Every December since 2007 we have posted an annual list of our pop culture favorites. The University of Illinois Press Best of 2017 edition is in alphabetical order by staff member’s last name.


Angela Burton, Rights & Permissions/Awards Manager
Favorite Book: Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser
Favorite music: Not Dark Yet by Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer
Favorite Film: Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman – Official Trailer from 2WEI Music on Vimeo.
Favorite TV Show: All In with Chris Hayes; Future Man
Favorite live performance: Jason Moran and the Big Bandwagon, In My Mind: Monk at Town Hall, 1959, Krannert Center, Nov. 14, 2017
Website I visit almost every day: Longreads.com; New York Times
Favorite Podcast: Revisionist History

Marika Christofides, Associate Acquisitions Editor

Favorite Book: The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin – part of her Broken Earth trilogy
Favorite music: Everyone Else by Slothrust
Favorite Film: Dolores, a documentary about Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the National Farmworkers Association
Favorite TV Show: The Good Place, Lady Dynamite, Insecure, probably more that I can’t remember!

Insecure Official Season 2 Trailer from Jamaz Hall on Vimeo.
Website I visit every day: I am a late adopter of Pinterest
Favorite Podcast: Drawing a Dialogue, a podcast discussing comics in historical + educational contexts

Kevin Cunningham, Copywriter and Catalog Coordinator

Favorite Book: Andrew DeGraff – Plotted: A Literary Atlas
Favorite music: Miles Davis – Jack Johnson

Favorite Film: Twin Peaks: The Return
Favorite TV Show: (tie) The Americans and Blackhawks hockey
Website I visit every day: Gizmodo
Favorite board game: Survive! Escape from Atlantis
Favorite rediscovered candy: Brach’s Royals

Dawn Durante, Senior Acquisitions Editor

Favorite Book: Mikhail and Margarita by Julie Lekstrom Himes (Europa Editions, 2017)
Favorite Film: Wonder Woman
Favorite TV Shows: The Walking Dead, The Good Place

Favorite live performance: Madeleine Peyroux, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, September 23, 2017
Website I visit every day: Black Perspectives, published by the African American Intellectual History Society
Favorite Podcast: Bronzeville

Heather Gernenz, Publicity Manager

Favorite Short Story Collection: Carmen Maria Machado-Her Body and Other Parties
Favorite Nonfiction book: Yuval Noah Harari-Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow
Favorite Novel: Min Jin Lee-Pachinko
Favorite Album: Angus and Julia Stone-Snow

Favorite Film: Lady Bird
Favorite TV Show: The Handmaid’s Tale
Favorite live performance: The Pretty Reckless May 9, 2017 Live in Peoria, IL
Favorite Podcast: Invisibilia

Julie Laut, Outreach & Development Coordinator
Favorite Book:
Memoir/Essays – Hunger: A Memoir by Roxane Gay; Literature – Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo
Favorite Films: Horror – Get Out; Comedy – The Big Sick; Guilty Pleasure – Wonder Woman
Favorite TV Shows: Drama – Alias Grace; BBC detectives – Broadchurch series 3

Favorite live performance: Stephen Wade performing “The Beautiful Music All Around Us,” Saturday, December 2, 2017, at AMP
Favorite Podcast: “Terrible, Thanks for Asking” (Favorite podcast episode this year: Mini-Season Ep 5: To Michael)

Michael Roux, Marketing and Sales Manager

Favorite LP:  Wolf People – Ruins, Father John Misty – Pure Comedy

Favorite Film:  Lion
Favorite TV Shows:  All In with Chris Hayes
Favorite live performance:  Tom Petty, Champaign, IL – May 10, 2017
Website I visit every day: Vox.com
Favorite Podcasts: The Weeds; Take Ten

Alison Syring, Assistant Acquisitions Editor

Favorite Fiction Book: Jeffrey Eugenides – Middlesex. Finally read it and LOVED it. Then read his other books in quick succession. This is still my favorite.
Favorite music: Andra Day – Cheers to the Fall

Favorite Film: The Handmaiden
Favorite TV Show: Insecure and The Deuce on HBO, and Stranger Things on Netflix
Favorite live performance: Daniel Tosh at the State Farm Center
Website I visit every day: https://www.washingtonpost.com/ – Still my favorite news source, even after leaving the DC area!
Favorite Podcast: Lore, Uncivil, and an embarrassing number of true crime podcasts. My favorite this year was Undisclosed’s coverage of Freddie Gray’s shooting in Baltimore.

weston ILIt came from the future: Tevatron. The villain in the new Michael Bay feature? Actually, the world’s largest particle accelerator once it opened in 1983. But to get there, the giant underground atom racer/smasher needed a town to get out of the way and let in the National Accelerator Laboratory, later called Fermilab.

And all because Weston, Illinois, got what it wanted.

On December 16, 1966, the Atomic Energy Committee chose tiny Weston, Illinois as the site of its new National Accelerator Laboratory. The citizens of Weston rejoiced. A farming town of about 450 people, Weston had come into being in 1963. Developers had big plans for the town from the beginning: a huge housing complex and mall that would grow a new 50,000-person city in the middle of DuPage County. The county had, in fact, shut down that idea due to concerns over funding, overcrowding of schools, and infrastructure.

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avilezWe are pleased to announce that Radical Aesthetics and Modern Black Nationalism by GerShun Avilez has won the William Sanders Scarborough Prize from the Modern Language Association (MLA). The prize is given to an outstanding scholarly study of African American literature or culture. The committee said:

“The stunning achievement of GerShun Avilez’s Radical Aesthetics and Modern Black Nationalism is its compelling expansion and queering of black nationalism through engagement with rhetorics that insist on formal innovation and experimentation as a method of translating the political anxieties, questions, and contradictions of the nationalism of the Black Arts era.”


IrizarryS16_144We are also pleased to announce that Chicana/o and Latina/o Fiction: The New Memory of Latinidad by Ylce Irizarry has won the MLA Prize in United States Latina and Latino and Chicana and Chicano Literary and Cultural Studies. The committee said:

“Ylce Irizarry’s Chicana/o and Latina/o Fiction: The New Memory of Latinidad is a landmark study, offering a comparative analysis of Chicana/o, Cuban, Dominican, and Puerto Rican fiction, read as distinct cultural narratives produced over a wide geopolitical terrain yet brought to convergence in what Irizarry calls collaborative architectures of meaning.”


BoyleS15_144Additionally, Kay Boyle: A Twentieth-Century Life in Letters, edited and with an introduction by Sandra Spanier, has won an honorable mention for the Morton N. Cohen Award for a Distinguished Edition of Letters from the Modern Language Association (MLA). The prize will be awarded at the MLA’s annual conference January 4-7, 2018, in New York City. The committee said:

“With Kay Boyle: A Twentieth-Century Life in Letters, Sandra Spanier has assembled a thoughtful selection that is representative of the life and literary phases of this leading figure among the Lost Generation modernists. Kay Boyle was at the center of literary and social developments in the twentieth century, traveling to France as a bride, living as an ex-pat and witnessing the spread of fascism, working as a foreign correspondent in Europe and then becoming a target of McCarthyism, and finally participating in American literary circles and the anti–Vietnam War movement. Enhancing the well-written and entertaining letters with an introduction, a chronology, numerous photographs, biographies of the correspondents, and a detailed index, Spanier has helped Boyle achieve the goal of writing a “record of our age” and has created a collection that is itself a work of literature.”


Congratulations to Ylce Irizarry, GerShun Avilez, and Sandra Spanier!

AddamsF17In December 1931, Jane Addams became the first American woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Jane Addams Day (December 10) celebrates that achievement and provides an opportunity to once again recognize the many remarkable achievements of Addams’s life. Want to learn more about this incredible woman from Cedarville, Illinois? You’ve come to the right place. The University of Illinois Press has been publishing the Jane Addams papers and scholarship on Addams for nearly two decades. Find out about her philosophy on the practice of democracy, founding of the settlement house movement in Chicago, activism for world peace, and much, much more. Addams famously wrote, ““The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.” Let her be your inspiration.

One hundred-and-one years ago, Francis Albert Sinatra entered the world in Hoboken, New Jersey. He proceeded to live one of the more completely lived lives this side of Casanova. Though foiled by television, Sinatra otherwise thrived across mass media, earning love and money on a million stages and the silver screen, to say nothing of putting out all those records we still listen to. He swung. He hurt. He fought. He loved. He tried. He failed. He triumphed. He sang. He offended. He defended. And he partied as hard as he did all those other things, which is to say, very hard indeed.

In 2015, we spoke with film historian Karen McNally, author of When Frankie Went to Hollywood, a study of the Chairman’s sometimes overlooked celluloid career. Continue reading

remesToday is the 100th anniversary of the Halifax Explosion, one of the worst maritime disasters in Canadian history. Two thousand people died and 9,000 were hurt when the SS Mont-Blanc, full of a cargo of explosives, collided with the SS Imo, a Norwegian steamship, in the narrows of the city’s harbor.

The blast set off by the ships may have been the largest man-made explosion in history up to that time. It triggered a tsunami that destroyed a nearby Mi’kmaq community and damaged coastal areas. It also left 25,0000 people in and around Halifax homeless.

As Jacob A. C. Remes writes in his recent book, “For those who started in the North End, it was clear from the beginning that something major had happened. The explosion knocked down houses and sent shards of glass flying like daggers, and as survivors started to escape the wreckage and regain their bearings, they had to contend with a rapidly spreading fire, sparked by the flying munitions and upended coal stoves. In Richmond, on the steep hill overlooking the narrows, what had not been destroyed outright by the shock of the explosion burned down. Even in the South End, a district filled with the gracious mansions of the city’s elite and the more modest houses of its middle class, doors came off their hinges, plaster crashed down from walls and ceilings, and windows shattered.”

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Here are 15 essential UIP books which highlight the history of Black women in America.


cooper beyond respectability1. Beyond Respectability By Brittney C. Cooper

“A work of crucial cultural study. . . . [Beyond Respectability] lays out the complicated history of black woman as intellectual force, making clear how much work she has done simply to bring that category into existence.”–NPR




lindsey2. Colored No More by Treva B. Lindsey

The politics of respectability confront the politics of pleasure in this outstanding study.”–Martha S. Jones, author of All Bound Up Together: The Woman Question in African American Public Culture, 1830-1900 





reverendaddie3. Reverend Addie Wyatt By Marcia Walker-McWilliams 

“Walker-McWilliams masterfully weaves the influences of the Great Migration from Mississippi to segregated Chicago, the vibrant religious culture of the Church of God, Chicago’s meatpacking industry and labor movements, the emergence of the Civil Rights and women’s movements, and her enduring marriage to Rev. Claude Wyatt to create a fascinating portrait of a historical activist icon.”–Chicago Review of Books 



harris4. Sex Workers, Psychics, and Numbers Runners By LaShawn Harris 

“This outstanding first monograph by historian Harris continues Deborah Gray White’s 1987 call for historians to reclaim the voices of African American women lost in the margins. . . . Highly Recommended.”–Choice




5. Black Giwrightrlhood in the Nineteenth Century By Nazera Sadiq Wright

“Wright’s research is breathtaking. Her subject matter is of the utmost importance. This book lays the foundation for all future scholarship on African American girls in representation and in life.”–Robin Bernstein, author of Racial Innocence: Performing American Childhood from Slavery to Civil Rights

 6. Daughter of the Empire State By Jacqueline A. McLeod mcleod

“McLeod draws on archival material and an interview with Bolin to    rescue from obscurity this juvenile-justice activist and pioneer in the advancement of African Americans and women in the legal profession.”–Booklist



beck7. Daisy Turner’s Kin By Jane C. Beck

“Folklorist Beck’s story of the Turner family’s transition from freedom to slavery to freedom again is a marvel of scholarly storytelling. . . . An engrossing American tale.”–Publisher’s Weekly 





threat8. Nursing Civil Rights By Charissa J. Threat  

“This book links nurses’ struggles to broader drives for racial and gender justice. Highly recommended.”–Choice 






whitmire9. Regina Anderson Andrews, Harlem Renaissance Librarian By Ethelene Whitmire

“Andrews was a fascinating librarian. . . . Fans of the Harlem Renaissance will enjoy this book.”–Library Journal 





hendricks10. Fannie Barrier Williams By Wanda A. Hendricks

“In 1899, the Washington Post referred to Williams as ‘one of the best known colored women on the continent.’ Hendricks’ highly readable and long overdue biography explains why.”–Women’s Review of Books 





freedomplow11. Hands on the Freedom Plow Edited By Faith S. Holsaert, Martha Prescod Norman Noonan, Judy Richardson, Betty Garman Robinson, Jean Smith Young, and Dorothy M. Zellner 

“The stories of the ‘beloved community’ of unknown women in Hands on the Freedom Plow convey a transcendent message of how history can be changed by committed individuals who stand up to what is wrong and live by that old freedom song ‘Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me roun.’”–Essence, Charlayne Hunter-Gault 



12. Divas on Screen By Mia Mask 

“[A] remarkable, straightforward book. . . . Mask interrogates the star personae of each of her subjects with a rigor that is unique and as refreshing as it is accessible and well written. Mask’s cultural critique of her subjects and the world in which they operate resonates long after one has finished the volume. Highly recommended.”–Choice




gill13. Beauty Shop Politics By Tiffany M. Gill 

“A comprehensive addition to the bookshelves of women’s studies, African-American studies, and entrepreneurial studies, as well as to history, business, and political-science departments. It is a truly interdisciplinary endeavor.”–The Chronicle of Higher Education 




As part of our Fall 2017 season, Illinois is publishing three groundbreaking books that interrogate the influence of the black press and the barons, editors, and journalists behind it. These individuals became active participants in the fight against white supremacy domestically and colonialism abroad. In the process, they not only changed journalism, they played a defining role in the development of American race relations in the twentieth century.










In The Rise and Fall of the Associated Negro Press: Claude Barnett’s Pan-African News and the Jim Crow Paradox, Gerald Horne tells the story of the Associated Negro Press (ANP) and its founder, Claude Barnett. Horne captures Barnett’s global engagement with the Pan-African movement and his work to dismantle colonialism and segregation, but he argues that the success of the ANP in battering the walls of Jim Crow came with a price: the mainstream press’s effort to hire black journalists undermined the very viability of the news service Barnett created. Barnett was also a businessman; as such, his sympathies with black aspirations often clashed with his ethics and a powerful desire to join the moneyed and political elite. In Race News: Black Journalists and the Fight for Racial Justice in the Twentieth Century, Fred Carroll captures these contradictions as Barnett shifted from telling his editor they were interested in “news about Republicans, Democrats, Socialists, Capitalists, Communists so long as . . . it had a news relation to Negroes” to abandoning this outlook by early 1947, as mounting animosity toward the Soviet Union threatened his financial interests.

Carroll’s book gives us a bottom-up look at black journalists and the role they played in the fight for racial justice, but the black press was not monolithic. Through a thorough examination of the working relationship between the alternative black press and commercial black press, he shows the impact of the Cold War on black journalism. The United States’ shifting toleration of progressive politics affected how black journalists covered the news—with commercial presses absorbing the political perspective and journalists of the alternative press in the 1930s and 1940s until they effectively ceased to exist. However, the alternative press reemerged in the 1950s and 1960s with the purging of newsrooms during the Red Scare. Like Horne, Carroll traces the precipitous decline of the black press to newsroom integration as daily newspapers hired away the most talented black journalists.

What of the relationship between the mainstream press and the black press at the local level during this dynamic period? Sid Bedingfield takes up the South Carolina story and its stakes in fantastic detail in Newspaper Wars: Civil Rights and White Resistance in South Carolina, 1935-1965. Here we are introduced to John Henry McCray and his radical newspaper, Lighthouse and Informer. McCray and his allies used his paper, established in the hostile terrain of Jim Crow South Carolina, to challenge segregated and unequal schooling, often cooperating with the NAACP. Their relative success in South Carolina, coupled with federal threats to the racial order, spawned a white backlash, with white newspaper editors and state politicians collaborating to fight segregation before Brown v. Board of Education. After the civil rights legislation of the 1960s, these same journalists worked with local white citizen councils and William Buckley’s burgeoning conservative movement to develop a color-blind rhetoric that linked race to law and order and economic decline in a successful effort to get white voters to abandon the biracial Democratic Party for the conservative GOP.

Taken collectively, these books challenge the notion that an objective press developed in the twentieth century. Activists in the black press were behind an assault on white supremacy while black papers exhibited diverse political persuasions with their coverage of calls for equality during World War II and tragedies like the death of Malcolm X. However, Bedingfield’s work goes on to show that “mainstream” outlets like the Charleston News and Courier were equally partisan, using notions of objectivity and journalistic norms as a tool of control to maintain the racial order. As the black press declined in the latter half of the twentieth century, something was lost. Carroll captures the long-term implications when he notes that the failure of daily newspapers to decisively integrate news-gathering practices led to a racial bias that cloaked white privilege and distorted our understanding of racial issues in ways that continue to haunt us today.



This post is from our new newsletter. Read more in The Callout and sign up to stay up-to-date on UIP news. 

Everyone knows that books make the best gifts. Especially for yourself! Stock up on these books for all your gift giving needs this holiday season.

Now through December 1, 2017, use code WINTER17 on our site to get 30% off! 

For the Sports Fan:


BirnbaumF17_216  ShattuckF16_144







For the Foodie:



U of I Alum or Grad: 

orange blue and u

tate and franch









For the Music Lover:












For the History Buff:


cooper beyond respectability










For the Cinephile:           

9780252082726  9780252083051miklitsch red








For the Sci-Fi Fan:  










And for the nature lover don’t forget to get a copy of Curious Encounters in the Natural WorldJeffordsS17_216!


The holidays are once again upon us, and it’s time to stock up on gifts for the book lover in your life. Especially if that’s you!

November 22, 2017-December 1, 2017 use code WINTER17 on our website to get 30% off all UIP books!

Need some ideas? Check out our Holiday Gift Guide post here!



Happy reading!