Tuesday, May 22, 2018

"The Roman Retail Revolution"

New from Oxford University Press: The Roman Retail Revolution: The Socio-Economic World of the Taberna by Steven J. R. Ellis.

About the book, from the publisher:
Tabernae were ubiquitous in all Roman cities, lining the busiest streets and dominating their most crowded intersections in numbers far exceeding those of any other form of building. That they played a vital role in the operation of the city, and indeed in the very definition of urbanization in ancient Rome, is a point too often under-appreciated in Roman studies, and one which bears fruitful further exploration.

The Roman Retail Revolution offers a thorough investigation into the social and economic worlds of the Roman shop, focusing on food and drink outlets in particular. Combining critical analysis of both archaeological material and textual sources, it challenges many of the conventional ideas about the place of retailing in the Roman city and unravels the historical development of tabernae to identify three major waves or revolutions in the shaping of retail landscapes. The volume is underpinned by two new and important bodies of evidence: the first generated from the University of Cincinnati's recent archaeological excavations into a Pompeian neighborhood of close to twenty shop-fronts, and the second resulting from a field-survey of the retail landscapes of more than a hundred cities from across the Roman world. The richness of this information, combined with the volume's interdisciplinary approach to the lives of the Roman sub-elite, results in a refreshingly original look at the history of retailing and urbanism in the Roman world.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 21, 2018

"History: Why it Matters"

New from Polity: History: Why it Matters by Lynn Hunt.

About the book, from the publisher:
We justify our actions in the present through our understanding of the past. But we live in a time when politicians lie brazenly about historical facts and meddle with the content of history books, while media differ wildly in their reporting of the same event. Frequently, new discoveries force us to re-evaluate everything we thought we knew about the past.

So how can any certainty about history be established, and why does it matter? Lynn Hunt shows why the search for truth about the past, as a continual process of discovery, is vital for our societies. History has an essential role to play in ensuring honest presentation of evidence. In this way, it can foster humility about our present-day concerns, a critical attitude toward chauvinism, and an openness to other peoples and cultures. History, Hunt argues, is our best defense against tyranny.
Writers Read: Lynn Hunt (September 2014).

The Page 99 Test: Writing History in the Global Era.

--Marshal Zeringue

"Rooted Cosmopolitans"

New from Yale University Press: Rooted Cosmopolitans: Jews and Human Rights in the Twentieth Century by James Loeffler.

About the book, from the publisher:
A stunningly original look at the forgotten Jewish political roots of contemporary international human rights, told through the moving stories of five key activists

The year 2018 marks the seventieth anniversary of two momentous events in twentieth-century history: the birth of the State of Israel and the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Both remain tied together in the ongoing debates about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, global antisemitism, and American foreign policy. Yet the surprising connections between Zionism and the origins of international human rights are completely unknown today. In this riveting account, James Loeffler explores this controversial history through the stories of five remarkable Jewish founders of international human rights, following them from the prewar shtetls of eastern Europe to the postwar United Nations, a journey that includes the Nuremberg and Eichmann trials, the founding of Amnesty International, and the UN resolution of 1975 labeling Zionism as racism. The result is a book that challenges long-held assumptions about the history of human rights and offers a startlingly new perspective on the roots of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 20, 2018

"Better Safe Than Sorry"

New from the University of California Press: Better Safe Than Sorry: How Consumers Navigate Exposure to Everyday Toxics by Norah MacKendrick.

About the book, from the publisher:
How toxic are the products we consume on a daily basis? Whether it’s triclosan in toothpaste, formaldehyde in baby shampoo, endocrine disruptors in water bottles, or pesticides on strawberries, chemicals in food and personal care products are of increasing concern to consumers. This book chronicles how ordinary people try to avoid exposure to toxics in grocery store aisles using the practice of “precautionary consumption.”

Through an innovative analysis of environmental regulation, the advocacy work of environmental health groups, the expansion of the health-food chain Whole Foods Market, and interviews with consumers, Norah MacKendrick ponders why the problem of toxics in the U.S. retail landscape has been left to individual shoppers—and to mothers in particular. She reveals how precautionary consumption, or “green shopping,” is a costly and time-intensive practice, one that is connected to cultural ideas of femininity and good motherhood but is also most available to upper- and middle-class households. Better Safe Than Sorry powerfully argues that precautionary consumption places a heavy and unfair burden of labor on women and does little to advance environmental justice or mitigate risk.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 19, 2018

"Infancy and Earliest Childhood in the Roman World"

New from Oxford University Press: Infancy and Earliest Childhood in the Roman World: 'A Fragment of Time' by Maureen Carroll.

About the book, from the publisher:
Despite the developing emphasis in current scholarship on children in Roman culture, there has been relatively little research to date on the role and significance of the youngest children within the family and in society. This volume singles out this youngest age group, the under one-year-olds, in the first comprehensive study of infancy and earliest childhood to encompass the Roman Empire as a whole: integrating social and cultural history with archaeological evidence, funerary remains, material culture, and the iconography of infancy, it explores how the very particular historical circumstances into which Roman children were born affected their lives as well as prevailing attitudes towards them. Examination of these varied strands of evidence, drawn from throughout the Roman world from the fourth century BC to the third century AD, allows the rhetoric about earliest childhood in Roman texts to be more broadly contextualized and reveals the socio-cultural developments that took place in parent-child relationships over this period. Presenting a fresh perspective on archaeological and historical debates, the volume refutes the notion that high infant mortality conditioned Roman parents not to engage in the early life of their children or to view them, or their deaths, with indifference, and concludes that even within the first weeks and months of life Roman children were invested with social and gendered identities and were perceived as having both personhood and value within society.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 18, 2018

"Security and Terror"

New from the University of California Press: Security and Terror: American Culture and the Long History of Colonial Modernity by Eli Jelly-Schapiro.

About the book, from the publisher:
When in 1492 Christopher Columbus set out for Asia but instead happened upon the Bahamas, Cuba, and Hispaniola, his error inaugurated a specifically colonial modernity. This is, Security and Terror contends, the colonial modernity within which we still live. And its enduring features are especially vivid in the current American century, a moment marked by a permanent War on Terror and pervasive capitalist dispossession. Resisting the assumption that September 11, 2001, constituted a historical rupture, Eli Jelly-Schapiro traces the political and philosophic genealogies of security and terror—from the settler-colonization of the New World to the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and beyond. A history of the present crisis, Security and Terror also examines how that history has been registered and reckoned with in significant works of contemporary fiction and theory—in novels by Teju Cole, Mohsin Hamid, Junot Díaz, and Roberto Bolaño, and in the critical interventions of Jean Baudrillard, Giorgio Agamben, Judith Butler, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, and others. In this richly interdisciplinary inquiry, Jelly-Schapiro reveals how the erasure of colonial pasts enables the perpetual reproduction of colonial culture.
Eli Jelly-Schapiro is Assistant Professor of English at the University of South Carolina, where he teaches contemporary literature and culture.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 17, 2018

"Modern Playhouses"

New from Oxford University Press: Modern Playhouses: An Architectural History of Britain's New Theatres, 1945-1985 by Alistair Fair.

About the book, from the publisher:
Modern Playhouses is the first detailed study of the major programme of theatre-building which took place in Britain between the 1950s and the 1980s. Drawing on a vast range of archival material--much of which had never previously been studied by historians--it sets architecture in a wide social and cultural context, presenting the history of post-war theatre buildings as a history of ideas relating not only to performance but also to culture, citizenship, and the modern city.

During this period, more than sixty major new theatres were constructed in locations from Plymouth to Inverness, Aberystwyth to Ipswich. The most prominent example was the National Theatre in London, but the National was only the tip of the iceberg. Supported in many cases by public subsidies, these buildings represented a new kind of theatre, conceived as a public service. Theatre was ascribed a transformative role, serving as a form of "productive" recreation at a time of increasing affluence and leisure. New theatres also contributed to debates about civic pride, urbanity, and community. Ultimately, theatre could be understood as a vehicle for the creation of modern citizens in a consciously modernizing Britain.

Through their planning and appearance, new buildings were thought to connote new ideas of theatre's purpose. In parallel, new approaches to staging and writing posed new demands of the auditorium and stage. Yet while recognizing, as contemporaries did, that the new theatres of the post war decades represented change, Modern Playhouses also asks how radically different these buildings really were, and what their 'mainstream' architecture reveals of the history of modern British architecture, and of post-war Britain.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

"Embattled River"

New from Cornell University Press: Embattled River: The Hudson and Modern American Environmentalism by David Schuyler.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Embattled River, David Schuyler describes the efforts to reverse the pollution and bleak future of the Hudson River that became evident in the 1950s. Through his investigative narrative, Schuyler uncovers the critical role of this iconic American waterway in the emergence of modern environmentalism in the United States.

Writing fifty-five years after Consolidated Edison announced plans to construct a pumped storage power plant at Storm King Mountain, Schuyler recounts how a loose coalition of activists took on corporate capitalism and defended the river. Led by Scenic Hudson, later joined by groups such as Riverkeeper, Clearwater, the Hudson River Valley Greenway, and the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, the coalition won the first of many legal and publicity battles that would halt pollution of the river, slowly reverse the damage of years of discharge into the river, and protect hundreds of thousands of acres of undeveloped land in the river valley.

As Schuyler shows, the environmental victories on the Hudson had broad impact. In the state at the heart of the story, the immediate result was the creation in 1970 of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to monitor, investigate, and litigate cases of pollution. At the national level, the environmental ferment in the Hudson Valley that Schuyler so richly describes contributed directly to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970, the passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972, and the creation of the Superfund in 1980 to fund the cleanup of toxic-dumping sites.

With these legal and regulatory means, the contest between environmental advocates and corporate power has continued well into the twenty-first century. Indeed, as Embattled River shows, the past is prologue. The struggle to control the uses and maintain the ecological health of the Hudson River persists and the stories of the pioneering advocates told by Schuyler provide lessons, reminders, and inspiration for today’s activists.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

"Renegotiating French Identity"

New from Oxford University Press: Renegotiating French Identity: Musical Culture and Creativity in France during Vichy and the German Occupation by Jane F. Fulcher.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Renegotiating French Identity, Jane Fulcher addresses the question of cultural resistance to the German occupation and Vichy regime during the Second World War. Nazi Germany famously stressed music as a marker of national identity and cultural achievement, but so too did Vichy. From the opera to the symphony, music did not only serve the interests of Vichy and German propaganda: it also helped to reveal the motives behind them, and to awaken resistance among those growing disillusioned by the regime. Using unexplored Resistance documents, from both the clandestine press and the French National Archives, Fulcher looks at the responses of specific artists and their means of resistance, addressing in turn Pierre Schaeffer, Arthur Honegger, Francis Poulenc, and Olivier Messiaen, among others. This book investigates the role that music played in fostering a profound awareness of the cultural and political differences between conflicting French ideological positions, as criticism of Vichy and its policies mounted.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 14, 2018

"Petrarch's War"

New from Cambridge University Press: Petrarch's War: Florence and the Black Death in Context by William Caferro.

About the book, from the publisher:
This revisionist account of the economic, literary and social history of Florence in the immediate aftermath of the Black Death connects warfare with the plague narrative. Organised around Petrarch's 'war' against the Ubaldini clan of 1349–1350, which formed the prelude to his meeting and friendship with Boccaccio, William Caferro's work examines the institutional and economic effects of the war, alongside literary and historical patterns. Caferro pays close attention to the meaning of wages in context, including those of soldiers, thereby revising our understanding of wage data in the distant past and highlighting the consequences of a constricted workforce that resulted in the use of cooks and servants on important embassies. Drawing on rigorous archival research, this book will stimulate discussion among academics and offers a new contribution to our understanding of Renaissance Florence. It stresses the importance of short-termism and contradiction as subjects of historical inquiry.
William Caferro is Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of History and Professor of Classics and Mediterranean Studies at Vanderbilt University.

--Marshal Zeringue