Cultural Studies

Basilisks and Beowulf: Monsters in the Anglo-Saxon World

Basilisks and Beowulf: Monsters in the Anglo-Saxon World

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This book addresses a simple question: why were the Anglo-Saxons obsessed with monsters, many of which did not exist? Drawing on literature and art, theology, and a wealth of firsthand evidence, Basilisks and Beowulf reveals a people huddled at the edge of the known map, using the fantastic and the grotesque as a way of understanding the world around them and their place within it. For the Anglo-Saxons, monsters helped to distinguish the sacred and the profane; they carried God’s message to mankind, exposing His divine hand in creation itself. At the same time, monsters were agents of disorder, seeking to kill people, conquer their lands, and even challenge what it meant to be human. Learning about where monsters lived and how they behaved allowed the Anglo-Saxons to situate themselves in the world, as well as to apprehend something of the divine plan. It is for these reasons that monsters were at the very center of their worldview. From map monsters to demons, dragons to Leviathan, we neglect these beasts at our peril.

Dressed for Freedom: The Fashionable Politics of American Feminism

Dressed for Freedom: The Fashionable Politics of American Feminism

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Often condemned as a form of oppression, fashion could and did allow women to express modern gender identities and promote feminist ideas. Einav Rabinovitch-Fox examines how clothes empowered women, and particularly women barred from positions of influence due to race or class. Moving from 1890s shirtwaists through the miniskirts and unisex styles of the 1970s, Rabinovitch-Fox shows how the rise of mass media culture made fashion a vehicle for women to assert claims over their bodies, femininity, and social roles. She also highlights how trends in women's sartorial practices expressed ideas of independence and equality. As women employed new clothing styles, they expanded feminist activism beyond formal organizations and movements and reclaimed fashion as a realm of pleasure, power, and feminist consciousness.

A fascinating account of clothing as an everyday feminist practice, Dressed for Freedom brings fashion into discussions of American feminism during the long twentieth century.

DRUNKARD'S WALK: HOW RANDOMNES

DRUNKARD'S WALK: HOW RANDOMNES

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With the born storyteller's command of narrative and imaginative approach, Leonard Mlodinow vividly demonstrates how our lives are profoundly informed by chance and randomness and how everything from wine ratings and corporate success to school grades and political polls are less reliable than we believe.

By showing us the true nature of chance and revealing the psychological illusions that cause us to misjudge the world around us, Mlodinow gives us the tools we need to make more informed decisions. From the classroom to the courtroom and from financial markets to supermarkets, Mlodinow's intriguing and illuminating look at how randomness, chance, and probability affect our daily lives will intrigue, awe, and inspire.

FALLEN IDOLS: TWELVE STATUES T

FALLEN IDOLS: TWELVE STATUES T

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An Economist Best Book of the Year

In this timely and lively look at the act of toppling monuments, the popular historian and author of Blood and Sand explores the vital question of how a society remembers--and confronts--the past.

In 2020, history came tumbling down. From the US and the UK to Belgium, New Zealand, and Bangladesh, Black Lives Matter protesters defaced, and in some cases, hauled down statues of Confederate icons, slaveholders, and imperialists. General Robert E. Lee, head of the Confederate Army, was covered in graffiti in Richmond, Virginia. Edward Colston, a member of Parliament and slave trader, was knocked off his plinth in Bristol, England, and hurled into the harbor. Statues of Christopher Columbus were toppled in Minnesota, burned and thrown into a lake in Virginia, and beheaded in Massachusetts. Belgian King Leopold II was set on fire in Antwerp and doused in red paint in Ghent. Winston Churchill's monument in London was daubed with the word "racist." As these iconic effigies fell, the backlash was swift and intense.

But as the past three hundred years have shown, history is not erased when statues are removed. If anything, Alex von Tunzelmann reminds us, it is made.

Exploring the rise and fall of twelve famous, yet now controversial statues, she takes us on a fascinating global historical tour around North America, Western and Eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia, filled with larger than life characters and dramatic stories. Von Tunzelmann reveals that statues are not historical records but political statements and distinguishes between statuary--the representation of "virtuous" individuals, usually "Great Men"--and other forms of sculpture, public art, and memorialization. Nobody wants to get rid of all memorials. But Fallen Idols asks: have statues had their day?

FIRES OF LUST: SEX IN THE MIDD

FIRES OF LUST: SEX IN THE MIDD

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An illuminating exploration of the surprisingly familiar sex lives of ordinary medieval people.

The medieval humoral system of medicine suggested that it was possible to die from having too much--or too little--sex, while the Roman Catholic Church taught that virginity was the ideal state. Holy men and women committed themselves to lifelong abstinence in the name of religion. Everyone was forced to conform to restrictive rules about who they could have sex with, in what way, how often, and even when, and could be harshly punished for getting it wrong. Other experiences are more familiar. Like us, medieval people faced challenges in finding a suitable partner or trying to get pregnant (or trying not to). They also struggled with many of the same social issues, such as whether prostitution should be legalized. Above all, they shared our fondness for dirty jokes and erotic images. By exploring their sex lives, the book brings ordinary medieval people to life and reveals details of their most personal thoughts and experiences. Ultimately, it provides us with an important and intimate connection to the past.

FROM HERE TO ETERNITY: TRAVELI

FROM HERE TO ETERNITY: TRAVELI

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Fascinated by our pervasive fear of dead bodies, mortician Caitlin Doughty embarks on a global expedition to discover how other cultures care for the dead. From Zoroastrian sky burials to wish-granting Bolivian skulls, she investigates the world's funerary customs and expands our sense of what it means to treat the dead with dignity. Her account questions the rituals of the American funeral industry--especially chemical embalming--and suggests that the most effective traditions are those that allow mourners to personally attend to the body of the deceased. Exquisitely illustrated by artist Landis Blair, From Here to Eternity is an adventure into the morbid unknown, a fascinating tour through the unique ways people everywhere confront mortality.

HELL OF A BOOK

HELL OF A BOOK

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***2021 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER***

***THE NATIONAL BESTSELLER***

Winner of the 2021 Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction, Joyce Carol Oates Literary Prize Finalist, Willie Morris Award for Southern Writing Shortlist, and the 2021 Aspen Words Literary Prize


A Read With Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick!

An Ebony Magazine Publishing Book Club Pick!

One of Washington Post's 50 Notable Works of Fiction One of Philadelphia Inquirer's Best Books of 2021 One of Shelf Awareness's Top Ten Fiction Titles of the Year One of TIME Magazine's 100 Must-Read Books One of NPR.org's Books We Love EW's Guide to the Biggest and Buzziest Books of 2021 One of the New York Public Library's Best Books for Adults San Diego Union Tribune--My Favorite Things from 2021 Writer's Bone's Best Books of 2021 Atlanta Journal Constitution--Top 10 Southern Books of the Year One of the Guardian's (UK) Best Ten 21st Century Comic Novels One of Entertainment Weekly's 15 Books You Need to Read This June On Entertainment Weekly's Must List One of the New York Post's Best Summer Reading books One of GMA's 27 Books for June One of USA Today's 5 Books Not to Miss One of Fortune's 21 Most Anticipated Books Coming Out in the Second Half of 2021 One of The Root's PageTurners: It's Getting Hot in Here One of Real Simple's Best New Books to Read in 2021

An astounding work of fiction from New York Times bestselling author Jason Mott, always deeply honest, at times electrically funny, that goes to the heart of racism, police violence, and the hidden costs exacted upon Black Americans and America as a whole

In Jason Mott's Hell of a Book, a Black author sets out on a cross-country publicity tour to promote his bestselling novel. That storyline drives Hell of a Book and is the scaffolding of something much larger and more urgent: Mott's novel also tells the story of Soot, a young Black boy living in a rural town in the recent past, and The Kid, a possibly imaginary child who appears to the author on his tour.

As these characters' stories build and converge, they astonish. For while this heartbreaking and magical book entertains and is at once about family, love of parents and children, art and money, it's also about the nation's reckoning with a tragic police shooting playing over and over again on the news. And with what it can mean to be Black in America.

Who has been killed? Who is The Kid? Will the author finish his book tour, and what kind of world will he leave behind? Unforgettably told, with characters who burn into your mind and an electrifying plot ideal for book club discussion, Hell of a Book is the novel Mott has been writing in his head for the last ten years. And in its final twists, it truly becomes its title.

In Jason Mott’s Hell of a Book, a Black  author sets out on a cross-country publicity tour to promote his bestselling novel. That storyline drives Hell of a Book and is the scaffolding of something much larger and urgent: since Mott’s novel also tells the story of Soot, a young Black boy living in a rural town in the recent past, and The Kid, a possibly imaginary child who appears to the author on his tour.

As these characters’ stories build and build and converge, they astonish. For while this heartbreaking and magical book entertains and is at once about family, love of parents and children, art and money, it’s also about the nation’s reckoning with a tragic police shooting playing over and over again on the news. And with what it can mean to be Black in America.

Who has been killed? Who is The Kid? Will the author finish his book tour, and what kind of world will he leave behind?  Unforgettably told, with characters who burn into your mind and an electrifying plot ideal for book club discussion, Hell of a Book is the novel Mott has been writing in his head for the last ten years. And in its final twists it truly becomes its title.

How to Live Like a Monk

How to Live Like a Monk

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We know that they prayed, sang, and wore long robes, but what was it really like to be a monk? Though monastic living may seem unimaginable to us moderns, it has relevance for today. This book illuminates the day-to-day of medieval European monasticism, showing how you can apply the principles of monastic living, like finding balance and peace, to your life.

With wit and insight, medievalist and podcaster Daniele Cybulskie dives into the history of monasticism in each chapter and then reveals applications for today, such as the benefits of healthy eating, streamlining routines, gardening, and helping others. She shares how monks authentically embraced their spiritual calling, and were also down to earth: they wrote complaints about being cold in the manuscripts they copied, made beer and wine, and even kept bees.

How to Live Like a Monk features original illustrations by Anna Lobanova, as well as more than eighty color reproductions from medieval manuscripts. It is for anyone interested in the Middle Ages and those seeking inspiration for how to live a full life, even when we're confined to the cloister of our homes.

How to Live. What to Do: In Search of Ourselves in Life and Literature

How to Live. What to Do: In Search of Ourselves in Life and Literature

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He discusses the need for adolescent rebellion as embodied in John Grimes in James Baldwin’s Go Tell It on the Mountain and in Ruth in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go. He makes clear what Goethe’s Young Werther and Sally Rooney’s Frances have—and don’t have—in common as they experience first love; how Middlemarch’s Dorothea Brooke deals with the vicissitudes of marriage. Vis-a-vis old age and death, Cohen considers what wisdom we may glean from John Ames in Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead and from Don Fabrizio in Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s The Leopard.

Featuring:

   • Alice—Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland / Through the Looking Glass
   • Scout Finch—Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
   • Jane Eyre—Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
   • John Grimes—James Baldwin, Go Tell It on the Mountain
   • Ruth—Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go
   • Vladimir Petrovitch—Ivan Turgenev, First Love
   • Frances—Sally Rooney, Conversations with Friends
   • Jay Gatsby—F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
   • Esther Greenwood—Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
   • Clarissa Dalloway—Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
   • And more!

Teaching Black History to White People

Teaching Black History to White People

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Leonard Moore has been teaching Black history for twenty-five years, mostly to white people. Drawing on decades of experience in the classroom and on college campuses throughout the South, as well as on his own personal history, Moore illustrates how an understanding of Black history is necessary for everyone.

With Teaching Black History to White People, which is "part memoir, part Black history, part pedagogy, and part how-to guide," Moore delivers an accessible and engaging primer on the Black experience in America. He poses provocative questions, such as "Why is the teaching of Black history so controversial?" and "What came first: slavery or racism?" These questions don't have easy answers, and Moore insists that embracing discomfort is necessary for engaging in open and honest conversations about race. Moore includes a syllabus and other tools for actionable steps that white people can take to move beyond performative justice and toward racial reparations, healing, and reconciliation.