Bookshelf Archive 2018

Faculty books and productions from 2018.

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

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 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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