BrownF13Ruth Nicole Brown’s book Hear Our Truths: The Creative Potential of Black Girlhood examines how Saving Our Lives Hear Our Truths, or SOLHOT, a radical youth intervention, provides a space for the creative performance and expression of Black girlhood and how this creativity informs other realizations about Black girlhood and womanhood.

Brown is the co-founder of SOLHOT. In November the group is presenting a week of events dedicated to the celebration of Black girlhood in Champaign, Illinois, where the group is based.

SOLHOT PRESENTS: BLACK GIRL GENIUS WEEK
NOV. 3-8TH , 2014

Come be a part of a fun and informative series of events on and off campus dedicating to the celebration of Black Girlhood. This is theory, practice, praxis, and knowledge production like you’ve never experienced before!
All events are free and open to the public. Continue reading

In honor of Halloween, we have slunk into the UIP vault of horror to dig up books both Profound and Mysterious to get you in the mood for our most popular pagan holiday. Will any of these titles help you raise dark forces to unleash on the Department of Motor Vehicles? No. Can one teach you the ancient mysteries of the dread Necronomicon without that supernatural small print that demands you sacrifice your immortal soul? Sorry. Any advice on apple bobbing? Not in the books, but unofficially, heed our words: don’t do it with a head cold.

WallerThe Living and the Undead: Slaying Vampires, Exterminating Zombies, by Gregory A. Waller
You cannot swing a black cat in our pop culture these days without hitting a sexy vampire or one of the many sub-species of the walking dead. Gregory A. Waller sinks his teeth into both genres in this enjoyable film studies survey of two movie monsters that, clearly, will never die. Fearing no evil, Waller contemplates the expressionist terror of Nosferatu and the sharp wardrobes of the Hammer Film classics, the idea of the king-vampire from Stoker’s Dracula to Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot, and the ever-expanding Land of the Living Dead created by director George Romero. Seriously, this book is so complete it covers Blacula and analyzes how to look at a guy rifle-butting a flesh-eating Hare Krishna. Put down the brooding teenager vampire media. Get a blanket and some garlic. Dare to contemplate the sensual vampiric intensity that is Frank Langella.

ValenteStokerDracula’s Crypt: Bram Stoker, Irishness, and the Question of Blood, by Joseph Valente
There are countless readings one may apply to the classic novel Dracula. But whichever you prefer in your reading group or lit department, we can all agree on one thing: that novel is pretty fixated on blood. As insightful as Van Helsing and as fetching as Mina Harker, Dracula’s Crypt presents the iconic vampire read as Bram Stoker’s commentary on the British obsession with blood purity. Claiming Stoker saw himself as an Irish interloper among London’s blueblood elite, Joseph Valente sees the author espousing a progressive racial ideology at odds with an Anglo-Saxon culture that inexplicably insisted it should reign supreme despite a public embrace of light opera and dimwitted Germanic monarchs. Valente makes it plain: Dracula critiques the very anxieties it has previously been taken to express: anxieties concerning the decline of the British empire, the deterioration of Anglo-Saxon culture, and the contamination of the Anglo-Saxon race, as if it hadn’t been contaminated enough by Normans, Vikings, and Romans.

SchillerF14Dan Schiller is a professor in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science and the Department of Communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is answered some questions about his book Digital Depression: Information Technology and Economic Crisis.

Q: You describe the current state of capitalism as a “contradictory matrix of technological revolution and stagnation.” Can you elaborate?

Dan Schiller: Going on seven years after the financial crisis commenced in 2007-08, standard measures of economic health remain lackluster: real unemployment and underemployment continue to be elevated and investment and growth sluggish. Already endemic in Japan, deflation is now overtaking Europe. Only government bailouts valued in the trillions of dollars have prevented a more thoroughgoing collapse and, even with this unprecedented intervention, the economy remains mired.

At the same time, however, information and communications technologies (ICTs) and the Internet industry in particular continue to constitute a sparkling pole of growth. We are living through a period in which a technological revolution is wrapped up in an economic slump: a digital depression. The purpose of my book is to clarify this conjunction, and to show that it is giving rise not to stable and widely shared prosperity but to harsh geopolitical conflicts and deepening inequality. Continue reading

Author Shannon Bell accepts the 2014 AHS Book Award.

Author Shannon Bell accepts the 2014 AHS Book Award.

On October 11 Shannon Elizabeth Bell accepted the Association for Humanist Sociology book award for 2014 at the AHS conference in Cleveland, Ohio,

Bell’s Our Roots Run Deep as Ironweed was selected as a co-winner for the award out of more than 60 book submissions, based on four criteria: theoretical foundations in social science, systematic and innovative research methodologies, critical discussions of social justice and equality, and engagement with the solutions to the social problem.

Our Roots Run Deep as Ironweed is also the 2014 Silver Winner in Journalism/Investigative Reporting in the Nautilus Book Awards and was a runner-up in the general nonfiction category in the Green Book Festival.

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CushingS14Steve Cushing’s book Pioneers of the Blues Revival is a treasure trove for blues fans who want to learn the stories behind such roots music giants as Mississippi John Hurt, Son House and Bukka White.

As host of the award-winning syndicated public radio staple Blues before Sunrise, Cushing interviewed many of the prominent white researchers, collectors, music label entrepreneurs and other enthusiasts whose advocacy spearheaded the blues’ crossover into the mainstream starting in the 1960s.

Many of these men who advocated for these then-unknown blues artists provided rare firsthand accounts of the men who made the music and efforts which brought the artform to record.

In this audio clip, Cushing chats with Chris Strachwitz, founder of Arhoolie Records. Strachwitz talks about his adventures with legendary Sonny Boy Williamson II. Some of the language in this colorful encounter would be labeled NSFW.

Meet the UI Press is a recurring feature that delves into issues affecting publishing.

Today: Is it possible to be taken seriously as a scholar if you use exclamation points?

Less snooty than the semicolon, less trendy than the hashmark, the exclamation point labors in the disreputable quarters of the written word: romance novels, tabloid headlines, and marketing and advertising. A journalism school would throw you out the day you turned in an assignment with an exclamation point, even if your avowed career goal was to write for Us magazine or the many sub-Us, frontal lobe damaged-only readerships represented in the supermarket checkout line.

An exclamation point should … have a very special point to make,” says William Germano. A good general rule. Alas, inviting the average writer to identify his/her own special points is asking for trouble, and a lot of exclamation points. Look at how some academics abuse italics.

Editors, sensing the potential for exclaimophilia, defend an unwritten cultural rule that keep the point out of virtually all the manuscripts that pass their desks. Based on my own unscientific study, an exemption to the rule is allowed only if:

• A scholar discusses the !Kung people of the Kalahari Desert;

• Or writes in the voice of an excited Spaniard, to wit: “¡Mi aerodeslizador esta lleno de anguilas!”;

• Or analyzes the 1970s sitcom What’s Happening!! (note, the two exclamation points are intentional);

• Or holds a university’s Distinguished Chair of Infomercials, if that isn’t a contradiction in terms;

• Or writes about the accordion, as with Marion Jacobson’s recent UIP book Squeeze This!. Because there is no subdued way to discuss accordions.

Even scholars who employ dialogue to present their material have to pass on the e-point. The tyranny of convention forces him/her to present dialogue in respectable, Spock-like tones, regardless of the enthusiasm or rage being expressed. Their subjects may be said to exclaim, yell, howl, even ejaculate—as long as they do it with a period or question mark at the end of the sentence.

Is it time to loosen up the restriction? Should the exclamation mark have a place in our high- to middlebrow writing, if used sparingly?

We live in an age of running a democracy 140 keystrokes at a time. Thus, I argue the exclamation point offers a fantastically economical method of getting across a wide range of emotions with one tap of the left pinky finger in combination with however you hold down the SHIFT key. Furthermore, it barely takes up space on the line.

Hard-pressed publishers know every extra page they have to print and bind (and proof and design) costs money. To illustrate the profitability of the e-point, let’s use an example from a make-believe academic title called The Educated Cat, an in-depth exploration of cutting-edge research into feline intelligence, here illustrated with a cover from the web site Awful Library Books.

educated cat

Such a book might include this sentence:

We will elaborate the phenomenon Object Normal Posture Displacement with Resulting Collaborative Reparative Behaviors Commencing in a Loud Momentarily Panic-Inducing Episode, or LMPIE.

An exclamation point, along with slight copy editing, turns the paragraph into more affordable-to-print text, such as:

Here’s why cats always make half-full water glasses go CRASH!

Now that’s some accessible scholarship.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should declare my prejudices, in order to allow others to better make their own judgments.

I favor the return of the exclamation point because I became a habitual reader via comic books. Whereas respectable children progressed from Dr. Seuss to Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys to Watership Down, I started at Richie Rich/Casper and worked my way through Archie and into Marvel Comics. Only then did I become interested in books without ads for X-ray glasses. Now that I think about it, I don’t think Marvel Comics used anything but exclamation points and question marks. It makes sense, I guess. The average superbeing lives a high action life. Though even when a beverage break enters a story there isn’t a period to be found:

hulk coffee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Granted, you can’t expect the Hulk to speak in a normal voice. He has super-lungs and he’s bound to get over-excited, as any being that regressed takes primal urges like eating and drinking very seriously. But, realistically, who gets jacked about serving coffee? No one at the places I go to, I’ll tell you that.

As a publishing professional, I have to accept the exclamation point’s marginalized position in the industry. Even in the far-sighted UIP marketing shop, we endeavor to keep up a level of decorum befitting an institution dedicated to the pursuit/accumulation of knowledge. But let’s face facts. The world keeps speeding up. Soon no one will have time for: “Enough talk,” the Hulk declared. “Time to drink.” On that day, we’ll welcome back the exclamation point as the perfect punctuation for an ever-more-breathless age.

EllerF14Many a high school English student has turned to a video of the 1950s film adaptation of Moby-Dick when faced with writing a report on lengthy sea tale. The plot details may remain mostly the same, but the movie version has as much to do with a more contemporary American novelist as it does with Herman Melville.

In 1953, up and coming writer Ray Bradbury was approached by director John Huston to pen the screenplay for legendary filmmaker’s adaptation of Melville’s great american novel.

Why did Huston tap the author of The Illustrated Man and Fahrenheit 451 to be a rookie screenwriter for what would be a tricky adaptation?

In the video below, Ray Bradbury Unbound author Jonathan R. Eller tells the story of how Bradbury came to write the screenplay for Huston’s Moby Dick, which is detailed in the book.

Eller is a Chancellor’s Professor of English at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis, the senior textual editor of the Institute for American Thought, and director of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies at IUPUI. His previous book, Becoming Ray Bradbury, was a runner-up for the 2011 Locus Award for best nonfiction book in the science fiction and fantasy field.

ChavezF13How are queerness and immigration linked?

Karma R. Chávez, author of Queer Migration Politics:  Activist Rhetoric and Coalitional Possibilities, sees many commonalities and barriers for activists in both these communities.

“One of the things you really see over the last twenty years is a focus on issues that don’t really challenge the structures of the U.S. nation state, for example, but that sort of just ask to belong into it,” Chávez says. “You have to fashion yourself in such a way so that the system will find you acceptable.”

On the Fembot Collective’s Books Aren’t Dead podcast Chávez says that living in the Southwest 2003 to 2008 prompted her interest in linking her scholarship and activism.

“You can’t live in Arizona and not be be really compelled by the need to be an immigration advocate or activist,” Chávez tells Magie Ramírez.

Name one other banjo player who wears Prada. And I don’t mean Prada overalls.
—Natalie Maines

The lead singer of the breakout bluegrass trio the Dixie Chicks, Natalie Maines, was born on October 14, 1974.

The singer joined the Dixie Chicks in 1995, replacing original lead vocalist Laura Lynch.  Murphy Hicks Henry writes about the evolution of the group, and their impact on the music industry in her book Pretty Good for a Girl.

The first book devoted entirely to women in bluegrass, Pretty Good for a Girl documents the lives of more than seventy women and seven decades of music history.

Read an excerpt about The Dixie Chicks from Pretty Good for a Girl on Popmatters.com

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BerenbaumUniversity of Illinois press author and professor of entomology May Berenbaum has been awarded the National Medal of Science.

The Medal is the nation’s highest honor for “achievement and leadership in advancing the fields of science and technology.”

May Berenbaum’s publication history with University of Illinois Press goes back to 1989 with the award-winning Ninety-nine Gnats, Nits, and Nibblers. She followed up in 1993 with Ninety-nine More Maggots, Mites, and Munchers and, more recently the edited the more appetizingly titled Honey, I’m Homemade.

Professor Berenbaum and other honorees will receive their medals at a White House ceremony later this year.