Thursday, July 21, 2011

Contesting Public Space in New York

Benjamin Shepard and Gregory Smithsimon, The Beach Beneath the Streets: Contesting New York City's Public Spaces (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2011).

from the publisher:

Focusing on the liberating promise of public space, The Beach Beneath the Streets examines the activist struggles of communities in New York City—queer youth of color, gardeners, cyclists, and anti-gentrification activists—as they transform streets, piers, and vacant lots into everyday sites for autonomy, imagination, identity formation, creativity, problem solving, and even democratic renewal. Through ethnographic accounts of contests over New York City’s public spaces that highlight the tension between resistance and repression, Benjamin Shepard and Gregory Smithsimon identify how changes in the control of public spaces—parks, street corners, and plazas—have reliably foreshadowed elites’ shifting designs on the city at large. With an innovative taxonomy of public space, the authors frame the ways spaces as diverse as gated enclaves, luxury shopping malls, collapsing piers, and street protests can be understood in relation to one another. Synthesizing the fifty-year history of New York’s neoliberal transformation and the social movements which have opposed the process, The Beach Beneath the Streets captures the dynamics at work in the ongoing shaping of urban spaces into places of repression, expression, control, and creativity.

Tourist Ethics

Dean McCannell, The Ethics of Sightseeing (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011).

from the publisher:

Is travel inherently beneficial to human character? Does it automatically educate and enlighten while also promoting tolerance, peace, and understanding? In this challenging book, Dean MacCannell identifies and overcomes common obstacles to ethical sightseeing. Through his unique combination of personal observation and in-depth scholarship, MacCannell ventures into specific tourist destinations and attractions: “picturesque” rural and natural landscapes, “hip” urban scenes, historic locations of tragic events, Disney theme parks, beaches, and travel poster ideals. He shows how strategies intended to attract tourists carry unintended consequences when they migrate to other domains of life and reappear as “staged authenticity.” Demonstrating each act of sightseeing as an ethical test, the book shows how tourists can realize the productive potential of their travel desires, penetrate the collective unconscious, and gain character, insight, and connection to the world.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Culture and Rhetoric

Christian Meyer and Felix Girke,eds.,
The Rhetorical Emergence of Culture (New York: Berghahn Books, 2011).

contents, from the publisher:

Felix Girke and Christian Meyer


Chapter 1. The Dance of Rhetoric: Dialogic Selves and Spontaneously Responsive Expressions
John Shotter

Chapter 2. Co-opting Intersubjectivity: Dialogic Rhetoric of the Self
John W. DuBois

Chapter 3. Echo Chambers and Rhetoric. Sketch of a Model of Resonance Theory
Pierre Maranda

Chapter 4. Discourse beyond Language: Cultural Rhetoric, Revelatory Insight, and Nature
Donal Carbaugh and David Boromisza-Habashi

Chapter 5. The Spellbinding Aura of Culture. Tracing its Anthropological Discovery
Bernhard Streck

Chapter 6. Tenor in Culture
Ivo Strecker


Chapter 7. Attending the Vernacular. A Plea for an Ethnographical Rhetoric
Gerard A. Hauser

Chapter 8. Enhoused Speech: The Rhetoric of Foi Territoriality
James F. Weiner

Chapter 9. Transcultural Rhetoric and Cyberspace
Filipp Sapienza

Chapter 10. Jesuit Rhetorics: Translation Versus Conversion in Early-Modern Goa
Alexander Henn

Chapter 11. Evoking Peace and Arguing Harmony. An Example of Transcultural Rhetoric in Southern Ethiopia
Felix Girke and Alula Pankhurst


Chapter 12. In Defense of the Orator. A Classicist Outlook on Rhetoric Culture
Franz-Hubert Robling

Chapter 13. Rhetoric, Anti-Structure, and the Social Formation of Authorship
James Thomas Zebroski

Chapter 14. Attention & Rhetoric: Prolepsis and the Problem of Meaning
Todd Oakley

Chapter 15. Emergence, Agency and the Middle Ground of Culture: A Meditation on Mediation
Stephen A. Tyler

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Remembering the AIDS Quilt

Charles E. Morris III, ed., Remembering the AIDS Quilt (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2011).

from the publisher:
A collaborative creation unlike any other, the Names Project Foundation's AIDS Memorial Quilt has played an invaluable role in shattering the silence and stigma that surrounded the epidemic in the first years of its existence. Designed by Cleve Jones, the AIDS Quilt is the largest ongoing community arts project in the world. Since its conception in 1987, the Quilt has transformed the cultural and political responses to AIDS in the U.S. Representative of both marginalized and mainstream peoples, the Quilt contains crucial material and symbolic implications for mourning the dead, and the treatment and prevention of AIDS. However, the project has raised numerous questions concerning memory, activism, identity, ownership, and nationalism, as well as issues of sexuality, race, class, and gender. As thought-provoking as the Quilt itself, this diverse collection of essays by ten prominent rhetorical scholars provides a rich experience of the AIDS Quilt, incorporating a variety of perspectives, critiques, and interpretations.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Debating the Economy

Paul Krugman on the economic debate:

Yet a destructive passivity has overtaken our discourse. . . . The truth is that creating jobs in a depressed economy is something government could and should be doing. Yes, there are huge political obstacles to action — notably, the fact that the House is controlled by a party that benefits from the economy’s weakness. But political gridlock should not be conflated with economic reality.

Paul Krugman, "No, We Can't? Or Won't?" New York Times, 11 July 2011.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Robert Frank's "The Americans"

Jonathan Day, Robert Frank's "The Americans": The Art of Documentary Photography (Intellect Books; distributed by University of Chicago Press, 2011).

from the publisher:

In the mid-1950s, Swiss-born New Yorker Robert Frank embarked on a ten-thousand-mile road trip across America, capturing thousands of photographs of all levels of a rapidly changing society. The resultant photo book, The Americans, represents a seminal moment in both photography and in America's understanding of itself. To mark the book’s fiftieth anniversary, Jonathan Day revisits this pivotal work and contributes a thoughtful and revealing critical commentary. Though the importance of The Americans has been widely acknowledged, it still retains much of its mystery. This comprehensive analysis places it thoroughly in the context of contemporary photography, literature, music, and advertising from its own period through the present.

Visual Anthropology

Marcus Banks and Jay Ruby, ed., Made to Be Seen: Perspectives on the History of Visual Anthropology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011).

from the publisher:

Made to be Seen brings together leading scholars of visual anthropology to examine the historical development of this multifaceted and growing field. Expanding the definition of visual anthropology beyond more limited notions, the contributors to Made to be Seen reflect on the role of the visual in all areas of life. Different essays critically examine a range of topics: art, dress and body adornment, photography, the built environment, digital forms of visual anthropology, indigenous media, the body as a cultural phenomenon, the relationship between experimental and ethnographic film, and more.

The first attempt to present a comprehensive overview of the many aspects of an anthropological approach to the study of visual and pictorial culture, Made to be Seen will be the standard reference on the subject for years to come. Students and scholars in anthropology, sociology, visual studies, and cultural studies will greatly benefit from this pioneering look at the way the visual is inextricably threaded through most, if not all, areas of human activity.