Monday, October 31, 2011

Quiet Study Area

In response to student requests, the long tables in the 2nd level central area between the stacks have been designated as a quiet study area. Your cooperation is appreciated. Please be considerate of others who are studying in other parts of the library as well. Group study rooms are available on the 2nd and 3rd levels.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ebook of the Week - Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night

 Rogers, Nicholas. Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night
New York : Oxford University Press, 2002.

In this history of Halloween, Rogers emphasizes how many different forms it has taken, even to the present day, when it is part fall festival, part children’s event (costumes, trick or treat), part adult party time, and above all an enormously profitable commercial enterprise. Some religious groups, such as the Puritans in colonial days and evangelical Christianity in modern times, have rejected Halloween with its celebration of witches, goblins, and other unholy creatures. Rogers traces the complex origins of Halloween from the Celtic autumn festival Samhain through its merger with the Christian observances of All Saints and All Souls Days in the British Isles and its nineteenth-century migration to North America. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries it was often an occasion for pranks that at other times would be considered vandalism. After 1920 or so, there was an effort to tone down the “tricks” and make Halloween more of a children’s holiday focusing on “treats.” Even that has been modulated in more recent years by societal fears of adulterated candy and razor blades in apples. In later chapters Rogers discusses Hollywood’s treatment of Halloween, gay street festivals, and the intersection of Halloween with Mexico’s Day of the Dead (celebrated November 1 and 2) in the southwestern United States. This is a very readable account and has quite a few intriguing illustrations.   

Previewed by Jack Ray.  Click here to read the book.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ebook of the Week - Homer Simpson Marches on Washington: Dissent through American Popular Culture

Dale, Timothy M and Joseph J. Foy. Homer Simpson Marches on Washington: Dissent through American Popular Culture. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2010

Homer Simpson Marches on Washington explores the transformative power that enables popular culture to influence political agendas, frame the consciousness of audiences, and create profound shifts in values and ideals. Examples are feminism, environmentalism, and class warfare. Some of the mediums analyzed by various scholars are, in addition to the Simpsons cartoon, the View, The Daily Show with John Stewart and the Colbert Report. These media are incredibly influential in unifying the political agendas and outlooks of the young American middle class, and this book reinforces this claim. The downside to this book is that its currency probably only has a half life of a couple years as these media become eclipsed by new "oracles" in pop culture to unify political sentiment. One example of a new medium not covered is the grassroots "occupy" protest movement which took root on Facebook and spread to the mainstream media rapidly this Fall.

Previewed by Charles Lockwood.  Click here to read the book.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ebook of the Week - Damn Senators: My Grandfather and Washington's Only World Series Championship

Judge, Mark Gauvreau. Damn Senators: My Grandfather and Washington's Only World Series Championship. San Francisco: Encounter Books, 2003.

Very few people are still alive who would remember the Washington Senators (either the original franchise which became the Minnesota Twins in 1961, or the expansion club that moved to Texas and became the Rangers in 1972) as anything other than the doormats of the American League; their third and last appearance in the World Series was in 1933. But in 1924 they put it all together to win the championship from John McGraw’s vaunted New York Giants. This lovingly rendered account is both a history of the Senators’ rise and triumph and a biographical sketch of Washington first baseman Joe Judge, the author’s grandfather. Even by the standards of his time, Joe Judge was an atypical first sacker: a slightly built slap hitter who managed only 71 home runs in a twenty-year career. But he was a consistently good hitter, amassing a lifetime .298 batting average, and was a Senators regular for fifteen years. In 1924 he hit .324 in the regular season and .385 in the Series.

Mark Judge begins his story by tracing the early (and lackluster) history of professional baseball in Washington. Later chapters recount how the team began to take a turn for the better with the hiring of Clark Griffith as manager in 1912 and the flowering of Hall of Fame pitcher Walter Johnson’s career. After the championship season of 1924 the Senators again went to the World Series in 1925, but lost to the Pirates. After 1933 the team deteriorated rapidly; in a final chapter titled “Twilight” Judge outlines this terminal slide and follows up with the rest of his grandfather’s life story. This history of a largely forgotten team is a great October read. The title’s ironic play on the well-known Broadway musical may have unintended resonance with today’s disaffected American voters.

Previewed by Jack Ray.  Click here to read the book

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Ebook of the Week - From Du Bois to Obama : African American Intellectuals in the Public Forum

Banner-Haley, Charles P.  From Du Bois to Obama : African American Intellectuals in the Public Forum. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2010

In From Du Bois to Obama, Charles Pete Banner-Haley briefly surveys (in 176 pages) the history of African American intellectualism, describing the efforts of black intellectuals in the ongoing struggle against racism. Banner-Haley asserts that African American intellectuals—a category that includes academicians, social critics, activists, and writers—serve to generate debate, policy, and change, act as a moral force to persuade Americans to acknowledge their history of slavery and racism, and prod the public at large to become more inclusive and accepting of humanity and to take responsibility for social justice.

Topics addressed include the frequent disconnect between black intellectuals and the masses for which they speak, the ways African American intellectuals identify themselves in relation to the larger black community, how black intellectuals have gained legitimacy in American society and have accrued moral capital, and how that moral capital has been expended. Among the figures covered in the book are W. E. B. Du Bois, Ralph Ellison, Oliver C. Cox, George S. Schuyler, Martin Luther King, Jr., Cornel West, Toni Morrison, bell hooks, and many others.

Banner-Haley discusses the emergence of black conservatism, with its accompanying questions about affirmative action, government intervention on behalf of African Americans, and the notion of a color-blind society.  He also looks at how popular music—particularly rap and hip-hop—television, movies, cartoons, and other media have functioned as arenas for investigating questions of identity, exploring whether African American intellectuals can also be “authentically” black. In a concluding discussion of the so-called ‘browning’ of America, Banner-Haley ponders what Obama’s election will mean for the future of race relations and black intellectualism in America.

Previewed by John Breitmeyer.  Click here to read the book.