In her evocative ethnographic study, Body Language, Kimberly Lau traces the multiple ways in which the success of an innovative fitness program illuminates what identity means to its Black female clientele and how their group interaction provides a new perspective on feminist theories of identity politics—especially regarding the significance of identity to political activism and social change.
Sisters in Shape, Inc., Fitness Consultants (SIS), a Philadelphia company, promotes balance in physical, mental, and spiritual health. Its program goes beyond workouts, as it educates and motivates women to make health and fitness a priority. Discussing the obstacles at home and the importance of the group's solidarity to their ability to stay focused on their goals, the women speak to the ways in which their commitment to reshaping their bodies is a commitment to an alternative future.
Body Language shows how the group's explorations of black women's identity open new possibilities for identity-based claims to recognition, justice, and social change.
In Does the Shape of Families Shape Faith? social scientists, psychologists, and practical theologians come together to offer new findings on how growing up in a divorced family impacts religious formation, with implications for faith communities.
The fundamental importance of the 1787 Constitutional Convention continues to affect contemporary politics. The Constitution defines the structure and limits of the American system of government, and it organizes contemporary debates about policy and legal issues—debates that explicitly invoke the intentions and actions of those delegates to the Convention. Virtually all scholarship emphasizes the importance of compromise between key actors or factions at the Convention. In truth, the deep structure of voting at the Convention remains somewhat murky because the traditional stories are incomplete. There were three key factions at the Convention, not two. The alliance of the core reformers with the slave interests helped change representation and make a stronger national government. When it came time to create a strong executive, a group of small state delegates provided the crucial votes. Traditional accounts gloss over the complicated coalition politics that produced these important compromises, while this book shows the specific voting alignments. It is true that the delegates came with common purposes, but they were divided by both interests and ideas into three cross-cutting factions. There was no persistent dominant coalition of reformers or nationalists, rather there was a series of minority factions allying with one another on the major issues to fashion the compromise. Founding Factions helps us understanding the nature of shifting majorities and how they created the American government.
Reading the Shape of Nature vividly recounts the turbulent early history of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard and the contrasting careers of its founder Louis Agassiz and his son Alexander. Through the story of this institution and the individuals who formed it, Mary P. Winsor explores the conflicting forces that shaped systematics in the second half of the nineteenth century. Debates over the philosophical foundations of classification, details of taxonomic research, the young institution's financial struggles, and the personalities of the men most deeply involved are all brought to life.
In 1859, Louis Agassiz established the Museum of Comparative Zoology to house research on the ideal types that he believed were embodied in all living forms. Agassiz's vision arose from his insistence that the order inherent in the diversity of life reflected divine creation, not organic evolution. But the mortar of the new museum had scarcely dried when Darwin's Origin was published. By Louis Agassiz's death in 1873, even his former students, including his son Alexander, had defected to the evolutionist camp. Alexander, a self-made millionaire, succeeded his father as director and introduced a significantly different agenda for the museum.
To trace Louis and Alexander's arguments and the style of science they established at the museum, Winsor uses many fascinating examples that even zoologists may find unfamiliar. The locus of all this activity, the museum building itself, tells its own story through a wonderful series of archival photographs.
Yothers’ Sacred Uncertainty examines Melville’s engagement with religious difference, both within American culture and around the world. It is impossible to understand Melville’s wider engagement with religious and cultural questions, however, without understanding the fundamental tension between self and society, self and others that underlies his work, and that is manifested in particular in the way in which he interacts with other writers. There is almost certainly no more concrete or reliable way to get at Melville’s affirmations of and arguments with these interlocutors than in the markings and annotations that appear in his copies of many of their works, so Yothers examines Melville’s marginalia for clues to Melville’s thinking about self, other, and difference. Sacred Uncertainty provides a much needed exploration of Melville’s encounter with and reflection upon religious difference.
"The eye that gathers impressions is no longer the eye that sees a depiction on a surface; it becomes a hand, the ray of light becomes a finger, and the imagination becomes a form of immediate touching."—Johann Gottfried Herder
Long recognized as one of the most important eighteenth-century works on aesthetics and the visual arts, Johann Gottfried Herder's Plastik (Sculpture, 1778) has never before appeared in a complete English translation. In this landmark essay, Herder combines rationalist and empiricist thought with a wide range of sources—from the classics to Norse legend, Shakespeare to the Bible—to illuminate the ways we experience sculpture.
Standing on the fault line between classicism and romanticism, Herder draws most of his examples from classical sculpture, while nevertheless insisting on the historicity of art and of the senses themselves. Through a detailed analysis of the differences between painting and sculpture, he develops a powerful critique of the dominance of vision both in the appreciation of art and in our everyday apprehension of the world around us. One of the key articulations of the aesthetics of Sturm und Drang, Sculpture is also important as an anticipation of subsequent developments in art theory.
Jason Gaiger's translation of Sculpture includes an extensive introduction to Herder's thought, explanatory notes, and illustrations of all the sculptures discussed in the text.
A new and innovative way to approach the Psalter that moves beyond
form and cult-functional criticism
Drawing inspiration from Gerald H. Wilson’s The Editing of the Hebrew Psalter, this volume explores questions of the formation of the Psalter from the perspective of canonical criticism. Though called “canonical criticism,” the study actually employs a number of historically traditional and nontraditional approaches to reading the text including form criticism, historical criticism of individual psalms as well as of the whole Psalter, and redaction criticism.
Exploration of collections of psalms, theological viewpoints, sovereignty, and the shape and shaping of Psalms
Examination of the impact of canonical criticism on the study of the Psalter
Sixteen essays from the Book of Psalms Consultation group and invited scholars
Today when we hear the word “craft,” a whole host of things come immediately to mind: microbreweries, artisanal cheeses, and an array of handmade objects. Craft has become so overused, that it can grate on our ears as pretentious and strain our credulity. But its overuse also reveals just how compelling craft has become in modern life.
In The Shape of Craft, Ezra Shales explores some of the key questions of craft: who makes it, what do we mean when we think about a crafted object, where and when crafted objects are made, and what this all means to our understanding of craft. He argues that, beyond the clichés, craft still adds texture to sterile modern homes and it provides many people with a livelihood, not just a hobby. Along the way, Shales upends our definition of what is handcrafted or authentic, revealing the contradictions in our expectations of craft. Craft is—and isn’t—what we think.
Does going green change the face of design or only its content? The first book to outline principles for the aesthetics of sustainable design, The Shape of Green argues that beauty is inherent to sustainability, for how things look and feel is as important as how they’re made.
In addition to examining what makes something attractive or emotionally pleasing, Hosey connects these questions with practical design challenges. Can the shape of a car make it more aerodynamic and more attractive at the same time? Could buildings be constructed of porous materials that simultaneously clean the air and soothe the skin? Can cities become verdant, productive landscapes instead of wastelands of concrete?
Drawing from a wealth of scientific research, Hosey demonstrates that form and image can enhance conservation, comfort, and community at every scale of design, from products to buildings to cities. Fully embracing the principles of ecology could revolutionize every aspect of design, in substance and in style. Aesthetic attraction isn’t a superficial concern — it’s an environmental imperative. Beauty could save the planet.
In The Shape of Inca History, Susan Niles considers the ways in which the Inca concept of history informed their narratives, rituals, and architecture. Using sixteenth-century chronicles of Inca culture, legal documents from the first generation of conquest, and field investigation of architectural remains, she strategically explores the interplay of oral and written histories with the architectural record and provides a new and exciting understanding of the lives of the royal families on the eve of conquest.
Niles focuses on the life of Huayna Capac, the Inca king who ruled at the time of the first European incursions on the Andean coast. Because he died just a few years before the Spaniards overturned the Inca world, eyewitness accounts of his deeds as recorded by the invaders can be used to separate fact from propaganda. The rich documentary sources telling of his life include extraordinarily detailed legal records that inventory lands on his estate in the Yucay Valley. These sources provide a basis—unique in the Andes—for reconstructing the social and physical plan of the estate and for dating its construction exactly.
Huayna Capac's country palace shows a design different from that devised by his ancestors. Niles argues that the radical stylistic and technical innovations documented in the buildings themselves can be understood by referring to the turbulent political atmosphere prevalent at the time of his accession. Illustrated with numerous photographs and reconstruction drawings, The Shape of Inca History breaks new ground by proposing that Inca royal style was dynamic and that the design of an Inca building can best be interpreted by its historical context. In this way it is possible to recreate the development of Inca architectural style over time.
Rudolf Raff is recognized as a pioneer in evolutionary developmental biology. In their 1983 book, Embryos, Genes, and Evolution, Raff and co-author Thomas Kaufman proposed a synthesis of developmental and evolutionary biology. In The Shape of Life, Raff analyzes the rise of this new experimental discipline and lays out new research questions, hypotheses, and approaches to guide its development.
Raff uses the evolution of animal body plans to exemplify the interplay between developmental mechanisms and evolutionary patterns. Animal body plans emerged half a billion years ago. Evolution within these body plans during this span of time has resulted in the tremendous diversity of living animal forms.
Raff argues for an integrated approach to the study of the intertwined roles of development and evolution involving phylogenetic, comparative, and functional biology. This new synthesis will interest not only scientists working in these areas, but also paleontologists, zoologists, morphologists, molecular biologists, and geneticists.
The Shape of Populism examines socialist Serbia, then part of Yugoslavia, which in the late 1980s witnessed popular mobilization and an emergence of a populist discourse that both constructed and celebrated “the people.” Author Marko Grdešic uses quantitative and qualitative analyses to show how “the people” emerge in the public sphere. This book examines over 300 protests and analyzes them in conjunction with elite events such as party sessions. It examines over 1,600 letters-to-the-editor and political cartoons to reveal the populist construction of “the people.” Grdešic also relies on interviews with participants in populist rallies in the late 1980s to examine the long-term legacies of populism.
This book presents for the first time in English an array of essays on design by the seminal media critic and philosopher Vilém Flusser. It puts forward the view that our future depends on design. In a series of insightful essays on such ordinary "things" as wheels, carpets, pots, umbrellas and tents, Flusser emphasizes the interrelationships between art and science, theology and technology, and archaeology and architecture. Just as formal creativity has produced both weapons of destruction and great works of art, Flusser believed that the shape of things (and the designs behind them) represents both a threat and an opportunity for designers of the future.
Martin Luther King, Jr., may be America’s most revered political figure, commemorated in statues, celebrations, and street names around the world. On the fiftieth anniversary of King’s assassination, the man and his activism are as close to public consciousness as ever. But despite his stature, the significance of King’s writings and political thought remains underappreciated.
In To Shape a New World, Tommie Shelby and Brandon Terry write that the marginalization of King’s ideas reflects a romantic, consensus history that renders the civil rights movement inherently conservative—an effort not at radical reform but at “living up to” enduring ideals laid down by the nation’s founders. On this view, King marshaled lofty rhetoric to help redeem the ideas of universal (white) heroes, but produced little original thought. This failure to engage deeply and honestly with King’s writings allows him to be conscripted into political projects he would not endorse, including the pernicious form of “color blindness” that insists, amid glaring race-based injustice, that racism has been overcome.
Cornel West, Danielle Allen, Martha Nussbaum, Robert Gooding-Williams, and other authors join Shelby and Terry in careful, critical engagement with King’s understudied writings on labor and welfare rights, voting rights, racism, civil disobedience, nonviolence, economic inequality, poverty, love, just-war theory, virtue ethics, political theology, imperialism, nationalism, reparations, and social justice. In King’s exciting and learned work, the authors find an array of compelling challenges to some of the most pressing political dilemmas of our present, and rethink the legacy of this towering figure.
The Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the Haymarket bombing of 1886, and the making and unmaking of the model town of Pullman—these remarkable events in what many considered the quintessential American city forced people across the country to confront the disorder that seemed inevitably to accompany urban growth and social change. In this book, Carl Smith explores the imaginative dimensions of these events as he traces the evolution of beliefs that increasingly linked city, disorder, and social reality in the minds of Americans. Studying a remarkable range of writings and illustrations, as well as protests, public gatherings, trials, hearings, and urban reform and construction efforts, Smith argues that these three events—and the public awareness of the them—not only informed one another, but collectively shaped how Americans saw, and continue to see, the city.
The Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the Haymarket bombing of 1886, and the making and unmaking of the model town of Pullman—these remarkable events in what many considered the quintessential American city forced people across the country to confront the disorder that seemed inevitably to accompany urban growth and social change.
In Urban Disorder and the Shape of Belief, Carl Smith explores the imaginative dimensions of these events as he traces the evolution of interconnected beliefs and actions that increasingly linked city, disorder, and social reality in the minds of Americans. Examining a remarkable range of writings and illustrations, as well as protests, public gatherings, trials, hearings, and urban reform and construction efforts, Smith argues that these three events—and the public awareness of them—not only informed one another, but collectively shaped how Americans understood, and continue to understand, Chicago and modern urban life.
This classic of urban cultural history is updated with a foreword by the author that expands our understanding of urban disorder to encompass such recent examples as Hurricane Katrina, the Oklahoma City Bombing, and 9/11.
“Cultural history at its finest. By utilizing questions and methodologies of urban studies, social history, and literary history, Smith creates a sophisticated account of changing visions of urban America.”—Robin F. Bachin, Journal of Interdisciplinary History