leon and simonetteIn this new UIP collection, Javier F. León and Helena Simonett curate a group of essential writings from the last twenty-five years of Latin American music studies. Chosen as representative, outstanding, and influential in the field, each article appears in English translation. A detailed new introduction by León and Simonett both surveys and contextualizes the history of Latin American ethnomusicology, opening the door for readers energized by the musical forms brought and nurtured by immigrants from throughout Latin America.

Contributors include Marina Alonso Bolaños, Gonzalo Camacho Díaz, José Jorge de Carvalho, Claudio F. Díaz, Rodrigo Cantos Savelli Gomes, Juan Pablo González, Rubén López-Cano, Angela Lühning, Jorge Martínez Ulloa, Maria Ignêz Cruz Mello, Julio Mendívil, Carlos Miñana Blasco, Raúl R. Romero, Iñigo Sánchez Fuarros, Carlos Sandroni, Carolina Santamaría-Delgado, Rodrigo Torres Alvarado, and Alejandro Vera.

welkerHolly Welker is an award-winning poet and essayist living in Arizona. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Best American Essays, and other publications. She recently answered some questions about the edited collection Baring Witness: 36 Mormon Women Talk Candidly about Love, Sex, and Marriage.

Q: What was the inspiration for the collection?

Holly Welker: Many things made me decide that I wanted to put this collection of essays together, but there were two situations in particular that made it seem urgent. The first was that I moved to Utah in the summer 2008, as the fight over California’s Proposition 8 to amend the state constitution really heated up. The mobilization of individual Mormons was instrumental in the passage of Prop 8, and it got me thinking about why the church would ask its members to take this political stand.

The other event was the death of my mother in 2010, six months before my parents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary. In my grief over that loss, I started thinking about how different her life was from mine, and wondering about expectations she’d had for her life that might not have been fulfilled. I began asking friends for stories about their marriages in the hopes of gaining further insight into my parents’ marriage, even though I had been a witness to it all my life and knew it well. Continue reading

potawatomi trail of deathThe President does not know the truth. He, like me, has been imposed upon. He does not know that you made my young chiefs drunk and got their consent and pretended to get mine. He would not drive me from my home and the graves of my tribe, and my children, who have gone to the Great Spirit, nor allow you to tell me that your braves will take me, tied like a dog.
—Chief Menominee

On September 16, 1838, the straggling remnants of the Potawatomi nation that had lived in northern Indiana made its way into a camp at Danville. Twelve days earlier, a volunteer white militia under General John Tipton had tied up the Potawatomi leader and prophet Menominee before torching the area’s Potawatomi villages and homes. Menominee began the forced journey west in a jail wagon with two other chiefs. The rest of his 859 people set out on a 660-mile march to a resettlement area in Kansas on foot and horseback.

The Native Americans arrived in Danville in the midst of what was probably a typhoid epidemic. The Potawatomi buried four of its people in the town. At the same time, a French priest named Benjamin Marie Petit caught up with the convoy. Petit had baptized many of the Potawatomi in Indiana, and members of the nation attended Mass at Petit’s church in Logansport. Called Little Duck by his parishioners, Petit acquired a working knowledge of the Potawatomi language. His empathy for both their persons and their culture made him a popular figure.

The caravan crossed Illinois via Catlin, Sidney, Monticello, Decatur, Springfield, and a string of towns further west before moving into Missouri. There, the epidemic eased. The trail ended on November 4 at Osawatomie, Kansas. The 756 remaining Potawatomi—some had died on the trail, others had run away—had been promised houses as part of the resettlement. They found empty land and a landscape settling into pre-winter cold. Petit, now ill, stayed the rest of the year before leaving for St. Louis with Nan-wesh-mah, a Potawatomi friend. Petit died early the next year.

The Potawatomi lost 42 people on the Trail of Death. The states of Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and Kansas declared the route a National Historic Trail from 1994-1996. A statue of Menominee, dedicated in 1909, stands southwest of Plymouth, Indiana.

whitneyIn the new UIP release Splattered Ink, Sarah Whitney explores postfeminist gothic, that blockbuster-laden, Oprah-sanctified genre literary that jars readers, rejects happy endings (and beginnings), and finds powerful new ways to talk about violence against women. The genre in particular challenges postfeminist assumptions of women’s equality and empowerment.

Whitney’s analysis includes a in-depth look at bestselling novelist Jodi Picoult. Let these brief excerpts whet your appetite for a fascinating literary foray into one of the most beloved and high-profile genres in contemporary lit.

1. Picoult’s interest in creating indeterminate stories poses a conundrum for readers. Her desire for readers to carefully consider all sides and come to their own particular solutions to moral dilemmas is well-intentioned and inclusive. By writing open-ended narratives, she promotes ongoing conversation with her readers through various media platforms, including her author website and Twitter. On the other hand, it recalls choice feminism, which, as Michaele Ferguson argues, “evinces a fear of politics” and simply “aims to avoid having to make judgments, to avoid taking controversial stands that might offend and exclude, and to de-radicalize feminist claims.”

2. Jodi Picoult’s world, like those of the other authors working in postfeminist gothic, is one where we are born into risk and pain. Christopher Wilson writes that in contemporary America, it is “always necessary that the pain of the crime victim be opened up, so that it may be appropriated into an ever-vigilant, populist, and sleepless state.” Like a literary version of the iconic “security mom,” Picoult keeps readers awake at night through her repeated narratives of violated children. She has told Ginia Bellafante that her fascination with this narrative is an attempt to ward off maternal harm. “There is a part of me that believes that if I think about these issues, if I put myself through the emotional wringer, I somehow develop an immunity for my own family. . . . I realize that this kind of thinking is completely ridiculous,” she admits.

3. In the opening of Perfect Match, Nina Frost forces Tylenol down her mildly sick son’s throat as she hurries to her job. “You’ll just hope that your own son has the good sense to get sick when you’re not scheduled in court. . . . How can everyone else’s kid be a priority over your own?” her husband lectures accusingly. This scene of domestic strife in which Nina ignores her son’s strange silence and his bed-wetting, abruptly dumping him at day care, signals a now-familiar theme of the incompetent working mother. Because Nina does not properly attend to the tenets of postfeminist new momism, she exposes her child to abuse. Nathaniel is molested by a priest who, by virtue of his moral authority, is easily able to compel Nathaniel’s silence. But it was Nina, we learn, who pushed the unwilling child into the priests’ clutches for a special story hour.

4. Jodi Picoult’s novels fetishize balance in two distinct ways. Picoult locates value in the concept of balance, and expresses it through her multiple perspectives and resistance to truth claims. In an interview with Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, she states that if “you can make them [readers] understand why someone with a differing opinion has that opinion and at least come to respect that opinion, I think you make the world a better place. I think I’m still teaching. It’s just a really big classroom.” The challenge for readers . . . is to judge among these differing opinions and to struggle against simple relativism, particularly within Picoult’s stories of gendered violence. In addition, within her narratives, Picoult also invokes the concept of “balance” in a more traditional postfeminist way, finding meaning and progress in the restoration of domestic equilibrium for career-oriented mothers.

whitneyOne of this month’s new UIP releases, Splattered Ink is a bold analysis of postfeminist gothic, a literary genre that continues to jar readers, reject happy endings, and find powerful new ways to talk about violence against women.

Sarah E. Whitney explores the genre’s challenge to postfeminist assumptions of women’s equality and empowerment. The authors she examines—Patricia Cornwell, Jodi Picoult, Susanna Moore, Sapphire, and Alice Sebold—construct narratives around socially invisible and physically broken protagonists who directly experience consequences of women’s ongoing disempowerment. Their works ask readers to inhabit women’s suffering and to face the uncomfortable, all-too-denied fact that today’s women must navigate lives fraught with risk. Whitney’s analysis places the authors within a female gothic tradition that has long given voice to women’s fears of their own powerlessness. But she also reveals the paradox that allows the genre to powerfully critique postfeminism’s often sunshiney outlook while uneasily coexisting within the same universe.

One man’s opinion: if I had to choose the hardest gig in show business or performance, without a doubt I would say “comedian.” It is hard to spin a funny story. It is hard to tell a joke. It is hard to deadpan and hard to double-take and hard to raise an eyebrow just the right way. My own tragic lack of funniness no doubt enters into my calculations, so I won’t dispute if you list the insane qualifications for opera or the grueling years-long preparations for Chinese acrobatics. But given a choice, I’d let a couple of guys use me as a jump-rope before I’d attempt three minutes of standup.

You might think, “University press: an institution as funny as a martini made of paste.” And in many cases you would be correct. But you’re at the University of Illinois Press blog, and UIP has long produced comedy by the tome-ful. Journey below the fold to discover humorosity of the rib-wreckingest, gut-bustingest kind, all in English, and all there for you at a mere click.

Continue reading

Paul Thomas Anderson is George Toles‘s long-awaited dive into the works of one of today’s most beguiling filmmakers. Below we offer a three-point sampler to tantalize fans of Toles’s acclaimed film studies chops and followers of Anderson’s wide-ranging, always astonishing works.

1. The animating myth and subterranean logic of Anderson’s films since Magnolia is a remaking of the mother out of new materials, and the piecemeal recovery of mother’s nurturing power, which is as much feared as it is sought after. I think the quest for an archetypal female form and voice—the restored mother, brought back from “death” and reintegrated, as in A Winter’s Tale—accounts for Anderson’s characteristic sabotage of traditional narrative form. Punch-Drunk Love, There Will Be Blood, and The Master all focus on incapacitated, near-outcast men whose environments both mirror their mentalities and imprison them. Anderson, with ever-greater audacity, removes the lynchpin of traditional narrative logic, and in The Master he dispenses with laws of causation almost completely.

toles2. The narrative of There Will Be Blood mirrors Daniel’s tight-lipped refusal to make known or shed any light on the physical or psychic ordeals he has been through. The “burial” of all the particulars of his trek render this harrowing, near-supernatural experience akin to all the other secrets of his upbringing and background that Daniel is not disposed to go into. The fact that he made it to the assayer’s office in one piece and is now able to file his claim is, for him, the pertinent element in his exploits. There is nothing for him to gain by offering tales of crawling backward, parched and wretched—a creature barely distinguishable from a desert reptile. He would prefer to be regarded as someone who has pulled himself together and makes no fuss about it, who awaits the ore results with a semblance of composure, and who will sign his name to the legal document with an ornate flourish.

3. Dodd’s plan for Freddie is somewhat different from the one Peggy offers. He aspires to fix the “push-pull” mechanism that holds Freddie captive, but to an even greater degree he aspires to preserve Freddie’s obscure wildness and unreasoning insubordination. Freddie accuses Dodd in the subsequent prison cell scene of “making it all up as he goes along,” though this is hardly a personal accusation, since Freddie has randomly borrowed the words from Dodd’s disillusioned son, Val (Jesse Plemons). Dodd and Freddie are alike in their drive to “make it up as they go along,” though Dodd wants his improvisations to have the force of discoveries that endure, while Freddie hastily loses sight of his actions before he has time to “make” something of them. Freddie lives without the satisfaction of internal continuity. Dodd, in contrast, needs to build a new world from his beliefs in the act of imposing them on others. The imposing is what keeps them substantial and alive in his own mind. Freddie, immersed in chaos and free from any communicable conviction, strikes Dodd as a true improviser.

kanfer prairie state of mindThe Larry Kanfer Gallery and the University of Illinois Press invite you to a reception for Larry’s new book, A Prairie State of Mind, an amazing new collection of photographic art that reveals the many ways the prairie connects us all. Meet Larry and purchase a signed copy of A Prairie State of Mind from 5:00 until 7:00 Thursday evening at the Larry Kanfer Gallery at 2503 South Neil Street. No RSVP required! Call 217-398-2000 for further details.

llewellyn and gleavesFor decades, amateurism defined the ideals of the Olympic movement. No more. Today’s Games present athletes who enjoy open corporate sponsorship and unabashedly compete for lucrative commercial endorsements.

Our new book by Matthew P. Llewellyn and John Gleaves analyze how this astonishing transformation took place. Drawing on Olympic archives and a wealth of research across media, the authors examine how an elite—white, wealthy, often Anglo-Saxon—controlled and shaped an enormously powerful myth of amateurism. The myth assumed an air of naturalness that made it seem unassailable and, not incidentally, served those in power. Llewellyn and Gleaves trace professionalism’s inroads into the Olympics from tragic figures like Jim Thorpe through the shamateur era of under-the-table cash and state-supported athletes. As they show, the increasing acceptability of professionals went hand-in-hand with the Games becoming a for-profit international spectacle. Yet the myth of amateurism’s purity remained a potent force, influencing how people around the globe imagined and understood sport.

Timely and vivid with details, The Rise and Fall of Olympic Amateurism is the first book-length examination of the movement’s foundational ideal.