Category Archives: Humanities

Powerful Documentary Films Honoring Indigenous Peoples

The Docuseek streaming video platform  provides a window into subjects and content from around the world and across disciplines. Here is a selection of titles that examine indigenous peoples of North America. Available through Duke Libraries with netid/password authentication, explore new cultures and topics through the lens of award-winning filmmakers.

Ama  Stream Online
A powerful look at the untold story of the involuntary sterilization of Native American women conducted by the Indian Health Service and lasting  well into the 1970s.
(Bullfrog Films, 2019, dir. Lorna Tucker)

 

Awake : a dream from Standing Rock Stream Online or Lilly DVD 31281
Moving from summer 2016, when demonstrations over the Dakota Access Pipeline’s demolishing of sacred Native burial grounds began, the film documents the story of Native-led  fight for clean water and the  environment. The film is a collaboration between indigenous filmmakers: Director Myron Dewey and Executive Producer Doug Good Feather; and environmental Oscar-nominated filmmakers Josh Fox and James Spione.

nipawistamasowin: We Will Stand Up Stream Online
The story of the killing of young Cree man Colten Boushie and his family’s pursuit of justice weaves a profound narrative encompassing the filmmaker’s own adoption. (National Film Board of Canada, 2020, dir. Tasha Hubbard)


Paulette
Stream Online
Follows the historic campaign of Paulette Jordan, the first Native American candidate — as well as the first woman — to win the Idaho Primary for Governor. (Women Make Movies, 2020, dir. Heather Rae)


Sisters Rising Stream Online
Native American survivors of sexual assault fight to restore personal and tribal sovereignty against the backdrop of an ongoing legacy of violent colonization. (Woman Make Movies, 2021, dir. Willow O’Feral)


Tribal Justice Stream Online

Anne Makepeace documents an effective criminal justice reform movement in America: the efforts of tribal courts to return to traditional, community-healing concepts of justice. (Bullfrog Films, 2017, dir. Anne Makepeace)


Without a Whisper Stream online

The untold story of the profound influence of Indigenous women on the beginning of the women’s rights movement in the United States. (Women Make Movies, 2020, dir. Katsitsionni Fox)

 

Apply for Spring Archival Expeditions by 10/29

Spring 2022 Archival and Digital Expeditions

Are you interested in developing your skills in designing learning experiences for students? Interested in engaging students with digital and physical primary source materials? Consider participating in Archival and Digital Expeditions!

Archival and Digital Expeditions is a unique opportunity for graduate students to work with a faculty member to design a learning module involving archival materials. The collections can be physical materials in Duke’s David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, or any variety of digital collections available at Duke or elsewhere. There are numerous possibilities.

Eligibility: Any Duke PhD student who has completed one academic year at Duke.

Stipend: $1,500 for designing the module. An additional $500 is available to students who teach their module in a subsequent semester.

Expected time commitment: 70-75 hours over the course of the semester to be spent consulting with their sponsor, library staff and other experts and researching, developing and testing the module.

Timeframe: Spring 2022

To learn more and apply: https://library.duke.edu/rubenstein/instruction/archival-expeditions

Applications are due October 29, 2021.

For more information contact Katie Henningsen (katie.henningsen@duke.edu) or Arianne Hartsell-Gundy (arianne.hartsell.gundy@duke.edu)

ONLINE: Low Maintenance Book Club reads “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”

Take a seat at the round table for a discussion of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, a delightfully creepy Arthurian tale (and the inspiration for the new movie The Green Knight, starring Dev Patel). We’ll meet on Wednesday, October 27th at noon over Zoom, and the link will be mailed out the morning of the meeting. Register here to join us. As always, you’re welcome to join regardless of how much (or whether) you’ve read.

Although you may choose to read any edition (including some freely available online), we especially recommend the Burton Raffel and J.R.R. Tolkien translations.

What to Read this Month: September 2021

Hello again! We at the library hope your semester has gotten off to a good start, and that you’re enjoying the great weather we’ve been having lately. I myself have been so excited about the apparent start of fall (we’ll see if it sticks this time) that I’ve nearly forgotten to recommend some great new reads for the month. Whoops! Fortunately, since our New & Noteworthy and Overdrive collections are adding new titles all the time, it’s easy to find something new to read, even on short notice. Here are just a few of these new selections!


Amazon.com: Harlem Shuffle: A Novel: 9780385545136: Whitehead, Colson: BooksHarlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead. In this latest novel by Whitehead, winner of last year’s Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, furniture salesman Ray Carney finds himself at the center of a heist gone wrong in early 1960s Harlem. Specifically covering the years 1959 to 1964, the reader watches as Ray attempts to balance his slightly doubled life as an upstanding entrepreneur who occasionally fences stolen goods for thieves, a balance that is slowly unraveled by a heist at the locally renowned Hotel Theresa perpetuated by his cousin Freddie in the first act. Freddie, who is far more of a career criminal than Ray, arranges for him to fence the products of the heist, and this intrusion into his work has consequences that run the course of the book. Along the way, Ray also plans revenge against an unscrupulous banker, and this act brings with it its own host of various and sundry characters and events. As the story takes shape, too, it meaningfully engages with the contemporary history of Harlem, all the while maintaining its humor and gentle parody of 20th century crime fiction. You can read reviews here and here.


Already Toast: Caregiving and Burnout in America: Washington, Kate:  9780807011508: Amazon.com: BooksAlready Toast: Caregiving and Burnout in America by Kate Washington. In this book, Washington chronicles her own experiences of caregiving from 2016 to 2018 while linking them to the extensive, collective struggle of unpaid family caregivers in the contemporary United States. With often devastating detail, she describes the way in which her husband Brad’s sudden lymphoma diagnosis completely upended the lives of herself and her family, his rare illness repeatedly evading treatment and requiring Washington to devote all her time to learning how to care for him at the expense of her career and relationships, including with Brad himself. Washington deftly contextualizes these experiences by discussing how systemic barriers play out in caregiving situations, noting, among other things, how unpaid caregivers—who are disproportionately women—are routinely denied any kind of meaningful support in modern-day American society. Though she ends her account by discussing Brad’s general improvement after a stem-cell transplant (which it is by no means a full recovery), she uses her experience to call for increased structural support for caregivers. You can read a review here and listen to an interview with Washington here.


Afterparties: Stories: So, Anthony Veasna: 9780063049901: Amazon.com: BooksAfterparties by Anthony Veasna So. This short story collection, So’s posthumous debut (he died in December 2020 at the age of 28), tells the stories of numerous Cambodian-American characters, young and old alike, in California’s Central Valley. The stories primarily concern themselves with generational and cultural differences between the characters as they each reckon with their Cambodian identity in various ways. At a donut shop, a wedding, a car repair shop, and still many other settings, So’s characters interact and clash over what this identity should mean and how it manifests in their lives. In all, the stories touch on themes of sexuality, the cultural importance of food, generational ties, and the enduring legacy of the Cambodian genocide, among other topics. You can read reviews here and here.


Craft: An American History: Adamson, Glenn: 9781635574586: Amazon.com: BooksCraft: An American History by Glenn Adamson. In this exhaustive survey, stretching some four centuries, curator Adamson covers the importance of craft in American history, emphasizing its universal presence in all the cultures that form the modern-day United States. In defining craft as “whenever a skilled person makes something with their hands,” too, Adamson’s reach is quite broad, studying everything from the effect of the industrial revolution on American craft to the much more recent impact of e-commerce and social media. Throughout this lengthy discussion, Adamson is quick to discuss the long and fraught relationship between craft and capitalism, noting the repeated tendency of American culture to characterize craft as unserious and lacking in value, and to characterize crafters—particularly those of marginalized identity—in exploitative, demeaning, and fetishistic ways. In all, the book is a nuanced and fascinating read. You can read reviews here and here.


The Disaster Tourist: A Novel: Ko-Eun, Yun, Buehler, Lizzie: 9781640094161:  Amazon.com: BooksThe Disaster Tourist by Yun Ko-eun (translated by Lizzie Buehler). In this dark satire of late-stage capitalism, originally published in South Korea in 2013 but published in English for the first time last year, Yun tells the story of Yona, an employee at a travel company that specializes in disaster tourism, arranging tours to locales devastated by all kinds of momentous crises for the perceived moral betterment of their customers. Yona has worked for the company for 10 years, coordinating tours and assessing what locations would bring in the most clients, but is on the brink of quitting after facing the sexual harassment of her boss and getting demoted for no clear reason. In a last-ditch effort to keep her in the company, she is directed to travel to an island called Mui, the company’s least popular destination. There, Yona discovers a seemingly ludicrous plot being carried out by the company: to bring in more clients, the company will create a disaster on the island, one that will surely kill a significant number of its inhabitants. From here, Yona must make some critical decisions, and Yun portrays her subsequent period on the island in a terrifying and yet darkly humorous way. You can read reviews here and here.

2021 Banned Books Week

This post was written by Sydney Adams, current practicum student in the Research and Instructional Services department at Duke and second year graduate student in the School of Information and Library Science at UN Chapel-Hill.

This week (September 26th-October 2nd, 2021) is Banned Books Week, which is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. The theme for Banned Books Week this year is “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.” While censorship creates barriers between us, sharing stories allows us to forge connections with one another.

This year, we have compiled a collection of commonly banned and challenged books for Mystery Date with a Banned Book. Below is a list of books that were either banned or challenged during 2020, but instead of telling you the book titles, we’ve provided a summary of each book and the reason(s) why it was banned or challenged. If any of these books sound interesting to you, click on the “Mystery Book” link to check out that book from Duke University Libraries.

  • Mystery Book 1: In this novel, two teens—one Black, one white—grapple with the repercussions of a single violent act that leaves their school, their community, and, ultimately, the country bitterly divided by racial tension.
    • Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity, drug use, and alcoholism and because it was thought to promote antipolice views, contain divisive topics, and be “too much of a sensitive matter right now.”
  • Mystery Book 2: Japanese animation is more popular than ever following the 2002 Academy Award given to Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away. It confirmed that anime is more than just children’s cartoons, often portraying important social and cultural themes. This book will be the authoritative source on anime for an exploding market of viewers who want to know more.
    • Reasons: Challenged because it includes pornographic content in a chapter that explores the subject of bodies in hentai, a sub-genre of anime.
  • Mystery Book 3: This is the story of eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove—a Black girl in an America whose love for its blond, blue-eyed children can devastate all others—who prays for her eyes to turn blue: so that she will be beautiful, so that people will look at her, so that her world will be different. This is the story of the nightmare at the heart of her yearning and the tragedy of its fulfillment.
    • Reasons: Banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and depicts child sexual abuse.
  • Mystery Book 4: Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about.
    • Reasons: Challenged in North Carolina for being “anti-Christian” and on the grounds that the school’s use of the novel violates constitutional safeguards against government endorsement of religion.
  • Mystery Book 5: This autobiography charts the author’s journey of self-identity, which includes the mortification and confusion of adolescent crushes, grappling with how to come out to family and society, bonding with friends over erotic gay fanfiction, and facing the trauma and fundamental violation of pap smears.
    • Reason: Challenged and relocated for LGBTQIA+ content.
  • Mystery Book 6: The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons their love, their sacrifices, and their lies.
    • Reasons: This critically acclaimed, multigenerational novel was challenged and banned because it includes sexual violence and was thought to “lead to terrorism” and “promote Islam.”
  • Mystery Book 7: Through a gripping, fast-paced, and energizing narrative, this book shines a light on the many insidious forms of racist ideas—and on ways readers can identify and stamp out racist thoughts in their daily lives.
    • Reasons: Banned and challenged because of the author’s public statements and because of claims that the book contains “selective storytelling incidents” and does not encompass racism against all people.

Summaries courtesy of Syndetic Solutions, Inc. Reasons for ban or challenge courtesy of the American Library Association and the Office for Intellectual Freedom.

Witness to Guantanamo Interviews Now Online

Post by Patrick Stawski, Human Rights Archivist in the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Screenshot of a video interview with Mourad Benchellali, a French national who was detained in Guantanamo from January 2002 until July 2004, when he was returned to France. One of 153 interviews now available in the Witness to Guantanamo Digital Collection.

As the nation prepares to mark the twentieth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, the Duke University Libraries are excited to announce the launch of the Witness to Guantanamo Digital Collection. Witness to Guantanamo includes 153 video interviews with former detainees and other individuals—attorneys, chaplains, guards, interrogators, interpreters, government officials, human rights advocates, medical personnel, and journalists—who witnessed the impact of the Guantanamo Bay detention center in the post-9/11 years. An additional 346 short clips from the full-length interviews are also included. English language interviews are accompanied by transcripts, and we are working to transcribe those in other languages as well.

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the American naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, became the site of the detention center for suspected al Qaeda and Taliban operatives. Peter Jan Honigsberg, professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law, began Witness to Guantanamo (WtG) in fall 2008, after realizing that no one was collecting and preserving the voices and stories of “Gitmo.” He modelled the project after grassroots truth commissions and the Shoah Foundation’s collection of Holocaust survivor testimonies. Professor Honigsberg’s book, A Place Outside the Law: Forgotten Voices from Guantanamo, narrates many of the extraordinary, powerful, and rare stories he filmed over the course of a decade and across 20 countries. His book is a tribute to the humanity we all share.

The full set of interviews are now archived at the Rubenstein Library’s Human Rights Archive and available through the digital repository. Witness to Guantanamo is unique. No one else has done this work. While there are many collections and projects dispersed around the world containing documents, case files, and data about Guantanamo and the U.S. War on Terror, WtG is the only collection that foregrounds the voices of the individuals detained there and whose lives were forever changed by the experience. The video interviews cover a wide range of topics, including physical and psychological torture, lawlessness, religious faith, medical care, interrogations, interminable detentions without charges, sham hearings, women at Guantanamo, and acts of courage.

In one interview, former detainee Mourad Benchellali reflects on his efforts to turn his imprisonment from 2002 to 2004 into something positive, in the hope that by hearing his story, young people will not join ISIS or participate in suicide attacks. “I simply tell them my story, telling them, ‘This is what I found out. This is what I saw in Afghanistan,’” Benchellali says. “I tell them about being tortured. I tell them about bombings. I tell them how groups enlist you… I tell them all of this, and I say, ‘Be careful, here are the dangers you may run into over there, as I did. I don’t want what happened to me to happen to you, but you have to decide for yourself.’”

In another interview, detainee attorney Alkha Pradhan discusses the process of trying to defend her client, Ammar al Baluchi. At one point in her interview, she reflects on how the CIA deployed its classification policy to control her client: “You know, even though these are his memories, these are his experiences, the government continues to classify them and continues to prevent him from being able to tell the world about them… by virtue of being him, by virtue of being again, brown, non-citizen, Muslim detainee in the CIA system, everything he says is classified. Everything he thinks is classified.”

These first-hand testimonies reveal the physical, emotional, and political scars inflicted by Guantanamo. They also underscore how the treatment of detainees and the use of extra-legal procedures hobbled rather than enabled the rule of law and the quest for truth and justice. They are an invaluable resource for students, scholars, and people around the world to reflect on the path taken by the U.S. in the years following 9/11. The Human Rights Archive is planning an exhibit based on the Witness to Guantanamo collection for January 2022 at the Power Plant Gallery in downtown Durham to coincide with the twentieth anniversary of the first detainees arriving at Guantanamo in 2002. More information about the exhibit will be coming soon.

Online: Low Maintenance Book Club reads “Persepolis”

To get in the back-to-school spirit, we’ll be reading and discussing Persepolis, a newer addition to many middle and high school reading lists. Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel describes her experience growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. As always, you’re welcome to join regardless of how much (or whether) you’ve read the book!

Low Maintenance Book Club reads Persepolis
Tuesday, September 28th, noon-1pm
Zoom (link to be sent the morning of meeting)

Copies of the book can be found at Duke University Libraries and at all local public libraries. Please RSVP to receive a Zoom link the morning of the meeting.

If you have questions, please contact Arianne Hartsell-Gundy at aah39@duke.edu

What to Read this Month: August 2021

Welcome to the fall semester! We at the library know that this is a busy time for everyone at Duke (including ourselves), but if you have time to read, here are some new recommendations from our New & Noteworthy and Overdrive collections! The titles below represent only a tiny fraction of these collections, so be sure to follow those links to explore them in more depth. For the first time in a long time, too, you can visit our New & Noteworthy collection on the first floor of Perkins, inside the lobby by the Perk. Just be sure to wear a mask!


Amazon.com: The Aeneid: 9781984854100: Vergil, Virgil, Bartsch, Shadi: BooksThe Aeneid by Vergil, translated by Shadi Bartsch. Though there are numerous English translations of Vergil’s epic, Bartsch’s, which was published in the US earlier this year, sets itself apart by striving to be as close to the original Latin as possible in its content and presentation. Unlike most English translations, Bartsch largely preserves Vergil’s rhythm, resulting in often clipped English that starkly contrasts with other high-profile translations of the poem. Accompanying the translation is her introduction, in which she discusses the Aeneid’s continuing political resonance today, over 2000 years after it was originally written. In all, this new translation offers an innovative look at the poem, one that keeps close to Vergil while also rendering the poem accessible to modern-day readers. You can read a review here and an excerpt here.


How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across  America: Smith, Clint: 9780316492935: Amazon.com: BooksHow the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning With the History of Slavery Across America by Clint Smith. In this book, Atlantic staff writer Smith studies the way the history and legacy of slavery in the United States has been dealt with at nine historic sites (eight in the US, and one abroad). As Smith observes, each site reckons with the subject quite differently—he contrasts, for example, the centering of enslaved people’s lives at Louisiana’s Whitney Plantation with the glorification of the Confederacy at Virginia’s Blandford Cemetery—reflecting the contradictory and tumultuous understanding of slavery present in American culture at large. Smith’s depiction of these sites is multi-faceted and richly described, in no small part because he interviews such a wide range of people, including tourists and tour guides, historians and other experts, and formerly incarcerated people. In presenting such a complex picture of historical reception in the contemporary United States, Smith offers a compelling and extremely relevant read. You can read reviews here and here.


Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner: 9780525657743 |  PenguinRandomHouse.com: BooksCrying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner. In this memoir Zauner, founder of the band Japanese Breakfast, depicts her often complicated relationship with her mother Chongmi, as well as her grief following Chongmi’s death from cancer in 2014. Though Zauner describes a childhood and adolescence in which she attempts to distance herself from her and Chongmi’s Korean heritage (Zauner’s father Joel is white American), she finds that her ties to her mother always remain in some form, and often hinge upon their shared love of Korean cuisine. Just when Zauner begins to increasingly reconnect with her mother in her twenties, Chongmi is diagnosed with cancer. Zauner describes the futility of the treatments and her mother’s slow death, and spends the rest of the book depicting the ways in which her intense grief shaped her life and musical work. In describing these emotionally wrought events, the memoir serves as a unique meditation on the relationship between food and identity, as well as grief. You can read reviews here and here.


Amazon.com: Hearing Homer's Song: The Brief Life and Big Idea of Milman  Parry: 9780525520948: Kanigel, Robert: BooksHearing Homer’s Song: The Brief Life and Big Idea of Milman Parry by Robert Kanigel. In this biography, Kanigel tackles the life of classicist Milman Parry, who died young but proved to be monumentally influential on the field of Classical studies. Though some previous Classical scholars had proposed the idea that Homer, legendary author of the Iliad and Odyssey, was not in fact a real person, it was Parry who first fully fleshed out the idea that the epics were the products of generations of storytelling by countless performers. Kanigel discusses at length how Parry came to this conclusion, including his pointed observations about language and meter in Homer’s poems, as well as his travels to Yugoslavia, where he closely studied the oral traditions of the region’s singers and performers. In the midst of this discussion, Kanigel talks about the often difficult circumstances of Parry’s personal life, including his dysfunctional marriage and untimely death: Parry shot himself at the age of 33 in 1935, but whether this was a suicide, an accident, or a murder at the hands of his wife remains unclear. You can read reviews here and here.


Revival Season: A Novel: West, Monica: 9781982133306: Amazon.com: BooksRevival Season by Monica West. In this novel, West tells the story of teenager Miriam Horton as she accompanies her family on a summer-long tour of Baptist revivals in the South. Her father Samuel, once an exceptionally popular preacher and faith healer on the revival circuit, finds his audience evaporating as word gets out about his physically assaulting a pregnant teenager during the previous summer. This disappointment heightens preexisting tensions between the volatile Samuel and his family, but things get even more complicated for Miriam when she discovers that, unlike her father, she has a genuine ability to heal others. What follows is Miriam’s gradual coming-of-age, and the discovery of her individual spirituality, as she navigates her relationships with her father, mother, sister, and various others. In bringing Miriam’s story to life, West offers a thoughtful and enjoyable—though sometimes intense—meditation on African-American evangelicalism, patriarchy, and general spirituality. You can read reviews here and here.

What to Read this Month: July 2021

Looking for something new to read?   Check out our New and Noteworthy, Overdrive, and Current Literature collections for some good reads to enjoy!


Chatter: The Voice in our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It by Ethan Kross. Tell a stranger that you talk to yourself, and you’re likely to get written off as eccentric. But the truth is that we all have a voice in our head. When we talk to ourselves, we often hope to tap into our inner coach but find our inner critic instead. When we’re facing a tough task, our inner coach can buoy us up: Focus–you can do this. But, just as often, our inner critic sinks us entirely: I’m going to fail. They’ll all laugh at me. What’s the use? Ethan Kross explores the silent conversations we have with ourselves. Interweaving groundbreaking behavioral and brain research from his own lab with real-world case studies–from a pitcher who forgets how to pitch, to a Harvard undergrad negotiating her double life as a spy–Kross explains how these conversations shape our lives, work, and relationships. You can read reviews here, here, and here.


The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix, author of The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires. Lynette Tarkington is a real-life final girl who survived a massacre. For more than a decade, she’s been meeting with five other final girls and their therapist in a support group for those who survived the unthinkable, working to put their lives back together. Then one woman misses a meeting, and their worst fears are realized—someone knows about the group and is determined to rip their lives apart again, piece by piece. But the thing about final girls is that no matter how bad the odds, how dark the night, how sharp the knife, they will never, ever give up. Read a review here, and an interview here.


How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones. In the tradition of Zadie Smith and Marlon James, a brilliant Caribbean writer delivers a powerful story about four people each desperate to escape their legacy of violence in a so-called “paradise.” In Baxter’s Beach, Barbados, Lala’s grandmother Wilma tells the story of the one-armed sister. It’s a cautionary tale, about what happens to girls who disobey their mothers and go into the Baxter’s Tunnels. When she’s grown, Lala lives on the beach with her husband, Adan, a petty criminal with endless charisma whose thwarted burglary of one of the beach mansions sets off a chain of events with terrible consequences. The book is an intimate and visceral portrayal of interconnected lives, across race and class, in a rapidly changing resort town, told by an astonishing new author of literary fiction. You can read reviews here and here.


I Like to Watch: Arguing My Way through the TV Revolution by Emily Nussbaum. From The New Yorker ‘s fiercely original, Pulitzer Prize-winning culture critic, a provocative collection of new and previously published essays arguing that we are what we watch. In this collection, including two never-before-published essays, Nussbaum writes about her passion for television, beginning with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the show that set her on a fresh intellectual path. She explores the rise of the female screw-up, how fans warp the shows they love, the messy power of sexual violence on TV, and the year that jokes helped elect a reality-television president. More than a collection of reviews, the book makes a case for toppling the status anxiety that has long haunted the “idiot box,” even as it transformed. Through it all, Nussbaum recounts her fervent search, over fifteen years, for a new kind of criticism, one that resists the false hierarchy that elevates one kind of culture (violent, dramatic, gritty) over another (joyful, funny, stylized). It’s a book that celebrates television as television, even as each year warps the definition of just what that might mean.


The Agitators: Three Friends Who Fought for Abolition and Women’s Rights by Dorothy Wickenden. In the 1850s, Harriet Tubman, strategically brilliant and uncannily prescient, rescued some seventy enslaved people from Maryland’s Eastern Shore and shepherded them north along the underground railroad. One of her regular stops was Auburn, New York, where she entrusted passengers to Martha Coffin Wright, a Quaker mother of seven, and Frances A. Seward, the wife of William H. Seward, who served over the years as governor, senator, and secretary of state under Abraham Lincoln.  Through richly detailed letters from the time and exhaustive research, Wickenden traces the second American revolution these women fought to bring about, the toll it took on their families, and its lasting effects on the country. Riveting and profoundly relevant to our own time, The Agitators brings a vibrant, original voice to this transformative period in our history. You can read review here, and the US National Archives has a video (starts at about the 10 minute mark) of a virtual book discussion with the author.

LMBC Big Books Edition: Middlemarch (final discussion)

Duke University Library’s Low Maintenance Book Club (Big Books Edition) goes provincial this summer with George Eliot’s Middlemarch, discussed over three monthly meetings.

  • The third will take place on Zoom, Tuesday, August 10, noon-1pm EST and cover book seven through the end of the novel.
  • The second took place on Zoom, Tuesday, July 13, noon-1pm EST and covered book four through book six. A link to the Zoom meeting will be sent out the morning of the 13th.
  • The first meeting took place on Tuesday, June 15, noon-1pm EST and covered the prelude through book three.

Frequently named as one of the greatest British novels, Eliot’s work explores issues of class and gender through the residents of the fictional town of Middlemarch. Does it live up to its reputation? Is it still relevant in the present age? Let’s discuss!

Print and online versions of Middlemarch can be found through Duke University Libraries and most public libraries. Project Gutenberg also provides multiple ebook formats for free.

Although the readings are longer, the low maintenance attitude is the same. Join as you like, discuss as much as you want–or just hang out and enjoy the company. Everyone is welcome. Just RSVP so we know how many to expect, and we’ll send out a Zoom link the morning of the meeting.

What to Listen to this Month: June 2021

Normally we highlight books from our New and Noteworthy, and Current Literature collections for this monthly post, but this month we will be showcasing audiobooks from our Overdrive. Protip: make sure to also check out Durham County Public Library’s Overdrive collection!


Just as I Am: A Memoir written and narrated by Cicely Tyson. “Just As I Am is my truth. It is me, plain and unvarnished, with the glitter and garland set aside. Here, I am indeed Cicely, the actress who has been blessed to grace the stage and screen for six decades. Yet I am also the church girl who once rarely spoke a word. I am the teenager who sought solace in the verses of the old hymn for which this book is named. I am a daughter and mother, a sister, and a friend. I am an observer of human nature and the dreamer of audacious dreams. I am a woman who has hurt as immeasurably as I have loved, a child of God divinely guided by His hand. And here in my ninth decade, I am a woman who, at long last, has something meaningful to say.” –Cicely Tyson


The Mirror & the Light by Hilary Mantel. With The Mirror & the Light, Hilary Mantel brings to a triumphant close the trilogy she began with her Booker Prize-winning novels, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. She traces the final years of Thomas Cromwell, the boy from nowhere who climbs to the heights of power, offering a defining portrait of predator and prey, of a ferocious contest between present and past, between royal will and a common man’s vision: of a modern nation making itself through conflict, passion and courage. This book is read by Ben Miles, who played Thomas Cromwell in the Royal Shakespeare Company adaptation of Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies and includes a bonus conversation between Ben Miles and Hilary Mantel.


Work Won’t Love You Back: How Devotion to Our Jobs Keeps Us Exploited, Exhausted, and Alone by Sarah Jaffe. You’re told that if you “do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” Whether it’s working for “exposure” and “experience,” or enduring poor treatment in the name of “being part of the family,” all employees are pushed to make sacrifices for the privilege of being able to do what we love. Sarah Jaffe, a preeminent voice on labor, inequality, and social movements, examines this “labor of love” myth — the idea that certain work is not really work, and therefore should be done out of passion instead of pay. Told through the lives and experiences of workers in various industries — from the unpaid intern, to the overworked teacher, to the nonprofit worker and even the professional athlete — Jaffe reveals how all of us have been tricked into buying into a new tyranny of work. You can read reviews here and here.


The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo. Quick-witted, ambitious Ji Lin is stuck as an apprentice dressmaker, moonlighting as a dancehall girl to help pay off her mother’s Mahjong debts. But when one of her dance partners accidentally leaves behind a gruesome souvenir, Ji Lin may finally get the adventure she has been longing for. Eleven-year-old houseboy Ren is also on a mission, racing to fulfill his former master’s dying wish: that Ren find the man’s finger, lost years ago in an accident, and bury it with his body. Ren has 49 days to do so, or his master’s soul will wander the earth forever. As the days tick relentlessly by, a series of unexplained deaths wracks the district, along with whispers of men who turn into tigers. Ji Lin and Ren’s increasingly dangerous paths crisscross through lush plantations, hospital storage rooms, and ghostly dreamscapes. Narrated by the author. You can read a review here, and check out this NPR interview.


The Story of More: How We Got to Climate Change and Where to Go from Here by Hope Jahren. Hope Jahren is an award-winning scientist, a brilliant writer, a passionate teacher, and one of the seven billion people with whom we share this earth. In The Story of More, she illuminates the link between human habits and our imperiled planet. In concise, highly readable chapters, she takes us through the science behind the key inventions—from electric power to large-scale farming to automobiles—that, even as they help us, release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere like never before. She explains the current and projected consequences of global warming—from superstorms to rising sea levels—and the actions that we all can take to fight back. At once an explainer on the mechanisms of global change and a lively, personal narrative given to us in Jahren’s inimitable voice, it is an essential pocket primer on climate change that will leave an indelible impact on everyone who reads it. You can read reviews here and here.

What to Read This Month: May 2021

Welcome back to What to Read This Month! Quick confession: since the semester ended, I’ve been so busy catching up on my reading list that I’ve nearly forgotten to recommend a fresh batch of books for May. Fortunately, I have a number of great titles to choose from, as you’ll see below. Of course, these five books represent only a miniscule fraction of the titles we’re continually adding to our New & Noteworthy and Overdrive collections, so if you’re in need of some additional summer reading, head over there!


How to Order the Universe: Ferrada, María José, Bryer, Elizabeth:  9781951142308: Amazon.com: BooksHow to Order the Universe by María José Ferrada (translated into English by Elizabeth Bryer). In this novel, Ferrada tells the story of M and D, a father-daughter duo of traveling salespeople peddling hardware in Pinochet-era Chile. M, who is seven years old, begins her foray into entrepreneurship when D realizes that his daughter has a knack for attracting customers. Though M has to skip school and deceive her mother to join D on his sales, doing so is fairly easy owing to her mother’s general emotional distance, which has been exacerbated by recent personal losses related to the Pinochet regime. As M travels with her father, she begins to grow up, and her increased realizations and understanding of the world around her are shaped by her business and familiarity with the products she hawks with D. Though she adores her father and her ability to travel with him, over the course of the novel M is frequently forced to come to grips with staggering loss and political tumult as the Pinochet dictatorship upends her life and the lives of those around her. You can read reviews here and here.


Empireland: How Imperialism Has Shaped Modern Britain: 9780241445297:  Amazon.com: BooksEmpireland: How Imperialism Has Shaped Modern Britain by Sathnam Sanghera. In this book, journalist Sanghera discusses the general reluctance of modern-day British society to reckon with its imperialistic history, and the reasons why this reluctance has taken the form that it has. Arguing that empire is still a highly influential force in the United Kingdom today, Sanghera focuses both on the history his country is willfully choosing to forget, and the ways in which this refusal has enabled contemporary racism in Britain and has justified attempts to reject its present-day status as a multicultural nation. In writing his account, Sanghera cites the general erasure of brutality committed by British imperialist forces, such as its 1903 invasion of Tibet, as well as the contributions of imperial citizens to British society at large. He also links the content of the book to his own personal experience, contextualizing the racist violence he witnessed as a child of Indian Punjabi immigrants growing up in 1980s Wolverhampton. In all, while the book is often a heavy and disturbing read, it is also moving in the way it highlights these often overlooked elements of British history. You can read a review here and listen to a discussion with Sanghera, presented by Amandeep Kaur Bhangu and hosted by the UK Punjab Heritage Association, here.


Nobody's Normal: How Culture Created the Stigma of Mental Illness: Grinker,  Roy Richard: 9780393531640: Amazon.com: BooksNobody’s Normal: How Culture Created the Stigma of Mental Illness by Roy Richard Grinker. In this book, anthropologist Grinker discusses the ways in which cultural ideas of normalcy have given rise to an entrenched and pernicious stigma surrounding mental illness. He traces the history of terms that have been extensively used to stigmatize mentally ill people, such as “mad,” and discusses how these terms have historically been used to stigmatize marginalized populations in particular; those in power, he notes, have largely been able to avoid being branded with such terms. Though the exact nature of the stigma surrounding mental illness has changed, he writes that this inequality is still certainly present in modern-day perceptions of mental illness, discussing how some of the most stigmatized mental illness diagnoses today are disproportionately applied to marginalized people. Ultimately, Grinker argues that this development of stigma is inextricable from capitalism, colonialism, and the influence of Western religious thought. You can read reviews here and here.


The Doctors Blackwell: How Two Pioneering Sisters Brought Medicine to Women  and Women to Medicine: Nimura, Janice P.: 9780393635546: Amazon.com: BooksThe Doctors Blackwell: How Two Pioneering Sisters Brought Medicine to Women—and Women to Medicine by Janice P. Nimura. In this biography, historian Nimura takes a detailed look at Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States, as well as her sister Emily Blackwell, herself a physician whose legacy is often overshadowed by Elizabeth’s. Nimura emphasizes Elizabeth’s unusually tenacious character and her determination to obtain a medical degree, a threatening prospect to a medical establishment that feared women doctors would prove to be too successful with women patients. Emily followed with her medical degree, and together, the two eventually opened the first hospital to be staffed by women. While Nimura includes numerous fascinating stories about Elizabeth’s life, she is also quick to point out her serious flaws of character that are often erased in her status as a cultural icon: for instance, she is unflinching in her discussion of Elizabeth’s lifelong opposition to women’s suffrage. The biography is also unique in its vivid portrait of Emily, whom Nimura describes as a generally more effective doctor compared to Elizabeth, and as a woman who navigated multiple same-gender partnerships in the 19th-century US. You can read reviews here and here.


Meltdown: Inside the Fukushima Nuclear Crisis - Kindle edition by  Funabashi, Yoichi. Politics & Social Sciences Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.Meltdown: Inside the Fukushima Nuclear Crisis by Yoichi Funabashi. This year marks ten years since the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster, and in this new book, journalist Funabashi offers an exhaustive account of the disaster itself, its continuing aftermath, and its implications for Japan and the world at large. Funabashi has been chronicling the disaster since it occurred in 2011, and the book is the result of his interviews with hundreds of people, including Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant personnel, members of the Japanese military, and Japanese government officials. Though one leaves the book with a strong impression of the factors leading up to the disaster and its occurrence, much of the book is focused on the present and future, as Funabashi dwells on present cleanup efforts, the complications surrounding the long-term management of the disaster site, and the future of energy policy in Japan. Ultimately, in his depiction of the disaster, Funabashi argues that, although Japan is in need of sustainable energy sources, it has proven to be unprepared for harnessing nuclear energy, citing the mismanagement of evacuation during the disaster as well as the role that insufficient safety regulations played in the disaster itself. You can listen to two interviews with Funabashi here and here.

What to Read This Month: April 2021

Congrats on making it through another unusual semester here at Duke! We at the library realize that you’re probably busy with end-of-semester projects and finals (and remember, we’re always here to help!), but if by chance you’ve got the time to pick up a new book to read, here are some great selections from our Overdrive and New & Noteworthy collections. As always, these picks represent just a tiny fraction of what’s available, so be sure to follow the above links to see what else we have!


Your House Will Pay: A Novel: Cha, Steph: 9780062868855: Amazon.com: BooksYour House Will Pay by Steph Cha. In this thriller, Cha tells the story of Grace and Shawn, two Angelenos whose lives unexpectedly intersect when Grace’s mother is injured in a drive-by shooting. It is the summer of 2019, and as tensions in the city come to a head following the police shooting of an unarmed Black teenager, Grace is shocked to learn an egregious family secret: in 1991, a member of Grace’s family murdered a teenage girl named Ava, believing her to be stealing from the family’s convenience store, and received no jail time for the crime. The event ignited tensions between Los Angeles’ Black and Korean communities, and in 2019, the investigation surrounding the shooting of Grace’s mother resurrects some of these tensions at the family level. It also exacts a heavy toll on Shawn, Ava’s brother, who has been haunted by sister’s death for 28 years. As he becomes involved in the investigation, he must confront his own grief as well as the very family responsible for Ava’s murder. Cha derives much of the story from the real-life 1991 murder of Latasha Harlins, and in so doing, offers a tense exploration of race, grief, and justice. You can read a review here and an interview with Cha here.


Troubled: The Failed Promise of America's Behavioral Treatment Programs:  Rosen, Kenneth R.: 9781542022118: Amazon.com: BooksTroubled: The Failed Promise of America’s Behavioral Treatment Programs by Kenneth R. Rosen. In this book, journalist Rosen traces the fraught history of American behavioral treatment programs, most of which have historically taken the form of spartan residential camps and schools. The book is partially a memoir, as Rosen describes at length his own experience with such programs: as a teenager with behavioral issues in the mid-2000s, Rosen was sent against his will to three separate institutions throughout the United States, all of which treated him brutally while also having little positive effect on him; despite (or perhaps because of) his years in these programs, his young adulthood proved to be a dysfunctional and often unstable one. Rosen also interviews a number of other graduates from similar institutions, and their testimonies strongly bolster Rosen’s argument that the American industry of behavioral treatment programs is one built not only on precarious conclusions about mental health and behavioral therapy, but also on abject cruelty to children. The book is undoubtedly a heavy read, but nonetheless an important one. You can read a review here and listen to an interview with Rosen here.


Klara and the Sun: A novel: Ishiguro, Kazuo: 9780593318171: Amazon.com:  BooksKlara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro. In this novel, Nobel Prize winner Ishiguro explores issues ranging from the myriad difficulties of adolescence to questions surrounding the nature of emotional artificial intelligence. At an unspecified future date, Klara exists an “Artificial Friend,” essentially a robot designed to serve as an empathizing and socializing companion, in an era where technology has upended many facets of everyday human life. She lives in a department store, spending her days making human—and somewhat superhuman—observations about the world around her, until one day she is purchased for a sickly teenage girl named Josie. Josie is the result of “lifting”—genetic editing, which in this universe has become rather commonplace for wealthy people—and is intelligent beyond her years. This has come at a personal cost; normal schools have proven inadequate for her, and her homeschooling has caused her socialization to lag behind. Worse, the side effects of the editing have rendered her ill and will possibly even kill her. Klara fills a serious void for Josie, and as the two develop their relationship, Ishiguro explores heavy themes of love, intelligence, and loneliness. You can read reviews here and here.


Of Women and Salt: A Novel: Garcia, Gabriela: 9781250776686: Amazon.com:  BooksOf Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia. In this novel, Garcia tells the collective and intergenerational tale of two families living in contemporary Miami. There are two pairs of mothers and daughters that anchor the story: Jeannette and her mother Carmen, and Ana and her mother Gloria. Carmen and Jeannette’s relationship is marked by tumult, with their political and cultural disagreements (Jeannette was raised in Miami and comes to question the perspectives of her mother, a wealthy Cuban immigrant) exacerbated by Jeannette’s struggles with addiction. The two live in close proximity to Ana and Gloria, both of whom are undocumented immigrants from El Salvador. After Gloria is detained by ICE, Jeannette briefly takes Ana in, and things come to a head when Carmen fatefully convinces Jeannette to call the police over the situation. In the midst of these current events, Garcia also focuses on Jeannette’s relationship with her family in Cuba, exploring both her interactions with her living family members as well as her understanding of the family’s past generations. In all, Garcia poetically portrays issues of identity and family in a heated political atmosphere. You can read reviews here and here.


The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song: Gates Jr., Henry  Louis: 9781984880338: Amazon.com: BooksThe Black Church: This Is our Story, This Is Our Song by Henry Louis Gates Jr. In this book, which serves as a companion piece to a recently-aired PBS documentary series of the same name, renowned historian Gates offers a near-exhaustive history of the Black church in the United States, as well as its significance and profound influence on American culture at large. Beginning with the subject of praise houses, churches used by enslaved people in the South, Gates explicates the manifold spiritual and theological roots of the modern-day Black church, and relays the evolution of its many denominations. He makes the compelling case that the Black church has proven to be a highly elastic institution, adapting to the varying needs and plights of Black Americans throughout history, while at once serving as a powerful shaper of Black culture and political movements. Ending his account in the modern era, he brings in the voices of a number of scholars, and these contributions only further enrich his telling of this complicated and often controversial history. You can read a review here and learn more about the accompanying PBS documentary here.

National Poetry Month 2021

This year is the 25th National Poetry Month. The Academy of American Poets has 30 ways to celebrate on their website.

This year I want to honor Lawrence Ferlinghetti who died this year at the age of 101. You can read a nice bio and overview of his work at the Poetry Foundation. We of course also have many of his works in our library:

Little Boy

Ferlinghetti’s Greatest Poems

How to Paint Sunlight: Lyric Poems & Others (1997-2000)

These are My Rivers: New & Selected Poems, 1955-1993

Starting from San Francisco

He was also the founder of City Lights, a bookstore and a publisher in San Francisco. This 2013 blog post “A Literary Meeting Place: The History Behind City Lights Bookstore” is a good place to start to understand the legacy of City Lights. Here is a selection of titles that they have published:

City Lights Pocket Poets Anthology

City Lights Anthology

Every Day We Get More Illegal by Juan Felipe Herrera

Funeral Diva by Pamela Sneed

Collected Poems of Bob Kaufman

Heaven is All Goodbyes by Tongo Eisen-Martin

And Then We Became by Devorah Major

Save Twilight selected poems of Julio Cortázar ; translated by Stephen Kessler

The Rudolph William Rosati Creative Writing Award

Jumbled letters (photo by Laineys Repetoire – CC-BY)

What is the Rudolph William Rosati Creative Writing Award?

The Rosati Creative Writing Prize is awarded each spring in recognition of an outstanding work of creative writing. All Duke undergraduate students are eligible to submit work for consideration. Projects may be any genre and take any form (audio/video, digital media, etc.), but must include a substantial creative writing component.  The Rosati Prize was established in 1978 by Walter McGowan Upchurch in honor of Rudolph William Rosati “to encourage, advance and reward creative writing among students at the University and particularly among undergraduate students.”

Prize: $1500

Is my paper eligible?

  • You must be a Duke undergraduate student
  • You may submit multiple, different projects in a given year but each project should be submitted individually with an accompanying application cover sheet
  • Submitted projects must have been written during the current academic year
  • At this time submissions must be written in English
  • No minimum or maximum length required

How do I apply?

To be eligible for the Rudolph William Rosati Creative Writing Award, email the following to Arianne Hartsell-Gundy by June 15, 2021:

  • application cover sheet (see form)
  • The creative work (send written projects as either a Word document or pdf.  If it’s a multimedia project, please send URL of the project or email Arianne Hartsell-Gundy for alternative means of delivery)
  • A faculty signature of support (see form)
  • The faculty member should e-mail the signature of support in a separate file to Arianne Hartsell-Gundy

How is a winner chosen?

  • The selection committee, consisting of two Libraries staff members and two faculty members, judges the papers
  • Projects are judged based on quality and originality of writing
  • The committee reserves the right to split the award among more than one author, or to award no prize

For More Information

Contact Arianne Hartsell-Gundy, Librarian for Literature and Theater Studies (arianne.hartsell.gundy@duke.edu), for more information.

What to Read This Month: March 2021

Hello again! As spring arrives and we start to progress through the latter part of the semester, now might be a good time to find a new book to read. This month’s post can help you get started on that! As always, though, this selection of five books is just a sampling of the new titles we continually add to the library. If you want to check out more, be sure to visit our New & Noteworthy and Overdrive collections!


Amazon.com: The Committed (9780802157065): Nguyen, Viet Thanh: Books The Committed by Viet Thanh Nguyen. In this novel, Nguyen continues the winding, action-packed, and often terrifying story of his protagonist, a unnamed undercover Vietnamese communist agent who continually reinvents himself as the world around him remains in constant flux. We last saw him in Nguyen’s 2015 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Sympathizer, in which, among several other memorable events, he fled Vietnam with a South Vietnamese general to the United States following the fall of Saigon, consulted on a Hollywood film about the war (think Apocalypse Now), and ultimately returned to Vietnam on an ill-advised mission led by the general, only to be captured and interrogated in a reeducation camp. The Committed sees him leave Vietnam a second time, this time settling in 1980s France, where he quickly becomes entrenched in the world of organized crime. As in the first novel, the narrator provides a constant commentary in which he not only richly describes the events unfolding around him, but also meditates on personally complicated issues of identity, empire, and colonialism. You can read reviews here and here.


Surviving the White Gaze: A Memoir: Carroll, Rebecca: 9781982116255: Amazon.com: BooksSurviving the White Gaze by Rebecca Carroll. In this memoir, Carroll discusses her coming of age as the only Black person in her rural New Hampshire community during the 1970s and 80s. Though she portrays her white adoptive parents as empathetic and loving, Carroll describes a childhood in which she felt isolated from her Black identity, and emphasizes the events in her life, leading into her adulthood, that ultimately allowed her to understand herself as a Black woman. Among these events are her first relationship with another Black person, her childhood ballet teacher Mrs. Rowland, her fraught dealings with her biological mother, Tess, a white woman who deliberately seeks to undermine Carroll’s identity as a Black person, and her simultaneously affirming yet difficult experiences as a young adult. Ultimately, Carroll focuses on the peace she is able to find in the family she builds for herself, and reflects on her later life as a parent. You can read a review here and listen to a conversation between Carroll and actor Zoe Kazan, hosted by the New York Public Library, here.


Fake Accounts: Oyler, Lauren: 9781948226929: Amazon.com: BooksFake Accounts by Lauren Oyler. In this debut novel, Oyler tells the story of a young woman who, shortly after the 2016 presidential election, discovers that her boyfriend has been living a secret online life as a rightwing conspiracy theorist. Though the relationship has been unsatisfying and she has no qualms about leaving him following this discovery, she finds that the next chapter in her life—leaving New York City to go live in Berlin—is equally rife with various forms of digital deception and manipulation. Over the course of her journey in Berlin, as she dates and works, she is forced to confront the narcissism, vapidity, and performativity that plagues both her own social media use, and the social media use of those around her. Ultimately, the novel serves as an unusually rich depiction of life in the age of social media, and as an effective satire. You can read reviews here and here.


Soul City: Race, Equality, and the Lost Dream of an American Utopia: Healy, Thomas: 9781627798624: Amazon.com: BooksSoul City: Race, Equality, and the Lost Dream of an American Utopia by Thomas Healy. In this book, Seton Hall law professor Healy relays the often overlooked story of Soul City, a community planned in 1970s northeastern North Carolina to embody racial integration and the myriad other gains of the Civil Rights Movement. The community was the brainchild of Floyd McKissick, a Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) leader and the first Black law student at UNC-Chapel Hill. McKissick, as Healy tells, secured a 5000-acre plot of land in Warren County, a $14 million grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the support of the Nixon administration, but despite his efforts, the project never truly took off, and today, little remains of the community. Healy dives into all the reasons why the initiative ultimately floundered, including opposition by the media and local white residents, racism in the bureaucratic process, and the virulent campaign against the project by US senator and noted North Carolina racist Jesse Helms. In so doing, he paints a vivid picture of American society in the 1970s, and its complicated racial politics. You can read reviews here and here.


Bonnie | Book by Christina Schwarz | Official Publisher Page | Simon & SchusterBonnie by Christina Schwarz. In this novel, Schwarz offers a fictionalized biography of Bonnie Parker, famed 1930s outlaw and accomplice of Clyde Barrow. Special attention is paid to Parker’s difficult, impoverished upbringing outside of Dallas, where she develops a talent for and love of poetry that is unfortunately discouraged by an uncharitable teacher. Dropping out of high school, Parker marries but soon leaves her husband, meeting Clyde Barrow and eventually joining him on an initially successful but ultimately fateful crime spree. Schwarz of course devotes much of the novel to this final chapter of Parker’s life, detailing the crimes of the pair, their accomplices, and their eventual deaths at the hands of the law. But where Schwarz deviates from other fictionalizations of the duo, and where the novel makes for a unique and especially insightful work of historical fiction, is in its commitment to realism and lack of romanticization. Other works, most famously the 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde, have relied on the popular imagining of the pair as romantic outlaws, a perception fueled by contemporary media coverage of their crime spree, but Schwarz offers an unflinching portrayal of the numerous hardships Parker faced as a poor woman on the run in the midst of the Great Depression. You can read reviews here and here.

What to Read this Month: February 2021

Hello again! I don’t know about you, but for me, February went by in a flash and I can’t believe we’re now inexplicably near the mid-point of the semester! If you’re looking for something new to read in this last little slice of February, look no further. Or actually, do look further: as always, our New & Noteworthy collection and our Overdrive collection are adding new titles all the time. I also recommend checking out our new 5 Titles series, which highlights the works of underrepresented authors and titles related to diversity, equity, and inclusion in our collection. This month’s post, featuring memoirs by African-American men, was written by RIS head Kim Duckett, and last month’s inaugural post, featuring nonfiction on neurodiversity, was authored by yours truly. Now, on to the books!


Wandering in Strange Lands: A Daughter of the Great Migration Reclaims Her  Roots: Jerkins, Morgan: 9780062873040: Amazon.com: BooksWandering in Strange Lands: A Daughter of the Great Migration Reclaims Her Roots by Morgan Jerkins. In this memoir, essayist Jerkins documents her tracing of her family’s heritage, a journey involving several locales in the United States, the investigation of multiple missing pieces in her family line, and the contributions of various historians and archivists. Along the way, Jerkins grapples with the many complexities of African-American identity, placing her personal family history in the larger context of Black American history. Some particular facets of this history that Jerkins touches upon in her investigation include the Great Migration, the development and preservation of Gullah culture, the fraught history of tribal citizenship for Black indigenous Americans, and the experiences of free people of color in Louisiana. In so doing, Jerkins also thoroughly interrogates the culture of white supremacy underpinning each piece of her family’s history, both past and present. Ultimately, her deeply personal investigation also serves as a compelling illustration of African-American history and culture. You can read reviews here and here.


The New Wilderness: Cook, Diane: 9780062333131: Amazon.com: BooksThe New Wilderness by Diane Cook. In this novel, shortlisted for last year’s Booker Prize, Cook tells the story of Bea and Agnes, a mother and daughter living a harsh life of hunting and gathering in a rough wilderness left frighteningly unbalanced by climate change. Three years prior to the story’s events, Bea and Agnes, along with Bea’s husband Glen, had been living in a deeply polluted metropolis referred to only as “the City,” but Agnes’ respiratory problems drove the family to participate in a study on human-nature interactions that moved them to a place known as the Wilderness State, understood to be the last wild region left in the world. There, they live with the study’s other participants, roaming the land and learning survival skills lest they perish. Though the group is subject to the demands of the study’s “rangers,” tensions begin to flare between them, driving many of the novel’s core events. In the midst of all this, Cook focuses on the mother-daughter relationship between Bea and Agnes, exploring how it changes as Agnes regains her health and develops a strong attachment to the wilderness. You can read reviews here and here.


Trans America: A Counter-History | WileyTrans America: A Counter-History by Barry Reay. In this book, historian Reay seeks to correct the sidelining of transgender history in the US by providing readers with a thorough, compelling, and far-reaching account of the way transgender identity has developed over the centuries. His inclusive approach identifies several periods in this history, beginning with a broader survey of gender flexibility in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Following this discussion is an examination of the rise of transgender visibility in the 1960s and 70s, including the degree of persecution that accompanied it, and the more recent history of transgender people in the US leading up to the present. Reay populates his account with rich depictions of several transgender historical figures, many of whom have been hitherto ignored by the mainstream historical record. There is also a great deal of discussion devoted to the particular history of transgender culture within the Black and Latinx communities, as well as an exhaustive account of the history of medicalization (the book resists the medical model in its approach). You can read interviews with Reay here and here.


Self Care: A Novel: Stein, Leigh: 9780143135197: Amazon.com: BooksSelf Care by Leigh Stein. In this novel, novelist Stein offers ripping satire of corporate, Girlboss-style feminism in her portrayal of Richual, the fictional online women’s wellness company created by her fiercely ambitious, yet ultimately nihilistic protagonists Maren and Devin. The two hatch a plan to market a sanitized, monetized combination of social justice and self-care to their audience of primarily white, thin, middle-class women, and all goes well until a string of scandals forces the two to come to grips with exactly what it is that they have created. As Maren faces backlash for a misguided tweet, the duo also finds itself woefully unprepared to deal with a board member accused of sexual misconduct, one who happens to be involved with Devin and is largely responsible for the company’s funding. Amidst all this, Stein also focuses on Khadijah, a pregnant employee of the company who finds herself in the peculiar predicament of being afraid to ask for maternity leave from her nominally feminist bosses. In all, the novel, in its own darkly funny way, serves as a sharp criticism of white, lean-in feminism, one that’s difficult to look away from. You can read a review here and a Q&A with Stein here.


Amazon.com: Just as I Am: A Memoir eBook: Burford, Michelle: Kindle StoreJust as I Am by Cicely Tyson with Michelle Burford. In this memoir, iconic actress Cicely Tyson tells the story of her life and her decades-long career. She first recounts early her life pre-show business, including a difficult account of the domestic abuse she witnessed as a child and her first marriage and divorce as a young woman, before describing her discovery as a model in the early 1950s at the age of thirty. From here, Tyson describes her experiences working in film and television as a Black woman in the mid- to late-twentieth century, offering a personal perspective on some of her most well-known projects, including Sounder and The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. She is unflinching in her descriptions of the difficulties she has faced, both in her professional and personal life, offering a full account of her long and often difficult relationship with Miles Davis. With Burford, she also reflects on the legacy of her career, her influences, and her many accolades. In this way, the memoir serves as a satisfying, full account of Tyson’s life, as well as something of an epilogue—Tyson died just days after its release last month. You can read reviews here and here.

ONLINE: Low Maintenance Book Club reads “A Year in Provence”

Missing spring break? Take a literary trip with this month’s Low Maintenance Book Club reading, Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence. This classic memoir chronicles the author and his wife’s first year after moving to France’s Provence region. As always, you’re welcome to join regardless of how much (or whether) you’ve read the book!

Copies of the book can be found at Duke University Libraries (hard copy), Durham County Library (hard copy and audiobook), Wake County Public Libraries (hard copy), Orange County Public Library (hard copy) and Chapel Hill Public Library (eBook) and as an eBook through Open Library (you’ll just need to set up a free account to borrow).

Please RSVP to receive a Zoom link the morning of the meeting.

Love, Unconventionally

When Valentine’s Day approaches many of us conjure images of chocolate and flowers.  However 2021 has been anything but a conventional year. As Duke Libraries’ Librarian for Film, Video & Digital Media I would like to highlight three movies that reveal an unconventional side of love.

Image from film
My Name is Khan 2010, ((dir. Karan Johar)

Rizvan Khan is an Indian Muslim man with Asperger’s Syndrome who falls in love with a Hindu woman in the United States, post-9/11. This feature film depicts the resentment that ordinary, law-abiding Muslims felt about their treatment by fellow Americans and delivers a strong message that Hindus and Muslims should work together against the common enemies of extremism and intolerance. With a running time of 245 minutes, settle in for a long night of viewing pleasure. (Lilly DVD 17475 and streaming online for Duke users)

Image of film
Invitation to Dance (2014, dirs. Simi Linton and Christian von Tippelskirch)

At age 23, Simi Linton was injured while hitchhiking to Washington, D.C. to protest the war in Vietnam. As a young college student, newly disabled, she confronted unimaginable discrimination. Years before the Americans with Disabilities Act was conceived, Linton emerges in Invitation to Dance as a resourceful activist, and in time realizes that love, sexuality, and dance can once again become a part of her life. (Lilly DVD 27418 and streaming online for Duke users)

 

Image from DVD cover
CinemAbility: the Art of Inclusion (2018, dir. Jenni Gold)

 

Directed by Jenni Gold, the first female wheelchair-using member of the Directors Guild of America, CinemAbility explores how disability has been portrayed on screen in Hollywood over the past 120 years. Nearly all characters in film and television have been played by abled actors, leaving our collective perception of disability skewed. Gold interviews abled and disabled people from in front of and behind the camera to dissect and examine the history of representation. (Lilly DVD 32937 and streaming online for Duke users)
Code of the Freaks (2020, dir. Salome Chasnoff) is another compelling  documentary that focuses on these  issues.
(Streaming online for Duke users)

 

What to Read this Month: January 2021

Welcome back! If you’re looking to ring in the new year and the new semester with some new reading material, we at the library have got you covered. This month, as always, we’re highlighting a selection of titles from our New & Noteworthy and Overdrive collections. The below titles represent only a very small sampling of what these collections hold, however, so we encourage you to explore them in full to discover your next read.


Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu: 9780307948472 | PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books

Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu. In this novel, Westworld writer Yu tells the story—in the format of a screenplay—of Willis Yu, an aspiring Hollywood actor who continually finds himself limited to menial, racist roles such as “Background Oriental Male” and “Delivery Guy.” Frustrated with the entertainment industry’s pigeonholing of Asian actors, Willis is determined to land a more glamorous part, striving to eventually be cast as “Kung Fu Guy” even though such a role still easily falls under Hollywood’s stereotypical envisioning of Asian characters. Interspersed with Willis’ work as an actor are scenes in which he interacts with a number of other compelling characters, including his father Sifu and his fellow actors. Through the character of Willis, the characters surrounding him, and the screenplay format, Charles Yu crafts a searing and exceedingly humorous satire of the modern-day entertainment industry and its racism, one which ultimately won last year’s National Book Award for Fiction. You can read reviews here and here.


Administrations of Lunacy: Racism and the Haunting of American Psychiatry at the Milledgeville Asylum: Segrest, Mab: 9781620972977: Amazon.com: Books

Administrations of Lunacy: Racism and the Haunting of American Psychiatry at the Milledgeville Asylum by Mab Segrest. In this book, activist Segrest describes her investigation of the records of Central State Hospital in Milledgeville, Georgia, a psychiatric hospital that opened in 1842 and closed in 2010. While the hospital has developed a notorious reputation for its well-known history of patient mistreatment, Segrest focuses on its particularly egregious abuse of Black patients, who were first admitted into segregated quarters of the hospital following the end of the Civil War. In addition to drawing attention to the inferior conditions these patients endured relative to white patients as a result of de jure and later de facto segregation, Segrest also delves into the records of individual Black patients to contextualize their various diagnoses and treatments with the long history of racism in American psychiatric research and practice. She discusses at length the way in which disability and mental illness diagnoses were weaponized against Black patients in particular, as well as the disturbing frequency with which they were subjected to forced sterilization and other treatments influenced by the burgeoning eugenics movement. In all, the book serves as an important study of the intersection of white supremacy and ableism, and proves highly relevant to the way this intersection plays out today. That said, much of the book’s content is decidedly graphic, something potential readers should consider. You can read reviews here and here.


Monogamy: A Novel: Miller, Sue: 9780062969651: Amazon.com: Books

Monogamy by Sue Miller. In this novel, bestselling author Miller focuses on Annie, a middle-aged photographer in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who has suddenly lost her husband of 30 years, bookstore owner Graham. When Graham was alive, he and Annie often appeared be an odd couple to those around them, with Annie’s small size and reserved character contrasting quite sharply with Graham’s vast physical presence and bon vivant personality. Yet Annie herself was generally happy in the marriage, despite occasional tensions, but her love and mourning for Graham following his passing is quickly marred by the sudden realization that he had been having an affair before his death. In what follows, Annie finds herself reassessing their relationship, and embarks on a journey to find peace with what they had—and did not have—together. While the examination of the marriage makes for a fascinating story on its own, Miller supplements Annie’s perspective with the insightful perspectives of key side characters, such as Annie and Graham’s adult daughter, Sarah, and Graham’s first wife, Frieda. You can read reviews here and here.


Amazon.com: My Baby First Birthday (9781947793811): Zhang, Jenny: Books

My Baby First Birthday by Jenny Zhang. In this poetry collection, poet and essayist Zhang examines issues of identity—and being born into a specific identity—that prove to be long-lasting, and essentially timeless, in a given person’s life. Over the course of the collection’s 97 poems, Zhang touches on several iterations of these identities, such as her mother’s womanhood and her own life as an Asian woman in a world that values whiteness, the suffering that derives from the perennial expectations placed upon these identities, and the desired and sometimes attainable liberation from such suffocating expectations (“be the baby ppl didn’t let u be / for once in yr life / & see what happens”). Zhang’s observations on identity are not entirely interior, however, as she also casts a light on the reader, inviting them to make the same considerations she is making about herself. Though this focus on identity is present throughout the whole of the collection, there are a number of interesting intersections with other subjects, most notably Zhang’s conception of her own sexuality. Through its use of overwhelming emotions, the collection makes for a memorable read. You can read reviews here and here.


The Fabric of Civilization: How Textiles Made the World, Postrel, Virginia I., eBook - Amazon.com

The Fabric of Civilization: How Textiles Made the World by Virginia Postrel. In this book, journalist Postrel puts forth the argument that each and every piece of fabric produced in human history reveals key information about the life, experiences, and desires of the person who made it, and that, when assembled together, all of the textiles and fabrics ever produced form an invaluable tapestry that tells the story of human history. In making this assertion, Postrel writes an engrossing account of the history of fabric, one that is occasionally overwhelming in its scope, but always compelling. Beginning in Bronze Age Crete and ending with the modern-day US, the examination of this history—which also accounts for the individual histories of different fabrics like wool and linen—extends to a myriad of cultures and places, including Egypt, China, Mexico, England, and Italy, among others. In the midst of this survey are several close-ups on individual processes and people, and these sections, along with the many helpful diagrams that Postrel employs, help enliven and personalize the broad account that she conveys. Overall, the book provides a vivid history of an often overlooked—yet essential—element of the human experience. You can read reviews here and here.

ONLINE: Low Maintenance Book Club reads “The Duke & I”

Join the Low Maintenance Book Club for a very special Valentine’s-themed meeting on Tuesday, February 16th at noon. We’re delving into romance with The Duke and I by Julia Quinn, the basis for the hit Netflix series Bridgerton.  As always, you’re welcome to join regardless of how much (or whether) you’ve read the book!

Copies of the book are available through Duke University Libraries (ebook), Durham County Library (book and audio CD | downloadable audiobook | ebook), and Wake County Public Libraries (book and downloadable audiobook | ebook).

Please RSVP to receive a Zoom link on the morning of the meeting.

What to Read this Month: December 2020

Hello again! We at the library hope you’re enjoying the long winter break. If by chance you find yourself in need of new reading material, here are some recommendations of ours for this month. As always, these books come from our New & Noteworthy and Overdrive collections, and we highly recommend checking them out whenever you want something new to read – these collections feature new material all the time.


Burnt Sugar: 9780241441510: Amazon.com: Books

Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi. In this debut novel, shortlisted for this year’s Booker Prize, Doshi tells the story of an intensely fraught mother-daughter relationship. Antara, a prosperous woman living in modern-day Pune with her husband and infant daughter, reflects on and grieves the difficult childhood she faced with her mother, Tara. When Tara became swept up in the teachings of a charismatic guru, she abandoned her marriage to live at the ashram where he resided. Though she took the young Antara with her, she was neglectful and sometimes overtly abusive towards her, leaving Antara with psychological wounds that continue to fester in her adulthood. Complicating Antara’s present understanding of Tara is her decision to take her in after she develops dementia. Though Tara’s condition does much to superficially soften the relationship between the two women, it also seriously complicates Antara’s necessary search for closure. Amidst this portrayal of a difficult relationship, Doshi also provides a searing satire of the wealthy and privileged in contemporary India through her portrayal of Antara’s entitled and often vacuous social circle. You can read reviews here and here.


My Autobiography of Carson McCullers: A Memoir | IndieBound.org

My Autobiography of Carson McCullers by Jenn Shapland. In this genre-bending memoir (not a biography, though it contains elements of one), Shapland comes to understand facets of her own life as a queer and chronically ill person while studying the life of Carson McCullers, the renowned 20th-century Southern Gothic novelist, and herself a queer and chronically ill person. McCullers, perhaps best known for her novels The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter and The Member of the Wedding, empathetically wrote of outsiders in her fairly short lifetime, drawing on a personal experience that Shapland finds to have been largely overlooked by her biographers. Her experience with McCullers begins with an internship at the University of Texas at Austin’s Harry Ransom Center, an archive in which she discovers a number of McCullers’ love letters to another woman. What follows is a strong investigation into McCullers’ life as a lesbian in the mid-twentieth century, interspersed with Shapland’s personal anecdotes about coming to terms with her own sexuality. Throughout this intense discussion of McCullers’ life, Shapland readily questions her own perception of the author, and her personal identification with her, making for an engaging and self-aware read. You can read reviews here and here.


Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership (Justice, Power, and Politics): Taylor, Keeanga-Yamahtta: 9781469653662: Amazon.com: Books

Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor. In this book, a finalist for this year’s Pulitzer Prize in history, historian Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor takes a clear look at the long history of housing discrimination and segregation in the modern-day US. While she begins her study in the early twentieth-century, in the age of the Great Migration and legally-sanctioned redlining, she particularly focuses on the late 1960s and later, when the Fair Housing Act was passed by Congress. While this act, along with related legislation passed as a part of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society initiative, outlawed de jure housing discrimination and was designed to create paths toward homeownership among the marginalized, Taylor argues that these measures actually preserved housing inequality among Black Americans, and enabled its existence into the present day. Highlighting the public-private nature of these measures (noting how the federal government largely relegated the task of guaranteeing mortgages to the private sector), Taylor writes of how they ultimately created a system of predatory lending, enriching the real estate industry while providing little concrete relief to Black homeowners, an issue only exacerbated by the succeeding Nixon administration. Throughout this vivid telling of history, Taylor emphasizes the accounts of Black families affected by these policies, driving home the personal ramifications of the flaws in the system. You can read an interview with Taylor here and a review here.


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The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave. In this novel, Hargrave builds on the historic 1621 witch trials that unfolded in the Norwegian town of Vardø, and, through the characters she creates, crafts a compelling commentary on what lies at the root of witch trials and cultural suspicion more broadly. In 1617, an intense storm overtakes the region of Finnmark, leaving many dead, including 20-year-old Maren’s father, brother, and fiancé. For a few years, the survivors of the storm cope as best as they can—two women rise up as leaders in the village, while Maren’s sister-in-law turns to her traditional Sami beliefs—but their way of life is threatened when the infamous Scottish witch hunter Absalom Cornet arrives at the behest of local authorities. He brings with him a timid young wife, Ursa, whom he met and wed in the Norwegian city of Bergen. Maren ends up taking Ursa under her wing, and the love that develops between the two women centers the novel, even as the witch hunter sows an increasing path of violence. He targets any woman who fails to conform to the religious or social norms of Vardø, and eventually, he sets his sights on Maren, spelling serious trouble for both her and Ursa. You can read reviews here and here.


A World Beneath the Sands: The Golden Age of Egyptology: Wilkinson, Toby: 9781324006893: Amazon.com: Books

A World Beneath the Sands: The Golden Age of Egyptology by Toby Wilkinson. This fascinating study takes a critical look at the so-called Golden Age of Egyptology, which the historian Toby Wilkinson defines as taking place roughly between the deciphering of the Rosetta Stone in 1822 and the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922. The rush on the part of Britain and France to learn about and produce scholarship on Ancient Egyptian civilization—processes which often took the form of plundering antiquities for the British Museum and the Louvre, respectively—is argued by Wilkinson to be the result of a kind of imperialist arms race between the two nations, as they each attempted to prove their might as colonial powers. Wilkinson discusses at length the consequences of this rush, noting that the insights learned about Ancient Egypt came at a severe cost, including the oppression of the Egyptian people and the destruction of many historical sites and artifacts. In particular, Wilkinson asserts that the occupation and widespread theft of the British and French had the unintended consequence of mobilizing the Egyptian people into developing a national identity for themselves, built both on the history of Ancient Egypt and the intense desire for self-government. In relaying this history, Wilkinson is quick to punctuate his account with vivid descriptions of the major figures who brought it into being. You can read reviews here and here.

Happy Birthday to Jane Austen!


Every year I like to write a blog post to celebrate Jane Austen’s birthday.  This year I’m going to celebrate with titles related to Emma since this new version of Emma (watch online through our library) was the last movie I saw in movie theaters this year.

If you want to see other film versions of Emma, we have several you can watch through the library, including this 2010 Masterpiece Theatre version, this 2004 BBC  version,  the 1996 version with Gwyneth Paltrow, and what some people (me) would argue is the greatest adaptation of them all, Clueless.

If you want to read the book, we of course have you covered with multiple versions, including this one on Overdrive.

For a special treat, check out Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library’s first edition. Put this on your list to check out for a future in person visit, or check it out on Internet Archive.

And let me end with some of the fun Jane Austen related things that came out of this year.

https://twitter.com/LibraryLydia/status/1244723932722343942?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1244723932722343942%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.marieclaire.com%2Fculture%2Fa32699248%2Fdating-during-covid19-jane-austen-novel%2F)
I saw many memes comparing our experience of staying home, taking long walks, and social distancing to Jane Austen’s world, many of them outlined in this May Marie Claire article and this recent New Yorker humor column. I found a lot of enjoyment from this twitter account called Pride and Plague. I was also fortunate to be able to attend many online Jane Austen related talks this year, hearing scholars and enthusiasts I probably normally wouldn’t have been able to see live. I especially enjoyed the Jane Austen & Co. virtual series, sponsored by our UNC neighbors.  You can find videos of the recorded events on their website. I also attended the Virtual Jane Austen Mini Fest hosted by the Glendale Public Library.

What to Read this Month: November 2020

Congratulations on finishing this semester! This fall was certainly unusual and challenging for all of us here at Duke, but we now have a long break ahead of us. Why not reward your hard work with a good read? This month’s selections, as always, represent a mix of books in our New & Noteworthy Collection and our Overdrive collection. In addition to taking a look at these particular books, we also encourage you to regularly check on each of these collections – new books are being added all the time.


How Much of These Hills Is Gold: A Novel: Zhang, C Pam: 9780525537205: Amazon.com: Books

How Much of These Hills Is Gold by C Pam Zhang. In this debut novel, told in the style of a fable, a nameless Chinese family settles in the American West, hoping to reach prosperity in a gold rush. This dream is quickly soured, however, as the gold rush proves illusory and the father, Ba, dies after attempting a hard living as a coal miner. This event follows the death of his wife, Ma, and as a result, their young children, Lucy and Sam, are left on their own. They ultimately embark on a journey to find the silver dollars they believe necessary to lay their father to rest, all the while carrying his body with them. Over the course of their quest, Zhang creates a portrait of the American West that deconstructs its romantic myths and archetypes, while at once drawing attention to the often overlooked role played by immigrants in shaping its history. In so doing, the grim adventure of these children makes for a gripping and oftentimes moving read. You can read reviews here and here.


A Long Petal of the Sea: A Novel: Allende, Isabel, Caistor, Nick, Hopkinson, Amanda: 9781984820150: Amazon.com: Books

A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende. Allende, who has retained a decades-long following owing to her literary treatment of history with magical realism, also reckons with journeys in her latest novel. In this book, Roser and her deceased husband’s brother Victor, two refugees fleeing the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s, settle in Chile, where they gradually fall in love following a marriage of convenience. What follows is a further examination of history, as the decades in Chile pass and Roser and Victor must cope with another flare-up of political unrest, this time taking the form of Augusto Pinochet’s 1973 coup d’état. While the novel is quite exhaustive in this relaying of Spanish and Latin American historical events, reviewers have been quick to assure readers that it is all evenly anchored by the love story at the novel’s heart. You can read reviews here and here.


American Contagions: Epidemics and the Law from Smallpox to COVID-19: Witt, John Fabian: 9780300257274: Amazon.com: Books

American Contagions: Epidemics and the Law from Smallpox to COVID-19 by John Fabian Witt. Witt’s book, which began life as a course he taught at Yale Law School in the spring of this year, offers a thorough and engaging history of the way epidemics have shaped American law over the centuries. In identifying two major legal impulses—the more civilly-minded sanitationism and the more authoritarian quanrantinism—Witt describes how legal engagements with the epidemic have simultaneously brought about some the most beneficent and some of the cruelest legislation in American history. Of course, engaging with pandemic-related reading material during this difficult fall and winter may be challenging for some, but for those who gravitate towards the study of disasters as they unfold, Witt’s book offers fresh insight not just into the history of disease in the US, but into its larger history of inequality, as well. You can read reviews here and here.


New Waves: A Novel: Nguyen, Kevin: 9781984855237: Amazon.com: Books

New Waves by Kevin Nguyen. In his debut novel, Nguyen tells the story of Lucas, who works at a tech startup in 2009 Manhattan. His friendship with one of the startup’s most talented programmers, Margo, takes an interesting turn when she is unjustly fired. The two, in retribution, steal sensitive data from the company, but their plan goes awry when Margo is suddenly killed in an accident. Lucas is left to deal with her absence, not only having to make sense of their plot together, but also having to make sense of their relationship as a whole. In his personal grapplings with their time together and the company for which they both worked, Nguyen offers a searing satire of startup culture in the late 2000s and early 2010s, drawing attention to the casual racism endemic to many startups (Lucas, who is Asian, and Margo, who is Black, originally bond over their marginalization by the company) and to the general cluelessness of their leadership. Despite this element of satire, the story is also quite moving, as Lucas reckons with his relationship with Margo and his own personal shortcomings. You can read reviews here and here.


Beheld: Nesbit, TaraShea: 9781635573220: Amazon.com: Books

Beheld by TaraShea Nesbit. In this novel, Nesbit brings to life one Alice Southworth, a woman known in the footnotes of history as the second wife of William Bradford, famed governor of the Puritan Plymouth Colony in 17th-century Massachusetts. Alice was Bradford’s second wife, their marriage beginning following the somewhat odd death of his first wife, Dorothy, who fell off the docked Mayflower in Cape Cod Bay and drowned. Nesbit alludes to the mysteriousness of this death while primarily focusing on the events of Alice’s life in Plymouth Colony, events which often highlight the varying hypocrisies of the Puritans, and the contentiousness of their presence in Massachusetts more generally. Much of the plot is marked by Alice’s ongoing tension with her Anglican indentured servants, Eleanor and John Billington, and some of the story is told from Eleanor’s perspective. The deceased Dorothy also voices a section of the novel, and, in speaking through the voices of these women, Nesbit offers a unique perspective on the history of the Pilgrims and Plymouth Colony. You can read reviews here and here.

Reading and Voting

This is the last week for early voting! Did you know that Duke has an early voting location? It’s at the Karsh Alumni Center. You can learn more about your voting options at Duke Votes. If you want to learn more about what will be on your ballot, a good tool to use is vote411.org. To get you excited about voting, I wanted to share some titles about the history of voting and voting rights!

Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America by Ari Berman.

Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All by Martha S. Jones.

Why Vote?: Essential Questions about the Future of Elections in America by Daniel M. Shea.

The Women’s Suffrage Movement edited with an introduction by Sally Roesch Wagner ; foreword by Gloria Steinem.

Voting in Indian Country: The View from the Trenches by Jean Reith Schroedel.

Fragile Democracy: The Struggle over Race and Voting Rights in North Carolina by James L. Leloudis and Robert R. Korstad.

Citizenship beyond Nationality: Immigrants’ Right to Vote across the World by Luicy Pedroza.

Selma’s Bloody Sunday: Protest, Voting Rights, and the Struggle for Racial Equality by Robert A. Pratt.

Institutions and the Right to Vote in America by Martha E. Kropf.

Uncounted: The Crisis of Voter Suppression in the United States by Gilda R. Daniels.

Ballot Blocked: The Political Erosion of the Voting Rights Act by Jesse H. Rhodes.

Why They Marched: Untold Stories of the Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote by Susan Ware.

Oh and if you’re looking for something fun to do, there’s the recent The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert. In fact Book Riot had a whole list this year of YA books about elections.

What to Read this Month: October 2020

This month, as we enter into the throes of spooky season (midterms), we at the library would like to offer up another selection of new additions to our collection to check out. These picks represent a mix of books in our New & Noteworthy Collection, as well as our Overdrive collection. Books are being continually added to both of these collections, so as always, we encourage you to explore them to discover new and interesting reading material.


Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam. Alam’s novel, which was released earlier this month, has already been hailed as one of the best novels published this year by the likes of the New York Times and NPR. At once a suspenseful thriller and biting satire, it tells the story of two households who unexpectedly end up sharing a space during what is quite possibly the apocalypse. Amanda and Clay, a middle-class white couple from New York City, decide to take a summer vacation in a remote corner of Long Island, renting a home there. Things take a strange turn when the home’s owners, a wealthy Black couple named George and Ruth, suddenly arrive, taking refuge from what initially seems to be a citywide blackout. What follows is a suspenseful commentary on issues ranging from race to disaster response in contemporary American society, as the two families gradually begin to realize that a much larger and much more dire occurrence is unfolding before their very eyes. You can read/listen to reviews here and here.


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The Lost Family: How DNA Testing Is Upending Who We Are by Libby Copeland. In this nonfiction study of home DNA test kits, Copeland, a journalist, explores the myriad unintended yet far-reaching consequences that often come with spitting into a vial to discover one’s genetic origins. What is often perceived to be a harmless novelty, Copeland argues, can be anything but, and the harm caused by these kits wreak havoc both on the individual and societal level. Copeland discusses this harm at length, sharing accounts of people making startling familial revelations, including several discoveries about parentage and adoption. But even more gripping is the commentary on the cultural ramifications of commodifying the human genome: our conceptions of race and identity, the use of genetic data to solve crimes, and the troubling relationship between the practice of DNA testing and eugenics. You can read a review here and here.


The Mirror of My Heart: A Thousand Years of Persian Poetry

The Mirror of My Heart: a Thousand Years of Persian Poetry by Women, introduced and translated by Dick Davis. This anthology of Persian-language poems, many of which first appear in English here, abounds with epigrams and elegies. As the title suggests, the chronological period covered by this work is extremely broad, beginning in the Middle Ages and ending in the 21st century. While Persian poetry has been studied at length for centuries, the voices of women poets have often been overlooked, by academics and other readers alike, mainly due to systemic issues in both Persian and non-Persian culture. But Davis, in translating these works, makes clear for his audience that women have played an invaluable role in the history of Persian poetry, with their works often asserting perspectives and concepts hitherto largely unseen by English-speaking audiences. The poems offer unparalleled insight into the lives of Persian women from century to century, and even the oldest poems represented in this anthology are quite accessible to a modern audience, owing to their beautiful and careful coverage of timeless issues, such as love and loss. You can read reviews here and here.


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Who Gets in and Why: A Year Inside College Admissions by Jeffrey Selingo. In this book, education journalist Jeffrey Selingo seeks to break down the overarching factors in college admissions decisions by offering a behind-the-scenes look at the process at three selective colleges and universities. His ultimate conclusion is that the factors controlling the process are largely outside the individual applicant’s control, but his journey in making that somewhat disheartening point makes for a compelling read, as Selingo offers an effective deconstruction of the concept of meritocracy, while also providing commentary on its seemingly inextricable place in contemporary American culture. The book also serves as an interesting complement to another recent journalistic work on college admissions, Melissa Korn’s and Jennifer Levitz’s Unacceptable: Privilege, Deceit & the Making of the College Admissions Scandal, which is currently available as an audiobook in our Overdrive collection. You can read a review of Selingo’s book here and here.


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Culture Warlords: My Journey Into the Dark Web of White Supremacy by Talia Lavin. In this book, Talia Lavin, a freelance writer known for her works in publications such as the New Yorker, the Washington Post, and the New York Times, relays her in-depth investigation of online and offline white supremacist culture. Long the target of online far-right trolls for her Jewish identity and antifascist writings, Lavin describes her effort to infiltrate white supremacist spaces as a journey to find out what draws people—largely young, disaffected white men—into online, far-right culture. Over the course of this journey, Lavin adopts false identities to achieve this end, and the book proves to be a harrowing account of this dangerous movement and what makes it run. And throughout, Lavin provides a compelling story with the many insights she makes. While the book is often darkly humorous thanks to Lavin’s entertaining voice, it nonetheless contains a great deal of disturbing content related to violence and hatred, something readers should keep in mind. You can read a review here and watch an online discussion with Lavin hosted by New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage here.

ONLINE: A Very Spooky Low Maintenance Book Club

Get in the halloween spirit with the Low Maintenance Book Club! For our next meeting on October 21st at noon EST, we’ll discuss selections from the short story collection Things We Lost in the Fire: Stories by Mariana Enriquez. Named a Best Book of the Year by: Boston GlobePASTE Magazine, Words Without BordersGrub StreetRemezccla, and Entropy Magazine, these disquieting stories draw regular comparisons to Shirley Jackson.

We’ll discuss the following stories during the meeting:

  • “Things We Lost in the Fire”
  • “Adela’s House”
  • “The Inn”

This book is available online and in print from Duke University Libraries and print and audio at Durham County Library.

Please RSVP to receive a Zoom link to the meeting the morning of the event. If you have any questions, you can contact Arianne Hartsell-Gundy at aah39@duke.edu.

2020 Banned Books Week

This week (September 27th-October 3rd, 2020) is Banned Books Week, which is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. This year I am going to focus on books by and about African-Americans that have been challenged or banned because they are often more likely to experience a challenge.

As explained in an American Library Association webpage about diversity and banned/challenged books: “While ‘diversity’ is seldom given as a reason for a challenge, it may in fact be an underlying and unspoken factor: the work is about people and issues others would prefer not to consider. Often, content addresses concerns of groups who have suffered historic and ongoing discrimination. For instance, a book that often recurs in previous years’ top ten challenges is Toni Morrison’s Beloved. While it has sex in it, and that’s often the complaint, many other books also have sex, and are not challenged. Is the underlying motivation for the challenge racism? Sometimes, it surely is. In other cases, of course, a complaint genuinely may be about precisely what the challenger says it is.”

Here are some examples of titles that we have in our collection that have faced challenges over the years (books are drawn from Banned Books Written by African Americans and Top 10 Banned Books that Changed the Face of Black History).

Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin. Baldwin’s blunt prose rubbed people in New York and Virginia the wrong way, it appears. “Go Tell It on the Mountain” was banned in both states for being “rife with profanity and explicit sex” and including “recurring themes of rape, masturbation, violence and degrading treatment of women.”

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. After a parent’s public complaint at a school board meeting, the superintendent of Katy (TX) Independent School District removed the multiple award-winning book from all the school libraries in the district. Teachers and librarians argued against the censorship, which produced overwhelming media uproar. A Katy ISD student circulated a petition gathering over 3,700 signatures to urge reinstatement of the book. The Superintendent held firm in his claim that the book was pervasively vulgar and he was legally right to censor the book. Three months later the critically acclaimed novel about a black teen dealing with the aftermath of witnessing a police shooting that killed her unarmed friend was returned to the district’s high school libraries, available to students only with parental consent.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. Challenged as a summer reading assignment in the Knoxville (TN) high school system because a parent claimed the nonfiction book “has too much graphic information.” Henrietta Lacks was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells – taken without her knowledge in 1951 – became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, and more.

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. Banned in North Carolina prisons in February 2017 because it was considered “likely to provoke confrontation between racial groups.” The book was later removed from the list of prohibited books after the American Civil Liberties Union sent NC Department of Public Safety officials a public letter in 2018.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. Though Time Magazine included the novel on its list of 100 best English-language novels published since 1923, not every English-language reader agrees. In 1997, parents in Brentsville, Virginia attempted to ban the novel from the Advanced English curriculum for “sexual explicitness.” Thankfully, the ban was overturned.

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. Winner of the National Book Award and ranked nineteenth on Modern Library’s list of 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man has nonetheless been challenged for its lack of “literary value.” In 2013, NCAC sent a letter to Randolph County Public Schools in North Carolina after they banned the book because of a complaint that it “is not so innocent; instead, this book is filthier, too much for teenagers.” Ten days after the original ban, the board held a special meeting to reconsider their actions and voted 6-1 to return the book. One member of the board expressed his shift after considering his son’s military career: “He was fighting for these rights. I’m casting a vote to take them away. Is it right of me? No.” Such reflections would even give the Invisible Man reason to step into the light of day.

What to Read this Month: September 2020

As we reach the midpoint of this unusual semester, we’d like to highlight a variety of new reading material in our collection. These books are currently held in our New and Noteworthy collection, or in Duke’s Overdrive e-book collection. As always, we encourage you to check out both of these resources in full if you’re looking for something new to read! This month’s selections feature a mix of recent fiction and nonfiction.


IF I HAD TWO WINGS

If I Had Two Wings by Randall Kenan. Randall Kenan, a long-time professor of creative writing and food writing at UNC-Chapel Hill, as well as the 1994 William Blackburn Visiting Professor in Creative Writing here at Duke, died this past month at the age of 57. Having grown up in Duplin County, North Carolina, he was renowned for his rich portrayals of poor, Black, and gay lives in the rural South, crafting unique characters whose experiences were often tinged with a touch of magic and mysticism. His latest collection of short stories, published a few weeks before his death and currently one of ten nominees for the National Book Award for Fiction, features a return to Tims Creek, North Carolina, a fictional community which originally appeared in Kenan’s 1989 novel, A Visitation of Spirits. The ten stories in this collection relay the exploits and experiences of characters who interact with the community in various ways, ranging from a retired plumber who leaves the town for Manhattan, an elderly woman who becomes a miracle-worker, and even a fictionalized Howard Hughes, who arrives searching for a woman who once made him butter beans. You can read a review here, its National Book Award nomination here, as well as Kenan’s recent New York Times obituary here.


Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex

Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex by Angela Chen. In this book, which debuted earlier this month, science journalist Angela Chen offers a “big-picture exploration of ace issues,” or a generalized look at asexuality and its place in society. Drawing in part on her own experiences as an asexual person, Chen describes what it means to be asexual in a world where asexuality is underrepresented and often misunderstood. As a “blend of reporting, cultural criticism, and memoir,” she also reports on the experiences of other asexual people of various genders and romantic orientations, all the while acknowledging that there is no singular experience of the sexuality. In this way, the book serves as an elucidating and approachable introduction for readers of any sexual orientation. You can read a review here, and listen to an interview with Chen here.


Axiom's End

Axiom’s End by Lindsay Ellis. This book is the debut novel of Hugo Award finalist Lindsay Ellis, video essayist and co-host of PBS web series It’s Lit!. The science fiction novel offers a unique variation of the popular “first contact” narrative. Set in an alternate universe version of 2007, it tells the story of Cora, a young woman who learns that her family, including her estranged whistleblower father, has been involved in a decades-long US government coverup of humankind’s first contact with an alien species. After government agents kidnap her family, Cora finds that she must align herself with a member of the alien species who is searching for some of his compatriots being held on Earth. The two forge a deep bond as they work together, and ultimately, the novel offers compelling commentary on themes of xenophobia and grief. A sequel to the novel is forthcoming, slated to be released next year. You can read a review here and read an interview with Ellis here.


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How to Be Autistic by Charlotte Amelia Poe. In this memoir, writer and artist Charlotte Amelia Poe relays the story of their life and experiences as an autistic person. The book, which was published last year, serves as a sort of companion piece to Poe’s 2017 short film of the same name, in which they discussed some of the experiences and incidents that the book covers in more detail. Being a memoir, Poe’s book only focuses on their individual experiences, but the issues they touch on ring very true for many other autistic people. Among other things, Poe discusses their childhood sensory and motor issues, problems cultivating interpersonal relationships, a late diagnosis in their twenties, coming to understand their sexual and gender identity, and generally learning how to navigate a neurotypical world as an autistic person. While the subject matter is often very heavy—and this is something readers should consider—it is frequently punctuated by Poe’s wry and enjoyable humor. You can read a review of the book here, and an interview with Poe here.


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Days of Distraction by Alexandra Chang. Chang’s debut novel, published this year, centers on Jing Jing, a Chinese-American woman in her mid-twenties working as a tech journalist in Silicon Valley. Jing Jing is deeply unsatisfied in her position, finding it difficult to thrive in the publication’s male-dominated, racist atmosphere while also being one of its only woman writers of color. When her white boyfriend of five years, J, gets accepted into a biochemistry PhD program at Cornell, she sees an opportunity to escape Silicon Valley and live a better life in New York. However, this decision brings its own complications for Jing Jing, as she comes to question her place in her interracial relationship with J, meditating on her longing for his approval and the connection to whiteness that he provides her. In the midst of all these events, Jing Jing also visits her father, now living in China and urging her to live there as well, and the trip brings its own insights for her. Throughout the whole of novel, Jing Jing has a compelling conversation with herself, contemplating her identity in the prejudiced society in which she lives while also making numerous dry, humorous observations about it. You can read a review here and an interview with Chang here.

What to Read this Month: August 2020

Normally we highlight books from our New and Noteworthy, and Current Literature collections for this monthly post, but this month we will be showcasing books from our Overdrive. Please read this recent blog post to learn more about Overdrive, and also make sure to check out Durham County Public Library’s Overdrive collection!

Since we are we are currently commemorating the centenary of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, I thought I would highlight books about the suffrage movement and women’s rights and history. If you’re looking for some films and television shows, USA Today recently had a nice list of titles. If you would like to read more about North Carolina’s involvement in the suffrage movement, check out She Changed the World: North Carolina Women Breaking Barriers


Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists: A Graphic History of Women’s Fight for Their Rights by Mikki Kendall is a fun and fascinating graphic novel-style primer that covers the key figures and events that have advanced women’s rights from antiquity to the modern era. In addition, this compelling book illuminates the stories of notable women throughout history—from queens and freedom fighters to warriors and spies—and the progressive movements led by women that have shaped history, including abolition, suffrage, labor, civil rights, LGBTQ liberation, reproductive rights, and more.


The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote by Elaine Weiss. The nail-biting climax of one of the greatest political battles in American history: the ratification of the constitutional amendment that granted women the right to vote. Thirty-five states have ratified the Nineteenth Amendment, twelve have rejected or refused to vote, and one last state is needed. It all comes down to Tennessee, the moment of truth for the suffragists, after a seven-decade crusade. The opposing forces include politicians with careers at stake, liquor companies, railroad magnates, and a lot of racists who don’t want black women voting. Following a handful of remarkable women who led their respective forces into battle, The Woman’s Hour is the gripping story of how America’s women won their own freedom, and the opening campaign in the great twentieth-century battles for civil rights.


The Women’s Suffrage Movement by Sally Roesch Wagner. An intersectional anthology of works by the known and unknown women that shaped and established the suffrage movement, in time for the 2020 centennial of women’s right to vote, with a foreword by Gloria Steinem. Comprised of historical texts spanning two centuries, The Women’s Suffrage Movement is a comprehensive and singular volume that covers the major issues and figures involved in the movement, with a distinctive focus on diversity, incorporating race, class, and gender, and illuminating minority voices. In an effort to spotlight the many influential voices that were excluded from the movement, the writings of well-known suffragists such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony are featured alongside accounts of Native American women who inspired suffragists like Matilda Joslyn Gage to join the movement, as well as African American suffragists such as Sarah Mapps Douglas and Harriet Purvis, who were often left out of the conversation because of their race.


Suffrage: Women’s Long Battle for the Vote by Ellen Carol DuBois. Honoring the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment to the Constitution, this exciting history explores the full scope of the movement to win the vote for women through portraits of its bold leaders and devoted activists. DuBois explains how suffragists built a determined coalition of moderate lobbyists and radical demonstrators in forging a strategy of winning voting rights in crucial states to set the stage for securing suffrage for all American women in the Constitution. She follows women’s efforts to use their voting rights to win political office, increase their voting strength, and pass laws banning child labor, ensuring maternal health, and securing greater equality for women.


Why They Marched: Untold Stories of the Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote by Susan Ware is a tribute to the women who worked tirelessly across the nation, out of the spotlight, protesting, petitioning, and insisting on their right to full citizenship. Ware shows how race, class and religion divided the movement even as she celebrates unheralded African American, Mormon, and Jewish activists. The dramatic, often joyous experiences of these pioneering feminists resonate powerfully today, as a new generation of women demands to be heard.

ONLINE: Low Maintenance Book Club reads N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season

Duke University Libraries’ Low Maintenance Book Club is now online! To close out the summer, we’re reading and discussing The Fifth SeasonN.K. Jemisin’s Hugo award-winning dark fantasy/sci-fi novel. The first book in The Broken Earth Trilogy follows a mother searching for her daughter after an act of retaliation against an oppressive civilization sparks an apocalypse.

Readings and discussions will be split between two monthly meetings. The second session is scheduled for Wednesday, September 2nd at noon on Zoom and covers chapter 16 through the end of the novel.

Copies of The Fifth Season can be found at Duke University Libraries and at Durham County Library.

Although the readings are longer, the low maintenance attitude is the same. Join as you like, discuss as much as you want–or just hang out and enjoy the company. Everyone is welcome. Just RSVP so we know how many to expect, and we’ll send out a Zoom link the morning of the meeting.

If you have any questions, you can contact Arianne Hartsell-Gundy at aah39@duke.edu.

What to Listen to this Month: July 2020

Normally we highlight books from our New and Noteworthy, and Current Literature collections for this monthly post, but this month we will be showcasing audiobooks from our Overdrive. Please read this recent blog post to learn more about Overdrive, and also make sure to check out Durham County Public Library’s Overdrive collection!


The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life. Bahni Turpin, who has been included on AudioFile magazine’s list of Golden Voice Narrators, narrates.


The Princess Bride by William Goldman. Fairy tale collides with reality in this adventure about a beautiful maiden who must be rescued from her price. Everything William Goldman liked about S. Morgenstern’s original is here: good guys, bad guys, sword fighting, revenge, romance, and even “rodents of unusual size. “Join Buttercup the beautiful maiden, Westley the plucky farm boy, Inigo Montoya the embittered swordsman, Prince Humperdinck the scheming villain, and many other characters in this swashbuckling tale of good-natured silliness. This is a true keepsake for devoted fans and an absolute treasure for those lucky enough to discover it for the first time. Bonus: This audiobook is narrated by the film’s director, Rob Reiner!


No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg. In August 2018 a fifteen-year-old Swedish girl, Greta Thunberg, decided not to go to school one day in order to protest the climate crisis. Her actions sparked a global movement, inspiring millions of students to go on strike for our planet, forcing governments to listen, and earning her a Nobel Peace Prize nomination. No One Is Too Small to Make A Difference brings you Greta in her own words, for the first time. Collecting her speeches that have made history across the globe, from the United Nations to Capitol Hill and mass street protests, her book is a rallying cry for why we must all wake up and fight to protect the living planet, no matter how powerless we feel. The speeches are read by Greta Thunberg herself!


The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin. On an alien world in the middle of an Ice Age, one man prepares for the biggest mission of his life. Alone and unarmed, Genly Ai has been sent from Earth to persuade the people of Gethen to join the Ekumen, a union of planets. But it’s a task fraught with danger. Ursula Le Guin’s award-winning masterpiece was one of the first feminist SF novels. This BBC Radio 4 production is the first ever broadcast dramatisation of this novel. It stars Lesley Sharp (Scott & Bailey), Toby Jones (Dad’s Army) and Louise Brealey (Sherlock).

 


Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling. In Why Not Me?, Kaling shares her ongoing journey to find contentment and excitement in her adult life, whether it’s falling in love at work, seeking new friendships in lonely places, attempting to be the first person in history to lose weight without any behavior modification whatsoever, or most important, believing that you have a place in Hollywood when you’re constantly reminded that no one looks like you. Mindy turns the anxieties, the glamour, and the celebrations of her second coming-of-age into a laugh-out-loud funny collection of essays that anyone who’s ever been at a turning point in their life or career can relate to. And those who’ve never been at a turning point can skip to the parts where she talks about meeting Bradley Cooper. Mindy narrates herself, which just increases the humor!

Putting the ‘Global’ Back Into Global Pandemic, Part 7

This is the seventh in a series of blog posts on global pandemics written by the staff of Duke Libraries’ International and Area Studies Department.  Like the firstsecondthirdfourth, fifth, and sixth posts, it is edited by Ernest Zitser, Ph.D., Librarian for Slavic, Eurasian, and East European Studies, library liaison to the International Comparative Studies Program, and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Slavic and Eurasian Studies at Duke University.  The following post is written by Heidi Madden, Ph.D. , Librarian for Western European and Medieval Renaissance Studies.

Most of the pandemic reading lists that you will find online, such as the ones mentioned in my previous blog post, tend to feature modern or contemporary English language publications and (with very few exceptions, such as Boccaccio’s Decameron) to focus almost exclusively on Anglo-American literature. In this blog post, I want to highlight plague narratives of continental Europe and to present three pre-modern works from France, Italy, and German-speaking lands, which are beloved in their countries of origins, but are, for one reason or another, not as well-known abroad.

The Fables of Jean de la Fontaine

One of the ways pre-modern authors dealt with the Plague was to turn it into an allegory and use it for didactic ends.  That is precisely what Jean de La Fontaine (1621–1695) did when he composed a fable, in free verse, entitled “Animals Sick of the Plague” (Les Animaux malades de la peste), one of the required plague texts of early modern France.  This fable was one of the 239 published between 1668 and 1694, in 12 books of Fables, a publication that turned this French fabulist into one of the most widely read poets of the seventeenth century and a model for other writers throughout Europe.  Although La Fontaine’s fables were originally dedicated to the heir-to-the-throne (who was just 7 years old in 1668), they were by no means intended to serve merely as entertaining children’s literature (as they have come to be used today). La Fontaine culled his stories from both classical (Greek and Roman) fabulists and their “Oriental” (Persian, Indian, etc.) counterparts (at least those available in French or Latin translation). He then transformed them into memorable verses and infused them with the wit and wisdom for which he has become justly famous.  Indeed, to this day, you cannot truly be French if you are not able to recite from memory a poem by La Fontaine or quickly understand an aphoristic colloquialism that derives from his Fables.

Gustave Doré, Animals sick of the plague

Animals sick of the plague” (Fable CXXV) tells the story about a time when almost all the animals in the world had died from a terrible infectious disease. The Lion, king of the animals, declares that the plague was sent by the gods as a punishment for everyone’s sins. He decides that each of the surviving animals should publicly confess their sins and that the animal whose sin is the gravest should be sacrificed to atone on behalf of everyone else. The Lion confesses to killing innocent Sheep (and even the shepherd who tended them). When it is the Fox’s turn to confess, he succeeds in talking the Lion out of his guilt by describing the Sheep as inferior beings, who deserved nothing better. The other animals follow the Fox’s example and insist that they have committed no sins. Only the Donkey follows the Lion’s instructions to the letter and admits that he ate some delicious grass from someone’s property without permission.  Since he was the only one to plead guilty, the animals condemn the Donkey to death. The moral of the story is: “If you are powerful, wrong or right, / The court will change your black to white.”

This fable, with animals as stock characters, devoid of any identifiable social situation, and therefore universally true, speaks to us even after 400 years.  “Animals Sick of the Plague” addresses the age-old question: should political leaders surround themselves with yes-men, sycophants, and toadies or should they pick people whose moral character and commitment to truth trumps their loyalty to a single individual, political party, or special interest?  Although this poem merely references the plague, without describing the outbreak in any detail, the infectious disease serves as the litmus test for the king and his court.  La Fontaine’s ironic moral suggests that although this ruler and his cronies seem to succeed politically, they fail the real test of leadership that a pandemic demands from the holders of public office.  While the poet’s use of the words “black” and “white” reference a problematic and longstanding association of guilt and innocence with color, the French cartoon (above) represents a modern interpretation that makes this fable seem even more relevant, especially at a time when contemporary social movements seek to address the systemic inequalities — legal, socio-economic, racial — exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Betrothed of Alessandro Manzoni

The plague of 1629–1631, which killed 25% of the Italian population, serves as the backdrop of a historical romance called The Betrothed (I promesi sposi), one of the most popular Italian novels ever published and, today, one of the lesser- known bestsellers of the nineteenth century.  Originally published in three volumes between 1825 and 1827, the novel was the product of the pen of Alessandro Manzoni (1785–1873), a popular poet, novelist, and philosopher who was one of the cultural icons of the Italian nationalist revival movement (It. Risorgimento). The book was deliberately written in a clear, expressive prose style meant to be accessible to the broadest possible number of his fellow countrymen, which may explain not only Manzoni’s mass appeal during his lifetime, but also the reason why his prose became a model for many subsequent Italian authors.

Like the works of his European contemporaries, Sir Walter Scott and Alexandre Dumas, Manzoni wrote novels firmly set in the turbulent history of the country that the author proudly claimed as his native land.  The Betrothed is set in Northern Italy during the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) and combines keen descriptions of characters, social class, and landscapes with a humorous, swashbuckling tone reminiscent of The Three Musketeers or Ivanhoe. The plot is as convoluted as it is predictable: two main characters, Renzo and Lucia, are engaged and are about to be married by the local priest. The priest, however, has been threatened by professional thugs, who work for a local lord; they prevent the priest from performing the wedding ceremony because the local lord has made a bet that he can seduce Lucia. The young peasant couple flees the village and the reader follows the pair of lovers through almost three years of war, social upheaval, and an outbreak of the plague in the city of Milan. In the end, their unshakeable faith in God and their devotion to each other conquers all earthly obstacles and the novel closes with their marriage.

G. Gallina, Accusing the anointers in the great plague of Milan in 1630 (Scene from ‘The Betrothed’)

While this happy ending may have been a traditional way to end a novel, Manzoni’s work cleverly flipped the perspective of the typical plague narrative: here the society is narrated as a society exposed by the virus, not to the virus. Some details of the inadequate response to the outbreak sound particularly familiar: the governor of Milan does not cancel the birthday celebration for the prince, and thus, creates a super-spreader event.  Even more poignant is Manzoni’s treatment of the role of rumors in the identification and targeting of scapegoats.  In the revised, final version of the novel, published in 1842, the author even went so far as to add an appendix about “The History of the Column of Infamy” (Storia della colonna infame).  This was a historical account of the infamous miscarriage of justice that occurred during the 1630 plague in Milan, when rumors about “spreaders” of the disease lead to the arrest, torture, and trial of several innocent men; a historical wrong that demonstrated, Manzoni argued, the inadequacy of the country’s judicial system.  One cannot read this appendix today without thinking of the way COVID-19 has exposed the (dis)function of our legal system.

The Black Spider of Jeremias Gotthelf

Say “Black Spider” to any contemporary German speaker, and they will vividly recall the first time they read The Black Spider (Die schwarze Spinne) by Jeremias Gotthelf, early modern Germany’s answer to Steven King or Edgar Alan Poe.  Gotthelf was actually the pen name of Albert Bitzius (1797–1854), a Swiss pastor who employed his considerable gifts as a writer to communicate his reformist concerns in the field of education and with regard to the plight of the poor.  The Black Spider, which has recently been translated anew into English, is perhaps the most famous example of the way this highly didactic author used fear as an educational tool.

Léo-Paul-Samuel Robert, Black Spider

A brief synopsis of the plot cannot do justice to the atmosphere of fear and horror that Gotthelf manages to create in the course of his novella.  The story within a story deals with a contemporary storyteller spinning a yarn about an abusive medieval knight-landlord who overtaxes his serfs to such an extent that they are forced to turn for help to the Devil.  A peasant girl named Christina, who serves as the village’s midwife, agrees to make a pact with the Beast, who disguises himself as a travelling huntsman.  The pact is sealed with a kiss on the cheek.  The kiss leaves a black mark that eventually takes on the shape of a black spider.  At a certain point this spider rises up on Christina’s cheek and gives birth to a swarm of creepy-crawlies that hurry from her face, over her body, and toward the town.  The swarm of spiders kills cattle and people alike; villagers sacrifice their lives to trap the black spider who gave birth to the swarm behind a black post of a window frame, but then the next generation once again, ignorantly and carelessly, unleashes the plague of spiders. Vivid images of horror upon horror make the listeners of the tale shiver in fear. And just when the contemporary audience thinks that the end of the story signals the end of the plague narrative to which they have been listening, they realize that the dreaded black spider of the tale-within-the-tale has been trapped in the old black post in the window frame of the very same house in which they are staying and is there, among them, at this very moment.

For all its drama and horror, Gotthelf’s novella raises themes that continue to resonate today.  Among these is the reminder that the continued exploitation of the poor and marginalized members of society is a danger to everyone’s well-being; and that neither hubris nor reckless ignorance are the right attitudes for confronting recurrent public health problems like global pandemics.  Sensible advice that could have real world applications.

So in what way are pre-modern literary treatments of pandemics, like the three Continental ones analyzed above, different from modern ones?  In the centuries leading up to the modern plague novel, literary authors stopped narrating the plague historically and turned the medical plague into a metaphor for the plague as a social and psychological phenomenon.  However, I find that pre-modern literature narrates fear and anxiety in a much more palpable way than modern plague novels, because they narrate fear at a time when medicine did not claim to have all the answers. That used to be a foreign concept to me.  Until recently, I, like everyone else, thought that a pandemic could never happen to us, moderns, and that pandemics belonged to the past. In reading pre-modern plague stories, I find that the raw emotions expressed speak to me; they help me deal with this feeling of endlessly waiting for isolation to end and for a vaccine to be found.

Putting the ‘Global’ Back Into Global Pandemic, Part 6

This is the sixth in a series of blog posts on global pandemics written by the staff of Duke Libraries’ International and Area Studies Department.  Like the firstsecond, third, fourth, and fifth posts, it is edited by Ernest Zitser, Ph.D., Librarian for Slavic, Eurasian, and East European Studies, library liaison to the International Comparative Studies Program, and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Slavic and Eurasian Studies at Duke University.  The following post is written by Heidi Madden, Ph.D. , Librarian for Western European and Medieval Renaissance Studies.

You have all probably seen them: online reading lists created expressly for the bored souls forced to stay indoors because of the restrictions on movement imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  (If not, check out the “Meta-List of the Books You Should Read in Coronavirus Quarantine,” created by the writers at Open Culture).  Some booklist-makers promise to provide prospective readers with cathartic relief from coronavirus fears through curative stories. Others focus on escapist fantasies that keep you sitting on the edge of your seat (Literary Hub Round).  Still others recommend plague novels that let us walk with our fears in virtual communities and to experience our common humanity through empathy. But no matter where you find them or who writes them, most online reading lists created during the COVID-19 pandemic—such as this piece in Vogue magazine, significantly entitled “Six Centuries later, The Decameron is Suddenly the Book of the Moment”—reach back to the Italian Renaissance and, more specifically, to Giovanni Boccaccio (1313–1375) and his Decameron (multiple copies of which are available in English translation, in both print and electronic format at Duke University Libraries).  In this blog post, I will try to provide some context for understanding this seemingly irresistible attraction to what more radical literary critics would dismiss as a canonic work of yet another dead, white, Western male.

Giorgio Vasari, Six Tuscan Poets (c. 1548-1570). Boccaccio (third from left) peeks out over the shoulders of Petrarch and Dante

First, let’s begin with some historical and biographical context.  In 1347, when the bubonic plague—or what Joris Roosen and Monica H. Green’s 2020 bibliography on the state of Black Death research in the era of COVID-19 called The Mother of All Pandemics—arrived in the port of Messina, Sicily, and quickly began to spread across the Italian peninsula, Boccaccio was a 34-year-old struggling writer living at home with his parents.  The illegitimate son of a prominent and prosperous citizen of the city of Florence, Boccaccio aspired to follow in the footsteps of his older and more famous contemporary, the great Italian poet Petrarch (Francesco Petrarca, 1304-1374), and their even greater role model, Dante Aligheri (d. 1321), the author of the Divine Comedy.  That is, Boccaccio wanted to become a “humanist,” i.e. a scholar-writer who used the classics of Greek and Roman literature to create a rich and vibrant, vernacular Italian language, in place of what he and his allies dismissed as the stilted, officious Latin tongue, the language of both Church and State.  In effect, to transform the irredeemably corrupt world that they had inherited from previous generations and to lay the groundwork for a metaphorical rebirth (It. rinascimento, Fr. renaissance) of the beauty and splendor that the humanists associated with the lost world of classical antiquity.

The Black Death in Florence. Decameron. BNF Fr. 239, f. 1r.

When the plague reached the city of Florence, in 1348, tens of thousands of people died of the deadly infectious disease, at least three times the number of those that had died of the same disease during an earlier outbreak back in 1340.  This time, Boccaccio’s father and stepmother were among the victims of the deadly infectious disease—a personal loss that also left the writer in possession of the family fortune.  Now that Boccaccio had the financial means to pursue an independent literary career, he embarked upon an ambitious, multi-year, book project, one that would eventually come to be known as his literary masterpiece.  The setting for this work, which was written between 1348 and 1353, was inspired, at least in part, by the author’s personal experience as an eyewitness and survivor of an outbreak of the plague.

Boccaccio, Decameron (Ferrara, c. 1467). MS. Holkham misc. 49, fol. 5r. Bodleian Library, University of Oxford.

However, the Black Death was more than just the immediate stimulus to Boccaccio’s most famous literary work.  It also served as the literary framing device for the 100 novellas contained in the anthology to which he gave an Italian name that he had coined, as one would expect of a Renaissance humanist, from ancient Greek (< δέκᾰ, “ten” and ἡμέρᾱ, “day”).  This was a reference to the number of days that the book’s main characters—consisting of a company of 10 young Florentines (seven women and three men, representing various vices and virtues)—spent in bucolic self-isolation, regaling each other with stories, while the pandemic raged outside the walls of their villa and all around them.

The description of the plague with which Boccaccio’s begins his book was not just an eyewitness account of the outbreak in Florence in 1348.  It was a mini-literary work in itself, inspired by the classic description of the plague of Athens in the History of the Peloponnesian War, written by the ancient Greek historian Thucydides (460 BC to 400 BC).  Like Thucydides, Boccaccio’s description of the plague in the introduction to the Decameron offered a realistic account of the outbreak of the disease, its symptoms, and its impact on society; and like Thucydides, he focused on earthly matters rather than on supernatural powers.  In this, as in many other instances—for example, in many of the plots and themes of the novellas in the Decameron—Boccaccio reveals the humanist project of translating classical stories, motifs, and images into the literary language of the contemporary author and his era. In effect, Boccaccio can be seen as a node in a network of literary texts and their authors—both those that preceded him and those that followed him—and thus as part of a much more complex web of cultural linkages than is usually depicted in the old syllabi of Western Civ courses.

Connections between Boccaccio and literature before and after the publication of the Decameron

A striking visualization of the connections between Boccaccio and literature before and after the publication of the Decameron was created in 2016 by Kristján Hannesson, a graduate student in the UNC Department of English and Comparative Literature (you can download the full chart from Scribd).  Kristján was one of the grad students who took a course on Boccaccio taught by Duke Professor Martin Eisner, a renowned expert on the Italian Renaissance and an authority on Boccaccio.  Professor Eisner helped Kristján and the other students in the course to organize and curate an exhibit on Boccaccio and the Genealogy of Stories, which was held on July 20, 2016 – October 16, 2016 in The Jerry and Bruce Chappell Family Gallery at Duke University Libraries.  As the title suggested, the exhibit sought to show the genealogy of all of Boccaccio’s stories: where they came from and whom they influenced.

Each circle in the genealogy of stories corresponded to an exhibit case in the Chappell Family Gallery that allowed for the exploration of the texts found in beautiful rare editions held at Duke University’s David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Boccaccio and the Genealogy of Stories Exhibit (2016)

The exhibit cases teamed with beautiful Boccaccio related editions from the Rubenstein Library.  One case, for example, displayed a painting and an actual potted plant next to a book showing the opening lines of John Keats’ Isabella, or the Pot of Basil (1818), a narrative poem in which the English Romantic adapted the story of Lisabetta (Fourth Day – Novel 5): Her lover has been murdered and appears to her in her dreams; she goes to dig up the lover’s body and plants the head in a pot of basil that she tends to day and night.  Isn’t that romantic?

John Keats, “Isabella, or the Pot of Basil “(1818) uses the story of Lisabetta (Fourth Day – Novel 5)

Another exhibit case included a depiction of a (literally) heart-wrenching scene from the Decameron (Fourth Day, Novel 1): juxtaposing a painting (c. 1650) by Bernardino Mei (1612 – 1676) of Ghismonda, cherishing the heart of her murdered lover, Guiscardo, with a miniature on the same theme from one of the illustrated editions of the Decameron, held by the Rubenstein Library.

Ghismonda cherishing the heart of her murdered lover Guiscardo, by Bernardino Mei (Fourth Day –Novel 1)

As these two examples suggest, and as the prominence of female characters in the Decameron demonstrates, in Boccaccio’s case, the “human” in humanist explicitly included women.  As the compiler of an encyclopedia on the lives of famous women (De Mulieribus Claris, available in English translation)–the first in what became a literary genre that stretches from the 14th-century to the present–the Florentine author was acutely aware of the important role that women play in society, not just in traditional familial roles, but as free agents and independent thinkers.  Boccaccio’s recognition of the role of women in society and the importance of hearing their stories is undoubtedly one of the reasons why the Decameron appears so modern.

But perhaps the best explanation for the appeal of Boccaccio’s work is also the simplest.  The Decameron is an anthology of love stories, which are by definition based on perennial themes (jealousy, anger, fate, desire, hatred, lust, virtue) that change much more slowly than the societies around them.  Pandemics may come and go, but a good love story will always stick with you.

 

Juneteenth 2020

In the words of Duke President, Vincent Price, “In recognition of Juneteenth’s message of liberation from oppression, and out of respect for the anger, sadness, exhaustion, and courage of our Black friends and neighbors, this Friday, June 19, will be a day of reflection for the entire Duke community.”

To facilitate this collective action, the Duke University Libraries offers access to streaming videos that reflect the African-American experience. The list here is not exhaustive, but rather provides a window into the many resources available to the Duke community for us to self-enrich and grow as lifelong learners.

The films highlighted below represent just a few  of our streaming titles.  We invite you to explore additional films found in our online catalog as well as those in this curated list of Streaming Videos on the African-American Experience.

bell hooks MEF film image
bell hooks Cultural Criticism & Transformation (prod. Media Education Foundation, 1997)

bell hooks: Cultural Criticism & Transformation (MEF documentary in Kanopy)
bell hooks is one of America’s most accessible public intellectuals. In this two-part video, extensively illustrated with many of the images under analysis, she makes a compelling argument for the transformative power of cultural criticism.

ethnic notions video image
Ethnic Notions (dir. Marlon Riggs, 1986)

Ethnic  Notions (California Newsreel documentary in AVON and FOD)
Directed by Marlon Riggs, this Emmy award-winning documentary analyzes the deep-rooted stereotypes which have shaped the evolution of racial consciousness in America.

killer of sheep film cover image
Killer of Sheep (dir. Charles Burnett, 1977)

Killer of Sheep (feature film in AVON)
Charles Burnett’s Killer of Sheep was one of the first 50 films to be selected for the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry and was chosen by the National Society of Film Critics as one of the 100 Essential Films. The protagonist, employed at the slaughterhouse, is suffering from the emotional side effects of his bloody occupation to such a degree that his entire life unhinges.

through a lens darkly cover image
Through a Lens Darkly (prod. First Run Features, 2015)

Through a Lens Darkly (First Run Features documentary in AVON and FOD)
The first documentary to explore the American family photo album through the eyes of black photographers, Through a Lens Darkly probes the recesses of American history to discover images that have been suppressed, forgotten and lost.

traffic stop film image
Traffic Stop (dir. Kate Davis, 2018)

Traffic Stop (HBO documentary in FOD)
This haunting and compelling Academy Award®-nominated, 30-minute, documentary short tells the story of Breaion King, a 26-year-old African-American school teacher from Austin, Texas, who was stopped in 2015 for a routine traffic violation-an encounter that escalated into a dramatic and violent arrest.

unnatural causes cover image
Unnatural Causes (prod. California Newsreel, 2008)

Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick? (PBS documentary in AVON and FOD)
This series offers an overview of the ways that racial and economic inequality are not abstract concepts but hospitalize and kill even more people each year than cigarettes.  The segment on the impact of racism on African American infant mortality is particularly compelling.

Loving Story DVD cover
The Loving Story (dir. Nancy Buirsi, 2011)

The Loving Story (HBO documentary in Docuseek)
Oscar-shortlist selection THE LOVING STORY, the debut feature by Full Frame Documentary Film Festival founder Nancy Buirski, is the definitive account of Loving v. Virginia-the landmark 1967 Supreme Court decision that legalized interracial marriage.


Compiled by Danette Pachtner
Librarian for Film, Video, & Digital Media and Women’s Studies


Duke University Libraries Statement of Our Commitment

 

 

 

Charles Dickens: 150th Anniversary of His Death

June 9th, 2020 marks the 150 anniversary of the death of Charles Dickens. Westminster Abbey is celebrating the occasion with a private wreath laying behind closed doors and the release of a new film of a sound and light installation which was projected onto the Abbey’s iconic West Towers over the weekend. The New York Times is looking back at their archives to examine how people reacted to the news. The Guardian newspaper is reading Our Mutual Friend in June for their reading group.

By a wonderful coincidence worthy of Dickens, our Low Maintenance Book Club has also been reading Dickens this summer.  We have been reading David Copperfield, and our last discussion will take place on June 23rd. It’s not too late to sign up if you would like to join us. We will send you a Zoom link after you have registered.

We are lucky that we have many books by and about Charles Dickens that can be accessed virtually, if you just can’t get enough. Here are a selection of some of the titles:

Charles Dickens in Context edited by Sally Ledger and Holly Furneaux

Charles Dickens: A Life Defined by Writing by Michael Slater

The Pleasures of Memory: Learning to Read with Charles Dickens by Sarah Winter

Select Short Fiction by Charles Dickens

The Unabridged Charles Dickens: A Tale of Two Cities, Oliver Twist, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens

We also have some wonderful items in our Rubenstein Library, including a first edition of David Copperfield, which you can view online on Internet Archive.

 

 

What to Read this Month: June 2020

Normally we highlight books from our New and Noteworthy, and Current Literature collections for this monthly post, but this month we will be showcasing books from our Overdrive. Please read this recent blog post to learn more about Overdrive, and also make sure to check out Durham County Public Library’s Overdrive collection!

In light of recent news, this month’s books highlight the Black experience and Black excellence. If you are interested in further readings about structural racism and its effects, here are several recent lists to explore: The Anti-Racist Reading List10 Books About Race To Read Instead Of Asking A Person Of Color To Explain Things To You, and Readings on Racism, White Supremacy, and Police Violence in America.


When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele. From one of the co-founders of the Black Lives Matter movement comes a poetic audiobook memoir and reflection on humanity. Necessary and timely, Patrisse Cullors’ story asks us to remember that protest in the interest of the most vulnerable comes from love. Leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement have been called terrorists, a threat to America. But in truth, they are loving women whose life experiences have led them to seek justice for those victimized by the powerful. In this meaningful, empowering account of survival, strength, and resilience, Patrisse Cullors and asha bandele seek to change the culture that declares innocent black life expendable.


Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward, a two-time National Book Award winner and author of Sing, Unburied, Sing. She delivers a gritty but tender novel about family and poverty in the days leading up to Hurricane Katrina. As the twelve days that make up the novel’s framework yield to their dramatic conclusion, this unforgettable family—motherless children sacrificing for one another as they can, protecting and nurturing where love is scarce—pulls itself up to face another day. A big-hearted novel about familial love and community against all odds, and a wrenching look at the lonesome, brutal, and restrictive realities of rural poverty, Salvage the Bones is muscled with poetry.


Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America edited by Ibi Zoboi. Edited by National Book Award finalist Ibi Zoboi, and featuring some of the most acclaimed bestselling Black authors writing for teens today—Black Enough is an essential collection of captivating stories about what it’s like to be young and Black in America. Contributors include Justina Ireland, Varian Johnson, Rita Williams-Garcia, Dhonielle Clayton, Kekla Magoon, Leah Henderson, Tochi Onyebuchi, Jason Reynolds, Nic Stone, Liara Tamani, Renée Watson, Tracey Baptiste, Coe Booth, Brandy Colbert, Jay Coles, and Lamar Giles.


Thick And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom. This “transgressive, provocative, and brilliant” (Roxane Gay) collection cements McMillan Cottom’s position as a public thinker capable of shedding new light on what the “personal essay” can do. She turns her chosen form into a showcase for her critical dexterity, investigating everything from Saturday Night Live, LinkedIn, and BBQ Becky to sexual violence, infant mortality, and Trump rallies. Collected in an indispensable volume that speaks to the everywoman and the erudite alike, these unforgettable essays never fail to be “painfully honest and gloriously affirming” and hold “a mirror to your soul and to that of America” (Dorothy Roberts).


Failing Up: How to Take Risks, Aim Higher, and Never Stop Learning by Leslie Odom, Jr. Leslie Odom. Jr. burst on the scene in 2015, originating the role of Aaron Burr in the Broadway musical phenomenon Hamilton. Since then, he has performed for sold-out audiences, sung for the Obamas at the White House, and won a Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical. But before he landed the role of a lifetime in one of the biggest musicals of all time, Odom put in years of hard work as a singer and an actor. These stories will inspire you, motivate you, and empower you for the greatness that lies ahead, whether you’re graduating from college, starting a new job, or just looking to live each day to the fullest.


How We Fight for Our Lives: A Memoir by Saeed Jones. Haunted and haunting, How We Fight for Our Lives is a stunning coming-of-age memoir. Jones tells the story of a young, black, gay man from the South as he fights to carve out a place for himself, within his family, within his country, within his own hopes, desires, and fears. Through a series of vignettes that chart a course across the American landscape, Jones draws readers into his boyhood and adolescence—into tumultuous relationships with his family, into passing flings with lovers, friends, and strangers. Each piece builds into a larger examination of race and queerness, power and vulnerability, love and grief: a portrait of what we all do for one another—and to one another—as we fight to become ourselves.

What to Read this Month: May 2020

Normally we highlight books from our New and Noteworthy, and Current Literature collections for this monthly post, but this month we will be highlighting books from our Overdrive. Please read this recent blog post to learn more about Overdrive, and also make sure to check out Durham County Public Library’s Overdrive collection!


These Ghosts are Family by Maisy Card was an Entertainment Weekly, Millions, and LitHub Most-Anticipated Book of 2020 pick. This is the story of how a Jamaican family forms and fractures over generations. Stanford Solomon has a shocking, thirty-year-old secret. And it’s about to change the lives of everyone around him. Stanford Solomon is actually Abel Paisley, a man who faked his own death and stole the identity of his best friend. This novel explores the ways each character wrestles with their ghosts and struggles to forge independent identities outside of the family and their trauma. The result is an engrossing portrait of a family and individuals caught in the sweep of history, slavery, migration, and the more personal dramas of infidelity, lost love, and regret.


Whisteblower: My Journey to Silicon Valley and Fight for Justice at Uber by Susan Fowler. Susan Fowler was just twenty-five years old when her blog post describing the sexual harassment and retaliation she’d experienced at Uber riveted the nation. Her post would eventually lead to the ousting of Uber’s powerful CEO, but its ripples extended far beyond that, as her courageous choice to attach her name to the post inspired other women to speak publicly about their experiences. In the year that followed, an unprecedented number of women came forward, and Fowler was recognized by Time as one of the “Silence Breakers” who ignited the #MeToo movement. Now, she tells her full story for the first time: a story of extraordinary determination and resilience that reveals what it takes—and what it means—to be a whistleblower.


The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley. Julian Jessop, an eccentric, lonely artist and septuagenarian believes that most people aren’t really honest with each other. But what if they were? And so he writes—in a plain, green journal—the truth about his own life and leaves it in his local café. It’s run by the incredibly tidy and efficient Monica, who furtively adds her own entry and leaves the book in the wine bar across the street. Before long, the others who find the green notebook add the truths about their own deepest selves—and soon find each other In Real Life at Monica’s Café. It’s a story about being brave and putting your real self forward—and finding out that it’s not as scary as it seems. In fact, it looks a lot like happiness.


Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson. Moving forward and backward in time, Jacqueline Woodson’s taut and powerful new novel uncovers the role that history and community have played in the experiences, decisions, and relationships of these families, and in the life of the new child. As the book opens in 2001, it is the evening of sixteen-year-old Melody’s coming of age ceremony in her grandparents’ Brooklyn brownstone. Watched lovingly by her relatives and friends, making her entrance to the music of Prince, she wears a special custom-made dress. But the event is not without poignancy. Sixteen years earlier, that very dress was measured and sewn for a different wearer: Melody’s mother, for her own ceremony— a celebration that ultimately never took place.


Captain Marvel: Higher, Further, Faster, More by Kelly Sue DeConnick. Did you know you can read comics and graphic novels through Overdrive? We have a small but growing collection of these titles. Please note that some versions of the Kindle may not support reading graphic novels and comics. This volume collects Captain Marvel (2014) #1-6. One of Marvel’s most beloved Avengers launches into her own ongoing series! Carol Danvers has played many roles in her life; hero, pilot, Avenger, and now, deep-space adventurer! Join Captain Marvel as she attempts to return an alien girl to her home world, and defend the rights of aliens revolting against the Galactic Alliance. Guest-starring Guardians of the Galaxy!

Print, Fold, Ponder: A Mini-Zine for This Moment

Mozart once said, “Art lies in expressing everything, the sad as well as the gay, the horrible as well as the enchanting, in forms which remain beautiful.”

We love quotations like that—wise, witty, pithy, and stylish all at once. We love collecting great quotes, and as a library you could say we collect a great many of them. On our digital reference shelves, you can find hundreds of anthologies of quotations, aphorisms, proverbs, epigrams, bon mots, folk sayings, and old saws.

Quotations come in handy, whether you’re writing a paper, working on a presentation, struggling to craft a clever wedding toast—or a dignified obituary—or even just looking for inspiration.

Great quotations have the power to impose perspective and definition on lived experience—or, as the nineteenth-century novelist Samuel Butler put it even better, to “enclose a wilderness of idea within a wall of words.”

There are times when we stumble on a quotation that comes surprisingly close to home, like this verse from Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic opera The Mikado: “Though the night may come too soon, we have years and years of afternoon.”

It certainly feels that way to many of us right now, with so many monotonous days and weeks trapped at home, and goodness knows how many more stretching out ahead. But there’s something gratifying and almost consoling to see someone else put it so cleverly.

So this week, while our Duke students are busily working on final papers and filling them with illustrative quotations of their own (properly cited, we have no doubt), it seemed like a good time to offer some quotable words of our own.

We’ve put together a little zine anthology of quotations we’ve been thinking about during this difficult time. The title says it all: Print, Fold, Ponder: A Wee Zine of Wise Words We Need Now. It’s a little collection of quotes about optimism, hope, leisure—words that inspire us to look on the bright side of what we’re going through—but also about the seriousness of the situation we’re in. It’s like Mozart said—a little bit of the sad as well as the gay, the horrible as well as the enchanting.

Keep it for yourself, give it to a neighbor, or leave it for a delivery person as a little token to let them know someone’s thinking of them. Just as we’re thinking of you and looking forward to seeing you back in the library one day. You can quote us on that.

Instructions: How to Print, Fold, and Make This Zine

  1. You will need a printer. Or, you can hand-copy what you see on the screen on your own sheet of paper and make your own!
  2. Download and print the PDF.
  3. Follow the folding and cutting/tearing instructions in this video by writer and artist Austin Kleon.

If you’re interested in the book he mentions in the video (Watcha Mean, What’s a Zine?: The Art of Making Zines and Minicomics), we have a digital version you can check out through HathiTrust (Duke NetID required). Enjoy!

Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day – April 22, 2020!

Earth Day 2020 – A Streaming Film Festival

H2Omx – Best Documentary Feature Film (Mexican Academy of Cinematography 2015)

Docuseek, a streaming video platform of high quality documentary films,  is showing its support  for continuing education during the COVID-19 crisis by offering 12 films for free online streaming starting today through May 1. The theme of all 12 titles is sustainability centered around the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day and includes new films as well as popular classics.

The first documentary film to be screened is How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change by Josh Fox. Traveling to 12 countries on 6 continents, the film acknowledges that it may be too late to stop some of the worst consequences and asks, what is it that climate change can’t destroy? What is so deep within us that no calamity can take it away?

Come Hell or High Water: the Battle for Turkey Creek

Visit and bookmark https://docuseek2.com/earthday for the full schedule of the Earth Day 2020 Film Festival. Check out my commentary on  Lilly’s Twitter.

Don’t worry if you miss a date, you will be able to access films released on previous days until May 1st. For more online viewing, check out the Duke Libraries’ streaming video* offerings of subscription and licensed films.

The True Cost – an investigation of “fast” fashion

*Note: access to these titles are limited to current Duke students, staff and faculty.

National Poetry Month 2020

It’s currently National Poetry Month, and I feel like I need poetry now more than ever as a source of comfort. In fact Poets.org is running a #ShelterInPoems campaign right now. It’s quite lovely and worth checking out. In a similar vein, Professor Faulkner Fox is featuring a  Poem of the Day on the Hart Leadership Program page, and we in the libraries will be featuring lines from poems on Instagram this month.

If you are looking to read some poetry, I’m happy to say that we do have poetry you can read online in our collection. You can search our catalog for ebooks that we have. I have also had good luck finding poetry in literary magazines in Humanities International Complete. Plus I’ve recently been purchasing some poetry on Overdrive. Try out some of these titles:

Delphi Complete Works of Paul Laurence Dunbar

Delphi Complete Works of Emily Dickinson

Delphi Works of Robert Frost

Delphi Complete Works of W. B. Yeats

Delphi Complete Works of Walt Whitman

And let me leave you with two fun poetry related things. I was recently introduced to this tinyletter newsletter called Pome that sends a poem to your inbox everyday. Finally Sir Patrick Stewart has been posting #ASonnetADay on his Twitter. I personally can’t think of anything more lovely than that!

 

Overdrive and Libby are always open!

Maybe you’re finding yourself with more free time now that all of of your social events and entertainment/shows have been canceled. Maybe you just need a break from it all. Either way now might be a great time to pick up a good book, and we still have you covered with Overdrive.

Overdrive at Duke

We have ebooks and audiobooks on a variety of subjects and genres, including graphic novels, humor, and fantasy. You just need your netID. You can borrow titles for 21 days, and you can download to  all major computers and devices, including iPhones®, iPads®, Nooks®, Android™ phones and tablets, and Kindles®.

Overdrive at Your Public Library

It’s quite possible that the public library in your area has Overdrive, so take a look there too. Our friends at the Durham County Public Library has a wonderful collection that is worth checking out!

Libby

Duke Libraries is now available on the Libby app, which allows you to consolidate your checkouts across multiple libraries onto a single digital shelf. The app works with both smartphones and tablets. If you like to switch between reading on your phone and tablet, the app will sync your bookmarks and notes between devices so you won’t be left wondering where you last stopped reading. Libby also works with audiobooks!

Collection Spotlight: March Madness

March Madness, the NCAA Division I Basketball Tournament, is one of the most famous annual sporting events in the United States.

During the course of the month millions of Americans are glued to the screens, many fill out a bracket, there’s an increase in the number of sick days used, extended lunch breaks are taken, and even conference calls are rescheduled to allow for more tournament watching.

Duke has won 5 NCAA Championships, participated in 11 Championship Games (third all-time) and 16 Final Fours (fourth all-time), and has an NCAA-best .755 NCAA tournament winning percentage.

Duke’s continuous success in the tournament has raised the profile of the university, and one can spot Duke shirts all over the US and the world. This year both the men’s and the women’s basketball teams have high expectations and are poised to make their mark.

The Libraries have an extensive collection, covering March Madness, the Duke basketball teams (men and women), and the sport of basketball in general, a sample of which can be seen in the March Collection Spotlight, located near our Perkins Library Service Desk on the first floor of Perkins.

You can find interesting basketball facts and answers to the questions on everyone’s minds like:

…Who was the first basketball coach at Trinity?

…How many of the players on Trinity’s first team had ever played basketball?

…When Mike Krzyzewski, Coach K, was named the Duke men’s basketball coach?

the first African American player to integrate the Men’s Basketball program at Duke

…Who is the leading scorer in Duke history?

…What is the “Miracle Minute”?

…How many times have Duke and UNC met post-season?

This month’s spotlight was co-created by Tzvetan Benov (Evening Service Desk Assistant), Stephanie Ford (Evening Research Services Librarian), and Annette Tillery (Overnight Circulation Desk Assistant)!

What to Read this Month

As Black History Month leads into Women’s History Month, I’ve selected a handful of books from the list 48 Books By Women and Nonbinary Authors of Color to read in 2019.
For more books to enjoy or mull over during spring break, check out our Overdrive, New and Noteworthy, and Current Literature collections.


Shapes of Native Nonfiction: Collected Essays by Contemporary Writers edited by Elissa Washuta and Theresa Warburton.

Just as a basket’s purpose determines its materials, weave, and shape, so too is the purpose of the essay related to its material, weave, and shape. Editors Elissa Washuta and Theresa Warburton ground this anthology of essays by Native writers in the formal art of basket weaving. Using weaving techniques such as coiling and plaiting as organizing themes, the editors have curated an exciting collection of imaginative, world-making lyric essays by twenty-seven contemporary Native writers from tribal nations across Turtle Island into a well-crafted basket.

Shapes of Native Nonfiction features a dynamic combination of established and emerging Native writers, including Stephen Graham Jones, Deborah Miranda, Terese Marie Mailhot, Billy-Ray Belcourt, Eden Robinson, and Kim TallBear. Their ambitious, creative, and visionary work with genre and form demonstrate the slippery, shape-changing possibilities of Native stories. Considered together, they offer responses to broader questions of materiality, orality, spatiality, and temporality that continue to animate the study and practice of distinct Native literary traditions in North America.


The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa, translated from the Japanese by Stephen Snyder.

A haunting Orwellian novel about the terrors of state surveillance, from the acclaimed author of The Housekeeper and the Professor.

On an unnamed island off an unnamed coast, objects are disappearing: first hats, then ribbons, birds, roses–until things become much more serious. Most of the island’s inhabitants are oblivious to these changes, while those few imbued with the power to recall the lost objects live in fear of the draconian Memory Police, who are committed to ensuring that what has disappeared remains forgotten.

When a young woman who is struggling to maintain her career as a novelist discovers that her editor is in danger from the Memory Police, she concocts a plan to hide him beneath her floorboards. As fear and loss close in around them, they cling to her writing as the last way of preserving the past.

A surreal, provocative fable about the power of memory and the trauma of loss, The Memory Police is a stunning new work from one of the most exciting contemporary authors writing in any language.

Yoko Ogawa was profiled in the New York Times in an article titled “Yoko Ogawa Conjures Spirits in Hiding: ‘I Just Peeked Into Their World and Took Notes’.”


The Pretty One: On Life, Pop Culture, Disability, and Other Reasons to Fall in Love with Me by Keah Brown.

From the disability rights advocate and creator of the #DisabledAndCute viral campaign, a thoughtful, inspiring, and charming collection of essays exploring what it means to be black and disabled in a mostly able-bodied white America.

Keah Brown loves herself, but that hadn’t always been the case. Born with cerebral palsy, her greatest desire used to be normalcy and refuge from the steady stream of self-hate society strengthened inside her. But after years of introspection and reaching out to others in her community, she has reclaimed herself and changed her perspective.

In The Pretty One, Brown gives a contemporary and relatable voice to the disabled–so often portrayed as mute, weak, or isolated. With clear, fresh, and light-hearted prose, these essays explore everything from her relationship with her able-bodied identical twin (called “the pretty one” by friends) to navigating romance; her deep affinity for all things pop culture–and her disappointment with the media’s distorted view of disability; and her declaration of self-love with the viral hashtag #DisabledAndCute.

By “smashing stigmas, empowering her community, and celebrating herself” ( Teen Vogue ), Brown aims to expand the conversation about disability and inspire self-love for people of all backgrounds. You can see an interview with Brown and read more of her work by visiting her website.


Sabrina & Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine.

Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s magnetic debut story collection breathes life into her Indigenous Latina characters and the land they inhabit. Set against the remarkable backdrop of Denver, Colorado – a place that is as fierce as it is exquisite – these women navigate the land the way they navigate their lives: with caution, grace, and quiet force.

In “Sugar Babies,” ancestry and heritage are hidden inside the earth, but have the tendency to ascend during land disputes. “Any Further West” follows a sex worker and her daughter as they leave their ancestral home in southern Colorado only to find a foreign and hostile land in California. In “Tomi,” a woman returns home from prison, finding herself in a gentrified city that is a shadow of the one she remembers from her childhood. And in the title story, “Sabrina & Corina,” a Denver family falls into a cycle of violence against women, coming together only through ritual.

Sabrina & Corina is a moving narrative of unrelenting feminine power and an exploration of the universal experiences of abandonment, heritage, and an eternal sense of home.

Kali Fajardo-Anstine is a National Book Award Finalist, a finalist for the PEN/Bingham Prize and The Story Prize, and longlisted for the Aspen Words Literary Prize. Fajardo-Anstine is the 2019 recipient of the Denver Mayor’s Award for Global Impact in the Arts. Her fiction and essays have appeared in GAY Magazine, The American Scholar, Boston Review, Bellevue Literary Review, The Idaho Review, Southwestern American Literature, and elsewhere. Kali has been awarded fellowships from Yaddo, MacDowell Colony, and Hedgebrook. She has an MFA from the University of Wyoming and is from Denver, Colorado.


The Ungrateful Refugee: What Immigrants Never Tell You by Dina Nayeri.

Aged eight, Dina Nayeri fled Iran along with her mother and brother and lived in the crumbling shell of an Italian hotel-turned-refugee camp. Eventually she was granted asylum in America. She settled in Oklahoma, then made her way to Princeton University. In this book, Nayeri weaves together her own vivid story with the stories of other refugees and asylum seekers in recent years, bringing us inside their daily lives and taking us through the different stages of their journeys, from escape to asylum to resettlement. In these pages, a couple fall in love over the phone, and women gather to prepare the noodles that remind them of home. A closeted queer man tries to make his case truthfully as he seeks asylum, and a translator attempts to help new arrivals present their stories to officials.

Nayeri confronts notions like “the swarm,” and, on the other hand, “good” immigrants. She calls attention to the harmful way in which Western governments privilege certain dangers over others. With surprising and provocative questions, The Ungrateful Refugee challenges us to rethink how we talk about the refugee crisis.

In 2017, Nayeri wrote an essay by the same title. A 2019 Columbia Institute for Ideas and Imagination Fellow, winner of the 2018 UNESCO City of Literature Paul Engle Prize, a National Endowment for the Arts literature grant (2015), O. Henry Prize (2015), Best American Short Stories (2018), and fellowships from the McDowell Colony, Bogliasco Foundation, and Yaddo, her stories and essays have been published by the New York Times, New York Times Magazine, The Guardian, Los Angeles Times, New Yorker, Granta New Voices, the Wall Street Journal, and many others. Her debut novel, A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea (2013) was translated into 14 languages. Her second novel, Refuge (2017) was a New York Times editor’s choice.

 


Low Maintenance Book Club reads “Broad Band”

This spring, the Low Maintenance Book Club will be reading selections from Claire L. Evan’s Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet over three meetings. Spanning decades, this book profiles key figures who made advances in programming and technology that led to the online world of today.

Each meeting will feature stand-alone selections from this book, so attendance at each meeting is not necessary to following along.  At the upcoming meeting on March 4th, we’ll discuss Chapter 6: “The Longest Cave” (p. 83-94) and Chapter 10: “Hypertext” (p.153-174).

Multiple copies of this book are available at Duke University Libraries & Durham County Library.

Spring 2020 meeting schedule:

  • January 22, 5:30pm: Introduction (p. 1-5) and Chapter 2: “Amazing Grace” (p. 27-53)
  • March 4, 5:30pm : Chapter 6: “The Longest Cave” (p. 83-94) and Chapter 10: “Hypertext” (p.153-174).
  • April 7, 5:30pm: Chapter 13: “The Girl Gamers” (p. 222-236) and the Epilogue (p. 237-242).

Light snacks will be served.  We’ll be meeting in Bostock 127 (The Edge Workshop Room). Please RSVP here if you plan to join us at the March discussion!  If you have any questions, you can contact Arianne Hartsell-Gundy at aah39@duke.edu.

What to Read this Month: January 2020

For more exciting reads, check out our Overdrive, New and Noteworthy, and Current Literature collections.


Our Biometric Future: Facial Recognition Technology and the Culture of Surveillance by Kelly A. Gates (online; physical copy requestable).

Facial Recognition Technology has been a hot topic lately, as Facebook just settled a facial recognition dispute, the EU is debating a 5-year ban on facial recognition technology in public areas, and China introduces facial recognition in pharmacies for people buying controlled medicines.

Since the 1960s, a significant effort has been underway to program computers to “see” the human face – to develop automated systems for identifying faces and distinguishing them from one another – commonly known as Facial Recognition Technology (FRT). While computer scientists are developing FRT in order to design more intelligent and interactive machines, businesses and state agencies view the technology as uniquely suited for “smart” surveillance – systems that automate the labor of monitoring in order to increase their efficacy and spread their reach.

Tracking this technological pursuit, Our Biometric Future identifies FRT as a prime example of the failed technocratic approach to governance, where new technologies are pursued as shortsighted solutions to complex social problems. Culling news stories, press releases, policy statements, PR kits, and other materials, Kelly Gates provides evidence that – instead of providing more security for more people – the pursuit of FRT is being driven by the priorities of corporations, law enforcement, and state security agencies – all convinced of the technology’s necessity and unhindered by its complicated and potentially destructive social consequences. By focusing on the politics of developing and deploying these technologies, Our Biometric Future argues not for the inevitability of a particular technological future, but for its profound contingency and contestability.


My Penguin Year: Living with the Emperors by Lindsay McCrae.

In 2018, the BBC Natural History Unit broadcast the nature documentary series Dynasties, narrated by David Attenborough. Dynasties follows individual lions, hunting dogs, chimpanzees, tigers, and emperor penguins “at the most critical period in their lives. Each is a ruler…determined to hold on to power and protect their family, their territory, and their dynasty.”

For the episode on emperor penguins, award-winning wildlife cameraman Lindsay McCrae intimately followed 11,000 emperor penguins for 337 days amid the singular beauty of Antarctica. My Penguin Year is his masterful chronicle of one penguin colony’s astonishing journey of life, death, and rebirth – and of the extraordinary human experience of living amongst them in the planet’s harshest environment, including 32 pages of exclusive photography.

A miracle occurs each winter in Antarctica. As temperatures plummet 60° below zero and the sea around the remote southern continent freezes, emperors – the largest of all penguins – begin marching up to 100 miles over solid ice to reach their breeding grounds. They are the only animals to breed in the depths of this, the worst winter on the planet; and in an unusual role reversal, the males incubate the eggs, fasting for over 100 days to ensure they introduce their chicks safely into their new frozen world.

My Penguin Year recounts McCrae’s remarkable adventure to the end of the Earth. He observed every aspect of a breeding emperor’s life, facing the inevitable sacrifices that came with living his childhood dream, and grappling with the personal obstacles that, being over 15,000km away from the comforts of home, almost proved too much. Out of that experience, he has written an unprecedented portrait of Antarctica’s most extraordinary residents.

We also have the 2006 animated musical comedy about emperor penguins, Happy Feet.


Gender: A Graphic Guide by Meg-John Barker, illustrated by Jules Scheele.

If you’re interested in gender and like graphic novels, look no further. Join the creators of Queer: A Graphic History on an illustrated journey of gender exploration.

From the authors:

“We’ll look at how gender has been ‘done’ differently – from patriarchal societies to trans communities – and how it has been viewed differently – from biological arguments for sex difference to cultural arguments about received gender norms. We’ll dive into complex and shifting ideas about masculinity and femininity, look at non-binary, trans and fluid genders, and examine the intersection of experiences of gender with people’s race, sexuality, class, disability and more.

“Tackling current debates and tensions, which can divide communities and even cost lives, we’ll look to the past and the future to ask how might we approach gender differently, in more socially constructive, caring ways.”


The Blind Earthworm in the Labyrinth by Veeraporn Nitiprapha, translated from the Thai by Kong Rithdee.

From the Asian Review of Books:

“Some authors capture a time and place effortlessly. They draw upon aspects of popular culture and spin them into a literary tale that is more powerful and longer-lasting than the milieu from which they sprang. Veeraporn Nitiprapha is such a writer. But as her work has only appeared in Thai, she has been beyond the reach of most of the world.”

On the day Chareeya is born, her mother discovers her father having an affair with a traditional Thai dancer. From then on, Chareeya’s life is fated to carry the weight of her parents’ disappointments. She and her sister grow up in a lush riverside town near the Thai capital, Bangkok, captivated by trashy romance novels, classical music, and games of make-believe. When the laconic orphan, Pran, enters their world, he unwittingly lures the sisters into a labyrinth of their own making as they each try to escape their intertwined fates. The original Thai language edition of The Blind Earthworm in the Labyrinth won the prestigious South East Asian Writers (“S.E.A. Write”) Award for fiction and was a best-seller in Thailand. It is translated into English by Thai film critic and recipient of France’s Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Kong Rithdee. Attuned to the addictive rhythms of a Thai soap opera and written with the consuming intensity of a fever dream, this novel opens an insightful and truly compelling window onto the Thai heart.


Unbinding The Pillow Book: The Many Lives of a Japanese Classic by Gergana Ivanova.

An eleventh-century classic, The Pillow Book of Sei Shōnagon is frequently paired with The Tale of Genji as one of the most important works in the Japanese canon. Yet it has also been marginalized within Japanese literature for reasons including the gender of its author, the work’s complex textual history, and its thematic and stylistic depth. In Unbinding The Pillow Book, Gergana Ivanova offers a reception history of The Pillow Book and its author from the seventeenth century to the present that shows how various ideologies have influenced the text and shaped interactions among its different versions.

Ivanova examines how and why The Pillow Book has been read over the centuries, placing it in the multiple contexts in which it has been rewritten, including women’s education, literary scholarship, popular culture, “pleasure quarters,” and the formation of the modern nation-state. Drawing on scholarly commentaries, erotic parodies, instruction manuals for women, high school textbooks, and comic books, she considers its outsized role in ideas about Japanese women writers. Ultimately, Ivanova argues for engaging the work’s plurality in order to achieve a clearer understanding of The Pillow Book and the importance it has held for generations of readers, rather than limiting it to a definitive version or singular meaning. The first book-length study in English of the reception history of Sei Shōnagon, Unbinding The Pillow Book sheds new light on the construction of gender and sexuality, how women’s writing has been used to create readerships, and why ancient texts continue to play vibrant roles in contemporary cultural production.

We have English translations of The Pillow Book as well as the
Shinpen Nihon koten bungaku zenshû volume in our East Asian Collection.


What to Read This Month – Holiday Edition

Happy holidays! For those of you who have left campus, don’t forget that you can take the library home with you! All the titles listed below – a mix of ebooks and audiobooks – are currently available to borrow immediately from our Overdrive collection.

If you’re on campus, come relax and browse our New and Noteworthy and Current Literature collections, borrow movies from Lilly, and borrow CDs from the Music Library.


Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris. E-book.

David Sedaris’s beloved holiday collection is new again with six more pieces, including a never before published story. Along with such favoritesas the diaries of a Macy’s elf and the annals of two very competitive families, are Sedaris’s tales of tardy trick-or-treaters (“Us and Them”); the difficulties of explaining the Easter Bunny to the French (“Jesus Shaves”); what to do when you’ve been locked out in a snowstorm (“Let It Snow”); the puzzling Christmas traditions of other nations (“Six to Eight Black Men”); what Halloween at the medical examiner’s looks like (“The Monster Mash”); and a barnyard secret Santa scheme gone awry (“Cow and Turkey”).


Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Sreet, Hollywood, and the World by Tom Wright and Bradley Hope. E-book.

In 2009, a chubby, mild-mannered graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business named Jho Low set in motion a fraud of unprecedented gall and magnitude—one that would come to symbolize the next great threat to the global financial system. Over a decade, Low, with the aid of Goldman Sachs and others, siphoned billions of dollars from an investment fund—right under the nose of global financial industry watchdogs. Low used the money to finance elections, purchase luxury real estate, throw champagne-drenched parties, and even to finance Hollywood films like The Wolf of Wall Street.

By early 2019, with his yacht and private jet reportedly seized by authorities and facing criminal charges in Malaysia and in the United States, Low had become an international fugitive, even as the U.S. Department of Justice continued its investigation.


This Will Only Hurt a Little by Busy Philipps. Audiobook.

There’s no stopping Busy Philipps. From the time she was two and “aced out in her nudes” to explore the neighborhood (as her mom famously described her toddler jailbreak), Busy has always been headstrong, defiant, and determined not to miss out on all the fun. These qualities led her to leave Scottsdale, Arizona, at the age of nineteen to pursue her passion for acting in Hollywood. But much like her painful and painfully funny teenage years, chasing her dreams wasn’t always easy and sometimes hurt more than a little.

In a memoir “that often reads like a Real World confessional or an open diary” (Kirkus Reviews), Busy opens up about chafing against a sexist system rife with on-set bullying and body shaming, being there when friends face shattering loss, enduring devastating personal and professional betrayals from those she loved best, and struggling with postpartum anxiety and the challenges of motherhood.


I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara. Audiobook.

For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area.

Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website TrueCrimeDiary.com, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called “the Golden State Killer.” Michelle pored over police reports, interviewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark — the masterpiece McNamara was writing at the time of her sudden death — offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind. It is also a portrait of a woman’s obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth. Utterly original and compelling, it is destined to become a true crime classic — and may at last unmask the Golden State Killer. Soon to be an HBO® Documentary Series.


Brief Answers to the Big Questions by Stephen Hawking. Audiobook.

Stephen Hawking was the most renowned scientist since Einstein, known both for his groundbreaking work in physics and cosmology and for his mischievous sense of humor. He educated millions of readers about the origins of the universe and the nature of black holes, and inspired millions more by defying a terrifying early prognosis of ALS, which originally gave him only two years to live. In later life he could communicate only by using a few facial muscles, but he continued to advance his field and serve as a revered voice on social and humanitarian issues.

Hawking not only unraveled some of the universe’s greatest mysteries but also believed science plays a critical role in fixing problems here on Earth. Now, as we face immense challenges on our planet—including climate change, the threat of nuclear war, and the development of artificial intelligence—he turns his attention to the most urgent issues facing us.

Will humanity survive? Should we colonize space? Does God exist? ​​These are just a few of the questions Hawking addresses in this wide-ranging, passionately argued final book from one of the greatest minds in history.


Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell. E-book.

Ellie Mack was the perfect daughter. She was fifteen, the youngest of three. She was beloved by her parents, friends, and teachers. She and her boyfriend made a teenaged golden couple. She was days away from an idyllic post-exams summer vacation, with her whole life ahead of her.

And then she was gone.

Now, her mother Laurel Mack is trying to put her life back together. It’s been ten years since her daughter disappeared, seven years since her marriage ended, and only months since the last clue in Ellie’s case was unearthed. So when she meets an unexpectedly charming man in a café, no one is more surprised than Laurel at how quickly their flirtation develops into something deeper. Before she knows it, she’s meeting Floyd’s daughters — and his youngest, Poppy, takes Laurel’s breath away.

Because looking at Poppy is like looking at Ellie. And now, the unanswered questions she’s tried so hard to put to rest begin to haunt Laurel anew. Where did Ellie go? Did she really run away from home, as the police have long suspected, or was there a more sinister reason for her disappearance? Who is Floyd, really? And why does his daughter remind Laurel so viscerally of her own missing girl?


The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren. E-book.

Olive Torres is used to being the unlucky twin: from inexplicable mishaps to a recent layoff, her life seems to be almost comically jinxed. By contrast, her sister Ami is an eternal champion…she even managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a slew of contests. Unfortunately for Olive, the only thing worse than constant bad luck is having to spend the wedding day with the best man (and her nemesis), Ethan Thomas.

Olive braces herself for wedding hell, determined to put on a brave face, but when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. Suddenly there’s a free honeymoon up for grabs, and Olive will be damned if Ethan gets to enjoy paradise solo.

Agreeing to a temporary truce, the pair head for Maui. After all, ten days of bliss is worth having to assume the role of loving newlyweds, right? But the weird thing is…Olive doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, the more she pretends to be the luckiest woman alive, the more it feels like she might be.


We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter. E-book.

It is the spring of 1939 and three generations of the Kurc family are doing their best to live normal lives, even as the shadow of war grows closer. The talk around the family Seder table is of new babies and budding romance, not of the increasing hardships threatening Jews in their hometown of Radom, Poland. But soon the horrors overtaking Europe will become inescapable and the Kurcs will be flung to the far corners of the world, each desperately trying to navigate his or her own path to safety.

As one sibling is forced into exile, another attempts to flee the continent, while others struggle to escape certain death, either by working grueling hours on empty stomachs in the factories of the ghetto or by hiding as gentiles in plain sight. Driven by an unwavering will to survive and by the fear that they may never see one another again, the Kurcs must rely on hope, ingenuity, and inner strength to persevere.

An extraordinary, propulsive novel, We Were the Lucky Ones demonstrates how in the face of the twentieth century’s darkest moment, the human spirit can endure and even thrive.


The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish. Audiobook.

Growing up in one of the poorest neighborhoods of South Central Los Angeles, Tiffany learned to survive by making people laugh. If she could do that, then her classmates would let her copy their homework, the other foster kids she lived with wouldn’t beat her up, and she might even get a boyfriend. Or at least she could make enough money — as the paid school mascot and in-demand Bar Mitzvah hype woman — to get her hair and nails done, so then she might get a boyfriend.

None of that worked (and she’s still single), but it allowed Tiffany to imagine a place for herself where she could do something she loved for a living: comedy.

Tiffany can’t avoid being funny — it’s just who she is, whether she’s plotting shocking, jaw-dropping revenge on an ex-boyfriend or learning how to handle her newfound fame despite still having a broke person’s mind-set. Finally poised to become a household name, she recounts with heart and humor how she came from nothing and nowhere to achieve her dreams by owning, sharing, and using her pain to heal others.

By turns hilarious, filthy, and brutally honest, The Last Black Unicorn shows the world who Tiffany Haddish really is – humble, grateful, down-to-earth, and funny as hell. And now, she’s ready to inspire others through the power of laughter.


Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Audiobook.

Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity…until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock ‘n’ roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.

Includes a PDF of song lyrics from the book.

 


Happy Birthday, Jane!

Every year I like to celebrate Jane Austen’s birthday with a blog post!  Since 2020 will bring two new adaptations (Sanditon and Emma), I thought I would focus this year on film adaptations and these two works in order to get you ready!

Sanditon

Fragment of a Novel Written by Jane Austen, January-March 1817 : Now First Printed from the Manuscript.

Sanditon by Jane Austen.   An ebook version.

Sanditon by Jane Austen.  New edition currently on order.

The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen edited by Edward Copeland and Juliet McMaster.  Chapter six covers Sanditon along with “Lady Susan” and “The Watsons.”

Jane Austen and the Fiction of her Time by Mary Waldron.  See chapter seven.

Unfinished Masterpieces from BBC Worldwide.   You can find the section about Sanditon in segment six.

Emma

Emma by Jane Austen.

Emma: An Authoritative Text, Backgrounds, Reviews and Criticism edited by Stephen M. Parrish.

Emma.  2010 film.

Emma. 1999 film.

Clueless.  1995 film.

Jane Austen’s Emma: A Casebook edited by Fiona Stafford.

Cambridge Companion to Emma edited by Peter Sabor

Jane Austen’s Emma: Philosophical Perspectives by E.M. Dadlez

Adaptations

The Genius of Jane Austen: Her Love of Theatre and Why She Works in Hollywood by Paula Byrne.

The Cinematic Jane Austen: Essays on the Filmic Sensibility of the Novels by David Monaghan, Ariane Hudelet, and John Wiltshire.

Jane Austen on Screen edited by Gina Macdonald and Andrew Macdonald.

Jane Austen on Film and Television: A Critical Study of the Adaptations by Sue Parrill.

Jane Austen in Hollywood edited by Linda Troost and Sayre Greenfield.

Jane Austen and Performance by Marina Cano.

Collection Spotlight: Chocolate, Enough Said

This month’s Collection Spotlight is all about chocolate!  We have titles covering a diverse range of themes, including history, romance, food, feminism, and even some movies.  Here are some examples of what you can find:

Chocolate: A Global History

Chocolat: A Novel

Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History

Chocolate Wars: The 150-year Rivalry between the World’s Greatest Chocolate Makers

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

Do you suddenly find yourself craving chocolate?  Then take a look at the Collection Spotlight rack near our Perkins Library Service Desk on the first floor of Perkins!  We’ll even have chocolate out most of the time, so you can really satisfy that sweet tooth!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take the Library Home with You

handout

As you are preparing for your much needed break, I hope you remember that the library will still be here for you!  Maybe you already know that you can access many of our online resources from home or that you can check out books to take home with you.  We also have movies and music that you can stream and some e-books that you can download to your devices.  Here are some of the resources we have to do this!

Streaming Videos

Alexander Street Video Collection: Find and watch streaming video across multiple Alexander Street Press video collections on diverse topics that include newsreels, documentaries, field recordings, interviews and lectures.

Docuseek2 Collection: Find and watch streaming video of documentary and social issues films.

Films on Demand: Find and watch streaming video with academic, vocational, and life-skills content.

Kanopy: Watch thousands of award-winning documentaries and feature films including titles from the Criterion Collection.

SWANK Digital Campus: Feature films from major Hollywood studios.

Go to bit.ly/dukevideos to access these video collections.

Streaming Music

Contemporary World Music: Listen to music from around the world, including reggae, Bollywood, fado, American folk music, and more.

Jazz Music Library:  Access a wide range of recordings from jazz classics to contemporary jazz.

Medici.tv: Browse an online collection of classical music, operas and ballets.

Metropolitan Opera on Demand:  For opera fans, a large selection of opera videos from the stage of the Metropolitan Opera.

Naxos Music Library:  Huge selection of classical music recordings—over 1,925,000 tracks!

Smithsonian Global Sound: Find and listen to streaming folk and related music

All of these streaming music sources can be accessed at library.duke.edu/music/resources/listening-online

Overdrive Books

Go to duke.overdrive.com to access downloadable eBooks and audiobooks that can be enjoyed on all major computers and devices, including iPhones®, iPads®, Nooks®, Android™ phones and tablets, and Kindles®.

Low Maintenance Book Club Explores Nature

Our next book club will be on Wednesday November, 20th at 5:30 in Bostock 127 (The Edge Workshop Room) The Edge.

It’s that time when signs of the transitioning season are all around us, from the shortening days to changing leaves and shivers in the morning. As we move closer to winter, the Low Maintenance Book Club will be reading and discussing two short essays by Helen Macdonald on the cyclical movement of nature’s patterns: “The Human Flock” and “Sex, Death and Mushrooms.” Macdonald, author of the award-winning H is for Hawk, published these two essays as part of her regular “On Nature” column for The New York Times.

Both essays were published in The New York Times and are available on the NYT site:

They can also be found searching by essay title in The New York Times database collection.

Light snacks will be served. Please RSVP if you plan to attend. If you have any questions, you can contact Arianne Hartsell-Gundy at aah39@duke.edu.

Collection Spotlight: Native Americans: A Present-Tense People

We acknowledge that this space and greater university gathers on land that has long served as the site of meeting and exchange amongst a number of Indigenous peoples, historically the Shakori (sha-core-ee) and Catawba (kuh-taa-buh) people. 

It is also important to recognize the 8 tribes that currently reside in North Carolina, these include the Coharie (co-HAIR-ee), Lumbee, Meherrin (ma-HAIR-in), Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation, Haliwa Saponi (HA-lih-WAH suh-PONY), Waccamaw Siouan (WOK-uh-ma Soo-uhn), Sappony, and the Eastern Band of Cherokee. We honor and respect the diverse Indigenous peoples connected to this territory on which we gather.

In honor of National Native American Heritage Month, Duke University Libraries is co-sponsoring with the Native American Student Alliance (NASA) a Collection Spotlight this month called “Native Americans: A Present-Tense People.”

We took part of the inspiration for this spotlight from this year’s Summer Reading book There There by Tommy Orange“We’ve been fighting for decades to be recognized as a present-tense people, modern and relevant, alive.”  The fiction included in the spotlight are all by modern Native American authors, and the non-fiction books focus on modern history and culture.   Examples of some of the titles included are:

Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings: Poems by Joy Harjo

Lumbee Indians in the Jim Crow South: Race, Identity, and the Making of a Nation by Malinda Maynor Lowery

Heart Berries: A Memoir by Terese Marie Mailhot

Native Voices: indigenous American Poetry, Craft and Conversations edited by CMarie Fuhrman and Dean Rader

Where the Dead Sit Talking by Brandon Hobson

Indians on the Move: Native American Mobility and Urbanization in the Twentieth Century by Douglas K. Miller

Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir by Deborah A. Miranda

Unsettling America: The Uses of Indianness in the 21st century by C. Richard King

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

“All the real Indians died off”: And 20 Other Myths about Native Americans by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Dina Gilio-Whitaker

Please check out the Collection Spotlight rack near our Perkins Library Service Desk on the first floor of Perkins!

You might also be interested in the current Nasher exhibit Art for a New Understanding: Native Voices, 1950’s to Now running until January 12th, 2020.  It is the first exhibition to chart the development of contemporary Indigenous art in the United States and Canada.  Check out the podcast “Native Voices: Darien Herndon” to learn more.  Darien Herndon is the current president of NASA.  There’s also a wonderful companion book by the curators Mindy N. Besaw, Candice Hopkins, and Manuela Well-Off-Man.

Finally please consider attending some of the upcoming events sponsored by NASA to celebrate Native American Heritage Month!

What to Read this Month: October 2019

Happy Halloween! Don’t forget to set your clock back this Sunday, November 2. As always, for more exciting reads, check out our Overdrive, New and Noteworthy, and Current Literature collections.


Cover of Beneath the Mountain Beneath the Mountain by Luca D’Andrea; translated from the Italian by Howard Curtis.

In Luca D’Andrea’s atmospheric and brilliant thriller, set in a small mountain community in the majestic Italian Dolomites, an outsider must uncover the truth about a triple murder that has gone unsolved for thirty years.

New York City native Jeremiah Salinger is one half of a hot-shot documentary-making team. He and his partner, Mike, made a reality show about roadies that skyrocketed them to fame. But now Salinger’s left that all behind, to move with his wife, Annelise, and young daughter, Clara, to the remote part of Italy where Annelise grew up – the Alto Adige.

Nestled in the Dolomites, this breathtaking, rural region that was once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire remains more Austro than Italian. Locals speak a strange, ancient dialect – Ladino – and root for Germany (against Italy) in the world cup. Annelise’s small town – Siebenhoch – is close-knit to say the least and does not take kindly to out-of-towners. When Salinger decides to make a documentary about the mountain rescue group, the mission goes horribly awry, leaving him the only survivor. He blames himself, and so, it seems, does everyone else in Siebenhoch. Spiraling into a deep depression, he begins having terrible, recurrent nightmares. Only his little girl Clara can put a smile on his face.

But when he takes Clara to the Bletterbach Gorge – a canyon rich in fossil remains – he accidentally overhears a conversation that gives his life renewed focus. In 1985, three students were murdered there, their bodies savaged, limbs severed and strewn by a killer who was never found. Although Salinger knows this is a tightlipped community, one where he is definitely persona non grata, he becomes obsessed with solving this mystery and is convinced it is all that can keep him sane. And as Salinger unearths the long kept secrets of this small town, one by one, the terrifying truth is eventually revealed about the horrifying crime that marked an entire village.

Completely engrossing and deeply atmospheric, Beneath The Mountain is a thriller par excellence.


Cover of Antisemitism: Here and Now Antisemitism: Here and Now by Deborah E. Lipstadt.

The award-winning author of The Eichmann Trial and Denial: Holocaust History on Trial gives us a penetrating and provocative analysis of the hate that will not die, focusing on its current, virulent incarnations on both the political right and left: from white supremacist demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia, to mainstream enablers of antisemitism such as Donald Trump and Jeremy Corbyn, to a gay pride march in Chicago that expelled a group of women for carrying a Star of David banner.

Over the last decade there has been a noticeable uptick in antisemitic rhetoric and incidents by left-wing groups targeting Jewish students and Jewish organizations on American college campuses. And the reemergence of the white nationalist movement in America, complete with Nazi slogans and imagery, has been reminiscent of the horrific fascist displays of the 1930s. Throughout Europe, Jews have been attacked by terrorists, and some have been murdered.

Where is all this hatred coming from? Is there any significant difference between left-wing and right-wing antisemitism? What role has the anti-Zionist movement played? And what can be done to combat the latest manifestations of an ancient hatred? In a series of letters to an imagined college student and imagined colleague, both of whom are perplexed by this resurgence, acclaimed historian Deborah Lipstadt gives us her own superbly reasoned, brilliantly argued, and certain to be controversial responses to these troubling questions.


Cover of Midwestern Strange Midwestern Strange: Hunting Monsters, Martians, and the Weird in Flyover Country by B.J. Hollars.

Midwestern Strange chronicles B.J. Hollars’s exploration of the mythic, lesser-known oddities of flyover country. The mysteries, ranging from bipedal wolf sightings to run-ins with pancake-flipping space aliens to a lumberjack-inspired “Hodag hoax,” make this book a little bit X-Files, a little bit Ghostbusters, and a whole lot of Sherlock Holmes . Hollars’s quest is not to confirm or debunk these mysteries but rather to seek out these unexplained phenomena to understand how they complicate our worldview and to discover what truths might be gleaned by reexamining the facts in our “post-truth” era.

Part memoir and part journalism, Midwestern Strange offers a fascinating, funny, and quirky account of flyover folklore that also contends with the ways such oddities retain cultural footholds. Hollars shows how grappling with such subjects might fortify us against the glut of misinformation now inundating our lives. By confronting monsters, Martians, and a cabinet of curiosities, we challenge ourselves to look beyond our presumptions and acknowledge that just because something is weird, doesn’t mean it is wrong.


Cover for Ageing and Contemporary Female Musicians Ageing and Contemporary Female Musicians by Abigail Gardner.

Ageing and Contemporary Female Musicians focuses on ageing within contemporary popular music. It argues that context, genres, memoirs, racial politics and place all contribute to how women are ‘aged’ in popular music.

Framing contemporary female musicians as canonical grandmothers, Rude Girls, neo-Afrofuturist and memoirists settling accounts, the book gives us some respite from a decline or denial narrative and introduces a dynamism into ageing. Female rock memoirs are age-appropriate survival stories that reframe the histories of punk and independent rock music. Old age has a functional and canonical ‘place’ in the work of Shirley Collins and Calypso Rose.

Janelle Monáe, Christine and the Queens, and Anohni perform ‘queer’ age, specifically a kind of ‘going beyond’ both corporeal and temporal borders. Genres age, and the book introduces the idea of the time-crunch; an encounter between an embodied, represented age and a genre-age, which is, itself, produced through historicity and aesthetics. Lastly the book goes behind the scenes to draw on interviews and questionnaires with 19 women involved in the contemporary British and American popular music industry; DIY and ex-musicians, producers, music publishers, music journalists and audio engineers.

Ageing and Contemporary Female Musicians is a vital intergenerational feminist viewpoint for researchers and students in gender studies, popular music, popular culture, media studies, cultural studies and ageing studies.


Cover for The Genius Within The Genius Within: Unlocking Our Brain’s Potential by David Adam.

What if you have more intelligence than you realize? What if there is a genius inside you, just waiting to be released? And what if the route to better brain power is not hard work or thousands of hours of practice but to simply swallow a pill? In The Genius Within, David Adam explores the groundbreaking neuroscience of cognitive enhancement that is changing the way the brain and the mind works – to make it better, sharper, more focused and, yes, more intelligent. He considers how we measure and judge intelligence, taking us on a fascinating tour of the history of brain science and medicine, from gentlemen scientist brain autopsy clubs to case studies of mental health patients with extraordinary savant abilities. In addition to reporting on the latest research and fascinating case studies, David also goes on his own personal journey to investigate the possibilities of neuroenhancement, using himself as a guinea pig for smart pills and electrical brain stimulation in order to improve his IQ scores and cheat his way into MENSA. Getting to the heart of how we think about intelligence and mental ability, The Genius Within plunges into deep ethical, neuroscientific, and historical pools of enquiry about the science of brain function, untapping potential, and what it means for all of us. The Genius Within asks difficult questions about the science that could rank and define us, and inevitably shape our future.

 


Low Maintenance Book Club Reads Kelly Link’s Pretty Monsters

Our next book club will be on Tuesday October 29th at 5:30 in Bostock 127 (The Edge Workshop Room) The Edge.

Get in the Halloween spirit with October’s meeting of Duke University Library’s Low Maintenance Book Club! We’ll be reading two spooky selections from award-winning author Kelly Link’s Pretty Monsters: “The Wrong Grave” and “Magic For Beginners.” Both titles are freely available online:

Hard copies of the book can also be found at Duke University Libraries and the Durham County Library. Halloween-themed snacks will be served.

Please RSVP if you plan to attend. If you have any questions, you can contact Arianne Hartsell-Gundy at aah39@duke.edu.

What to Read this Month: September 2019

Happy fall! While it might be too soon to curl up with a blanket, you can always curl up with a good book. For more exciting reads, check out our Overdrive, New and Noteworthy, and Current Literature collections.


Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton.

Eli Bell’s life is complicated. His father is lost, his mother is in jail, and his stepdad is a heroin dealer. The most steadfast adult in Eli’s life is Slim – a notorious felon and national record-holder for successful prison escapes – who watches over Eli and August, his silent genius of an older brother.

Exiled far from the rest of the world in Darra, a neglected suburb populated by Polish and Vietnamese refugees, this twelve-year-old boy with an old soul and an adult mind is just trying to follow his heart, learn what it takes to be a good man, and train for a glamorous career in journalism. Life, however, insists on throwing obstacles in Eli’s path – most notably Tytus Broz, Brisbane’s legendary drug dealer.

But the real trouble lies ahead. Eli is about to fall in love, face off against truly bad guys, and fight to save his mother from a certain doom – all before starting high school.

A story of brotherhood, true love, family, and the most unlikely of friendships, Boy Swallows Universe is the tale of an adolescent boy on the cusp of discovering the man he will be. Powerful and kinetic, Trent Dalton’s debut is sure to be one of the most heartbreaking, joyous and exhilarating novels you will experience.


The Mosquito: A Human History of Our Deadliest Predator by Timothy C. Winegard.

A pioneering and groundbreaking work of narrative nonfiction that offers a dramatic new perspective on the history of humankind, showing how through millennia, the mosquito has been the single most powerful force in determining humanity’s fate.

Why was gin and tonic the cocktail of choice for British colonists in India and Africa? What does Starbucks have to thank for its global domination? What has protected the lives of popes for millennia? Why did Scotland surrender its sovereignty to England? What was George Washington’s secret weapon during the American Revolution?

The answer to all these questions, and many more, is the mosquito.

Across our planet since the dawn of humankind, this nefarious pest, roughly the size and weight of a grape seed, has been at the frontlines of history as the grim reaper, the harvester of human populations, and the ultimate agent of historical change. As the mosquito transformed the landscapes of civilization, humans were unwittingly required to respond to its piercing impact and universal projection of power.

The mosquito has determined the fates of empires and nations, razed and crippled economies, and decided the outcome of pivotal wars, killing nearly half of humanity along the way. She (only females bite) has dispatched an estimated 52 billion people from a total of 108 billion throughout our relatively brief existence. As the greatest purveyor of extermination we have ever known, she has played a greater role in shaping our human story than any other living thing with which we share our global village.

Imagine for a moment a world without deadly mosquitoes, or any mosquitoes, for that matter? Our history and the world we know, or think we know, would be completely unrecognizable.

Driven by surprising insights and fast-paced storytelling, The Mosquito is the extraordinary untold story of the mosquito’s reign through human history and her indelible impact on our modern world order.


The Last Equation of Isaac Severy: A Novel in Clues by Nova Jacobs.

The Family Fang meets The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry in this literary mystery about a struggling bookseller whose recently deceased grandfather, a famed mathematician, left behind a dangerous equation for her to track down – and protect – before others can get their hands on it.

Just days after mathematician and family patriarch Isaac Severy dies of an apparent suicide, his adopted granddaughter Hazel, owner of a struggling Seattle bookstore, receives a letter from him by mail. In it, Isaac alludes to a secretive organization that is after his final bombshell equation, and he charges Hazel with safely delivering it to a trusted colleague. But first, she must find where the equation is hidden.

While in Los Angeles for Isaac’s funeral, Hazel realizes she’s not the only one searching for his life’s work, and that the equation’s implications have potentially disastrous consequences for the extended Severy family, a group of dysfunctional geniuses unmoored by the sudden death of their patriarch.

As agents of an enigmatic company shadow Isaac’s favorite son – a theoretical physicist – and a long-lost cousin mysteriously reappears in Los Angeles, the equation slips further from Hazel’s grasp. She must unravel a series of maddening clues hidden by Isaac inside one of her favorite novels, drawing her ever closer to his mathematical treasure. But when her efforts fall short, she is forced to enlist the help of those with questionable motives.


Brave New Arctic: The Untold Story of the Melting North by Mark C. Serreze.

An insider account of how researchers unraveled the mystery of the thawing Arctic.

In the 1990s, researchers in the Arctic noticed that floating summer sea ice had begun receding. This was accompanied by shifts in ocean circulation and unexpected changes in weather patterns throughout the world. The Arctic’s perennially frozen ground, known as permafrost, was warming, and treeless tundra was being overtaken by shrubs. What was going on? Brave New Arctic is Mark Serreze’s riveting firsthand account of how scientists from around the globe came together to find answers.

In a sweeping tale of discovery spanning three decades, Serreze describes how puzzlement turned to concern and astonishment as researchers came to understand that the Arctic of old was quickly disappearing – with potentially devastating implications for the entire planet. Serreze is a world-renowned Arctic geographer and climatologist who has conducted fieldwork on ice caps, glaciers, sea ice, and tundra in the Canadian and Alaskan Arctic. In this must-read book, he blends invaluable insights from his own career with those of other pioneering scientists who, together, ushered in an exciting new age of Arctic exploration. Along the way, he accessibly describes the cutting-edge science that led to the alarming conclusion that the Arctic is rapidly thawing due to climate change, that humans are to blame, and that the global consequences are immense.

A gripping scientific adventure story, Brave New Arctic shows how the Arctic’s extraordinary transformation serves as a harbinger of things to come if we fail to meet the challenge posed by a warming Earth.


The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley.

From the Hugo Award­winning author of The Stars Are Legion comes a brand-new science fiction thriller about a futuristic war during which soldiers are broken down into light in order to get them to the front lines on Mars.

They said the war would turn us into light.
I wanted to be counted among the heroes who gave us this better world.

The Light Brigade: it’s what soldiers fighting the war against Mars call the ones who come back…different. Grunts in the corporate corps get busted down into light to travel to and from interplanetary battlefronts. Everyone is changed by what the corps must do in order to break them down into light. Those who survive learn to stick to the mission brief – no matter what actually happens during combat.

Dietz, a fresh recruit in the infantry, begins to experience combat drops that don’t sync up with the platoon’s. And Dietz’s bad drops tell a story of the war that’s not at all what the corporate brass want the soldiers to think is going on.

Is Dietz really experiencing the war differently, or is it combat madness? Trying to untangle memory from mission brief and survive with sanity intact, Dietz is ready to become a hero – or maybe a villain; in war it’s hard to tell the difference.

A worthy successor to classic stories like Downbelow Station, Starship Troopers, and The Forever War, The Light Brigade is award-winning author Kameron Hurley’s gritty time-bending take on the future of war.

 


2019 Banned Books Week

This week (September 22nd-28th) is Banned Books Week, which is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Inspired by an article I read this year (More than half of banned books challenged for LGBTQ content), I want to highlight some LGBTQ related titles that have been challenged or banned to make us more aware of the need to include a variety of voices.  I hope that you will enjoy exploring these titles for yourself.

Angels in America by Tony Kushner.  Angels in America was challenged at Deerfield High School in Deerfield, Massachusetts after protests from a community member who objected to its sexual, religious and racial content, and public attacks made by a local organization that called the play ‘pornography.’ However, after a major outcry from students and other community members, including a student who wrote an op-ed, it was decided that the book would still be taught in the Deerfield AP English class.

Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden.  It was published first in 1982 amidst controversy because of its positive portrayal of the story’s gay protagonists. There have been several attacks on the book because it centers on two 17 year old girls exploring their sexual orientation, though there are no explicit sexual encounters in the novel. The book was also reportedly banned in some Kansas City schools.  The book was at the center of a high-profile 1995 case in which US District Court Justice Thomas Van Bebber ruled that the novel must be returned to high school libraries where it had been removed because it was educationally suitable.

Coming Out in College: The Struggle for a Queer Identity by Robert A. Rhoads.  It was one of 55 books that parents in Fayetteville, Arkansas petitioned to have removed from school libraries. The parents formed Parents Protecting the Minds of Children and objected to the profane language and depictions of sexuality in the book. They also accused librarians and other opponents of their efforts of promoting a homosexual agenda. PPMC objects to this book because it promotes gay pride and a rejection of heterosexism.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel.  Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home is a graphic novel memoir of the author’s childhood, particularly focused on her relationship with her closeted gay father Bruce. As Alison grows older and realizes that she is a lesbian, she and Bruce are both forced to confront how his repression may have affected her own self-image and the way that she dealt with her sexuality. Time magazine named it the best book of 2006, describing it as “a masterpiece about two people who live in the same house but different worlds, and their mysterious debts to each other.” The musical adaptation of Fun Home won the 2015 Tony Award for Best Musical. In 2018, two New Jersey parents requested that it be removed from the 12th grade honors curriculum because of its “sexually explicit nature.”

Gays/Justice: A Study of Ethics, Society and Law by Richard D. Mohr.  Gays/Justice was one of 55 books that parents in Fayetteville, Arkansas petitioned to have removed from school libraries. The parents formed Parents Protecting the Minds of Children and objected to the profane language and depictions of sexuality in the book. They also accused librarians and other opponents of their efforts of promoting a homosexual agenda. PPMC objects to this book because it endorses stronger civil rights for gay people and opposes organized religion.

Geography Club by Brent Hartinger.  It has recently become one of the most banned and challenged books in the United States. It was banned in the author’s hometown of Tacoma, Washington. More recently, the book has come under fire in West Bend, Wisconsin, where community members object to its presence in the local library because of its ‘immoral’ gay content. Click here for the Kids’ Right to Read Project interview with Brent Hartinger.

George by Alex Gino tells the story a child who is born male and known to all as George, but identifies as female and prefers the name Melissa. The book details how Melissa comes out to her best friend, and eventually to others, through the help of a school play. Five elementary schools in eastern Oregon withdrew from an annual statewide ‘Battle of the Books’ competition because of the inclusion of George in the reading list. The book carries an age recommendation of grades 3-7 and the schools’ principals argued it was not appropriate for their third-to-fifth grade students who would be participating in the competition.

Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin by John D’Emilio.  In May 2005, the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a resolution calling on public libraries to remove children’s books with references to gay characters or families. In response, gay and lesbian civil rights groups in Oklahoma donated copies of Lost Prophet: The Life of Bayard Rustin and Stonewall: The Riot that Sparked the Gay Revolution to local high schools. The donation was met with conservative outcry but the Oklahoma City school board voted to permit the donation.

New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein.  The New Joy of Gay Sex met various challenges including its being challenged at a Clifton, New Jersey library where the board voted to limit access to the book, keeping it hidden behind the circulation desk and requiring that patrons ask for it specifically by name. Additionally, a York Township woman in Medina County, Ohio quit her job as a librarian in protest over children being able to check out adult-oriented materials like The New Joy of Gay Sex. The library took no action maintaining that its policy was a parental responsibility to monitor which books children checked out.

Stuck Rubber Baby by Howard Cruse is a graphic novel about a young man coming to terms with his homosexuality in the Civil Rights era American south. Themes include homophobia, racism and gay identity. The novel was attacked by the Library Patrons of Texas, who objected to its inclusion in local libraries. They forced the reclassification of the book from Young Adult to Adult, but the book was not removed.

The National Coalition Against Censorship has even more titles on their website.

Collection Spotlight: Migration in a Divided World

In conjunction with the 2019 Provost Forum: Immigration in a Divided World, our current collection spotlight focuses on the complex issue of immigration, including books by many of the participants.  The titles are a mix of points of view and include public policy texts, political books, histories, memoirs, and novels.  Here are some highlights from the display:

The Rise and Fall of Anglo-America by Eric Kaufmann

Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen by Jose Antonio Vargas

The Death of Politics: How to Heal our Frayed Republic after Trump by Peter Wehner

Cast Away: Stories of Survival from Europe’s Refugee Crisis by Charlotte McDonald-Gibson

The Virtue of Nationalism by Yoram Hazony

Brother, I’m Dying by Edwidge Danticat

Debating Immigration edited by Carol M. Swain

Challenging the Borders of Justice in the Age of Migrations by Juan Carlos Velasco and MariaCaterina La Barbara

The Body Papers: A Memoir by Grace Talusan

Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution by Jeb Bush and Clint Bolick

Understanding Immigration: Issues and Challenges in an Era of Mass Population Movement by Marilyn Hoskin

The Other Americans by Laila Lalami

Please check out the Collection Spotlight rack near our Perkins Library Service Desk on the first floor of Perkins in preparation for the Forum taking place between October 16th-17th, 2019.

Low Maintenance Book Club Reads Fleabag!

Our next book club will be on Tuesday September 24th at 5:30 in Bostock 121 (Murthy Digital Studio) The Edge.

If you enjoyed the series, check out the play! Duke University Libraries’ Low Maintenance Book Club kicks off the fall semester reading Fleabag, Phoebe Waller-Bridges’ play upon which the hit show was based.

From the play’s synopsis: “With family and friendships under strain and a guinea pig café struggling to keep afloat, Fleabag suddenly finds herself with nothing to lose.” We hope you’ll join us on this wild ride!

Light refreshments will be served, and we’ll have small prizes for attendees.  Copies of this book are available through the Duke Libraries.

Please RSVP if you plan to attend. If you have any questions, you can contact Arianne Hartsell-Gundy at aah39@duke.edu.

Announcing the 2019 Archival Expeditions Fellows

The Archival Expeditions introduces Duke graduate students to teaching with digital and physical primary sources. Each student partners with a Duke faculty sponsor to design an undergraduate course module that incorporates primary source material tailored to a specific class.  The Archival Expeditions Fellows spend 70-75 hours during a semester consulting with their faculty sponsor, library staff and other experts and researching, developing and testing the module.  A module can take a variety of shapes and be adjusted to fit different courses, disciplines, and goals of the faculty sponsor.  This year’s cohorts consists of three graduate students.

Kimberley DimitriadisKimberley Dimitriadis

Kimberley is a third year graduate student in the English department.  Her research interests include Victorian literature and culture, the history of science and mathematics, and novel theory.  She will be working with Dr. Charlotte Sussman on the course “Doctors’ Stories,” an undergraduate course that investigates fiction and theory written about doctors and the discipline of medicine from the eighteenth century to the present day. It explores stories doctors tell about themselves, and the stories that have been told about them.  She plans to use historical objects, manuscripts, and advertisements to help students understand how the fictions they’ve encountered in the classroom are supported by the physical instruments and documentation in circulation prior to or at the time of writing.


Jonathan HornrighausenJonathan Hornrighausen

Jonathan is a second year graduate student in Religious Studies.  His research interests include Scripture, art, and interreligious dialogue.  He will be working with Dr. Marc Brettler on the course “The Old Testament/Hebrew Bible,” an introduction to the Hebrew Bible from a non-confessional, historical-critical perspective.  His module aims to help students in the course understand the impact of the Hebrew language’s structure and writing system on how the Hebrew Bible has changed over time as a text and a material artifact.  One major aim will be for students to engage in transcription exercises based on the practices used by the Dead Sea scribes, the Masoretes, and contemporary Jewish scribes.


Joseph MulliganJoseph Mulligan

Joseph is a fourth year graduate student in Romance Studies.  His research engages with late nineteenth- and twentieth-century literatures of Hispanic America and explores the proliferation of allegory in modernist aesthetics. He will be working with Dr. José María Rodríguez García on the course “Introduction to Spanish Literature II,” a survey of major writers and movements of the Spanish literary tradition in the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries.  He will be drawing materials from digital archives, such as Biblioteca Digital Hispánica (Biblioteca Nacional de España), Biblioteca Digital de Castilla y León, and HathiTrust, as well as holdings from the Rubenstein, Perkins, and Lily Libraries at Duke.  Focusing on pedagogical missions, this module will highlight the challenges of modernization which the government of the Second Spanish Republic addressed in 1931 with the creation of the Board of Pedagogical Missions led by Manuel Bartolomé Cossío,

 

Applications will be available on our website in the spring for the fall 2020 cohort. Funding has been provided by the Provost’s Office and Duke’s Versatile Humanist NEH grant.

What to Read this Month: August 2019

Welcome / welcome back to Duke and the start of another school year! In an effort to encourage reading for pleasure while in college – really, it’s possible – here are some suggestions from our New and Noteworthy collection, located on the first floor of Perkins across from the bathrooms. You can also check out our Current Literature and Devil DVDS at Lilly, CDs at the Music Library on East Campus, and our Overdrive collection. Don’t worry if your computer doesn’t have a disc drive; you can borrow those at Lilly! And if you need help finding a book, you can learn about how we organize our books in this course guide or come to the service desk – we’re happy to help!


Strangers and Cousins by Leah Hager Cohen.

In the seemingly idyllic town of Rundle Junction, Bennie and Walter are preparing to host the wedding of their eldest daughter Clem. A marriage ceremony at their beloved, rambling home should be the happiest of occasions, but Walter and Bennie have a secret. A new community has moved to Rundle Junction, threatening the social order and forcing Bennie and Walter to confront uncomfortable truths about the lengths they would go to to maintain harmony.

Meanwhile, Aunt Glad, the oldest member of the family, arrives for the wedding plagued by long-buried memories of a scarring event that occurred when she was a girl in Rundle Junction. As she uncovers details about her role in this event, the family begins to realize that Clem’s wedding may not be exactly what it seemed. Clever, passionate, artistic Clem has her own agenda. What she doesn’t know is that by the end, everyone will have roles to play in this richly imagined ceremony of familial connection-a brood of quirky relatives, effervescent college friends, ghosts emerging from the past, a determined little mouse, and even the very group of new neighbors whose presence has shaken Rundle Junction to its core.

With Strangers and Cousins, Leah Hager Cohen delivers a story of pageantry and performance, hopefulness and growth, and introduces a winsome, unforgettable cast of characters whose lives are forever changed by events that unfold and reverberate across generations.

Cohen writes both fiction and nonfiction, including her 2013 book, I Don’t Know: In Praise of Admitting Ignorance and Doubt (Except When You Shouldn’t).


Only as the Day is Long: New and Selected Poems by Dorianne Laux.

Only as the Day Is Long represents a brilliant, daring body of work from one of our boldest contemporary poets, known to bear compassionate and ruthless witness to the quotidian. Drawn from Dorianne Laux’s five expansive volumes, including her confident debut Awake, National Book Critics Circle Finalist What We Carry, and Paterson Prize-winning The Book of Men, the poems in this collection have been “brought to the hard edge of meaning” (B. H. Fairchild) and praised for their “enormous precision and beauty” (Philip Levine). Twenty new odes pay homage to Laux’s mother, an ordinary and extraordinary woman of the Depression era.The wealth of her life experience finds expression in Laux’s earthy and lyrical depictions of working-class America, full of the dirt and mess of real life. From the opening poem, “Two Pictures of My Sister,” to the last, “Letter to My Dead Mother,” she writes, in her words, of “living gristle” with a perceptive frankness that is luminous in its specificity and universal in its appeal. Exploring experiences of survival and healing, of sexual love and celebration, Only as the Day Is Long shows Laux at the height of her powers.

You can watch Laux read her poetry.


The End of the Beginning: Cancer, Immunity, and the Future of a Cure by Michael S. Kinch.

For the first time since a 5th century Greek physician gave the name “cancer” (karkinos, in Greek) to a deadly disease first described in Egyptian Papyri, the medical world is near a breakthrough that could allow even the most conservative doctors and pragmatic patients to use the other “c word” – cure – in the same sentence as cancer. A remarkable series of events has brought us to this point, thanks in large part to a new ability to more efficiently harness the extraordinary power of the human immune system.

The End of the Beginning is a remarkable history of cancer treatment and the evolution of our understanding of its dynamic interplay with the immune system. Through Michael Kinch’s personal experience as a cancer researcher at Washington University and the head of the oncology program at a leading biotechnology company, we witness the incredible accumulation of breakthrough science and its rapid translation into life-saving technologies that have begun to dramatically increase the quality and quantity of life for cancer patients.

According to Kinch’s website,

“Michael S. Kinch, Ph.D. is Associate Vice Chancellor at Washington University in St Louis, where he helps lead entrepreneurship activities as well as research on innovation in biopharmaceutical research and development. Michael founded and leads the Centers for Research Innovation in Biotechnology (CRIB) and Drug Development (CDD).

“Dr. Kinch’s scientific background includes the development of new medicines for cancer, immunological and infectious diseases. His current work is primarily focused upon understanding the blend of science, medicine, business and law needed to support the development of new medicines.”


The Business of Changing the World: How Billionaires, Tech Disrupters, and Social Entrepreneurs are Transforming the Global Aid Industry by Raj Kumar.

Today, entrepreneurs, Silicon Valley start-ups, and celebrity activists are the driving force in a radical shift in the way we think about lifting people out of poverty. In this new era of data-driven, results-oriented global aid, it’s no longer enough to be a well-intentioned do-gooder or for the wealthy to donate an infinitesimal part of their assets to people without a home or basic nutrition. What matter now in the world of aid are measurable improvements and demonstrable, long-term change.

Drawing on two decades of research and his own experiences as an expert in global development, Raj Kumar, founder and President of Devex, explores the successes and failures of non-traditional models of philanthropy. According to Kumar, a new billionaire boom is fundamentally changing the landscape of how we give, from well-established charitable organizations like the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to Starbucks and other businesses that see themselves as social enterprises, to entrepreneurial start-ups like Hello Tractor, a farm equipment-sharing app for farmers in Nigeria, and Give Directly, an app that allows individuals to send money straight to the mobile phone of someone in need. The result is a more sustainable philosophy of aid that elevates the voices of people in need as neighbors, partners, and customers.

Refreshing and accessibly written, The Business of Changing the World sets forth a bold vision for how businesses, policymakers, civil society organizations, and individuals can turn well-intentioned charity into effective advocacy to transform our world for good.

For a different perspective, see Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World by Anand Giridharadas.


Operatic by Kyo Maclear, illustrated by Byron Eggenschwiler.

Somewhere in the universe, there is the perfect tune for you.

It’s almost the end of middle school, and Charlie has to find her perfect song for a music class assignment. The class learns about a different style of music each day, from hip-hop to metal to disco, but it’s hard for Charlie to concentrate when she can’t stop noticing her classmate Emile, or wondering about Luka, who hasn’t been to school in weeks. On top of everything, she has been talked into participating in an end-of-year performance with her best friends.

Then, the class learns about opera, and Charlie discovers the music of Maria Callas. The more she learns about Maria’s life, the more Charlie admires her passion for singing and her ability to express herself fully through her music. Can Charlie follow the example of the ultimate diva, Maria Callas, when it comes to her own life?

This evocatively illustrated graphic novel brilliantly captures the high drama of middle school by focusing on the desire of its finely drawn characters to sing and be heard.

The Music Library has a variety of CD and Vinyl records featuring Maria Callas.

 


August 2019 Collection Spotlight: Microhistories

microhistory sign

This month’s Collection Spotlight is featuring microhistories.  In order to create what we hope is a far ranging and interesting selection of titles for people to browse, we decided to approach microhistory both from the academic and popular side of things.  We hope you will forgive us if in our enthusiasm we stray into some titles that might not meet the strict definition!

Here is a selection of some of the titles that we are showcasing:

A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812 by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

To Free a Family: The journey of Mary Walker by Sydney Nathans

Color: A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Finlay

Poverty and Piety in an English Village by Keith Wrightson and David Levine

The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars by Dava Sobel

The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester

If some of these titles spark your interest, consider getting involved with Duke’s own MicroWorlds Lab this year!  They even have a section called “What is Microhistory” if you want to explore further what this method of study means.

Please check out the Collection Spotlight rack near our Perkins Library Service Desk on the first floor of Perkins to find your next read!

microhistory book covers

Remembering Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison passed away yesterday at the age of 88. You can find a lot of really wonderful tributes and reflections online explaining just why she is a literary giant. Here are a few that you might find interesting:

Toni Morrison’s Song of America (written by Tracy K. Smith, former poet laureate)

How Toni Morrison Made Us See Black Women

The Generosity Of Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison Taught Me How to Think

Toni Morrison Taught Me How to Really Read

TONI MORRISON REMEMBERED AS A ‘WRITER FOR THIS AGE’: Recalling the Nobel laureate and the times her life touched Duke.

If you want to (re)read her work, we of course have you covered! Here are some highlights (including fiction, non-fiction, and works she edited):

The Bluest Eye

Home

Tar Baby

God Help the Child

Song of Solomon

Beloved

Beloved (ebook version)

The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations

Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination

The Black Book

Burn this Book: PEN Writers Speak out on the Power of the Word

You might also be interested in reading interviews, such as Toni Morrison: Conversations and Conversations with Toni Morrison.

If you have a chance to go see the new documentary on her, Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am, you should definitely do so. I saw it at the Full Frame Documentary Festival this year, and I really enjoyed it. Eventually we’ll have a copy of the dvd in our library, but in the meantime you might enjoy these two films:

Beloved

“Sheer Good Fortune”: Celebrating Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison quote

What to Read this Month: July 2019

For additional summer reads, check out our Overdrive, New and Noteworthy, and Current Literature collections.


Zero Sum Game by S.L. Huang

I devoured this book in half a day. It was amazing, and probably rates with some of my favorite sci-fi books like In Conquest Born by C.S. Friedman. The main character – Cas – is brilliant, compelling, a survivor, and a killer. And then she winds up in situations where she has to view the world beyond the lens of the axioms that fill her brain and literally surround her in daily life. Cas is also placed in a position where her actions affect the fate of millions (which brings to mind Dragon Age: Inquisition). Cas’s character in many ways reminds me of Clariel from Clariel by Garth Nix and Cat in Catharsis by D. Andrew Campbell.

Even better, apparently there’s a second book in the series that just came out!

Description:

A blockbuster, near-future science fiction thriller, S.L. Huang’s Zero Sum Game introduces a math-genius mercenary who finds herself being manipulated by someone possessing unimaginable power …

Cas Russell is good at math. Scary good. The vector calculus blazing through her head lets her smash through armed men twice her size and dodge every bullet in a gunfight, and she’ll take any job for the right price.

As far as Cas knows, she’s the only person around with a superpower…until she discovers someone with a power even more dangerous than her own. Someone who can reach directly into people’s minds and twist their brains into Moebius strips. Someone intent on becoming the world’s puppet master.

Cas should run, like she usually does, but for once she’s involved. There’s only one problem…

She doesn’t know which of her thoughts are her own anymore.


Thick: And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom

A few pages into this book, I set it down. I knew I would want to read it in one sitting, and also hear the author’s voice before reading more. So I went to listen to the first few minutes of her book presentation at Red Emma’s Bookstore Coffeehouse. Two hours later, I had watched the entire presentation. And then I finally got around to reading the book. There’s so much to reflect on and absorb that I’m getting my own copy so I can underline to my heart’s content. Very approachable, compelling, and a wonderful author; I came to her from reading Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy, which I also recommend.

Corroborating Reviews:

As featured by The Daily Show, NPR, PBS, CBC, Time, VIBE, Entertainment Weekly, Well-Read Black Girl, and Chris Hayes, “incisive, witty, and provocative essays” (Publishers Weekly) by one of the “most bracing thinkers on race, gender, and capitalism of our time” (Rebecca Traister)

“Thick is sure to become a classic.” –The New York Times Book Review

In eight highly praised treatises on beauty, media, money, and more, Tressie McMillan Cottom–award-winning professor and acclaimed author of Lower Ed – is unapologetically “thick”: deemed “thick where I should have been thin, more where I should have been less,” McMillan Cottom refuses to shy away from blending the personal with the political, from bringing her full self and voice to the fore of her analytical work. Thick “transforms narrative moments into analyses of whiteness, black misogyny, and status-signaling as means of survival for black women” (Los Angeles Review of Books) with “writing that is as deft as it is amusing” (Darnell L. Moore).

This “transgressive, provocative, and brilliant” (Roxane Gay) collection cements McMillan Cottom’s position as a public thinker capable of shedding new light on what the “personal essay” can do. She turns her chosen form into a showcase for her critical dexterity, investigating everything from Saturday Night Live, LinkedIn, and BBQ Becky to sexual violence, infant mortality, and Trump rallies.

Collected in an indispensable volume that speaks to the everywoman and the erudite alike, these unforgettable essays never fail to be “painfully honest and gloriously affirming” and hold “a mirror to your soul and to that of America” (Dorothy Roberts).


Filling the Void: Emotion, Capitalism and Social Media by Marcus Gilroy-Ware

This extremely thought-provoking book explores the sociocultural dimensions of technology in general and social media in particular. Gilroy-Ware links the emotional distress that social media feeds and profits from to the culture of capitalism that developed from capitalism as an economic system. He describes it: “The ‘capitalism’ that must be addressed in relation to social media is therefore one that operates at a far broader scale – that of society itself” (99).

Description:

Why is everyone staring at their phones on the train? Why do online videos of kittens get so many views? Why is the internet full of misinformation? Why are depression and anxiety amongst the most treated health conditions?

Platforms such as Facebook and Instagram have come to be an integral part of the lives of billions of people across the world. But are they simply another source of information and entertainment, or a far more ominous symptom of capitalism’s excesses?

Written by Marcus Gilroy-Ware, this book is an essential inquiry into why we really use social media, and what this means for our understanding of culture, politics and capitalism itself.


Anti-Social Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy by Siva Vaidhyanathan

I picked this book up after reading The Googlization of Everything: (And Why We Should Worry) and learning a lot from it. Anti-Social Media did not dissapoint. It is timely, thoughtful, and compelling as it queries the unintended effects of a culture intertwined with the Internet.

Description:

One of the signal developments in democratic culture around the world in the past half-decade has been the increasing power of social media to both spread information and shape opinions. More and more of our social, political, and religious activities revolve around the Internet. Within this context, Facebook has emerged as one of the most powerful companies in the world.

If you wanted to build a machine that would distribute propaganda to millions of people, distract them from important issues, energize hatred and bigotry, erode social trust, undermine respectable journalism, foster doubts about science, and engage in massive surveillance all at once, you would make something a lot like Facebook. Of course, none of that was part of the plan. In Antisocial Media, Siva Vaidhyanathan explains how Facebook devolved from an innocent social site hacked together by Harvard students into a force that, while it may make personal life just a little more pleasurable, makes democracy a lot more challenging. It’s an account of the hubris of good intentions, a missionary spirit, and an ideology that sees computer code as the universal solvent for all human problems. And it’s an indictment of how “social media” has fostered the deterioration of democratic culture around the world, from facilitating Russian meddling in support of Trump’s election to the exploitation of the platform by murderous authoritarians in Burma and the Philippines. Both authoritative and trenchant, Antisocial Media shows how Facebook’s mission went so wrong.


The Rise of the Meritocracy by Michael Dunlop Young

Contemporary discourse surrounding meritocracy glorifies it as an American ideal. However, the origins of the term are more akin to Jonathan Swift’s modest proposal of eating babies. Young coined the term in his 1958 dystopian satire The Rise of the Meritocracy. From the year 2034, he tracks the history of British education, projecting the triumph of an IQ-based education system and the perils of a meritocracy come to fruition. The philosophical success of meritocracy is a bitter disappointment to Young, who wrote a Guardian article in 2001 titled “Down with Meritocracy.”

This should be required reading for any serious contemporary discussion of merit and its role in higher education.

Description:

Michael Young has christened the oligarchy of the future “Meritocracy.” Indeed, the word is now part of the English language. It would appear that the formula IQ + Effort = Merit may well constitute the basic belief of the ruling class in the twenty-first century. Projecting himself from 1958 into the year 2034, the author of this sociological satire shows how present decisions and practices may remold our society.

It is widespread knowledge that it is insufficient to be somebody’s nephew to obtain a responsible post in business, government, teaching, or science. Experts in education and selection apply scientific principles to sift out the leaders of tomorrow. You need intelligence rating, qualification, experience, application, and a certain caliber to achieve status. In a word, one must show merit to advance in the new society of tomorrow.

 


What to Read this Month: June 2019

Happy Pride Month! In addition to these books, check out our Overdrive, New and Noteworthy, and Current Literature collections. If you’re looking for something good to watch or listen to, explore Lilly’s Devil DVDs and the Music Library’s CD collection.


Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl: A Novel by Andrea Lawlor (they/them).

It’s 1993 and Paul Polydoris tends bar at the only gay club in a university town thrumming with politics and partying. He studies queer theory, has a dyke best friend, makes zines, and is a flâneur with a rich dating life. But Paul’s also got a secret: he’s a shapeshifter. Oscillating wildly from Riot Grrrl to leather cub, Women’s Studies major to trade, Paul transforms his body at will in a series of adventures that take him from Iowa City to Boystown to Provincetown and finally to San Francisco – a journey through the deep queer archives of struggle and pleasure.

Andrea Lawlor’s debut novel offers a speculative history of early ’90s identity politics during the heyday of ACT UP and Queer Nation. Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl is a riotous, razor-sharp bildungsroman whose hero/ine wends his way through a world gutted by loss, pulsing with music, and opening into an array of intimacy and connections.

Andrea Lawlor recently appeared on the podcast Against Everyone with Connor Habib, in an episode titled Andrea Lawlor or Queer Non-Binary Sex Revolution Now!


Born Both: An Intersex Life by Hida Viloria (s/he, he/r).

From one of the world’s foremost intersex activists, a candid, provocative, and eye-opening memoir of gender identity, self-acceptance, and love.

My name is Hida Viloria. I was raised as a girl but discovered at a young age that my body looked different. Having endured an often turbulent home life as a kid, there were many times when I felt scared and alone, especially given my attraction to girls. But unlike most people in the first world who are born intersex – meaning they have genitals, reproductive organs, hormones, and/or chromosomal patterns that do not fit standard definitions of male or female – I grew up in the body I was born with because my parents did not have my sex characteristics surgically altered at birth.

It wasn’t until I was twenty-six and encountered the term intersex in a San Francisco newspaper that I finally had a name for my difference. That’s when I began to explore what it means to live in the space between genders – to be both and neither. I tried living as a feminine woman, an androgynous person, and even for a brief period of time as a man. Good friends would not recognize me, and gay men would hit on me. My gender fluidity was exciting, and in many ways freeing – but it could also be isolating.

I had to know if there were other intersex people like me, but when I finally found an intersex community to connect with I was shocked, and then deeply upset, to learn that most of the people I met had been scarred, both physically and psychologically, by infant surgeries and hormone treatments meant to “correct” their bodies. Realizing that the invisibility of intersex people in society facilitated these practices, I made it my mission to bring an end to it – and became one of the first people to voluntarily come out as intersex at a national and then international level.

Born Both is the story of my lifelong journey toward finding love and embracing my authentic identity in a world that insists on categorizing people into either/or, and of my decades-long fight for human rights and equality for intersex people everywhere.

Hida Viloria is a writer, author, and vanguard intersex and non-binary activist. S/he has spoken about intersex human rights at the United Nations and as a frequent television and radio guest (Oprah, Aljazeera, 20/20, NPR, BBC…), consultant (Lambda Legal, UN, Williams Institute…) and op-ed contributor (NewNowNext, The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, The Advocate, Ms., CNN.com…).


¡Cuéntamelo! : Oral Histories by LGBT Latino immigrants by Juliana Delgado Lopera (she/her), illustrated by Laura Cerón Melo, edited by Shadia Savo and Santiago Acosta.

¡Cuéntamelo! began as a cover story for SF Weekly. It is “[a] stunning collection of bilingual oral histories and illustrations by LGBT Latinx immigrants who arrived in the U.S. during the 80s and 90s. Stories of repression in underground Havana in the 60s; coming out trans in Catholic Puerto Rico in the 80s; Scarface, female impersonators, Miami and the ‘boat people’; San Francisco’s underground Latinx scene during the 90s and more.”

Juliana Delgado Lopera is an award-winning Colombian writer, historian, speaker and storyteller based in San Francisco. She’s the creative director of RADAR Productions, a queer literary non-profit in San Francisco. Her debut novel Fiebre Tropical, which won the 2014 Jackson Literary Award, will be out Spring 2020 from The Feminist Press.


Lives of Great Men: Living and Loving as an African Gay Man: A Memoir by Chiké Frankie Edozien (he/him).

From Victoria Island, Lagos to Brooklyn, U.S.A. to Accra, Ghana to Paris, France; from across the Diaspora to the heart of the African continent, in this memoir Nigerian journalist Chiké Frankie Edozien offers a highly personal series of contemporary snapshots of same gender loving Africans, unsung Great Men living their lives, triumphing and finding joy in the face of great adversity. On his travels and sojourns Edozien explores the worsening legal climate for gay men and women on the continent; the impact homophobic evangelical American pastors are having in many countries, and its toxic intersection with political populism; and experiences the pressures placed on those living under harshly oppressive laws that are themselves the legacy of colonial rule – pressures that sometimes lead to seeking asylum in the West. Yet he remains hopeful, and this memoir, which is pacy, romantic, and funny by turns, is also a love-letter to Africa, above all to Nigeria and the megalopolis that is Lagos.

Chiké Frankie Edozien is an award-winning reporter whose work has appeared in the New York Times, The Times (UK), Quartz, Vibe magazine, Time Magazine, and more.

He was a New York Post political reporter for over a decade. His work has been featured on numerous new broadcasts. He co-founded The AFRican magazine in 2001 to tell often overlooked, African stories.


Trans Figured: My Journey from Boy to Girl to Woman to Man by Brian Belovitch (he/him).

Imagine experiencing life not as the gender dictated by birth but as one of your own design. In Trans Figured, Brian Belovitch shares his true story of life as a gender outlier and his dramatic journey through the jungle of gender identity.

Brian has the rare distinction of coming out three times: first as a queer teenager; second as a glamorous transgender woman named Tish, and later, Natalia Gervais; and finally as an HIV-positive gay man surviving the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. From growing up in a barely-working-class first-generation immigrant family in Fall River, Massachusetts, to spinning across the disco dance floor of Studio 54 in New York City; from falling into military lock-step as the Army wife of a domineering GI in Germany to having a brush with fame as Natalia, high-flying downtown darling of the boozy and druggy pre-Giuliani New York nightclub scene, Brian escaped many near-death experiences.

Trans Figured chronicles a life lived on the edge with an unforgettable cast of characters during a dangerous and chaotic era. Rich with drama and excitement, this no-holds-barred memoir tells it all. Most importantly, Brian’s candid and poignant story of recovery shines a light on the perseverance of the human spirit.

In 2016, Brian created Queer Stages an LGBTQ playreading group whose mission is to preserve and present LGBTQ themed plays and playwrights for current and future generations. Recently he was Alice, First Lady of Earth in Charles Ludlam’s Conquest of the Universe or When Queens Collide at LaMama to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Ridiculous Theatre. In film and television, Brian has appeared in The Irishman, Nor’easter, Silent Prey, Q&A, The Deuce, Homeland, and The Americans.

 


The Art of Writing Letters: A Q&A with Joanna Murdoch

“Working with the Library” is an occasional series of stories highlighting collaborations between librarians and the people around campus whose teaching and research we support.

Joanna Murdoch is a Ph.D. Candidate in the English Department. She taught a Thompson Writing Program first-year writing seminar called “The Art of Writing Letters” in the spring of 2018. Arianne Hartsell-Gundy, Head of the Humanities Section and Librarian for Literature and Theater Studies, served as the course librarian for this class. She had the pleasure of asking Joanna a couple of questions about how the library has supported her teaching and research.


What were your primary goals for your students in working with letter writing in this course?

Teaching for the Thompson Writing Program’s first-year writing seminar, I wanted to foreground the tangible longevity of academic writing. The claims we make and the words we use in essays, exhibits, or online forums can last a long time. Against the odds, a lot of written material survives! The assignments in my course ask students to think about their writing and research as taking part in conversations with long histories and long futures, too.

Letter writing, it turns out, is a good tool for cultivating the blend of voice, personhood, and responsibility that is crucial for compelling academic work but isn’t always explicitly handled in writing instruction. In almost any century, letters open with an address to a named person and close with the writer’s signoff. Between those extremities, letters and their composers do everything they can to try to reach their readers. For their part, the letter’s recipients face literal response-ability: they have to decide whether and how they are able to respond. Writing and reading in this view are intimate, implicating activities: words can’t convey ideas unless two human beings have already agreed to connect.

It’s easy to forget this interpersonal grounding when composing a college essay. But even the strictest cautions surrounding intellectual property and the respect and defense of human rights require us to acknowledge the voices of others. That’s why my students have been practicing discerning and responding to the historically situated human voice in other people’s writing over three major assignments—a close-reading analysis of a single letter, a research project on a letter exchange held at the Rubenstein or in Perkins’ collections or databases, and a letter to a public figure, exhibited on the Campus Club Wall for three weeks in April of 2018. 

How has the library supported your teaching?

In so many ways! Duke’s subscription to databases like North American Immigrant Letters, Diaries, and Oral Histories provided rich exploratory ground for my students in all stages of their writing projects. The library’s collections of World War I letters available in book form in the stacks gave students who stumbled across them the foundation they needed for their research on soldiers’ letters in the Rubenstein’s holdings. Then, in April, the Campus Club Wall in Perkins became a live part of our writing and learning space when students received permission to exhibit some visually enhanced selections from their letters to public figures.

But it was the library’s gifted specialists who really brought Perkins and Rubenstein to life for my class. Our designated Perkins librarian Arianne Hartsell-Gundy very graciously showed us how to use the library guide she had designed especially for our course, and she supported students with exercises for crafting a focused research question and building an annotated bibliography with reputable sources. I’ll always remember Perkins 118 as the place where Arianne showed us the lines from Alexander Hamilton’s letter-esque The Farmer Refuted (1775) that live on in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton (2015).

A major highlight of the semester was when Rubenstein’s Elizabeth Dunn and Mandy Cooper introduced us to the historical letters and letter-writing guides they had hand-picked to match the students’ research interests. The hours these librarians spent selecting, transcribing, arranging, and expertly talking us through the materials were a huge gift to the class. Thank you, Perkins and Rubenstein!

How about your research?

For my research on medieval religious lyric poems, I lean heavily on Duke Libraries and their Borrow Direct and Interlibrary Loan relationships. My carrel is overflowing with Perkins, Divinity, and Lilly titles, plus others shipped in from Yale, the University of Chicago, or even our basketball competitor down the road. Thanks to the bases covered by Duke and these other library collections, this spring I was free to buy only the works I knew I would return to, rather than every single title on my comprehensive exams’ reading lists. The best part was when Perkins bought a collection of essays on Chaucer’s poetics at my request! I’d better go check it out, now that it’s on the shelves . . .

Another enormously helpful tool has been the library’s subscription to Oxford Bibliographies Online. Since I’m still in an early stage of dissertation research, I need all the overviews I can get of major contours in scholarly publishing. OBO is a great place to start.

What are three things you think that undergraduates should know about using information and the library?

I) You’re responsible for sniffing out the stories and scholarly drama behind the materials you see. If you do a lot of reading around for a project, you’ll start to see the same names and references to the same group of 10–30 major academic works. Then it’s like you’re pulling a necklace up out of the sand, revealing the links of a single, if complicated, structure. It’s one of the best feelings early on in graduate school, being not-at-the-mercy of the infinite-seeming database search results.

II) I said above that written material lasts longer than we think it will. But that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to actually use it once you’ve consigned it to your files. You may have terabytes of notes and essays on your computer or in the cloud, but you’ll never find any of it again unless you’ve tagged it all thoroughly or you like to spend your free time randomly clicking through old files. Some people love reference management software like RefWorks or Zotero. I can’t stand the way those services look, so I build massive searchable folders in an awesome writing program called Scrivener. Whatever you decide, leave yourself a lot of breadcrumbs. Don’t be like me and spend years searching for a half-remembered, haunting line that turned out to be from Leonard Cohen’s song “Anthem“: “There is a crack in everything / That’s how the light gets in”—I spent so long searching for the note I had made about it back before I learned to cite cite cite even passing references in journal-type notes. The best breadcrumb of all is a full bibliographic citation, including the date you found and read/listened to the material, plus a quick personal note on what you thought about it. The “find” function on your computer will do the rest.

III) If you need part-time work during a heavy course-load year, reshelving books for the library is a fantastic way to find a meditative groove while filling your muscle memory with clues about the way information is structured and accessed in a major university library—which boils down to the shape of academic discourse itself. That’s how it went for me, at least, in the basement stacks of the Yale music library. Maybe Duke will even let you listen to Hamilton or Leonard Cohen while you set some Perkins shelves to rights!

Happy Birthday, Walt Whitman!

Today is the 200th anniversary of Walt Whitman’s birthday!  We recently celebrated Whitman’s birthday with our Whitman Sampler event at the end of April, which featured President Emeritus Richard Brodhead reading from Whitman’s poetry and discussing his impact.

If you want to explore the life and work of Whitman, we have one of the best collections in the country in our Rubenstein Rare Books & Manuscript Library.  You can see original editions, the many drafts of his works that he created, correspondence, clippings, portraits, and scrapbooks in this collection.  We even have a lock of his hair!

If you want to read some of his work, of course we have many of his books that you can check out and read at home.  You might also enjoy reading a selection from the Academy of American Poets.  The New York Public Library has a great page outlining some good places to start reading.

If you’re looking for something different, check out the Manly Health and Training, written by Walt Whitman under the pseudonym Mose Velsor.  You can read about the discovery of this work here.

Finally I wrote a series of blog posts to highlight the “I Sing the Body Electric: Walt Whitman and the Body” exhibit that I had the great privilege of curating in 2017.  You can find blog posts about Whitman and Popular CultureWhitman and the Body, Whitman and the Civil War, and Reading Walt Whitman.

 

 

Low Maintenance Book Club Reads There There

For the summer meeting of the Low Maintenance Book Club, we’ll be discussing the 2019 Duke Summer Reads selection There There. It tells a powerful story of urban Native Americans confronting alcoholism, depression and unemployment amidst the historical backdrop of U.S. subjugation.

Copies of this book are available through the Duke Libraries (printonline and  e-audiobook) and from the Durham County Library (printlarge format printebook e-audiobook and audiobook on CD).

We’ll have light snacks (savory and sweet), and you’re welcome to bring your lunch. Please RSVP if you plan to attend.

**Please note a change in meeting location: Bostock 121, the Murthy Digital Studio

Date: Thursday June 27th, 2019

Time: noon-1:00 pm

Location: Bostock 121 (Murthy Digital Studio)

If you have any questions, you can contact Arianne Hartsell-Gundy at aah39@duke.edu.

What to Read this Month: May 2019

We’re kicking off May with a short list of magical reads to celebrate the start of summer.
For more exciting reads, check out our Overdrive, New and Noteworthy, and Current Literature collections.


Enchantée by Gita Trelease.

A compellingly beautiful tale of magic, intrigue and deception, set against the backdrop of eighteenth-century Paris on the cusp of revolution.

Paris is a labyrinth of twisted streets filled with beggars and thieves, revolutionaries and magicians. Camille Durbonne is one of them. She wishes she weren’t…

When smallpox kills her parents, Camille must find a way to provide for her younger sister while managing her volatile brother. Relying on magic, Camille painstakingly transforms scraps of metal into money to buy food and medicine they need. But when the coins won’t hold their shape and her brother disappears with the family’s savings, Camille pursues a richer, more dangerous mark: the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

Using dark magic forbidden by her mother, Camille transforms herself into a baroness and is swept up into life at the Palace of Versailles, where aristocrats both fear and hunger for magic. As she struggles to reconcile her resentment of the rich with the allure of glamour and excess, Camille meets a handsome young inventor, and begins to believe that love and liberty may both be possible.

But magic has its costs, and soon Camille loses control of her secrets. And when revolution erupts, Camille must choose – love or loyalty, democracy or aristocracy, reality or magic – before Paris burns.

For similar books, check out Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves, Caraval by Stephanie Garber, Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton, An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson, and Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian.


City of Crows by Chris Womersley.

Set in seventeenth-century France – a country in the thrall of dark magic, its social fabric weakened by years of plague – Chris Womersley’s City of Crows is a richly imagined and engrossing tour de force. Inspired by real-life events, it tells the story of Charlotte Picot, a young woman from the country forced to venture to the fearsome city of Paris in search of her only remaining son, Nicolas. Fate (or coincidence) places the quick-witted charlatan Adam Lesage in her path. Lesage is newly released from the prison galleys and on the hunt for treasure, but, believing him to be a spirit she has summoned from the underworld, Charlotte enlists his help in finding her child.

Charlotte and Lesage – comically ill-matched but nevertheless essential to one another – journey to Paris, then known as the City of Crows: Charlotte in search of Nicolas, and Lesage seeking a fresh start.

Dazzlingly told, with humor and flair, City of Crows is a novel for readers who like their fiction atmospheric, adventurous, spine-tingling, and beautifully written. Pre-revolutionary France, with all its ribaldry, superstition, and intrigue is mesmerizing, and Charlotte Picot’s story – the story of a mother in search of her lost son – holds universal appeal.

Chris Womersley has also written The Low Road, Bereft, and Cairo. A collection of his short stories, A Lovely and Terrible Thing will be released in Australia this month.


Half-Witch by John Schoffstall.

In the world in which Lizbet Lenz lives, the sun still goes around the earth, God speaks directly to his worshippers, goblins haunt every cellar, and witches lurk in the forests. Disaster strikes when Lizbet’s father Gerhard, a charming scoundrel, is thrown into a dungeon by the tyrant Hengest Wolftrow. To free him, Lizbet must cross the Montagnes du Monde, globe-girdling mountains that reach to the sky, a journey no one has ever survived, and retrieve a mysterious book.Lizbet is desperate, and the only one who can help her is the unpleasant and sarcastic witch girl Strix. As the two girls journey through the mountains and into the lands of wonder beyond, on the run from goblins, powerful witches, and human criminals, Lizbet discovers, to her horror, that Strix’s magic is turning Lizbet into a witch, too. Meanwhile, a revolution in Heaven is brewing.

Half-Witch was named one of NPR’s Best Books of 2018. Check out NPR’s Sci Fi, Fantasy, and Speculative Fiction and Young Adult lists.


Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett.

In a city that runs on industrialized magic, a secret war will be fought to overwrite reality itself – the first in a dazzling new series from City of Stairs author Robert Jackson Bennett.

Sancia Grado is a thief, and a damn good one. And her latest target, a heavily guarded warehouse on Tevanne’s docks, is nothing her unique abilities can’t handle.

But unbeknownst to her, Sancia’s been sent to steal an artifact of unimaginable power, an object that could revolutionize the magical technology known as scriving. The Merchant Houses who control this magic – the art of using coded commands to imbue everyday objects with sentience – have already used it to transform Tevanne into a vast, remorseless capitalist machine. But if they can unlock the artifact’s secrets, they will rewrite the world itself to suit their aims.

Now someone in those Houses wants Sancia dead, and the artifact for themselves. And in the city of Tevanne, there’s nobody with the power to stop them.

To have a chance at surviving–and at stopping the deadly transformation that’s under way–Sancia will have to marshal unlikely allies, learn to harness the artifact’s power for herself, and undergo her own transformation, one that will turn her into something she could never have imagined.

One of my favorite authors, Tamora Pierce, remarks that Foundryside has “Complex characters, magic that is tech and vice versa, a world bound by warring trade dynasties: Bennett will leave you in awe once you remember to breathe!”


The Red Threads of Fortune by JY Yang.

Fallen prophet, master of the elements, and daughter of the supreme Protector, Sanao Mokoya has abandoned the life that once bound her. Once her visions shaped the lives of citizens across the land, but no matter what tragedy Mokoya foresaw, she could never reshape the future. Broken by the loss of her young daughter, she now hunts deadly, sky-obscuring naga in the harsh outer reaches of the kingdom with packs of dinosaurs at her side, far from everything she used to love.

On the trail of a massive naga that threatens the rebellious mining city of Bataanar, Mokoya meets the mysterious and alluring Rider. But all is not as it seems: the beast they both hunt harbors a secret that could ignite war throughout the Protectorate. As she is drawn into a conspiracy of magic and betrayal, Mokoya must come to terms with her extraordinary and dangerous gifts, or risk losing the little she has left to hold dear.

The Red Threads of Fortune is one of a pair of standalone introductions to JY Yang’s Tensorate Series, which Kate Elliott calls “effortlessly fascinating.” We have its twin novella, The Black Tides of Heaven.

 


Project Vox publishes du Châtelet’s “Essay on Optics”

Project Vox, a collaboration between Duke University Libraries and the Department of Philosophy, recently announced the publication of the first English translation of Émilie Du Châtelet’s Essai sur l’Optique, or “essay on optics.” Duke doctoral student Bryce Gessell played a pivotal role in making this translation—and the transcription that preceded it—publicly available and accessible to scholars, instructors, and students worldwide. You can read more about Bryce’s work on the translation on the Duke Graduate School’s website.

Image shows handwritten text from the original manuscript
Excerpts of Emilie du Châtelet’s handwritten “Essai sur l’Optique” that were used to construct the translation. (Images courtesy of Project Vox)

Scholars have known about Du Châtelet’s Essai sur l’Optique for many years, but until recently the text has been unavailable because all copies were thought to be lost. In 1947 Ira O. Wade published the first known edition of the Essai’s fourth chapter, which was held among Voltaire’s papers in Russia. Sixty years later, Fritz Nagel, Director of the Basel Research Center of the Bernoulli Edition, discovered the first complete copy of the Essai in the Bernoulli archives in Basel. Two other complete copies, which had previously gone unnoticed, were then discovered among Du Châtelet’s surviving manuscript material.

Working with Nagel and with Duke Philosophy professor Andrew Janiak, Gessell helped produce and publish a transcription of du Châtelet’s Essai on Project Vox in 2017. The translation, more accessible to undergraduate philosophy students, helps the next generation of scholars recognize and follow the development of Châtelet’s ideas about natural philosophy.

Project Vox seeks to transform the discipline of philosophy by making the lives, works, and ideas of early modern women philosophers available for research and classroom use. Since its inception in 2014, this open educational resource has been produced by a cross-professional, cross-disciplinary, and cross-institutional team made up mostly of students, with review and advisement from philosophers worldwide. Learn more about how Duke University Libraries increase access to scholarship at ScholarWorks.duke.edu.

What to Read this Month: April 2019

April is Arab American Heritage Month and National Poetry Month, so this month’s books are all Arab-American fiction, bilingual poetry, or poetry influenced by the Middle East. For more exciting reads, check out our Overdrive, New and Noteworthy, and Current Literature collections.


Dinarzad’s Children: An Anthology of Contemporary Arab American Fiction edited by Pauline Kaldas and Khaled Mattawa.

The first edition of Dinarzad’s Children was a groundbreaking and popular anthology that brought to light the growing body of short fiction being written by Arab Americans. This expanded edition includes sixteen new stories – thirty in all – and new voices and is now organized into sections that invite readers to enter the stories from a variety of directions. Here are stories that reveal the initial adjustments of immigrants, the challenges of forming relationships, the political nuances of being Arab American, the vision directed towards homeland, and the ongoing search for balance and identity.

The contributors are D. H. Melhem, Mohja Khaf, Rabih Alameddine, Rawi Hage, Laila Halaby, Patricia Sarrafian Ward, Alia Yunis, Diana Abu Jaber, Susan Muaddi Darraj, Samia Serageldin, Alia Yunis, Joseph Geha, May Monsoor Munn, Frances Khirallah Nobel, Nabeel Abraham, Yussef El Guindi, Hedy Habra, Randa Jarrar, Zahie El Kouri, Amal Masri, Sahar Mustafah, Evelyn Shakir, David Williams, Pauline Kaldas, and Khaled Mattawa.


The Situe Stories by Frances Khirallah Noble.

The situe, or Arabic grandmother, moves in and out of this collection of stories as they seek to capture the integration of Christian Arab women into American culture. The tales contain elements of magic and stoicism, presenting characters rich in independence and creativity.

Frances Khirallah Noble also wrote The New Belly Dancer of the Galaxy: A Novel about a middle-aged Syrian American optician who experiences a series of misadventures involving myth, magical realism, and the realities of Arab American life in a post-9/11 world.


Talking Through the Door: An Anthology of Contemporary Middle Eastern American Writing edited by Susan Atefat-Peckham with a foreword by Lisa Suhair Majaj.

The writers included here are descendants of multiple cultural heritages and reflect the perspectives of various ethnic and cultural backgrounds: Egyptian, Iranian, Iraqi, Jordanian, Lebanese, Libyan, Palestinian, Syrian. They are from diverse socioeconomic classes and spiritual sensibilities: Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and atheist, among others. Yet they coexist in this volume as simply American voices.

Atefat-Peckham gathered poetry and prose from sixteen accomplished writers whose works concern a variety of themes: from the familial cross-cultural misunderstandings and conflicts in the works of Iranian American writers Nahid Rachlin and Roger Sedarat to the mysticism of Khaled Mattawa’s poems; from the superstitions that govern characters in Diana Abu-Jaber’s prose to the devastating homesickness in Pauline Kaldas’ characters. Filled with emotion and keen observations, this collection showcases these writers’ vital contributions to contemporary American literature.


The World is One Place: Native American Poets Visit the Middle East edited by Diane Glancy and Linda Rodriguez.

This anthology explores how the Middle East has captured the imaginations of a significant group of Native American poets, most of whom have traveled to the Middle East (broadly defined to include the Arab world, Israel, Turkey, Afghanistan). What qualities of the region drew them there? What did they see? How did their cultural perspectives as Native Americans inform their reactions and insights? Three thematic sections – Place, People, Spirit – feature poems and notes inspired by the poets’ experiences of Middle Eastern cultures.

Contributors include Jim Barnes, Kimberly Blaeser, Trevino L. Brings Plenty, Natalie Diaz, Diane Glancy, Joy Harjo, Allison Hedge Coke, Travis Hedge Coke, Linda Hogan, LeAnne Howe, Bojan Louis, Craig Santos Perez, Linda Rodriguez, Kim Shuck, and James Thomas Stevens.


Armenian-American Poets: A Bilingual Anthology compiled and translated by Garig Basmadjian.

A beautiful anthology of poetry written in English by Armenian-American poets, along with their translations into Armenian by author Garig Basmadjian.

This book was published by the Armenian General Benevolent Union, which was founded in 1906 and is dedicated to upholding Armenian heritage worldwide.


Beautiful Words: Kasuundze’ Kenaege’ by John Elvis Smelcer.

A literary landmark, this bilingual collection of poems represents the only literature of the Ahtna culture in existence. Ahtna is one of twenty indigenous languages of Alaska and had no written form until the last thirty years. Here John Smelcer renders these poems in his native tongue with English translations.

To learn more about the Ahtna culture, visit the Ahtna Heritage Foundation’s website.


Arabic Poems: A Bilingual Edition edited by Marlé Hammond.

Arabic poetry is as vast as it is deep, encompassing all manner of poetic expression from Morocco to Iraq and spanning more than fifteen centuries. In its early stages it formed part of an oral tradition, and there were systematic and collective efforts to transmit it to later generations. Poetry not only entertained and delighted, it also served to memorialize individuals, communities, and events. Even today, it has pride of place in the public domain, engaging the elites and the masses in equal measure, albeit in different registers. This anthology attempts to capture the breadth and depth of the Arabic poetic legacy through its inclusion of pieces composed from pre-Islamic times through to the twenty-first century.

Check out our catalog for other translated collections of Arabic poetry.

 


Richard Brodhead Returns to Duke with a “Whitman Sampler”


WHEN: Thursday, April 25, 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.
(Reception at 4:00, with program starting at 4:30 p.m.)

WHERE: Korman Assembly Room (Perkins Library Room 217), Perkins Library 2nd Floor, Duke West Campus (Click for map)


Walt Whitman, who was born 200 years ago this spring, once wrote:

Shut not your doors to me, proud libraries,
For that which was lacking among you all, yet needed most, I bring.

He was probably not talking about chocolate. But that won’t stop this proud library from bringing some to his birthday party!

Join us on April 25 as we celebrate Whitman’s bicentennial, with readings and remarks by Richard H. Brodhead, Duke’s ninth president, on why he loves the “Good Gray Poet” and you should, too. If you’ve ever wanted to know more about America’s most famous bard, now is your chance to take a short course (with no grades or quizzes!) from one of the foremost experts on the subject.

Guests will also be invited to view original Whitman manuscripts and materials from the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, which holds one of the largest and most important Whitman collections in the world, right here at Duke.

Free and open to the public. And yes, there will be chocolate.


About Richard H. Brodhead

Richard H. Brodhead served as President of Duke University from 2004 to 2017. As President, he advanced an integrative, engaged model of undergraduate education and strengthened Duke’s commitment to access and opportunity, raising nearly $1 billion for financial aid endowment.  Under his leadership, Duke established many of its best-known international programs, including the Duke Global Health Institute, DukeEngage, and Duke Kunshan University. Closer to home, Duke completed major renovations to its historic campus and played a crucial role in the revitalization of downtown Durham.

Brodhead received his B.A. and Ph.D. from Yale University, where he had a 32-year career as a faculty member before coming to Duke, including eleven years as Dean of Yale College. A scholar of American literature and culture, he has written and edited more than a dozen books, including on Hawthorne, Melville, and Whitman.  He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2004, and he was named the Co-Chair of its Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences and co-authored its 2013 report, “The Heart of the Matter.” He has been a trustee of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation since 2013.

Brodhead’s writings about higher education have been collected in two books, The Good of this Place (2004) and Speaking of Duke (2017). For his national role in higher education, Brodhead was given the Academic Leadership Award by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. He is currently the William Preston Few Professor of English at Duke.

April 2019 Collection Spotlight: Graphic Novels and Comics

This month’s Collection Spotlight shines a light on graphic novels and comics.  You will find a variety of graphic novels and comics from across our libraries on display.  Here are some examples:

Ms. Marvel, writer, G. Willow Wilson ; color artist, Ian Herring ; letterer, VC’s Joe Caramagna

 

 

 

I Kill Giants, [written by] Joe Kelly ; [art & design by] JM Ken Niimura

 

 

 

 

The Annotated Sandman,  by Neil Gaiman ; edited, with an introduction and notes by Leslie S. Klinger ; featuring characters created by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth and Mike Dringenberg

 

 

Aya of Yop City, Marguerite Abouet & Clément Oubrerie

 

 

 

 

Wandering Son, [Shimura Takako ; translation, Matt Thorn]

 

 

 

 

French Milk, Lucy Knisley

 

 

 

 

If you are interested in finding out more details about finding graphic novels and comics in our collections, read on!

Comics and Graphic Novels in the Stacks

You can check out comics and graphic novels from our circulating collections.  We have comics and graphic novels scattered throughout our libraries, with most of them housed at Lilly Library on East campus.  You’ll find everything from The Walking Dead to Persepolis.

There are several ways to identify titles.  If you want to browse, relevant call number sections include PN6700-6790 and NC1300-1766.  You can do a title search in our library catalog for specific titles.  You can also use the subject headings Comic books, strips, etc. and graphic novels to discover more titles.

Manga

We have manga in the East Asian collection on the second floor of Bostock.  We hold about 600 titles in Japanese and 150 titles translated into English just in PN6790.J3 – PN6790.J34.  You can also find Korean manhwa in PN6790 K6 – PN6790.K64.  Popular titles held at Duke include One Piece, Dragon ballNarutoAstro Boy, as well as the complete works of Tezuka Osamu.

The Underground and Independent Comics Database

The Underground and Independent Comics database is the first-ever scholarly online collection for researchers and students of adult comic books and graphic novels. It features the comics themselves along with interviews, commentary, and criticism. Includes artists such as Jessica Abel, Jaime Hernandez, Jason, Harvey Pekar, Dave Sim, and many more. There are comics from around the world, including Canada, France, Italy, Spain, England, Sweden, Norway, Australia, Korea, Japan.

Overdrive

We have just recently begun purchasing some comics for Overdrive!  More titles to come!

Rare and Original Issues at the Rubenstein Library

The Rubenstein’s comic collection spans many decades, publishers, and styles: from Golden Age Batman to modern graphic novels, and everything in between.

Edwin and Terry Murray Comic Book Collection

With more than 67,000 comic books from the 1930s to the 2000s, this is our largest collection.  All of the comic book titles are in the process of being added to the library catalog, so you will be able to search the catalog for your favorite superhero!   The titles currently available can also be found in the catalog by searching for “Edwin and Terry Murray Collection (David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library).”   You can try searching by genres, such as “Detective and mystery comics” and  “Underground comics,” as well.

Comic Book and Graphic Novel Collection

Contains thousands of additional comics and graphic novels with rich materials in international comics, especially Argentina and France, and comics created by women.  Find them in the Guide to the Comic Book and Graphic Novel Collection, 1938-2012.

 

In the meantime, check out the Collection Spotlight rack near our Perkins Library Service Desk on the first floor of Perkins to find your next read!

Celebrate National Poetry Month (and Walt Whitman)

April is National Poetry Month!   There are many ways to celebrate, including signing up for a poem-a-day or participating in Poem in Your Pocket Day on April 18th.

If you want to read poetry, we have  a lot of titles in our collection to choose from.  You can explore here.  You might also enjoy exploring Columbia Granger’s World of Poetry.  You can find some full text of poems and citations to collections of poetry to help track down a particular poem.  It’s especially helpful when you know the first or last line of a poem.

Another way to observe National Poetry Month is to help us celebrate the 200th anniversary of Walt Whitman.  We’ll be celebrating tomorrow (April 5th) with a pop up outside of Vondy from 11:00-1.  Join us to make a button and do a mad lib!

We’ll also have an event on April 25th at 4:00 pm in the Korman Assembly Room (Perkins 217) called “A Whitman Sampler: A Bicentennial Celebration.”  Here are the details:

with Richard H. Brodhead
President Emeritus of Duke University and
William Preston Few Professor Emeritus of English

Join us as we celebrate Walt Whitman’s 200th birthday with readings and remarks by Duke’s ninth president on why he loves the “Good Gray Poet” and you should, too. Also featuring original Whitman manuscripts and materials from one of the most significant Whitman collections in the world, right here in Duke’s Rubenstein Library.

What to Read this Month: March 2019

This month’s selections are books by and about some amazing women in honor of Women’s History Month. For more exciting reads, check out our Overdrive, New and Noteworthy, and Current Literature collections.

Bonus recommendation: Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved by Kate Bowler, also available as an audiobook on Overdrive.


The Wind In My Hair: My Fight for Freedom in Modern Iran by Masih Alinejad with Kambiz Foroohar.

An extraordinary memoir from an Iranian journalist in exile about leaving her country, challenging tradition, and sparking an online movement against compulsory hijab.

A photo on Masih’s Facebook page: a woman standing proudly, face bare, hair blowing in the wind. Her crime: removing her veil, or hijab, which is compulsory for women in Iran. This is the self-portrait that sparked ‘My Stealthy Freedom,’ a social media campaign that went viral.

But Masih is so much more than the arresting face that sparked a campaign inspiring women to find their voices. She’s also a world-class journalist whose personal story, told in her unforgettably bold and spirited voice, is emotional and inspiring. She grew up in a traditional village where her mother, a tailor and respected figure in the community, was the exception to the rule in a culture where women reside in their husbands’ shadows. As a teenager, Masih was arrested for political activism and was surprised to discover she was pregnant while in police custody. When she was released, she married quickly and followed her young husband to Tehran where she was later served divorce papers to the shame and embarrassment of her religiously conservative family. Masih spent nine years struggling to regain custody of her beloved only son and was forced into exile, leaving her homeland and her heritage. Following Donald Trump’s notorious immigration ban, Masih found herself separated from her child, who lives abroad, once again.

A testament to a spirit that remains unbroken, and an enlightening, intimate invitation into a world we don’t know nearly enough about, The Wind In My Hair is the extraordinary memoir of a woman who overcame enormous adversity to fight for what she believes in, and to encourage others to do the same.

You can watch Masih Alinejad explain My Stealthy Freedom at the 2016 Women in the World Summit in New York City. To follow My Stealthy Freedom in action, see their Facebook and Twitter.


Jefferson’s Daughters: Three Sisters, White and Black, in a Young America by Catherine Kerrison.

The remarkable untold story of Thomas Jefferson’s three daughters – two white and free, one black and enslaved – and the divergent paths they forged in a newly independent America.

Thomas Jefferson had three daughters: Martha and Maria by his wife, Martha Wayles Jefferson, and Harriet by his slave Sally Hemings. In Jefferson’s Daughters, Catherine Kerrison, a scholar of early American and women’s history, recounts the remarkable journey of these three women – and how their struggle to define themselves reflects both the possibilities and the limitations that resulted from the American Revolution.

Although the three women shared a father, the similarities end there. Martha and Maria received a fine convent school education while they lived with their father during his diplomatic posting in Paris – a hothouse of intellectual ferment whose celebrated salonnières are vividly brought to life in Kerrison’s narrative. Once they returned home, however, the sisters found their options limited by the laws and customs of early America.

Harriet Hemings followed a different path. She escaped slavery – apparently with the assistance of Jefferson himself. Leaving Monticello behind, she boarded a coach and set off for a decidedly uncertain future.

For this groundbreaking triple biography, Kerrison has uncovered never-before-published documents written by the Jefferson sisters when they were in their teens, as well as letters written by members of the Jefferson and Hemings families. She has interviewed Hemings family descendants (and, with their cooperation, initiated DNA testing) and searched for descendants of Harriet Hemings.

The eventful lives of Thomas Jefferson’s daughters provide a unique vantage point from which to examine the complicated patrimony of the American Revolution itself. The richly interwoven story of these three strong women and their fight to shape their own destinies sheds new light on the ongoing movement toward human rights in America – and on the personal and political legacy of one of our most controversial Founding Fathers.

Catherine Kerrison discussed Jefferson’s Daughters in a Conversations at the Washington Library podcast. also wrote Claiming the Pen: Women and Intellectual Life in the Early American South.


Song In a Weary Throat: Memoir of an American Pilgrimage by Pauli Murray, with a new introduction by Patricia Bell-Scott.

First published posthumously in 1987, Pauli Murray’s Song in a Weary Throat was critically lauded, winning the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award and the Lillian Smith Book Award among other distinctions. Yet Murray’s name and extraordinary influence receded from view in the intervening years; now they are once again entering the public discourse. At last, with the republication of this “beautifully crafted” memoir, Song in a Weary Throat takes its rightful place among the great civil rights autobiographies of the twentieth century.

In a voice that is energetic, wry, and direct, Murray tells of a childhood dramatically altered by the sudden loss of her spirited, hard-working parents. Orphaned at age four, she was sent from Baltimore to segregated Durham, North Carolina, to live with her unflappable Aunt Pauline, who, while strict, was liberal-minded in accepting the tomboy Pauli as “my little boy-girl.” In fact, throughout her life, Murray would struggle with feelings of sexual “in-betweenness” – she tried unsuccessfully to get her doctors to give her testosterone – that today we would recognize as a transgendered identity.

We then follow Murray north at the age of seventeen to New York City’s Hunter College, to her embrace of Gandhi’s Satyagraha – nonviolent resistance – and south again, where she experienced Jim Crow firsthand. An early Freedom Rider, she was arrested in 1940, fifteen years before Rosa Parks’ disobedience, for sitting in the whites-only section of a Virginia bus. Murray’s activism led to relationships with Thurgood Marshall and Eleanor Roosevelt – who respectfully referred to Murray as a “firebrand” – and propelled her to a Howard University law degree and a lifelong fight against “Jane Crow” sexism. We also read Betty Friedan’s enthusiastic response to Murray’s call for an NAACP for Women – the origins of NOW. Murray sets these thrilling high-water marks against the backdrop of uncertain finances, chronic fatigue, and tragic losses both private and public, as Patricia Bell-Scott’s engaging introduction brings to life.

Now, more than thirty years after her death in 1985, Murray – poet, memoirist, lawyer, activist, and Episcopal priest – gains long-deserved recognition through a rediscovered memoir that serves as a “powerful witness” (Brittney Cooper) to a pivotal era in the American twentieth century.

Pauli Murray is featured in multiple murals in Durham. To learn more about Pauli Murray and community projects commemorating her, check out the Pauli Murray Project.


Gertrude Weil: Jewish Progressive in the New South by Leonard Rogoff.

It is so obvious that to treat people equally is the right thing to do,” wrote Gertrude Weil (1879-1971). In the first-ever biography of Weil, Leonard Rogoff tells the story of a modest southern Jewish woman who, while famously private, fought publicly and passionately for the progressive causes of her age. Born to a prominent family in Goldsboro, North Carolina, Weil never married and there remained ensconced – in many ways a proper southern lady – for nearly a century. From her hometown, she fought for women’s suffrage, founded her state’s League of Women Voters, pushed for labor reform and social welfare, and advocated for world peace.

Weil made national headlines during an election in 1922 when, casting her vote, she spotted and ripped up a stack of illegally marked ballots. She campaigned against lynching, convened a biracial council in her home, and in her eighties desegregated a swimming pool by diving in headfirst. Rogoff also highlights Weil’s place in the broader Jewish American experience. Whether attempting to promote the causes of southern Jewry, save her European family members from the Holocaust, or support the creation of a Jewish state, Weil fought for systemic change, all the while insisting that she had not done much beyond the ordinary duty of any citizen.

A decade before Rogoff’s book, Anne Firor Scott wrote an article about Gertrude Weil. She relates a conversation about international problems where Gertrude exclaimed, “I grow more radical every year. Who knows? I may live long enough to become a communist!”

Gertrude Weil is featured in the Women of Valor exhibit in the Jewish Women’s Archive. She also has a highway marker in Goldsboro.


Always Another Country: A Memoir of Exile and Home by Sisonke Msimang.

Born in exile, in Zambia, to a guerrilla father and a working mother, Sisonke Msimang is constantly on the move. Her parents, talented and highly educated, travel from Zambia to Kenya and Canada and beyond with their young family. Always the outsider, and against a backdrop of racism and xenophobia, Sisonke develops her keenly perceptive view of the world. In this sparkling account of a young girl’s path to womanhood, Sisonke interweaves her personal story with her political awakening in America and Africa, her euphoria at returning to the new South Africa, and her disillusionment with the new elites. Confidential and reflective, Always Another Country is a search for belonging and identity: a warm and intimate story that will move many readers.

Sisonke Msimang gave a TEDTalk in 2017 titled If a Story Moves You, Act on It. She recently published The Resurrection of Winnie Mandela, which she discusses here.

 


Low Maintenance Book Club Reads David Sedaris!

Come laugh with Low Maintenance Book Club!  To close out the semester, we’ll be discussing three selections from David Sedaris’ newest collection of personal essays, Calypso: “Why Aren’t You Laughing?” “Now We Are Five,” and “A Number of Reasons I’ve Been Depressed Lately.”  Copies of this book are available for checkout from Duke University Libraries and Durham County Library.  We also have an audiobook through Overdrive.

Date: Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Time: 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

Location: Bostock 127 (The Edge Workshop Room)

Register for this discussion.  Light refreshments will be served.

If you have any questions, you can contact Arianne Hartsell-Gundy at aah39@duke.edu.

Remembering W.S. Merwin

“There are few great poets alive at any one time, and W.S. Merwin is one of them. Read him.” — The Guardian

W.S. Merwin, former United States poet laureate, Academy of American Poets Chancellor, environmental activist, literary translator and two-time Pulitzer prize-winning author, died on March 15th, 2019 at the age of 91.  His work was often featured in the New Yorker.

If you’ve never read any of his works, we have many of his books in our collection, including these:

Garden Time

The Shadow of Sirius

Flower & Hand: Poems, 1977-1983

The Vixen: Poems

The Rain in the Trees: Poems

He was also known for his translations:

Purgatorio

From the Spanish Morning

Satires

Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair

Four French Plays

Let me leave you with one of his poems:

Separation

Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.

from The Second Four Books of Poems (Port Townsend, Washington: Copper Canyon Press, 1993).

What to Read this Month: February 2019

February is Black History Month, so before I get to the books, here are some exhibits, resources, and events:

Duke People’s State of the University is a campus activist group that has successfully pressured Duke to “ban the box” – not require job applicants to disclose criminal history – and rename the Carr building. The Chronicle named PSOTU one of its Chron15 Pioneers.

Duke is home to the personal and professional papers of John Hope Franklin, historian, activist, and public scholar. The John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture, housed at the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library collects and preserves primary sources. The John Hope Franklin Center of International and Interdisciplinary Studies produces a weekly webcast called Left of Black, hosted by Duke Professor Mark Anthony Neal. The Franklin Humanities Institute hosts the lab From Slavery to Freedom: Representations of Race and Freedom in the African Diaspora.

February 13 marked the 50th anniversary of the Allen Building Takeover at Duke. The Takeover is commemorated by an online exhibit and a physical exhibit on display through July 14 in the Jerry and Bruce Chappell Family Gallery in Perkins. Duke Digital Collections include Silent Vigil (1968) and Allen Building Takeover (1969) Audio Recordings. In addition to the  Allen Building Takeover recordings, Duke has digitized the oral history collection Behind the Veil: Documenting African-American Life in the Jim Crow South. Members of the Duke community now also have access to a database of oral history interviews of African Americans: The HistoryMakers Digital Archive.

NC Central University has two remaining events in their Black History Month Activities: a lecture from The Universal Ethiopian Students’ Association, 1927-1948: Mobilizing Diaspora by Dr. Takeia Anthony and the musical drama A Need Fulfilled, profiling the lives of black nurses in World War II.

For more exciting reads, check out our New and Noteworthy and Current Literature collections.


Unseen: Unpublished Black History From The New York Times Photo Archives by Darcy Eveleigh, Dana Canedy, Damien Cave, and Rachel L. Swarns.

Hundreds of stunning images from black history have long been buried in the New York Times archives. Unseen dives deep into the Times photo archives – known as the Morgue – to showcase this extraordinary collection of photographs and the stories behind them.

It all started with Times photo editor Darcy Eveleigh discovering dozens of these photographs. She and three colleagues – Dana Canedy, Damien Cave and Rachel L. Swarns – began exploring the history behind them, subsequently chronicling them in a series entitled “Unpublished Black History” that ran in print and online editions of the Times in February 2016. It garnered 1.7 million views on the Times website and thousands of comments from readers. This book includes those photographs and many more, among them: a 27-year-old Jesse Jackson leading an anti-discrimination rally in Chicago, Rosa Parks arriving at a Montgomery Courthouse in Alabama, a candid behind-the-scenes shot of Aretha Franklin backstage at the Apollo Theater, Ralph Ellison on the streets of his Manhattan neighborhood, the firebombed home of Malcolm X, Myrlie Evans and her children at the funeral of her slain husband , Medgar, and a wheelchair-bound Roy Campanella at the razing of Ebbets Field.

Were the photos – or the people in them – not deemed newsworthy enough? Did the images not arrive in time for publication? Were they pushed aside by words at an institution long known as the Gray Lady? Eveleigh, Canedy, Cave, and Swarns explore all these questions and more in this one-of-a-kind book.

My favorite photograph from this book is at the beginning of the section “Arthur Mitchell, Dancing Through Barriers” on page 96. Unfortunately, this image does not appear in the online photograph series.


Talking Back: Voices of Color edited and with an introduction by Nellie Wong.

Talking Back: Voices of Color is a dynamic anthology featuring voices of youth, political prisoners, immigrants, and history-makers. Essays by a multi-racial, intergenerational mix of 25 Black, Latinx, Native American, and LGBTQ community organizers. Topics include quality education and environmental justice, indigenous land rights and international solidarity, film and book reviews, hidden histories of women of color, and tales of endurance and survival.

The introduction by Nellie Wong, a celebrated and widely published poet, explores the meaning of talking back as a step in gaining self-esteem and as a collective act. She writes: “To whom do we talk back? To those who will silence us. Those who incarcerate us in prison or in the home. Those who deny us our rights to cross borders to seek refuge from violence and safety for our children. Those who brutalize us because of our race, gender or sexuality… These voices of color matter. They need to be heard. Everywhere.”

This vibrant anthology astonished me at every turn. Many of the events referenced are history that I was never taught, stories that never penetrated the mainstream media, and news that never struck me as important on a visceral level amid the flood of a 24/7 news cycle and the filter effect of social media. Talking Back: Voices of Color opened my eyes to lived realities. I highly recommend this book, but reading it requires open-mindedness and a willingness to listen rather than reflexively judge based on the organizers’ politics.


Showtime at the Apollo: The Epic Tale of Harlem’s Legendary Theater by Ted Fox, illustrated by James Otis Smith.

Writer Ted Fox and artist James Otis Smith bring to life Harlem’s legendary theater in this graphic novel adaptation of Fox’s definitive, critically acclaimed history of the Apollo.

Since its inception as an African-American theater in 1934, the Apollo, and the thousands of entertainers who performed there, have led the way in the presentation of swing, bebop, rhythm and blues, jazz, gospel, soul, funk and hip-hop – along with the latest in dance and comedy. The Apollo has nurtured and featured thousands of artists, many of whom have become legends. The beauty they have given the world – their art – transcends the hatred, ignorance, and intolerance that often made their lives difficult. Today, the Apollo enjoys an almost mythical status. With its breathtaking art, this graphic novel adaptation of Showtime at the Apollo brings to life the theater’s legendary significance in music history, African American history, and the culture of New York City.

Multiversity Comics interviewed Ted Fox and James Otis Smith at New York Comic Con 2018. In addition to the new graphic novel, we have the 1983 book it was adapted from.


Afro-Descendants, Identity, and the Struggle for Development in the Americas edited by Bernd Reiter and Kimberly Eison Simmons.

Indigenous people and African descendants in Latin America and the Caribbean have long been affected by a social hierarchy established by elites, through which some groups were racialized and others were normalized. Far from being “racial paradises” populated by an amalgamated “cosmic race” of mulattos and mestizos, Latin America and the Caribbean have long been sites of shifting exploitative strategies and ideologies, ranging from scientific racism and eugenics to the more sophisticated official denial of racism and ethnic difference. This book, among the first to focus on African descendants in the region, brings together diverse reflections from scholars, activists, and funding agency representatives working to end racism and promote human rights in the Americas. By focusing on the ways racism inhibits agency among African descendants and the ways African-descendant groups position themselves in order to overcome obstacles, this interdisciplinary book provides a multi-faceted analysis of one of the gravest contemporary problems in the Americas.

Bernd Reiter has also written The Dialectics of Citizenship: Exploring Privilege, Exclusion, and Racialization and The Crisis of Liberal Democracy and the Path Ahead. Kimberly Eison Simmons contributed to Black Feminist Anthropology: Theory, Politics, Praxis, and Poetics and wrote Reconstructing Racial Identity and the African Past in the Dominican Republic.


Hello Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly.

Newbery Medalist Erin Entrada Kelly’s Hello, Universe is a funny and poignant neighborhood story about unexpected friendships.

In one day, four lives weave together in unexpected ways. Virgil Salinas is shy and kindhearted and feels out of place in his crazy-about-sports family. Valencia Somerset, who is deaf, is smart, brave, and secretly lonely, and she loves everything about nature. Kaori Tanaka is a self-proclaimed psychic, whose little sister, Gen, is always following her around. And Chet Bullens wishes the weird kids would just stop being so different so he can concentrate on basketball.

They aren’t friends, at least not until Chet pulls a prank that traps Virgil and his pet guinea pig at the bottom of a well. This disaster leads Kaori, Gen, and Valencia on an epic quest to find missing Virgil. Through luck, smarts, bravery, and a little help from the universe, a rescue is performed, a bully is put in his place, and friendship blooms.

The acclaimed and award-winning author of Blackbird Fly and The Land of Forgotten Girls writes with an authentic, humorous, and irresistible tween voice that will appeal to fans of Thanhha Lai and Rita Williams-Garcia.

I saw this book while browsing the New and Noteworthy collection. It looked adorable and positive, and did not disappoint. Hello Universe is so cute and wholesome that I was tearing up at the end because everything turns out well and friendship is amazing.

 


Celebrate Black History All Year Round with “The HistoryMakers”

Duke historian John Hope Franklin (left) and political scientist Samuel DuBois Cook, both of whom are featured in the HistoryMakers database of oral history interviews.

Guest post by Heather Martin, Librarian for African and African American Studies

Looking for oral history interviews of African Americans? Try The HistoryMakers Digital Archive, a new subscription database available through Duke University Libraries.

HistoryMakers contains over 10,000 hours of video interviews with African-Americans distinguished in the categories of education, media, science, politics, law, the arts, business, medicine, the military, sports, religion, entertainment, and other areas of public life. Interviewees discuss memories from the 1890s to the present. The project currently includes original interviews of more than 2,000 individuals, with a goal of collecting 5,000 interviews.

By creating story segments from each interview, HistoryMakers allows users to find relevant discussions on specific topics. Interview transcripts are searchable, but you can also choose from a list of story topics (e.g., leadership, desegregation/integration, public health issues, philanthropy, role models, gender identity, faith, humorous story quality, and arguing a position). You can also create shareable playlists by selecting stories from your search results.

A search for “Duke University” reveals hundreds of interviews with noteworthy individuals, including Paula McClain, current dean of Duke’s Graduate School.

A search for Duke University retrieves 321 stories, including interviews with noted historian John Hope Franklin;  Samuel DuBois Cook, the first African American professor at Duke; Vera Ricketts, the first black female pharmacist at Duke University Hospital; and Paula D. McClain, current dean of the Graduate School at Duke.

HistoryMakers complements Behind the Veil: Documenting African American Life in the Jim Crow South and other oral history materials in the Duke Libraries’ collections. It is a substantial addition to our primary source collections.

To learn more about the creation of The HistoryMakers Digital Archive, visit the organization’s website.

 

What to Read this Month: January 2019

Welcome back! The best way to celebrate the start of 2019 is with some new books. Check out our New and Noteworthy and Current Literature collections for some good titles.


“All the Real Indians Died Off”: and 20 Other Myths About Native Americans by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Dina Gilio-Whitaker unpacks the twenty-one most common myths and misconceptions about Native Americans. In this enlightening book, scholars and activists Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Dina Gilio-Whitaker tackle a wide range of myths about Native American culture and history that have misinformed generations. Tracing how these ideas evolved, and drawing from history, the authors disrupt long-held and enduring myths such as-“Columbus Discovered America,” “Thanksgiving Proves the Indians Welcomed Pilgrims,” “Indians Were Savage and Warlike,” “Europeans Brought Civilization to Backward Indians,” “The United States Did Not Have a Policy of Genocide,” “Sports Mascots Honor Native Americans,” “Most Indians Are on Government Welfare,” “Indian Casinos Make Them All Rich,” and “Indians Are Naturally Predisposed to Alcohol.” Each chapter deftly shows how these myths are rooted in the fears and prejudice of European settlers and in the larger political agendas of a settler state aimed at acquiring Indigenous land and tied to narratives of erasure and disappearance. Accessibly written and revelatory, All the Real Indians Died Off challenges readers to rethink what they have been taught about Native Americans and history.

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz also wrote An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States. Dina Gilio-Whitaker is a policy director and senior researcher at the Center for World Indigenous Studies.

According to Shandiin Herrera, who wrote a moving piece on the Native American experience at Duke in the Chronicle, “I think that this book selection is very important because there are too many stereotypes that continue to be perpetuated, especially in academia. These myths continue to harm Indigenous students, tribal policies, and Native Nations across the country. There is also a substantial amount of power in gaining a new understanding of history and the construction of our society.”


A Safe Girl to Love by Casey Plett contains eleven unique short stories that stretch from a rural Canadian Mennonite town to a hipster gay bar in Brooklyn, featuring young trans women stumbling through loss, sex, harassment, and love. These stories, shiny with whiskey and prairie sunsets, rattling subways and neglected cats, show growing up as a trans girl can be charming, funny, frustrating, or sad, but never will it be predictable.

In addition to Perkins, you can find A Safe Girl to Love as a free PDF on the author’s website Progress Never Stops For Nostalgic Transsexuals.


The Kukotsky Enigma: A Novel by Ludmila Ulitskaya, translated from the Russian by Diane Nemec Ignashev. The central character in Ludmila Ulitskaya’s celebrated novel The Kukotsky Enigma is a gynecologist contending with Stalin’s prohibition of abortions in 1936. But, in the tradition of Russia’s great family novels, the story encompasses the history of two families and unfolds in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and the ruins of ancient civilizations on the Black Sea. Their lives raise profound questions about family heritage and genetics, nurture and nature, and life and death. In his struggle to maintain his professional integrity and to keep his work from dividing his family, Kukotsky confronts the moral complexity of reproductive science. Winner of the 2001 Russian Booker Prize and the basis for a blockbuster television miniseries, The Kukotsky Enigma is an engrossing, searching novel by one of contemporary literature’s most brilliant writers.

If you’re interested, we also have the original Russian novel.


You Have the Right to Remain Fat by Virgie Tovar. Growing up as a fat girl, Virgie Tovar believed that her body was something to be fixed. But after two decades of dieting and constant guilt, she was over it–and gave herself the freedom to trust her own body again. Ever since, she’s been helping others to do the same. Tovar is hungry for a world where bodies are valued equally, food is free from moral judgment, and you can jiggle through life with respect. In concise and candid language, she delves into unlearning fatphobia, dismantling sexist notions of fashion, and how to reject diet culture’s greatest lie: that fat people need to wait before beginning their best lives.

Check out her TEDx Talk and website.


Odd Girl Out: My Extraordinary Autistic Life by Laura James. From childhood, Laura James knew she was different. She struggled to cope in a world that often made no sense to her, as though her brain had its own operating system. It wasn’t until she reached her forties that she found out why: suddenly and surprisingly, she was diagnosed with autism.

With a touching and searing honesty, Laura challenges everything we think we know about what it means to be autistic. Married with four children and a successful journalist, Laura examines the ways in which autism has shaped her career, her approach to motherhood, and her closest relationships. Laura’s upbeat, witty writing offers new insight into the day-to-day struggles of living with autism, as her extreme attention to sensory detail–a common aspect of her autism–is fascinating to observe through her eyes.

As Laura grapples with defining her own identity, she also looks at the unique benefits neurodiversity can bring. Lyrical and lush, Odd Girl Out shows how being different doesn’t mean being less, and proves that it is never too late for any of us to find our rightful place in the world.

Amelia Hill of the Guardian interviewed Laura James about being a mother with autism.

Low Maintenance Book Club: Love Between the Covers

Have you ever fallen for a book? Want to shout your love from the rooftops, or *ahem* just share about it at a meeting? If so, join us for the February 12th Low Maintenance Book Club meeting to talk about your favorite reads from the past year and to get recommendations from others. If you tell us (aah39@duke) which books you’d like to talk about beforehand, we’ll try to have a library copy available for checkout at the meeting.  We’ll also have snacks and book-themed games to kick off the first meeting of the semester. We hope you’ll join us!

Date: Tuesday, February 12th, 2019

Time: 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

Location: Bostock 127 (The Edge Workshop Room)

Register for this discussion.  Light refreshments will be served.

If you have any questions, you can contact Arianne Hartsell-Gundy at aah39@duke.edu.

January 2019 Collection Spotlight: KIE Staff Book Clubs

This month our Collection Spotlight is celebrating the Kenan Institute for Ethics Book Clubs for Staff program by featuring some of the books that have been read by the various book clubs across campus.  More than 50 books have been read across 15 departments.  Some of the titles that have been read by these book clubs include:

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Proud Shoes: The story of an American Family by Pauli Murray

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann

The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

The Adventure Gap: Changing the Face of the Outdoors by  James Edward Mills

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

Redefining Realness by Janet Mock

Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

Check out the Collection Spotlight rack near our Perkins Library Service Desk on the first floor of Perkins to find some more thought provoking titles to read.  If you are a staff member interested in starting your own Ethics Book Club in your department or office, you can find details here about how to get seed money to set it up.

Happy Birthday, Jane!

December 16th was Jane Austen’s birthday!  As always I like to celebrate with a blog post highlighting interesting things to read and new books that have been published about her.  I really liked this recent article from JSTOR Daily about Austen’s subtle but masterful use of language.  The OUPblog also had an interesting article about Jane Austen fans.  Finally I found this recent list from Mental Floss amusing!

Here are some new books that we own:

Jane Austen: The Chawton Letters edited with an introduction by Kathryn Sutherland

Jane Austen and Masculinity edited by Michael Kramp

Jane Austen’s Geographies edited by Robert Clark

Jane Austen and Sciences of the Mind edited by Beth Lau

The annotated Mansfield Park annotated and edited, with an introduction, by David M. Shapard

Finally if you are looking for something fun to watch, may I suggest Austenland from 2013?

Duke Announces Winner of 2018 Juan E. Méndez Human Rights Book Award

Award Goes to There Are No Dead Here: A Story of Murder and Denial in Colombia by María McFarland Sánchez-Moreno

The Duke University Human Rights Center@the Franklin Humanities Institute and the Human Rights Archive at the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library have named María McFarland Sánchez-Moreno’s book, There Are No Dead Here: A Story of Murder and Denial in Colombia (Nation Books, 2018) as the winner of the 2018 Juan E. Méndez Book Award for Human Rights in Latin America. McFarland will visit Duke University during spring semester 2019 to accept the award.

There Are No Dead Here is a deep dive into key human rights cases that exposed the murderous nexus between right-wing paramilitaries, drug lords, and Colombia’s military and political establishment. Through dogged reporting, in part as a Human Rights Watch researcher, McFarland unravels the links that led to the murders of Colombian rights investigators by powerful interests that reached as high as military leadership and even the Colombian presidency.

When notified of the award, McFarland stated, “It was a joy and privilege for me to tell the stories of some of the many Colombians who stand up for truth and justice every day. So it’s tremendously satisfying that those stories are now getting the recognition they so deserve, thanks to the Mendez Award, which itself is named after a brave fighter for human rights.”

First awarded in 2008, the Méndez Human Rights Book Award honors the best current, fiction or non-fiction book published in English on human rights, democracy, and social justice in contemporary Latin America. The books are evaluated by a panel of expert judges drawn from academia, journalism, and public policy circles.

“Colombia is often portrayed as a place where violence is endemic and unstoppable,” said Robin Kirk, the Committee Chair and co-director of the Duke Human Rights Center@the Franklin Humanities Institute, “McFarland’s riveting story shows that the truth is much more complex. Again and again, Colombians step up to fight for justice even though they face daunting odds. Their story is well told in her astonishing book.”

Other judges include Holly Ackerman, Librarian for Latin American, Iberian and Latino/a Studies at Duke University Libraries, who commented, “McFarland’s’ book highlights a fundamental tool in the struggle for justice — people who will not look away. The determination and sacrifice of three individuals moved Colombia toward historical truth and a still-fragile peace. There Are No Dead Here demonstrates a clear linkage between individual courage and the collective awareness that creates the possibility for justice to triumph over impunity.”

James Chappel, Hunt Assistant Professor of History at Duke University, also offered praise: “McFarland does a wonderful job contextualizing the stories of these human rights defenders. As we focus so incessantly on the structure of unequal neoliberal globalization, human rights progress depends on incredibly brave men and women on the front lines.”

Other judges include Kia Caldwell, Associate Professor of African, African-American, and Diaspora Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill; and Kirsten Weld, John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences in the Department of History at Harvard University.


About the Author

Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno is an activist, writer, and lawyer. As the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, Maria is at the helm of the leading organization in the U.S. fighting to end the war on drugs in the United States and beyond.

Previously, Maria held several positions at Human Rights Watch, including as co-director of its U.S. Program, guiding the organization’s work on U.S. criminal justice, immigration, and national security policy; and as deputy Washington director, working on a broad range of U.S. foreign policy issues. She started her career there as the organization’s senior Americas researcher, covering Colombia’s internal armed conflict and working on the extradition and trial of former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori.

Maria grew up in Lima, Peru, and now lives in Brooklyn.


Previous Méndez Award Recipients

  • 2017 – Matt Eisenbrandt, Assassination of a Saint, The Plot to Murder Óscar Romero and the Quest to Bring His Killers to Justice
  • 2016 – Chad Broughton, Boom, Bust, Exodus: The Rust Belt, the Maquilas, and a Tale of Two Cities
  • 2015 – Kirsten Weld, Paper Cadavers: The Archives of Dictatorship in Guatemala
  • 2014 – Oscar Martínez, The Beast: Riding the Rails and Dodging Narcos on the Migrant Trail
  • 2013 – Jonathan M. Katz, The Big Truck That Went By: How The World Came To Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster
  • 2012 – Héctor Abad, Oblivion: A Memoir
  • 2011 – Kathryn Sikkink, The Justice Cascade
  • 2010 – Victoria Bruce and Karin Hayes, with Jorge Enrique Botero, Hostage Nation
  • 2009 – Ambassador Heraldo Muñoz, The Dictator’s Shadow: Life Under Augusto Pinochet
  • 2008 – Francisco Goldman, Who Killed the Bishop: The Art of Political Murder

For more information, contact:

Patrick Stawski
Human Rights Archivist, Rubenstein Library
patrick.stawski@duke.edu
919-660-5823

What to Read this Month: December 2018

As we head into the end of the semester and the holidays, you may be looking for something new to read!  Check out our New and Noteworthy and Current Literature collections for some good titles.  And if you are traveling, don’t forget about our Overdrive collection for e-books you can easily download to your devices.


84K by Claire North.  The penalty for Dani Cumali’s murder: £84,000.  Theo works in the Criminal Audit Office.  He assesses each crime that crosses his desk and makes sure the correct debt to society is paid in full.  These days, there’s no need to go to prison – provided that you can afford to pay the penalty for the crime you’ve committed.  If you’re rich enough, you can get away with murder.  But Dani’s murder is different.  When Theo finds her lifeless body, and a hired killer standing over her and calmly calling the police to confess, he can’t let her death become just an entry on a balance sheet.  Someone is responsible.  And Theo is going to find them and make them pay.  You can read reviews here and here.


The Paris Seamstress by Natasha Lester is an internationally bestselling World War II novel that spans generations, crosses oceans, and proves just how much two young women are willing to sacrifice for love and family.  1940: As the Germans advance upon Paris, young seamstress Estella Bissette is forced to flee everything she’s ever known.  She’s bound for New York City with her signature gold dress, a few francs, and a dream: to make her mark on the world of fashion.  Present day: Fabienne Bissette journeys to the Met’s annual gala for an exhibit featuring the work of her ailing grandmother – a legend of women’s fashion design.  But as Fabienne begins to learn more about her beloved grandmother’s past, she uncovers a story of tragedy, heartbreak and family secrets that will dramatically change her own life.  You can read an interview with the author here.


The Emperor of Shoes: A Novel by Spencer Wise. Alex Cohen, a twenty-six-year-old Jewish Bostonian, is living in southern China, where his father runs their family-owned shoe factory.  Alex reluctantly assumes the helm of the company, but as he explores the plant’s vast floors and assembly lines, he comes to a grim realization: employees are exploited, regulatory systems are corrupt and Alex’s own father is engaging in bribes to protect the bottom line.  When Alex meets a seamstress named Ivy, his sympathies begin to shift.  She is an embedded organizer of a pro-democratic Chinese party, secretly sowing dissonance among her fellow laborers.  Will Alex remain loyal to his father and his heritage? Or will the sparks of revolution ignite?  Deftly plotted and vibrantly drawn, The Emperor of Shoes is a timely meditation on idealism, ambition, father-son rivalry and cultural revolution, set against a vivid backdrop of social and technological change.  You can read a review here, and read an interview here.


The Clockmaker’s Daughter: A Novel by Kate Morton.  In the summer of 1862, a group of young artists led by the passionate and talented Edward Radcliffe descends upon Birchwood Manor on the banks of the Upper Thames.  Their plan: to spend a secluded summer month in a haze of inspiration and creativity.  But by the time their stay is over, one woman has been shot dead while another has disappeared; a priceless heirloom is missing; and Edward Radcliffe’s life is in ruins.  Over one hundred and fifty years later, Elodie Winslow, a young archivist in London, uncovers a leather satchel containing two seemingly unrelated items: a sepia photograph of an arresting-looking woman in Victorian clothing, and an artist’s sketchbook containing the drawing of a twin-gabled house on the bend of a river.  Why does Birchwood Manor feel so familiar to Elodie?  And who is the beautiful woman in the photograph? Will she ever give up her secrets?  You can read reviews here, here, and here.


The invention of Ana by Mikkel Rosengaard (translated by Caroline Waight).  On a rooftop in Brooklyn on a spring night, a young intern and would-be writer, newly arrived from Copenhagen, meets the intriguing Ana Ivan. Clever and funny, with an air of mystery and melancholia, Ana is a performance artist, a mathematician, and a self-proclaimed time traveler.   Before long, the intern finds himself seduced by Ana’s enthralling stories, and Ana also introduces him to her latest artistic endeavor.  Following the astronomical rather than the Gregorian calendar, she is trying to alter her sense of time–an experiment that will lead her to live in complete darkness for one month.  The Invention of Ana blurs the lines between narrative and memory, perception and reality, identity and authenticity.  You can read reviews here and here.

What to Read this Month: November 2018

Looking for something new to read?   Check out our New and Noteworthy and Current Literature collections for some good reads to enjoy!


#NeverAgain: A New Generation Draws the Line by David Hogg.  From two survivors of the Parkland, Florida, shooting comes a declaration for our times, and an in-depth look at the making of the #NeverAgain movement.  On February 14, 2018, seventeen-year-old David Hogg and his fourteen-year-old sister, Lauren, went to school at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, like any normal Wednesday.  That day, of course, the world changed.  By the next morning, with seventeen classmates and faculty dead, they had joined the leadership of a movement to save their own lives, and the lives of all other young people in America.  The morning after the massacre, David Hogg told CNN: “We’re children. You guys are the adults. You need to take some action and play a role. Work together. Get over your politics and get something done.”  This book is a manifesto for the movement begun that day, one that has already changed America–with voices of a new generation that are speaking truth to power, and are determined to succeed where their elders have failed.


The Death of Truth: Notes on Falsehood in the Age of Trump by Michiko Kakutani.  How did truth become an endangered species in contemporary America?  This decline began decades ago, and in The Death of Truth, former New York Times critic Michiko Kakutani takes a penetrating look at the cultural forces that contributed to this gathering storm.  In social media and literature, television, academia, and politics, Kakutani identifies the trends–originating on both the right and the left–that have combined to elevate subjectivity over factuality, science, and common values.  And she returns us to the words of the great critics of authoritarianism, writers like George Orwell and Hannah Arendt, whose work is newly and eerily relevant.  You can read reviews here and here.


The Witch Elm by Tana French.  Toby is a happy-go-lucky charmer who’s dodged a scrape at work and is celebrating with friends when the night takes a turn that will change his life – he surprises two burglars who beat him and leave him for dead.  Struggling to recover from his injuries, beginning to understand that he might never be the same man again, he takes refuge at his family’s ancestral home to care for his dying uncle Hugo.  Then a skull is found in the trunk of an elm tree in the garden – and as detectives close in, Toby is forced to face the possibility that his past may not be what he has always believed.  You can read reviews here and here, and read an interview here.


Energy: A Human History by Richard Rhodes. Pulitzer Prize– and National Book Award-winning author Richard Rhodes reveals the fascinating history behind energy transitions over time–wood to coal to oil to electricity and beyond.  People have lived and died, businesses have prospered and failed, and nations have risen to world power and declined, all over energy challenges. Ultimately, the history of these challenges tells the story of humanity itself.  Through an unforgettable cast of characters, he explains how wood gave way to coal and coal made room for oil, as we now turn to natural gas, nuclear power, and renewable energy. Rhodes looks back on five centuries of progress, through such influential figures as Queen Elizabeth I, King James I, Benjamin Franklin, Herman Melville, John D. Rockefeller, and Henry Ford.  In Rhodes’s singular style, Energy details how this knowledge of our history can inform our way tomorrow.


The Red Word by Sarah Henstra.  A smart, dark, and take-no-prisoners look at rape culture and the extremes to which ideology can go, The Red Word is a campus novel like no other.  As her sophomore year begins, Karen enters into the back-to-school revelry–particularly at a fraternity called GBC.  When she wakes up one morning on the lawn of Raghurst, a house of radical feminists, she gets a crash course in the state of feminist activism on campus.  GBC is notorious, she learns, nicknamed “Gang Bang Central” and a prominent contributor to a list of date rapists compiled by female students.  Despite continuing to party there and dating one of the brothers, Karen is equally seduced by the intellectual stimulation and indomitable spirit of the Raghurst women, who surprise her by wanting her as a housemate and recruiting her into the upper-level class of a charismatic feminist mythology scholar they all adore.  As Karen finds herself caught between two increasingly polarized camps, ringleader housemate Dyann believes she has hit on the perfect way to expose and bring down the fraternity as a symbol of rape culture–but the war between the houses will exact a terrible price.  This novel recently won Canada’s Governor General’s Literary Awards.

November 2018 Collection Spotlight: Hidden Service

 

Today Duke commemorates Veteran’s Day.  You can see a list of events going on here.  Here at DUL we’re focusing on “Hidden Service” in our collection spotlight by showcasing fiction and non-fiction books that explore the contributions and experiences of soldiers from a variety of backgrounds, including women, LGBT, African-American, Native American, Asian-American, and Latino/a soldiers.  You can check out this display at the Collection Spotlight rack near our Perkins Library Service Desk on the first floor of Perkins.  Here’s a brief selection of the titles you will find there:

Code Talker by Chester Nez

Be Safe I Love You by  Cara Hoffman

Going for Broke: Japanese American Soldiers in the War against Nazi Germany by James M. McCaffrey

I’m Still Standing: From Captive U.S. Soldier to Free Citizen– My Journey Home by Shoshana Johnson

A Legacy Greater than Words: Stories of U.S. Latinos & Latinas of the WWII Generation by Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez

Dien Cai Dau by Yusef Komunyakaa

The Hello Girls: America’s First Women Soldiers by  Elizabeth Cobbs

Our Time: Breaking the Silence of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” by Josh Seefried.

This collection spotlight was partially inspired by the current World War One exhibit in Rubenstein Library and a recent talk in early November called ” ‘If We Must Die’: African Americans and the War for Democracy.”  Professor Adriane Lentz-Smith, author of Freedom Struggles: African Americans and World War I, gave the talk.

You might also be interested in this recent blog post about Trinity College during the Great War.

Remembering Ntozake Shange

Ntozake Shange, Reid Lecture, Women Issues Luncheon, Women’s Center, November 1978

Ntozake Shange passed away last week at the age of 70.  If you would like to read more about her legacy, please read here and here.

She is most well known for For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is EnufYou may be familiar with the 2011 film featuring an all star cast (Janet Jackson, Loretta Devine, Hill Harper, Thandie Newton, Whoopi Goldberg, Kerry Washington, and Macy Gray).  Still if you haven’t seen it, the 1982 production starring Ntozake Shange, Patti LaBelle, and Alfre Woodard (among others) is worth a watch!  We have access through Theatre in Video.

Many of her plays can be found in Black Drama.  She is also known for her poetry and wrote several novels.  Here’s a sample of some of her work:

Some Sing, Some Cry

A Daughter’s Geography

Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo: A Novel

Nappy Edges

I Live in Music

Betsey Brown: A Novel

You might also enjoy this New York Public Library interview in 2015.

This post has been written by Arianne Hartsell-Gundy and Heather Martin.

Scare Yourself Silly @ Lilly

Halloween may be over, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still get your scare on!

Check out Lilly Library’s collection spotlight on books and movies that celebrate Frankenstein’s 200th birthday and comprise a ghoulish grouping of truly terrifying titles….

Lilly Spotlight on Frankenstein image

Lilly’s collections include books on philosophy and ethics, graphic novels, art and visual studies, and film. To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s enduring tale, Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheusboth Lilly and Perkins are highlighting their titles on the subject. At Lilly we’ve thrown in additional scary movies to add to the horror. Enjoy the holiday chills!

Lilly Collection Spotlight on Frankenstein image 2

 

 

 

 

 

“Hump? What hump?” – Igor, Young Frankenstein 

New Exhibit! Duke Kunshan University: From the Ground Up

On exhibit through February 3, 2019
Chappell Family Gallery, Perkins Library, Duke West Campus

Public Hours: Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 pm; Saturday, 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.; Sunday, 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Please check our posted library hours for the most up-to-date information.

About the Exhibit

A new exhibit in Perkins Library celebrates Duke Kunshan University, a partnership between Duke University, Wuhan University, and the city of Kunshan with the mission to create a world-class institution embodying both Chinese and American traditions of higher education. The continued process of learning how to strike balance between differing cultures has made Duke Kunshan’s brief history quite complex.

Duke Kunshan  has integrated the study of kunqu, one of the oldest classical styles of Chinese opera, into its humanities curriculum and extracurricular activities. On display: a gown worn by DKU students in the Kun Opera Club.

This exhibition offers up the story of Duke Kunshan’s development – its accomplishments, opportunities, challenges, and risks – and brings an important perspective to our understanding of how international partnerships can address the changing needs and challenges of global higher education.

Walking through the exhibit, a visitor can explore a timeline of key events, read articles on the collaboration, and explore the rich curriculum that has come out of Duke Kunshan. The sounds of new and traditional Chinese music against the backdrop of a beautiful, architectural mural welcomes visitors to partake in their own peaceful, contemplative discovery of Duke Kunshan.

Reception Celebrating the Exhibit: Please Join Us!

Date: Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Time: 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm

Location: Rubenstein Library Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room 153

The reception program will begin at 5:00 p.m. with welcome remarks by Provost Sally Kornbluth. Mary Brown Bullock, Executive Vice Chancellor Emerita of Duke Kunshan University, will speak about the internationalization of China’s higher education system and current China-US education relations. Peter Lange, Provost Emeritus of Duke University, will discuss the development of Duke Kunshan.

Light refreshments will be served. Free and open to the public.

Frankenstein Lives On!

It probably won’t surprise you to hear that there have been a lot of adaptations and works inspired by Frankenstein.  In today’s blog post I’m going to share some film and novel adaptations that you might be interested in taking a look at.

Let’s start with some of the film titles!  The titles that I am sharing with you can be found at our Lilly Library.  In fact most of them are currently on display in their collection spotlight!

Young Frankenstein:  A finely tuned parody of the old Frankenstein movies, in which Gene Wilder returns to the old country to clear his family name.  This classic comedy was directed by Mel Brooks and has a screenplay by Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks.

Frankenstein: Still regarded as the definitive film version of Mary Shelley’s classic tale of tragedy and horror, Frankenstein made unknown character actor Boris Karloff a star and created a new icon of terror.  Along with the highly successful Dracula, released earlier the same year, it launched Universal Studio’s golden age of 1930s horror movies.  The film’s greatness stems less from its script than from the stark but moody atmosphere created by director James Whale.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: This 1994 version is a more faithful adaptation than some of the older versions, though it still takes some liberties with the plot.  It was directed by and starred Kenneth Branagh.  It also features Robert De Niro and Helena Bonham Carter.

I, Frankenstein: Set in a dystopic present where vigilant gargoyles and ferocious demons rage in a battle for ultimate power, Victor Frankenstein’s creation Adam finds himself caught in the middle as both sides race to discover the secret to his immortality.

In addition to films, Frankenstein’s monster has inspired directly and indirectly many authors.

A Monster’s Notes by Laurie Sheck. What if Mary Shelley had not invented Frankenstein’s monster but had met him when she was a girl of eight, sitting by her mother’s grave, and he came to her unbidden?  What if their secret bond left her forever changed, obsessed with the strange being whom she had discovered at a time of need?  What if he were still alive in the twenty-first century?  This bold, genre-defying book brings us the “monster” in his own words.

Frankenstein Unbound by  Brian W. Aldiss.  Joe Bodenland, a 21st century American, passes through a timeslip and finds himself with Byron and Shelley in the famous villa on the shore of Lake Geneva. More fantastically, he finds himself face to face with a real Frankenstein, a doppelganger inhabiting a complex world.

Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi.  From the rubble-strewn streets of U.S.-occupied Baghdad, Hadi–a scavenger and an oddball fixture at a local café–collects human body parts and stitches them together to create a corpse.  His goal, he claims, is for the government to recognize the parts as people and to give them proper burial.  But when the corpse goes missing, a wave of eerie murders sweeps the city, and reports stream in of a horrendous-looking criminal who, though shot, cannot be killed.  This book was a Man Booker International Prize finalist!

Destroyer by Victor LaValle.  The legacy of Frankenstein’s monster collides with the sociopolitical tensions of the present-day United States.  Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein beseeched his creator for love and companionship, but in 2017, the monster has long discarded any notions of peace or inclusion.  He has become the Destroyer, his only goal to eliminate the scourge of humanity from the planet.  In this goal, he initially finds a willing partner in Dr. Baker, a descendant of the Frankenstein family who has lost her teenage son after an encounter with the police.  While two scientists, Percy and Byron, initially believe they’re brought to protect Dr. Baker from the monster, they soon realize they may have to protect the world from the monster and Dr. Baker’s wrath.

The dark descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White.  Elizabeth Lavenza hasn’t had a proper meal in weeks.  Her thin arms are covered with bruises from her “caregiver,” and she is on the verge of being thrown into the streets . . . until she is brought to the home of Victor Frankenstein, an unsmiling, solitary boy who has everything–except a friend.  Victor is her escape from misery. Elizabeth does everything she can to make herself indispensable–and it works.  But her new life comes at a price.  As the years pass, Elizabeth’s survival depends on managing Victor’s dangerous temper and entertaining his every whim, no matter how depraved.  Behind her blue eyes and sweet smile lies the calculating heart of a girl determined to stay alive no matter the cost . . . as the world she knows is consumed by darkness.

If you want to find out more about adaptations of Frankenstein, try the website The Frankenstein MEME.

This post is part of a series.  You can find older posts here, here, and here.  Don’t forget to sign up for Frankenreads on Halloween!

 

Life of Mary Shelley

I’m continuing my series of blog posts about Frankenstein with some suggestions about how to learn more about Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, the author of Frankenstein.  She was the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft and Wiliam Godwin, the wife of Percy Bysshe Shelley, and she wrote Frankenstein when she was 19 years old!  I think this recent article gives a good sense of why she is such an important literary figure.

If you are looking for a short bio of her, this page on the Romantic Circles Edition is a good place to start.  You might also be interested in this entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.  You can also find several useful entries in the Dictionary of Literary Biography.

You might also be interested in these longer biographies:

Mary Shelley by Miranda Seymour

In Search of Mary Shelley: The Girl who Wrote Frankenstein by Fiona Sampson

Mary Shelley by Muriel Spark

Moon in Eclipse: A Life of Mary Shelley by Jane Dunn

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley is also going to be the subject of National Geographic’s Genius Season Three!  Here’s an interesting recent article from their website.

You might also be interested in viewing a recent film about her starring Elle Fanning.

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for Frankenreads!

A Conversation with Legendary Editor Bob Loomis, Oct. 24

Many of the books Bob Loomis edited during his career at Random House continue to be read and discussed decades after their publication.

WHEN: Wednesday, October 24
TIME: 4:00-5:00 p.m.
WHERE: Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room (Rubenstein Library 153)

Join the Duke University Libraries and Department of English for an informal conversation with Bob Loomis, the legendary Random House editor and Duke alumnus (T ’49), as he discusses the lively literary culture on campus during his post-war undergraduate years.

Loomis worked for Random House from 1957 to 2011, eventually rising to Vice President and Executive Editor. He holds a revered place in the publishing industry as an editor known for nurturing writers whose books went on to great success, including Maya Angelou, William Styron, Shelby Foote, Calvin Trillin, Edmund Morris, Daniel J. Boorstin, and many others.

Loomis’s fellow students at Duke included Styron, Guy Davenport, and New York Magazine founder Clay Felker. He was also a student of celebrated Duke English Professor William Blackburn.

Refreshments provided. Please register to help us estimate attendance.

Free and open to the public.

Co-sponsored by the Department of English.

More about Bob Loomis:

Register to attend this talk.

Finding Frankenstein Online

Since Frankenstein is 200 years old, it’s firmly in the public domain, which means you can find many editions and versions online.  Today I’m continuing my series of blog posts with a list of several resources that I think will be of interest!

First you can read the text at Project Gutenberg!

You can also trace the evolution of the novel with images and transcriptions of the notebooks at the Shelley-Godwin Archive.  This archive  provides the digitized manuscripts of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, William Godwin, and Mary Wollstonecraft.

There’s the Stuart Curran’s digital edition in the Romantic Circles Editions.  It provides both the 1818 and 1831 publications of Frankenstein.  It also has a link to a comparative text tool through Juxta Commons for both these years.

The Pittsburgh Frankenstein Project is working on a new digital edition that builds on and expands the work done by Curran and others.

The Frankenstein Bicentennial Project has several fun projects worth looking at, including Frankenbook (a collective reading and collaborative annotation experience of the original 1818).

I also discovered what looks like the beginning of a mapping project involving the novel.  It looks incomplete, but an interesting experiment (pun intended) nonetheless. You can see both the Creature’s journey and Victor Frankenstein’s journey.

Let’s end on a fun note with the web series Frankenstein, MD, a collaboration between Pemberley Digital and PBS Digital Studios.  You can find links to all the videos here.

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for Frankenreads!

What to Read this Month: October 2018

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report is on my mind this week, so we’re highlighting books about climate change.  Check out our New and Noteworthy and Current Literature collections for more titles!


Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming edited by Paul Hawken.  A team of over 200 scholars, scientists, policymakers, business leaders and activists share the hundred most substantive solutions to combat climate change that together will not only slow down the growth of carbon emissions, but reverse them altogether.  Put into action together, these solutions will mobilize society into taking the climate change conversation from problem definition to problem solving, from fear and apathy to collaboration and regeneration.  You can find out more about Project Drawdown at their website.  Also, see this interview.


We’re Doomed. Now What?: Essays on War and Climate Change by Roy Scranton.  The time we’ve been thrown into is one of alarming and bewildering change – the breakup of the post-1945 global order, a multispecies mass extinction, and the beginning of the end of civilisation as we know it.  Not one of us is innocent, not one of us is safe.  This book addresses the crisis that is our time through a series of brilliant, moving, and original essays on climate change, war, literature, and loss, from one of the most provocative and iconoclastic minds of his generation.  You can watch a forum with the author here.


South Pole Station: A Novel by Ashley Shelby.  South Pole Station is a place with an average temperature of -54°F and no sunlight for six months a year.  Unmoored by a recent family tragedy, Cooper Gosling is adrift at thirty and–despite her early promise as a painter–on the verge of sinking her career.  So she accepts her place in the National Science Foundation’s Artists & Writers Program and flees to Antarctica–where she encounters a group of misfits motivated by desires as ambiguous as her own.  The novel also centers on clashes between scientists and conservative politicians who rely on campaign contributions from oil companies over the causes of climate change.  You can see reviews here and here.


Coasts in Crisis: A Global Challenge by Gary Griggs.  Coastal regions around the world have become increasingly crowded, intensively developed, and severely exploited. Hundreds of millions of people living in these low-lying areas are subject to short-term coastal hazards such as cyclones, hurricanes, and destruction due to El Niño, and are also exposed to the long-term threat of global sea-level rise.  These massive concentrations of people expose often-fragile coastal environments to the runoff and pollution from municipal, industrial, and agricultural sources as well as the impacts of resource exploitation and a wide range of other human impacts.  Can environmental impacts be reduced or mitigated and can coastal regions adapt to natural hazards?  You can read a review in the journal Coastal Management: https://doi.org/10.1080/08920753.2018.1426378 (access available through our library).


Climate Justice: Hope, Resilience, and the Fight for a Sustainable Future by Mary Robinson is an urgent call to arms by one of the most important voices in the international fight against climate change, sharing inspiring stories and offering vital lessons for the path forward.  Holding her first grandchild in her arms in 2003, Mary Robinson was struck by the uncertainty of the world he had been born into.  Before his fiftieth birthday, he would share the planet with more than nine billion people–people battling for food, water, and shelter in an increasingly volatile climate.  The faceless, shadowy menace of climate change had become, in an instant, deeply personal.  Mary Robinson’s mission would lead her all over the world, from Malawi to Mongolia, and to a heartening revelation: that an irrepressible driving force in the battle for climate justice could be found at the grassroots level, mainly among women, many of them mothers and grandmothers like herself.  From Sharon Hanshaw, the Mississippi matriarch whose campaign began in her East Biloxi hair salon and culminated in her speaking at the United Nations, to Constance Okollet, a small farmer who transformed the fortunes of her ailing community in rural Uganda, Robinson met with ordinary people whose resilience and ingenuity had already unlocked extraordinary change.


New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel.  As the sea levels rose, every street became a canal. Every skyscraper an island.  For the residents of one apartment building in Madison Square, however, New York in the year 2140 is far from a drowned city. There is the market trader, who finds opportunities where others find trouble. There is the detective, whose work will never disappear – along with the lawyers, of course.   There is the internet star, beloved by millions for her airship adventures, and the building’s manager, quietly respected for his attention to detail.  Then there are two boys who don’t live there, but have no other home – and who are more important to its future than anyone might imagine.  Lastly there are the coders, temporary residents on the roof, whose disappearance triggers a sequence of events that threatens the existence of all – and even the long-hidden foundations on which the city rests.  You can read reviews here and here.

Duke Celebrates Frankenstein’s 200th Anniversary

Did you know that Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein turns 200 this year?  Duke University is celebrating in several ways.  First, the English department is partnering with our neighbors at UNC to participate in Frankenreads, a marathon reading of the text.  It will take place on Halloween in Allen 314, and you can register to read here.  You can also just come and enjoy the reading!

Here in the libraries our Collection Spotlight  on the first floor of Perkins Library near the Service Desk is devoted to all things Frankenstein.  See the bottom of this post for pictures of this display!  We are highlighting books about Frankenstein, works inspired by it, and books about some of the science around it (think anatomy and grave robbing).  And the spiders are free!  Here is a sample of some of the titles you will find:

Making the Monster: The Science behind Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

Mary Shelley, Her Life, Her Fiction, Her Monsters

Frankenstein Dreams: A Connoisseur’s Collection of Victorian Science Fiction

Remaking the Frankenstein Myth on Film

Finally I will be writing a series of blog posts about Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, and its legacy!  Follow along, if you dare!

Low Maintenance Book Club Gets Spooky!

Get in the Halloween spirit with the Duke University Libraries Low-Maintenance Book Club! On Tuesday, October 30th, 5:30-7pm, we’ll meet to discuss three scary short stories by Shirley Jackson: “The Lottery,” “The Possibility of Evil,” and “The Summer People.”  Netflix’s new The Haunting of Hill House is based on one of her books!

The stories can be found in Novels and stories : The lottery, The haunting of Hill House, We have always lived in the castle, other stories and sketches, available in Perkins Library. One copy of this book will be placed on reserve for overnight loan.

Low-Maintenance Book Club: Halloween Edition
Tuesday, October 30th, 5:30-7pm
Bostock 127 (The Edge Workshop Room)

Please RSVP if you plan to attend . We’ll be serving light snacks!

If you have any questions, you can contact Arianne Hartsell-Gundy at aah39@duke.edu.

 

2018 Banned Books Week

Happy Banned Books Week! Banned Books Week is a celebration of the freedom to read books that are frequently challenged and targeted for removal from libraries, and runs this year from September 23-29. This year’s theme, “Banning Books Silences Stories,” is a reminder that censorship not only infringes on our intellectual freedom–it harms our ability to create, tell, and share stories. Banned Books Week celebrates free and open access to information; though the books reported by the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom are frequently challenged, they remain accessible to readers in libraries throughout the country.

Duke Libraries owns many of these challenged books. If you’re interested in reading a title that has been challenged historically or in recent years, here are some selected titles:

You can check out a list of the most frequently challenged books of 2017 here.

What to Read this Month: September 2018

Looking for something new to read? Check out our New and Noteworthy and Current Literature collections!


Burger by Carol J Adams. The burger, long the All-American meal, is undergoing an identity crisis. From its shifting place in popular culture to efforts by investors such as Bill Gates to create the non-animal burger that can feed the world, the burger’s identity has become as malleable as that patty of protein itself, before it is thrown on a grill. Carol Adams’s Burger is a fast-paced and eclectic exploration of the history, business, cultural dynamics, and gender politics of the ordinary hamburger. You can read an excerpt of Burger here, and the author’s defense of the veggie burger here.

 


Buttermilk Graffiti : a Chef’s Journey to Discover America’s New melting-pot cuisine by Edward Lee. American food is the story of mash-ups. Immigrants arrive, cultures collide, and out of the push-pull come exciting new dishes and flavours. But for Edward Lee, who, like Anthony Bourdain or Gabrielle Hamilton, is as much a writer as he is a chef, that first surprising bite is just the beginning. What about the people behind the food? What about the traditions, the innovations, the memories? A natural-born storyteller, Lee decided to hit the road and spent two years uncovering fascinating narratives from every corner of the country. Listen to chef Edward Lee talk about his journey across America here.


Eating Animals by Jonathan Safron Foer. Part memoir and part investigative report, Eating Animals is the groundbreaking moral examination of vegetarianism, farming, and the food we eat every day that inspired the documentary of the same name. Faced with the prospect of being unable to explain why we eat some animals and not others, Foer set out to explore the origins of many eating traditions and the fictions involved with creating them. Traveling to the darkest corners of our dining habits, Foer raises the unspoken question behind every fish we eat, every chicken we fry, and every burger we grill. You can read more about the book here.


Gastrophysics: The New Science of Eating by Charles Spence. Why do we consume 35 percent more food when eating with one other person, and 75 percent more when dining with three? How do we explain the fact that people who like strong coffee drink more of it under bright lighting? And why does green ketchup just not work? The answer is gastrophysics, the new area of sensory science pioneered by Oxford professor Charles Spence. Now he’s stepping out of his lab to lift the lid on the entire eating experience — how the taste, the aroma, and our overall enjoyment of food are influenced by all of our senses, as well as by our mood and expectations. You can read a review of the book here.


The Potlikker Papers : a Food History of the Modern South by John T. Edge. Like great provincial dishes around the world, potlikker is a salvage food. During the antebellum era, slave owners ate the greens from the pot and set aside the leftover potlikker broth for the enslaved, unaware that the broth, not the greens, was nutrient rich. After slavery, potlikker sustained the working poor, both black and white. In the South of today, potlikker has taken on new meanings as chefs have reclaimed it. Potlikker is a quintessential Southern dish, and The Potlikker Papers is a people’s history of the modern South, told through its food. Beginning with the pivotal role cooks and waiters played in the civil rights movement, noted authority John T. Edge narrates the South’s fitful journey from a hive of racism to a hotbed of American immigration. He shows why working-class Southern food has become a vital driver of contemporary American cuisine. You can read more about the book–and the complexities to telling history through food– here.


 A Revolution in Taste: The Rise of French Cuisine 1650-1800 by Susan Pinkard. Modern French habits of cooking, eating, and drinking were born in the ancien regime, radically breaking with culinary traditions that originated in antiquity and creating a new aesthetic. This new culinary culture saw food and wine as important links between human beings and nature. Authentic foodstuffs and simple preparations became the hallmarks of the modern style. Susan Pinkard traces the roots and development of this culinary revolution to many different historical trends, including changes in material culture, social transformations, medical theory and practice, and the Enlightenment. You can read more about Pinkard’s exploration of french culinary history here.

The Low Maintenance Book Club Reads Roxane Gay!

Kick off the new school year with us at the Low Maintenance Book Club‘s upcoming meeting on Wednesday, September 26th, from 5:30-7pm. We’ll be reading selections from award-winning novelist and essayist Roxane Gay’s Difficult Women, her debut collection of short fiction.

Although we’ll plan to discuss “I Will Follow You,” “Difficult Women” and “North Country,” you should feel free to read as much or as little (we are low-maintenance, after all) of the work as you’d like.  We are featuring a giveaway–the first ten people to RSVP will receive a free copy of the book! You can also check out copies from Duke Libraries and the Durham County Library.  Light refreshments will be served.

Date: Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

Time: 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Location: Bostock 127 (The Edge Workshop Room)

If you have any questions, you can contact Arianne Hartsell-Gundy at aah39@duke.edu.

What to Read this Month: August 2018

Welcome back to campus!  If you are looking for something to read, you have several options!  First we have our New and Noteworthy collection at Perkins Library and the Current Literature collection at Lilly Library.  You might also be interested in using Overdrive!  And now check out some of these suggestions on what to read this month!


Ambiguity Machines & Other Stories by Vandana Singh, who Ursula K. Le Guin described as “A most promising and original young writer.”  In her first North American collection, Singh’s deep humanism interplays with her scientific background in stories that explore and celebrate this world and others and characters who are trying to make sense of the people they meet, what they see, and the challenges they face.  An eleventh century poet wakes to find he is as an artificially intelligent companion on a starship.  A woman of no account has the ability to look into the past. In “Requiem,” a major new novella, a woman goes to Alaska to try and make sense of her aunt’s disappearance.


Daphne: A Novel by Will Boast.  Elegantly written and profoundly moving, this spellbinding debut affirms Boast’s reputation as a “new young American voice for the ages” (Tom Franklin).  Born with a rare (and real) condition in which she suffers degrees of paralysis when faced with intense emotion, Daphne has few close friends and even fewer lovers.  Like her mythic namesake, even one touch can freeze her.  But when Daphne meets shy, charming Ollie, her well-honed defenses falter, and she’s faced with an impossible choice: cling to her pristine, manicured isolation or risk the recklessness of real intimacy.  Set against the vivid backdrop of a San Francisco flush with money and pulsing with protest, Daphne is a gripping and tender modern fable that explores both self-determination and the perpetual fight between love and safety.  Read reviews here and here.


The Last Equation of Isaac Severy: A Novel in Clues by Nova Jacobs.  A literary mystery about a struggling bookseller whose recently deceased grandfather, a famed mathematician, left behind a dangerous equation for her to track down–and protect–before others can get their hands on it.  Just days after mathematician and family patriarch Isaac Severy dies of an apparent suicide, his adopted granddaughter Hazel, owner of a struggling Seattle bookstore, receives a letter from him by mail.  In it, Isaac alludes to a secretive organization that is after his final bombshell equation, and he charges Hazel with safely delivering it to a trusted colleague.  But first, she must find where the equation is hidden.  You can read a review here, and an interview here.


Gun Love: A Novel by Jennifer Clement.  Pearl’s mother took her away from her family just weeks after she was born, and drove off to central Florida determined to begin a new life for herself and her daughter–in the parking lot next to a trailer park. Pearl grew up in the front seat of their ’94 Mercury, while her mother lived in the back.  Despite their hardships, mother and daughter both adjusted to life, making friends with the residents of the trailers and creating a deep connection to each other.  All around them, Florida is populated with gun owners–those hunting alligators for sport, those who want to protect their families, and those who create a sense of danger.  Written in a gorgeous lyric all its own, Gun Love is the story of a tough but optimistic young woman growing up in contemporary America, in the midst of its harrowing love affair with firearms.  You can read reviews here and here.


Song of a Captive Bird: A Novel by Jasmin Darznik.  All through her childhood in Tehran, Forugh Farrokhzad is told that Persian daughters should be quiet and modest.  She is taught only to obey, but she always finds ways to rebel–gossiping with her sister among the fragrant roses of her mother’s walled garden, venturing to the forbidden rooftop to roughhouse with her three brothers, writing poems to impress her strict, disapproving father, and sneaking out to flirt with a teenage paramour over café glacé.  During the summer of 1950, Forugh’s passion for poetry takes flight–and tradition seeks to clip her wings.  Inspired by Forugh Farrokhzad’s verse, letters, films, and interviews–and including original translations of her poems–this haunting novel uses the lens of fiction to capture the tenacity, spirit, and conflicting desires of a brave woman who represents the birth of feminism in Iran–and who continues to inspire generations of women around the world.  You can read about the author’s inspiration for this novel here.