As he explores the causes of the East-West conflict from its most remote antecedents, Herodotus includes conflicting traditions about different historical periods as well as apparently tangential descriptions of the customs of faraway peoples. What was his aim in combining such diverse material? Rosaria Vignolo Munson argues that Herodotus' aim was two-fold: to use historical narrative to illuminate the present and to describe barbarian customs so that the Greeks might understand themselves.
Herodotus assumes the role of advisor to his audience, acting as a master of metaphor and oracular speech and as an intellectual fully aware of new philosophical and political trends. By comparing, interpreting, and evaluating facts through time and space or simply by pointing them out as objects of "wonder," he teaches that correct political action is linked to an appropriate approach to foreigners and additional "others." Munson relies on traditional scholarship and modern studies in narratology and related critical fields to distinguish between narrative and metanarrative, providing a framework for analyzing the construction of Herodotus' discourse and his presentation of himself through it.
Munson's work will be useful to classicists and ancient historians and will also engage anthropologists interested in cultural interaction and notions of ethnicity and literary critics interested in narrative constructions.
A study of the growth of the indigenous labor force in upper Peru (now Bolivia) during colonial times. Ann Zulawski provides case studies in mining and agriculture, and places her data within a larger historical context than analyzes Iberian and Andean concepts of gender, property, and labor. She concludes that although mercantilism made a critical impact in the New World, the colonial economic system in the Andes was not yet capitalist. Attitudes of both indigenous peoples and Spanish colonizers hindered the process of turning work into a commodity. In addition, the mobilization of labor power both reinforced and undermined each society's ideas about the economic and social roles of men and women.
For generations of anthropologists, the Baining people have presented a challenge, because of their apparent lack of cultural or social structure. This group of small-scale horticulturists seems devoid of the complex belief systems and social practices that characterize other traditional peoples of Papua New Guinea. Their daily existence is mundane and repetitive in the extreme, articulated by only the most elementary familial relationships and social connections. The routine of everyday life, however, is occasionally punctuated by stunningly beautiful festivals of masked dancers, which the Baining call play and to which they attribute no symbolic significance.
In a new work sure to evoke considerable repercussions and debate in anthropological theory, Jane Fajans courageously takes on the "Baining Problem," arguing that the Baining define themselves not through intricate cosmologies or social networks, but through the meanings generated by their own productive and reproductive work.
In A Ticket to Work, Bettina Kohlrausch examines the differing approaches taken by Britain and Germany to assisting young people with the often difficult transition from school to full-time work. Detailing the workings of such programs as skills training and job-placement assistance, the volume places those vocational training methods in the context of the general political and economic climate of the two nations, drawing a contrast between Britain’s more liberal market economy and Germany’s more structured and coordinated regime.
Jacques Le Goff is a prominent figure in the tradition of French medieval scholarship, profoundly influenced by the Annales school, notably, Bloch, Febvre, and Braudel, and by the ethnographers and anthropologists Mauss, Dumézil, and Lévi-Strauss. In building his argument for "another Middle Ages" (un autre moyen âge), Le Goff documents the emergence of the collective mentalité from many sources with scholarship both imaginative and exact.
“Too Good to Be True” is a comprehensive account of Leslie Fiedler’s life and work. Born in 1917, Fiedler has, in a sense, had four overlapping careers. He first came to prominence as one of the premier Jewish intellectuals of the postwar era—writing on literature, culture, and politics in such magazines as Partisan Review and Commentary. Shortly thereafter, he helped lead the attack that myth criticism was mounting on the hegemony of the New Criticism. If he had stopped writing entirely at that point, Fiedler would still be remembered as an important cultural critic of the fifties.
With his brash, groundbreaking magnum opus, Love and Death in the American Novel, Fiedler next established himself as a revolutionary interpreter of our native literary tradition. Subsequent critics of American literature have been compelled to adopt or attack his positions because to ignore them has been impossible.
Finally, Fiedler was one of the first critics to proclaim the death of modernism and to suggest some of the directions that literature might take in its aftermath. The Oxford English Dictionary credits him with being the first individual to apply the term postmodernism to literature. This alone caused much enmity among those who had built their careers on the assumption that modernism would last forever.
To many academics, Fiedler’s lack of solemnity and his wild flights of imagination have made him appear amateurish. How could anyone who enjoys himself that much possibly be taken seriously? One of the favorite critics of young people and non-English majors, Fiedler has seemed to enjoy remaining disreputable—even as some of his once-controversial views have been made a part of standard or traditional scholarship. Like Huck Finn, returned to the raft from the fog, he often seems “too good to be true.”
Mark Royden Winchell has made his subject come alive in a highly intelligent and critical way. A combination of biography, critical analysis, and cultural history, “Too Good to Be True” will be of great interest to scholars and students of American literature, twentieth-century literary criticism, and popular culture.
Often depicted as deviant or pathological by public health researchers, psychoanalysts, and sexologists, male-with-male sex and sex work is, in fact, an increasingly mainstream pursuit. Based on a qualitative investigation of the practices involved in male-with-male—or m4m—Internet escorting, Touching Encounters is the first book to explicitly address how masculinity and sexuality shape male commercial sex in this era of Internet communications.
By looking closely at the sex and work of male escorts, Kevin Walby tries to reconcile the two extremes of m4m sex—the stereotypical idea of a quick cash transaction and the tendency toward friendship and mutuality. In doing so, Walby draws on the work of Foucault to make visible the play of power in these physical and commercial relations between men. At once a revelation to the sociology of work and a much-needed critical engagement with queer theory, Touching Encounters responds to calls from across the social sciences to connect Foucault with sociologies of sex, sexuality, and intimacy. Walby does this and more, retying this sexual practice back to society at large.