Faculty Bookshelf

Recent Faculty Books and Productions

The research of MIT's humanities, arts, and social science fields appears principally in the form of books and major papers — and music and theater works. These gems of the School provide new knowledge and analysis, innovation and insight, guidance for policy, and nourishment for lives.  

Take a look!

Cover image of the book Spheres of Injustice. In Defense of Minority Universalism in French it reads Sphères d’injustice. Pour un universalisme minoritaire

Spheres of Injustice. In Defense of Minority Universalism
By Bruno Perreau
Paris, La Découverte, 2023

Spheres of Injustice reflects on the resonances among different types of minority experiences and studies current obstacles to the notion of minority in Europe and North America: management excesses, algorithmic reach, reactionary attacks, challenges to affirmative action, and competition among minority movements. Spheres of Injustice shows how more analogical law is beneficial. When judges struggle to establish discrimination at the intersection of several identities, it remains possible to use one of them to protect another. Legal provisions that protect gender can be used to protect race; those that protect disability can protect age, sexual orientation, or class, and so on. This is what Perreau calls intrasectionality.

Political Rumors: Why We Accept Misinformation and How to Fight It
By Adam Berinsky
Princeton University Press, 2023

Political rumors and misinformation pollute the political landscape. This is not a recent phenomenon; before the currently rampant and unfounded rumors about a stolen election and vote-rigging, there were other rumors that continued to spread even after they were thoroughly debunked, including doubts about 9/11 (an “inside job”) and the furor over President Obama’s birthplace and birth certificate. If misinformation crowds out the truth, how can Americans communicate with one another about important issues? In this book, Adam Berinsky examines why political rumors exist and persist despite their unsubstantiated and refuted claims, who is most likely to believe them, and how to combat them.

Drawing on original survey and experimental data, Berinsky shows that a tendency toward conspiratorial thinking and vehement partisan attachment fuel belief in rumors. Yet the reach of rumors is wide, and Berinsky argues that in fighting misinformation, it is as important to target the undecided and the uncertain as it is the true believers. We’re all vulnerable to misinformation, and public skepticism about the veracity of political facts is damaging to democracy. Moreover, in a world where most people simply don’t pay attention to politics, political leaders are often guilty of disseminating false information—and failing to correct it when it is proven wrong. Berinsky suggests that we should focus on the messenger as much as the message of rumors. Just as important as how misinformation is debunked is who does the debunking.

Adam Berinsky's MIT homepage

MIT News story

Lines Drawn Across the Globe 
By Mary C. Fuller
McGill-Queen's University Press, 2023

Around 1600, the English geographer and cleric Richard Hakluyt sought to honour his nation by publishing a compilation of every document he could find relating to its voyages and trade beyond the boundaries of Europe. The resulting collection of travel narratives, royal letters, ships’ logs, maps, lists, and commentaries was published as Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation. Spanning two thousand pages and documenting more than two hundred voyages, Principal Navigations is a window onto how the world appeared to England in 1600.

Lines Drawn across the Globe unlocks Richard Hakluyt’s work for modern readers. Mary Fuller traces the history of the book’s compilation and gives order and meaning to its famously diverse contents. From Sierra Leone to Iceland, from Spanish narratives of New Mexico to French accounts of the Saint Lawrence and Portuguese accounts of China, Hakluyt’s shaping of this many-authored book provides a conceptual map of the world’s regions and of England’s real and imagined relations to them: exchange, alliance, aggression, extraction, translation, imitation - always depending on the needs of the moment.

At the height of the British imperial project, Principal Navigations came to be seen and valued as a founding document of English national identity. It remains a crucial piece of evidence on the history of empire, the nation, and the world. Yet after a century and a half of modern scholarship, Hakluyt’s book needs to be disentangled from the perspectives of the nineteenth century and read anew. Lines Drawn across the Globe works across the scales of Hakluyt’s collection to deliver a dazzling account of an editorial project that was fundamental to England’s encounter with the world - and the nation’s idea of itself.

Mary C. Fuller's MIT homepage

MIT News story

We've Got You Covered: Rebooting American Health Care
By Liran Einav and Amy Finkelstein 
Penguin Random House, 2023

Few of us need convincing that the American health insurance system needs reform. But many of the existing proposals focus on expanding one relatively successful piece of the system or building in piecemeal additions. These proposals miss the point.

As the Stanford health economist Liran Einav and the MIT economist and MacArthur Genius Amy Finkelstein argue, our health care system was never deliberately designed, but rather pieced together to deal with issues as they became politically relevant. The result is a sprawling yet arbitrary and inadequate mess. It has left 30 million Americans without formal insurance. Many of the rest live in constant danger of  losing their coverage if they lose their job, give birth, get older, get healthier, get richer, or move.

It’s time to tear it all down and rebuild, sensibly and deliberately. Marshaling original research, striking insights from American history, and comparative analysis of what works and what doesn’t from systems around the world, Einav and Finkelstein argue for automatic, basic, and free universal coverage for everyone, along with the option to buy additional, supplemental coverage. Their wholly original argument and comprehensive blueprint for an American universal health insurance system will surprise and provoke.

We’ve Got You Covered is an erudite yet lively and accessible prescription we cannot afford to ignore.

Amy Finkelstein's MIT homepage

MIT News story

By Helen Elaine Lee
Simon & Schuster, 2023

Ranita Atwater is “getting short.”

She is almost done with her four-year sentence for opiate possession at Oak Hills Correctional Center. Three years sober, she is determined to stay clean and regain custody of her two children. Ranita is regaining her freedom, but she’s leaving behind her lover Maxine, who has inspired her to imagine herself and the world differently.

My name is Ranita, and I’m an addict, she has said again and again at recovery meetings. But who else is she? Who might she choose to become? Now she must steer clear of the temptations that have pulled her down, while atoning for her missteps and facing old wounds. With a fierce, smart, and sometimes funny voice, Ranita reveals how rocky and winding the path to wellness is for a Black woman, even as she draws on family, memory, faith, and love in order to choose life.

Pomegranate is a complex portrayal of queer Black womanhood and marginalization in America from an author “working at the height of her powers” (Tayari Jones, New York Times bestselling). In lyrical and precise prose, Helen Elaine Lee paints a humane and unflinching portrait of the devastating effects of incarceration and addiction, and of one woman’s determination to tell her story.

Helen Elaine Lee's MIT homepage

MIT News Q&A

Power and Progress: Our 1000-year Struggle Over Technology & Prosperity
By Daron Acemoglu and Simon Johnson
Hachette Book Group, 2023

A thousand years of history and contemporary evidence make one thing clear: progress depends on the choices we make about technology. New ways of organizing production and communication can either serve the narrow interests of an elite or become the foundation for widespread prosperity.

The wealth generated by technological improvements in agriculture during the European Middle Ages was captured by the nobility and used to build grand cathedrals, while peasants remained on the edge of starvation. The first hundred years of industrialization in England delivered stagnant incomes for working people. And throughout the world today, digital technologies and artificial intelligence undermine jobs and democracy through excessive automation, massive data collection, and intrusive surveillance.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Power and Progress demonstrates the path of technology was once—and may again—be brought under control. Cutting-edge technological advances can become empowering and democratizing tools, but not if all major decisions remain in the hands of a few hubristic tech leaders.

With their bold reinterpretation of economics and history, Daron Acemoglu and Simon Johnson fundamentally change how we see the world, providing the vision needed to redirect innovation so it again benefits most people.

Daron Acemoglu's MIT homepage

MIT News story

The Scarce State: Inequality and Political Power in the Hinterland
By Noah Nathan
Cambridge University Press, 2023

States are often minimally present in the rural periphery. Yet a limited presence does not mean a limited impact. Isolated state actions in regions where the state is otherwise scarce can have outsize, long-lasting effects on society. The Scarce State reframes our understanding of the political economy of hinterlands through a multi-method study of Northern Ghana alongside shadow cases from other world regions. Drawing on a historical natural experiment, the book shows how the contemporary economic and political elite emerged in Ghana's hinterland, linking interventions by an ostensibly weak state to new socio-economic inequality and grassroots efforts to reimagine traditional institutions. The book demonstrates how these state-generated societal changes reshaped access to political power, producing dynastic politics, clientelism, and violence. The Scarce State challenges common claims about state-building and state weakness, provides new evidence on the historical origins of inequality, and reconsiders the mechanisms linking historical institutions to contemporary politics.

Noah Nathan's MIT homepage

MIT News story

Spoken Word: A Cultural History
By Joshua Bennett
Penguin Random House, 2023

In 2009, when he was twenty years old, Joshua Bennett was invited to perform a spoken word poem for Barack and Michelle Obama, at the same White House “Poetry Jam” where Lin-Manuel Miranda declaimed the opening bars of a work-in-progress that would soon revolutionize American theater. That meeting is but one among many in the trajectory of Bennett’s young life, as he rode the cresting wave of spoken word through the 2010s. In this book, he goes back to its roots, considering the Black Arts movement and the prominence of poetry and song in Black education; the origins of the famed Nuyorican Poets Cafe in the Lower East Side living room of the visionary Miguel Algarín, who hosted verse gatherings with legendary figures like Ntozake Shange and Miguel Piñero; the rapid growth of the “slam” format that was pioneered at the Get Me High Lounge in Chicago; the perfect storm of spoken word’s rise during the explosion of social media; and Bennett’s own journey alongside his older sister, whose work to promote the form helped shape spaces online and elsewhere dedicated to literature and the pursuit of human freedom.    

A celebration of voices outside the dominant cultural narrative, who boldly embraced an array of styles and forms and redefined what—and whom—the mainstream would include, Bennett’s book illuminates the profound influence spoken word has had everywhere melodious words are heard, from Broadway to academia, from the podiums of political protest to cafés, schools, and rooms full of strangers all across the world.

Joshua Bennett's MIT homepage

MIT News story

Playing Oppression: The Legacy of Conquest and Empire in Colonialist Board Games
By Mary Flanagan and Mikael Jakobsson 
MIT Press, 2023

Board games conjure up images of innocuously enriching entertainment: family game nights, childhood pastimes, cooperative board games centered around resource management and strategic play. Yet in Playing Oppression, Mary Flanagan and Mikael Jakobsson apply the incisive frameworks of postcolonial theory to a broad historical survey of board games to show how these seemingly benign entertainments reinforce the logic of imperialism.

Through this lens, the commercialized version of Snakes and Ladders takes shape as the British Empire's distortion of Gyan Chaupar (an Indian game of spiritual knowledge), and early twentieth-century “trading games” that fêted French colonialism are exposed for how they conveniently sanitized its brutality while also relying on crudely racist imagery. These games' most explicitly abhorrent features may no longer be visible, but their legacy still lingers in the contemporary Eurogame tendency to exalt (and incentivize) cycles of exploration, expansion, exploitation, and extermination.

An essential addition to any player's bookshelf, Playing Oppression deftly analyzes this insidious violence and proposes a path forward with board games that challenge colonialist thinking and embrace a much broader cultural imagination.

Mikael Jakobsson's MIT homepage

MIT News story

The Transcendent Brain: Spirituality in the Age of Science
By Alan Lightman
Penguin Random House, 2023

Gazing at the stars, falling in love, or listening to music, we sometimes feel a transcendent connection with a cosmic unity and things larger than ourselves. But these experiences are not easily understood by science, which holds that all things can be explained in terms of atoms and molecules. Is there space in our scientific worldview for these spiritual experiences?

According to acclaimed physicist and novelist Alan Lightman, there may be. Drawing on intellectual history and conversations with contemporary scientists, philosophers, and psychologists, Lightman asks a series of thought-provoking questions that illuminate our strange place between the world of particles and forces and the world of complex human experience. Can strict materialism explain our appreciation of beauty? Or our feelings of connection to nature and to other people? Is there a physical basis for consciousness, the most slippery of all scientific problems?

Lightman weaves these investigations together to propose what he calls “spiritual materialism”— the belief that we can embrace spiritual experiences without letting go of our scientific worldview. In his view, the breadth of the human condition is not only rooted in material atoms and molecules but can also be explained in terms of Darwinian evolution.

What is revealed in this lyrical, enlightening book is that spirituality may not only be compatible with science, it also ought to remain at the core of what it means to be human.

Lightman's MIT homepage


MIT News story

Risky Business
By Liran Einav, Amy Finkelstein, and Ray Fishman
Yale University Press, 2023

Why is dental insurance so crummy? Why is pet insurance so expensive? Why does your auto insurer ask for your credit score? The answer to these questions lies in understanding how insurance works. Unlike the market for other goods and services—for instance, a grocer who doesn’t care who buys the store’s broccoli or carrots—insurance providers are more careful in choosing their customers, because some are more expensive than others.
Unraveling the mysteries of insurance markets, Liran Einav, Amy Finkelstein, and Ray Fisman explore such issues as why insurers want to know so much about us and whether we should let them obtain this information; why insurance entrepreneurs often fail (and some tricks that may help them succeed); and whether we’d be better off with government-mandated health insurance instead of letting businesses, customers, and markets decide who gets coverage and at what price. With insurance at the center of divisive debates about privacy, equity, and the appropriate role of government, this book offers clear explanations for some of the critical business and policy issues you’ve often wondered about, as well as for others you haven’t yet considered.

Amy Finkelstein's MIT homepage

Department of Economics

MIT News story

Eating beside Ourselves: Thresholds of Foods and Bodies
Edited by Heather Paxson
Duke University Press, 2023

Eating beside Ourselves examines eating as a site of transfer and transformation across bodies and selves. The contributors show that by turning organic substance into food, acts of eating create interconnected food webs organized by relative conditions of edibility through which eaters may in turn become eaten. In case studies ranging from nineteenth- and twentieth-century industrial animal husbandry in the United States, biodynamic winemaking in Aotearoa New Zealand, and reindeer herding in Arctic Norway to the creation of taste sensation in pet food and the entanglement of sugar and diabetes in the Caribbean, the contributors explore how food and eating create thresholds for human and nonhuman relations.

Paxson's MIT webpage

MIT Anthropology

Well, Doc, You're In: Freeman Dyson's Journey through the Universe
Edited by David Kaiser
MIT Press, 2022

Freeman Dyson (1923–2020)—renowned scientist, visionary, and iconoclast—helped invent modern physics. Not bound by disciplinary divisions, he went on to explore foundational topics in mathematics, astrophysics, and the origin of life. General readers were introduced to Dyson's roving mind and heterodox approach in his 1979 book Disturbing the Universe, a poignant autobiographical reflection on life and science. “Well, Doc, You're In” (the title quotes Richard Feynman's remark to Dyson at a physics conference) offers a fresh examination of Dyson's life and work, exploring his particular way of thinking about deep questions that range from the nature of matter to the ultimate fate of the universe. The chapters—written by leading scientists, historians, and science journalists, including some of Dyson's colleagues—trace Dyson's formative years, his budding interests and curiosities, and his wide-ranging work across the natural sciences, technology, and public policy. 

Kaiser's MIT webpage

MIT Program in Science, Technology, and Society

A New Companion to Herman Melville
Edited by Wyn Kelley and Christopher Ohge
Wiley, 2022

A New Companion to Herman Melville delivers an insightful examination of Melville for the twenty-first century. Building on the success of the first Blackwell Companion to Herman Melville, and offering a variety of tools for reading, writing, and teaching Melville and other authors, this New Companion offers critical, technological, and aesthetic practices that can be employed to read Melville in exciting and revelatory ways. Editors Wyn Kelley and Christopher Ohge create a framework that reflects a pluralistic model for humanities teaching and research. In doing so, the contributing authors highlight the ways in which Melville himself was concerned with the utility of tools within fluid circuits of meaning, and how those ideas are embodied, enacted, and mediated.

Kelley's MIT webpage

MIT Literature

The Arden Research Handbook of Shakespeare and Adaptation 
Edited by Diana Henderson and Stephen O'Neill
Bloomsbury, 2022

The Arden Research Handbook of Shakespeare and Adaptation explores the dynamics of adapted Shakespeare across a range of literary genres and new media forms. This comprehensive reference and research resource maps the field of Shakespeare adaptation studies, identifying theories of adaptation, their application in practice and the methodologies that underpin them. It investigates current research and points towards future lines of enquiry for students, researchers and creative practitioners of Shakespeare adaptation.

The opening section on research methods and problems considers definitions and theories of Shakespeare adaptation and emphasises how Shakespeare is both adaptor and adapted.A central section develops these theoretical concerns through a series of case studies that move across a range of genres, media forms and cultures to ask not only how Shakespeare is variously transfigured, hybridised and valorised through adaptational play, but also how adaptations produce interpretive communities, and within these potentially new literacies, modes of engagement and sensory pleasures. The volume's third section provides the reader with uniquely detailed insights into creative adaptation, with writers and practice-based researchers reflecting on their close collaborations with Shakespeare's works as an aesthetic, ethical and political encounter. The Handbook further establishes the conceptual parameters of the field through detailed, practical resources that will aid the specialist and non-specialist reader alike, including a guide to research resources and an annotated bibliography.

Diana Henderson's MIT homepage

MIT Literature 

book cover showing a tree with many branches

The Meaning of If
Justin Khoo, Oxford University Press, 2022

The Meaning of If is a significant contribution to the literature on conditionals, of interest to philosophers, linguists, and computer scientists. Despite its small stature, "if" occupies a central place both in everyday language and the philosophical lexicon. In allowing us to talk about hypothetical situations, "if" raises a host of thorny philosophical puzzles about language and logic. Addressing them requires tools from linguistics, logic, probability theory, and metaphysics. According to Khoo's theory, conditionals form a unified class of expressions which share a common semantic core that encodes inferential dispositions. Thus, rather than represent the world, conditionals are devices used to communicate how we are disposed to infer.

Khoo's MIT webpage

MIT Philosophy

Follow Khoo on Twitter

When the News Broke
Heather Hendershot, University of Chicago Press, 2022

In When the News Broke, Heather Hendershot revisits TV coverage of the four chaotic days of the 1968 Democratic convention—not only the violence in the streets but also the tumultuous convention itself, where Black citizens and others forcefully challenged southern delegations that had excluded them, anti-Vietnam delegates sought to change the party’s policy on the war, and journalists and delegates alike were bullied by both Daley’s security forces and party leaders. Ultimately, Hendershot reveals the convention as a pivotal moment in American political history when a mistaken notion of “liberal media bias” became mainstreamed and nationalized.

Hendershot's MIT webpage

MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing

The Immersive Enclosure: Virtual Reality in Japan
Paul Roquet, Columbia University Press, 2022

In this groundbreaking analysis of virtual reality, Paul Roquet uncovers how the technology is reshaping the politics of labor, gender, home, and nation. He examines how VR in Japan diverged from American militarism and techno-utopian visions and became a tool for renegotiating personal space. Individuals turned to the VR headset to immerse themselves in three-dimensional worlds drawn from manga, video games, and genre literature. The Japanese government promised VR-operated robots would enable a new era of remote work, targeting those who could not otherwise leave home. Middle-aged men and corporate brands used VR to reimagine themselves through the virtual bodies of anime-styled teenage girls. At a time when digital platforms continue to encroach on everyday life, The Immersive Enclosure takes a critical look at these attempts to jettison existing social realities and offers a bold new approach for understanding the media environments to come.

Story at MIT News

Roquet's MIT webpage

MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing

Until We Have Won Our Liberty
Evan Lieberman, Princeton University Press, 2022

At a time when many democracies are under strain around the world, Until We Have Won Our Liberty shines new light on the signal achievements of one of the contemporary era’s most closely watched transitions away from minority rule. South Africa’s democratic development has been messy, fiercely contested, and sometimes violent. But as Evan Lieberman argues, it has also offered a voice to the voiceless, unprecedented levels of government accountability, and tangible improvements in quality of life.

Story at MIT News

Lieberman's MIT webpage

MIT Political Science

Une fille indocile (A Rebellious Girl)
Isabelle de Courtivron, 
Éditions de L'Iconoclaste 2022

In this story, the author evokes the feminist struggles, in which she took part, in the U.S. of the 1960s and 1970s — the liberation of the female body, gender equality, the refusal of motherhood — and its key figures, like Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, journalists, essayists and women's rights activists. Isabelle de Courtivron's dual American and French culture allows us to understand these movements and these personalities from the inside.

de Courtivron's MIT webpage

MIT Global Languages


Life Is Hard: How Philosophy Can Help Us Find Our Way
Kieran Setiya
Riverhead Books, 2022

In this profound and personal book, Setiya shows how the tools of philosophy can help us find our way. Drawing on ancient and modern philosophy as well as fiction, history, memoir, film, comedy, social science, and stories from Setiya’s own experience, Life Is Hard is a book for this moment—a work of solace and compassion. Warm, accessible, and good-humored, this book is about making the best of a bad lot. It offers guidance for coping with pain and making new friends, for grieving the lost and failing with grace, for confronting injustice and searching for meaning in life. Countering pop psychologists and online influencers who admonish us to “find our bliss” and “live our best lives,” Setiya acknowledges that the best is often out of reach. Instead, he asks how we can weather life’s adversities, finding hope and living well when life is hard.

Setiya's MIT webpage

MIT Philosophy

Syntax in the Treetops
Shigeru Miyagawa
MIT Press, 2022

In Syntax in the Treetops, Shigeru Miyagawa proposes that syntax extends into the domain of discourse by making linkages between core syntax and the conversational participants. Miyagawa draws on evidence for this extended syntactic structure from a wide variety of languages, including Basque, Japanese, Italian, Magahi, Newari, Romanian, and Spanish, as well as the language of children with autism. His proposal for what happens at the highest level of the tree structure used by linguists to represent the hierarchical relationships within sentences—“in the treetops”—offers a unique contribution to the new area of study sometimes known as “syntacticization of discourse.”

Miyagawa's MIT webpage

MIT Linguistics 

Republics of Myth
Co-written by John Tirman
Johns Hopkins University Press, 2022

Iran and the United States have been at odds for forty years, locked in a cold war that has run the gamut from harsh rhetoric to hostage-taking, from crippling sanctions to targeted killings. In Republics of Myth, Hussein Banai, Malcolm Byrne, and John Tirman argue that a major contributing factor to this tenacious enmity is how each nation views itself. The two nations have differing interests and grievances about each other, but their often-deadly confrontation derives from the very different national narratives that shape their politics, actions, and vision of their own destiny in the world.

John Tirman

MIT Center for International Studies

The American Political Economy
Co-edited by Kathleen Thelen
Cambridge University Press, 2021

This volume brings together leading political scientists to explore the distinctive features of the American political economy. The introductory chapter provides a comparatively informed framework for analyzing the interplay of markets and politics in the United States, focusing on three key factors: uniquely fragmented and decentralized political institutions; an interest group landscape characterized by weak labor organizations and powerful, parochial business groups; and an entrenched legacy of ethno-racial divisions embedded in both government and markets. Subsequent chapters look at the fundamental dynamics that result, including the place of the courts in multi-venue politics, the political economy of labor, sectional conflict within and across cities and regions, the consolidation of financial markets and corporate monopoly and monopsony power, and the ongoing rise of the knowledge economy. Together, the chapters provide a revealing new map of the politics of democratic capitalism in the United States.

Thelen's MIT webpage

MIT Political Science

The Work of the Future
By David Autor, David A. Mindell, and Elisabeth B. Reynolds
MIT Press, 2022

Why the United States lags behind other industrialized countries in sharing the benefits of innovation with workers and how we can remedy the problem. The Work of the Future shows that technology is neither the problem nor the solution. We can build better jobs if we create institutions that leverage technological innovation and also support workers though long cycles of technological transformation. Building on findings from the multiyear MIT Task Force on the Work of the Future, the book argues that we must foster institutional innovations that complement technological change. 

Autor's MIT webpage

Mindell's MIT webpage

Reynolds' MIT webpage

Life-Destroying Diagrams
Eugenie Brinkema
Duke University Press, 2022

In Life-Destroying Diagrams, Eugenie Brinkema brings the insights of her radical formalism to bear on supremely risky terrain: the ethical extremes of horror and love. Through close readings of works of film, literature, and philosophy, she explores how diagrams, grids, charts, lists, abecedaria, toroids, tempos, patterns, colors, negative space, lengths, increments, and thresholds attest to formal logics of torture and cruelty, violence and finitude, friendship and eros, debt and care. Replete with etymological meditations, performative typography, and lyrical digressions, Life-Destroying Diagrams is at once a model of reading without guarantee and a series of generative experiments in the writing of aesthetic theory.

Brinkema's MIT webpage

MIT Literature

book cover

Shakespeare Studies #49
Editors: Diana Henderson and James Siemon
Boston University, 2021 

Shakespeare Studies is a peer-reviewed volume published annually in hard cover featuring the work of performance scholars, literary critics and cultural historians across the globe. The journal focuses attention primarily on Shakespeare and his contemporaries, but embraces theoretical and historical studies of socio-political, intellectual and artistic contexts that extend well beyond the early modern English theatrical milieu in both space and time. 

Henderson's MIT webpage

MIT Literature Section

Shakespeare and Digital Pedagogy
Editors: Diana Henderson and Kyle Sebastian Vitale
Bloomsbury, 2021

Shakespeare and Digital Pedagogy is an international collection of fresh digital approaches for teaching Shakespeare. It describes 15 methodologies, resources and tools recently developed, updated and used by a diverse range of contributors in Great Britain, Australia, Asia and the United States. Contributors explore how these digital resources meet classroom needs and help facilitate conversations about academic literacy, race and identity, local and global cultures, performance and interdisciplinary thought. Chapters describe each case study in depth, recounting needs, collaborations and challenges during design, as well as sharing effective classroom uses and offering accessible, usable content for both teachers and learners.

Henderson's MIT webpage

MIT Literature

The Transgender Exigency: Defining Sex and Gender in the 21st Century 
Edward Schiappa
Routledge, 2021

At no other point in human history have the definitions of "woman" and "man," "male" and "female," "masculine" and "feminine," been more contentious than now. This book advances a pragmatic approach to the act of defining that acknowledges the important ethical dimensions of our definitional practices. In this timely intervention, Edward Schiappa examines the key sites of debate including schools, bathrooms, the military, sports, prisons, and feminism, drawing attention to the political, practical, and ethical dimensions of the act of defining itself.

Edward Schiappa's MIT webpage

MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing

Seeking the Bomb: Strategies of Nuclear Proliferation
Vipin Narang
Princeton University Press, 2022

Looking at a wide range of nations, from India and Japan to the Soviet Union and North Korea to Iraq and Iran, Vipin Narang develops an original typology of proliferation strategies—hedging, sprinting, sheltered pursuit, and hiding. Each strategy of proliferation provides different opportunities for the development of nuclear weapons, while at the same time presenting distinct vulnerabilities that can be exploited to prevent states from doing so. Narang delves into the crucial implications these strategies have for nuclear proliferation and international security. 

Narang's MIT webpage

MIT Political Science

Story at MIT News


Sustaining Momentum, publication cover image

Sustaining Momentum: Reparative Justice for European Colonialism and Slavery
edited by M. Amah Edoh, and Lilianne Umubyeyi
Society of Cultural Anthropology, 2021

What will it take to sustain the momentum of movements for racial justice sparked in 2020? Discover ideas in this essay collection co-edited by Amah Edoh, MIT Assistant Professor of Anthropology, and Liliane Umubyeyi, co-founder/co-director of the African Futures Action Lab. Sustaining the Momentum: Reparative Justice for European Colonialism and Slavery is the latest publication in the Editor’s Forum series from Cultural Anthropology. The "Theorizing the Contemporary" series is the result of the "Justice Now!" symposium that Edoh and Umubyeyi organized and hosted (remotely) at MIT in the Spring of 2021.

News Announcement 

M. Amah Edoh

Liliane Umubyeyi

MIT Anthropology

African Futures Action Lab

Society for Cultural Anthropology


When People Want Punishment
Lily Tsai
Cambridge University Press, 2021

Against the backdrop of rising populism around the world and democratic backsliding in countries with robust, multiparty elections, this book asks why ordinary people favor authoritarian leaders. Much of the existing scholarship on illiberal regimes and authoritarian durability focuses on institutional explanations, but Tsai argues that, to better understand these issues, we need to examine public opinion and citizens' concerns about retributive justice. Government authorities uphold retributive justice - and are viewed by citizens as fair and committed to public good - when they affirm society's basic values by punishing wrongdoers who act against these values. Tsai argues that the production of retributive justice and moral order is a central function of the state and an important component of state building. Drawing on rich empirical evidence from in-depth fieldwork, original surveys, and innovative experiments, the book provides a new framework for understanding authoritarian resilience and democratic fragility.

Tsai's MIT webpage

MIT Political Science

Story at MIT News

Ada and the Galaxies
Alan Lightman and Olga Pastuchiv; illustrations by Susanna Chapman
2021, Candlewick Press/MIT Kids Press

Stargazers rejoice! In his first book for children, renowned physicist Alan Lightman and collaborators, with help from the Hubble telescope, light up the night sky. New York Times best-selling author Alan Lightman, in collaboration with Olga Pastuchiv, brings galaxies close in a stunning picture-book tribute to the interconnectedness of the natural world. Layering photographs taken from the Hubble telescope into charming and expressive art, illustrator Susanna Chapman zooms in on one child’s experiences: Ada knows that the best place for star-gazing is on the island in Maine where she vacations with her grandparents. By day, she tracks osprey in the trees, paddles a kayak, and hunts for shells. But she’s most in her element when the sun goes down and the stars blink to life. Will the fog this year foil her plans, or will her grandfather find a way to shine a spotlight on the vast puzzle of the universe . . . until the weather turns?

Story at MIT News

Alan Lightman's MIT webpage

view of the crowd on the Mall, 6 January 2021

American Fascism
Heather Paxson, with Christopher Nelson and Brad Weiss
The Society for Cultural Anthropology

From the Introduction: "If the January 6th attack on the Capitol represents a return of fascism, when was it here before? Where has it been? Can we speak of fascism when we are describing an uprising driven by white supremacists, Confederate apologists, economic populists, Christian nationalists, and political demagogues? Is fascism an appropriate category to understand this moment...? If we find fascism in the streets and in the media, should we also be looking elsewhere?

The essays that we have assembled here are the first, urgent answers to these questions for 2021. They represent ethnographic perspectives on the lead up to and moment of insurrection; the character of fascism from other vantages worldwide; and emergent forms of American fascism. Each, in its own way, takes up Levi’s concern with a past many thought would never return. And yet, they are also provocations for the future, for the anthropological work that lies ahead."


emblem for Five Questions podcast

Five Questions
Podcast Series by MIT philosopher Kieran Setiya

"I ask philosophers five questions about themselves. New episodes post on Tuesdays."

Kieran Setiya's website

MIT Philosophy

image of a pony, Issuba

Choctaw Animals: Four Not-Too-Difficult Pieces for Piano
Charles Shadle, composer

MIT composer Charles Shadle's new work, "Choctaw Animals," honors his Native American heritage. Shadle is arguably the most visible living classical composer in the Choctaw tribe, and he does not want to be the last. Thinking of young Choctaw children in rural communities he says, “To some extent, I can say, you could be a composer too. Your voice can be heard.”

Story by SHASS Communications

Download the Sheet Music + Composer's Commentary

Listen to the recordings: Chulhkvn | Nvni | Nashoba | Issuba
Performed by the composer in MIT's Killian Hall, Nov. 2020; Joel Gordon, producer/recording engineer

More music by Charles Shadle: 

   3rd Symphony, MIT Music site

   Penny Ballad, MIT Listening Room

   A Tale of My Native Land, YouTube

   Red Cloud, YouTube

Choctaw Nation website

Probable Impossibilities
By Alan Lightman
Penguin Random House, 2021

From the acclaimed author of Einstein’s Dreams, a collection of meditative essays on the possibilities—and impossibilities—of nothingness and infinity, and how our place in the cosmos falls somewhere in between. Physicist and novelist Alan Lightman, whom The Washington Post has called “the poet laureate of science writers,” explores these questions and more—from the anatomy of a smile to the capriciousness of memory to the specialness of life in the universe to what came before the Big Bang.

Story by Peter Dizikes at MIT News

Lightman interview with Publishers Weekly

The Empathy Diaries
By Sherry Turkle
Penguin Random House, 2021

For decades, Sherry Turkle has shown how we remake ourselves in the mirror of our machines. Here, she illuminates our present search for authentic connection in a time of uncharted challenges. Turkle has spent a career composing an intimate ethnography of our digital world; now, marked by insight, humility, and compassion, we have her own.

In this vivid and poignant narrative, Turkle ties together her coming-of-age and her pathbreaking research on technology, empathy, and ethics. Growing up in postwar Brooklyn,Turkle searched for clues to her identity in a house filled with mysteries. She mastered the codes that governed her mother’s secretive life. She learned never to ask about her absent scientist father–and never to use his name, her name. Before empathy became a way to find connection, it was her strategy for survival.

Turkle's MIT website

MIT Program in Science, Technology, and Society

Review at The New York Times

By David Thorburn
Spuyten Duyvil, 2020

"Precision and ardor. The blunt grace of compression. These qualities give David Thorburn's Knots a distinctive authority. The title poem summons--and undoes--the intricate, oppressive, persistent and legendary bonds of patriarchal lore." —Robert Pinsky

Thorburn’s MIT webpage

Profile of Thorburn | MIT SHASS Website


By Nick Montfort
Dead Alive, 2021

Shaped of silicon and animated by language, this slim computer-generated book seems at first to be built of increasingly complex progressions of similar, cycling sentences. Some of them, even though they are syntactical, seem so elaborate as to exceed human understanding. Nevertheless, the way each section is stamped out seems easy—at first—to discern. What of the parts of it that are written in a script more arcane than English, in code? Even expert readers who have encountered extensive traditional, constrained, and conceptual writings may find much in this computational project to challenge them.

Montfort's MIT website

MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing

Faces of Souls
Mark Harvey and Aardvark Jazz Orchestra

Recorded at MIT's Kresge Auditorium and Killian Hall, Faces of Souls is the newest work from the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra. The Free Jazz Collective writes, "As a reliable vehicle for Harvey’s muse for well over 40 years, the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra continues to make creative and unconventional jazz with a big-band template."

Faces of Souls at AardvarkJazz.com

Mark Harvey's MIT webpage


Cover for Databases, Revenues, and Repertory

Databases, Revenues, and Repertory: 
The French Stage Online

Jeffrey Ravel, co-editor; contributors include MIT Professor Anne McCants
MIT Press, 2020

Databases, Revenues and Repertory: The French Stage Online, 1680-1793 is an innovative collection of original essays that explore an important initiative in the digital humanities, the Comédie-Française Registers Project. This international online collaboration consists of high-resolution reproductions of the detailed daily box office receipts for the Comédie-Française theater troupe in Paris from 1680 to 1793, as well as visualization tools that allow users to explore the box office data. No other theater troupe in this period maintained such a detailed a set of business records, and few business enterprises of any kind in eighteenth-century France have left records this complete.

Ravel's MIT webpage

3Q with Ravel at MIT News

MIT History

Money for Nothing
By Tom Levenson
Random House, 2020

Money for Nothing dives into the most famous financial scandal in the history of modern capitalism, the South Sea Bubble.  The South Sea Company had been formed formed to trade  with Spanish America. But it had almost no ships and did precious little trade. Instead it got into financial gambles on a massive scale, taking over the government’s debt and promising to pay the state out of the money received from the shares it sold. And how they sold. In the summer of 1720 the share price rocketed and everyone was making money. Until the carousel stopped, and thousands lost their shirts. This account of the South Sea Bubble is not just the story of a huge scam, but is also the story of the birth of modern financial capitalism. These dreamers and fraudsters may have bankrupted Britain, but they made the world rich. 

Nominated for the FT-McKinsey prize for best business book of the year:

"The uncertain future will send some readers back to history, represented in this year’s longlist by Thomas Levenson’s Money for Nothing. It tells the story of the invention of financial engineering in the 17th century, culminating in the South Sea Bubble, with lessons for today’s financial system. 'What’s novel,' our FT previewer remarked, 'is the way he presents the South Sea Company not as a period of madness and a disaster but a learning process that in the long run created something very valuable.'” 

Financial Times review

Wall Street Journal review


Post 9/11: Homeland Security for the Twenty-First Century
Co-edited by Chappell Lawson
MIT Press, 2020

For Americans, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, crystallized the notion of homeland security. But what does it mean to “secure the homeland” in the twenty-first century? What lessons can be drawn from the first two decades of US government efforts to do so? In Beyond 9/11, leading academic experts and former senior government officials address the most salient challenges of homeland security today.

Lawson's MIT webpage

MIT Political Science

Bound By War
By Christopher Capozzola
Basic Books/Hachette, 2020

Ever since US troops occupied the Philippines in 1898, generations of Filipinos have served in and alongside the US armed forces. In Bound by War, historian Christopher Capozzola reveals this forgotten history, showing how war and military service forged an enduring, yet fraught, alliance between Americans and Filipinos. Telling the epic story of a century of conflict and migration, Bound by War is a fresh, definitive portrait of this uneven partnership and the two nations it transformed.

Capozzola's MIT webpage

MIT History

States of Childhood
By Jennifer S. Light
MIT Press, 2020

A number of curious communities sprang up across the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century: simulated cities, states, and nations in which children played the roles of legislators, police officers, bankers, journalists, shopkeepers, and other adults. They performed real work—passing laws, growing food, and constructing buildings, among other tasks—inside virtual worlds. In this book, Jennifer Light examines the phenomena of “junior republics” and argues that they marked the transition to a new kind of “sheltered” childhood for American youth. Banished from the labor force and public life, children inhabited worlds that mirrored the one they had left.

Light's MIT webpage

MIT Program in Science, Technology, and Society

Enduring Cancer: Life, Death, and Diagnosis in Delhi
By Dwaipayan Banerjee
Duke University Press, 2020

In Enduring Cancer Dwaipayan Banerjee explores the efforts of Delhi's urban poor to create a livable life with cancer as patients and families negotiate an overextended health system unequipped to respond to the disease. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in the city's largest cancer care NGO and at India's premier public health hospital, Banerjee describes how, for these patients, a cancer diagnosis is often the latest and most serious in a long series of infrastructural failures.

Banerjee's MIT webpage

MIT Program in Science, Technology, and Society

Contesting the Iranian Revolution: The Green Uprisings
By Pouya Alimagham
Cambridge University Press, 2020

Most observers of Iran viewed the Green Uprisings of 2009 as a 'failed revolution', with many Iranians and those in neighbouring Arab countries agreeing. In Contesting the Iranian Revolution, however, Pouya Alimagham re-examines this evaluation, deconstructing the conventional win-lose binary interpretations in a way which underscores the subtle but important victories on the ground, and reveals how Iran's modern history imbues those triumphs with consequential meaning. 

Alimagham's MIT webpage

MIT History

In the Manner of the Franks
By Eric Goldberg
University of Pennsylvania Press, 2020

This book seeks to understand the connections between hunting, kingship, and masculinity in early medieval Europe. To answer this question, Goldberg traces the dynamic history of hunting from the late Roman empire, through the eras of the Merovingian and Carolingian dynasties, up to the death of the last Carolingian king, Louis V - fittingly, in a hunting accident - in 987. Goldberg argues that hunting played a fundamental role in the creation of aristocratic status and manhood throughout these centuries and demonstrates how hunting experienced a number of significant developments during this era that reflected and shaped larger changes in politics and society. 

MIT History

Goldberg's MIT webpage

The Mental Life of Modernism
By Samuel Jay Keyser
MIT Press, 2020

"In this brilliant book, the inimitable Jay Keyser—linguist, poet, musician, editor, educator—explains the greatest transformation in the history of Western art forms," writes Steven Pinker. Keyser argues that the stylistic innovations of Western modernism reflect not a cultural shift but a cognitive one. Behind modernism is the same cognitive phenomenon that led to the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century: the brain coming up against its natural limitations.

MIT Linguistics

Keyser's MIT webpage

Banks on the Brink
Co-authored by David Singer
Cambridge University Press, 2020

This innovative analysis investigates a complex issue of tremendous economic and political importance: what makes some countries vulnerable to banking crises, while others emerge unscathed? Banks on the Brink explains why some countries are more vulnerable to banking crises than others. The book analyzes over thirty years of data and provides historical case studies of two key countries, Canada and Germany, each of which explores how political decisions in the 19th and early-20th centuries continue to affect financial stability today. The analyses in this book have crucial policy implications, identifying potential regulations and policies that can work to protect banking systems against future crises.

David Singer's MIT webpage

MIT Political Science

Design Justice
By Sasha Costanza-Chock
MIT Press, 2020

What is the relationship between design, power, and social justice? “Design justice” is an approach to design that is led by marginalized communities and that aims explicitly to challenge, rather than reproduce, structural inequalities. It has emerged from a growing community of designers in various fields who work closely with social movements and community-based organizations around the world.

Costanza-Chock's MIT webpage

MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing

L'Eté où je suis devenue vieille
By Isabelle de Courtivron
L’Iconoclaste, 2020

Suddenly, several years after retirement, de Courtivron realizes that she has become inaudible, invisible. Without flinching, she explores this changeover with humor  that she did not anticipate. She revisits her past, her friendships, and her loves. Her first memoir, de Courtivron's text is a moving read on the coming age.

Isabelle de Courtivron's webpage

The Isabelle de Courtivron Prize for MIT Students

Quantum Legacies
By David Kaiser; Introduction by Alan Lightman
University of Chicago Press, 2020

In Quantum Legacies, David Kaiser introduces readers to iconic episodes in physicists’ still-unfolding quest to understand space, time, and matter at their most fundamental. In a series of vibrant essays, Kaiser takes us inside moments of discovery and debate among the great minds of the era—Albert Einstein, Erwin Schrödinger, Stephen Hawking, and many more who have indelibly shaped our understanding of nature—as they have tried to make sense of a messy world.

David Kaiser's webpage

MIT Program in Science, Technology, and Society

Quantum Legacies coverage at the LA Review of Books

Hematologies: The Political Life of Blood in India​
Co-authored by Dwai Banerjee
Cornell University Press, 2019

In this ground-breaking account of the political economy and cultural meaning of blood in contemporary India, Jacob Copeman and Dwaipayan Banerjee examine how the giving and receiving of blood has shaped social and political life. Hematologies traces how the substance congeals political ideologies, biomedical rationalities, and activist practices.

Dwai Banerjee's MIT webpage

MIT Program in Science, Technology, and Society

What Is Race?: Four Philosophical Views
Co-authored by Sally Haslanger
Oxford University Press, 2019

Across public discourse, in the media, politics, many branches of academic inquiry, and ordinary daily interactions, we spend a lot time talking about race: race relations, racial violence, discrimination based on race, racial integration, racial progress. It is fair to say that questions about race have vexed our social life. But for all we speak about race, do we know what race is? Is it a social construct or a biological object? Is it a bankrupt holdover from a time before sophisticated scientific understanding and genetics, or can it still hold up in biological, genetic, and other types of research? Most fundamentally, is race real? In this book, four prominent philosophers and race theorists debate how best to answer these difficult questions, applying philosophical tools and the principles of social justice to cutting-edge findings from the biological and social sciences.

Sally Haslanger's MIT webpage

MIT Philosophy

Traveling with Sugar: Chronicles of a Global Epidemic
By Amy Moran-Thomas
University of California Press, 2019

Traveling with Sugar reframes the rising diabetes epidemic as part of a five-hundred-year-old global history of sweetness and power. Amid eerie injuries, changing bodies, amputated limbs, and untimely deaths, many people across the Caribbean and Central America simply call the affliction “sugar”—or, as some say in Belize, “traveling with sugar.” A decade in the making, this book unfolds as a series of crónicas—a word meaning both slow-moving story and slow-moving disease. It profiles the careful work of those “still fighting it” as they grapple with unequal material infrastructures and unsettling dilemmas. 

Amy Moran-Thomas's MIT webpage

MIT Anthropology

Good Economics for Hard Times
By Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo
Hachette, 2019

The winners of the Nobel Prize show how economics, when done right, can help us solve the thorniest social and political problems of our day. In this revolutionary book, renowned MIT economists Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo build on cutting-edge research in economics explained with lucidity and grace. Original, provocative, and urgent, Good Economics for Hard Times makes a persuasive case for an intelligent interventionism and a society built on compassion and respect.

MIT Economics

Nobel Prize coverage

MIT Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab

Photo of Jay Keyser

Turning Turtle
A Memoir by Samuel Jay Keyser

Hardcopy print version, 2020
Download at PubPub, 2019

"A world expert in linguistics, a professor emeritus, former Associate Provost of MIT, engaged traveler, and accomplished musician, Samuel Jay Keyser is no ordinary man. But in the blink of instant, he suffered a medical catastrophe and became Everyman in the American health care system. His story of recovery is also a reflection on the distressing discrepencies in levels of care that Americans receive from our current health care system." — Steven Pinker

Hardcopy print version

Download at PubPub

MIT Linguistics

Keyser's MIT webpage

The Narrow Corridor: States, Societies, and the Fate of Liberty
by Daron Acemoglu (MIT) and James A. Robinson (Boston University)
Penguin Random House, 2019

In Why Nations Fail, Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson argued that countries rise and fall based not on culture, geography, or chance, but on the power of their institutions. In their new book, they build a new theory about liberty and how to achieve it, drawing a wealth of evidence from both current affairs and disparate threads of world history.

Acemoglu's MIT webpage

MIT News coverage

MIT Economics


Opera after the Zero Hour
by Emily Richmond Pollock
Oxford University Press, 2019

Opera after the Zero Hour: The Problem of Tradition and the Possibility of Renewal in Postwar West Germany presents opera as a site for the renegotiation of tradition in a politically fraught era of rebuilding. Author Emily Richmond Pollock explores how composers developed different strategies to make new opera "new" while still deferring to historical conventions, all of which carried cultural resonances of their own.

MIT Music and Theater Arts

Emily Richmond Pollock's MIT webpage

Three Flames: A Novel
By Alan Lightman
Counterpoint Press, 2019

Three Flames portrays the struggles of a Cambodian farming family against the extreme patriarchal attitudes of their society and a cruel and dictatorial father, set in a rural community that is slowly being exposed to the modern world and its values. A vivid story of revenge and forgiveness, of a culture smothering the dreams of freedom, and of courage against tradition, Three Flames grows directly from Lightman’s work as the founder of the Harpswell Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to advance a new generation of female leaders in Cambodia and all of Southeast Asia.

MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing

Lightman's MIT webpage

Dream Lightly
Recording of works by MIT composer Keeril Makan
Released by BMOP Music; Performed by Either/Or, 2019

The new album by acclaimed MIT composer Keeril Makan includes four works that combine lyric and harmonic qualities with the most advanced techniques of electronic music. 



Makan's website

Jump-Starting America: How Breakthrough Science Can Revive Economic Growth and the American Dream
By Jonathan Gruber and Simon Johnson
Public Affairs, 2019

Jonathan Gruber and Simon Johnson tell the story of this first American growth engine and provide the blueprint for a second. It’s a visionary, pragmatic, sure-to-be controversial plan that will lead to job growth and a new American economy in places now left behind. The American economy glitters on the outside, but the reality is quite different. Job opportunities and economic growth are increasingly concentrated in a few crowded coastal enclaves. Corporations and investors are disproportionately developing technologies that benefit the wealthiest Americans in the most prosperous areas–and destroying middle class jobs elsewhere.

MIT Economics

Jonathan Gruber's MIT webpage

Simon Johnson's MIT webpage

A Contagious Cause: The American Hunt for Cancer Viruses and the Rise of Molecular Medicine
By Robin Scheffler
University of Chicago Press, 2019

A Contagious Cause is the first book to trace the century-long hunt for a human cancer virus in America, an effort whose scale exceeded that of the Human Genome Project. The government’s campaign merged the worlds of molecular biology, public health, and military planning in the name of translating laboratory discoveries into useful medical therapies. However, its expansion into biomedical research sparked fierce conflict. A Contagious Cause links laboratory and legislature as has rarely been done before, creating a new chapter in the histories of science and American politics.

MIT Program in Science, Technology, and Society

Robin Scheffler's MIT webpage

Manual For Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future
By Kate Brown
W.W. Norton & Co., 2019

Drawing on a decade of archival research and on-the-ground interviews in Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus, Kate Brown unveils the full breadth of the devastation and the whitewash that followed. Her findings make clear the irreversible impact of man-made radioactivity on every living thing; and hauntingly, they force us to confront the untold legacy of decades of weapons-testing and other nuclear incidents, and the fact that we are emerging into a future for which the survival manual has yet to be written.

MIT Program in Science, Technology, and Society

Kate Brown's MIT webpage

Empire of Letters
By Stephanie Frampton
Oxford University Press, 2019

Shedding new light on the history of the book in antiquity, Empire of Letters tells the story of writing at Rome at the pivotal moment of transition from Republic to Empire (c. 55 BCE-15 CE). By uniting close readings of the period's major authors with detailed analysis of material texts, it argues that the physical embodiments of writing were essential to the worldviews and self-fashioning of authors whose works took shape in them. Whether in wooden tablets, papyrus bookrolls, monumental writing in stone and bronze, or through the alphabet itself, Roman authors both idealized and competed with writing's textual forms.

MIT Literature section

Stephanie Frampton's MIT webpage

On the Brink of Paradox
By Agustín Rayo
MIT Press, 2019

This book introduces the reader to awe-inspiring issues at the intersection of philosophy and mathematics. It explores ideas at the brink of paradox: infinities of different sizes, time travel, probability and measure theory, computability theory, the Grandfather Paradox, Newcomb's Problem, the Principle of Countable Additivity. The goal is to present some exceptionally beautiful ideas in enough detail to enable readers to understand the ideas themselves (rather than watered-down approximations), but without supplying so much detail that they abandon the effort. The philosophical content requires a mind attuned to subtlety; the most demanding of the mathematical ideas require familiarity with college-level mathematics or mathematical proof. The book is based on a popular course (and MOOC) taught by the author at MIT.

MIT Philosophy

About Agustín Rayo

Active Defense: China's Military Strategy since 1949
By M. Taylor Fravel
Princeton University Press, 2019

Active Defense offers the first systematic look at China’s military strategy from the mid-twentieth century to today. Exploring the range and intensity of threats that China has faced, M. Taylor Fravel illuminates the nation’s past and present military goals and how China sought to achieve them, and offers a rich set of cases for deepening the study of change in military organizations. Drawing from diverse Chinese-language sources, including memoirs of leading generals, military histories, and document collections that have become available only in the last two decades, Fravel shows why transformations in military strategy were pursued at certain times and not others.

M. Taylor Fravel's MIT webpage

MIT Political Science

Coverage at Asian Review of Books

Managing Multiculturalism: Indigeneity and the Struggle for Rights in Colombia
by Jean Jackson
Stanford University Press, 2019

In Managing Multiculturalism, Jean E. Jackson examines the evolution of the Colombian indigenous movement over the course of her forty-plus years of research and fieldwork, offering unusually developed and nuanced insight into how indigenous communities and activists changed over time, as well as how she the ethnographer and scholar evolved in turn.

MIT Anthropology

About Jean Jackson

International Relations in the Cyber Age
by Nazli Choucri and David D. Clark
MIT Press, 2019

In our increasingly digital world, data flows define the international landscape as much as the flow of materials and people. How is cyberspace shaping international relations, and how are international relations shaping cyberspace? In this book, Nazli Choucri and David D. Clark offer a foundational analysis of the co-evolution of cyberspace (with the internet as its core) and international relations, examining resultant challenges for individuals, organizations, and states.

Nazli Choucri's MIT webpage

David D. Clark's MIT webpage

MIT Political Science

Special Duty: A History of the Japanese Intelligence Community
By Richard J. Samuels
Cornell University Press, 2019

The prewar history of the Japanese intelligence community demonstrates how having power over much, but insight into little can have devastating consequences. Its postwar history—one of limited Japanese power despite growing insight—has also been problematic for national security. In Special Duty Richard J. Samuels dissects the fascinating history of the intelligence community in Japan. Looking at the impact of shifts in the strategic environment, technological change, and past failures, he probes the reasons why Japan has endured such a roller-coaster ride when it comes to intelligence gathering and analysis, and concludes that the ups and downs of the past century—combined with growing uncertainties in the regional security environment—have convinced Japanese leaders of the critical importance of striking balance between power and insight.

MIT Political Science

Richard J. Samuels' MIT webpage

"Teaching Our Way to Digital Equity," from Educational Leadership
by Justin Reich
in Educational Leadership, 2019

Most educators are familiar with the "digital divide"—the gap in access to new technology found between more and less affluent students, families, or school communities. But even when that gap is closed, a second digital divide—the usage divide—can derail schools' work toward digital equity. Research shows that students in minority, low-income schools are more likely to experience tech through isolated, low-rigor activities. Even within schools, tech-infused learning opportunities are often relegated to more affluent, high-achieving students. So what steps can teachers and school leaders take to break that pattern?

MIT Comparative Media Studies

Justin Reich's MIT webpage

Watch Me Play
by T.L. Taylor
Princeton University Press, 2018

Through extensive interviews and immersion in this gaming scene, T. L. Taylor delves into the inner workings of the live streaming platform Twitch. From branding to business practices, she shows the pleasures and work involved in this broadcasting activity, as well as the management and governance of game live streaming and its hosting communities.

At a time when gaming is being reinvented through social media, the potential of an ever-growing audience is transforming user-generated content and alternative distribution methods. These changes will challenge the meaning of ownership and intellectual property and open the way to new forms of creativity. The first book to explore the online phenomenon Twitch and live streaming games, Watch Me Play offers a vibrant look at the melding of private play and public entertainment.

T.L. Taylor's MIT webpage

Comparative Media Studies/Writing

Poison Squad
by Deborah Blum
Penguin Random House, 2018

 From Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times-bestselling author Deborah Blum, the dramatic true story of how food was made safe in the United States and the heroes, led by the inimitable Dr. Harvey Washington Wiley, who fought for change. Blum brings to life this timeless and hugely satisfying “David and Goliath” tale with righteous verve and style, driving home the moral imperative of confronting corporate greed and government corruption with a bracing clarity, which speaks resoundingly to the enormous social and political challenges we face today.

Review at Science Magazine

Deborah Blum's website

MIT Knight Science Journalism Program 

Osiris, Volume 33: Science and Capitalism: Entangled Histories
Edited in part by William Deringer
University of Chicago Press, 2018

The historical relationship between science and capitalism has long stood as a central question in science studies, at least since its foundations in the 1930s. Taking inspiration from the recent surge of scholarly interest in the “history of capitalism,” as well as from renewed attention to political economy by historians of science and technology, this Osiris volume revisits this classic quandary, foregrounding the entanglements between these two powerful and unruly historical forces and tracing the diverse ways they mutually shaped each other. Key attention is paid to the practices of knowledge work that enable both scientific and capitalistic action and to the diversity of global sites and circuits in which science/capitalism have been performed. The assembled papers excavate an array of tangled nodes at the science/capitalism nexus, spanning from the seventeenth century to the twenty-first, from Nevada to Central Asia to Japan, from microbiology to industrial psychology to public health.

MIT Program in Science, Technology, and Society

William Deringer's MIT webpage

I Love XXX
Collected, translated, and edited by Claire Conceison
Seagull Books, 2018

Since premiering his pioneering linguistic experiment I Love XXX in Beijing nearly twenty-five years ago, Meng Jinghui has been credited with revitalizing Chinese theater by popularizing the avant-garde. Mixing high culture with mass culture, his plays address China’s enduring revolutionary nostalgia and current social problems, challenging the artistic status quo from the mainstream rather than the margins. His creations range from new interpretations of canonical Western masters like Shakespeare and Genet to improvisational collaborations with actors on original works. This anthology from China’s most influential theater creator makes his plays available to an international readership in English for the first time. The collection, chosen by Meng and renowned Chinese theater scholar and translator Claire Conceison, represents the breadth of Meng’s work and illuminates late twentieth- and twenty-first-century creative practices that transcend the conventional category of playwright.

Claire Conceison's MIT page

MIT Music and Theater Arts

Searching for Stars on an Island in Maine
by Alan Lightman
Pantheon, 2018

As a physicist, Alan Lightman has always held a scientific view of the world. As a teenager experimenting in his own laboratory, he was impressed by the logic and materiality of a universe governed by a small number of disembodied forces and laws that decree all things in the world are material and impermanent. But one summer evening, while looking at the stars from a small boat at sea, Lightman was overcome by the overwhelming sensation that he was merging with something larger than himself—a grand and eternal unity, a hint of something absolute and immaterial. Searching for Stars on an Island in Maine is Lightman’s exploration of these seemingly contradictory impulses.

Story at MIT News

Alan Lightman's website

Review at The Washington Post
Review at The Guardian
Conversation on WBUR

Anthropology in the Meantime
by Michael M.J. Fischer
Duke University Press, 2018

In Anthropology in the Meantime Fischer draws on his real world, multi-causal, multi-scale, and multi-locale research to rebuild theory for the twenty-first century. Providing a history and inventory of experimental methods and frameworks in anthropology from the 1920s to the present, Fischer presents Anthropology in the Meantime as a methodological injunction to do ethnography that examines how the pieces of the world interact, fit together or clash, generate complex unforeseen consequences, reinforce cultural references, and cause social ruptures. Anthropology in the meantime requires patience, constant experimentation, collaboration, the sounding-out of affects and nonverbal communication, and the conducting of ethnographically situated research over longitudinal time. Perhaps above all, anthropology in the meantime is no longer anthropology of and about peoples; it is written with and for the people who are its subjects.

Michael M.J. Fischer's MIT page

MIT Anthropology

What Do We Make of Bach?
by John Harbison
Ars Nova, 2018

Composer John Harbison is among America’s most distinguished artistic figures. Recipient of numerous awards and honors, among them a MacArthur and a Pulitzer, his work encompasses all genres, from chamber music to opera, sacred to secular. He has composed for most of America’s premiere musical institutions, including the Metropolitan Opera, the symphony orchestras of Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, Seattle and New York; the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. Institute Professor at MIT, John Harbison’s absorption in the music of J.S. Bach has been a lifelong touchstone in all of his work: as conductor, performer, composer, teacher, and scholar. 

MIT Music and Theater Arts

John Harbison's MIT webpage

Beethoven, Mozart & Harbison: Works With Piano
David Deveau, pianist
Steinway & Sons, 2018

Senior Lecturer in Music David Deveau enjoys a distinguished career internationally, performing in the US, Canada, the UK, Europe and Asia. His first recording for Steinway, Siegfried Idyll, was critically acclaimed in the New York Times and Gramophone, and was listed as one of the year’s ten best classical albums by the Boston Globe in 2015.Mr. Deveau now brings us intimate chamber versions of Mozart’s delightful Piano Concerto No. 14 and Beethoven’s lyrical Piano Concerto No. 4. Deveau writes: “The genre ‘concerto’ pits soloist against orchestra in a sort of cooperative struggle, a contest between the individual and the larger forces of the ensemble.

Story at MIT News

Deveau's MIT webpage

MIT Music and Theater Arts

Dispatches from Planet 3
by Marcia Bartusiak
Yale University Press, 2018

The galaxy, the multiverse, and the history of astronomy are explored in this engaging compilation of cosmological “tales” by multiple award-winning science writer Marcia Bartusiak. In thirty-two concise and engrossing essays, the author provides a deeper understanding of the nature of the universe and those who strive to uncover its mysteries. Bartusiak shares the back stories for many momentous astronomical discoveries, including the contributions of such pioneers as Beatrice Tinsley and her groundbreaking research in galactic evolution, and Jocelyn Bell Burnell, the scientist who first discovered radio pulsars. An endlessly fascinating collection that you can dip into in any order, these pieces will transport you to ancient Mars, when water flowed freely across its surface; to the collision of two black holes, a cosmological event that released fifty times more energy than was radiating from every star in the universe; and to the beginning of time itself.

Story at MIT News

Podcast at A Beautiful World

Marcia Bartusiak's MIT webpage

MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing

Paris and the Cliché of History
by Catherine E. Clark
Oxford University Press, 2018

This book turns a compelling new lens on thinking about the history of Paris and photography. The invention of photography changed how history could be written. But the now commonplace assumptions--that photographs capture fragments of lost time or present emotional gateways to the past--that structure today's understandings did not emerge whole cloth in 1839. Focusing on one of photography's birthplaces, Paris and the Cliché of Historytells the story of how photographs came to be imagined as documents of the past. Author Catherine E. Clark analyzes photography's effects on historical interpretation by examining the formation of Paris's first photo archives at the Musée Carnavalet and the city's municipal library, their use in illustrated history books and historical exhibitions and reconstructions such as the 1951 celebration of Paris's 2000th birthday, and the public's contribution to the historical record in amateur photo contests.

Story at MIT News

Catherine E. Clark's website

MIT Global Studies and Languages

The Unsolid South
by Devin Caughey
Princeton University Press, 2018

Focusing on politics during and after the New Deal, Caughey shows that congressional primary elections effectively substituted for partisan competition, in part because the spillover from national party conflict helped compensate for the informational deficits of elections without party labels. Caughey draws on a broad range of historical and quantitative evidence, including archival materials, primary election returns, congressional voting records, and hundreds of early public opinion polls that illuminate ideological patterns in the Southern public. Reinterpreting a critical period in American history, The Unsolid South reshapes our understanding of the role of parties in democratic theory and sheds critical new light on electoral politics in authoritarian regimes.

Story at MIT News

Devin Caughey's website

MIT Political Science

The Mobile Workshop
by Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga
MIT Press, 2018

The tsetse fly is a pan-African insect that bites an infective forest animal and ingests blood filled with invisible parasites, which it carries and transmits into cattle and people as it bites them, leading to n'gana (animal trypanosomiasis) and sleeping sickness. In The Mobile Workshop, Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga examines how the presence of the tsetse fly turned the forests of Zimbabwe and southern Africa into an open laboratory where African knowledge formed the basis of colonial tsetse control policies. He traces the pestiferous work that an indefatigable, mobile insect does through its movements, and the work done by humans to control it.

Story at MIT News

Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga's website

MIT Program in Science, Techology, and Society

Magic's Reason
An Anthropology of Analogy
by Graham M. Jones
University of Chicago Press, 2018

In Magic’s Reason, Graham M. Jones tells the entwined stories of anthropology and entertainment magic. The two pursuits are not as separate as they may seem at first. As Jones shows, they not only matured around the same time, but they also shared mutually reinforcing stances toward modernity and rationality. It is no historical accident, for example, that colonial ethnographers drew analogies between Western magicians and native ritual performers, who, in their view, hoodwinked gullible people into believing their sleight of hand was divine.

Graham Jones's website
Story at MIT News

Qui a peur de la théorie queer?
by Bruno Perreau
Paris, Presses de Sciences Po, 2018

For the past decade, queer theory has been under attack in France. It is accused of weakening traditional family values, and undermining national identity. France would risk an insidious Americanization of its culture. Qui a peur de la théorie queer? (Who’s Afraid of Queer Theory?) studies anti gay-marriage demonstrations, LGBT+ social movements, educational policies, and the entertainment industry. It questions the political struggles around core notions in queer theory such as performativity, homonationalism, loss, and interpellation. With new pages on populism, and republicanism under Trump and Macron, Qui a peur de la théorie queer? advocates for a more hospitable democratic model, drawn from the critical potential of “minority becoming."

Bruno Perreau's website

Calculated Values:
Finance, Politics, and the Quantitative Age

by William Deringer
Harvard University Press, January 2018

Modern political culture features a deep-seated faith in the power of numbers to find answers, settle disputes, and explain how the world works. Whether evaluating economic trends, measuring the success of institutions, or divining public opinion, we are told that numbers don’t lie. But numbers have not always been so revered. Calculated Values traces how numbers first gained widespread public authority in one nation, Great Britain.

Story at MIT News

William Deringer's website

Program in Science, Technology, and Society website

The Future
by Nick Montfort
MIT Press, November 2017

The future is like an unwritten book. It is not something we see in a crystal ball, or can only hope to predict, like the weather. In this volume of the MIT Press’s Essential Knowledge series, Nick Montfort argues that the future is something to be made, not predicted.

Montfort offers what he considers essential knowledge about the future, as seen in the work of writers, artists, inventors, and designers (mainly in Western culture) who developed and described the core components of the futures they envisioned.

Nick Montfort's website
MIT Comparative Media Studies / Writing

Life in the Age of Drone Warfare
co-edited by Lisa Parks and Caren Kaplan
Duke University Press, October 2017

This volume's contributors offer a new critical language through which to explore and assess the historical, juridical, geopolitical, and cultural dimensions of drone technology and warfare. They show how drones generate particular ways of visualizing the spaces and targets of war while acting as tools to exercise state power. Essays include discussions of the legal justifications of extrajudicial killings and how US drone strikes in the Horn of Africa impact life on the ground, as well as a personal narrative of a former drone operator.

Story at MIT News

Read an excerpt from the book at N+1

Lisa Parks's website

CMS/W website

Midlife: A Philosophical Guide
by Kieran Setiya
Princeton University Press, October 2017

How can you reconcile yourself with the lives you will never lead, with possibilities foreclosed, and with nostalgia for lost youth? How can you accept the failings of the past, the sense of futility in the tasks that consume the present, and the prospect of death that blights the future? In this self-help book with a difference, Kieran Setiya confronts the inevitable challenges of adulthood and middle age, showing how philosophy can help you thrive.

Ranging from Aristotle, Schopenhauer, and John Stuart Mill to Virginia Woolf and Simone de Beauvoir, as well as drawing on Setiya’s own experience, Midlife combines imaginative ideas, surprising insights, and practical advice. Writing with wisdom and wit, Setiya makes a wry but passionate case for philosophy as a guide to life.

Kieran Setiya's website
MIT Philosophy

Hidden Atrocities
Japanese Germ Warfare and American Obstruction of Justice at the Tokyo Trial
by Jeanne Guillemin
Columbia University Press, September 2017

In the aftermath of World War II, the Allied intent to bring Axis crimes to light led to both the Nuremberg trials and their counterpart in Tokyo, the International Military Tribunal of the Far East. Yet the Tokyo Trial failed to prosecute imperial Japanese leaders for the worst of war crimes: inhumane medical experimentation, including vivisection and open-air pathogen and chemical tests, which rivaled Nazi atrocities, as well as mass attacks using plague, anthrax, and cholera that killed thousands of Chinese civilians. Jeanne Guillemin, senior fellow in the MIT Security Studies Program, goes behind the scenes at the trial to reveal the American obstruction that denied justice to Japan’s victims.

Jeanne Guillemin's website
MIT Security Studies Program

Letting Time Circle Through Us
by Keeril Makan
New World Records, July 2017

Keeril Makan (b. 1972) composed his longest instrumental work to date, Letting Time Circle Through Us (2013), on commission for the New York City-based ensemble Either/Or, with whose musicians Makan has worked intimately over the course of many years and on several projects. The larger trajectory of Makan's musical explorations has not been a linear one, so this close collaboration was invaluable in arriving at the final recorded realization of the project.

Either/Or is an experimental music ensemble comprised of Russell Greenberg, percussion; David Shively, cimbalom; Dan Lippel, acoustic guitar; Taka Kigawa, piano; Jennifer Choi, violin; and John Popham, cello.

Review at the Boston Globe
Keeril Makan's website
Either/Or website
MIT Music

What Do Science, Technology, and Innovation Mean from Africa?
edited by Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga
MIT Press, June 2017

In the STI literature, Africa has often been regarded as a recipient of science, technology, and innovation rather than a maker of them. In this book, scholars from a range of disciplines show that STI in Africa is not merely the product of “technology transfer” from elsewhere but the working of African knowledge. Their contributions focus on African ways of looking, meaning-making, and creating. The chapter authors see Africans as intellectual agents whose perspectives constitute authoritative knowledge and whose strategic deployment of both endogenous and inbound things represents an African-centered notion of STI. “Things do not (always) mean the same from everywhere,” observes Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga, the volume’s editor. Western, colonialist definitions of STI are not universalizable.

Contributors include Geri Augusto, Shadreck Chirikure, Chux Daniels, Ron Eglash, Ellen Foster, Garrick E. Louis, D. A. Masolo, Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga, Neda Nazemi, Toluwalogo Odumosu, Katrien Pype, and Scott Remer.

Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga's website
Review of the volume at Science

Tokyo Boogie-Woogie: Japan's Pop Era and Its Discontents
by Hiromu Nagahara
Harvard University Press, April 2017

In this first English-language history of the origins and impact of the Japanese pop music industry, Hiromu Nagahara connects the rise of mass entertainment, epitomized by ryūkōka (“popular songs”), with Japan’s transformation into a middle-class society in the years after World War II.

With the arrival of major international recording companies like Columbia and Victor in the 1920s, Japan’s pop music scene soon grew into a full-fledged culture industry that reached out to an avid consumer base through radio, cinema, and other media. The stream of songs that poured forth over the next four decades represented something new in the nation’s cultural landscape. Emerging during some of the most volatile decades in Japan’s history, popular songs struck a deep chord in Japanese society, gaining a devoted following but also galvanizing a vociferous band of opponents. A range of critics—intellectuals, journalists, government officials, self-appointed arbiters of taste—engaged in contentious debates on the merits of pop music. Many regarded it as a scandal, evidence of an increasingly debased and Americanized culture. For others, popular songs represented liberation from the oppressive political climate of the war years.

Tokyo Boogie-Woogie is a tale of competing cultural dynamics coming to a head just as Japan’s traditionally hierarchical society was shifting toward middle-class democracy. The pop soundscape of these years became the audible symbol of changing times.

Hiromu Nagahara's website
MIT News story

The Vanishing Middle Class: Prejudice and Power in a Dual Economy
by Peter Temin
MIT Press, March 2017

The United States is becoming a nation of rich and poor, with few families in the middle. In this book, MIT economist Peter Temin offers an illuminating way to look at the vanishing middle class. Temin argues that American history and politics, particularly slavery and its aftermath, play an important part in the widening gap between rich and poor. Temin employs a well-known, simple model of a dual economy to examine the dynamics of the rich/poor divide in America, and outlines ways to work toward greater equality so that America will no longer have one economy for the rich and one for the poor.

Many poorer Americans live in conditions resembling those of a developing country—substandard education, dilapidated housing, and few stable employment opportunities. And although almost half of black Americans are poor, most poor people are not black. Conservative white politicians still appeal to the racism of poor white voters to get support for policies that harm low-income people as a whole, casting recipients of social programs as the Other—black, Latino, not like "us." Politicians also use mass incarceration as a tool to keep black and Latino Americans from participating fully in society. Money goes to a vast entrenched prison system rather than to education. In the dual justice system, the rich pay fines and the poor go to jail.

Peter Temin's website
MIT News story

Agreement Beyond Phi
by Shigeru Miyagawa 
MIT Press, March 2017

Much attention in theoretical linguistics in the generative and Minimalist traditions is concerned with issues directly or indirectly related to movement. The EPP (extended projection principle), introduced by Chomsky in 1981, appeared to coincide with morphological agreement, and agreement came to play a central role as the driver of movement and other narrow-syntax operations. In this book, Shigeru Miyagawa continues his investigation into a computational equivalent for agreement in agreementless languages such as Japanese.

Miyagawa extends his theory of Strong Uniformity, introduced in his earlier book, Why Agree? Why Move? Unifying Agreement-Based and Discourse-Configurational Languages (MIT Press, 2009). He argues that agreement and agreementless languages are unified under an expanded view of grammatical features including both phi-features and discourse configurational features of topic and focus. He looks at various combinations of these two grammatical features across a number of languages and phenomena, including allocutive agreement, root phenomena, topicalization, “why” questions, and case alternation.

Shigeru Miyagawa's website
MIT Linguistics 


Les Défis de la République: Genre, Territoires, Citoyenneté
co-edited by Bruno Perreau, and Joan W. Scott
Presses de Sciences Po, January 2017

How does political change occur? Les Défis de la République brings together eight distinguished contributors who assess the impact of demands for voting rights for non-citizens, campaigns for the rights of gays and lesbians, and for equal access to political office for women and men. As a point of departure, the book considers the career of Françoise Gaspard—a scholar, activist and political leader—who launched the idea of political parity in France, authored numerous policy proposals to implement gender equality in European cities, and helped rewrite constitutions throughout the world (notably in Rwanda and Tunisia) as the French delegate to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. At this moment focused on the coming presidential election in France, Les Défis de la République intervenes in an important discussion about the nature of change, and argues for incrementalism in the face of conservative backlash.

Bruno Perreau's website
MIT Global Studies and Languages

I Love XXX and Other Plays
by Meng Jinghui
edited and translated by Claire Conceison
Seagull Books

Since premiering his pioneering linguistic experiment I Love XXX in Beijing nearly twenty-five years ago, Meng Jinghui has been credited with revitalizing Chinese theater by popularizing the avant-garde. Mixing high culture with mass culture, his plays address China’s enduring revolutionary nostalgia and current social problems, challenging the artistic status quo from the mainstream rather than the margins.

The collection, chosen by Meng and renowned Chinese theater scholar and translator Claire Conceison, represents the breadth of Meng’s work and illuminates late twentieth- and twenty-first-century creative practices that transcend the conventional category of playwright. I Love XXX includes the title piece, Longing for Worldly Pleasures, The Bedbug, Head Without Tail, and Two Dogs’ Opinions on Life, as well as a DVD featuring selected scenes from each of the plays.

Claire Conceison's website
MIT Theater Arts

Queer Theory: The French Response
by Bruno Perreau
Stanford University Press, November 2016

What are the various facets of the French response to queer theory, from the mobilization of activists and the seminars of scholars to the emergence of queer media and the decision to translate this or that kind of book? Ironically, perceiving queer theory as a threat to France means overlooking the fact that queer theory itself has been largely inspired by French thinkers. By examining mutual influences across the Atlantic, Bruno Perreau analyzes changes in the idea of national identity in France and the United States. In the process, he offers a new theory of minority politics: an ongoing critique of norms is not only what gives rise to a feeling of belonging; it is the very thing that founds citizenship.

Bruno Perreau's website
MIT Global Studies and Languages

Open to Debate: How William F. Buckley Put Liberal America on the Firing Line
by Heather Hendershot
Harper Collins, October 2016

A unique and compelling portrait of William F. Buckley as the champion of conservative ideas in an age of liberal dominance, taking on the smartest adversaries he could find while singlehandedly reinventing the role of public intellectual in the network television era.

Drawing on archival material, interviews, and transcripts, Open to Debate provides a richly detailed portrait of this widely respected ideological warrior, showing him in action as never before. Much more than just the story of a television show, Hendershot’s book provides a history of American public intellectual life from the 1960s through the 1980s—one of the most contentious eras in our history—and shows how Buckley led the way in drawing America to conservatism during those years.

Heather Hendershot's website
MIT Comparative Media Studies

Contiguity Theory
by Norvin Richards
MIT Press, June 2016

Languages differ in the types of overt movement they display. For example, some languages (including English) require subjects to move to a preverbal position, while others (including Italian) allow subjects to remain postverbal. In its current form, Minimalism offers no real answer to the question of why these different types of movements are distributed among languages as they are. In Contiguity Theory, Norvin Richards argues that there are universal conditions on morphology and phonology, particularly in how the prosodic structures of language can be built, and that these universal structures interact with language-specific properties of phonology and morphology. He argues that the grammar begins the construction of phonological structure earlier in the derivation than previously thought, and that the distribution of overt movement operations is largely determined by the grammar’s efforts to construct this structure. Rather than appealing to diacritic features, the explanations will generally be rooted in observable phenomena.

Norvin Richards's website
MIT Linguistics
Story at MIT News

Groovy Science: Knowledge, Innovation, and American Counterculture
co-edited by David Kaiser
Unviersity of Chicago Press, May 2016

In his 1969 book The Making of a Counterculture, Theodore Roszak described the youth of the late 1960s as fleeing science “as if from a place inhabited by plague,” and even seeking “subversion of the scientific worldview” itself. But that view ignores the diverse ways in which the era’s countercultures expressed enthusiasm for and involved themselves in science—of a certain type. Boomers and hippies sought a science that was both small-scale and big-picture. Groovy Science explores the experimentation and eclecticism that marked countercultural science and technology during one of the most colorful periods of American history.

David Kaiser's website
MIT Program in Science, Technology, and Society

New Order and Progress: Development and Democracy in Brazil 
edited by Ben Ross Schneider
Oxford University Press, March 2016

This book offers sobering insight into why Brazil has not been the rising economic star of the BRIC that many predicted it would be, but also documents the gains that Brazil has made toward greater equality and stability.

“I think nobody could have imagined the extent of the corruption crisis,” Schneider told MIT News. “It exceeds previous known corruption crises [in Brazil] by an order of magnitude. There are over 100 people indicted, many of them in jail. There were signs of corruption earlier. But this is bigger than anyone suspected.”

Ben Ross Schneider website
MIT Political Science

Bookcover of Recovering Armenia

Recovering Armenia: The Limits of Belonging in Post-Genocide Turkey
by Lerna Ekmekcioglu
Stanford University Press, January 2016

The small community of Armenians who stayed in Turkey, mostly in Istanbul, had to find their way forward during a period of emotional trauma, continued discrimination, and political upheaval (the Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923). And many of those people faced an enduring tension: They wanted to modernize society and press for political change, while acknowledging a desire to keep social customs and traditional arrangements intact, as a way of preserving the existentially threatened Armenian community.

“I try to show how the story unfolds for [those] Armenians,” says Ekmekcioglu, who is the McMillan-Stewart Associate Professor of History at MIT and an affiliate of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at MIT. “They had to or chose to live inside Turkey, alongside the perpetrators. What did they do to make it work for them? How did they adjust to these conditions?” Full Story at MIT News

Turkish translation of Recovering Armenia
Lerna Ekmekcioglu website
MIT History website

Why Only Us: Language and Evolution
by Noam Chomsky and Robert C. Berwick
The MIT Press, December 2015

We are born crying, but those cries signal the first stirring of language. Within a year or so, infants master the sound system of their language; a few years after that, they are engaging in conversations. This remarkable, species-specific ability to acquire any human language—“the language faculty”—raises important biological questions about language, including how it has evolved. This book by two distinguished scholars—a computer scientist and a linguist—addresses the enduring question of the evolution of language.

“Human language is a generative system that determines an infinite set of possible semantic objects,” says Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor and Professor of Linguistics Emeritus. “People don’t realize how uniform the human population is,” adds Robert C. Berwick, a computer scientist at the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems. “We’re all very alike as humans, and this language capacity is incredibly uniform. If you take a baby from Southern Africa and put it in Beijing, they’ll speak Chinese.”

3 Questions with Chomsky and Berwick at MIT News

Noam Chomsky website
MIT Linguistics

Robert C. Berwick website
MIT Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems

Chamber opera adaptation of Ingmar Bergman’s classic film
World Premiere Performance. October 23/24, 2015
National Sawdust Festival, Brooklyn, NY

Music by Keeril Makan
Libretto by Jay Scheib, after Ingmar Bergman film

Directed by Jay Scheib | Music Direction by Evan Ziporyn

"Ingmar Bergman’s 'Persona' is regarded as a classic of 20th-century cinema, a powerful and enigmatic exploration of the human psyche in turmoil. Now, thanks to MIT theater director Jay Scheib and MIT composer Keeril Makan, here comes 'Persona,' the opera." Full story at MIT News

"Music comes first in any opera, and Mr. Makan’s 85-minute score, roughly as long as the film, compellingly drives the drama in 'Persona.' Mr. Makan sets the text with striking sensitivity to when a moment demands conversational naturalness or supple lyricism [and his] acute ear for harmony and eerie textures draw you in continually." Full review at The New York Times

Mark Harvey
Deep River
Aardvark Jazz Orchestra

"Led by trumpeter-composer Mark Harvey, the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra is something of a miracle as well as a consistent joy. It has been performing brilliantly evocative, varied original music with a steady core of personnel for 43 years." Aardvark’s new disc, Deep River, a suite by the band’s longtime guitarist, Richard Nelson, re-imagines American roots themes.

Deep River

Mark Harvey

MIT Music and Theater Arts

Thomas Levenson
The Hunt for Vulcan …and How Einstein Destroyed a Planet, Discovered Relativity, and Deciphered the Universe
Penguin / Random House November 2015

For more than fifty years, the world’s top scientists searched for the “missing” planet Vulcan, whose existence was mandated by Isaac Newton’s theories of gravity. Countless hours were spent on the hunt for the elusive orb, and some of the era’s most skilled astronomers even claimed to have found it. There was just one problem: It was never there.

In The Hunt for Vulcan, Thomas Levenson follows the visionary scientists who inhabit the story of the phantom planet. It took Albert Einstein to discern that the mystery of the missing planet was a problem not of measurements or math but of Newton’s theory of gravity itself.

Thomas Levenson's Website


MIT Program in Science Writing

Sherry Turkle
Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age
Penguin Press / Random House October 2015

We live in a technological universe in which we are always communicating. And yet we have sacrificed conversation for mere connection. Turkle investigates how a flight from conversation undermines our relationships, creativity, and productivity—and why reclaiming face-to-face conversation can help us regain lost ground.
Long an enthusiast for the possibilities of digital culture, here Turkle investigates a troubling consequence: at work, at home, in politics, and in love, we find ways around conversation, tempted by the possibilities of a text or an email in which we don’t have to look, listen, or reveal ourselves. We develop a taste for what mere connection offers. But there is good news: we are resilient, and Turkle has ideas about how to reclaim face-to-face conversation, which she says, "is the most human and humanizing thing that we do."

Turkle website

New York Times Book Review, by Jonathan Franzen

MIT Program in Science, Technology, and Society

David Mindell
Our Robots, Ourselves: Robotics and the Myths of Autonomy
Viking Books, 2015

Drawing on firsthand experience, extensive interviews, and the latest research from MIT and elsewhere, Mindell takes us to extreme environments—high atmosphere, deep ocean, and outer space—to reveal where the most advanced robotics already exist. He argues that the stark lines we’ve drawn between human and not human, manual and automated, aren’t helpful for understanding our relationship with robotics.

David Mindell's website

MIT Program in Science, Technology, and Society

John Harbison
Camerata Pacifica
Harmonia Mundi USA, 2015

Camerata Pacifica is thrilled to present its first recording, released by Harmonia Mundi USA. This disc of chamber works by MIT Institute Professor John Harbison features the Camerata-commissioned String Trio and performances by Amy Schwartz Moretti, Paul Huang, Richard O'Neill, Ani Aznavoorian, Adrian Spence, Jose Franch- Ballester & Warren Jones.

John Harbison website

Camerata Pacifica

MIT Music and Theater Arts

Marcia Bartusiak
Black Hole: How an Idea Abandoned by Newtonians, Hated by Einstein, and Gambled on by Hawking Became Loved
Yale University Press, 2015

For more than half a century, physicists and astronomers engaged in heated dispute over the possibility of black holes in the universe. Bartusiak shows how the black hole helped revive Einstein's greatest achievement, the general theory of relativity, after decades during which it had been pushed into the shadows. This book celebrates the hundredth anniversary of general relativity, uncovers how the black hole really got its name, and recounts the scientists' frustrating, exhilarating, and at times humorous battles over the acceptance of one of history's most dazzling ideas.

Marcia Bartusiak website

Comparative Media Studies / Writing

Jennifer Light
From Voice to Influence: Understanding Citizenship in a Digital Age
University of Chicago Press, 2015

"[O]ur conversations about new media and politics are proceeding in a manner that’s technologically determinist, assuming political change will follow from technological change, when in fact, the political changes are contingent on how we regulate the technology, how much it costs, etc.... When students have the historical distance to compare technologies’ short- and long-term effects, to contrast fantasy with reality — they see how more than just better technology is needed for innovations to have particular social or political outcomes."

Story at MIT News  |  Jennifer Light's website

MIT Program in Science, Technology, and Society

Christine Walley
Exit Zero: Documentary

Exit Zero is a feature-length documentary film that tells a personal story of the lasting social and environmental impacts of “deindustrialization” and the key role it has played in expanding class inequalities in the United States. Interweaving home movies, found footage, and a first person narrative, the film traces the stories of multiple generations of writer/producer Christine Walley’s family in the once-thriving steel mill community of Southeast Chicago. From the turn-of-the-century experience of immigrants who worked in Chicago’s mammoth industries to the labor struggles of the 1930s to the seemingly unfathomable closure of the steel mills in the 1980s and 90s, these family stories convey a history that serves as a microcosm of the broader national experience of deindustrialization and its economic and environmental aftermath.

Exit Zero website

Christine Walley website

MIT Anthropology

Dream Chasers by John Tirman

John Tirman
Dream Chasers: Immigration and the American Backlash
MIT Press, 2015

Illegal immigration continues to roil American politics. Yet polls show that a majority of Americans support some kind of path to citizenship for those here illegally. What is going on? In this book, John Tirman shows how the resistance to immigration in America is more cultural than political. Although cloaked in language about jobs and secure borders, the cultural resistance to immigration expresses a fear that immigrants are changing the dominant white, Protestant, “real American” culture.

Story at MIT News  |  John Tirman's website

MIT Center for International Studies

Elizabeth Wood
with William E. Pomeranz, E. Wayne Merry, and Maxim Trudolyubov
Roots of Russia's War in Ukraine
Woodrow Wilson Center Press with Columbia University Press, 2015

Roots of Russia’s War in Ukraine presents four perspectives on the origins of the ongoing war in Ukraine that began in February 2014, concentrating on Russian motivations and intentions. What propelled Russia to send troops into Crimea and then declare that Crimea had formally chosen to “join” Russia? Why did the conflict spread to eastern Ukraine? What does the crisis say about Russian priorities? The exploration of these and other questions gives historians, political watchers, and theorists a solid grasp of the events that have destabilized the region.

Roots of Russia's War in Ukraine

Elizabeth Wood website

MIT History

Brad Skow
Objective Becoming
Oxford University Press, January 2015

What does the passage of time consist in? There are some suggestive metaphors. "Events approach us, pass us, and recede from us, like sticks and leaves floating on the river of time." "We are moving from the past into the future, like ships sailing into an unknown ocean." There is surely something right and deep about these metaphors. But how close are they to the literal truth? In this book Bradford Skow argues that they are far from the literal truth. Skow's argument takes the form of a defense of the block universe theory of time, a theory that, in many ways, treats time as a dimension of reality that closely resembles the three dimensions of space.

Wendy J. Schiller & Charles Stewart III
Electing the Senate: Indirect Democracy before the Seventeenth Amendment
Princeton University Press, 2015

From 1789 to 1913, the Constitution mandated that United States senators be chosen by state legislators. But in 1913 the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, giving the public a direct vote. Electing the Senate investigates the electoral connections among constituents, state legislators, political parties, and U.S. senators during the age of indirect elections. Schiller and Stewart find that even though parties controlled the partisan affiliation of the winning candidate for Senate, they had much less control over the universe of candidates who competed for votes in Senate elections and the parties did not always succeed in resolving internal conflict among their rank and file.

Charles Stewart III website

MIT Political Science

Joshua Angrist and Jörn-Steffen Pischke
Mastering ’Metrics: The Path from Cause to Effect
Princeton University Press, 2014

“People are constantly looking at the world around them and trying to learn from it, and that’s natural,” MIT economist Joshua Angrist says. “But it turns out to be very difficult to sort out cause and effect, because the world is complicated, with many things happening at once.” In their new book, Angrist and co-author Jörn-Steffen Pischke detail five methods of identifying causality in society, emphasizing that the best work of this type combines methodological sophistication and hard-earned knowledge of particular subjects.


Sasha Costanza-Chock
Out of the Shadows, Into the Streets!
MIT Press, November 2014

Costanza-Chock enters into the debate of recent years about the role of new social-media platforms in abetting social and political change — a debate that precedes the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011, but was amplified by them. Some observers have viewed social media as an essential spark for these movements; skeptics have said such platforms fail to create the lasting connections needed to make social movements successful. But Costanza-Chock thinks asking whether social media can build powerful movements is the “wrong question.” Rather, he offers, it is important to look at all of a movement’s organizing activities.

Andrea Louise Campbell
Trapped in America's Safety Net
University of Chicago Press, 2014

When Andrea Louise Campbell’s sister-in-law, Marcella Wagner, was run off the freeway by a hit-and-run driver, she was seven-and-a-half months pregnant. She survived—and, miraculously, the baby was born healthy. But that’s where the good news ends. Marcella was left paralyzed from the chest down. This accident was much more than just a physical and emotional tragedy. Like so many Americans—50 million, or one-sixth of the country’s population—neither Marcella nor her husband, Dave, who works for a small business, had health insurance. On the day of the accident, she was on her way to class for the nursing program through which she hoped to secure one of the few remaining jobs in the area with the promise of employer-provided insurance. Instead, the accident plunged the young family into the tangled web of means-tested social assistance.

Andrea Louise Campbell website

MIT-SHASS Political Science

MIT News article on the book

Barry R. Posen
Restraint, A New Foundation for U.S. Grand Strategy
Cornell University Press, 2014

The United States, Barry R. Posen argues in Restraint, has grown incapable of moderating its ambitions in international politics. Since the collapse of Soviet power, it has pursued a grand strategy that he calls “liberal hegemony,” one that Posen sees as unnecessary, counterproductive, costly, and wasteful. Written for policymakers and observers alike, Restraint explains precisely why this grand strategy works poorly and then provides a carefully designed alternative grand strategy and an associated military strategy and force structure. In contrast to the failures and unexpected problems that have stemmed from America’s consistent overreaching, Posen makes an urgent argument for restraint in the future use of U.S. military strength.

Barry R. Posen is Ford International Professor of Political Science 


Ellen T. Harris
George Frideric Handel: A Life with Friends
W W Norton & Co., 2014

During his lifetime, the sounds of Handel’s music reached from court to theater, echoed in cathedrals, and filled crowded taverns. But the man himself—known to most as the composer of Messiah—is a bit of a mystery. Though he took meticulous care of his musical manuscripts and provided for their preservation in his will, very little of an intimate nature survives.

In search of the private man behind the public persona, Ellen T. Harris has tracked down the letters, diaries, financial accounts, court cases, and other documents connected with the composer’s closest friends. The result is a tightly woven tapestry of London life in the first half of the eighteenth century, one that weaves together vibrant descriptions of Handel’s music with stories of loyalty, cunning, and betrayal. With this wholly new approach, Harris introduces us to an ambitious, generous, flawed, and brilliant man.

Ellen Harris is Class of 1949 Professor Emeritus in MIT Music and Theater Arts.


Mark Sumner Harvey
with his Aardvark Jazz Orchestra
Leo Records, 2014

Impressions is the seventh CD by the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra, a compliation of live performances consisting of sonic images of events and the postmodern zeitgeist raging from the frenetic to the lyrical, the Dada-esque to the elegiac, and the monumental to the meditative. The orchestra blends individual, collective and conducted improvisation within complex notated structures.

Mark Sumner Harvey is a lecturer in the Music section.

Peter Temin
with David Vines
Keynes: Useful Economics for the World Economy
MIT Press, 2014 

As the global economic crisis continues to cause damage, some policy makers have called for a more Keynesian approach to current economic problems. In this book, the economists Peter Temin and David Vines provide an accessible introduction to Keynesian ideas that connects Keynes’s insights to today’s global economy and offers readers a way to understand current policy debates.

Peter Temin website

MIT-SHASS Economics

Feature article on the book at MIT News

Charles Stewart III
The Measure of American Elections
Cambridge University Press, 2014

Policymaking in the realm of elections is too often grounded in anecdotes and opinions, rather than in good data and scientific research. To remedy this, The Measure of American Elections brings together a dozen leading scholars to examine the performance of elections across the United States, using a data-driven perspective. This book represents a transformation in debates about election reform, away from partisan and ideological posturing, toward using scientific analysis to evaluate the conduct of contemporary elections.

Washington Post Interview with Charles Stewart

Charles Stewart III is Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Political Science.



Vipin Narang
Nuclear Strategy in the Modern Era: Regional Powers and International Conflict
Princeton University Press, 2014

The world is in a second nuclear age in which regional powers play an increasingly prominent role. These states have small nuclear arsenals, often face multiple active conflicts, and sometimes have weak institutions. How do these nuclear states — and potential future ones — manage their nuclear forces and influence international conflict? Examining the reasoning and deterrence consequences of regional power nuclear strategies, this book demonstrates that these strategies matter greatly to international stability and it provides new insights into conflict dynamics across important areas of the world such as the Middle East, East Asia, and South Asia.

Vipin Narang is an Associate Professor of Political Science, and member of MIT's Security Studies Program

Paul Raeborn
Do Fathers Matter?
What Science Is Telling Us About the Parent We've Overlooked

Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014

Many of the findings of this new science of fatherhood have appeared in scholarly journals unfamiliar to the public. Do Fathers Matter pulls together research to show what fathers do, and to help fathers—and their families—understand how fathers can be better at what they do. 

Paul Raeborn is the Chief media critic of the Knight Science Journalism Tracker.

Nick Montfort
Counterpath, 2014

#! (pronounced “shebang”) consists of poetic texts that are presented alongside the short computer programs that generated them. The poems, in new and existing forms, are inquiries into the features that make poetry recognizable as such, into code and computation, into ellipsis, and into the alphabet. Computer-generated poems have been composed by Brion Gysin and Ian Sommerville, Alison Knowles and James Tenney, Hugh Kenner and Joseph P. O’Rourke, Charles O. Hartman, and others. The works in #! engage with this tradition of more than 50 years and with constrained and conceptual writing. The book’s source code is also offered as free software. All of the text-generating code is presented so that it, too, can be read; it is all also made freely available for use in anyone’s future poetic projects.

Nick Montfort is Associate Professor of Digital Media.

Stephen Yablo
Princeton University Press, 2014

Aboutness has been studied from any number of angles. Brentano made it the defining feature of the mental. Phenomenologists try to pin down the aboutness-features of particular mental states. Materialists sometimes claim to have grounded aboutness in natural regularities. Attempts have even been made, in library science and information theory, to operationalize the notion.

But it has played no real role in philosophical semantics. This is surprising; sentences have aboutness-properties if anything does. Aboutness is the first book to examine through a philosophical lens the role of subject matter in meaning.

Yablo elected to AAAS

Stephen Yablo is David W Skinner Professor of Philosophy.

Eugenie Brinkema
The Forms of the Affects
Duke University Press, 2014

Brinkema develops a novel mode of criticism that locates the forms of particular affects within the specific details of cinematic and textual construction. Through close readings of works by Roland Barthes, Hollis Frampton, Sigmund Freud, Peter Greenaway, Michael Haneke, Alfred Hitchcock, Søren Kierkegaard, and David Lynch, Brinkema shows that deep attention to form, structure, and aesthetics enables a fundamental rethinking of the study of sensation.  

Eugenie Brinkema is Assistant Professor of Contemporary Literature and Media.

Bruno Perreau
The Politics of Adoption
Gender and the Making of French Citizenship

MIT Press, 2014

Obstacles to adoption and parenting equality are present in France—many of them in the form of cultural and political norms reflected and expressed in French adoption policies. In The Politics of Adoption, Bruno Perreau describes the evolution of these policies. In the past thirty years, Perreau explains, political and intellectual life in France have been dominated by debates over how to preserve “Frenchness," and these debates have driven policy making. Adoption policies, he argues, link adoption to citizenship, reflecting and enforcing the postcolonial state’s notions of parenthood, gender, and Frenchness.

Bruno Perreau is Associate Professor of French Studies.

Kathleen Thelen
Varieties of Liberalization and the New Politics of Social Solidarity
Cambridge University Press, 2014

This book examines contemporary changes in labor market institutions in the United States, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and the Netherlands, focusing on developments in three arenas - industrial relations, vocational education and training, and labor market policy. While confirming a broad, shared liberalizing trend, it finds that there are in fact distinct varieties of liberalization associated with very different distributive outcomes. Most scholarship equates liberal capitalism with inequality and coordinated capitalism with higher levels of social solidarity. However, this study explains why the institutions of coordinated capitalism and egalitarian capitalism coincided and complemented one another in the "Golden Era" of postwar development in the 1950s and 1960s, and why they no longer do so. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, this study reveals that the successful defense of the institutions traditionally associated with coordinated capitalism has often been a recipe for increased inequality due to declining coverage and dualization. Conversely, it argues that some forms of labor market liberalization are perfectly compatible with continued high levels of social solidarity and indeed may be necessary to sustain it.  

Thelen on Liberalization

Kathleen Thelen is a Professor of Political Science.


John Tirman (ed.)
with Abbas Maleki
U.S.-Iran Misperceptions: A Dialogue
Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014

Can Iranians and Americans find common ground to overcome their troubled history? U.S.-Iran Misperceptions is the first written dialogue on the key issues that separate these two great countries. Bringing together former policy makers and international relations experts from the United States and Iran, U.S.-Iran Misperceptions: A Dialogue provides new insights into and arguments about how each country's elites view the other, and how misperceptions have blocked the two from forging a normal and productive relationship.

John Tirman website

MIT-SHASS Center for International Studies

Interview with John tirman at MIT News

Loren Graham
Lonely Ideas:
Can Russia Compete?

MIT Press, 2013

Sources of Innovation | how society affects science/technology
Russia, despite its epic intellectual achievements in music, literature, art, and pure science, is a negligible presence in world technology. Despite its current leaders’ ambitions to create a knowledge economy, Russia is economically dependent on gas and oil. In Lonely Ideas, Loren Graham investigates Russia’s long history of technological invention followed by difficulties in implementation and taking ideas to market.  

Loren Graham is the Professor of the History of Science in the Program in Science, Technology and Society Emeritus.

Loren Graham
Death at the Lighthouse:
A Grand Island Riddle

Arbutus Press, 2013

Mystery on Grand Island
Sometime after after Loren Graham and his wife purchased the Old North Lighthouse on Grand Island near Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Graham discovered a yellowing newspaper clipping from the Detroit Free Press from June 15, 1908. It read: Grand Island Lighthouse keeper and his assistant believed to be victims of brutal murder and robbery. What happened to the 1908 lighthouse keeper and his assistant? Graham set out to answer this question. 

Loren Graham is the Professor of the History of Science in the Program in Science, Technology and Society Emeritus.

Keeril Makan
Mode Records, 2013

Afterglow is the outcome of hours spent listening to the harmonic resonance of specific notes and chords, and to the durations of the resonances. The simplicity of the materials beguiles the listener into hearing beyond the immediate gesture to become aware of its “afterglow,” the sympathetic vibrations of the unplayed strings within the piano.

Keeril Makan is Associate Professor of Music.

The Triumph of Human Empire

Rosalind Williams
The Triumph of Human Empire
University of Chicago Press, 2013

What is the human empire?  
Rosalind Williams explores the overarching historical event of our time: the rise and triumph of human empire, the apotheosis of the modern ambition to increase knowledge and power in order to achieve world domination. Confronting an intensely humanized world was a singular event of consciousness; Williams shows how Verne, Morris, and Stevenson experimented expressed a growing awareness of the need for a new relationship between humans and Earth.

3 Questions: Interview with Rosalind Williams

The Economist names The Triumph of Human Empire one of the best books of 2013

Rosalind Williams is Bern Dibner Professor of the History of Science and Technology in the Program of Science, Technology, and Society.

Suzanne Berger
wtih the Task Force on Production in the Innovation Society
Making in America
MIT Press, 2013

Achieving an innovation nation
America is the world leader in innovation, but many of the innovative ideas that are hatched in American start-ups, labs, and companies end up going abroad to reach commercial scale. Apple, the superstar of innovation, locates its production in China (yet still reaps most of its profits in the United States). When innovation does not find the capital, skills, and expertise it needs to come to market in the United States, what does it mean for economic growth and job creation? Inspired by the MIT Made in America project of the 1980s, Making in America brings experts from across MIT to focus on a critical problem for the country.  

Story at MIT News | 3Q with Suzanne Berger |  Slice of MIT  

Suzanne Berger is the Dorman-Starbuck Professor of Political Science and together with Institute Professor Phillip Sharp chaired MIT’s Production in the Innovation Economy (PIE) project. 

D. Fox Harrell
Phantasmal Media: An Approach to Imagination, Computation, and Expression
MIT Press, 2013

In Phantasmal Media, D. Fox Harrell considers the expressive power of computational media. He argues, persuasively, that the great expressive potential of computational media comes from the ability to construct and reveal "phantasms" — his word for blends of cultural ideas and sensory imagination, which include sense of self, metaphors, social categories, narrative, and poetic thinking.  

Story at MIT News  |  MIT Press Blog

D. Fox Harrell is Associate Professor of Digital Media 


Fragments and Assemblages: Forming Compilations of Medieval London

Arthur Bahr
Fragments and Assemblages: Forming Compilations of Medieval London
The University of Chicago Press, 2013

Breaking news from the 14th century
While reading online, do you sometimes find yourself going from reading articles on, say, politics to poetry to humor? If so, your experience is rather medieval, says Arthur Bahr, an associate professor of literature at MIT whose first book digs into the eclectic, textually linked reading choices of people in medieval London. Using compilations from fourteenth-century London as case studies, Fragments and Assemblages argues that we can productively bring comparable interpretive strategies to bear on the formal characteristics of both physical manuscripts and literary works. 

Story at SHASS News  |  Story at MIT News

Arthur Bahr is Associate Professor of Literature 


Manduhai Buyandelger
Tragic Spirits: Shamanism, Memory, and Gender in Contemporary Mongolia
University of Chicago Press, 2013

The surprising story of Mongolian shamanism
MIT Anthropologist Buyandelger finds that after Soviet domination, a rebirth of shamanism helped Mongolia rewrite its own history.  
Story at MIT News

“Buyandelger explores how people interpret, resist, and accommodate socio-economic transformations, both by reviving traditional cultural practices and by creating new ones.” 
— Professor Susan Silbey, Head, MIT Anthropology

Buyandelger received the 2013 Levitan Prize in the Humanities, a $25,000 research grant that will support her in-depth ethnographic study of parliamentary elections in Mongolia, with specific emphasis on the experience of female candidates. 

Manduhai Buyandelger is an Associate Professor of Anthropology. 

Ian Condry
The Soul of Anime: Collaborative Creativity and Japan's Media Success Story
Duke University Press, 2013

Why is Japanese anime a global hit? 
“Anime is imbued with a sense of social energy,” Condry says. His new book identifies audience participation and creative collaboration as the soul of anime, the key to its worldwide popularity. 
Story at MIT News

In The Soul of Anime, Ian Condry explores the emergence of anime, Japanese animated film and television, as a global cultural phenomenon. Drawing on ethnographic research, including interviews with artists at some of Tokyo's leading animation studios—such as Madhouse, Gonzo, Aniplex, and Studio Ghibli—Condry discusses how anime's fictional characters and worlds become platforms for collaborative creativity.

Ian Condry is Associate Professor of Comparative Media Studies, and head of the Foreign Languages and Literatures Section.

Robert Townsend
Chronicles from the Field, The Townsend Thai Project
co-authored with Rob Jordan
MIT Press, 2013

Deep in the field
For 20 years, MIT economist Robert Townsend has explored the links between household finances and economic growth in rural Thailand. His new book, Chronicles from the Field, based on one of the most extensive datasets in the developing world, provides a template for policies that can help alleviate poverty. 
Story at MIT News

Robert Townsend is the Elizabeth and James Killian Professor of Economics at MIT, and director of the Consortium on Financial Systems and Poverty.  

Christine J. Walley
Exit Zero: Family and Class in Postindustrial Chicago
University of Chicago Press, 2013

Understanding the growing inequality in the U.S.
In 1980, Christine Walley’s world was turned upside down when the steel mill in Southeast Chicago where her father worked closed abruptly.  In the ensuing years, thousands of other area residents would also lose their jobs in the mills—one example of the vast deindustrialization occurring across the U.S. The disruption propelled Walley into a career as a cultural anthropologist. In Exit Zero, she brings her anthropological perspective home, examining the human cost of deindustrialization.  

"If you want to understand the expanding class inequality in the United States, one of the places you have to look is the long-term impact of deindustrialization. We have to think historically about how we got into this position and how we can come out of it.”  Walley's new book and accompanying documentary recount the aftermath when steel plants suddenly closed in the American heartland. 

Story+ Video at MIT News

Christine J. Walley is Associate Professor of Anthropology.

Craig Steven Wilder
Ebony and Ivy:
Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America's Universities

Bloomsbury Press, 2013

"A groundbreaking history that will contribute to a reappraisal of some deep-rooted founding myths.” — Kirkus 

Illuminating the role of slavery in American universities
A study that is the first of its kind, Ebony and Ivy looks "beyond particular campuses to take a broader look at the role of slavery in the growth of America’s earliest universities," which, Wilder reveals were more than just "innocent or passive beneficiaries" of wealth derived from the slave trade. Wilder "shows that what happened at one institution wasn’t simply incidental or idiosyncratic," said James Wright, a former president of Dartmouth College. “Slavery was deeply embedded in all our institutions, which found ways to explain and rationalize slavery, even after the formation of the American republic.”  — New York Times 

Story at MIT News  | NPR Interview with Craig Wilder

Craig Steven Wilder is Professor of American History at MIT, and the author of A Covenant with Color and In the Company of Black Men.

Eurasian: Mixed Identities in the United States, China, and Hong Kong, 1842–1943

Emma Teng
Eurasian: Mixed Identities
in the United States, China, and Hong Kong, 1842–1943

University of California Press, 2013
Layered inheritances and complex identities
In Eurasian, Emma Jinhua Teng compares Chinese-Western mixed-race families in the United States, China, and Hong Kong, examining both the range of ideas that shaped the formation of Eurasian identities in diverse contexts and the claims set forth by individual Eurasians concerning their own identities. Teng argues that Eurasians were not universally marginalized during this era, as is often asserted. Rather, Eurasians often found themselves facing contradictions between exclusionary and inclusive ideologies of race and nationality, and between overt racism and more subtle forms of prejudice that were counterbalanced by partial acceptance and privilege.  

Story at MIT News 
Emma Jinhua Teng is Director of the Women's and Gender Studies Program, T.T. and Wei Fong Chao Associate Professor of Asian Civilizations, and Associate Professor of Chinese Studies.

The Construction of Logical Space

Agustín Rayo

The Construction of Logical Space
Oxford University Press, 2013

How do we shape our conception of logical space? 
Our conception of logical space is the set of distinctions we use to navigate the world. In The Construction of Logical Space Agustín Rayo defends the idea that one's conception of logical space is shaped by one's acceptance or rejection of 'just is'-statements: statements like "to be composed of water just is to be composed of H2O," or "for the number of the dinosaurs to be zero just is for there to be no dinosaurs."


Agustín Rayo is a Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy

Ethan Zuckerman
Rewire: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection
W.W Norton & Company, Inc., 2013

Are you a digital cosmopolitan?
In his new book, Rewire, and in his research group at MIT, Ethan Zuckerman encourages us to explore, to engage others, and to develop more "cognitive diversity."  Zuckerman explains why the technological ability to communicate with someone does not inevitably lead to increased human connection. At the most basic level, our human tendency to “flock together” means that most of our interactions, online or off, are with a small set of people with whom we have much in common.

Story at MIT News

Ethan Zuckerman is a Principal Research Scientist in the Media Laboratory.

Hierarchical Capitalism in Latin America

Ben Ross Schneider
Hierarchical Capitalism in Latin America
Cambridge University Press, 2013

A new path for growth

MIT political scientist Ben Ross Schneider sets out an agenda for growth with greater equality in Latin America. Hierarchical Capitalism in Latin America argues that Latin America has a distinctive, enduring form of hierarchical capitalism characterized by multinational corporations, diversified business groups, low skills, and segmented labor markets. This book is intended to open a new debate on the nature of capitalism in Latin America and link that discussion to related research on comparative capitalism in other parts of the world.


Ben Ross Schneider is Ford International Professor of Political Science and Director of the MIT Brazil program.

Vivek Bald
Bengali Harlem and the Lost Histories of South Asian-America
Harvard University Press, 2013

A hidden history revealed

Of his new book, scholar and documentary filmmaker Vivek Balda says, “It began as a story about the South Asian diaspora, but it became clear that it was also a story about African-American and Puerto Rican neighborhoods, and the families, friendships and communities that South Asian Muslims formed there." 
Story at MIT News  | Book website

Vivek Bald is an Assistant Professor of Writing and Digital Media in the Comparative Media Studies / Writing program.

The Great Rent Wars New York, 1917-1929

Robert Fogelson
The Great Rent Wars: New York, 1917-1929
Yale University Press, 2013

How did rent control come to exist?
Historian Robert Fogelson’s book tells the story. There was an almost complete cessation of residential construction in New York City during and after WWI. The result was a serious housing shortage and soaring rents. In response, women played a large role in organizing strikes that led to rent-control programs in NYC — and elsewhere in the country. Written by one of the country’s foremost urban historians, The Great Rent Wars explores the heated debates over landlord-tenant law, housing policy, and other issues that are as controversial today as they were a century ago.


Robert Fogelson is Professor of Urban Studies and History.

Richard Locke
The Promise and Limits of Private Power:
Promoting Labor Standards in a Global Economy

Cambridge University Press, 2013

Goverments and the private sector must collaborate to create safe factories and just global supply chains
Locke has made hundreds of visits to factories around the world, heading a team of researchers. His conclusion, detailed in The Promise and Limits of Private Power, is that private oversight by multinational firms is not enough to eliminate workplace dangers and inequities.  Governments must uphold better factory standards as well. Protecting workers involved in the global supply chain will require three things: actions by firms themselves; long-standing supply-chain relationships, and government effort.    

Story at MIT News  | Article at Boston Review
Richard M. Locke is a former MIT Professor of Management and Political Science.

Melissa Nobles,
with Jun-Hyeok Kwak
Inherited Responsibility and Historical Reconciliation in East Asia
Routledge Press, 2013

Paths to reconciliation, atonement, and peaceful coexistence

“All societies periodically have to do soul-searching,” says Melissa Nobles, the Arthur and Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science, and Head of Political Science. In her research, Nobles has developed a deep understanding of how different nations go about the process of self-examination, confront histories of injustice, and attempt to right the wrongs of the past.  

Story and Profile at MIT News

Melissa Nobles is the Arthur and Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science.

3.11: Disaster and Change in Japan

Richard J. Samuels
3.11: Disaster and Change in Japan
Cornell University Press, 2013

Taking stock after the disaster
After the catastrophic earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdowns of March 11, 2011 in Japan, many observers expected a wave of political and social change to sweep the island nation. In his new book, 3.11, MIT political scientist Richard Samuels delivers the first full-length scholarly assessment of the disaster's impact on Japan’s government and society. Samuels explores Japan’s post-earthquake actions in three key sectors: national security, energy policy, and local governance.  

Story at MIT News

3.11: Disaster and Change in Japan Website

Richard J. Samuels is Ford International Professor of Political Science, Director of the Center for International Studies, and Director of the MIT-Japan Program. 

Sandy Alexandre
The Properties of Violence:
Claims to Ownership in Representations of Lynching

University Press of Mississippi, 2012

Studying the literary record to understand violence
Alexandre studies the literary record to shed light on the history of violence against blacks in the U.S. She explores the multiple meanings of "property," and, through examination of visual and textual narratives, shows how and why the notion of property — in the context of America's history of violence against blacks — needs to extend beyond ownership in land. 

Story at MIT News

Sandy Alexandre is an Associate Professor of Literature. 

Nick Montfort, 
with Patsy Baudoin, John Bell, Ian Bogost, Jeremy Douglass, Mark C. Marino, Michael Mateas, Casey Reas, Mark Sample, and Noah Vawter
10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10  
MIT Press, 2012 

The cultural significance of computer code 
This collaboratively written book takes a single line of code — the extremely concise BASIC program for the Commodore 64 inscribed in the title—and uses it as a lens through which to consider the phenomenon of creative computing and the way computer programs exist in culture. The authors treat code not as merely functional but as a text — in the case of 10 PRINT, a text that appeared in many different printed sources — that yields a story about its making, its purpose, its assumptions, and more.
Story at SHASS News | Book website

Nick Montfort is Associate Professor for Digital Writing, in the Comparative Media Studies/Writing program. 


Fotini Christia
Alliance Formation in Civil Wars
Cambridge University Press, 2012

How civil wars evolve
MIT political scientist’s book shows how even the bloodiest conflicts feature pragmatic alliances — not just ancient sectarian divisions. Some of the most brutal and long-lasting civil wars of our time – those in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Lebanon, and Iraq, among others – involve the rapid formation and disintegration of alliances among warring groups, as well as fractionalization within them. Looking closely at the civil wars in Afghanistan and Bosnia and testing against the broader universe of 53 cases of multi-party civil wars, Christia finds that the relative power distribution between and within various warring groups is the primary driving force behind alliance formation, alliance changes, group splits, and internal group takeovers.

Story at MIT News

Fotini Christia is Associate Professor of Political Science.


Charles Stewart III,
with Jeffery A. Jenkins
Fighting for the Speakership:
The House and the Rise of Party Government

Princeton University Press, 2012

Deep Politics
The Speaker of the House of Representatives is the most powerful partisan figure in the contemporary U.S. Congress. How this came to be, and how the majority party in the House has made control of the speakership a routine matter, is far from straightforward. Fighting for the Speakership provides a comprehensive history of how Speakers have been elected in the U.S. House since 1789, arguing that the organizational politics of these elections were critical to the construction of mass political parties in America and laid the groundwork for the role they play in setting the agenda of Congress today.
Charles Stewart III is the Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Political Science.

The Handbook of Organizational Economics

Robert Gibbons
with John Roberts
The Handbook of Organizational Economics
Princeton University Press, 2012

The Handbook of Organizational Economics surveys the major theories, evidence, and methods used in the field. It displays the breadth of topics in organizational economics, including the roles of individuals and groups in organizations, organizational structures and processes, the boundaries of the firm, contracts between and within firms, and more.

Robert Gibbons is Professor of Economics in the Department of Economics, and the Sloan Distinguished Professor of Management in the Sloan School of Management. 

Paul Osterman
Economy in Society: Essays in Honor of Michael J. Piore
MIT Press, 2012
In Economy in Society, five prominent social scientists honor Michael J. Piore in original essays that explore key topics in Piore’s work and make significant independent contributions in their own right. Piore is distinctive for his original research that explores the interaction of social, political, and economic considerations in the labor market and in the economic development of nations and regions. The essays in this volume reflect this rigorous interdisciplinary approach to important social and economic questions.
Michael Piore is Professor of Political Science.

Natasha Dow Schüll
Addiction by Design: Gambling in Las Vegas 
Princeton University Press, 2012

Machines designed to keep people "playing to exctinction" 
Drawing on 15 years of field research among slot machine gamblers and the designers of the devices they play, anthropologist Schüll explores the relationship between technology design and the experience of addiction. She shows how electronic gambling games are designed to pull players into a trancelike state called the "machine zone" — a state in which the aim is not to win but simply to keep playing. Schüll’s study illuminates the broader social and cultural effects of the intensifying traffic between people and technology in everyday life.

Schull discusses her research on "60 Minutes"

Story at MIT News

The Atlantic names Natasha Dow Schüll's Addiction by Design as a best book read in 2013
Atlantic senior editor Alexis Madgiral writes: "Addiction by Design is one of the foundational artifacts for understanding the digital age." 

Natasha Dow Schüll is Associate Professor in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society. 


Nazli Choucri
Cyberpolitics in International Relations
MIT Press, 2012

The new cyberpolitical reality
Until recently, the political impact of cyberspace was thought to be a matter of low politics — background conditions and routine processes and decisions. Now, however, experts have begun to recognize its effect on high politics — national security, core institutions, and critical decision processes. In this book, MIT political scientist Nazli Choucri investigates the implications of this new cyberpolitical reality for international relations theory, policy, and practice.

Story + Video at MIT News 

Nazli Choucri is Professor of Political Science at MIT, Associate Director of MIT’s Technology and Development Program, and Director of GSSD (Global System for Sustainable Development). 

Life of Cheese book cover

Heather Paxson
The Life of Cheese: Crafting Food and Value in America
University of California, 2012 

Cheese is alive, and alive with meaning 
An anthropological study of American artisanal cheese and the people who make it. Cheese is alive, and alive with meaning. This study tells the story of how craftwork has become a new source of cultural and economic value for producers as well as consumers. By exploring the life of cheese, Paxson helps rethink the politics of food, land, and labor today.

The Life of Cheese website

University of California Press

Video (1 minute): Paxson on artisan cheese


This Is How You Lose Her book cover

Junot Díaz
This Is How You Lose Her
Penguin Group, 2012

New novel from the Pulitzer prize-winning author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Junot Díaz is Rudge (1948) and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at MIT.  

Sally Haslanger
Resisting Reality: Social Construction and Social Critique
Oxford University Press, 2012
Winner of the 2014 Joseph B. Gittler Award from the American Philosophical Association

What is "natural" and what is "social"?
"The supposed line between the 'natural' and the 'social' is of crucial importance for theories of justice: the 'natural' is not as fixed as we might think, and the 'social' can be much more fixed than we imagined. Some differences between us must be respected, and others should be overcome —but which are which?"
Interview with Sally Haslanger 

Sally Haslanger is the Ford Professor of Philosophy.

Co-Designers book cover

Yanni Loukissas
Co-Designers: Cultures of Computer Simulation in Architecture
Routledge, 2012

Yanni Loukissas is Postdoctoral Associate in Science, Technology, and Society.

Why Nations Fail book cover

Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson 

Why Nations Fail  
Random House, 2012

Daron Acemoglu is the Charles P. Kindleberger Professor of Economics

Proposed: that political institutions, above all, determine the wealth of nations
It is among the most significant questions in history: Why do some nations, become wealthy and powerful, while others remain mired in poverty? In an acclaimed, highly readable new book, economists Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson assert that above all else, political institutions — not culture, geography, or natural resources — determine the wealth of nations.  Info, videos, reviews

Alan Lightman
Mr. g
Pantheon, 2012

"With echoes of Calvino and Saramago, Mr. g celebrates the tragic and joyous nature of existence on the grandest possible scale."

Alan Lightman is Adjunct Professor in the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies, and an active research scientist in astronomy and physics for two decades. Lightman’s earlier novels include Einstein’s Dreams, an international best seller; Good Benito; and The Diagnosis, a finalist for the National Book Award; and Reunion.
Reviews | Interview in The Atlantic

Between Page and Screen book cover

Amaranth Borsuk and Brad Bouse
Between Page and Screen
Siglio Press, 2012

Amaranth Borsuk was Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities, WHS, and CMS for 2010-2012.

Handiwork book cover

Amaranth Borsuk
Slope Editions, 2012

Amaranth Borsuk is Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities, WHS, and CMS.

Evocations album cover

Mark Harvey
Leo Records, 2012
Performed by The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra

Mark Harvey is Lecturer of Music.

On An Irish Island cover

Robert Kanigel
On An Irish Island
Knopf, 2012

Robert Kangiel is Professor of Science Writing.

What we gain, and what we lose, with technological advances 
On an Irish Island
 is a love letter to a vanished way of life, in which Kanigel, the highly praised author of The Man Who Knew Infinity, tells the story of the Great Blasket, a wild, beautiful island off the west coast of Ireland, renowned during the early 20th century for the rich communal life of its residents and the unadulterated Irish they spoke. With the Irish language vanishing elsewhere, the island became a magnet for scholars and writers during the Gaelic renaissance.

I Married a Travel Junkie book cover

Samuel Jay Keyser
I Married a Travel Junkie
GemmaMedia Books, 2012

Samuel Jay Keyser is de Florez Professor Emeritus and Special Assistant to the Chancellor.

Penser l'adoption. La gouvernance pastorale du genre (Rethinking Adoption. The P

Bruno Perreau
Penser l'adoption. La gouvernance pastorale du genre
(Rethinking Adoption. The Pastoral Governance of Gender)

Presses Universitaires de France, 2012

Bruno Perreau is Assistant Professor of French Studies.


Mere Possibilities book cover

Robert Stalnaker
Mere Possibilities: Metaphysical Foundations of Modal Semantics
Princeton University Press, 2012

Robert Stalnaker is Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Philosophy.

Oxford Handbook of the Indian Economy book cover

Robert Townsend
with Xavier Gines, James Vickrey, and Lev Menand
"Micro-insurance: A Case Study of the Indian Rainfall Insurance Market," in The Oxford Handbook of the Indian Economy; Chetan Ghate (ed.)

Robert Townsend is Elizabeth and James Killian Professor of Economics.










A Widening Sphere book cover

Philip N. Alexander
A Widening Sphere: Evolving Cultures at MIT  
MIT Press, 2011

Philip N. Alexander is Research Associate in the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies.

Poor Economics book cover

Poor Economics:
A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty

by Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo
Public Affairs, 2011

What really works in alleviating poverty?

For more than fifteen years Abhijit V. Banerjee, Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics, and Esther Duflo, Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics, have worked in dozens of countries spanning five continents, trying to understand the specific problems that come with poverty and to find proven solutions. Through a careful analysis of a very rich body of evidence, including the hundreds of randomized control trials that Banerjee and Duflo’s Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) has pioneered, they show why the poor, despite having the same desires and abilities as anyone else, end up with entirely different lives.

Poor Economics argues that so much of anti-poverty policy has failed over the years because of an inadequate understanding of poverty. The battle against poverty can be won, they argue, but it will take patience, careful thinking, and a willingness to learn from evidence. The work of Banerjee and Duflo offers transformative potential for poor people anywhere, and this volume is a vital guide to policy makers, philanthropists, activists, and anyone else who cares about building a world without poverty.

“A marvellously insightful book by two outstanding researchers on the real nature of poverty.” 
—Amartya Sen, Lamont University Professor and Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University and winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics

“This book is a must-read for anyone who cares about world poverty. It has been years since I read a book that taught me so much. Poor Economics represents the best that economics has to offer.” 
—Steven D. Levitt, William B. Ogden Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago and author of Freakonomics


Poor Economics website

Abhijit Banerjee's website

Esther Duflo's website

Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab website

Down New Utrecht Avenue book cover

Edward C. Barrett
Down New Utrecht Avenue
Press Wafer, 2011

Edward Barrett is Senior Lecturer in the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies.

The Delegated Welfare State cover

Andrea Louise Campbell and Kimberly J. Morgan
The Delegated Welfare State: Medicare, Markets, and the Governance of Social Policy
Oxford University Press, 2011

Andrea Louise Campbell is Associate Professor of Political Science.

Walter Benjamin book cover

Howard Eiland
Editor, Early Writings (1910-1917) Walter Benjamin
Belknap Press, Harvard U.P., 2011

Howard Eiland is Lecturer in Literature.

Health Care Reform book cover

Jonathan Gruber
Illustrated by Nathan Schreiber
Health Care Reform: What It Is, Why It's Necessary, How It Works
Hill and Wang, 2011

Jonathan Gruber is Professor of Economics.

American Anthrax book cover

Jeanne Guillemin
American Anthrax: Fear, Crime, and the
Investigation of the Nation's Deadliest Bioterror Attack 

Macmillan, 2011

Jeanne Guillemin is Research Affiliate in the Center for International Studies.

Alice Bliss book cover

Laura Harrington
Alice Bliss
Penguin, 2011

Laura Harrington is Lecturer of Theater Arts.

Seeking the Infinite book cover

Frederick Harris Jr.
Seeking the Infinite: The Musical Life of Stanisław Skrowaczewski
createspace, 2011

Review in Bruckner Journal

Frederick Harris Jr. is Director of the MIT Wind and Festival Jazz ensembles and Lecturer in Music.

Treasures 5 DVD cover

Mark Harvey
The Golden West
Film Score and Performance
National Film Preservation Foundation, 2011

Mark Harvey is Lecturer in Music. 

Trade of the Tricks book cover

Graham M. Jones
Trade of the Tricks: Inside the Magician's Craft
University of California Press, 2011

Graham M. Jones is Assistant Professor of Anthropology.

Book Cover

David Kaiser
How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival
W. W. Norton, 2011

David Kaiser is Professor of Science, Technology, and Society.

Tocqueville and His America book cover

Arthur Kaledin
Tocqueville and His America: A Darker Horizon
Yale University Press, 2011

Arthur Kaledin is Professor of History Emeritus.


Keyser book cover

Samuel Jay Keyser
Mens et Mania: The MIT Nobody Knows
The MIT Press, 2011

Samuel Jay Keyser is Professor Emeritus in Linguistics, and continues to serve the Institute as Special Assistant to the Chancellor.

Words to Eat By book cover

Ina Lipkowitz
Words to Eat By: Five Foods and the Culinary History of the English Language
St. Martin's Press, 2011

Ina Lipkowitz is Lecturer in Literature.

Target album cover

Keeril Makan
Starkland, 2011

Keeril Makan is Lister Brothers Career Development Associate Professor of Music.

Treasures 5 book cover

Martin M. Marks
Treasures 5: The West, 1898-1938, DVD set
National Film Preservation Foundation, 2011

Martin M. Marks is Senior Lecturer in Music.

Western Intervention in the Balkans book cover

Roger D. Petersen
Western Intervention in the Balkans: The Strategic Use of Emotion in Conflict
Cambridge University Press, 2011


Roger D. Petersen is Arthur and Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science.

Renaissance Literature book cover

Shankar Raman
Renaissance Literature and Postcolonial Studies
Edinburgh University Press, 2011

Shankar Raman is Associate Professor of Literature.

Modes of Creativity book cover

Irving Singer
Modes of Creativity
MIT Press, 2011

Irving Singer is Professor of Philosophy.

Dispersed Radiance book cover

Abha Sur
Dispersed Radiance: Caste, Gender, and Modern Science in India
South Asia Books, 2011

Abha Sur is Lecturer in Women's and Gender Studies.

Poems book cover

Stephen Tapscott
Editor and Translator, Poems, by Georg Trakl
Field Poetry series, 2011

Stephen Tapscott is Professor of Literature.

The Deaths of Others

John Tirman
The Deaths of Others: The Fate of Civilians in America's Wars
Oxford University Press, 2011

John Tirman is Principal Research Scientist and Executive Director of the Center for International Studies.

Book Cover - Financial Systems in Developing Economies

Robert Townsend
Financial Systems in Developing Economies
Oxford University Press, 2011

Robert Townsend is Elizabeth & James Killian Professor of Economics.

French Theatre Today book cover

Edward Baron Turk
French Theatre Today: The View from New York, Paris, and Avignon
University of Iowa Press, 2011

Edward Baron Turk is John E. Burchard Professor of the Humanities and Professor of French and Film Studies.


Alone Together book cover

Sherry Turkle
Alone Together
Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other
Basic Books, 2011

Sherry Turkle is Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology.







Becoming MIT bookcover

David Kaiser
Editor, Becoming MIT: Moments of Decision
MIT Press, 2010

David Kaiser is Associate Professor of Science, Technology, and Society.

Ratification book cover

Pauline Maier
Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788
Simon & Schuster, 2010

Related story

Pauline Maier is William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of American History.

Cultures of War cover

John Dower
Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor / Hiroshima / 9-11 / Iraq
The New Press, 2010

John Dower is Professor Emeritus of History.

Pantomime cd cover

Peter Child
Pantomime: Chamber Music of Peter Child
Lorelt (LNT 131), 2010

Peter Child is Professor of Music.

Book Cover for The Mirage of a Space

Evelyn Fox Keller
The Mirage of a Space between Nature and Nurture
Duke University Press, 2010

Evelyn Fox Keller is Emerita Professor of the History and Philosophy of Science.

La Politique de l'autonomie cover

Esther Duflo
La Politique de l'autonomie (French)
Le Seuil, 2010

Esther Duflo is Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics.

A Reader in Medical Anthropology book cover

Michael M.J. Fischer
Editor, A Reader in Medical Anthropology: Theoretical Trajectories and Emergent Realities
Byron Good, Sarah Willen, and Mary Jo DelVecchio Good (eds.)
Wiley-Blackwell, 2010

Michael M.J. Fischer is Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Anthropology and Science and Technology Studies.

Nordics in Global Crisis cover

Bengt Holmström
Nordics in Global Crisis: Vulnerability and Resilience
Taloustieto Oy, 2010

Bengt Holmström is Paul A. Samuelson Professor of Economics.

Conservatives in Power cover

Meg Jacobs and Julian E. Zelizer
Conservatives in Power: The Reagan Years, 1981-1989
Bedford / St. Martin's, 2010

Meg Jacobs is Associate Professor of History.

A Reader in Medical Anthropology cover

Erica Caple James
"The Political Economy of 'Trauma' in Haiti in the Democratic Era of Insecurity," in A Reader in Medical Anthropology: Theoretical Trajectories, Emergent Realities; Byron J. Good, Michael M.J. Fischer, Sarah S. Willen, and Mary-Jo DelVecchio Good (eds.)
Wiley-Blackwell, 2010

Erica Caple James is Associate Professor of Anthropology.

Democratic Insecurities - Book Cover

Erica Caple James
Democratic Insecurities: Violence, Trauma, and Intervention in Haiti
University of California Press, 2010

Erica Caple James is Associate Professor of Anthropology.

What's the Use of Race? book cover

David Jones and Ian Whitmarsh
Editors, What's the Use of Race? Modern Governance and the Biology of Difference
MIT Press, 2010

David Jones is Associate Professor of the History and Culture of Science and Technology.

Faux Real book cover

Robert Kanigel
Faux Real: Genuine Leather and 200 Years of Inspired Fakes
Paperback Edition, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010

Robert Kanigel is Professor of Science Writing.

Riddle & Bind book cover

Nick Montfort
Riddle & Bind
Spineless Books, 2010

Nick Montfort is Associate Professor of Digital Media.

Knowing Shakespeare book cover

Shankar Raman and Lowell Gallagher
Editors, Knowing Shakespeare: Senses, Embodiment and Cognition
Palgrave Macmillan, 2010

Shankar Raman is Associate Professor of Literature.

Uttering Trees cover

Norvin Richards
Uttering Trees
The MIT Press, 2010

Norvin Richards is Professor of Linguistics.

Noble Cows & Hybrid Zebras cover

Harriet Ritvo
Noble Cows and Hybrid Zebras: Essays on Animals and History
University of Virginia Press, 2010

Harriet Ritvo is Arthur J. Conner Professor of History.

How She Danced CD cover image

Elena Ruehr
How She Danced: String Quartets of Elena Ruehr
Cypress String Quartet, 2010

Elena Ruehr is Lecturer of Music and Theater Arts.

Playing Our Game book cover

Edward Steinfeld
Playing Our Game: Why China's Rise Doesn't Threaten the West
Oxford University Press, 2010

Edward Steinfeld is Associate Professor of Political Science.

Committees in the U.S. Congress book cover

Charles Stewart and Garrison Nelson
Committees in the U.S. Congress, 1993-2010
CQ Press, 2010

Charles Stewart is Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Political Science.

Reconceptualizing book cover

Merritt Roe Smith, Leonard Rosenband, and Jeff Horn
Editors, Reconceptualizing the Industrial Revolution: A Global Perspective
MIT Press, 2010

Merritt Roe Smith is Cutten Professor of the History of Technology.

Things book cover

Stephen Yablo
Things: Papers on Objects, Events, and Properties
Oxford University Press, 2010

Stephen Yablo is Professor of Linguistics and Philosophy.

Democratic Insecurities - Book Cover

Erica Caple James
Democratic Insecurities: Violence, Trauma, and Intervention in Haiti
University of California Press, 2010

Erica Caple James is Associate Professor of Anthropology.

What's the Use of Race? book cover

David Jones and Ian Whitmarsh
Editors, What's the Use of Race? Modern Governance and the Biology of Difference
MIT Press, 2010

David Jones is Associate Professor of the History and Culture of Science and Technology.

Faux Real book cover

Robert Kanigel
Faux Real: Genuine Leather and 200 Years of Inspired Fakes
Paperback Edition, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010

Robert Kanigel is Professor of Science Writing.

Riddle & Bind book cover

Nick Montfort
Riddle & Bind
Spineless Books, 2010

Nick Montfort is Associate Professor of Digital Media.

Knowing Shakespeare book cover

Shankar Raman and Lowell Gallagher
Editors, Knowing Shakespeare: Senses, Embodiment and Cognition
Palgrave Macmillan, 2010

Shankar Raman is Associate Professor of Literature.

Uttering Trees cover

Norvin Richards
Uttering Trees
The MIT Press, 2010

Norvin Richards is Professor of Linguistics.

Noble Cows & Hybrid Zebras cover

Harriet Ritvo
Noble Cows and Hybrid Zebras: Essays on Animals and History
University of Virginia Press, 2010

Harriet Ritvo is Arthur J. Conner Professor of History.

How She Danced CD cover image

Elena Ruehr
How She Danced: String Quartets of Elena Ruehr
Cypress String Quartet, 2010

Elena Ruehr is Lecturer of Music and Theater Arts.

Playing Our Game book cover

Edward Steinfeld
Playing Our Game: Why China's Rise Doesn't Threaten the West
Oxford University Press, 2010

Edward Steinfeld is Associate Professor of Political Science.

Committees in the U.S. Congress book cover

Charles Stewart and Garrison Nelson
Committees in the U.S. Congress, 1993-2010
CQ Press, 2010

Charles Stewart is Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Political Science.

Reconceptualizing book cover

Merritt Roe Smith, Leonard Rosenband, and Jeff Horn
Editors, Reconceptualizing the Industrial Revolution: A Global Perspective
MIT Press, 2010

Merritt Roe Smith is Cutten Professor of the History of Technology.

Things book cover

Stephen Yablo
Things: Papers on Objects, Events, and Properties
Oxford University Press, 2010

Stephen Yablo is Professor of Linguistics and Philosophy.