned with his wife and two children to the United States, where he was subpoenaed to appear before the House Committee on Un-American Activities to face charges of "disrupting the morale of American fighting forces in Vietnam and inciting revolution in the United States." After these charges were dropped, he and his family struggled to survive economically. Eventually, through sheer perseverance, they were able to fulfill at least part of the American Dream. By the time he died, the family owned and operated eight successful Chinese restaurants in his native Memphis.
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American Egyptologist
The Life of James Henry Breasted and the Creation of His Oriental Institute
Jeffrey Abt
University of Chicago Press, 2011

James Henry Breasted (1865–1935) had a career that epitomizes our popular image of the archaeologist. Daring, handsome, and charismatic, he traveled on expeditions to remote and politically unstable corners of the Middle East, helped identify the tomb of King Tut, and was on the cover of Time magazine. But Breasted was more than an Indiana Jones—he was an accomplished scholar, academic entrepreneur, and talented author who brought ancient history to life not just for students but for such notables as Teddy Roosevelt and Sigmund Freud.

In American Egyptologist, Jeffrey Abt weaves together the disparate strands of Breasted’s life, from his small-town origins following the Civil War to his evolution into the father of American Egyptology and the founder of the Oriental Institute in the early years of the University of Chicago. Abt explores the scholarly, philanthropic, diplomatic, and religious contexts of his ideas and projects, providing insight into the origins of America’s most prominent center for Near Eastern archaeology.
 
An illuminating portrait of the nearly forgotten man who demystified ancient Egypt for the general public, American Egyptologist restores James Henry Breasted to the world and puts forward a brilliant case for his place as one of the most important scholars of modern times.
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American Prophet
The Life and Work of Carey McWilliams
Peter Richardson
University of Michigan Press, 2005
A long-overdue book on the brilliant life and career of one of our greatest public intellectuals, American Prophet will introduce Carey McWilliams to a new generation of readers.

Peter Richardson's absorbing and elegantly paced book reveals a figure thoroughly engaged with the issues of his time. Deftly interweaving correspondence, diary notes, published writings, and McWilliams's own and others' observations on a colorful and influential cast of characters from Hollywood, New York, Washington, DC, and the American West, Richardson maps the evolution of McWilliams's personal and professional life. Among those making an appearance are H. L. Mencken (McWilliams's mentor and role model), Louis Adamic, John Fante, Robert Towne, Richard Nixon, Studs Terkel, J. Edgar Hoover, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., and Joseph McCarthy.

American Prophet illustrates the arc of McWilliams's life and career from his early literary journalism through his legal and political activism, his stint in state government, and his two decades as editor of the Nation. This book makes the case for McWilliams's place in the Olympian realm of our most influential and prescient political writers.

Peter Richardson is the editorial director at PoliPointPress in Sausalito, California. He is the author or editor of numerous works on language, literature, and California public policy. He holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of California Berkeley.
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American Radical
The Life and Times of I. F. Stone
D. D. Guttenplan
Northwestern University Press, 2012
Popular Front columnist and New Deal propagandist, fearless opponent of McCarthyism and feared scourge of official liars, I. F. Stone (1907–1989)—magnetic, witty, indefatigable—left a permanent mark on our politics and culture. A college dropout, he was already an influential newsman by the age of twenty-five, enjoying extraordinary access to key figures in Washington and New York. Guttenplan finds the key to Stone’s achievements throughout his singular career—not just in the celebrated I. F. Stone’s Weekly—lay in the force and passion of his political commitments. Stone’s calm and forensic yet devastating reports on American politics and institutions sprang from a radical faith in the long-term prospects for American democracy. 

In an era when the old radical questions—about war, the economy, health care, and the right to dissent—are suddenly new again, Guttenplan’s lively, provocative book makes clear why so many of Stone’s pronouncements have acquired the force of prophecy.
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American Tragedian
The Life of Edwin Booth
Daniel J. Watermeier
University of Missouri Press, 2015
When John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln, his older brother Edwin was devastated. A leading stage star, Edwin Booth thought his career had ended. But with the support of countless theatergoers, over the next thirty years Booth would overcome the shadow of John Wilkes’s infamy and steadily advance a reputation as America’s greatest-ever Shakespearean actor, the American tragedian par excellence.

Daniel J. Watermeier has, through decades of tireless research paired with his own sharp insight, put together the most complete Edwin Booth biography to date. Drawing on a wealth of archival materials and contemporary theatrical scholarship, American Tragedian: The Life of Edwin Booth gives more attention than previous biographies to Booth’s apprentice and journeyman years; his rise in antebellum America to stardom with a new, acclaimed style of acting; his work as an innovative theater builder and theatrical producer; his several foreign tours; and his nationwide tours in the late 1880s. It also addresses Booth’s critical reception in dozens of cities in America and abroad and situates his professional activities within the events and trends of the time.

As interesting as it is informative, Watermeier’s book offers an in-depth look at the triumphal career and tumultuous life of one of the American stage’s most celebrated figures.
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American Workman
The Life and Art of John Kane
Maxwell King
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2022

American Workman presents a comprehensive, novel reassessment of the life and work of one of America’s most influential self-taught artists, John Kane. With a full account of Kane’s life as a working man, including his time as a steelworker, coal miner, street paver, and commercial painter in and around Pittsburgh in the early twentieth century, the authors explore how these occupations shaped his development as an artist and his breakthrough success in the modern art world. A rough-and-tumble blue-collar man prone to brawling and drinking, Kane also sought out beauty in the industrial world he inhabited. This Kane paradox—brawny and tough, sensitive and creative—was at the heart of much of the public’s interest in Kane as a person. The allure of the Kane saga was heightened all the more by the fact that he did not achieve renown until he was at the age at which most people are retiring from their professions. Kane’s dedication to painting resulted in a fascinating body of work that has ended up in some of America’s most important museums and private collections. His dramatic life story demonstrates the courage, strength, and creativity of his generation of workmen. They may be long gone, but thanks to Kane they cannot be forgotten.

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America's Most Alarming Writer
Essays on the Life and Work of Charles Bowden
Edited by Bill Broyles and Bruce J. Dinges
University of Texas Press, 2019

The author of more than twenty books and a revered contributor to numerous national publications, Charles Bowden (1945–2014) used his keen storyteller’s eye to reveal both the dark underbelly and the glorious determination of humanity, particularly in the borderlands between the United States and Mexico. In America’s Most Alarming Writer, key figures in his life—including his editors, collaborators, and other writers—deliver a literary wake for the man who inspired them throughout his forty-year career.

Part revelation, part critical assessment, the fifty essays in this collection span the decades from Bowden’s rise as an investigative journalist through his years as a singular voice of unflinching honesty about natural history, climate change, globalization, drugs, and violence. As the Chicago Tribune noted, “Bowden wrote with the intensity of Joan Didion, the voracious hunger of Henry Miller, the feral intelligence and irony of Hunter Thompson, and the wit and outrage of Edward Abbey.” An evocative complement to The Charles Bowden Reader, the essays and photographs in this homage brilliantly capture the spirit of a great writer with a quintessentially American vision. Bowden is the best writer you’ve (n)ever read.

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Among Giants
A Life with Whales
Charles "Flip" Nicklin with K. M. Kostyal
University of Chicago Press, 2011

It all started in 1965 with a guy riding a whale. The guy was Flip Nicklin’s father, Chuck, and the whale was an unlucky Bryde’s Whale that had gotten caught up in some anchor line. Hoping to free the whale, Chuck and some friends took their boat as near as they could, and, just before they cut it loose, Chuck posed astride it for a photo.


That image, carried on wire services nationwide, became a sensation and ultimately changed the life of Chuck’s young son, Flip. In the decades since that day, Flip Nicklin has made himself into the world’s premier cetacean photographer. It’s no exaggeration to say that his photos, published in such venues as National Geographic and distributed worldwide, have virtually defined these graceful, powerful creatures in the mind of the general public—even as they helped open new ground in the field of marine mammalogy.


Among Giants tells the story of Nicklin’s life and career on the high seas, from his first ill-equipped shoots in the mid-1970s through his long association with the National Geographic Society to the present, when he is one of the founders of Whale Trust, a nonprofit conservation and research group. Nicklin is equal parts photographer, adventurer, self-trained scientist, and raconteur, and Among Giants reflects all those sides, matching breathtaking images to firsthand accounts of their making, and highlighting throughout the importance of conservation and new advances in our understanding of whale behavior. With Nicklin as our guide, we see not just whales but also our slowly growing understanding of their hidden lives, as well as the evolution of underwater photography—and the stunning clarity and drama that can be captured when a determined, daring diver is behind the lens.


Humpbacks, narwhals, sperm whales, orcas—these and countless other giants of the ocean parade through these pages, spouting, breaching, singing, and raising their young. Nicklin’s photographs bring us so completely into the underwater world of whales that we can’t help but feel awe, while winning, personal accounts of his adventures remind us of what it’s like to be a lone diver sharing their sea.


For anyone who has marveled at the majesty of whales in the wild, Among Giants is guaranteed to be inspiring, even moving—its unmatched images of these glorious beings an inescapable reminder of our responsibility as stewards of the ocean.

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Among the Swamp People
Life in Alabama's Mobile-Tensaw River Delta
Watt Key
University of Alabama Press, 2015
Colorful and lively personal essays about life in the wilds of Alabama’s Mobile-Tensaw River Delta
 
Among the Swamp People is the story of author Watt Key’s discovery of the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta. “The swamp” consists of almost 260,000 acres of wetlands located just north of Mobile Bay. There he leases a habitable outcropping of land and constructs a primitive cabin from driftwood to serve as a private getaway. His story is one that chronicles the beauties of the delta’s unparalleled natural wonders, the difficulties of survival within it, and an extraordinary community of characters—by turns generous and violent, gracious and paranoid, hilarious and reckless—who live, thrive, and perish there.
 
There is no way into the delta except by small boat. To most it would appear a maze of rivers and creeks between stunted swamp trees and mud. Key observes that there are few places where one can step out of a boat without “sinking to the knees in muck the consistency of axle grease. It is the only place I know where gloom and beauty can coexist at such extremes. And it never occurred to me that a land seemingly so bleak could hide such beauty and adventure.”
 
It also chronicles Key’s maturation as a writer, from a twenty-five-year-old computer programmer with no formal training as a writer to a highly successful, award-winning writer of fiction for a young adult audience with three acclaimed novels published to date.
 
In learning to make a place for himself in the wild, as in learning to write, Key’s story is one of “hoping someone—even if just myself—would find value in my creations.”
 
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Anarchy’s Brief Summer
The Life and Death of Buenaventura Durruti
Hans Magnus Enzensberger
Seagull Books, 2018
A unique portrait of a revolutionary movement that is largely unknown outside Spain.

Northern Spain is the only part of Western Europe where anarchism played a significant role in the political life of the twentieth century. Enjoying wide-ranging support among both the urban and rural working class, its importance peaked during its “brief summer”—the civil war between the Republic and General Franco’s Falangists, during which anarchists even participated in the government of Catalonia.
 
Anarchy’s Brief Summer brings anarchism to life by focusing on the charismatic leader Buenaventura Durruti (1896–1936), who became a key figure in the Spanish Civil War after a militant and adventurous youth. The basis of the book is a compilation of texts: personal testimony, interviews with survivors, contemporary documents, memoirs, and academic assessments. They are all linked by Enzenberger’s own assessment in a series of glosses—a literary form that is somewhere between retelling and reconstruction—with the contradiction between fiction and fact reflecting the political contradictions of the Spanish Revolution. 
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And a Time to Die
How American Hospitals Shape the End of Life
Sharon R. Kaufman
University of Chicago Press, 2006
Over the past thirty years, the way Americans experience death has been dramatically altered. The advent of medical technology capable of sustaining life without restoring health has changed where, when, and how we die. In this revelatory study, medical anthropologist Sharon R. Kaufman examines the powerful center of those changes: the hospital, where most Americans die today. She deftly links the experiences of patients and families, the work of hospital staff, and the ramifications of institutional bureaucracy to show the invisible power of the hospital system in shaping death and our individual experience of it. In doing so, Kaufman also speaks to the ways we understand what it means to be human and to be alive.

“An act of courage and a public service.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“This beautifully synthesized and disquieting account of how hospital patients die melds disciplined description with acute analysis, incorporating the voices of doctors, nurses, social workers, and patients in a provocative analysis of the modern American quest for a ‘good death.’”—Publishers Weekly

“Kaufman exposes the bureaucratic and ethical quandaries that hover over the modern deathbed.”—Psychology Today

“Kaufman’s analysis illuminates the complexity of the care of critically ill and dying patients [and] the ambiguity of slogans such as ‘death with dignity,’ ‘quality of life,’ and ‘stopping life support.’ . . . Thought-provoking reading for everyone contemplating the fate of us all.”—New England Journal of Medicine

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And the Monkey Learned Nothing
Dispatches from a Life in Transit
Tom Lutz
University of Iowa Press, 2016
Tom Lutz is on a mission to visit every country on earth. And the Monkey Learned Nothing contains reports from fifty of them, most describing personal encounters in rarely visited spots, anecdotes from way off the beaten path. Traveling without an itinerary and without a goal, Lutz explores the Iranian love of poetry, the occupying Chinese army in Tibet, the amputee beggars in Cambodia, the hill tribes on Vietnam’s Chinese border, the sociopathic monkeys of Bali, the dangerous fishermen and conmen of southern India, the salt flats of Uyumi in Peru, and floating hotels in French Guiana, introduces you to an Uzbeki prodigy in the market of Samarkand, an Azeri rental car clerk in Baku, guestworkers in Dubai, a military contractor in Jordan, cucuruchos in Guatemala, a Pentecostal preacher in rural El Salvador, a playboy in Nicaragua, employment agents in Singapore specializing in Tamil workers, prostitutes in Colombia and the Dominican Republic, international bankers in Belarus, a teacher in Havana, border guards in Botswana, tango dancers in Argentina, a cook in Suriname, a juvenile thief in Uruguay, voters in Guyana, doctors in Tanzania and Lesotho, scary poker players in Moscow, reed dancers in Swaziland, young camel herders in Tunisia, Romanian missionaries in Macedonia, and musical groups in Mozambique. With an eye out for both the sublime and the ridiculous, Lutz falls, regularly, into the instant intimacy of the road with random strangers.
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André Gide
A Life in the Present
Alan Sheridan
Harvard University Press, 1999

One of the most important writers of the twentieth century, André Gide also led what was probably one of the most interesting lives our century has seen. Gide knew and corresponded with many of the major literary figures of his day, from Mallarmé to Oscar Wilde. Though a Communist, his critical account of Soviet Russia in Return from the USSR earned him the enmity of the Left. A lifelong advocate of moral and political freedom and justice, he was a proscribed writer on the Vatican’s infamous “Index.” Self-published most of his life, he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1947, at the age of 77. An avowed homosexual, he nonetheless married his cousin, and though their marriage was unconsummated, at 53 he fathered a daughter for a friend.

Alan Sheridan’s book is a literary biography of Gide, an intimate portrait of the reluctantly public man, whose work was deeply and inextricably entangled with his life. Gide’s life provides a unique perspective on our century, an idea of what it was like for one person to live through unprecedented technological change, economic growth and collapse, the rise of socialism and fascism, two world wars, a new concern for the colonial peoples and for women, and the astonishing hold of Rome and Moscow over intellectuals. Following Gide from his first forays among the Symbolists through his sexual and political awakenings to his worldwide fame as a writer, sage, and commentator on his age, Sheridan richly conveys the drama of a remarkable life; the depth, breadth, and vitality of an incomparable oeuvre; and the spirit of a time that both so aptly expressed.

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André Gorz
A Life
Willy Gianinazzi
Seagull Books, 2022
The first and exhaustive biography of twentieth-century leftist philosopher André Gorz.
 
Recognized as one of the most lucid and innovative critics of contemporary capitalism, André Gorz (1923–2007) was known for asking fundamental questions regarding the meaning of life and work. This first biography of a unique figure operating at the confluence of literature, philosophy, and journalism revisits half a century of intellectual and political life.
 
Born Gerhart Hirsch in Vienna, he studied in Switzerland before opting to live and work in France. A self-taught existentialist thinker, he was constantly revising his view of the world, unafraid to break new theoretical ground in doing so. Influenced by Marx, Husserl, Sartre, and Illich, he had very close affinities with the new thinking on the Left that was coming out of Italy in the 1960s and 70s. He was also one of the first thinkers to shape political ecology and to advocate de-growth. The intellectual on the editorial board of Sartre’s journal Les Temps Modernes, Gorz was also a mainstream journalist. He wrote in L’Express under the sobriquet Michel Bosquet before joining others in the creation of Le Nouvel Observateur.
 
Through Gorz’s life journey, we meet not only Sartre and de Beauvoir, but also Herbert Marcuse, Fidel Castro, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Ivan Illich, Félix Guattari, Antonio Negri, and many others. Beyond his poignant autobiographical narratives, The Traitor and Letter to D, which attest to his deep humanity, Gorz remains a precious guide for all who believe that another world is still possible.
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Anjin - The Life and Times of Samurai William Adams, 1564-1620
A Japanese Perspective
Hiromi Rogers
Amsterdam University Press, 2016
The year is 1600. It is April and Japan’s iconic cherry trees are in full flower. A battered ship drifts on the tide into Usuki Bay in southern Japan. On board, barely able to stand, are twenty-three Dutchmen and one Englishman, the remnants of a fleet of five ships and 500 men that had set out from Rotterdam in 1598. The Englishman was William Adams, later to be known as Anjin Miura by the Japanese, whose subsequent transformation from wretched prisoner to one of the Shogun’s closest advisers is the centrepiece of this book. As a native of Japan, and a scholar of seventeenth-century Japanese history, the author delves deep into the cultural context facing Adams in what is one of the great examples of assimilation into the highest reaches of a foreign culture. Her access to Japanese sources, including contemporary accounts – some not previously seen by Western scholars researching the subject – offers us a fuller understanding of the life lived by William Adams as a high-ranking samurai and his grandstand view of the collision of cultures that led to Japan’s self-imposed isolation, lasting over two centuries. This is a highly readable account of Adams’ voyage to and twenty years in Japan and that is supported by detailed observations of Japanese culture and society at this time. New light is shed on Adams’ relations with the Dutch and his countrymen, including the disastrous relationship with Captain John Saris, the key role likely to have been played by the munitions, including cannon, removed from Adams’ ship De Liefde in the great battle of Sekigahara (September 1600), the shipbuilding skills that enabled Japan to advance its international maritime ambitions, as well as the scientific and technical support Adams was able to provide in the refining process of Japan’s gold and silver.
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Anthony Cerami
A Life in Translational Medicine
Conrad Keating
Rutgers University Press, 2021
Since the turn of the new millennium, ‘translational research’, the scientific process of bringing disease-targeted knowledge from the laboratory to treat patients in the clinic, has gone mainstream and is now practiced by large universities and institutes across the globe.  Into this dynamic of the rapidly changing world of translational medical research this book sets the life of one of the discipline’s most influential practitioners, Anthony Cerami. His work spans more than five decades and culminated in the discovery, invention and development of diagnostics and therapeutics used daily by millions of people. Students in molecular medicine and investigators pursuing basic science in the hope of improving human health will find inspiration in examining the sacrifices and achievements of Cerami’s career in translational medicine. During his three decades at Rockefeller University his cross-disciplinary and laboratory-without-wall approach established ‘rational drug design’ as the most effective means of advancing the fields of parasitology, hematology, immunology, metabolism, therapeutics and molecular medicine. Cerami’s story and that of the evolution of translation are intimately entwined: the contours of Cerami’s career shaped by developments in translation, and in exchange, the field itself molded by Cerami’s work.  To understand one is to understand the other. By examining the life of this often overlooked biochemist it is possible to intimately focus on the ideas and thought processes of a scientist who has helped to define the great acceleration in translational research over the past half century – research that, knowingly or otherwise, has most likely affected the life of almost everyone on the planet.  We also gain a better understanding of the febrile creative atmosphere that percolated through the laboratories leading the way in translational medicine, and gain insight into the art, science, successes, failures and providence that underlie major scientific breakthroughs.  Anybody interested in the questions of where modern medicines come from, how health outcomes around the globe are affected by research and imagination, and where the future of drug discovery is leading, will be rewarded by exploring Cerami’s life in translation.  This book is not restricted to those with a professional interest in science, because anyone dedicated to living a life of creativity and discovery will be rewarded by reading this book.  In many respects, Cerami’s life reflects the modern metaphor of the ‘American dream’ with his journey from humble beginnings on a chicken farm in rural New Jersey, to occupying a place in  the highest echelons of the US scientific establishment.  His journey in translational medicine was propelled forward by two obsessions; the idea that he could help people who were sick, and the excitement of discovery. In following his two great passions, he trained a generation of specialists in translational medicine that continue to transform our understanding of, and treatments for, human disease.  Anthony Cerami’s work has shown how science has become an important force for social change by laying the foundations of modern translational medicine.
 
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Anthropology's World
Life in a Twenty-First-Century Discipline
Ulf Hannerz
Pluto Press, 2010

In this masterly, state of the art work, Ulf Hannerz maps the contemporary social world of anthropologists and its relation to the wider world in which they carry out their work.

Raising fundamental questions such as 'What is anthropology really about?', 'How does the public understand, or misunderstand, anthropology?' and 'What and where do anthropologists study now, and for whom do they write?' Hannerz invites anthropologists to think again about where their discipline is going.

Full of insights and practical advice from Hannerz's long experience at the top of the discipline, this book is essential for all anthropologists who want their craft to survive and develop in a volatile world, and contribute to new understandings of its ever-changing diversity and interconnections.

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Anton Chekhov
A Life
Donald Rayfield
Northwestern University Press, 2000
Anton Chekhov's life was short, intense, and dominated by battles, both with his dependents and with the tuberculosis that killed him at age forty-four. The traditional image of Chekhov is that of the restrained artist torn between medicine and literature. But Donald Rayfield's biography reveals the life long hidden behind the noble facade. Here is a man capable of both great generosity toward needy peasants and harsh callousness toward lovers and family, a man who craved with equal passion the company of others and the solitude necessary to create his art. Based on information from Chekhov archives throughout Russia, Rayfield's work has been hailed as a groundbreaking examination of the life of a literary master.A new biography of the great author and playwright.
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The Archaeology of Tibes
Life, Death, and Memory at an Early Ceremonial Center in the Caribbean
Edited by L. Antonio Curet and Lisa M. Stringer
University of Alabama Press, 2025
Brings Caribbean archaeology in line with current thinking about social stratification and repositions the role of archaeology to uncover smaller-scale daily lives of ancient peoples rather than focusing on the large-scale chiefdoms
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Architecture by Moonlight
Rebuilding Haiti, Redrafting a Life
Paul E. Fallon
University of Missouri Press, 2014
When a natural disaster strikes, one imposing obstacle always impedes recovery: the need to rebuild. Not just homes, schools, and other buildings but also lives must be reconstructed. Yet amid the horror there is also the opportunity to build back better, to create more resilient buildings and deeper human connections.
After Haiti’s 2010 earthquake, architect Paul E. Fallon wanted to help rebuild the magic island he had visited the previous summer. Over the next three years, he made seventeen trips to design and supervise construction of an orphanage and a school in Grand Goâve. In the process, he confronted the challenges of building in a country with sparse materials and with laborers predisposed toward magic over physics.
Architecture by Moonlight is about much more than construction, however. Readers will also experience the many relationships Fallon developed as he balanced the contradictory demands of a boisterous American family constructing a memorial for their deceased daughter and Evangelical missionaries more interested in saving souls than filling bellies. Dieunison, a wily Haitian orphan, captured Fallon’s heart and exemplifies both Haiti’s tragedy and its indomitable spirit.
Fallon’s personal experience is an eloquent tale of “an ensemble of incomplete people struggling in a land of great trial and great promise, trying to better understand their place on Earth.” He reveals how, when seemingly different people come together, we succeed by seeking our commonality. Architecture by Moonlight illustrates our strength to rise above disaster and celebrate recovery, perseverance, and humanity.
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Architecture of Life
Soviet Modernism and the Human Sciences
Alla Vronskaya
University of Minnesota Press, 2022

Explores how Soviet architects reimagined the built environment through the principles of the human sciences

 

During the 1920s and 1930s, proponents of Soviet architecture looked to various principles  within the human sciences in their efforts to formulate a methodological and theoretical basis for their modernist project. Architecture of Life delves into the foundations of this transdisciplinary and transnational endeavor, analyzing many facets of their radical approach and situating it within the context of other modernist movements that were developing concurrently across the globe. 

Examining the theories advanced by El Lissitzky, Moisei Ginzburg, and Nikolay Ladovsky, as well as those of their lesser-known colleagues, this illuminating study demonstrates how Soviet architects of the interwar period sought to mitigate Fordist production methods with other, ostensibly more human-oriented approaches that drew on the biological and psychological sciences. Envisioning the built environment as innately connected to social evolution, their methods incorporated aspects of psychoanalysis, personality theory, and studies in spatial perception, all of which were integrated into an ideology that grounded functional design firmly within the attributes of the individual. 

A comprehensive overview of the ideals that permeated its expanded project, Architecture of Life explicates the underlying impulses that motivated Soviet modernism, highlighting the deep interconnections among the ways in which it viewed all aspects of life, both natural and manufactured.

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Aristotle and the Secrets of Life
An Aristotle Detective Novel
Margaret Doody
University of Chicago Press, 2014
Murder and mayhem may seem like unreasonable company for Aristotle, one of the founding minds of Western philosophy. But in the skilled hands of Margaret Doody, the pairing could not be more logical. With her Aristotle Detective novels, Margaret Doody brings a Holmesian hero to the bloodied streets of ancient Greece, trading the pipe and deerstalker of Sherlock for the woolen chiton and sandals of Aristotle. Replete with suspense, historical detail, and humor, and complemented by an ever-growing cast of characters and vivid descriptions of the ancient world, Doody’s mysteries are as much lively takes on the figures and forms of the classics as they are classic whodunits in their own right.

With Aristotle and the Secrets of Life, tensions between the Athenians and the Makedonians—followers of another of Aristotle’s former students, Alexander the Great—draw our heroes across the Aegean Sea. Even as Aristotle and Stephanos escape from pirates, uncover conspiracy, and face the horrors of war, Aristotle finds time to discuss his studies of the natural world in this gripping tale of their quest into darkness.   
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The Art and Life of Merritt Dana Houghton in the Northern Rockies, 1878-1919
by Michael A. Amundson
University of Wyoming Press, 2022
Between 1891 and 1915, pen-and-ink artist Merritt Dana Houghton made over 200 bird’s-eye sketches of towns, ranches, mines, businesses, historic sites, and animals in Wyoming, northern Colorado, Montana, Idaho, and Washington state. Historian Michael A. Amundson brings these many views together for the first time in these pages.
 
This lavishly illustrated biography details Houghton’s life and work from his birth in Michigan in 1846 to his death in 1919 in Spokane through extensive genealogical records, newspaper accounts, and his illustrations—including historic ranches and bird’s-eye views of Fort Collins, Colorado; Dillon, Montana; and Spokane, Washington and the only known illustrations of long-lost places like Pearl, Colorado, and Rambler, Wyoming. Also included is reproduction of a four-foot-by-eight-foot view of Sheridan, Wyoming and a sixty-image sample portfolio of his best-preserved illustrations organized by type.
 
Houghton’s work depicts the infrastructure of the new settler society that was remaking the West in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, and Amundson demonstrates how Houghton’s vision of the American West remains active today.
 
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The Art of Life and Death
Radical Aesthetics and Ethnographic Practice
Andrew Irving
HAU, 2016
The Art of Life and Death explores how the world appears to people who have an acute perspective on it: those who are close to death. Based on extensive ethnographic research, Andrew Irving brings to life the lived experiences, imaginative lifeworlds, and existential concerns of persons confronting their own mortality and non-being.

Encompassing twenty years of working alongside persons living with HIV/AIDS in New York, Irving documents the radical but often unspoken and unvoiced transformations in perception, knowledge, and understanding that people experience in the face of death. By bringing an “experience-near” ethnographic focus to the streams of inner dialogue, imagination, and aesthetic expression that are central to the experience of illness and everyday life, this monograph offers a theoretical, ethnographic, and methodological contribution to the anthropology of time, finitude, and the human condition. With relevance well-beyond the disciplinary boundaries of anthropology, this book ultimately highlights the challenge of capturing the inner experience of human suffering and hope that affect us all—of the trauma of the threat of death and the surprise of continued life.  
 
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The Art of Life in South Africa
Daniel Magaziner
Ohio University Press, 2016

From 1952 to 1981, South Africa’s apartheid government ran an art school for the training of African art teachers at Indaleni, in what is today KwaZulu-Natal. The Art of Life in South Africa is the story of the students, teachers, art, and politics that circulated through a small school, housed in a remote former mission station. It is the story of a community that made its way through the travails of white supremacist South Africa and demonstrates how the art students and teachers made together became the art of their lives.

Daniel Magaziner radically reframes apartheid-era South African history. Against the dominant narrative of apartheid oppression and black resistance, as well as recent scholarship that explores violence, criminality, and the hopeless entanglements of the apartheid state, this book focuses instead on a small group’s efforts to fashion more fulfilling lives for its members and their community through the ironic medium of the apartheid-era school.

There is no book like this in South African historiography. Lushly illustrated and poetically written, it gives us fully formed lives that offer remarkable insights into the now clichéd experience of black life under segregation and apartheid.

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The Art of Life
Studies in American Autobiographical Literature
By Mutlu Konuk Blasing
University of Texas Press, 1977

Autobiographical literature especially reveals the processes by which writers convert their own historical experience into fictional form and suggests how literary forms function in life. This volume defines an original theory of autobiographical writing and provides intriguing analyses of major American works of literature.

The Art of Life examines the transformation of history into literature in Walden, "Song of Myself," Henry James's Prefaces, The Education of Henry Adams, Paterson, and the poetry of Frank O'Hara. These works are approached as events in themselves and are analyzed as conversions of form and history, fiction and fact, and even aesthetics and politics. Thus the work of literature is set in the total experience of living, and the writer is seen not only as an artist but also as a person in a historical, political, and cultural environment. As well as a creator of literature, the writer is viewed as a social, psychological, and biological being.

Chapters on the narcissistic economy of Walden, the mythicizing of history and personality in "Song of Myself," the self-conscious relation that makes the Prefaces of Henry James the autobiography of an artist. the comic perspective of The Education of Henry Adams, and the radical innovation of Paterson and O'Hara's poetry provide new readings of major American works. Each chapter contains some distinct critical insight which not only contributes to, but can be relished apart from, the book's overarching theoretical argument.

The Art of Life is a sophisticated theoretical discussion of autobiography with rich psychological, philosophical, and cultural ramifications.

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At Ansha's
Life in the Spirit Mosque of a Healer in Mozambique
Daria Trentini
Rutgers University Press, 2021
At Ansha's takes the reader inside the spirit mosque of a female healer in Nampula, northern Mozambique. It is here that Ansha, a Makonde spirit healer, heals the resisting ailments of her patients, discloses pieces of her story of affliction and healing, and engages the world outside her mosque. We come to know Ansha’s experiences as revolutionary and migrant, her religious trajectories, family, the healers who cured her, the spirits who possessed her, and her declining health. We follow Ansha’s shifts in her life and work in the mosque as these intersect with the visible and invisible borders of Mozambique and of its fraught history. Confronting events in her life and in the mosque between 2009 and 2016, Ansha invites us to make meaning with her, as we sit in her mosque, and engage with her family, spirits, friends, patients, and world.
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Atlanta Life Insurance
Guardian of Black Economic Dignity
Alexa Benson Henderson
University of Alabama Press, 1990
An important and richly detailed and researched history of Black entrepreneurship in the American South, Atlanta Life Insurance Company traces the inspiring success story of Black Americans to build and sustain a thriving business and an institution important to the Black population of Georgia and surrounding states. 

Efforts to develop an economic base within the Black community began even before the Civil War. These efforts gained new meaning in the post-Reconstruction period as Blacks strove to adapt to radically changing economic circumstances and the emergence of the Jim Crow South. In Atlanta, shortly after the turn of the century, Alonzo Franklin Herndon, a former slave, joined a long line of Black entrepreneurs by creating Atlanta Life Insurance Company. More than three-quarters of a century later, it remains an important enterprise that is the nation’s largest Black-controlled shareholder insurance company. The firm is today a significant example of the efforts of Black Americans to achieve economic independence and dignity in America.
 
Henderson's fascinating book reveals the historic roots of Atlanta Life, its economic growth and development as a Black-owned institution, and its social and economic involvement with the challenges and progress of Black America. 
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Ay Tú!
Critical Essays on the Life and Work of Sandra Cisneros
Sonia Saldívar-Hull and Geneva M. Gano
University of Texas Press, 2024


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