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.

BLACK IN THE MIDDLE: AN ANTHOL

BLACK IN THE MIDDLE: AN ANTHOL

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An ambitious, honest portrait of the Black experience in flyover country. One of The St. Louis Post Dispatch's Best Books of 2020.

Black Americans have been among the hardest hit by the rapid deindustrialization and accompanying economic decline that have become so synonymous with the Midwest. After the 2016 election, many traditional media outlets renewed their attention on the conditions of "Middle America," but they often marginalized or completely overlooked the experience of the Black people who live there.

Edited by Terrion Williamson, the director of the Black Midwest Initiative, Black in the Middle places the voices of Black midwesterners front and center. Filled with compelling personal narratives, thought-provoking art, and searing commentaries, this anthology explores the various meanings and experiences of blackness throughout the Rust Belt, the Midwest, and the Great Plains. It brings together people from major metropolitan centers like Detroit and Chicago as well as smaller cities and rural areas where the lives of Black residents have too often gone unacknowledged to create "a timely, compelling collection that allows predominantly Black Midwesterners to reclaim their home, histories, and future."

A much-needed corrective to common narratives about the Midwest.


Black in White Space: The Enduring Impact of Color in Everyday Life

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Black Paper: Writing in a Dark Time

Black Paper: Writing in a Dark Time

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“Darkness is not empty,” writes Teju Cole in Black Paper, a book that meditates on what it means to sustain our humanity—and witness the humanity of others—in a time of darkness. One of the most celebrated essayists of his generation, Cole here plays variations on the essay form, modeling ways to attend to experience—not just to take in but to think critically about what we sense and what we don’t.
 
Wide-ranging but thematically unified, the essays address ethical questions about what it means to be human and what it means to bear witness, recognizing how our individual present is informed by a collective past. Cole’s writings in Black Paper approach the fractured moment of our history through a constellation of interrelated concerns: confrontation with unsettling art, elegies both public and private, the defense of writing in a time of political upheaval, the role of the color black in the visual arts, the use of shadow in photography, and the links between literature and activism. Throughout, Cole gives us intriguing new ways of thinking about blackness and its numerous connotations. As he describes the carbon-copy process in his epilogue: “Writing on the top white sheet would transfer the carbon from the black paper onto the bottom white sheet. Black transported the meaning.”

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.

HELL OF A BOOK

HELL OF A BOOK

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2021 National Book Award Longlist

A READ WITH JENNA TODAY SHOW BOOK CLUB PICK!


One of Entertainment Weekly's 15 Books you Need to Read This June On Entertainment Weekly's Must List One of The NY 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 a 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 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.

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.

Horror: A Literary History

Horror: A Literary History

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Horror is unlike any other literary genre. It seeks to provoke uniquely strong reactions, such as fear, shock, dread or disgust, and yet remains very popular. Horror is most readily associated with the film industry, but horrific short stories and novels have been wildly loved by readers for well over two centuries. Despite its persistent popularity, until now there has been no up-to-date history of horror fiction for the general reader. This book offers a chronological overview of the genre in fiction and explores its development and mutations over the past 250 years. It also challenges the common misjudgement that horror fiction is necessarily frivolous or dispensable. Leading experts on Gothic and horror literature introduce readers to classics of the genre as well as exciting texts they may not have encountered before. The topics examined include: horror's roots in the Gothic romance and antebellum American fiction; the penny dreadful and sensation novels of Victorian England; fin-de-siècle ghost stories; decadent fiction and the weird; the familial horrors of the Cold War era; the publishing boom of the 1980s; the establishment of contemporary horror auteurs; and the post-millennial zombie trend.
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!

Pan: The Great God's Modern Return

Pan: The Great God's Modern Return

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Pan—he of the cloven hoof and lustful grin, beckoning through the trees. From classical myth to modern literature, film, and music, the god Pan has long fascinated and terrified the western imagination. “Panic” is the name given to the peculiar feeling we experience in his presence. Still, the ways in which Pan has been imagined have varied wildly—fitting for a god whose very name the ancients confused with the Greek word meaning “all.” Part-goat, part-man, Pan bridges the divide between the human and animal worlds. In exquisite prose, Paul Robichaud explores how Pan has been imagined in mythology, art, literature, music, spirituality, and popular culture through the centuries. At times, Pan is a dangerous, destabilizing force; sometimes, a source of fertility and renewal. His portrayals reveal shifting anxieties about our own animal impulses and our relationship to nature. Always the outsider, he has been the god of choice for gay writers, occult practitioners, and New Age mystics. And although ancient sources announced his death, he has lived on through the work of Arthur Machen, Gustav Mahler, Kenneth Grahame, D. H. Lawrence, and countless others. Pan: The Great God’s Modern Return traces his intoxicating dance.